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First Time RVing (Part 1): Learning the Ropes

First Time RVing (Part 1): Learning the Ropes

Recreational Vehicles (RV) have become very popular as a safe means to travel and vacation during the COVID19 pandemic.  Back in June, I shared details about the spike in RV sales in the article Camper Renovation for Summer Fun.  In that article I also offered a fun and inexpensive way to convert an older RV for family fun.  This is a great option if you have the time and resources to do it, however, there is another alternative when you don’t:  RV Rental.

My cousin Gale called me last week with questions about equipment for a cross country trip she and her husband, Guy, were about to take in a rented RV.  They are first timers at RVing, so I asked them to share their story as they traveled.  This is new territory for a lot of us, so I thought their story might help other first timers who are either considering or planning an RV trip.

A little background on Gale and Guy

Gale grew up in a car family.  Her Dad and two brothers collectively own and operate three Mercedes Benz dealerships and one Cadillac store in southeastern Michigan.  “Car stuff” runs in her veins, so she is fearless when it comes to trying things new around vehicles of any shape or size.

Guy Gordon is a local celebrity in these parts, having anchored the news at Channels 7 and 4 over the past 30 years or so before jumping into the fun world of radio on News Talk 760 (WJR-AM) in Detroit just three years ago.  More importantly, he is a car guy! This will become obvious as you read about their trip below. 

Day 1:   September 11, 2020.  10:00 PM

Ah…the joys of the open road.  The first 10 minutes of our 2,376 mile excursion was spent playing a new game.  Breakable or unbreakable?  That’s what we asked ourselves as we heard various items crashing to the floor in the bathroom and from shelves and drawers that burst open as we rocketed down the road.  Yes, we were instructed to bundle items and put everything in a container, but alas, we weren’t very thorough.   Fortunately, it was a few kitchen utensils, soap, and shampoo.  No disasters in the first 10 miles?  This isn’t a normal Gordon trip!

Backing up, let’s set the stage.   

After nearly 8 months of extreme quarantine for a new grand baby at home, we began in March noodling how to visit our son, daughter-in-law and other grandchildren in San Diego, CA.  They politely informed us what we already surmised.  They really didn’t want to see us if we traveled by air or stayed in hotels.  Necessity was the mother of our first RV adventure.  

My wife Gale began surfing RV rentals, Air BnB style RV offers, and the regular dealer sites. General RV of Mt. Clemens is a client of the radio station where I work, and they were gracious enough to pick the home on wheels for us based on our RV factor (I believe that stands for Road Virginity).  This is a simple to operate, thoughtfully designed vehicle and I’m enjoying getting to know the mechanical layout.

Note from Vehicle Nanny:  Speaking of the “mechanical layout,” Gale sent me the picture below after Guy expressed sheer delight that the RV’s cup holders had cutouts for the handle of their travel mugs.  Do you think Guy likes those little details in a vehicle?  Look at how neatly his mug fits in the cup holder compared to Gale’s.  

two coffee mugs in a cup holder
Camper parked on uneven ground

We are now at the end of day 1 at the Warren Dunes State Campground (Sawyer, MI – on the western side of Michigan) in a beautiful new 22 foot Ford powered Four Winds Recreational Vehicle.  It has only 14,000 miles on it, so we can say it’s still in the shakedown cruise.  The 350 Heavy Duty 10-cylinder Ford engine has the heft to comfortably propel us past pokey semis and I didn’t experience the sway or wind drift I was expecting.  Of course, we’ve only made it from Detroit to Benton Harbor.  We’ve yet to take on the wind-swept plains of Iowa and Nebraska.  We’ll give our next update from Corn County.

One final note before we sign off for the night.  We are really impressed with the respectfulness and quietness of the camping families around us.  This is a low-key crowd enjoying one of Michigan’s gems alongside Lake Michigan.  We have noticed we are in a heavily traveled footpath, taken by quickly moving campers who seem to be happier and moving at a more leisurely pace when they return.   Note to self:  next time don’t pick the campsite closest to the community bathroom.  You’ll meet more new friends than you really need.

Day 2: September 12, 2020 

We are leaving Warren Dunes and heading for the beautiful state of Nebraska.  If we run low on cash, I’m dropping in on Warren Buffett, though I prefer his prodigal son Jimmy. 

We are channeling the epic adventure of Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charlie” and have brought along our hairy beast, Addie Mae.  She is a 77 pound Black Lab, who believes she is a Llasa Apso.   Unlike Steinbeck, this isn’t a leisurely trip to savor the beauty of America and the soul of the American people.  This is a race to the grandchildren.  Also, no one will ever mistake me for a Nobel Prize winner, so don’t get your hopes up.

Addie has decided the expensive pad and cushy bed we brought for her are not her chosen spots.  She insists on sitting between the two comfy seats up front.—a 77 pound dog squeezing into a 30 pounds dog’s space.  As we crossed into Illinoiss I felt her nose licking my calf, attached to the foot that was riding the gas pedal.  Ralph Nader would be birthing a small calf, I’m sure.  

Important Safety Tip

We’ve already learned an important tip for rookies.  Make sure you leave about 2 inches of water in the toilet bowl and you won’t suffer through any noxious emissions.  You’ll have an odor-free ride…and the dog will appreciate not being blamed for being the source–or maybe that’s why Gale brought her.  Hmmm.

The adventure continues in Part 2.  Click HERE to read more.

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  1. Debbie Erb

    Love this, safe travels Gale and Guy!

  2. Bobbi

    My heros! Covid with husband is one thing but cross country in an RV is totally different! Looking forward to the continue saga!! The end result will be so worth this!

  3. Lisa Jensen

    You guys are so funny!
    What an adventure and love your great tips for us future Virgin RVrs!!

  4. Claudia and Dan

    Hysterical! I just stumbled upon this blog and I’m anxious to follow your adventure! Safe travels. What we won’t do to see our grandkids! ❤️

  5. Steven Anderson

    You guys will love RV ing,our whole family camped from the west coast to the east coast with a Wards tent camper & a pop up tent camper,all six of us,have fun,be safe?

  6. Lauren Balames

    You have no idea how jealous I am😊. Can’t wait to follow you guys.

  7. Lee Snyder

    New fall TV comedy series? Travels With Gale & Guy.

    Ps. There is nothing else new on. Thank God for ok Netflix & Apple TV! This will be an Emmy for sure. No, wait a minute , it’s an “Addie” not an Emmy. Who has the LARGE pet size plastic bags?

  8. Jon Quade

    Having lived in SE Michigan for a few years (and traveling there for several more), we enjoyed Guy on WDIV before his radio gig. Happy to witness that his writing talents are alive and well. Very enjoyable and looking forward to the next posts on the Gale, Guy & Addie Mae! Well done, Vehicle Nanny!


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