RVing around the country is very much like a military operation involving strategy, logistics and tactics.
The tactics take some time to figure out if you’ve never owned an RV. It was a learning curve for us but we quickly nailed the tactical. At first, I started off manning every operation until I learned each station and I developed our routine when we arrive at a destination.
- Park, leaving engine running for jacks and slide-out operation.
- Get 4 jack pads down beneath the jacks. (Team A – external)
- Lower the air shocks – this brings the RV down lower to the ground for leveling and easier entry via the steps. (Team B – internal)
- Drop the jacks via auto-leveling, we check this with a level on our kitchen counter top, front-to-back, side-to-side. (Team B – internal)
- Check slides for external and INTERNAL obstructions (people usually learn this one the hard way, including us). (Team A – external and Team B – internal)
- Move slides to full out position. (Team B – internal)
- Turn off engine to reduce the noise to neighbors and ourselves.
We usually complete this phase within 10 minutes. It’s our slowest process as it involves waiting on the mechanics of the jacks and slides.
Interior setup: (Team B – internal)
- Move large area rug and ottoman into the living room.
- Quick launch satellite into up and seek mode.
- Reset the kitchen sink and appliances.
If wild camping, then we’re done. If pole or full hookup camping, then Team A (external) switches focus to electric, water and tank hose. Either way, this takes about 5 minutes. The satellite is automatic and takes 3-10 minutes but we’re long on to other priorities.
Exterior setup: (Team A – external)
- Setup camp rug and chairs.
- Get Truman’s chain.
This takes about 5 to 10 minutes as well. So that’s it, within 15-20 minutes, we’re setup in camp and ready to relax or explore. Soon we will be adding a third exterior task of tilting our solar panels to maximize the winter sun which takes another 5-10 minutes.
Once we had the tactics figured out, Julie and I moved on to strategy and logistics – I make sure the supplies we need are waiting for us at a campsite (usually Amazon orders) and Julie does the check-in and manages our next stops.
And together, we figure out where we’re going, with the kids input of course. There is a general strategy of full-time RVers to follow a route across the US where temperatures hover in the 70s. It’s even more important for wild campers (“boondockers”). If you get too cold, you will be too dependent on propane (fuel) and electric (blower fan). If you get too hot, you’re be too dependent on electric (A/C). In both scenarios, to re-charge batteries and, in the case of A/C to run enough electric, requires the generator and more fuel (propane, gas or diesel).
So we seek to avoid the extremes. In fact, we just installed a large solar array on our RV roof to conserve energy and avoid the noise/interruption of a generator.
In the past month however, we have violated both rules. In January, we were in Denver, moving our belongings and hanging out with some Colorado friends. And now, in February, we are in the middle of the Arizona desert visiting family.
So while we are wrapping up our two trips in a few days and heading to our ideal temperatures in the 70s, clouds finally came in to the desert today and gave us a perfect day for hiking. We tackled the lowest, the middle seemed within reach and before we knew it, we were at the top – such amazing views of Arizona. We had a great time except for my fall/slide which broke my walking stick and scraped up my right leg. It was worth it, I’ll take some scratches for beautiful views, great memories with the family and a chance to hike the United States.