We’ve been on the road for a little over 2 weeks now, and we thought we’d give everyone an update on what we’ve been doing so far and how RVing has been going.
We started from Spring Gulch, which is a campground about a mile down the road from my parents. We stayed there a few days as sort of a test run in the RV. It was the first time we had full hook ups, which are power, water, and sewer, and it was the first time we were really able to test some things in the RV.
The good news was that everything worked exactly as intended when we connected to 50 amp power. We’d been on house power at my parents’ place, and that worked fine, but this was a good verification that all of our electrical work was good.
With full power, we were also able to test a few of the more power-hungry appliances in the RV. The AC worked fined, and our washing machine worked fine, but unfortunately the dryer did not. It heats, but it doesn’t spin. It’s not the end of the world - we managed to get some laundry done at the campground we’re staying in right now - but we’d much rather be able to do it in the RV, so we’re going to try to get that fixed soon.
On our way out of our test campground, we finally had some time to practice backing up the RV. My first time ever backing up was when we parked at Spring Gulch, and it went ok, but it was also a really easy site to park in, so I wanted a bit more practice before we were out there in the real world.
We went down to the local high school and practiced backing up for about an hour. I wasn’t great, but I did get a better feel for how the RV handles. It’s a good thing we practiced, though, because the adventure really began as soon as we hit the road. Our first destination was Hickory Run State Park in northeastern PA. Right along our route there was a CAT weigh station, so we wanted to stop and weigh the RV to make sure we were within the truck and RV limits.
From the map, it looked like the weigh station was part of a truck stop right off the highway, so it should have been easy to get to. Unfortunately, due to the way the exits worked, we had to get off the highway a bit early. No problem - we were following our RV GPS, which is supposed to route us on roads that can handle the RV. It winds us through a business park, and before long we see a sign for a bridge that’s 11’ 6”. We continued following the road a bit hoping that there’d be a turn before the bridge, but by the time we realized there wasn’t, we had already passed the last turn option. We ended up having to do a U turn with the RV, but luckily there was enough space in one of the business park entry ways to get turned around. We’re getting a bit stressed now since it’s our first day out driving the RV and we’re winding through unknown roads on the edge of a city, there’s traffic, and we don’t really know where we’re going. Luckily, we managed to find a route that bypassed the bridge and made it to the truck stop. A little stressful, but the truck stop had plenty of space, and it was easy to use the cat scale.
We pulled up on and weighed the RV. Sushila and my parents had both been worried that we were going to be over our limits, but I was pretty confident we weren’t. I’d been trying to estimate how much weight we were adding with all of our stuff, and even trying to be conservative, I thought we’d have 500 lbs to spare. Turns out I was wrong, and we were oveweight by 640 lbs. This was not what we wanted to hear.
I have no idea how we managed to get so far overweight. Overall, it’s only about 3% above our limit, so hopefully that’s within some tolerances, and the truck still seems to handle just fine, but we’re working on correcting it now. We were about half full with water at the time, so we’ve been emptying the tank when we move now, and that covers about half of the weight. We also gave away our heavy grill to friends, and we’ll be sending more unnecessary gear home with my parents next week. We’re also carrying quite a bit of beer since I stocked up before we left. We’re going to re-weigh after making these initial adjustments and see where we are. Hopefully we’re much closer. In the mean time, this is a good way to keep me from buying more stuff for the RV.
Hickory Run State Park
We continued on to the state park. We were stressed from the extra driving we had to do to get to the cat scale, and we were stressed that we were overweight, and we were just ready to get to the site. Most of the trip was highway, so we weren’t worried about that, but the last few miles were on smaller roads. Again, we were relying on the RV GPS to send us the right way, and again it let us down. This time, we turn onto a side road, and we immediately see a sign for a bridge ahead with a 3 ton limit. That can’t even handle the truck, let alone the RV.
At the time, we thought the GPS was on RV mode; however, after checking the next day, it was in car mode, so it’s possible that the bad directions were our fault and not the GPS’s. We’re still not 100% confident in the GPS, but we’ll give it some more time before making a final judgement.
We’re on a tiny road at this point, and there’s no way to turn the RV around, so we continue on and hope we find something. Luckily, there was a turn just before the bridge that took us around the problem and got us to the road the campground was on.
Almost home free.
And of course, because it was our first day, we ended up missing the turn for the campground. This campground is in a state forest, and it was located on the only road that really runs through the park, so there wasn’t any way for us to loop around. We continued down the road, and we were looking at maps trying to see how far we’d have to go to find another road, and we saw a small parking lot for a trail. We slowed down and evaluated, and I thought it looked big enough, so I decided to go for it and we pulled in.
It was not big enough.
By the time the truck was pulled in to the parking spot, the RV had barely made it into the lot. To make matters worse, some other people pulled in right behind us. They realized we were trying to turn, so they were nice and got out of our way, but then they were just sitting in their car watching us and waiting until they could park. No pressure at all.
At this point, I had the option of trying to do my backup and turn right into the road, or trying to squeeze into the lot. Luckily, after the designated parking area, there was just a field with some grass. It was on a bit of a hill, but it hadn’t rained, so I decided to pull in and turn there. It worked, and it gave me enough room to back the RV and get turned around. Thanks to all that practice in the morning, I was able to turn the way I wanted, and it all worked out.
We made it back to the campground and got settled in to our site. We were fortunate that the site was about as easy to park as you could hope for, but it was still a stressful first day driving.
The next day was better since no RV moving was involved. There was a highly rated hiking trail near the campground, so we went there in the morning and hiked along the river. It was a really pretty hike. There were waterfalls, and there was a really cool old dam.
After the hike, we drove out to see the Hickory Run Boulder Field, which is a national natural landmark. It’s a 17 acre field of boulders, with the largest being around 30’, but the average size for what we saw was closer to 3-4’. The field formed during an ice age, and it was created due to freeze/thaw cycles that broke up the bedrock.
That afternoon, we packed up our bikes and drove to the nearby down of Jim Thorpe. It’s a really cute little town, and it has access to the Lehigh Valley Rail Trail. This was our first time really taking the bikes out. We rode about 10 miles along the river through a beautiful gorge. We would have liked to go further, but we don’t have much biking experience yet, and we weren’t carrying any gear like spare tubes or pumps, so we didn’t want to push it. It was a lot of fun, though, and that alone was enough to make me glad we got the bikes.
Taconic State Park
After that, we headed on to Taconic State Park, which is at the borders of NY, MA, and CT. When I initially planned the trip, Google Maps had the drive at around 3 hours. Unfortunately, that route sent you down a parkway that does not allow vehicles over 10’, and the alternative route was more like 4.5 hours. It was definitely longer than we wanted to be driving, but this time we made it without any problems.
We met up with friends from the city there and hung out for the weekend. It was great to see them all again after being away for over a month. The weather wasn’t great, and it rained quite a bit one day, but we had time to hike to the nearby Bash Bish waterfall, and we also did a short bike ride on the Harlem Valley Rail Trail which runs right through the park. The park also had a Raptor and Reptiles lecture one evening, and it was surprisingly good. The lecturer showed some really cool birds and shared a lot of interesting information. Despite the rain, it was a really nice weekend.
This was also our first campsite without full hookups. We did end up having water at the site, but we didn’t have power or a sewer pipe, so we got to test the capacity of our battery and tanks. The battery worked really well. Despite being partially shaded by trees and having cloudy, rainy weather almost the entire time, we probably could have made it 3 days on our battery without being overly conservative. We didn’t want to push it too far, though, so we did run the generator a couple times to top it off.
Our tanks served us well, too. Again, we weren’t overly conservative, and we ended up using real dishes and cleaning them for the whole group of 8, and despite that, our kitchen tank didn’t read full until the morning of the 4th day. I’m sure we could go much longer if we were conservative.
After our friends went home, we packed up and headed on to Lake George, New York. This was a halfway point between where we met our friends and where we were visiting family in Vermont. We spent the rest of the week there with full hookups and wifi so we could get some work done, go shopping, do some laundry, and finish organizing stuff in the RV. We wanted to make sure to get all of our chores were finished before we met up with the whole family.
We did have a little time to explore the area, though. We did a hike to the top of Prospect Mountain. It’s right along side the town and lake, so we were hoping for some good views. It was a really hard hike. It was just a steep, rocky trail for a mile and a half, which didn’t seem so bad in my head when I was reading reviews of the hike, but actually doing it was a different story. We almost turned around at a couple points, but we pushed and made it to the top, and it was definitely worth it. We had beautiful views of the town, the lake, and the surrounding mountains. We could see the high peaks of the adirondacks to the north, the Green Mountains of Vermont to the east and south, and almost the entire length of Lake George.
We originally hoped to get to do a little sailing, or at least kayaking, on the lake while we were there, but the weather didn’t cooperate. We had two full days of rain, so we spent the time catching up on work and organizing the RV. While we did manage to fit all of our stuff in the RV before we left, most of it was not well organized at all. It still isn’t 100% organized now, but we’re getting closer.
After Lake George, we headed north to Hyde Park, Vermont, visit my family. We’ll spend a long weekend with them before heading on to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, for the 4th of July. After the 4th, my family will head home, and Sushila and I will travel to Acadia National Park.