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It’s time for a garage sale

Several years ago, long enough to qualify as many years ago, a good friend convinced me to buy a boat.  As it turns out, we are still good friends.  He is the kind of person who you know, without question, will have your back when times get tough. But will tell you, in private, with a calming voice, that you are wrong when it’s warranted.  Iron sharpening iron. Phil is a remarkable outdoorsman, the person you want to have with you if you ever get stranded. He’s actually taught classes in boater safety, hunter safety, and self – defense. Sorry ladies, he’s married. No guys, I won’t give out his number. Over the years he’s given me advice on the local waterways sandbars to avoid or look for, blowouts to use as shortcuts, and how to stay safe on a boat. Probably the best, if not most important, advice came shortly after I first got the boat. “Don’t run out and get everything you think you need.”  It is this sage advice I pass onto new RVer’s.

Now that you’ve been binge watching shows about owning an RV and you’ve finally made your purchase – let the shopping begin!  The danger starts something like this: since it’s the two of us we should get six outdoor chairs for our friends to go camping with us. With all those chairs, we need a few tables to set our drinks on. In fact, we should probably get a folding camp picnic table to take with us. Add also, a couple of 20 x 40 mats to put down so our stuff doesn’t touch the ground.  Throw in some really cool lights to wrap around our awing, three cases of those orange leveling blocks….. heey, look at that really cool six person hammock with the metal frame!  We’re going to need that portable gazebo to put over it.  STOP!

Breathe in …. breathe out.  But why not? Let’s start with the basics.  All that is shiny is not gold – nor is it light.  Not only is there only so much storage in your RV, weight is not your friend.  Yep, the sticker says you can carry 2,000 pounds in your RV! MMM… now let’s start subtracting: thirty to sixty pounds for your propane, twenty gallons of fresh water in your holding tank for emergencies x eight pounds per gallon, the grey and or black water you were not able to dump, battery for your 12 volt system, the six pairs of jeans, socks etc. you packed for your weekend trip (x’s the number of travelers), groceries, dishes, TV’s, and oh yes – my wife went shopping.  I think you get the picture.  Over the decades we have had many guests limp into the park after suffering tire blow outs.  In some cases, doing serious damage.  Granted, not all of these were due to overloading, sometimes things just happen.  Don’t stack the deck against yourself.  Secondly, a lot of the things that look shiny now will become a pain in the rear to pack and unpack.  In my experience the thing you need is usually right behind all that stuff you really don’t want to unpack – in the rain – at night – since we’re leaving in the morning.

This doesn’t mean you can’t go shopping.  Start with the fundamentals, protect your investment. Every RV should be attached to a surge arrester. I recommend one that also checks for electrical faults.  Also a must, is a water pressure regulator.  Now, most likely your RV did not come with a sewer hose.  Don’t skimp, purchase a heavy duty hose, preferably one that can be connected to an extension hose for when you find “that park” where the sewer connection is nowhere near the other connections.  Additionally, some parks require a support system for your sewer hose.  You will also find this useful at “that park” where the park sewer connection is up hill from your RV’s connection. While were talking dirty, pick up a “garden hose” to use for flushing your Black Water tank and a drinking water hose to connect the park water to your RV.  It’s a good idea to purchase a water filter which will go between your RV and the park’s water supply.  Remember those orange leveling blocks, you’re going to need a few for leveling and to place under your stabilizers.  Most parks with concrete slabs will ask that you don’t use jacks. If the slab is level, you won’t need them, but can instead, use them as a pad under your stabilizers.

Now that we’ve got the necessities, let’s go shopping.  No, not the chairs.  On the highly recommended list: depending on your RV, a 30 amp to 50 amp or 50 amp to 30 amp electrical “pigtail” extension cord for your RV power, an extra water hose and extra gaskets for your water hose and a TV cable for those parks that provide cable TV. The temptation is to rationalize, you only need one water hose if you get a fifty footer “to reach anywhere”.  Yeah… after struggling with that big boy a few dozen times and then realizing MOST of the time you need less than fifteen feet… I’m giving you a short cut here. 

Remember – RVing should be a fun and relaxing way to explore the world we’ve been given.  Try not to over complicate it.  Now, let’s go look at those chairs!

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