Sunday, July 4, 2010

RV Driving & Living – 3rd Impressions & Tips

As I write these words, I'm sitting inside the RV, which is parked in Watchman Campground inside Zion National Park, within walking distance of the Visitor Center.
It's boiling out. Not as bad as yesterday, but still pretty bad. Large trees are scattered around the campground, but our vehicle is not close enough to any of them to enjoy their shade. So we've turned on the a/c. It's making a hell of a racket, but it must be doing some good, otherwise we'd already be well-done. Which brings me to the first observation in my third installment of Impressions and Tips.

1. An RV does not offer the comforts of a hotel room in terms of climate control. Bear that firmly in mind. If you don't have power (electricity) hookup, don't even dream of turning on the heating or the a/c, because you'll use up your battery real fast. If you do have power hookup (which is the only hookup we have here in Zion Park), you can turn on the a/c or heating, which will make an awful lot of noise.

2. A pull-through parking spot. In my previous list (Impressions & Tips #2), I spoke of reversing into your spot. Just think how much easier life is with a pull-through spot: drive in, drive out. Nothing to it. Keep it in mind when looking for potential RV parks.

3. There is no privacy inside the RV, unless you draw all the curtains closed. So don't leave the tiny toilet stall before zipping up your pants. Make sure you have your big bath towel with you when going into the tiny shower. In our RV (a 25-footer) there is a curtain that can be pulled across, separating the "master bedroom with en-suite bathroom" from the rest of the living quarters. So if one of you is an early riser, he/she can leave the "bedroom" curtained off, and enjoy daylight in the "dinette". I think I saw an RV with tinted, one-way windows. Worth investigating.
Also, RV walls are thin. Just as you can hear the guys having fun in the RV next to you, they can hear you.
Some veteran RV travelers, who stay in one location for an extended period, develop a whole outdoor existence around their vehicle: carpet, flower pots, swing for the kids, clothesline (if park regulations allow it), bins and containers, easy chairs, and a huge assortment of other items. Their lives are open for all to see.

4. Outdoor cooking: There's more than one way to light a fire and grill a steak. If you opt for the fire-pits provided by some (most?) RV parks, make sure you buy the Instant Charcoal (or something to that effect), or you'll be spending half the night coaxing the fire into existence, only to spend the other half putting it out.

5. Use the oven above the gas range as a bread box. If you like onion bread, you can store your dry onions there too, alongside the bread.

6. Some folks like to listen to talk shows and interviews on the radio as they drive. Others, like my husband, prefer the BBC World Service if they can get it. But most drivers like music. Personally, I like the rolling-rolling-rolling, feel-good, lively kind of tunes that help keep me awake and energized. Tip A: Don't rely on reception – bring your fave CDs from home. Tip B: Don't tap your foot to the music.

7. When a 16-wheeler rumbles past you or some other heavyish van or truck whizzes by, hang on tightly to the steering wheel and keep it steady. Your RV can easily be "pushed" aside and veer off its lane.

8. Switching drivers: You may decide to switch drivers every 2 hours, say, or every 100 miles. But that might not be possible, so don't count on it. Sometimes, there is simply nowhere to pull over or stop for miles on end, or else you catch sight of the turnout (layby) too late; or there's 9 miles of road work where you planned to stop; or the next Rest Area has been closed off, and the other one is miles out of the way. And no, you can't get up and go to the toilet at the other end of the vehicle while your partner is driving.

Since this park, as beautiful as it is, is marred by its WiFilessness, the actual posting of these p of w (pebbles of wisdom) is delayed until we reach a more civilized location.


Quick update:
We are now in a slightly more civilized place -- the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We happened to discover that the General Store has WiFi. It is now 9 p.m., the store is closed and dark, but on its porch a few yellow lamps still give off some light, and the WiFi is still working...

That's all for today. More tips keep accumulating in my notebook, so stay tuned.


  1. Fascinating! I had the opportunity to tour a very expensive RV recently (think, price of a decent house in, say, Washington state!) Despite all its cleverly concealed amenities and push-out sides, I decided that it's not a form of vacation I ever want to try! I don't think I could stand the close quarters and would probably get all claustrophobic! That said, I spent a couple of nights on a sailboat with friends some years ago, sleeping like sardines in a triangle-shaped sleeping area, and thoroughly enjoyed it (though I was younger then, and being on deck on the water was just wonderful).

    You are very courageous to be doing this, in my humble opinion!

  2. I'm sure you mentioned it somewhere but it was easier to Google RV for its definition. From your description it sounds more like hard work, rather than recreational - but, if you have the energy and no bleeding noses, I guess it's a lot of fun, too.

  3. Haha but pull-through parking is the norm in North America no matter what you're driving. People get so excited when they find a pull-through and do everything to avoid reversing. It is either the cause or the result of the abundance of parking lots and the scarce street parking.

  4. Claire -- Most RV travelers spend a lot of time outside the RV; the indoors is used mainly for sleeping. In our case, 2 people in a mobile home designed for five, we definitely weren't cramped.

    Trish -- Sorry, no, I didn't define RV, a.k.a. mobile home. I didn't work any harder than I do at home, as far as housekeeping chores are concerned... But I'll write a separate post about the overall pros and cons, from my totally subjective point of view, of course.

    Shir -- Yes but at an RV park, if they don't have pull-through, you're stuck with reversing, which is far more awkward than with an ordinary sedan.

    Thanks for your comments, all; appreciate it.