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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Driving practice

Jeremy and I went out to a big parking lot today to practice driving and backing up the trailer. Wow, was that an eye-opening experience. We learned several important lessons.

1. The mirrors on the truck are basically useless when backing up. Oh, sure, we could probably see if we were about to be clobbered by a tree, but they wouldn't help us avoid that. Something about the mirrors really distorts the angles of the truck and trailer, so it's very disorienting to try to use them to navigate.

2. Giving directions is just as difficult, if not moreso, than driving. Thanks to our first discovery, we realized the easiest way to park is just to drive blindly following the directions of the person standing outside and watching the trailer. Except for straightening out the truck to line up with the trailer, this approach was a lot easier. Definitely requires good communication and good directions from the spotter.

3. Our fear of right-hand turns is completely justified. It is impossible to make a sharp right-hand turn without either using two lanes on the street you're turning onto or driving over the curb by about three feet.

4. Little orange soccer cones were not built to withstand being run over by a 12,000 pound trailer.

It was a very helpful experience. We'll definitely do it again. It does help to have more of a feel for how wide the turns are, rather than just aimlessly taking corners as widely as possible. And we are not nearly so intimidated by the thought of a campsite where we need to back in-that was much easier than we expected.

I worked a little in the camper today too. I took out the dinette table and chairs, and tried the folding table and chairs we have. That actually gave us a nice little area. Realistically, we aren't going to want to fold up the table and chairs twice a day for the kids to take naps and go to bed, but it will be good to have the space available if we need it or want it on occasion.

We tried to fill the fresh water tank to sterilize it with bleach, but ran into some trouble when we couldn't get the water pump working. We'll have to call the dealer on Monday. We didn't actually use it at our walkthrough, but that's just because it was another thing we didn't realize we needed to test. It would be nice if the dealer made us feel silly because we missed some valve somewhere, but if there's really a problem I hope they'll take care of it for us.


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