Sunset Over the Lake

Newbie RV Travels

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Tent camping as a kid has somewhat prepared me for camping in a RV. It didn’t however prepare me for the wow factor when we first camped in our new Roadtrek CS Adventurous E-Trek. For those of you planning your first trip, make sure to read the manual twice and join the Facebook Roadtreking Group. Those two resources made our first RV night a breeze. Here is a summary of what we experienced over our first four trips.

Trip 1: What Have I Done?

People call this their shakedown trip, but all I could think of was how stupid it was to be to spending hard earned money to live like a homeless person. Then my wife and I spent our first night camping. Wow, this was awesome. We walked the beach just 15 minutes after setting up camp. In comparison, it took more than an hour setting up tent camping as a kid. Dinner included fresh grilled salmon and wine. This was living! In just one night those fears changed to happiness.

Tucker and Abbey

Tucker and Abbey

Trip 2: Dogs and Rain

The next trial included three nights camping with two 45 pound brittany dogs. Packing was tweaked to include dog food, meds and other needs. One of our dogs panicked shaking uncontrollably as we drove to the first campsite. Both dogs adjusted the moment we setup camp. After that, they met every new campsite and romp as a blissful adventure.

Prior to this trip, we purchased Dirty Dog Doormats to keep the RV clean and to give the dogs a soft place to sleep. The rugs were put to the test when it started raining. The muddy shoes/paws that stepped on those rugs were clean when stepping off.

Dirty Dog Rugs

Dirty Dog Rugs

Trip 3: Spontaneous Traveling

We’ve discovered that its possible to travel on a moments notice. My brother/sister-in-law wanted to visit their kids/grandkids that live in our area. A last minute decision had them camping 30 minutes away so the kids could enjoy swimming, camping and campfires. We were invited so reservations were made at 1:30PM and we pulled into camp at 4PM that same day. We brought bikes and rode around Holland, MI. They were hauled using a Hollywood hitch-mounted rack that we simply love for its ease of use.

This camp had full hookups, but we decided that it was time to try try boon-docking. Camp setup and teardown was faster since we didn’t spend time on the hook ups. Otherwise, everything just worked. There was plenty of power, water and black/gray tank space to spare.

Trip 4: Putting it Together

Sunset Over the Lake

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Sunset Over the Lake

It was time put all the we learned to the test and spend five nights camping unhooked with dogs and bikes in tow. We got in the habit of biking each campground and the surrounding area so we could figure out where things were. We’d return to camp to get the dogs then we would all spend the day romping while taking in the scenery, sites and beautiful sunsets over Lake Michigan. Campground showers were welcome when they were available, otherwise everything was self-contained. We dumped and refilled water daily prior to driving to our next campsite.

Our routine became: travel, set camp, explore (bike, walk and/or drive), watch sunset, sleep, break camp, repeat. I never imagined that life could be so simple and fun.

The Things We Learned

Small units necessitate creative packing. Each new trip caused tweaks in what we packed, how we packed it and where it was packed.

Dogs that only know invisible fences do adjust quickly to leashes. Constant entanglements as they crossed paths was a learning curve for us all.

Roadtrek’s have great flooring. A broom and mud absorbing rugs keeps our little home clean.

Now that we experienced E-Trek, I can’t imagine RVing without. No more hookups unless its absolutely necessary. Just fill and dump as needed.

A Perfect Way to Travel

Camping is a totally different experience when RVing vs tent camping. When I tent camped as a kid, I remember the campgrounds, but not the scenery or local attractions. In our Roadtrek, its more about touring with the fun parts of camping tossed in. If only we had discovered this years back.

Now that the newbie RVing label is wearing off, its time to tackle our bucket-list. If you see a white-bearded guy waving on the highway or visiting your campsite, it might just be JG Van.

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  • Barbara

    Hello JG, enjoyed your first column for Roadtreking. Thanks for the tip about Dirty Dog Doormats. I bought one and love it. Haven’t had a dirty dog on it yet, but I like the way it clings to the floor in our new CS. When Abbey jumps off the sofa she doesn’t like a rug that slips! I may get another one.
    Our CS isn’t an E-trek but it does have two additional coach batteries with a solar panel. We are longtime Roadtrek owners. But the CS doesn’t have a traditional generator. It has an engine gen. I’m a little worried about that since we do leave Abbey in the van with the air on in hot weather when we stop for a short time.
    Keep you interesting articles coming. And welcome as a Roadtrek owner!

    SF Bay Area

    • JG Van

      I had forgotten to mention how well they stay in place due to the non-slip underside. Thanks for mentioning it.

      I’m not the guy who would know how long the AC would last for that configuration. I typically take my dogs with me wherever. It’s been cool enough around here to leave them in the RT if we go out for dinner or something shorter. We turn on the ceiling fan and crack windows open to create circulation.

      We too have an Abby! She’s about to hit 11 years old. Our other is Tucker nearing 7.