We arrived at the RV Dealer, Outdoor Express RV in Falling Waters, WV early on a chilly Monday morning, with the truck stuffed to the brim with everything we could think of that we needed to start up our new life in the RV. We wanted to start early, since we needed to pack the RV, get a new hitch installed in the truck, get a walkthrough of all the RV systems, pay for it and get moved and set-up in a campsite by the afternoon. After that, we would have some breathing room to provision and fill in the many “gaps” of stuff we didn’t choose to strip off Orion, or take out of one of our “auxiliary storage locations”. But first we had to get into the dealership.
As we approached the narrow street (“Recreation Lane”) that led into the RV lot, it was blocked by workers installing new telephone poles and a tractor-trailer trying to enter the dealership. After this confusion was cleared, we drove down the street behind the truck, and squeezed into a parking space. The tiny lot was now filled with a trailer full of truck campers, the tractor-trailer we followed in with a forklift on its bed, and someone’s RV left parked in the middle of it all. Hmmm… How were we supposed to get ours out of this mess when we were ready to leave? When we stepped inside to talk to our salesman (actually to meet our salesman, Randy, whom we had only spoken to on the phone up to this point), we were assured that this was an unusually busy Monday morning. We were directed down to the service bay, where our 25 ft Puma was being readied for us. Since we needed to have the 5th wheel hitch installed in the bed of the truck, we needed to empty it out quickly. With Cathy in the RV, Dave offloaded the bags, bins, and other “stuff” into the RV. Cathy tried to find places to put it all. Not that there weren’t lots of choices, but it all needed to make sense and all items stowed so that they wouldn’t go flying with the RV moving at 60mph. Even with all the energy being expended, it was cold inside the RV. However, one of the service reps stopped in and suggested he could turn on the heat. Heat? What a good idea! Maybe this RV stuff wasn’t all that bad.
Although we arrived early, the time was moving on quickly. By early afternoon, the hitch was installed and we had stowed what we could in the RV. Will had given us a walkthrough explaining all the systems. We had completed all the paperwork. However, the pin box still hadn’t arrived. The later it got, the more anxious we were getting. Since we planned to stay in the RV that night, the last thing we wanted was to park for the first time in the dark. Working with Randy, we got a site in a campground only a few miles from the dealer. This would allow us to get to know the systems nearby and come back for any problems we found. We decided to duck out to Wal-mart to do some shopping for essentials (like dishes, sewer hose, water hose, levels for the side of the RV, etc.). Arriving back at the dealership, the pin box was installed. We took a few minutes to apply the levels to the front and side of the RV. They would be critical for placing the RV on the site. We were then ready to try out the hitch in preparation for our departure.
Easier said than done. Dave discovered the Sidewinder pinbox has to be lined up with some amazing precision to be able to lock securely into the hitch. It took a few tries, but he was able to hook up successfully. The other thing that became very apparent is the need to be lined up straight with the RV. Not only does an angle make it hard to catch the pinbox, it is also possible for the tail gate to dig into the RV if you aren’t lined up squarely. Cathy was thinking that this would be fun. Once connected, more adjustments were needed. The hitch needed to be lowered to allow the RV to be level when it was under tow. With this adjustment, Dave hooked up again and we were ready to head out – proud owners of a new fifth wheel.
Thinking back to our first day owning Orion, there was a fair amount of trepidation when we looked at each other and asked, “Do you feel comfortable docking this boat?” The answer at that time was a resounding NO. It wasn’t the same level of anxiety, but still some concerns about maneuvering the RV out of the dealership and into a campsite. The first turn onto a busy main road was an awkward left turn without a light. Great! Then we worked with the campground owner to ensure our first attempt was into a pull-through site. A pull-through site to an RV’er is like a T-head dock to a cruiser. Easy in and easy out.
Once in the site, we started with the basics: disconnecting and leveling the RV, hooking up electric, sewer, water. With a mostly empty cupboard, we headed back to Wal-mart for more supplies, this time stocking the fridge and the pantry. Wal-mart was becoming our 2nd home. By the time we were back at the campground, it was getting late. But Cathy still had to wash the all the new dishes and pots and pans before we could use them to cook anything. After a late dinner, we were still plowing through manuals and checking out systems. Using our little TV from Orion, we managed to get quite a few TV stations over the antenna. However, we discovered the handle that raised the antenna was a little loose. Actually, it fell off in our hands. We’d see about that tomorrow.
Over the next couple of days, we continued to check things out, getting great support from the service dept at OERV. One of our outdoor lockers had a lock that wasn’t working. They sent a service tech out to the camper to replace it so we didn’t have to move the RV back to the dealership. The next day, we had a couple more small problems: a drawer got stuck, and a loose hinge made a cabinet door sag. Without skipping a beat, another visit to the RV was arranged and they were fixed. So, we were confident enough that everything was checking out that we decided to leave a day earlier than planned. For our last night, we wanted to be off the grid, relying on the RV’s batteries. To do this, we decided to move down to – where else -- the Wal-mart parking lot.
On the whole, the RV did well. The batteries and holding tanks barely registered our overnight usage. The fridge stayed cold. We slept well. It was time to head south. Whatever else we needed to check out would be second to our enjoying the trip.
Our next stop was a state park just south of Richmond and only a few minutes away from our son’s family. We were going to do some babysitting duty and get to have our first guests in the RV. When not overseeing homework, we spent time over the week at the campground with campfires, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs and telling scary stories and singing campfire songs. We also happened to arrive just before a Park after Dark event that let us take a princess, a super hero and a ghoul on a hay ride, through trunk or treats and petting snakes. What a good time!