Our First RV Trip
Canyon of the Eagles
Lake Buchanan-Burnet, TX
Last year Richard and I decided that getting an RV and taking trips with the kiddos (and whomever else wanted to join!) would be an integral part living it full. While we had talked about it for several months, the actual purchase of our trailer was a bit of a last minute decision. We drove off the lot, trailer in tow, and went straight to Walmart. After grabbing the “essentials,” or what we thought were essentials at the time, we packed up and headed off for our very first camping trip using the new trailer—this was a total of two days from purchase-to-use. (Can you say impulsive?!)
We bought a Passport Elite 29BH from Family RV in Sweetwater, TX (www.familyrvonline.com). The salesman and co-owner gave us a lengthy and WONDERFUL run-down of all of the various systems and water drainage-y things. That part—the drainage one—is what I was dreading. Turns out, it’s not so bad…more to come on this. He explained that if you don't have a good time because you don't know the basics then you won't keep an RV long. Thankfully, my husband has a natural ability to back up a trailer. If it were left up to me, I’d still be there trying :-) Funny story about this first trip, our precious Meredith is a little OCD about hand washing, I mean who isn't right? The faucets in the RV bathroom turn opposite of a normal bathroom. So Mere went and washed her hands, left the stopper in the sink, and yes you guessed it left the water running. Richard noticed water coming out of the bottom of the trailer and although quite new to this experience, realized it wasn't normal. The trailer had quite a bit of water on the floor, good news is it's vinyl and everything dried out fine. We didn't worry about babying it as much after that. I do believe Richard made the comment "this is why we can't have nice things" and we laughed it off. All part of the experience, right?
Canyon of the Eagles is beautiful. It’s peaceful. Little did we know, it would be one of the best RV places we would find. It has cabins, RV hookups, tent sites, and CLEAN public bathrooms! There is a swimming pool, a public dock, an adorable restaurant (with great food and amazing views!), a little clubhouse with a bar, numerous scenic view areas with benches and swings, various presentations (see the reptile one below) and live music; they also have an observatory at night and a river boat cruise!
The first time we went, we attended a reptile presentation titled "Snake, rattle, and roll". A gentleman that lives on a nearby ranch collected snakes and other native reptiles and brought them over for a little show-and-tell. He was very informative! Afterwards, the kids were able to hold and touch the animals. It all took place on benches in the grass nestled under a low-hanging live oak, right beside the lake. Just gorgeous!
We recently went again and it was a much different experience than the first time. Still beautiful, still fun, but we are seasoned at packing and setting up now. My family has a cabin up on a big hill about 10 miles from Canyon of the Eagles, so there were 13 of us this time! (See the incredible view below) They all came over to see the camp grounds and have dinner one night. It started raining, so we all crammed into the trailer at one point…nothing like togetherness, right?!
I just love how our RV trips force us to be together, with minimal outside distraction. In today’s world, that’s difficult to do. We play cards and dominoes, do puzzles and board games, lay in hammocks, and play Mario Brothers on Nintendo (my daughter’s personal favorite, much to my husband’s approval). My prayer is that our children’s memories of these trips are just as priceless as they already are to me.
Some takeaways that we have found helpful:
1. Get small levels and affix them to the outside of the trailer. This makes leveling the trailer much easier because you don’t have to keep going inside to check a level that is sitting on a surface (counter top). These Hopkins are what we chose.
2. The gray and black water tanks aren’t as scary as I thought :-) At our RV dealership, we bought little squares (they look like laundry pods) to drop in the toilet and reduce any unpleasant odors and help dissolve everything. We've preferred the orange fragrance but they have other options. There are stands that hold the lines to make draining easy, and there aren’t sights or smells like I thought there would be. Camco Sidewinder & Camco TST Max. Also get good hoses, some cheaper ones may come with your RV but splurge on good ones, its worth it I promise.
3. Utilize every storage compartment!! We use the area under the dining benches to store folding chairs. The rest of the storage is pretty obvious; kitchen has dishes, flatware, etc., TV storage has games, remotes, etc., Pantry has food, paper towels, pens/paper, Bathroom has TP, smell good pods, extra shampoo/soap, etc.
Under the trailer storage is used for all of the connections/tubes, fishing gear, additional chairs, large cooking items (big pan to cook eggs/bacon, for example).
4. We bought a three basket hanging system to put on the bathroom door. It houses extra hair supplies and the other bathroom toiletry items that don’t fit in the medicine cabinet.
5. We also livened the place up with family photos! I purchased them on Mixtiles. It’s an app that you just upload pictures to, and they are mailed to your door in a couple of weeks. They are mounted on a foam backing, so they are as light as a feather, and come with a peel-and-stick backing. We love them!
6. Have a running list for two things: what you need while the trailer is in use (remember the pen and paper I referred to?!) and one that you use for packing. Coffee, water, bug spray, etc…things you use every time you go.
7. We bought a thick memory foam mattress topper and our own blankets/coverlets (instead of the scratchy one it comes with). Definitely a luxury, but so worth it.
8. Immediately take the linens, dish towels, and bath towels inside and wash them when you get home so you can put them back in the trailer before you go
put it up—we keep ours at a storage facility. You’ll be glad you did when it’s time to load up again.
9. You will learn something new every single time. We still do a year later! I just love that even if we forget something, we always have just as much fun :-)
10. Make sure you buy from a dealership that will help you after the sale. You're going to have things break or need maintenance. We are so lucky to have our local dealership Family RV there for sales and service. They do an amazing job at both. www.familyrvonline.com If you are in the market, regardless of where you live give them a call.