22 Feb

Episode 119 – Rookie Mistakes Explored

On this week’s show my guest is my BFF and travel buddy, Carol Thompson. Carol and I joined the Sisters on the Fly over twelve years ago and we have many road trips under our belt. Along the way we’ve learned a few things, some of them the hard way. I polled the members of several Facebook groups dedicated to RVing women over 300 comments detailing some of their rookie mistakes as well. These mistakes can bruise our egos, erode our confidence and cost us real dollars. Hopefully this podcast episode will help you avoid making some of those mistakes and also provide a laugh or two. It is great to belong to a community of women who help and support each other.

Sometimes we learn as we go and we often learn from other RVer’s. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This was a beautiful site in the Black Hills but the entry to it was on a downward curve. It took several spotters to help me get in it! I’m always grateful for campground assistance!!

First, the Top Six most mentioned Rookie errors.

  • #1 Hitch came off the ball
  • #2 Forgot to put antenna down
  • #3 Not holding down sewer hose when dumping
  • #4 Forgot to unplug before pulling out
  • #5 Locked out with no back up keys
  • #6 Forgot to put wheel chocks in place before unhooking

When polled the number one fear Girl Campers have is the hitch coming off the ball. After you have secured the hitch to the ball, crank the tongue jack down until you can see it pulling the tow vehicle up. You will know it is secure if it does that.

Trailer Towing Mistakes Most Mentioned 

  • Getting stuck on road with no room to turn around
  • Backed over something and pulled forward ripping up bottom of trailer
  • Hit something backing into driveway – post, mailbox, tree, porch, neighbors fence, garage
  • Took off awning or AC at gas station
  • Towed small car behind Class A with emergency brake on

Set Up Mistakes 

  • Mistakenly put water in gas tank of motor home at campground
  • Used boards in stead of stacking blocks to level and boards kicked out and damaged underside of trailer
  • Forgot to put wheel chocks in place before unhitching
  • Unhooked trailer when car was in neutral
  • Hooked up freshwater hose to black tank back flush and flooded trailer with black water tank fluids
  • Bent anti-sway bar by backing up without loosening it
  • Turned on hot water heater with no water in it
  • Didn’t leave enough room for slide out to open

Dumping Mistakes

  • Not holding down sewer hose while dumping, pops off sewer and sprays area and person!
  • Leaving black tank valve open when hooked up to full hook up site
  • Opened blank tank when they thought it was empty

Don’t make the mistake of leaving your black water valve open when at a full hook up site. The fluids will exit and the solids will sit and solidify on your tank floor. The waste dissolvant drop ins need fluid to work in. You can empty it every few days much more conveniently than having to unhook and take it to the dump station but it is not designed to work like a home sewer system,

Packing up Errors 

  • Pulled out with electric or water hose still connected to campground
  • Drove out with slide out open
  • Awning not locked and opened up
  • Steps ripped off when forgot to put them in
  • Drove away with storage compartments open or unlocked
  • Pulled forward with tongue jacks still down
  • Forgot to lock fridge, cabinets or trailer door
  • Didn’t check site – Left behind wheel chocks, jack crank, hoses, awning crank, electric cord
  • Drove away with trailer and storage compartment keys on bumper

Working off a check list and not chatting while packing up will help you reduce the possibility of skipping an important step in your hitching up and pulling out process.

 At Campground

  • Damaged awning when left out in rain or wind storm
  • Ran out of propane on cold night
  • Locked out with no back up keys
  • Pipes froze when heat was not high enough
  • No surge protector – electric damaged
  • No back up fuses

Some of the reasons women sited for making these mistakes gives some insight on how to avoid them. Working with a “Before You Pull Out” checklist and “When You Arrive” checklist helps cut down on these mistakes. Having a comprehensive list and a strict policy of always working off it is what every seasoned RVer will tell you to do. Even when we have done something 100 times and created a good muscle memory we can get distracted by conditions and forget something. Many people sited that they were talking while getting ready to pull out or when arriving and setting up. Impending bad weather, trying to beat rush hour, trying to get to the dump station line before its too long can all distract us and make it easy to miss something. Having that checklist laminated in a cabinet or on a file in your phone cuts those chances of dropping the ball on something important way down.

Arriving at the campground late and tired is another recipe for set up mistakes. Driving for long periods causes real brain fatigue and it can be easy to miss something. Make it a habit to know what you’re daily driving limits are.

Setting up in the dark is  another oft sited reason for making mistakes. The woman who put the water in her motor home gas tank was working with little light in the dark. She thought she was filling her fresh water holding tank but in the dark she put the water hose in her gas tank. Fortunately she had a dual gas tank so was able to get home on the untouched reserve tank and get the other tank pumped out.

Mark Polk from RV Education 101 has a comprehensive checklist to help us avoid a hit to the ego and pocketbook.

Mark also has a very helpful video on determining your pivot point and trailer swing that everyone can benefit from.

While some of our mistakes are things we can laugh at later, some have the potential to be serious. Educate yourself and stay safe out there while enjoying the back roads of America, the Beautiful.

BFF Carol and I have traveled thousands of miles together. Rain or shine we have fun on the road!

To listen to the podcast and hear the tips for avoiding rookie mistakes, click on the arrow!


















14 Nov

Girl Camper: Episode 110 – Building a Campground with Erin Theim

On this weeks show my guest is Erin Theim of Nevada City, California. Erin and her husband Dan are the owners of Inn Town Campground in Nevada City, California. While living in New Zealand they had the opportunity to camp New Zealand style and they liked much of what they saw in how the campgrounds operate there. When the opportunity arose in their own town of Nevada City to buy a property only one mile from the historic downtown area, they took a leap of faith and bought it to build their dream campground.


I had the opportunity to stay there a few weeks ago and experience the glamping tents that draw in visitors from all over the country. The Girl Campers held a camp out there and we had a chance to camp like girls but also to enjoy the beautiful downtown Nevada City.


Our glamping tent came fully equipped with beautiful linens, towels, heated mattress pads and a covered rear porch with a stunning view of the woods and colorful trees. Since I flew in to the Sacramento Airport to meet up with local friends I appreciated that I could camp without having to bring any equipment other than my clothing. The tent was so comfortable and clean and each bed had its own plug for charging and reading light. Each glamping tent at Inn Town Campground has been beautifully curated with finds from local antiques shops.

The gathering space off the office is like a community center and has a communal kitchen with two stoves and a refrigerator and is stocked with pots, pans, cooking  utensils and dishes. We only had to bring our food and beverages. The gang all gathered there on Friday night for a pot luck meet and greet. The three rooms are very inviting and it was wonderful meeting the other people camping there. It’s a great place for tent campers who might not want to break out the camp stove to share meals.

Attached to the kitchen and dining room is a great room with wood stove, Foos Ball table and cozy reading nooks. I was the first one there each morning to get the coffee brewing. We used this room for our meals and as a meeting place to gather for hikes.


There’s a one mile trail that begins at the rear of the campground and leads into town. It was an easy hike and great exercise on a fall day. We all enjoyed a great day in town shopping at the Farmers Market, souvenir shops and local artisans wares. Nevada City is an old mining town with a rich history and beautifully restored buildings. It’s where old hippies and Gen Xers peacefully coexist. It’s inviting, friendly and full of an interesting cross section of smiling, dog walking locals and day tripping tourists.


Erin and Dan Theim have created an urban campground with a very state park feel. You have the best of both worlds there with the deeply wooded and peaceful campground with an historic town and all its offerings a short hike away. I’m alrea working out a way to make this an annual event!