RV Life – Year 3 – Lessons Learned

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life – Year 3 – Lessons Learned
RV Life might exceed your expectations, good or bad.

Even with three years of experience on the road, lessons learned can keep coming.

RV Life, or in the day-to-day, there’s always something to learn.

Lessons Learned

A wise man will hear and increase learning .. and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel …

Proverbs 1:5

We finished Year 3 of the full-time RV Life with one very clear lesson learned. Referring to the Falling Down article, it was all about having a healthy respect for the wind.

I thought I was already conducting myself in that manner, operating with an eye on the horizon and maintaining weather awareness, but Mother Nature reminded me that the only thing certain about the weather is its uncertain.

In hindsight, the unfortunate event of October 26, 2019 might have been avoided if I had made a different choice in either of these two areas …

As soon as I spotted the clouds building up on the horizon that day, I could have taken more time to search ahead along the route I was driving. Using my weather app, visiting local news station Web sites, or contacting the Highway Patrol, it’s possible I could have gained enough insight to stop for the night instead of pressing onward into unknown danger.
At the moment I knew we were in danger I made the incorrect decision to exit the highway to try and point the rig into the wind. The better choice would have been to hide from the storm underneath the overpass.

Lessons Learned

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Eye of the Beholder - RV Life – Year 3 – Lessons Learned

The key word here is, hindsight. It’s 20/20, as they say, but things are rarely so clear when you are in the moment.

The storm we ran into that day was categorized by first responders as a “surprise pop-up tornado“.

Knowing that, would I really have found the insight I needed to make a better decision?

There’s probably no good answer to that question, only a lesson learned that I should definitely make a better effort next time.

Secondly, reacting to my first instinct when in trouble could be corrected by re-training my mind to react differently. My instinct that day was driven by the fear of being blown-over in the middle of the interstate. So, immediately getting off the interstate was my instinctive reaction. Now that I have the experience of that day, the driving factor should now be something other than fear.

I should be thinking about a possible next time and plan my response in advance. Finding something to hide behind, like an overpass, hillside, or a structure, should be the planned response, rather than an instinctive reaction. If I resist letting fear drive my decision, I might have a fighting chance to escape danger next time. Cooler heads prevail, as they say.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life – Year 3 – Lessons Learned

Despite this truth, the reality is that there are way too many unknown factors for that to be a reliable response if I ever find myself in another situation like that.

For example, there might be nothing around for miles to hide under.

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I think the real answer here is to improve my awareness. Now, I always take the extra time the night before, and during travel day, to know as much as I can about what we might be driving into. If I have any doubts, I’ll just stop. I’d rather be late and lose a day of travel than to ever find myself looking at my rig laid over and crushed again (or worse).

Another lesson I learned from the experience is to make a back-up plan. I never imagined I would find myself homeless in this manner, so I had no contingency plan in place. We were incredibly fortunate to be close to our home base where we have friends that took us in and helped us get back on our feet. If you decide to enter the full-time RV lifestyle then I urge you to think about a worst-case scenario and to have a plan for it.

We learned a few other important lessons in Year 3 …

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Lessons Learned – Tires

Experiencing the result of cheap tires remains an enduring lesson. Three failed tires within 60 days is proof enough that it is well worth the money to invest in high quality rubber.

When we went shopping for a new rig after the October 26 roll-over, I made a point to check the tires on every model we considered. I was looking for a few things in particular …

Steel-belted radials
Steel sidewalls
10-ply or better
Load range E or higher

Lessons Learned

I learned about these things when shopping for replacement tires on the Crusader after the three flats. I chose Hercules 901s, which proved to be a fantastic option. I only got to use them for 5 months before the accident, but I would buy them again if I had to. Fortunately, our new Cardinal fifth wheel came with a quality set of steel radials.

Watch the video below from KYD (Keep Your Daydream) to learn more about the importance of your RV tires …

Considering my terrible tire experience with the Crusader China Bombs, I also invested in a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System). These are fantastic devices that will keep track of the pressure and temperature on your tires. You can configure the gadget to sound an alarm whenever a tire gets too hot or loses air pressure. This could be a life-saving alert, prompting you to slow down and pull-over before a dangerous blow-out happens.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life – Year 3 – Lessons Learned
My TPMS unit. The EezTire e618.

I use an EezTire model personally, but there are plenty of options on the market.

Checkout this great article from RVing Insider.

Visit Camping World online and search for “TPMS” to browse their options.

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Lessons Learned – Signal

We were reminded of the importance of reliable cell signal when in Essex, Montana. See Mountain Summer Part 2. Despite using the Good Sam app to confirm the availability of signal for me work by, this location caught us by surprise. For two weeks I was forced to drive 30 miles away to another town and use my truck as an office.

The lesson learned with this situation was to make a phone call to the campground office and discuss signal quality at the location. This is a smart tactic when traveling through remote areas, like the Rocky Mountains of Montana.

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Lessons Learned – Altitude

As noted in Mountain Summer Part 1, we suspected that finding a higher elevation would provide the level of summer heat relief we were looking for. This proved correct when we reached Colorado and parked the rig at a spot near 5000 feet above sea level.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life – Year 3 – Lessons Learned

The higher we climbed into the Colorado Rockies the cooler it got.

So, if you are looking for a cool, comfortable escape from the heat and humidity then the mountains above 5000 feet is where you want to be.

Check-out this neat online tool from Omni Calculator where you can experiment with altitudes and temperatures to help you find the perfect spot for your next summer getaway.

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Lessons Learned – Health Care

Finding good health care while on the road far from your home base can be tricky. With some extra effort I was able to leverage the resources of my insurance provider to find a solid care provider who was willing to work with me as a mobile patient. They also communicated well with other providers when I had to continue my treatment in another location.

The best advice I can offer based on my experience is full transparency. Openly divulge the details of your situation, making it clear to the provider that you have a mobile lifestyle requiring flexibility, options for remote care, and the ability to transfer care as you travel from place to place.

This will likely require increased effort on your part to ensure proper connection between providers. Extra phone calls and emails to verify that various office staff have communicated the details with each other will help immensely.

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Lessons Learned – Mountain Weather

Cheri & I already knew about this topic from spending many summers in mountain country before. The weather can do some odd things at altitude. We’ve seen snow and freezing temperatures in July and August, so you should be prepared for the unexpected. Warm clothing options, full propane tanks, and other such preparations are wise.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life – Year 3 – Lessons Learned

Most importantly, in my opinion, is to plan your departure from the high country by Labor Day.

You never know when winter will decide to move in.

Two weeks after we left Montana the very spot we were camped in was buried under a foot of snow!

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Year 3 exceeded our expectations in many ways. From the amazing high of Glacier National Park to the depressing low of a totaled rig, I could not have imagined such a broad spectrum of experiences.

That’s what you can expect from the RV Life … exceeded expectations. My hope for you is that they are all positive, inspirational, and hassle-free. Good luck with that!

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But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:33-34
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Steve Coryell