A series of unfortunate events


What not to do with your camperSo over the past two years I have had a series of unfortunate events involving the camper–resulting mostly from my own stupidity! I wish I had these incidents on video as I might have been able to turn my pain into gain on YouTube. Live and learn.

Mishap 1: While pulling the camper out of the driveway to have it inspected before our FIRST camping trip with it, I caught the awning on one of my amateur radio antenna lines. The antenna was held in place by one SMALL screw on the side of the garage, yet it ripped the entire 28′ awning off the camper!

 

Mishap 2: On our trip South last spring I had a very interesting refueling stop. While pumping gas into the van, two teen girls at the next pump were SMOKING while pumping gas into their car! Needless to say I wanted away from that pump as soon as possible. When we got to our next stop (Croft State Park) I noticed damage to the rear fender and bumper of the camper. Either we got swiped in traffic (Kristin’s first thought) or I clipped the cement pole at the gas station in my haste to get away from the gas pumping, smoking girls.

 

Mishap 3: At one point when finances were tight I found plans to make x-chocks for blocking trailer tires. They were working great at first, until they weren’t. We had just come home from a trip and I had unhooked the camper from the van. I noticed that the camper, which sat on a slight grade next to the garage, was a bit closer to the van than when I initially unhooked it. I told Kristin to pull the van up and no sooner did she do that, the camper rolled three feet forward. In the process it bent both front stabilizer jacks and the tongue jack. We had to call Good Sam (so glad we had the plan!) to send out a wrecking service to hoist the camper up so we could hook it back to the van–and then haul it directly to the camper repair shop. Although it was a frustrating and rattling situation, there were three positive outcomes: 1) No one was hurt; 2) I got a new electric jack; 3) We decided to level the area where the camper is parked … which leads to Mishap 4.

Mishap 4: When I rented equipment to dig out and level the camper parking area, I parked the camper in the side yard. When the project was complete, it was time to move the camper out of the yard and back it up the driveway into its new spot. As I was pulling it down the hill onto the road, I got stuck. Very stuck! The camper was lodged in the dirt and the back end of the van was barely on the ground. Not only did I have to call a tow service to get me out of the yard–after digging out a substantial amount of dirt around the jacks–but I had to replace ALL four stabilizer jacks (which I replaced with larger 30″ jacks).

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So those are some of the crazy mishaps I have logged over the past few years. (Kristin is tired of saying, “You did what!?”) Do you have any crazy stories to share? You can share below or head over to our Facebook page. Also be sure to check out our Pinterest page where we have a board dedicated to camping safety tips.

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34 thoughts on “A series of unfortunate events

  1. David

    As we were the only ones there, my buddy and I parked a small 4 man camper at the top of a boat launch ramp, unhitched the trailer and began to enjoy the outdoors. Before leaving for our adventure, we mentioned to friends what we were doing and where we would be – well, folks started showing up. As the evening cooled off most everyone migrated into the camper to continue the fun. Things were really getting going when the camper jumped the chocks and began rolling down the boat ramp to the lake.

    Well, we rolled about five feet before the jack caught on something and stopped us – but not before we practically tore the door off the camper as 10+ people were trying to get out all at the same time. Afterwards, we all had a big (nervous) laugh, hitched the trailer up and parked it off to the side of the boat ramp for the night still hitched to the car and the wheels chocked front and back. That was enough excitement for the evening and everyone left for home.

    It could have turned out a lot worse but God takes care of drunks and fools, of which we were both. That event happened 40 years ago. I still chuckle when I think about it, right after my heart quits pounding.

    1. Kristin

      Hi David! Oh my–now that’s a mishap! Jarrett and I laughed so hard reading this. I bet this makes for a great story to share round the campfire! Thanks so much for sharing. πŸ™‚

  2. Paula

    It seems we have a mishap every single trip but now we can look back and learn from them! I noticed you were going to Croft! We live about 5 miles from there!
    Happy Camping!

    1. Kristin

      Hi Paula! Thanks for stopping by and reading! Yes, we enjoyed our visit to Croft–what a beautiful place to live! We will probably be back to camp there at some point since I have family in the area. πŸ™‚

  3. Liz

    Glad nobody was hurt and you didn’t blow up at the gas station! We fortunately haven’t had many mishaps with our camper, but we did find that not using our camper very often cost us money from things sitting! We had to replace the inverter, and the tires without many miles, but a few years lol. If you’re interested in cheap and free mods, I have tons on my site, http://wackypup.com

    1. Kristin

      Hi Liz! Thanks for stopping by and reading! Thanks for the link to your site–we will go check it out! Happy camping!

  4. Deb

    Lol I am sure glad we are not alone in mishaps.
    We purchased our camper last month and decided we would park it at our oldest daughters house (we live in an apartment ) so it was close and we could tow it most weekends for a quick get away. The driveway to the back yard is between her house and the neighbors house, what we didn’t realize was how close the houses were. Will we got down the driveway to the backyard. It was touch and go but we did it.
    Unfortunately the dealer had not done the protection coat on the outside so we had to take it back to the dealer the following weekend. Here’s where our mishaps start. First being rookies we had a hard time hooking up our trailer and turning it around. Thank goodness the neighbors are campers and under stood our delema. They came over to lend a hand. Once we got turned around after trying to avoid trees and fences. We started up the driveway. Hey we got down we should be able to get out right. Not. We got stuck under the neighbors eaves trough. The driveway slips down out to the road so when the car started down the slop the back end of the trailer rose up. The neighbor came over with with his truck that sits higher than our truck in hopes to raise the front of the trailer to lower the back end. This did not work. We wind up letting some air out the the tires.once we got it to the road we decided to hook up the plug and the stabilizer bars. And won’t you know it. We bend the plug casing. After half an hour of trying to bend the metal we were able to hammer the plug in place enough to make a connection. So what should have taken us minutes to get the trailer out of the backyard took us over 4 hours. We got the trailer to the dealer and the time check the roof. It turns out we ripped the rubber off along the edge. They fixed the roof amd plug casing. They did the out protection and we were o our way. We decide to tow up north to my sister where it sit on a nice leave driveway.
    The first time we used it our Lp detected was going off. Our battery had died once we plugged it in to the hydro we were good to go. Next morning we made our first breakfast only to have the smoke detectors go off. Oh wait back up. Lol my sister (who tows a large boat) had to back the trailer into her driveway we kept on jackknifing it.
    We managed to fill the water tank but now we have air in lines that we are having a hard time removing. That will we this weekend adventure.
    Deb

    1. Kristin

      Hi Deb! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. And thanks for sharing your story! Camping with an RV sure is an adventure, isn’t it?! πŸ™‚ It seems most camper owners find themselves in some kind of predicament at some point–at least these bloopers make great stories to share around the campfire! πŸ™‚

  5. Cher Hatte

    Hi Kristin, Thank you and your readers for sharing your experiences as we are looking to get back into the RV life after many years, it is great to know what to look out for. I don’t have any trials to share but this looked like a good place to share a funny we had with our 15 foot Kit. We weren’t actually RV’ers at the time but we were traveling musicians and having our little Kit was handy on the road for overnights and hauling the equipment. Needless to say but I will, I could only have very necessary things in the Kit so I didn’t buy a lot of things I saw and wanted but one day we were looking for some socks for our gas light when I saw this stick on sign. PLEASE USE OTHER DOOR. Being the clown I am i had to put it on the Kit. Most people just read it and laughed but one man actually walked around the Kit twice looking for the other door. OH did we laugh and I will be getting PLEASE USE OTHER DOOR for the RV I am looking for. If you see it say HI lol
    Thanks again
    Cheri

    1. Kristin

      Hi Cheri! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! We loved your story–I think that would be a hoot to do on a RV! All the best!!!

  6. Letty Cortizo

    New owners of a Jayco 26ft trailer. I am a mishap magnet! Last trip, we had gone to the lake so our boys could play by the water. I decided to head back to start lunch and have some me time. My husband always locks the trailer and puts the keys in our locked truck.
    I proceeded to unlock the trailer grab a glass of wine and hang the keys on our newly installed key hooks. Left the trailer an slammed the door.
    No clue what happened but when I went to go back in, it was locked. Locked locked! How I still have no clue since I assumed I unlocked when I used the key.
    My husband was going to kill me. My mind raced thinking of a solution that wouldn’t involve a pricey locksmith! All windows were shut! Ughhh! Then I noticed the storage compartment wasn’t locked! Yes! Our SC has access from inside (under mattress). I crawled under and pushed the very heavy mattress up and I was in!

    1. Kristin

      Hi Letty! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! And thank you for sharing your story! That will be a great one for you to share through the years. πŸ™‚ I can just imagine you crawling through the compartment! As far as the door locking on you, that has happened to me too–just fortunately never with the keys in the camper. Jarrett and I have determined that we have to be careful when pulling the key back out of the camper door: If you turn the key while pulling it out, it sometimes re-locks the door, and then when the door closes, it locks in place. (Kind of like turning the lock on a door knob and then pulling the door closed behind you.) Happy camping!

  7. Patsy Schnorr

    After my husband died, I decided to do the things I’ve all wanted to do. So I bought a used motor home and a friend of mine who lost her husband just a few years earlier, decided to do some traveling. We went to dig for diamonds and from there looking for crystals. When parking the vehicle, we found out that the kitchen faucet didn’t work and we had water all over the place. Upon taking it apart, I didn’t have a clue. One evening my friend decided that she would shower. I had no problem with that. She complained about the cold water and that there was no pressure. Little did we know that the shower hook up sprung a leak and the bathroom was covered in water. We had to buy a fan to dry that out. We were assured that everything worked, and the only thing I did was to have the motor checked, tires looked at brakes fixed. Oil changed. Needless to say we had some good laughes

    1. Kristin

      Hi Patsy! Thanks for stopping by and reading!
      Oh my–quite an adventure, isn’t it! πŸ™‚ Hope things have gone smoother for you since. Happy camping!

  8. Angie

    My h my has been and I have owned motor homes for nearly 40 years. Our last was a 40′ with 4 slides. No incidents.. Well hubby has a stricken and everything came to a halt for a couple years. One morning I got up and decided we were not giving up on “living”. I went out bought a Ford 150 with a tow pkg and aN 18′ trailer. We set out on a 10,000 mile journey. It was now or never!! My husband was ban from driving so this young 79 yr old decided she could handle it. All was well as long as I was going FORWARD. I would call the campgrounds ahead and told them I only went in one direction Forward!! Well needless to say I took a wrong turn and I needed to back up. I was in the boonies. I hand no choice, back out or sit!!! The more that I tried the nΓ©e per in trouble I got. I had a ditch on one side and a fence on the other. After struggling for 30 min I bit the bullet, I opened the gate and all these horses appeared. Well I asked my husband to come out and corral the horses while I made this huge swing in the pasture, loaded with manure, and horses running everywhere!! I did it!! I was so proud of myself!! That pasture will never be the same, but I conquered πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ. I traveled all the northwest, Canada, and all the major parks– no other mishaps.
    If I can do it anyone can!! Go, have fun, adventure awaits.

    1. Kristin

      Hi Angie! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! That is an awesome story–what a memory! πŸ™‚ I (Kristin) am terrified of towing a trailer for fear I’d get myself stuck in a pickle–but your spirit of adventure inspires me! πŸ™‚ Happy camping!

    2. Leslie Foy

      This makes my day to read!! At 63, I am determined to buy a small travel trailer, find a “school” or an expert to show me how to do EVERYTHING…going to Walmart ‘s huge parking lot and driving, turning, backing up, and parking till I’m confident…and then I’m off!! I told hubs, who has never wanted anything to do with a travel trailer, he’s welcome to come…but if not… I’ll go alone!!

      1. Kristin

        Hi Leslie! So glad you stopped by! πŸ™‚ I think that’s awesome that you want to give RVing a go, even if it means going solo! πŸ™‚ We’ve actually been thinking about offering “camper-in-training” weekends to people who are new to RVing and would like some guidance. Do you happen to live near western Pennsylvania? πŸ™‚

      2. PATRICK

        Head over to your local RV store. Lazy Days teaches a half day class on driving and how to look over an RV or Travel Trailer. Enjoy your travels.

  9. Kristin Cook

    yay! We are not the only ones! Our pop up broke- it stopped popping down- so we traded it in and bought a 31′ footer. That weekend we took it on our first trip- WOW! that thing is big. We parked it, remembered the wood to level the one side and started to unhitch it. Our truck was on a slight incline and we started to unhitch it. Trying to remember the order…was it tow stabilizers, stabilizer jacks, then the jack or tow stabilizers jack then stabilizers? Nervous about the whole thing, we undid the tow stabilizers and chains, and started to lower the hitch jack…just as we hit the ground and truck unhitched the camper started sliding about 2 feet. I’m holding on the camper hitch like I can stop all 4,000 lbs from rolling through the campground! luckily the jack dug deep enough to stop. We circled the camper only to realize we forgot the most important thing- the wheel chocks! And we learned- never remove the chains from the truck before unhitching- doh! It still gives me a scare when it unhitches, but I can laugh now.

    1. Kristin

      Hi Kristin! Thanks for stopping by and reading! You are definitely not alone! πŸ™‚ I suppose if anyone spends long enough RVing, they’re bound to have a few bloopers eventually. At the time it’s definitely NOT funny–but over time, those mistakes sure do make for some hilarious stories. πŸ™‚ Happy camping!

  10. Randy

    Recently, I was towing my 32 ft Jayco travel trailer through West Virginia. My gps was set to avoid toll roads and I ended up on an unpaved mountain road that most people wouldn’t want to take a car on let alone a full size conversion van and travel trailer. I know I should have turned backed out (there was no one else on the God awful road) when the pavement turned to dirt but I didn’t think it would be too long and maybe it would get better. It didn’t get better and I ended up stuck in a deep mud hole at least 10 miles from any main road with no cell phone coverage. I managed to unhook my camper trailer, got my van out, drove to the nearest hotel (because it was getting late) and called a tow truck. Three hours and $250 later I was back at the hotel with my travel trailer. I had to replace all 4 stabilizer jacks, 2 sets of steps, some minor damage to trim and the trailer wiring harness on my van. Lessons learned 1. Do not ever try to avoid toll roads when driving through the mountains of West Virginia. 2. Stay on paved roads no matter what. The tow truck driver said he had never seen anything that big get down that road and there were several areas that had washed out on the side. I was lucky that I didn’t go over the edge down a 100+ foot drop.

  11. Tami

    We had just bought a new 20 foot camper after camping in a class A motor home for years went to a state park in Michigan. My husband pulled across the road to back in the trailer to the sute, not paying attention when he back across the road he hit the clean out connection and broke it. It was on the oppsite side of the trailer so we did not notice it. When we got home to dump it we noticed that it was broke. 150 dollars later for our finest trip with the new camper and 3 hours later to reinstall a new tank and put the toilet back as well as to reconnect all the pipes. Lesson well learned

    1. Kristin

      Hi Tami–thanks so much for stopping by and reading! And thanks for sharing your RV blooper moment: It’s funny how a lot of those blooper moments seem to happen when our campers are new to us! πŸ™‚ Happy camping!

  12. John R. Graham

    My wife and I were on our maiden voyage with our “new” 1978 Lindy 19 class c on a Dodge chassis. Our first night we were just having coffee and cup of noodles. The coffee we had was ground to a powder. This allowed the percolating coffee to pass through the basket…black sludge. We then boiled water for the noodles. My wife thought the water had a pinkish tint. I assured her I filled the tank from our homes municipal system. The noodles were terrible. It seems that there was still some antifreeze in the system. When we went to bed, it collapsed. So our trip was not only eventful…it was great.

    1. Kristin

      Hi John–thanks so much for stopping by and reading! Sounds like you had quite the eventful first trip! Hope things got smoother after that! πŸ™‚ Happy camping!

  13. Amanda

    We just returned from our first camping trip with our 20 footer which involved a lot of user error initially. First was unhitching the ball from the coupler took about an hour. No one told us to roll the truck into neutral to help! Another mishap was jacking the camper unevenly which warped the frame leading to the door not closing completely. Thank goodness for the Internet and camping forums. It really helped us not tear our hair out!

    1. Kristin

      Hi Amanda–Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! Learning the ins and outs of RVing can definitely be challenging–we feel your pain! The good news is that it does get easier, so hang in there. And yes, thank goodness for all the internet and camping forums–we’ve learned a ton that way! Happy camping! πŸ™‚

  14. Chas. Carmichael

    Mishaps are plentiful when new to trailer camping. I grew up camping in an old pickup camper and later as an adult had an extensive wall tent set-up. My wife laid down the law that if it didn’t have a potty and a shower then she was not camping/hunting anymore. To make matters worse, (even though my mother carried me in a backpack in freezing weather from an unheated tent to her spot on the mountain in freezing weather) my mother decided that my newborn would not go into a wall tent and bought a 2000 18’ Lumalite for our family in 2006. To make sure I knew who it belonged to she titled it in the newborn’s name. I’m still not sure how that was legal since in CO you have to be the registered owner to pick up new tags yearly and how an infant signed the paperwork remains a mystery. Title is still in her name to this day!

    First trip out I learned the difference between stabilizing jacks and leveling jacks. Two hours of a pipe wrench and a vise when I got home straightened out that misunderstanding.
    Second trip was ARRL Field Day for amateur radio operators, 2006. Somehow when I unhooked the trailer the emergency break-away brake cable got tugged without me knowing. 4 hours the battery in the trailer was dead. 4 hours after that the culprit was found. Later I proofed that the emergency braking system pulls a full 15A when activated! If only the story stopped there….

    My Step-father who bought the trailer is a plumber. He insisted we absolutely needed a generator (microwave to heat bottles for the infant owner of the trailer, climate control for the baby). He sized it like you would for a residential house: figure out total load of the residence with every light and appliance on and AC on, and double it because things are more efficient running below max capacity. Well, we ended up with a 8500W generator the size of a Volkswagon attached to the rear of the trailer. The trailer shook like a cheap motel quarter bed when it ran. It was field day and I needed juice for my amateur radios so two grown men lifted the huge generator and moved it into the woods a bit for some noise reduction. Somehow the generator sucked a stone into the engine shroud/fan assembly and after a sound similar to a grenade exploding occurred we found plastic pieces and parts scattered in a 100 yard radius. (Sears actually covered the warranty!). Somebody lent us a generator to recharge the trailer battery since by then we had the emergency brake issue identified and fixed.

    On the way home we stopped to empty the trailer black and grey water tanks. Remember – first time ever using these and all previous camping never had to deal with these evil devices (we used the woods!). I did not realize the gasket for the black water tank valve gate had a small crack in it. But, the outlet cap’s gasket was certainly watertight and the previous owner apparently had gorilla hands to tighten it with. After sitting in front of the outlet wrestling with the cap it finally came loose. Immediately, a half gallon of cold stinky poop colored black water came gushing out into my lap. My loud cursing startled the baby who started screaming and every eye in the vicinity was drawn to my unfortunate situation. It was a joy let me tell you! The look of horror of people at the gas station where the RV dump as I stripped to my skivvies and tossed them into the truck bed before getting into the truck to drive home – priceless. My neighbors were in their front yard (of course they were) when I made the semi-naked dash into the house with the baby carrier. They still remind me of that day from time to time when they see me hooking the trailer up for a trip.

    Ahhhhh….the joys of looking back. We have since become pros at this and regularly camp for hunting/fishing/ATV-riding 20 times a year now and mishaps are now usually relegated to normal wear and tear – like last weekend when it was 20 degrees at night (hunting trip) and the furnace exciter failed the second day into a five day trip. At least the trailer was good and cool to haul my deer back home in…

    Chas.

    1. Kristin

      Hi Chas–thanks so much for stopping by and reading! And thanks for sharing your awesome stories! You had Jarrett and I laughing out loud just picturing some of these predicaments! Oh my–good times, right?! πŸ™‚

  15. Sandy

    Everyone’s mishaps make me feel normal as hubby and I have also had a few! The last being having no heat in our teardrop when it was 28Β° outside. We’re still not sure what happened but most likely something funky during my first attempts to do a semi-winterization. Nothing we tried got the heat going and then I spied a comment in the trailer handbook about doing a general power reset. I swear I heard angels sing when having done this we heard the heater kick in. As the temp crept up from 38Β° we finally got warmed up and got some sleep. Lesson learned…do things right or not at all and keep manuals handy.

    1. Kristin

      Hi Sandy–thanks for stopping by and reading! And thanks for sharing your story. πŸ™‚ A good reminder to keep those manuals handy–we always travel with ours just in case. Happy camping!

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