Comical Adventures of a newbie's first trip


New Member
OK. Kids are 6 and 3 and we decided now was the time to get them into camping. Did some tenting in my school days but wife and I are a little too old and comfortable for that now so decided a fully equipped trailer was the way to go. After shopping to death, decided that my little sonoma was not the way to go so traded it in for a Dodge RAM 1500 V8 (318) with a tow package...guess somebody should have told me then, this tow package did not include an electric brake!

So...2 weeks later I get a dealer to install an electric brake. Find a beautiful 27' Dutchmen 5th wheel with a double slide private sale (gvw 8800 lbs) and go pick it up and haul it home 120 miles. Truck moans and groans and wifey and I become quite hesitant to haul the kids 1700 kms to Niagara Falls. Talk to a trucker who hauls a fifth and a couple of other 5th wheelers and all tell me I'm pulling too much weight. So we postpone our trip, the trailer sits in the driveway for 2 weeks while I search around and before I use it even once, I'm trading it in for a Citation 23.5 foot no slide (gvw 6500 lbs). MAN, I am missing all that space already!

So we pack it up and off we go into the wild blue yonder, first time family camping, first time hauling a trailer of any kind let alone 6,000 lbs.
Our first issue....the gas light starts dinging at 220 kms, low fuel, low fuel...keep driving until I hit a gas station....95 litres to fill up, 265

kilometers used.....I begin to think, 1700 kms divided by 250...OMG 7 pit stops before we get to Niagara Falls????? Thankfully Quebec and Ontario are a lot flatter than New Brunswick and mileage improves.

So we dry camp the first night in behind a gas station, haul ass the next morning and by early afternoon are on the Gardener Expressway, south toronto heading to Niagara. I spent 5 years working in Toronto so decide to play tour guide while driving. I'm pointing out all the sites when OMG brake Lights on all the vehicles up ahead for all 4 lanes!!!! Slam on the brakes but nothing seems to be happening...this is when seconds seem to turn to minutes and pictures of a smashed up trailer and us staying in hotels flood my mind. We finally get stopped with I swear no less than 6 inches of space between me and the front bumper.....THANKS TO ALL MY FRIENDS who told me I would regret pulling 8800 lbs with the 1/2 ton.....curses to all the dealers who simply state....just come and connect it and if it feels ok to haul then you'll be fine. After towelling off from all the sweat we get to Niagara Falls at 4:00 pm. Register at the KOA, am given my site and instructions on how to get there and where to BACK IN. ***Flashback...My first ski trip I went with buddies and just got on a chair lift to the top of an intermediate hill, no panic at all until we get to the top of the hill and I begin to realize, hey how does one get off these things when they don't stop? One face plant later and I figure there must be a better way! *** I now realize I am going to have to back this HUGE unit into a miniature site...oh the humiliation. We follow the map and find our site and much to my delight wifey notices the lot behind mine is vacant and we just loop around and pull through...much embarassment saved.

So, us newbie campers set up tent and I go to hook up the sewer hose, lo and behold there is no connecter for the hose. Head to the KOA office and tell them what I need and $10.00 later I'm a happy camper. Spend 15 minutes trying to pull the hose over the damn connector to no avail. 2 sites down, 2 ladies are packing up their site to leave, so I swallow my pride, meander over and sheepishly ask for advice on how to hook up my sewer hose. These ladies are pros and have all the gadgets and extras of everything. She shows me how theirs connects which is when I notice their sewer connector is tapered, I go get mine and notice on the package it is an adaptor, not a fitting. The sweet lady from Idaho gives me her spare and asks nothin for it. I get the sewer connected and tell her I'm going back to exchange the one the office sold me and she can then have a brand new one. I get to the office and after spending 15 minutes arguing with the salesperson and her supervisor I am told there can be no refund because the item has been opened...doesn't matter that they sold me the wrong item, they don't carry the actual connectors just the adaptors....This is the only negative experience I had with KOA, otherwise a fantastic campground! Needless to say by the time I get back to my site the helpful neighbors have checked out...Thank you whoever you were.

Spend three wonderful nights at the KOA Niagara and then off to KOA West Toronto for 4 nights. Our first lunch stop on the way and we get a honk and pointing fingers as we are pulling away....seems we forgot to raise the stairs. Drive to Toronto is fine and as we pull in, are happy to see the lots are all pull through. Spend our first night in the rain and in the morning come to realize how heavy that stuff can be when trying to lower your awning...I of course was on the outside lowering the right side by soon as I pulled the pin the weight just slid it all the way down and dumped what seemed like 10 gallons of rain water on my head...oh well, no need for a 2nd shower today! Quite refreshing at 8:00 am!

Spend 3 wonderful night at Toronto, and on to Montreal where we get another honk and finger pointing, seems somewhere along the way our side door came open. Pulled over to lock it again and seems nothing had fallen out during the trip. For the third time I get a pull thru site at Montreal South. Go to connect the sewer hose, open the cover and OOPS, out comes all this stuff, seems the valve had worked it's way open during the trip and the handle had fallen off. Thankfully we had dumped prior to leaving so there wasn't a lot of discharge however it did seem to attract some flies for a while until we hosed it down.

Spent three wonderful nights in Montreal and then on home, dry camped one night on the way home and tada, our first camping trip home safe and sound.

All in all, a wonderful trip with the kids, sleeping around the campfire, roasting stuff, staying up late, and just generally relaxing....just wish that 9 miles to the gallon could disappear in New Brunswick.

I'm sure I've forgotten some tidbits, perhaps a follow up in a few days if anything extraordinary comes to light.

Enuf rambling, salut

Edited by - Hippity_Hop on Aug 18 2003 09:36:01 AM

Edited by - Hippity_Hop on Aug 19 2003 10:56:01 AM


Re: Comical Adventures of a newbie's first trip

Hippity Hop, that sounds like a most enjoyable trip. Except for the sewer hook up, it sounds like you have been doing it forever. :) I think even the most tenured of RVers have left the steps out or the antenna up at one time or another. I know that we have some mishap almost every time we go out but it is usually not bad at all, like forgetting to bring salt and pepper, not bringing the right clothes for the weather etc. We have had the rain on the awining thing happen to us also. It was pretty cold that day and hubby had to turn the heater up to get warm. But it is all worth it when you get to relax and enjoy your time out. :)


New Member
Re: Comical Adventures of a newbie's first trip

Like I always say, ignorance is bliss......and when you can wallow in that bliss with the family it is even better. This trip will come up at family gatherings in the future with a few "blissful" embellishments, because sewage stories and dumping anything on the alpha male are ripe for the picking. Also, write it all down in a journal, so the kids can read it in the future. It is amazing how much of the fun stuff we forget.