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8/3/00 Thursday - The First Time (Asland, VA)

Bought an RV last night. Drove down to Carson, VA from Richmond, VA to try my hand at negotiating for a 1977 Dodge Apache with its previous owners, Chuck and DeeDee L. Got it for a good price, although my negotiating skills are weak at best.

me in my rv

Still, I drove it out of their driveway with a couple of hours of RV "how-to" training under my belt from a tireless Chuck who talked through all the details, letting me try things like starting the fridge and starting up the generator.

Leah (my sister) followed as I drove down the dark roads to Wal-Mart. And in a sisterly fashion, as soon as we pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot, she let me know my left brake and signal lights weren't working. Which made no sense since the rig just passed inspection the day before. But there it was.

Wal-Mart was big (she says, coming from New York City where there isn't a Wal-Mart). I especially liked the camping section. Stocked up on things for the "home" and headed for Toni's (my best friend). Arrived right before 11pm but she and her family were already in bed. So after a few unsuccessful attempts at finding level ground on her cul-de-sac, in the dark, I decided to shut off the fridge and set up for the night. (RV fridges can only be run when the RV is totally level.)

Tried to create privacy while still letting air pass through so we wouldn't suffocate. Was so conscious of every rustle, every car tire on pavement, the loud zooming hum of the crickets. The crickets. I was feeling like I was practically outdoors, lying on the sofa, with a pillow, cotton sheet and my two chihuahuas.

Right before 6am, I thought I heard Toni call my name. I bolted up from the sofa and went to the window. In the barely gray-blue haze of dawn, I could see Toni's silhouette moving down the driveway toward the street where I was parked.

A little coffee and cereal later, we talked about my RV, my upcoming travels, and our lives. Took a hot shower with lots of water pressure, something I will come to appreciate in the months to come, I'm sure.

Taking Care of Business

Yep, took care of a lot of business all day. First went to Ukrops for additional groceries. Then went to the DMV to get my license plates and tags. It took over an hour for the clerk behind the desk to figure out the abbreviation for "motorhome" to get my paperwork through the system (MH for anyone applying for tags in Virginia for their motorhome).

Next it was a trip to Southern RV to check out the back lights. On the way, I saw signs for Capital RV and it seemed more convenient to stop off there instead. I missed the entrance into their lot and pulled into a dealership, asking the mechanics how to get back around to the RV place.

"I don't mean nothing bad by saying this," said one of the mechanics, "but we don't get to see a woman behind the wheel of these things too much."

I took it as a compliment and showed off a little with a smooth 3-corner turn. Women can handle big rigs, too.

Finally got to Southern RV and got the lights fixed and had them put the license plates on the vehicle as well. All set to go. On to the campground.

Americamps Richmond North my first campground ever. I checked in, pulled into my spot (#23) and checked to see if the RV was level. It wasn't and between eyeballing it outside and using a small leveler inside (front to back and side to side), I decided to put a single wooden board under the left rear tire and two boards under the left front tire. First try and it was level!

Feeling like a pro, I went on to plug in the electric, then hook up the fresh water from a water pump. Everything check out. The next step was putting in the sewer line, but I chickened out. I felt like I was pressing my luck and the last place you want something to go wrong is the sewer line. (Stinky messy)

So I just went about some domestic chores, putting away groceries, organizing the finances and paperwork, being responsible.

Later in the evening, Leah showed up with some extra gifts for around the "house," thinking of the details. We sat outside at a picnic bench, eating chips with salsa and drinking Coronas, waiting for the mosquito coils that burned around us to kick in and whip the bugs out of our way.

I noticed a family pull into the lot across the way and as they began hooking up their sewer line, I ran over to ask them if I could watch. They showed me the special attachments they had bought to make the hookup process easier. I made a mental note to order them from CampingWorld.com or pick them up at Wal-Mart. Anything to make hooking up the sewer line easier!

"You're going in style," the husband said, looking over at my 1977 Dodge Apache Class C Motorhome. I didn't know if he was kidding or not because he seemed to have quite a nice trailer behind his pickup. They were from Kinderhook and we talked for a moment about Columbia County, New York, then I gathered my chihuahuas and headed back for Lot #23.

Feeling full of knowledge, I put on some disposable latex gloves that I had bought and ventured out to take care of the sewer line. After a few tugs here and a few tugs there, everything fit into place, and I felt like a pro again.

Back at the picnic table with Leah, we both ended up bug bitten, her worse than me, so we moved into the RV and looked at the big Rand McNally road atlas she had bought me the night before at Wal-Mart.

Hanging in the RV, drinking beers, watching a car or a trailer or RV drive by every once in a while. Us watching them as they looked at us through the window of my Dodge Apache.

Winding Down the Day

After Leah left, I straightened out a bit, then pulled out the sofa bed and put on clean white cotton sheets.

So now I am in that limbo between relaxing and feeling like I should be doing something. Relaxation seems to have the upper hand tonight, although that shouldn't be a bad thing.

Tomorrow I have to reserve a space at the Maryland campground, call around and find out about parking the RV for a month as I get things in order in the city, get some writing assignments done so I'm ahead, and relax some more.

RV living. Survived official Day 1, I think.

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