Tag Archives: RV parks

Happy Trails, Part 159: RV’ing is fun, but not permanently

It’s time for me to make an admission.

Owning and operating a recreational vehicle has its limits on the amount of joy I get. It’s not that I dislike any aspect of traveling in a 28-foot fifth wheel, pulling it behind our beastly Dodge pickup. It’s that we actually can spend too much time in it before we get, oh, ready to park it and get back into the house we call home in Princeton, Texas.

I am prone to suffer from a bit of cabin fever.

We just returned from a four-day jaunt back to the Texas Panhandle. We attended a marvelous reunion with dear friends in Hereford. Then we came home.

Let me stipulate once again: We enjoy traveling in our RV. We enjoy taking it around the country. We’ve hauled to both the east and west coasts; to the Great Lakes region; along the Gulf Coast; all over Texas.

Each of those adventures is highlighted by a return home. We like living in a dwelling that is planted firmly on good ol’ Earth.

We did live in our RV for a time while we were preparing to sell our house in Amarillo in advance of our move to the Metroplex. We emptied in late 2017, put our belongings in storage. We brought in a paint crew to paint the entire interior of the house. We replaced the ceiling fans and repaired some other fixtures.

All the while we were living in our RV. We were parked at an RV park in Amarillo. We were able to travel to hither and yon. We would come back to the RV park. We would catch our breath and then head out again.

But it isn’t like many of our friends and acquaintances have done. I know some folks who have taken off in their RVs and spent years living in them.

I’ll be honest. That ain’t my bag. 

My wife and I have embarked on a marvelous journey into retirement. It involves our RV. We love traveling in it.

Living in it, though, is another matter.

Still, the journey will continue for as long as we are able to keep enjoying it.

First ‘real’ RV outing awaits

This is another in an occasional series of blog posts about impending retirement.

Our next significant hurdle looms as my wife and I prepare for our first out-of-town excursion in our shiny new fifth wheel travel vehicle.

We’re taking our rig on the road, westbound on Interstate 40 to an RV park on the western edge of Albuquerque, N.M.

My wife made this call and, as usual, it’s a good one.

We chose Albuquerque as the place where we’ll indoctrinate ourselves with the open road for a couple of reasons.

One is that we love the city. There’s plenty to see and do there. Downtown is quite interesting, with a wonderful Historic Route 66 district. Old Town is quaint. Sandia Peak features a spectacular tram ride to a summit that’s more than 10,000 above sea level.

The other reason is that Interstate 40 is a relatively straight shot between Amarillo and Albuquerque.

We don’t envision a lot of challenges between the cities. The landscape is wide open. We’ll just set the cruise control on 60 mph (or thereabouts) and head west. There will be some mountain grades to climb as we approach Albuquerque, but our Dodge Ram pickup — which we’ve named Big Jake — is quite capable of completing the climb.

The “Big I,” which is the I-40/I-25 interchange in the middle of the city, could present a mild challenge as we navigate our way through. Our hope is that we’ll time it so that the traffic isn’t so bad once we get there.

We’ll spend three nights at the fully equipped RV park, getting more acquainted with our rig. We broke it in nicely a few weeks ago with a local outing in Amarillo. The time is coming for our next big challenge. We’ve been to this place already, visiting my sister and brother-in-law who were camped there overnight this past March. It’s got all the amenities we need: water, sewer, electricity, cable TV, Internet access.

We’re trying to be systematic and methodical as we adapt to this new way of life.

Wish us luck.

Destination set; timetable to be determined

This is another in an occasional series of blog posts concerning the onset of retirement.

OK, we’ve set a destination for our first “real” trip with our shiny new fifth wheel, which we’ll be towing behind our shiny new 3/4-ton pickup. It’s not far, but far enough for us to get the feel of actually taking our rig out for a serious test.

We’re planning a four-, maybe five-hour drive to Albuquerque. I won’t divulge when that will occur. Suffice to say it’s in the near future.

We’ve seen the site where we’re going to take our trip.

My sister and brother-in-law came for a visit in March. They had been on the road for several weeks, traveling from their home just north of Portland, to Arizona, to San Antonio, the Houston area, then to New Orleans. Then they started the return trip, with a stop in Allen, Texas, to meet their great-niece — ahem, our brand new granddaughter, I should add — and see our son, daughter-in-law and their two sons.

Then they came to Amarillo. We visited for a few days and when it was time to go, we decided to follow them to Albuquerque, where they camped at an RV park on the west side of the city; we stayed at a hotel nearby.

We got a good look at this location. We liked it. It’s a full-hookup place, with water, sewer, electricity and shower facilities.

We’ve already taken our fifth wheel for one test run, to an RV park in Amarillo. We spent three nights and learned a lot about how to hook up and unhook the plumbing, how to hitch and unhitch our truck from our travel vehicle and how to enjoy our fifth wheel quietly.

Our RV park hosts said we were “smart” to acquaint ourselves with our new vehicle while staying close to home. If we ran into trouble, we could call the dealer who sold us our RV. If we couldn’t get someone there, though, our neighbors would be more than glad to help. We’re told that’s how it works in the RV community: Everyone’s your friend when you’re in need.

We will learn even more as we head west soon. We’ll test our truck’s pulling capacity as we move into the mountains between here and Albuquerque — although we’re quite certain our pickup is sufficiently muscled to do the job.

Another adventure awaits as we prepare to venture farther from our nest.

A new world awaits

OK, my fellow travelers. You’re about to have some company on the open road.

My wife and I have recently joined the world of recreational vehicle owners. We purchased a 29-foot fifth wheel travel vehicle. It’s going to be hitched up to a new pickup we purchased. Very soon — we hope — we’re going to hit the road for some serious traveling.

I have some more good news. This past week we completed a three-night trial run with the fifth wheel. We didn’t go far with it. Just across town, to the east side of Amarillo, not far from the world-famous Big Texan Steak Ranch.

We hitched our fifth wheel to the back of our 3/4-ton pickup and drove it about eight miles to the other side of the city. We parked it in a space that included hookups for city water, electricity, cable television, and a place to dump our sewage.

We couldn’t ask for anything more.

So, we spent three nights getting acquainted with our fifth wheel. The first night was interesting, given that a fierce thunderstorm blew in over Amarillo. How did we fare during the storm? Beautifully, I’m happy to report. We had leveled our vehicle with front and rear jacks, plus a tripod stabilizer we installed under the fifth wheel hitch.

We spent two more days and nights there, visited with other travelers — those who actually were traveling — and laughed as we told them we were locals who drove across town to inaugurate our travel vehicle. “That’s smart of you to do that,” came the response.

Saturday morning, we woke up, cooked our breakfast and began the task of breaking camp. We had some help from one of the RV park managers who came over to watch us unhook the water lines, flush out our wastewater tanks, and button everything up. He left before we hooked the truck up with the fifth wheel. But hey, no problem. We got it done.

We drove back to our storage garage, unhooked truck from fifth wheel and went home quite satisfied with how much we learned. Yes, we still have questions, but now we’re able to ask them more intelligently.

With that, we’ve entered the world of semi-retirement. Neither of us is retired fully just yet. That day is approaching. But our venture into this new world of travel is the culmination of a discussion my wife and I have been having for, oh, about 25 years.

We’re ready to hit the road.