Prologue – Our First RV Experience – 2014

After a couple of years of looking at RV’s and various locations to go with the RV, we decided in 2014 we would rent an RV for our anniversary and try out the experience.  We decided renting a class C was the best option living near Pensacola.  We also wanted to find two different locations during our trip to get more experience with setting up and breaking down.  The process we used to decide where we wanted to stay including scouting out campgrounds in state and federal parks within a couple of hours of Pensacola.

We decided on the following locations.

We selected Rocky Bayou because it included wooded camping sites, hiking trails, water access to the Bayou, and nice bathhouses.  Fort Pickens was selected to provide a different experience of being close to the beach and an open camping area.  Both campgrounds provided electric and water.

We rented a 25′ class C for the two of us.  We had the option of a 25′ or 30′ class C.  Since it was our first time with an RV, we decided to go with the shorter of the two options.

When the day to pick up the RV arrived, Neva and I went to pick up the RV.  Being our first time, we were looking forward to the walkthrough of the RV.  The following were highlights of the walkthrough

  • How to use the 2-way power Refrigerator
  • Proper use of stove and oven
  • What works off batter and power (shore or generator)
  • How to use the generator
  • Proper use of the water system (Fresh, Grey, and Black)
    • Connecting to water
    • Using the fresh water tank & pump when not connected
    • Chemicals for the black tank
    • How to flush the tanks
  • Review of safety systems – detectors and fire extinguisher
  • Starting, driving, and stopping the class C

Looking back, we were very ignorant.  I am sure we asked more questions then their usual renters.  Our advice is to feel free to ask any questions you have so you can minimize issues with your rental.

Neva did a great job of getting us ready to load the RV.  She had prepared everything from food, cookware and utensils, bedding, clothes, and all of the items we wanted to take with us for outdoors.  We took a small portable grill, a couple zero gravity chairs, outdoor mat, and other items for when we were outdoors.  Based on Neva’s preparation, it did not take long to load the RV.

We left early in the afternoon so we could get to the campground before most of the people arriving the same day.  We had seen multiple videos on how to work as a team to back up into our site at Rocky Bayou.  At the time we felt the 5 minutes to back in and line up to the electric and water seemed like a long time.  Later when others arrived, it was comforting to see others take as long or longer to get into their sites.  We got hooked up and was ready for the rest of the day.

We had a couple of great days at Rocky Bayou with the hiking and activities at our camp like relaxing.  The site has partially shaded and provides some privacy.  The park is in a great location near the coast and not far from shopping.  The park also provides rentals for Canoes and Kayaks.  The bathhouse was clean and air-conditioned.  There were washers and dryers available at the bathhouse.

After a couple of days, we made our way to Fort Pickens.  We refined our skills of packing up and dumping the tanks on our way out.  The drive was under 2 hours.

Fort Pickens Campgrounds was very different.  The campground is mostly open with very little trees and is mostly sand since it’s at the beach.  The time at the beach was very enjoyable.  We were able to walk to the beach from our site and watch the sunset and then enjoy the stars.  We achieved our objective of having two different experiences on the same trip.

With the campgrounds being more open, we ended up meeting more people at Fort Pickens.  The key thing we discovered the friendly and helpful nature of the RV community.  It was obvious from the RV we were in a rental.  We stopped to talk to several people to ask them about their experience RVing.  We met occasional and full-time RVers.  It was the second day at Fort Pickens we decided that the nomadic / RV lifestyle was what we wanted.

When it was time to head home, we thought is it already over?  We packed up, dumped the tanks, headed home to unload, and then return the RV.

We learned the following from our first RV experience.

  1. We love the RV lifestyle!
  2. How to use most of the major systems of an RV
  3. Comfortable with the length of the RV
  4. Appreciated the concept of a towed vehicle (we did not have one)

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