We finally tow our T@B camper / travel trailer!

 

We finally get everything to where we are comfortable to tow a trailer for the first time.  I wish it was on some grand adventure, but it was just about 35 miles to our home from the campground in Monroe, WA.  We did stop a couple of times to make sure nothing was being destroyed and just to check on things.  The first thing we heard was the safety chains dragging on the gravel road.  Then we heard this plastic sound as we went over our first speed bump.  Yup, that was the gray tank plastic cover that had come off and was skipping across the gravel.

Luckily no sway at all!  The little T@B trailer tracked like a champ.  We did have some up and down bouncing (more than just bumps in the road)  We decided that we did not need the 2-inch drop on the hitch as the previous owners had with their taller SUV.  So we need to flip that hitch over.  That way the hitch will only have a 3/4-inch rise instead of the two-inch drop. We do however need to now add an adapter piece since the sway bar will have nothing to attach to.  (Sway bar adapter)

Check out the video!  Can’t wait for our upcoming trip 1 month out.

-Mara

No Sway! Why we installed an RV Sway Bar.

We may have all seen the images of travel trailers or just trailers being towed on the highway, losing control into a roll over crash. Some can be attributed to weight distribution or poor loading of the trailer. Some others can be attributed to driving way too fast for conditions.  A few can be attributed to side winds or the pushing and pulling from larger trucks passing on the highway.  Since we are not experts on the subject, the information we have provided here and in our attached YouTube Video is based on our own research and is not advice in any way.

Since a sway bar for our T@B travel trailer is new to us and we have never towed a trailer before, we decided for the $30 or so that it costs to purchase a sway bar would be a good idea.  If we never have to use it, that would be great! If we really needed it at some point, it would be the best $30 ever spent to prevent a potential loss of control or a roll over crash.

We have never heard that a T@B needs one.  They are low to the ground, light weight, and you really can’t over pack it.  Our tow vehicle has plenty of available weight to pull the trailer.

Here are some of the resources we used to make that decision:

U-haul trailer sway of death

Caravan Sway Crash

How To Control Trailer Sway by RV Education 101®

how to avoid trailer sway

towing tips for preventing trailer sway

rig sway

Here is where we found the one that we purchased:

pro series sway bar link

-Mara

 

 

Our Little Teardrop Camper – T@B

Here it is the big reveal!

We found this great 2014 T@B camper/travel trailer.  We totally fell in love with its cuteness and versatility.  It is lightweight (about 1600 lbs) to tow but still has all of the amenities of a full-size RV. We have a kitchen, hot water, propane stove, air conditioning, and even a commode/shower combo.

Check out the latest video of our little teardrop being delivered….did I mention that it is the coolest shade of blue?

-Mara

Tracing History – Natchez Trace Pkwy

It was hot and humid late August in Tennessee.  We stopped in Nashville to stock up at Costco since we were going to be out in the country right off of the Natchez Trace Parkway.  I love pulling up the RV right into the large Costco lot shopping and putting the groceries right into the fridge!  What we didn’t know is that part of the Parkway was closed for some reason.  In a car that would be mostly ok but in a 36-foot Motorhome pulling a smart car not so OK.  It required a turnaround possibly u-turn. It was not even marked ahead of time nothing written on the thousand trails website! (See the video for full information. It did say it would be closed for a while on the sign.)

img_20160825_144913

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile long drive through 10,000 years of History.  (NPS Gov Website referenced) From Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN  you can bike, camp, tour, hike and more recreational opportunities abound in this area.

We were intrigued by the ominous story of Lewis and Clark’s Meriweather Lewis and his suspicious death.  While we did not have time to drive the length of the parkway, there is a ton to see in each area!

Along Natchez Trace Parkway TN

I would caution those in RV’s to make sure to check the height of the bridges and make sure to have ways around the low clearances.  We had a bridge right outside the thousand trails campground entrance that was 11 feet tall while our RV was 12 feet 10 inches tall.

Check out these links for more information:

https://roadtripusa.com/the-great-river-road/mississippi/natchez-trace-parkway/

http://www.scenictrace.com/

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ms-natcheztrace.html

map-trace

-Mara

 

Exploring Mammoth Cave National Park KY

After a failed attempt work camping at Amazon in Campbellsville, KY in August 2016. (I hurt my foot and decided to leave – longish story but not that interesting)  We moved to the closest Thousand Trails campground and that happened to be this one to regroup and decide where our RVing adventures would lead us next.

The thousand trails campground is located right inside of Mammoth Cave National Park.  So after my foot was mostly healed, I could not leave the area without some exploration of Mammoth Cave.  The area is full of rolling hills and known for their underground passageways that have been explored and mined for hundreds if not thousands of years.

This was a really really hot and humid August summer day in central Kentucky.  The kind of day that is really meant for sitting in a pool or drinking some ice tea on a front porch somewhere.  What was the most remarkable thing I remember about the tour?  Standing outside on that hot day and having a cold breeze taking over the air. It was a dose of mother nature’s air conditioning.  It seemed to just pour out of the entrance.

The tours vary in length and activity level.  I chose a moderate cave tour with stooping and and a ton of steps (at the end over 155 steps to reach back to the outside trail)  I was able to complete the hike within the cave even with a swollen foot from my short stint at my work camping job.  They give you plenty of warnings at the pre – hike lecture and if you need to change your choice at that point you definitely can.  Just be honest with yourself on your level of comfort in the dark and what you can handle physically.  It is a long way up and a crew to come down and get you out of the cave can take hours!

Here is the link for more information:  Mammoth Cave National Park Tours

Take a look at the video I attached.  Please subscribe on YouTube Subscribe here! for more updates and companion to the blog here at firesidetraveler.com!

-Mara

RV Living – How to make a heated Water Hose

The temperatures in Western Washington have been really cold.  We decided it was time to start thinking about making a heated hose to prevent frozen pipes in our RV.  We had problems last year in Albuquerque when the hose bib itself froze and we luckily had enough in our fresh water tank until that unfroze the next day.

Here is a pretty detailed video of he we made our own heated water hose.

-Mara

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Oh YEAH! Motorhome Shopping- 2015

Our Motorhome Thor

2013 Thor Hurricane 29X – BYE BYE THOR – Hello 2015 Tiffin Allegro Open Road 36LA

We just purchased our second Class A Motorhome and are by means no experts, but wanted to write about our experience and what we have learned.  So here it goes…

We spent about eight or so years shopping and educating ourselves on all types of RVs from travel trailers to 5th wheels to Class B and C and finally Class A Motorhomes.  In 2013, we decided we were ready to take the plunge while living in California and the Bay area.  We were renting an apartment in San Jose and decided that prices for a home were ridiculous and the process of buying in that area was even more ridiculous.  So after dreaming of having a camper for years we decided to seriously start shopping. With an RV, we can have whatever view we wanted in the mountains or on the beach or anything in between. If we didn’t like our neighbors we could just drive away!

We thought we wanted a Class C RV no bedroom just the basics. We found something perfect! It was a 26 foot Itasca Spirit. We put a money down to hold it and low and behold the dealership sold it out from under us!  We searched all over to find another one of the same year and floor plan. Unfortunately, no luck so the search resumed.  We really didn’t consider Class A motorhomes at the time….there was a “special” on a 2013 Thor Hurricane 29X which was not much bigger than the Spirit…because of the price we decided to take it on a test drive.  We were convinced after the panoramic view out of that huge front window that a Class A was for us. That day we bought the Hurricane in Davis California and began our RVing adventures across the western United States.

We have always been those people who are hard to sell to because we are non-emotional buyers.  Making the process a business transaction until the process is done then allowing ourselves to become attached.  We have purchased one new and one used.

Here are some of my suggestions on buying:

  • Know your budget ahead of time (how much do you want to put as your down payment if you are financing the purchase we make it a point to get the best interest rate)
  • What is your ideal floor plan? (you may need to shop around for a while to know what this means … maybe just a dinette will not work for you…do you want a dedicated bedroom?)
  • Test drive (does the coach sway back and forth on the road when you are at full speed?)
  • Make sure to shop around for the best trade in value if you already own an RV.  This amount can vary greatly.
  • If it’s used … get it checked out!
  • What is the warranty if any?  Sometimes buying the extra warranty makes sense sometimes it doesn’t.
  • Don’t feel pressured to buy something right now.  It’s OK to walk away.
  • The process should be easy…if sales staff is making it too hard…it’s OK to walk away. You may find that that dealer is the best deal and are willing to deal with them and decide to buy anyway… I always question why some dealers want the buyer to take all of the sacrifices.  We run from these places.  It is a huge red flag.

On Friday we traded in our Hurricane for a slightly longer used 2015 Tiffin Allegro Open Road 36LA. brochure 2015 Allegro   It is a much more livable floor plan for our needs.  Instead of just having a dinette and a reclining chair like the Hurricane we had, We now have an L-shaped Sofa and an RV with amazing quality.  Everything feels great inside and the ride is quiet and the handling is even better!  More to come on an inside video! Stay tuned.  We could not be more excited!

Hello Tiffin Allegro Open Road!
Hello Tiffin Allegro Open Road!
Our 2015 Tiffin Allegro Open Road
Our 2015 Tiffin Allegro Open Road

Here is a great series on buying a Motorhome from one of our favorite resources!  The Wynns… http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/go-rv-shopping-together

We always name our vehicles…So far this one has stumped us…Any Suggestions? Leave in the comments below or on Facebook Fireside Traveler!

-Mara