First Real RV Trip

With the RV shakedown under our belt, warranty repair on the landing jacks complete, and our long to-do list checked off one by one, it was time to take the RV on a real road trip. Plans were made for a Christmas getaway. The date: December 2010.

Our son had moved to Phoenix, Arizona, immediately after graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder and our daughter was currently attending Colorado State University in Fort Collins. We coordinated dates with Ashton on her winter break, and when we had the perfect winter weather window, we hit the road bound for Phoenix.

The three of us along with the dog spent our first night at the Sandia Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We arrived just before dark, and once comfortably parked at the far end of the parking lot, we entered the casino and enjoyed burgers and drinks at one of the restaurants. The next morning, we were rolling before the sun came up.

Spending the night in the Sandia Casino parking lot, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Sandia Mountains in the background. It was a cold night!

Two days and 800 miles later, we arrived at our destination; Desert’s Edge RV Park located on the far north side of Phoenix, a convenient location to enjoy visits with our son. Upon check-in, I asked the gal behind the counter for an easy site to get into because we were newbies and my husband still wasn’t great at maneuvering the RV. She responded, “This site should be relatively easy, but if your husband has any problems, just ask my husband for help. We’re in the site across the street from you.” This was also the first time I’d heard the term workamper.

Sure enough, Al struggled to back into the site. The guy across the street (husband to the gal in the office) had been entertained by our struggles and eventually walked over to see if Al could use some help. In the end, the neighbor parked the RV for us, and Al and I were no longer on speaking terms, at least for the next couple of hours. Apparently, Al didn’t understand my hand signals, and I didn’t understand what he was trying to do. Thank goodness, our daughter had taken the dog for a walk and didn’t witness our little spousal episode. Ah, this RVing thing isn’t as easy as it looks.

The happy couple! Al and Ingrid with Bear. Note to self, pay attention to the background when taking a photograph. Poinsettia head?

Celebrating Christmas in Phoenix, Arizona, for the first time.

With the parking situation quickly forgotten, we set about enjoying the beautiful winter weather and indulging in the abundance of citrus trees covered with ripening fruit located throughout the park. We were loving it! This RV park fit our needs and was the perfect place to spend a week over the Christmas holiday. It was super dog friendly and conveniently located to our son’s apartment. During our stay, Ashton chose to sleep at Logan’s place which offered her more room to spread out than the RV did and allowed for some sibling bonding.

On Christmas day, our family of four exchanged gifts, stuffed our tummies with delicious food, and generally enjoyed a relaxing day. Holiday phone calls were made to family members several states away. Well wishes all around.

Al and Ingrid in the background, Logan in the foreground, and Ashton on the far right
Ashton and Logan playing mini-golf in Scottsdale on Christmas Eve

I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, I too joined the kids in playing mini-golf. Golf of any kind is not my forte. Actually, I’m really bad and provided a great deal of entertainment that day. I also learned a lesson that day, a lesson that at my tender years, I should have learned long ago. Be careful of what one says.

As Logan and Ashton each took their turn at the Par 1 hole. I mock what a wasted obstacle this was. “Seriously, how easy is this?” Each kid made it on the first try. Of course, naturally logic would have me making a hole-in-one also. NOT! My ball did not drop into the hole until the eighth attempt and by then Ashton and Logan were laughing so hard that we garnered the attention of other players. Oh well, it was a fun and memorable day filled with lots of laughter.

I’m so embarrassed!

Trouble strikes again

Our week was going well, and we were loving this RV lifestyle. We learned the ins and outs of “Workamping”. The term and spelling is actually a trademarked company that helps RVers find temporary work in exchange for a free place to camp, or in some situations, provides income in addition to a campsite. We also ran into quite a few couples and families that lived in their RV’s full-time. What an interesting concept! I’m sure I had heard about full-time RVing from my parents, who were part-time RVers, but the thought never really sunk in until now.

Anyway, all was going fine until the toilet stopped working. Seriously? We only had two more days to savor before returning home to Colorado. Al fiddled with the toilet to no avail. He walked across the street and asked his new buddy, the seasoned RVer who parked the RV for us, to look at our toilet. After looking at it, he suggested we talk to the RV Dealership just down the road.

I’m not sure if it was the panicked tone in my voice or the begging on my knees (just kidding), but the extremely booked service department at Little Dealer Little Prices agreed to look at our toilet first thing in the morning. Awesome … well not really. That would require these RV newbies to quickly hitch up and pull out bright and early and maneuver around a jam-packed dealership lot. Not something Al was looking forward to doing.

The following day, after a three-hour dealership visit, we returned to the RV park repaired – complete with a new under warranty toilet. Although replacing the toilet didn’t require three hours, the service department did their best to fit our fix in in-between other service orders. We were grateful and also learned our RV Vin number was associated with a travel trailer and not a 5th Wheel. That would make it interesting when ordering parts in the future.

Fortunately, I had made arrangements for a pull-thru site upon our return from service. Thus, no need to back-in and no spousal discord. (snicker) It was perfect for our last night in Phoenix.

A nice easy pull-thru site at Desert’s Edge RV Park. No hand signals required.

Ingrid takes the wheel

We hated saying good-bye to Logan, but Al and I needed to return to work and Ashton needed to return to college. Our little vacation had come to an end … sadly. All things considered, it was a great first trip, plus we learned a lot.

Before we knew it, the sun was rising and we were on the road heading north toward Flagstaff then east via Interstate 40. Over eight hours and 475 miles later, we once again pulled into the Sandia Casino parking lot in Albequerque where we enjoyed burgers, drinks, and a good, but cold, night’s sleep.

The following morning, I decided it was time to take my place behind the wheel. No time like the present time to learn how to handle the truck and RV. Al and Ashton stood side by side in the casino parking lot and with praying hands, they looked skyward …. “Dear Lord yadda yadda yadda Amen”. They ended their verbiage by making the Catholic sign of the cross. A few jabs and laughs later, I had an hour of truck-RV driving under my belt.

A = Pueblo West, Colorado B = Sandia Resort & Casino, Albuquerque C = Desert’s Edge RV Park, Phoenix

I successfully navigated in and out of a gas station and continued driving all morning. There were a couple of white knuckle moments for me along Interstate 25. First was going up and over Raton Pass at the Colorado-New Mexico border. With an elevation of less than 8,000 feet, this is a pretty mild and easy pass in comparison to other mountain passes in Colorado, but it’s still up and down with turns. The second was major construction on the Interstate through the town of Trinidad … single lane with concrete barriers on both sides. There didn’t appear to be a lot of room between the barriers and certainly no room for error, but one of us had to drive this stretch. Why not me?

That day, I drove the entire five-hour drive home, and not only impressed Al and Ashton, but myself. I’m not sure why any of us felt impressed. I’ve always had the opinion that if a man can do it, a woman can too. After all, I was a licensed General Contractor working in a predominantly male-oriented position. I guess it boiled down to the fact that this was something new, a new experience, and new equipment that I’d need to get comfortable driving. There’s always a learning curve when doing something you’ve never done before.

And there would be many more learning curves to be had …

Logan graduates from the University of Colorado then moves to Phoenix. Thus, our regular RV jaunts to Arizona begin. Left to right – Ingrid, Logan, Ashton, Al

This post is part of my “Blog to Book” series where I step back in time and share our journey to full-time RV living, share the RV lifestyle, and the places we visit. As I rewrite older posts, I plan to add more details and personal content … new tales never shared before. For more information about my goal for this blog series, please visit this post. And if you’d like to start from the beginning of the story, you’ll want to start with this post. I share new posts every Sunday morning and occasionally Wednesdays.

Arizona’s Scenic Roads and Hikes: Unforgettable Journeys in the Grand Canyon State
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68 thoughts on “First Real RV Trip

  1. Ah, that first RV trip. A steep learning curve, for sure, Ingrid! Ours was in 1999. Peggy had taken a year off as a school administrator and the work I did could be done on the road. Our RV was a 20 foot Pleasure Way, however, not the same challenge as a bigger one. But backing up could still be an issue. 🙂 There were a few tense moments as we mastered the hand signals. Then there is the first time we dumped!
    We were on our way to Alaska and then all over North America for 50,000 miles. Driving responsibilities were split 50/50, which is how we roll in life. As you might imagine, we had mastered RVing by the end of the trip. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, we all have our learning curves. I’m sure after 50,000 miles, you guys had your routine pretty well established. It’s funny how after we’ve sat in one spot for six months, the first day or two we feel like we’re starting all over again before we settle back into our groove. Fun times!

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      1. We’ve been trying to get out a week each month since the Covid, Ingrid. Our little home away from home feels safe and has kept us from gong insane. As I type this, we are sitting in Harris Beach State Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean near Brookings Oregon. Not a bad place to be. 🙂

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    1. Our RV isn’t anything special, but I do have some pics of the inside under the tab “our RV’. I’d love to do some more remodeling but that isn’t in the cards right now. It’s too challenging when living in it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve camped with my single mom my whole childhood with horses. I’m the eldest and ended up stepping in to help her a lot. And a good thing too because my husband and I just purchased our very first motor home this year and it sure does make a difference if you’ve done it before!

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    1. Congratulations and welcome to RV life. And yes, it does make a huge difference when being introduced to camping as a child. Hope you’ll share your adventures. I’ll be sure and stop by your site.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh absolutely! From the looks of some of your posts it seems like y’all go out west a lot. If you ever get the chance to come to Missouri you should look up Eminence. It’s our favorite place to vacation and Echo Bluff State Park is beautiful! 😊

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        1. I just stopped by your blog and will be following. I was wondering what state you are in. We now spend our summers in northern WI with family. Thanks for the heads up on Eminence. I’ll be sure and keep Echo Bluff SP in mind. We usually travel through KC if we’re in a hurry, but if we have extra time, we don’t mind side trips along the way.

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          1. Thank you for the follow! You’d think we would take advantage of our central location and branch out a bit, but we love it so much here in MO that it we end up just going with what we are familiar with 😂

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  3. oh what a great adventure and the mini golf is fun – i have been there with eight attempts on what looked easy!
    and then i have times of smooth and lucky shots

    the blog to book series sounds awesome and your family is beautiful

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    1. Thank you! Ah, yeah … that mini golf day is still one we laugh about. Once I complete the posts on our six week road trip, I’ll go to print and see how the book turns out and if I want to continue.

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        1. Thank you! I’ll be printing straight from the blog. So if you see typos or poor punctuation, please let me know. I’m not concerned about sentence structure … those faux pas will stay 😁

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    1. Haha! The latest style … huge poinsettia barrette. When I first saw the photo, “what the heck”? A good lesson in paying attention to the background before snapping a photo. 😁

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    1. My dad encouraged me to learn how to handle the RV from the very beginning. Al feels so much more relaxed knowing that both of us are capable with all aspects of RVing and it doesn’t fall on his shoulders alone. During our 1,900 mile journey this past summer, half our time we meandered down 2 lane roads enjoying the scenery … no wheat fields but lots of cornfields!

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    1. Thanks Diana. It’s been fun stepping back in time and reliving some of our earlier travels. I’m anxious to complete this first series of posts so I can get them into a printed book. Therefore, I’ll be posting on Wednesdays as well as Sundays for the month of February.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Seems backing up a trailer of any kind comes easier to some. I’m not one of those people 😆 We’ve actually run into folks who traded in their 5th wheel for a Class A because backing up the trailer into a campsite was just too difficult. Those stories always make me feel better 😁

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  4. I’m so impressed by anyone who drives such a huge vehicle, regardless of gender. And I can see that if ever we tried there would be plenty of scope for arguments, and not just about parking 😆

    I really had a laugh at poinsettia head! Until you mentioned it I was sure you were wearing some sort of odd headdress but would have been too polite to mention it 😀

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    1. The long and large size of an RV can be very intimidating. There are times my husband and I are very comfortable and confident and other days we question our every action. 😆 Perhaps, I was going for the flamenco look with that poinsettia. Ah, live and learn!

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      1. You sure are right about somedays backing in is a slam dunk and others you want go hide because it went so awry! But the awesome ones outweigh the embarrassment of the bad ones. When I backed in at Casa Grande RV last Feb, it was so perfect I want to hang onto that feeling forever! We high fived and had a margarita afterward. LOL Usually there’s at least a little adjusting that happens. That time, nada!

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        1. Oh yeah … those first try’s get it right are amazing and wish that were the case all the time backing into a site. A high five and margarita’s sounds like the perfect way to end the day. 🍹

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  5. Three things, Ingrid: 1. Your daughter looks just like you! I had to look twice! 2. Poinsettia head, LOL. At first, I thought you dressed with a Spanish flare for the holidays. and 3, hats off (if I wore one) to you driving the RV and maneuvering into a gas station! This is a great series and thank goodness you got some kinks worked out as you traveled. I had to laugh at your description of Al trying to back in reading your hand signals. Yep, it happens. We moved into our RV as you already read and had to hook up city water using an insulated line. We waited until the next day to buy one at a local RV dealer rather pay the 60% markup at the campground. Then the kitchen faucet started leaking and a disintegrated o-ring was the culprit. Hans grumbled something about “Me” wanting to have water in the RV as he left to buy a box of them. He fixed it and we were happy, LOL! I love that first photo of the white RV against the adobe colors of the casino, quite stunning actually! Have a great week and a virtual toast to RV life in the winter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Winter RVing can be challenging, but then you’ve already experienced snow and cold during that Sedona visit. Maneuvering an RV presents a lot of learning curves and nuances. We still have our moments even after ten years.
      Stepping back in time and reviewing my early posts and photos has enlightened me to my growth as a writer and photographer. I’ve learned a lot and still have a lot more to learn. Keeping one’s mind active is a good thing! BTW, to move this ‘book to blog’ series along, I’ll be posting on Wednesdays too throughout the month. Stay tuned!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. First trip out and a broken toilet may have made me rethink it all! LOL!
    One day we will share “the backing up a boat” story with you!
    Fun to read along my friend…
    Happy Sunday!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ingrid, I enjoyed reading about your RV adventures and will go back to the beginning and try to catch up. Malcolm and I used to think that RVing would be a part of our retirement life, but as we got older it became less appealing. Neither of us has the skills required to deal with constant maintenance. Covid has inspired us to revisit that notion lately, with me being more enthusiastic than Malcolm, so we will see. I do enjoy following RV bloggers and I am especially envious right now of the freedom to travel.

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    1. Ah, freedom? That’s tough right now. So many people have jumped on the RV lifestyle that it has become increasingly more difficult and much more expensive. I spent a couple of hours yesterday trying to make some summer reservations only to realize I was already too late in most cases. I finally scored one reservation. It wasn’t for the time frame or length of stay I originally wanted, but I took what was available – $45 a night. With that said and with some of the difficulties of the lifestyle, I couldn’t image traveling any other way.

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        1. I certainly hope so! I also think there will be plenty of people who end up selling their newly purchased RVs because the lifestyle isn’t what they thought it would be. RVing isn’t for everyone 😀

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  8. Just smiles all around, as you take us back to our first experiences in our Class A…🛣️🚌👥. Y’all will have so many more,,,🙏🏼💪🇺🇸

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ingrid, I’m enjoying following along on your early day’s of RVing with your fifth wheel. I am so impressed that you towed your fifth wheel for five hours on your first trip! I hate to drive a car, much less tow anything so that has always been Henry’s job. Besides, he had been towing boats for years and could back them up easily. Plus, he took a short driving class before we left the RV dealer where we bought the RV. Of course we had plenty of white knuckle steep grades and difficult back in sites to get into but we somehow survived! Can’t wait to see where you went on your second trip!

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    1. So glad to hear you are enjoying our earlier days of the RV life. Al does not like driving. I don’t know if that’s due to his aviation career or what, but lately, I do more driving than he does especially when destination focused traveling like this past summer. Since I like to drive and explore, once we are in a new location, I do almost all the driving. I also love maps, am good with direction, and will spend hours studying the map on a new location so I feel more like a local driving around in the new territory.
      Next posts spoiler alert … RV sits on the side of the house for months unmoved! But there are other adventures 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for sharing. We are very familiar with both CU and CSU. We attended CU and our 3 boys attended CSU. We are anxious to spend time during the winter in the Phoenix area so thanks for the information.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The Phoenix valley has a lot to offer whether one is visiting in an RV or spending time in a vacation rental. Feel free to reach out if you’re looking for any recommendations. We’ve spent the past ten years meandering around Arizona during the fall/winter/spring months.

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  11. Nice to hear from you, Ingrid. You remind me how Casinos are a good place to stop for food when travelling. And, of course, the parking issues. As you describe well, trying to get the RV in a site. “Spousal episode” ha, ha, real world. Interesting about the “Workamping.” Very beautiful family photos. I love all of the smiles. And, yes, “learning curves” always. An interesting post and nice to catch up with you, Ingrid.🙂

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  12. Nice photos! Backing up a longer rig takes time and practice. I used to drive huge tractors and smaller rigs and have years of practice. Keep going! There is frost on the ground here this morning, a high of 56 today.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks John. Yes, it does take practice. I still don’t back up the RV but that’s because I’ve never spent much time doing so. Perhaps one day! It has been cold here in Phoenix as well, but not quite as bad as Vegas. Stay warm! 🥶

      Liked by 1 person

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