Promote Me RV Style
Photo courtesy of Val Mebust
1.9.16 – Day 1
Leaving Rocklin. 1:30 p.m. But wait…this trip actually started a few weeks ago…
A Few Weeks Ago
My husband and I have a full-service embroidery, screenprinting & promotional item business. Every year, we attend an annual business conference in Southern California, this year we decided to add an industry trade show in Vegas as well. However, my husband couldn’t take the 2 weeks away from the store needed to attend both shows, so it was decided I would go to Vegas and then he’d meet me in Long Beach the last 3 days. This year, I thought I would combine my passion for RV travel and attend these trade shows RV style. I am always looking for the next great vacation and if I can promote Promote Me at the same time, it is win-win. My husband and I cleaned up the RV. We put in two TVs, LCD lights, and cool new racing stripes. My highlight was an actual wall switch in the bathroom for the light so I didn’t have to climb up a step and reach for it while standing on one leg to gain enough altitude. Thank you, my generous husband for knowing what rocks my world. I cleaned all the carpets, purged the useless pots and pans and made a Costco run. I let my son use the RV that night for a little get together with his friends. Teenagers in a well-equipped and clean RV is a whole other story. After cleaning all that up, I was ready for my trip.
Back to 1.9.16 – Day 1
My sister, Jen, is to be my travelling companion for part of the trip. I love my sister but she’s not exactly the best navigator nor cheerleader for our trip. We are packed and ready but not very eager to get started. Did I bite off more than I could chew?
My attentive husband was not. Although I consistently spout off that I could do this on my own and don’t need any help, I secretly wondered why my husband wasn’t hovering and helping. OK. Gentlewomen, start your engines. We’re off.
My sister is very talented in many ways but is a horrible navigator. She was extremely tense so I was extremely tense and I’m driving this 28’ RV so what’s better than a shopping diversion? We only have 10 hours to go, why not stop at Ikea 30 minutes into our journey for a little shopping spree? I thought we could take this trip in short spurts and spruce up the RV décor with new bedding! The store was packed, but Jen didn't care, she was just glad to get out of the rig. By the time we got out of IKEA and back on the road, it was 3:30pm and she felt better. Poor navigation and our little pit stop activated my pet peeve of arriving in an RV park after dark and trying to back up the rig. RVing runs in my family and I heard my dad’s advice about this. He is an RV guru looking out for me on my journey! So, I suggested we drive about an hour south and stay at a Thousand Trails park, we could be there before dark. The Turtle Beach resort was just what we needed to cool our nerves. We set things up, walked to an enjoyable dinner and regretted my New Year’s resolution to not drink wine for a month. This is going to be a long month.
And then of course, unhooking everything the next day.
1.10.16 – Day 2
What is successfully hooked up must be unhooked. It seems like an exercise in futility but it is the only way to start the new day. Our goal was 523 miles (a 9 hour drive on a good day) trek to Vegas! Our goal was to make it before dark, (see yesterday and my dad’s wisdom) but we just missed it. Luckily, when we pulled up to park the rig, four other campers came out to help us back in. One couple even helped hook up the water & electric. My friend calls me Tom Sawyer getting people to do my work. I call it community spirit! Best of all, I get to go to work tomorrow. Still no wine.
1.11.16 – Day 3
The problem with not towing a car with my Class C RV is that you I no transportation once I get to my destination. Uber, here we come! Uber provides great service, but averaged $40 per day. So much for cutting expenses by driving my RV home to the events and avoiding hotel costs. But now it’s time to go from RV mode to Promote Me mode. The trade show was huge! We walked an overwhelming 6 hours of booths. Massages were in order! We then walked the strip and treated ourselves to “Menopause The Musical.” All work and no play makes Val a dull entrepreneur. Enjoyed a cocktail at the show. Don’t judge me. It was wine I resolved not to drink for a month.
1.12.16 – Day 4
See Day 3. Walked the booths, talked to vendors, learned more about best practices for our company. Cold nights. Glad we have a furnace and electric blankets in my home away from home.
1.13.16 – Day 5
Uber dropped my sister off at airport on my way to the show. I was actually a little lonely on my own, out of my comfort zone and feeling vulnerable. It ended up to be an early day and I enjoyed Bingo at the clubhouse with all the full-timers. I had the time to realize all the cuts, bruises and bumps I’ve incurred along the way. Those sewer hoses are nasty. That cupboard door isn’t the height I’m used to. Hauling around hook up gear beats Pilates at the gym any day.
1.14.16 – Day 6
God created a day of rest. It just happened to be a Thursday this week. Today, I had time to prepare for my solo drive to Palm Springs. I filled up the tanks, bought provisions at the grocery store (decided to go back off wine) and go to bed for tomorrow’s unhook up (that’s an oxymoron) and early start to Palm Springs. I was so nervous to be driving so far (5.5 hours) by myself that I barely slept all night. So, why not just start now? 5:30 a.m. is just a good a time as any to pull out. Mother Nature was in control of a beautiful sunrise of purple shades against the mountain landscape and then a wind & sand storm sprang up! Scary!!
I drove with the big rigs. Some of them were holding their lines better than me (that’s trucker jargon). Thank goodness my husband attached a stabilizer bar to my steering column (axel) before I left (that’s “I have no idea what the heck I’m talking about jargon” but thank you Motorhome Magazine for the advice).
Then in the middle of nowhere I glanced toward the mountain and see the shadow of my rig. "What the hell is that?” I yell. I saw a huge square shape flapping in the wind on top of my rig. I was able to exit the freeway and pull over. It was the vent cover above the cab all askew. I’ve embarked on this brave new world of travelling on my own but knew better than to climb atop my RV on the side of the freeway all on my own. Instead of climbing on the roof on my own and getting blown off the roof in the middle of nowhere, I drove about a mile and found an old, run-down trailer park. I asked the host to spot me so I could climb up and check out the damage. I started to ask for a ladder but thank you, God, I remembered there is a built-in ladder already attached to the back of my rig. I had never really noticed it before, and to be honest, always wondered why they bothered to put a ladder there other than as a handy pool towel rack. Throwing caution to the wind (literally, the wind was about 40 mph at this point), I climbed up! There was only one bolt (of 4) holding it on but it was so windy and I didn’t want to mess with tools that I just ripped the cover off. I couldn’t think of why I needed it anyway. Really? All these extraneous parts on what is simply a home on wheels? I thanked the host and got back on the road feeling very empowered.
After a continuous six hours of wind and sand, I checked into the Thousand Trails park and took the first site I found. It's hard to back in when it's just you. Lots of jumping out of the rig to check that you’re not going to hit something. Note to self: remember to put engine in park before you jump out! I was so focused on not hitting the sewer post and electrical post and parking on the dirt and stay off the picnic table slab that I missed something else. Hello huge palm tree! Each site uses a palm tree on each side between which is the bulls eye where the RV fits. This was another “What the Hell was that?” moment. My RV is stronger than a palm tree so there was no damage there. My backing in confidence did take a little hit. Maybe I should invest in a better back up camera.
I loved Palm Springs! At 49 years old, I felt young! I think the median age of vacationers in Palm Springs is 89 so that helped me feel young, too. And of course, all the people are happy! But, after a night of good sleep and in the light of day, I realized I parked in the wrong site. My dad would have caught this mistake in seconds. The wind was blowing right into the side of the rig! After white knuckling what I did to get here, all I wanted to do was nap but the wind was rocking my world in a bad way and the sand was coming in through the thin window sill. Rest was out of the question so I decided to set out on foot and explore the part for a better site. I ventured to the clubhouse and was pressured into sitting down and playing candy bar bingo! Yell, “Squirrel!” and you have my full attention. As I walked back, I noticed a lot less wind in the middle of all the big motor homes and decided to move my rig. I could not pass up the opportunity to get into the middle of the herd so unhooked all the hook ups, drove to the new site, backed in like a pro and got out the vacuum to clean up from the sand storm. Upon further inspection, it wasn’t the thin window sill but user error in my leaving the window open a crack. Once again, my dad’s advice invaded my brain with a kind, “Hey, honey, did you make sure to close all the windows?”
1.15.16 – 1.18.16 – Days 7, 8, 9 & 10
Mr. RV stayed put, hooked up and humming amid the protective big rigs and I enjoyed Palm Springs, visited cousins from Canada, hit an Elton John cover band and bathed in a natural hot springs. Noted the blessings in this uneventful journal entry.
1.18.16 – 1.21.16 – Days 10, 11, 12 & 13
Coronado bound. A glorious three-hour drive thwarted by fog, wind and traffic. Welcome to Southern California disguised as the North! Don’t judge me until you’ve driven a house over the Coronado bridge. I just took the center lane and held my breath! From now on, it seems like it was smooth sailing. I spent three days visiting my husband’s brothers and their families. I attended a Rotary meeting at the Hotel Del Coronado and worked a couple of days via computer. Easy peasy. I can totally take this job on the road. Where to next? I started to map out new routes.
1.21.16 – Day 13
No idea why I was now dreading this trip to Long Beach. I’d braved wind, sand, and killer palm trees. What can a few hours on the 5 to the 405 to the 710 to the whatever hurt? I kept up with the traffic and held my line. If anyone hit me, it was going to be their fault, not mine. I arrived at the Ocean Shores RV park in downtown Long Beach which is within walking distance to the next trade show’s convention center. Broad daylight, plenty of site selection opportunity but here’s the next hurdle: leveling blocks. “I think I can. I think I can,” I kept telling myself. I back in. I leveled. I hooked up like it was old hat. My friends always warn, “Don’t give Val a muffin or she will…” So, in true Val form, I decided I didn’t like the site after all and decided to move. Unhook. Down off blocks. Dad whispering in my ear, “Before you set up, ask yourself if you are going to be happy where it’s parked for the time you’re there?” I think the key is to listen to dad before the backing and hooking and leveling. After lots of jumping in and out to back in and hooking up and leveling, I was secure in my happy site.
My husband, Rich and Jen, our manager flew in the next day. I was so happy to see them! We worked the trade show and Jen flew home that night.
Now it was just Rich and I and our well-placed, well-leveled, well-vacuumed rig. I immediately realized (after having it to myself all week) that it was definitely too small for the two of us. Another note to self to realize this dream of mine of working on the road: Get a bigger rig. Get a bigger rig with multiple back in cameras and automatic leveling jacks. And a “What Would Dad Do” manual safely tucked for easy access in the glove compartment.
Unwillingness on my part to make this a marriage counseling moment, I let my husband drive home on Sunday. He said he wouldn’t let me drive him. Ha! Little did he know that I capitulated out of pure exhaustion of doing it all on my own and I enjoyed his company, a nap and a good book. My adventure was over and I finally got a little rest and vacation as he drove us home and, in my head, I planned my next trip. With or without him is still a matter of debate.