After we returned from our first major trip with our motorcoach, we thought about some of the lessons that we learned.
Lesson 1: Be Prepared
Our coach was only a few months old. We were taking her on her first long trip. And we had some problems. Not so much in the planning of the trip, although that part is very important. This is a vehicle that usually likes to travel in one direction: forward. Making sure we had our waypoints well established, particularly for refuelling, was essential.
I had programmed the trip using Garmin’s BaseCamp. I made sure that we had easy access to food and fuel for a trip which spanned almost 3,000 kilometres. Big rigs like ours need big spaces. In addition to our RV specific GPS, the Garmin RV 760 LMT, we carried the Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas. We also carry the Big Rigs Best Bets Campground Directory. The latter includes a list of easy access fueling stations across North America.
Roadside assistance is an essential service. With the engine and tire trouble that we experienced on our first trip, we were thankful that we had spent the money on Coach-Net. The service paid for itself on our first major trip.
Lesson 2: Carry Extensions
Our final stopover before heading home was at the Port Huron KOA. Our sewage hose barely reached and our black tank rinse hose did not reach. We did not bring any extensions. We do have 50-foot power reels for electricity and potable water and a 50-foot reach is more than enough for those services. I thought 25-feet would be enough for sewage and black tank rinse. Not so. We need to bring extensions for our other services.
Lesson 3: Perform Circle Checks
Always, always perform circle checks. If I had not performed a circle check, I would not have caught the sidewall bulge in our front tire. A front tire blowout, particularly at high speed, is going to ruin a good day.
A circle check is a comprehensive inspection of the motorcoach both before and after any trip. I had written a very detailed post about our inspection checklist here. It does seem like a lot of work but it really does not take that much time. When operating a rig that is about 40,000 pounds, the 20 minutes or so that it takes to check the coach before a trip is well worth the effort. Safety first.
Lesson 4: Birds of a Feather
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Petoskey and it was due, in part, to two things: a quiet, peaceful setting and couples at a similar place in life. Don’t get me wrong. We love kids and families with children. That said, we really stand out when we pull our motorcoach into a crowded, chaotic RV park filled with trailers and 5th wheels. The sites are tight with very little privacy. We often wind up shading many of the windows on our coach.
Not at Petoskey. Even though the sites were not overly generous, the overall look and feel was expansive. There were numerous Class A motorcoaches and wonderful couples similar in age and experience. Very easy to meet people and to make new friends.
It is worth our time to seek out these types of experiences whenever we can. We are confident that this will be easy to do once we are snowbirds and going south to places in Florida and Arizona. We have yet to find anything here in Canada. Lots of Provincial Parks and private campgrounds. And most of them fall into the crowded, chaotic category.
Lesson 5: Lifestyle
This was a tough one. Lorraine and I are both very anxious to start our retirement and to get out there with our coach. Getting a small taste of what lies ahead was wonderful. We also found it really, really hard to leave and to go back to what currently passes as our “normal lives”.
There is a time and a place for raising families and careers. We are finding ourselves more than ready to move on to retirement and to travelling in our coach while we are still healthy and still relatively young.
Lesson 6: Take It Easy
Letting go of all the stresses and worries of modern life takes a bit of effort. Having a few mechanical issues actually forced us to be flexible. We extended our stay by two days. And you know what? That was just fine. Everything worked out.
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney