Friday, June 2, 2023


Disasters – Round Three: The saga of the newbie continues. I’m thinking about giving up…already!!

Wally enjoying the New Mexico scenery

You all deserve an update on my harrowing move to California from North Carolina in my new used Newmar coach.

I write this story, bearing the risk of ridicule, so that readers can learn from my mistakes. I am not writing to fish for sympathy because I acknowledge that I did this all wrong. Believe me, I am paying for my mistakes.

Last you heard, I had turned around after the coach had major problems with the slides – they didn’t work. (If you missed that story, read it here before you continue on.) I was fortunate enough to land an appointment with Asheville RV Services, an independent shop whose owner is an angel. They worked for four hours trying to figure out the problems. It seemed to be electrical on the big slide because there was no power to the control board. The bedroom slide malfunction was all my fault. I apparently hit a tree while backing out of my driveway (I lived right under the Blue Ridge Parkway with lots of trees), and the slide topper was bent. We removed it and the slide worked fine.

The full-length slide was another matter. It seemed to be an electrical issue on the big slide because there was no power to the slide switch and the fuse kept blowing. It would take more time than RV Services and I had to trace an electrical short in the bowels of the rig. They called Newmar and found a workaround: The controller board (in a compartment below the slide) had manual override buttons. With a little twisting and turning, I could reach them and extend and retract the slide. This would work for now. 

No working kitchen slide

California or bust

First stop. The bedroom slide worked but the buttons on the controller board only half worked. I swear it worked at the shop. Only one of two motors was responding. Also, the water heater did not work. I ate my tacos and had a beer. Sigh.

A tight squeeze for the crew

It was tight, but I could manage with the one slide working. The cats and I got into a rhythm and had a relatively enjoyable trip. Several stops were delightful: Downtown Riverside RV Park in Little Rock is fantastic – right on the river and well managed.

I joined Harvest Hosts and stayed at Awesome Pacas and Pyrs just outside Oklahoma City, an alpaca farm with hosts that include grand champion Grand Pyrenees dogs. Alpacas are amazing animals and the hosts sell wonderful alpaca fur products. I made it to California and have settled down at Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert. I will be here for about two more months.

A furry friend at Awesome Pacas & Pyrs in Oklahoma City

I hate to admit it, but this experience has discouraged me from going full-time in the RV. In fact, I am seriously considering selling the Newmar and licking my wounds. I am a hearty and stout person but some of my problems (the tree for instance) were because I did not have a partner helping me. Traveling alone may be beyond my fortitude.

I am trying to find a repair technician to fix the slide and the water heater. I discovered damage caused by rodents in one compartment – this may be the cause of the electrical problems. The outside TV fell off its mounting brackets, some drawer and cabinet latches have broken, and the toilet needs replacing. I am exhausted.

Next week I will give you the rundown of what I did wrong and what I did right. Most of you have figured that out already, but it’s worth a summary.

For now, tacos and beer are calling.



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Patricia Voyna
1 year ago

Same problem with my brother, new to him, used Newmar, Needed a new control panel. Lots of tracing of wires for electrical, never did get the wiring right for the middle TV and everything attached. Plus drivers jack kept falling. Still had to go outside and manually put out large slide. Spent more time in the shop than on the road. Never did get to go camping before it had to be winterized. Only road time was leaving my house in Georgia going home to Missouri.

Steve Flippo
1 year ago

My condolences and empathy, sir. Reminds me of my first rv, a 26 foot Dutchman bumper pull. The first time I tried to maneuver it into my yard I managed to tap the eave of my house. Scratched the paint on my eave, and did $4,000 damage to my Dutchman. Or, as Rodney dangerfield would say, “hey, you scratched my anchor!”

Richard Chabrajez
1 year ago

It’s a shame we don’t have an RVers vest with merit badges for each item we fix or replace. Keep at it. The payoff is worth it. You’re just taking the hands on class for full time RVers. You’ll be an RV eagle scout before you know it!.

1 year ago

I just moved into my Jayco fifth wheel and feel the pain of not having a partner. There is just so much to be aware of. I regularly read articles, belong to Facebook groups, etc. I take it in, get overwhelmed and there it goes – out the other ear. I really thought I could do this; I knew it wouldn’t be simple and thank God I have dear friends living next door who have been RV living for five years.
I moved from a three-bedroom home into my fifth wheel. I have so much stuff, it is everywhere. It has been a month now and I find myself miserable. I know this will pass. However, it would be so much easier if I had someone with me to help work it out.
I have not had any issues as you have, yet, and that is the operative word at this point.
Take care and stay strong. I have my fur baby and it sounds like you do too. We can do it; I continue to tell myself to breathe and that’s about all I have right now!
hahahaha! Be safe and smile

Dale Sain
1 year ago

I want the T-Shirt that says, “I am the only thing that works on this RV 100% of the time”

Scott Gitlin
1 year ago
Reply to  Dale Sain


1 year ago

Hang in their girlfriend. I understand. Many people understand. You are not alone. I’ve been solo fulltiming in a Class A for the last year. There’s always something that needs fixed or repairs or maintenance. It does get better. You will learn more each trip. Ask questions. Talk to other RVers. You can do this !

1 year ago

You have already shown amazing perseverance – you’re in California! You made a cross country trip on your own in an RV and survived. Now give yourself a little time to recover. Get the issues fixed, those will need to be addressed whether you keep or sell. Then spend some time just being in the RV. We went through a lot of issues with our first coach and, in the midst of it, I was sure the only way I would travel in the future would involve hotels and/or flights. Twelve years later we are still RVing and I love it…95% of the time. There will always be frustrations, there will always be things that break – and they will always cost more than I think they should. But I hope we have many more years of it. If you quit while feeling overwhelmed, you might lose the chance to live your dream. Don’t rush the decision because of some bumps, even if they are pretty big bumps. Take the time to be sure and find the next dream if you need to move on.

1 year ago

I feel for you. I only question why you would leave North Carolina for California.

1 year ago
Reply to  Debbie

Spoken like someone who never spent time in NC

Pamela Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom

Because it’s worth it!

Karyn Cowdrey - BlackFyre Belgians
1 year ago

I’m sorry your feeling frustrated… but .. look at it this way.. if this was a house on a foundation, you’d still risk things not working after move in.

I have a significant other but he RARELY goes in the RV with me. I am a professional dog show handler and travel all over for several weeks at a time often with just me and a Rig FULL of dogs.

Things I’ve learned that may help you… #1 Before pulling out OR pulling into a space stop.. get out, look all around UP DOWN and SIDE TO SIDE and note things like overhanging branches, Carport roof corners that will take part of the roof out in a nano second (yup! BEEN THERE DID THAT, LOL) and Low lying issues like Rocks, curbs that you can scrape sh*t on etc… If you’re not certain you’re clearing something, STOP, GET OUT, LOOK .. Up Down Side to side , Front to back 🙂 Taking your time will help prevent hitting stuff 🙂

Next , Mobile RV repair people and Coachnet are your friends 🙂 Good luck!

1 year ago

Being a former truck driver our company printed stickers for the dash that read: G.O.A.L. “Get Out And Look”.

1 year ago

Wow sorry to hear all your nightmares coming true. That’s why I won’t get a RV. There just not built to last. I bought a school bus and now building it out into a beautiful home that way I know what I have into it. Plus slide outs are only good when there new after that they quit working and leak 😟

Carson Axtell
1 year ago

Luxury is expensive, simplicity is not. I would rather put up with the minor inconveniences of living simply than endure the major headaches and expenses of maintaining and repairing the complex systems that support luxury. This is especially true with a nomadic lifestyle that subjects one’s home to the equivalent of earthquake and hurricane forces everytime one travels down the road. But it’s hard to return to simplicity once one equates luxury with necessity. It’s a matter of personal choice.

Karen D Kessel
1 year ago
Reply to  Carson Axtell

Excellent! That’s why I never want slides!

Donald N Wright
1 year ago

Oh, another newbie. New RV’s come with wires not attached to anything, Used RV’s have worn out parts and motors, Being single, there is no one to ask their opinion or suggestions, calling friends with RV’s is sometimes the best solution.

Dennis G.
1 year ago

RVs can try your patience at times. The most frustrating thing is fixing things and having them break again, often within days. RVing solo is also a bit of a challenge, because you don’t have that second person to help see issues and obstacles.
All this can be over come with patience, learning, and not worrying what other people think. If you need to step outside, and verify all is clear before you back up the rig into a space,…do so. If you need to educate yourself on repairs, use the internet, RV forums and YouTube for your education.
Solo camping is not for everyone. Loneliness can be a problem, unless you are outgoing, and make friends easily. I love our animals, but human contact is important.
Don’t give up just yet. Once the teething issues on your Newmar are sorted, the trips will become easier.

Sharon L Boehmer
1 year ago

Don’t throw in the towel just yet, have patience and learn from your mistakes. We travel with a 36′ 5th wheel and, what I consider, a big !@# pick up. Never thought I would have to deal with it all on my own until DH left for 6 months for a out of country job assignment. I drove, pulled in, backed up and set up everything by myself at least 10 times. I might have made a few a little mad at me for my snail like pace, but so be it. I have learned how to handle everything by myself. You will, too.

Joseph Phebus
1 year ago

What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. 😉. Hang in there we all have our frustrations and stories, but there’s a lot of joy and comradery to be found in the journey.

David F.
1 year ago

Don’t have any good advice, but enjoy your writing!

1 year ago

Oh, it sounds like everything I’ve read regarding the RV life, except you don’t mention water leaks from the roof, slides or windows. I’m impressed with your fortitude. I know I’ll need that same determination and strength of will in a few weeks. As several others have mentioned, keep going, it gets easier, and you’ve already dealt with huge issues already, so it must get better! I love your RV. I might go with a class A for my next one. I’d love to travel with my pets in the class A. I won’t be traveling with my pets in my fifth wheel due to their stress of riding in my suvs. We will be stationary for 6 months, possibly more. Afterwards I’ll flip and sell my RV and upgrade to a newer model. Thanks for the update!

Doug McIntire
1 year ago

Owning an RV is hard. We bought an ’01 Newmar and were very glad we grabbed a good brand. Very well made and supported. It takes a lot of time to find and fix problems and new ones pop up regularly. We also have a list of remodels we are checking off as we go.

In Washington we watched a neighbor walking around her rig and pausing as if to stare a hole in it. We finally gave in and asked her what she was doing. Her answer had us laughing knowingly. She said, “I heard a new noise”. That will be the name of a band if I ever start one again.

It can be nerve-wracking and the Youtube RV infotainment world is little help. It is up to each of us to decide if we can tolerate the RV life. I still work long weeks and we have grown kids that were displaced by COVID. This caused us to come in after full-timing for the better part of a year.

Still, we keep the rig up and use it as often as we can. We miss the days of travel and can’t wait until life allows us back out, hassles be danged!

1 year ago

RVs are boats. Rotten values and bust out another thousand. But, it’s the freedom, adventures bumpy or smooth, solo or couple, reading forums for help or guidance. RVers are really a family helping rather through the media or hands on in a park/camp ground. Which starts the building blocks to great friendship. Getting or sending a text saying “hi did you make you destination, that repair held up? Reach out and grow don’t give up, have another beer and taco or invite another RVer over for a taco and beer and start a conversation of the issue it might just get fixed. Travel happy and be safe.

Michael Butts
1 year ago

If you’re willing to give RV-ing another try, I’d suggest a heavy dose of Youtube. There are TONS of videos that cover most of the problems you mentioned. I understand that the slide or water heater can be intimidating, but the drawer latches and toilet replacement are fairly simple, take just a couple of hand tools, and Youtubers will give you a complete step-by-step. Good luck!

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