Welcome to the "I'm a dummy" page
The intention here is to relate the inevitable boners that I've pulled,
with hopes that the information will help YOU avoid being as dumb as I
am. If nothing else, this page may provide humor.... Hopefully, it won't
get updated very often. ;-)
are the natural enemy of awnings! Yes, it's true! Nothing will mangle
your awning faster and more thoroughly than a nasty thunderstorm, no matter
how well you've got it tied down. Wind gusts of 70 MPH + are not uncommon
even in a moderate size storm! I've always known this and have always
taken great care to always put the awning away when the weather looks threatening.
Well, one lapse in this discipline almost lost me my awning! It was while
I was workcamping at the Manchester KOA... Dan and I were going over to
a local parts place to pick up some stuff for one of the tractors and I
noticed that there were some pretty dark clouds waayyy over there... In
fact, as we were leaving the park, I even mentioned to Dan: "Gee, maybe
I should put up my awning". He offered to stop so I could do so, but I
remember saying, "Nah, we'll only be gone a few minutes". Well, 15 minutes
later we stepped out of the parts store into the teeth of a serious storm!
The wind was blowing so hard that it was pushing Dan's big crew cab dually
truck all over the road. I had a sinking feeling that when we got back
to the campground, I'd be faced with a disaster. And I would have been,
if not for Ginny and a couple of other brave campers who got soaked while
putting up several camper's awnings at the onset of the storm. I was really
lucky and I know it.... not often do you get a chance to screw up without
paying for it! It was a great refresher course in remembering to stow that
awning any time it looks like a storm, especially if you are going to be
away from the rig even for "a few minutes"! Lesson learned! Several days
later, we had a storm start to brew up and I went outside and pulled that
awning in... hardly 3 minutes later, the gust front hit us and for a while,
the rain was coming down sideways. It hit so fast that most folks had no
opportunity get their awnings in and about all they could do was hang onto
the extended awnings for dear life. A fair amount of damage was done but
luckily no serious destruction or injuries! Henceforth, I'll be the first
one out there, rolling that awning in whenever it looks stormy!
Black Water is ACTUALLY Brown! The reason that I know this
is that I've seen it. Up close and personal! When Donie and I pulled out
of the Redwoods, we stopped at the dump station to dump tanks. Now, first
you should understand that I've been doing this for almost 5 years without
an incident..... well, I was telling Donie: "Yeah, it's really easy....
you just get out this big blue hose and hook it up right here..... AWWW
SH*T"!! When I pulled the cover off the sewer connection on the rig I was
rewarded with a three inch wide stream of... well, it wasn't pretty and
it didn't smell like flowers! I immediately shoved the black water dump
handle closed and the flow stopped. Luckily, I had been straddling the
dump station apron and the rig was close enough so that the majority of
the "*" made it into the dump. Whew! Why is it that whenever you screw
up, there's always someone there to see you do it? Obviously, the last
time I dumped, I failed to close the black water tank dump valve. That's
the first time that I've ever forgotten to close the dump valves after
dumping, but you can bet your life that it'll be a loooong time before
I do it again! Some quick hose work and everything was rinsed clean and
looked fine. We continued on down the road, but not until I'd checked those
dump valves about 3 times!
Out of Gas!! It's a good thing I wasn't flying an airplane!
Yes, I actually ran completely out of gas and had to hike to a gas station.
Pretty dumb, huh? It seems that I have been trying to do this off and on
throughout the trip.... you know, stretching that tank as long as possible,
looking for a good price on fuel. I almost ran out up on the Poudre river,
but made it to a gas station with the judicious use of gravity... here's
an excerpt from my log entry from that day...
Had a pretty interesting day! I rolled out of Rustic and immediately,
the aux. tank ran dry... that left me with an indicated 1/4 tank left in
the main tank to go 52 miles... strictly not possible! I made it most of
the way down the mountain in neutral... I stretched that gas all the way
to the nearest gas station, some 50+ miles away and still had some to spare.
I made it that time, but not the next. My log entry from the 27th tells
the sad tale:
Was really windy all day. The trip up 17 was really pretty but a tough
pull as I was fighting a stiff headwind and grade all the way. Made it
to Pagosa Springs and I knew I was getting low on fuel. Rather than try
to fit the rig into one of the few gas stations, I decided to continue
on to the RV park I was planning to stay at, park the rig at the park and
return for gas. Bad idea! The park was about 8 miles out of town. I started
back to town and ran out of gas several miles shy. After a short break
for some "colorful metaphors" I started walking with the gas can and after
about a mile, a nice gal stopped and picked me up. She dropped me at a
gas station, then I walked almost all the way back before I got a ride.
Such good exercise! Turns out that I only got about 5.5 mpg today because
of the wind and grades, so I mis-judged how much fuel was needed. Trying
to save a buck...
I think I've decided to keep a little more fuel on hand! See, I only
bought what I thought would be "enough" fuel at Antonito because it was
quite expensive (small town). The unexpected headwind and grade added up
to lower MPG. I knew that I was low on gas when I came into Pagosa Springs,
but due to something that I can only describe as a brain fart, I decided
to pass by all those handy gas stations and keep rolling. While I was hiking
back to the truck with the fuel can, I had plenty of time to think about
how silly it all was!
I can't believe I did it AGAIN! Hey, it really wasn't my fault!
I was getting stowed in preparation to rolling out and a nice couple pulled
into the next site over and we got to talking. Therefore, I figure it was
THEIR fault that I forgot my #$*&^%@! water pressure regulator. ;-(
I did this once before when I first started my trip... that's why I added
it to my checklist. I remember running down the checklist before rolling,
but somehow the regulator didn't get picked up. Well, I fixed that problem!
I went out and bought a SureFlow regulated city water inlet and adapted
it to my rig. Now the regulator is permanently attached, so I can't forget
No port in a storm. Everyone who travels has a pretty scary story
about getting caught in some kind of killer storm. Well, here's mine. The
reason it's here in the dummy section is that I could have avoided the
worst of it if I had paid attention and taken quick action. Anyway, here's
the story: I was traveling west on Highway 90 in Texas,
between Del Rio and Big Bend. It had been cloudy and drizzly all day but
nothing really serious. I had just stopped in Sanderson and filled up my
fuel tanks. It wasn't raining at the time, but was cool and windy. I rolled
out of town and after about a mile, I realized that I could see my headlights
on the road ahead. It had gotten very dark. I remember looking at my watch
and thinking: "geez, it's 2:30 in the afternoon... it shouldn't be this
dark". Then the thought occurred that I was probably heading into a major
thunderstorm. For some reason, turning around and heading back to town
never even occurred to me but it's definitely what I SHOULD have done!
Or I should have at least attempted to find someplace a little sheltered
to pull well off the road and wait it out. What I did, however, was continue
merrily on my way smack into one of the worst storms I've ever encountered
while driving. It hit almost instantly, with blinding rain and wind gusts
that exceeded 70 MPH (I heard later). There was no possible way that I
could continue, so I pulled to the side of the road and put my flashers
on. Almost immediately, visibility dropped to zip in sheets of horizontal
rain. I couldn't see to move. The wind was coming at me almost exactly
from the left side and I really began to fear that it would roll the trailer
over. I backed the trailer around to the right and down the embankment
as much as I could in an attempt to get it facing more head on to the wind
and then I sat there and waited for it to end. It seemed to go on forever.
I remember praying that there wouldn't be a tornado buried in there and
wondering what I'd do if there was. The fact that I was barely clear of
the single travel lane also worried me, but no traffic passed me while
the storm was really wailing. The wind got so bad at times that the truck
seemed to be lifting up on two wheels and the rain, driven by the wind,
forced it's way into the truck past every door and window seal. The temperature
dropped from the mid 60s to 40 degrees in about 2 minutes as sleet began
to mix in with the rain. It probably was 20 minutes before it eased enough
for me to be able to move and then I fought gusty winds and heavy rain
for another 5 or 6 miles before I was finally out of the worst of it. I
know now that I was lucky I got out of it intact. I should have picked
a better spot and gotten parked before I was blinded or headed back into
town to wait it out. Being trapped on the side of the road with nowhere
to go was the worst possible situation I could have been placed in. Next
time, I'm going to pick up on the warning signs sooner and take action,
rather than let myself get forced into a bad situation.
How to get stuck in a grand manner. This one I'm REALLY not proud
of...... The only good thing is that I didn't actually have to call a tow
truck. When I got to Sadonjaree farm before Thanksgiving, I wanted to park
on a nice level spot up on a hilly field to the east of the farmhouse.
There was good access from the road and all I had to do was back up a small
hill to get where I wanted to be. However, I couldn't get enough traction
to back all the way up to the level spot. I tried getting a running start
at it, but the grass and ground under it was damp. The truck has a Posi-Trac
rear end, but it doesn't work in reverse. At this point, I should have
given up gracefully and just parked down by the road, but NOOOOO..... I
had to try something different! I got the rig turned around and charged
up the hill and into the field, planning to get up the hill far enough
to back it around into the spot I wanted. I almost made it, too... Key
word: almost. I went as far up the hill as I could, then ran out of traction.
At this point, I should have given up and backed down the hill to the road,
but I thought that I could back across the face of the hill and get far
enough to turn downhill and slide right into my spot. I backed across the
hill and almost got far enough, but when I tried to turn downhill, I ran
out of room. Here's where the picture comes in handy....
As you can see, I got hung up at the fence, couldn't back up at all because
of the hill behind me, and couldn't make the turn. After a few minutes
of creative language, I decided to try and unhitch the rig and re-position
the truck to make the turn. I blocked the trailer's wheels and raised the
front with the jacks until I could get the truck loose, then backed the
truck around and re-hitched it at a greater angle so that I could clear
the fence. It put a lot of stress on the trailer axles, but I carefully
pulled it around until I could go back down the hill to the road. I then
parked it along the road and considered myself lucky. Folks, don't try
this at home!
Ouch, Dammit! I was rolling out one morning, and my route took me
right through the small town nearby. I had some mail to send out and there
was a post office on the right with a good size parking lot. Perfect! I
failed, however, to notice the steep angle of the entryway. When I made
the turn, the leading edge of the rig crimped the truck bed pretty good.
What really bothered me is that I ALWAYS pay attention to this sort of
possible situation and avoid them. This morning, for some reason, I just
Oww! Oh well, life goes on.....
Fun with electricity. I rolled into a state park in New York State
in light rain to discover that the office was already closed. They had
provided a map with available spaces marked on it, so I picked a likely
spot and backed into it. Setting up has become so routine that I sort of
do everything in autopilot. I leveled the rig, got the truck unhitched,
dropped the stabilizer jacks hooked up water and plugged into the power.
By now, it's raining pretty hard, so I go inside and discover that I have
no a/c power. Oh, Great! Back outside in the rain with a meter... sure
enough, the power pole is dead. I take a look around hoping to spot a breaker
panel or something, but there doesn't seem to be one anywhere nearby. Now
the choices are: hitch everything back up and move to a new spot, or find
power somewhere else. The next site is a long ways off, but all my extension
cords plugged end to end just reach it. Yay! The next morning, I went to
the office and signed up for the next site over (I knew the power worked
THERE!). I had just finished moving to the new site when a neighbor wandered
over and asked what was up. I told him the whole story and then he showed
me the breaker panel, less than 50 feet away, with the breaker for my previous
site tripped. How I failed to spot it, I don't know.... it sure would have
saved me a lot of flailing if he'd been around yesterday evening! Now I
tend to plug in first, verify the juice, then level the rig and unhitch...
especially when it's raining!
How to run out of gas with a full tank. As I was rolling through
a campground on my way to park, the truck died. I then realized that I
had committed a really stupid blunder: I had let the main fuel tank run
dry. The reason that this is so stupid is that the electric fuel selector
valve must have power to select the Aux. tank. When cranking the engine,
the valve doesn't get enough power to switch, so it stays on the main tank.
I had plenty gas in the aux. tank, but no way to get it up front to restart
the engine. I was already aware of this gotcha, so it was really
stupid to allow the main tank to run dry. I cut a piece of hose from my
wash hose and siphoned gas from the rear tank into a bottle and poured
it into the main tank until there was enough gas in the main tank to get
it started back up. What a pain in the ass! Lucky for me, the campground
was deserted, so I didn't have to bear the added embarrassment of providing
"entertainment" for everyone! If your truck or motor home has multiple
fuel tanks and utilizes an electric fuel tank selector valve, this one
probably will get you one day.
Watch out for that hill! I made a wrong turn on the way to a campground
in the Black Hills of South Dakota. That's not such a big problem, but
instead of checking the map right away and turning around, I decided to
cruise down the road a ways to look around. What I didn't know was the
steepest grade in the whole area was coming up just a couple of miles down
the road! It was a 15% grade, going down, about 1.5 miles long. I got down
it OK, in first gear, and found a place to turn around. I decided to try
to climb back up that grade and I almost didn't make it! There's a limit
to how steep a hill you can tackle, and it's different for every RV. If
that grade had been 15.1% I'd have never made it! What I SHOULD
have done is looked at a map when I stopped to turn around! There
was an alternate route that I could (should) have taken that would have
avoided the possibility of getting stuck on the grade. As it was, it all
turned out all right in the end, but only because I was LUCKY! Gee, I almost
had a chance to test out the towing rider on my insurance policy! ;-)
This page last updated on March 8, 2002