Full-Time RV Beginners: Top 15 Things We Learned On The Road – Part 3 of 3
Go to Part 1 of 3: Beachwood Resort – Blaine, WA
Go to Part 2 of 3: Birch Bay Thousand Trails RV Campground
If you’re thinking or wondering about going full-time, keep reading! These are the top 15 things we learned in our first five weeks on the road as full-time RV beginners.
After buying our first Class A Motorhome in September 2020, we traveled part-time and worked from home (in the RV) for eight months. We were complete beginners.
We started our adventure with a three-week road trip, bringing the RV home from Des Moines, IA to Seattle, WA. Through the winter and spring of 2021, we alternated two weeks out in the RV, and then we’d be in town for two weeks to catch up on laundry and life at home.
In May 2021, we went full-time, moving from our high-rise condo downtown Seattle into Charlie The Unicorn, our 40-foot 2016 Entegra Aspire Class A Motorhome.
For the first five weeks, we “circled the harbor” in the Bellingham, WA, area, to get ourselves settled in the RV and ready to set forth across the country.
In order to make this full-time RV dream a reality, we had to solve immediate challenges in those first weeks (part 3 of 3 – link to part 1 & 2):
- Learning how to drive the RV — and why?!
- Keeping it clean (laundry)
- Planning & scheduling — what next?
This post is all about our full-time RV beginner experience and the lessons we learned that could help you make the leap, too.
Here we go–
Full-Time RV Beginners: Top 15 Things We Learned – Part 3 of 3
Week 5 – Grandy Creek Thousand Trails/KOA – Concrete, WA
11. Back-up driver
I drove out of the park in Birch Bay, to the first rest area on the Interstate (about 10 miles)! It was my first time driving the RV outside of a big, empty parking lot.
Learning to drive 60 feet in tonnage (40’ RV + 20’ Jeep in tow) is scary, but important.
What if something happens to my driver?
I know how to unhook the Jeep and drive away — I can do that!
But if there was an emergency, if he didn’t feel well or couldn’t drive… I need to learn.
So I’m trying.
Achievable: First 10 miles – check!
(I didn’t crash into anything or anybody!)
12. Thousand Trails Re-Visited
So far, Grandy Creek has been our most remote campground, and one of our favorites. Nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains beyond the tiny outpost of Concrete, WA, the campground is about 30 miles from the Interstate.
Remote, quiet, and beautiful.
Grandy Creek Thousand Trails/KOA is an unusual campground, split half & half between Thousand Trails and KOA, two completely different and separate membership networks. There are only a couple of these hybrid resorts in the entire country.
Grandy Creek is a smaller campground, with only 124 RV spaces of varying lengths and available hook-ups. Thousand Trails designated spaces have GREEN posts (the individual electrical supply box where you plug in your power cord); KOA spaces have YELLOW posts.
I’m not sure how it is with KOA campgrounds and resorts, but one challenging drawback with Thousand Trails is that you normally can’t reserve a specific site ahead of time. You reserve dates and they promise to have “somewhere” for you to park, which can include overflow parking without any services (power, water, sewer).
We have been very lucky, so far (in the first three weeks and two parks in Resort Parks International (RPI) participating Thousand Trails campgrounds).
It’s first come, first served. You drive into the campground at or after the appointed check-in time (usually 11am). You drive around the park, with other RVs arriving at the same time, to find and claim a site as quickly as possible.
They can’t guarantee appropriate hook-ups or that when you arrive, an available site will be long enough for your RV.
Timing is everything. We got one of the last two sites we could have fit in, with full hook-ups, when we drove in at 2pm on Sunday afternoon.
13. Our travel schedule: Working full-time & Internets
With the ebb & flow of traffic we see coming in and leaving the campgrounds, we’re starting to figure out a long-term schedule, as far as the best times for us to move campgrounds.
With Russ WFH – Working From Home – we need to be in place each week, with our own Wifi/Internet service up and running, by late Sunday afternoon. We stay in place Monday thru Friday so that Russ can be on the Zoom, working.
Our ideal travel schedule would be staying at one campground for two weeks or more, depending on the location and things to see & do, so that we would have at least one weekend in the area, to hike and explore, and enjoy the campground.
The WFH schedule limits our travel days to maybe Friday, late afternoon, or all day Saturday and half-day on Sunday.
The most we want to drive in one day is about 4 – 6 hours. It’s always good to arrive at a campground in the late afternoon, with at least an hour of sunlight to set up and look around. We have driven eight hours at a stretch before. It’s not easy!
(Now I know: Driving a big RV, towing a car behind, is physically demanding and mentally exhausting, even for only 10 miles!)
On this schedule, we’re generally pulling into campgrounds on Sunday afternoon, which is a great time, after the Weekend Warriors have packed up and gone home.
If we leave on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, we’ll plan on “boondocking” in between campgrounds and RV parks– more about that later.
14. LAUNDRY DAY
This is the first time to admit: Charlie The RV has a stackable washer & dryer on board, which is still amazing to me– such luxury! But not really…
Although we bought the RV with a fully functional washer & dryer, which we got to see in several video walk-throughs, and had professionally inspected prior to purchase…
Unfortunately, by the time we took delivery in Des Moines, IA, the washing machine wasn’t working. Almost a year later, it’s still not working.
The dryer is awesome, but the washer has no life, no lights. DOA. It seems to have had its fuses blown, at some point, between purchase and delivery.
(We have discussed this, at length, with the dealer, and have resolved the issue with them to our satisfaction. We have the money (from them) for full replacement. Still, it’s not that easy!)
This is absolutely a hot issue to get fixed, to replace the washer, and the dryer, too, at the same time. But in our current post-pandemic environment and economy, it’s neither an inexpensive or easy thing to arrange RV service, let alone find new appliances to purchase.
The U.S. and international supply chain is still catching up from delays, shortages, shutdowns, and global logistics of the last 18 months.
So for now, Tuesday is Laundry Day.
Some campgrounds have very nice laundry facilities. Some don’t.
When I can’t use the campground laundry, I’ll find the closest laundromat in town.
I was spoiled at Birch Bay Thousand Trails, with a beautiful, clean, laundry room with six newish washers & dryers. Plenty of room to sort and fold. I had the place to myself on quiet Tuesday mornings.
Beachwood… well, TBD. (See picture above.) Definitely not up to standards, even my very loose campground standards for laundry. I’ll be taking it all into town tomorrow, to Blaine or Bellingham (20 miles south on I-5). Checking Google Maps and Yelp reviews tonight…
15. Setting out: Trip Planning, Scheduling & Reservations
Even though we camped frequently in the first eight months we owned the RV, it was part-time. We’d go out for two weeks at a time, and then go back home to the condo (where I could catch up on the laundry).
We’ve been “circling the harbor” these first five weeks, full time RV living and WFH. Getting everything settled with our new permanent address. Getting our kid settled in, starting school. One last (hopefully) medical appointment next week.
We are planning to leave on our big RV adventure across the country in the last week of July– to Florida!
Via Montana & South Dakota… St. Louis, Missouri… Spartanburg, South Carolina…
Somewhere along the way, we’ll get the washer & dryer replaced.
I’ve got some planning and scheduling to do, reservations to make, in the next three weeks.
For now, back to our home park for 4th of July weekend!