It all started …

July 2010 – With my signature complete, I slide the paperwork back over to the salesman. It’s official. Al and I just bought a new RV. Since it’s still on the Keystone assembly line in Elkhart, Indiana, we’ll have to wait a couple of months to take it home. Perfect, that’ll give us a great opportunity to get in one or two more trips with our underutilized truck camper before trading it in.

Boondocking in Westcliff, Colorado
Ingrid in front of the truck camper Taos, New Mexico.

September 2010, we make the one-hour drive from our home in Pueblo West, Colorado, to the RV Dealership located in the quaint Colorado mountain town of Poncha Springs. We drop off our beloved truck camper and return home with a new 2011 Keystone Laredo 5th wheel in tow.

The drive between Pueblo West and Poncha Springs is a beautiful scenic drive. However, Highway 50 just west of Canon City, turns into a two-lane road that meanders along the Arkansas River. There are lots of curves, rock walls, and narrow spots with no shoulder and no room for error. Al was a little nervous navigating this stretch of road while pulling something as large as our new thirty-one-foot 5th wheel for the very first time. There was no opportunity for him to practice or get a feel for the RV on a wider or more open road before taking our new toy home.

Little did we know what RV adventures awaited. A mere two years later, driving this same stretch of highway was no longer a big deal and just another typical travel route in our RVing world.

Our shake down trip

In the RVing community, it’s highly recommended that owners of a new (or new to them) RV take their RV on a “shakedown” outing. This means camping near home at the nearest RV Park or campground and staying for at least a couple of nights to try out all the mechanics. This is a great opportunity to get comfortable with how everything works, make a punch list for warranty issues, and review gear.

Fortunately for us, at the time, we lived just three miles from the Lake Pueblo State Park making our first trip conveniently close to home and perfect in the event we needed any tools or forgot to pack something. With that said, it should’ve been uneventful. It wasn’t.

Our first overnight in our new RV – Lake Pueblo State Park

On our second day of camping, I accidentally locked myself out of the RV. While Al went to one of our job sites, I took the dog for a short walk. (We ran our own custom home building business back then.) Since I wouldn’t be gone long, I left my phone and keys in the RV. When I returned from the stroll, I was unable to open the door. Fortunately, one of the neighbors noticed my distress and came over to see if I needed help. He lent me his phone so I could call Al, only to find out, he too had left his set of RV keys on the dinette table.

Turns out, this helpful neighbor had spent twenty years working in the RV industry. He suggested two choices; call a pricey locksmith or this seasoned RVer could grab his tools and pry the door open. However, he first looked around the campground for any other Keystone brand RV. Why? Because various brands are usually keyed the same. Unfortunately, he owned a Forest River Wildcat, but had there been another Keystone in camp, chances are those keys might have opened our door. Crazy, huh! (Note to self – change the locks.)

After about 15 minutes, our Good Samaritan had pried open our door leaving behind a little bent metal door frame which only Al and I notice. Serves as a reminder to never fiddle with the door lock lever on the inside prior to exiting which caused the door to lock behind me.

The education continues …

The rest of our Pueblo Reservoir stay was uneventful and enjoyable … kind of. Lists were made. Al needed tools and I needed to outfit the kitchen better. We both needed more practice hitching, unhitching, and leveling the RV, but that would come with time.

Eventually, our stay came to an end, and we headed off to the campground dump station. Al unpackaged the new sewer hose and prepared to connect it to the RV pipe. With a slight hesitation, he unscrewed the pipe cap and was immediately met with a flood of “yellow-tinged water” spilling everywhere and soaking his tennis shoes. Apparently, our new RV was delivered to us with the tank valves open, and being such a newbie, Al failed to double-check that the tank valves were closed before unscrewing the cap.

After a few choice words, Al and I busted out laughing. Thank goodness no one else was around to witness this nasty mistake. Oh well, nothing a bunch of soap and water couldn’t fix. No harm done. Another lesson learned with plenty of more lessons to come.

No walls yet, just the floor of our new home under construction with our sold custom home in the background. Yep, moving across the street.

Back to Storage

After our short camping trip, it was time to return the RV to storage. Three months earlier, we had sold our large custom home and moved into a rental while we built a smaller home. Our friends were kind enough to offer us a place to store the RV until our new home on an acre of land was finished, complete with a place to park the RV.

Our friends, Gene and Wendy, also recently purchased a new RV. With the RVs comfortably stored alongside each other, the four of us discussed plans for future Colorado RV adventures together with our new toys.

A couple of weeks later, Gene and Wendy wanted to reposition the RVs on their land. No problem! Al and I headed over to their place. While the Wendy and I sat in the house talking about places we wanted to camp, the guys were outside dealing with the two RVs. About an hour later, the guys walked into the house, and with a dejected look, Al glances at me and says, “I’m sorry, but I crunched the RV.” Say what? “What exactly does crunch mean?”

Seems the landing jacks wouldn’t engage meaning the RV could not be raised up in order to hitch it to the truck. These two handy MacGyvers made a critical error on where to place the car jack while manually jacking up the RV resulting in a little accordion-style body damage. Oops! And she’s less than thirty days old.

Okay, now that’s she’s broken in with a little bent metal from the lock situation and a slightly smooshed front corner from the faulty jacks, let’s take this less than new RV out on the road and have some fun with it. Adventure awaits!

76 thoughts on “It all started …

  1. I think most of us RVers have similar stories! I don’t remember why it was my fault, but somehow, after I left to our campground to go get our grandson, Bill went outside to just check something – leaving his keys in side and forgetting how easy it is to get locked out. It was about 35° out. Why would we camp in such cold climate? That’s where our grandbabies lived! The bad part was he only had on a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt. He had the inside warmed to greet our grandson when I returned in a hour. He went to the camping store – only a few hundred yards away. We were about the only camper there and the “host” were not very accommodating – or even kind! At least they let Bill use the phone to call me. Fortunately, I was able to return quickly. That never happened again!
    And then the time the 5th wheel dropped on the truck bed….Oh so many funny stories to NOW look back on!!!

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  2. Ingrid now there is a post everyone new to owning an RV should read. Seems like perhaps a few months of shake down would be wise for the inexperienced. It makes total sense as in lots of ways it’s a whole new way of living. Glad the situations just caused some minor dents and some extra laundry.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ingrid,
    Love hearing about RV “newbie adventures”, and love reading the beginning chapters of Live, Laugh, RV. I know all about mishaps–just knocked over an electric pedestal in Pensacola–and broke it into two pieces. Camp host was a good guy and taped it back together. No harm to trailer. Stay safe out there (and warm)! Joe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oops! Yeah, this stuff happens. We once drove off still plugged in. Our electrical cord was bouncing down the road behind us. Fortunately, a passerby honked and pointed. No harm to the pedestal, just a dinged up plug that still works. 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So great to read of other’s experiences. There’s is never a dull moment in this caper from day one onwards. Our door seems to have a mind of its own and so too that of our friends. Our mate Elle was locked in for 3 hours whilst a professional locksmith jiggled and tinkered at their door. Luckily they were camped overlooking the beach in tropical Queensland with plenty of booze in the fridge. Cheers to this great life!

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    1. Ah, we’ve all been there. I’ve heard of folks getting locked IN. So crazy! All part of the RV adventure and tales to laugh about after the fact.😁

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  5. Sorry I missed this Sunday, Ingrid. I am going to love your series and what a good idea to refresh your experiences. I agree with “breaking in” a new RV without breaking it. You know we’ve had our share of small issues, discovered as we camped an hour from home in the delta every summer. A stubborn stabilizer and flat tire are the latest in our 2013 trailer. I had to giggle at you locking yourself out. Oy! Your RV is huge and no doubt had a lot of things to be familiar with. Self locking door, eek! We may have to live in our trusty RV in February while we continue to wait for our home to be finished. Our roommate situation is difficult. I have fond memories of staying near you and Al at Pioneer and there is a highly rated RV Park we may stay at. I saw Phoenix had a dusting of snow. Did you get any? Have a great week!

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    1. I’ll be taking a break from any photo challenges … just until I have enough posts completed to print book # 1. Then I hope to jump back into a challenge here and there. There’s nothing like having your own living space even if it’s an RV. You should hopefully find a park that stays open during the winter.

      We DID get sleet that accumulated white on the ground. The surrounding mountains are dusted with snow. Had to pull out my winter coat and gloves for the first time in a very long time. We have two Michigan neighbors in the sites behind us who are not happy. Us ‘locals’ are enjoying the much-needed moisture. We were in a dangerous draught causing fear for the saguaros. Now they are doing a happy dance. 🌵

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess we get the weather as it comes, Ingrid, hopefully this will keep the drought at bay. We made arrangements for the RV park today and can move-in tomorrow. We need to navigate a little snow on my nephew’s property but the roads have been clear. The park is quite nice and close to all amenities like Costco and grocery. Can’t wait to spend a few weeks in our trailer again with full hookups!

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        1. I’m sure you’ll enjoy staying in the RV while you wait for the house to be complete. FYI, we love our little $50 electric space heater from Walmart. It’s a huge propane saver for this cold weather.

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    1. Oh, that’s just the beginning of some of our RV misadventures. Good to hear Keystone fixed that issue with the locks. We’ve never made that mistake again. Hey, at least we do learn from our mistakes 😆

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  6. Fun times had by all! And fun times for all of us to read about it!
    Bob is intrigued about Blog to Book as well as I. So keep us informed please.
    Happy week to you my friend.

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    1. Memorial times for sure! My RV blogging friend who recently came off the road and is now living in Wickenberg showed me the books she made from her blog. I’m leaning toward using pixxibook.com or intorealpages.com I’ll keep you posted. You’ve written some memorial posts about your travels that I would recommend printing. Who knows how long we’ll keep our blogs alive. Stay warm and dry!

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        1. I ran to the store real quick in between storms, and other than that, we have the space heater running and enjoying tea while watching the cacti soak it all up. Hope we get a good showing of wildflowers this year!

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  7. Ingrid, I enjoyed reading how you and Al first got started in your fifth wheel. I think all of us had some kind of mishap in the beginning. Our shakedown was in Tampa in the RV park next to the RV dealer where we bought our fiver. No problems there but when we got hitched up and got on the interstate to head back to Georgia the truck was acting up so we had to turn and around and go back. Turns out we had gotten bad diesel in Tampa. We set the camper up in another site and stayed until we could get the truck fixed. We didn’t mind – our daughter lived near there so we got to spend more time with our two young grandkids! After getting home, we got everything packed up and hit the road a week later for a two month trip out west.Looking forward to reading more about your early RV adventures.

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    1. Sounds like your first time pulling the RV turned out ok in the long run. Our first trip out was six weeks and we had an amazing time. I’m working on that post now. It’s interesting stepping back in time – ten years ago and how we took off without any reservations. We always found somewhere to stay which is much more difficult these days. I’m not sure I would embrace the RV lifestyle as I did back then if I were a newbie today. Things are very different and a lot more expensive today.😏

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Oh, how I can relate. Hmm, I thought you guys had a 5th wheel. I started talking to Al about 3 years ago about getting a different RV, either an A or C because I know they would be much easier to backup. Not sure what direction we’ll go in the coming year. Still searching for an answer, but I can feel some kind of change is in the air.

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      1. We had a class A, traded it in for travel trailer once we went full time, hated it and went back to a class A. I’ve since greatly improved my backing up skills but a Class A is super simple to drive/backup/connect to tow. Most importantly it works for us! I love that there are so many options to suit different desires.

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    1. It is definitely intimidating driving an RV for the first time. I’m much more comfortable pulling the 5th wheel after years of practice but still not on the level of my husband. And it’s easy to get out of practice after sitting in one spot for months at a time. But it’s all about the adventure!

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    1. Thanks Mary! I didn’t start blogging until 2012 so these next few posts will fill in the time from 2010-2012. It’s fun stepping back in time and pulling up pics from my external hard drive.

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  8. I laughed. I cringed. I completely sympathized. We’ve all been there. I’ve got 4 feet of tree branch scratches down the side of our rig to show just how little we knew that first week. Ah well. These things do make for great stories!!

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    1. Yep, we’ve all been there and after those first few dings, some desert pinstriping, flat tires, and broken vent covers from trees, we take it all in stride. Just another day in the RV lifestyle. Every day is filled with rainbows and unicorns 🥴 … not!

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    1. They were the only RV dealership in Colorado that carried the Laredo line from Keystone. Plus it was really easy for us to trade in the truck camper after failing to sell it ourselves. They had that truck camper sold before we even dropped it on their lot. Hope you’re enjoying some time in the Lance exploring.

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  9. Loved reading this Ingrid! The first scratch/dent on any new shiny possession is always the worst. Sounds like you & Al took care of this pretty much right out of the gate!😂. Obviously it didn’t deter you💕

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    1. Thank you Lynn. Yeah, getting those first couple of dings out of the way, allowed us to just dive in and not worry about scratches and other potential issues. Obviously, it was no longer new!😀

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  10. A friend of mine used to be the ‘customer education’ man for an RV dealership. He would walk the owners (he used to ask that both the man and wife attend the session) through their new RV, then he would ask one of the pair to back up the RV while the other person did the guiding. He would instruct on hand gestures, etc. When the driver was comfortable with backing it up, he would get the two to trade places. Both people came away from the exercise with a better appreciation of what the other was doing.

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    1. Although we had a lengthy walk-thru when we picked up our RV, there was no instruction on pulling/backing it up. We could’ve signed up for ‘boot camp’ but chose to just dive in ourselves. With time, we improved and now have plenty of laughable tales. 😁

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  11. Im a trucker and i pick up and deliver loads in different states it feels like the same with living in an rv as well because my truck is my home and its amazing because i get to go places i didnt knew existed and thats how i got into this blogging world i just recently started writing not good at it but im happy to share my travels.

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  12. How fun it all sounds, Ingrid. I have told my significant other that when we sell our house, we will be moving into an RV! I love exploring new places and meeting other travelers. Good for you for continuing to pursue this life! Cheers! 🌞

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    1. It is a fun and social lifestyle but not without plenty of downsides. Keep me posted on your future plans and let me know if I can offer any suggestions when it comes to the RV lifestyle. I think we’ve learned a thing or two over the years and are now considered “seasoned” instead of “newbie” 😃

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  13. Wow, Ingrid! You did have an eventful start (breaking-in period) with your fifth wheel. I wasn’t following your blog in 2010, so it’s interesting to read about your beginnings (with the fifth wheel anyway) and see how you started these adventures and full-time lifestyle.

    PS: since you want to turn these blog posts into books and you are a bit of a perfectionist, do you want us to point out the typos? 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Since I didn’t start blogging until 2012, the next few posts will cover 2010 to 2012. And YES! I do want typos pointed out. I was thinking about adding that tidbit to my yellow block at the end of the post.

      After reading your book, I was surprised you and I actually have had some similar experiences in our relationships. I’m not sure how deep I’ll dive into that though. You are perhaps braver than I.

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  14. Everything bad happens in the first month! Every new car I have ever bought had a dent within a week. LOL. If I have new gear or backpacking food to try, I definitely practice with it close to home. Love the stories Ingrid!!!

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  15. Amazing to be FT for so long. Glad you get to enjoy the lifestyle even with 2020! Great story. We laughed, and remembered one of our embarassing newbie mistakes in 2017. Everyone has those stories! Let us know if you go through CO when you head north this year. I already booked campsites for CO and NM adventures this summer. We are beyond tired of staying home.

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    1. Yeah, what started off as we’ll do this FT for a year or two has now turned into year eight 🥴 It has been an adventure with lots and lots of lessons learned. We still haven’t decided on our route this summer. I’d love to see my brother in Grand Junction, but that’ll depend on where things stand with covid. Traveling down memory lane as I go through old posts and pics has me longing to revisit a bunch of places. I’m interested to hear where in CO and NM you plan on visiting. I’m beginning to feel torn between my love of lake life in northern WI and mountain life in CO and NM. With that said, I feel lucky that I’m able to enjoy them both. I’ll keep you posted!

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      1. Yeah, I understand the pull of different environments. I need beach time regularly even though we love the mtns and desert. Glad we got a week near San Diego before COVID hit. We booked spots at Boyd Lake SP and State Forest SP in June and July and at Santa Fe Skies in August. We miss time spent in Santa Fe. Colorado SPs are booking up fast! Can’t book Sept until March. We’re thinking SP near Bent’s Fort. Haven’t been there yet. Hoping it works out for daughter, sil, and grandkids to camp with us this summer like we did in 2020. Good times.

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        1. Oh yeah, camping with family is the best. We met up several times with my brother and his wife at Ridgway SP, one of my favorites. I love the San Juans. And I love visiting Santa Fe in late August during pepper season. Fingers crossed it’s a fun summer for all! 🤞

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  16. I think you took “break in the RV” a little too literally, didn’t you? 😉 Bu thanks for this article – and those forthcoming. They will certainly help us decide what to do. I’ll keep you posted.
    Take care, and stay well,
    Pit

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, so true! Al and I have made just about every RV mistake out there including driving off with the electrical cord still connected 😲 We laugh about these things now, but they weren’t so funny at the time. Hope these posts will be entertaining as well as helpful.

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