August was very hot and muggy, not a big deal in Tampa, but it really doesn’t make for good camping even with AC. Why go some place and hang out in the trailer all day to avoid the heat? May as well stay home where there is more to do inside. Anyway we had a lot of distractions to deal with concerning Lynda’s “retirement”. Setting up health Ins., getting her last few paychecks, trying to move her 401k, talking to some freelance clients, fixing up Lynda’s studio, getting her home office back into shape, etc. We’re hoping to get back on the road now in September. Still just planning day trips in Florida. Maybe George’s Island SP or Talbot Island again. Not sure yet.
We still have to test the Tigger. If we’re going to go away for weeks at a time, he’s going to have to learn to live in a small trailer (he will travel in the car). We’re not sure how he’s going to react to not having a huge pool area to play in. Our plan is to take the trailer over to Simmons Park for a few days and take him with us. It’s only about 10 min. away from home so if he throws a major fit we can always bring him back.
Ft. Desoto’s Beach
We managed to get a campsite at Fort DeSoto which has a great beach for a few days. Not easy to do in the summer as Pinellas County residents get first dibs. Any way we got a pull thru and Lynda had a few days off (she’d quit her job which was turning very difficult) so we took off for the beaches. It would be our first trip over a big hill (Sunshine Skyway Bridge) and we’d get to see how the truck would perform. Everything went great, the truck had no problems especially when we used the special tow/haul button on the transmission.
Minnie at Fort Desoto Note the Minnie decal we put on the front window
It was too hot for any serious hiking, the beach was nice though. We also discovered that you need a good sized outdoor carpet for under the awning, otherwise you’re tracking dirt into the trailer all the time. We did our best to fill up the tanks, just to see how long they would last before needing dumping, using way too much water we needed to dump in 3 days. So we know what not to do, at Hillsborough we were being very conservative and we had hardly anything to dump after 3 days. We checked out all of the campsites so we know which ones to reserve next time. Great trip – more photos on my website http://www.fishbourne.shutterfly.com
Lynda at her new job as unpaid life guard at Fort DeSoto
Minnie at Hillsborough River State Park
We wanted to take Minnie on a short shake down cruise to check out all of the systems. So we took her to Hillsborough River State Park about 45 min. from our house, 25 min at 65 mph highway speeds and 20 min. at 45-50 back roads. No problems she ran along fine. Friends of ours had spent a few months at HR as worker bees and they highly recommended it. It’s a very nice park, even has a pool, but we were surprised by the number of tent campers there, it was hot and sticky. I don’t think we’d have been there if we didn’t have AC. The river is very beautiful and the trails go every where, but there were armies of mosquitoes who were unafraid of Deep Woods Off. I think it actually attracted them. So we gave up on hiking and went on the old fort tour instead. It was very interesting and we got a lot of good photos you can see them at http://www.fishbourne.shutterfly.com
Lynda drinks special coffee at Hillsborough River State park. Hmm tastes like Chardonney!
All of the systems worked fine, except for the DVD player, movies didn’t show up on the TV even though they showed up on the little screen on the DVD. I spent a couple of hours with the book and the remote control but no matter what I did I couldn’t get it to work. Finally I gave up and went to bed. The next day I had a thought and pulled on the cables that went from the TV to the DVD. They pulled right out! They weren’t attached to the DVD! So I removed the player and plugged them into the DVD and it worked fine!
The other thing that happened was the bed broke. These are just platform beds with storage underneath. The top is supported by a 1 x 3 piece of lumber and one side split and broke. I fixed it temporarily and replaced the board and added a couple of braces when we got home. It was on Lynda’s side so it wasn’t due to blubber just poor design.
We also discovered that the interior lights were all way to strong and they got hot. So we removed one of the bulbs from each fixture and they were better. I bought some lower wattage bulbs to try out on our next trip.
All in all a good trip. We emptied the grey and black tanks at the dump on our way out. This was a new experience for us. We also filled the fresh water tank just to see how the trailer reacted to that on the road. No problem, in fact with all of that extra weight over the wheels the big trucks didn’t push us around so much when they went by.
Sway Problems: When we drove Minnie home from Camping World in Bartow we noticed she had a fair amount of sway at 50+. CW had only installed one sway bar, but in researching sway I found that on this size trailer you need two. So I ordered another and installed it on the other side. It only makes sense that you would need one on each side. I also found the tires to be under inflated, 35 lbs instead of 50 – another reason for sway. We also placed a fair amount of weight in the front to add to the hitch load and help with the sway.
Back Up Camera
Big Mirrors: I thought the Expedition’s mirrors were huge, but not huge enough. I couldn’t see around this thing and what was going on behind was anybody’s guess. So I added stick on mirrors with big arms and a back up camera on the rear of the trailer that runs all the time. Hey! you can really see that Corvette that’s about to pass you on the right, just as you’re about to get back into the right lane.
Bug Screens: It’s amazing that the vents on all of these expensive items, heater, water heater, furnace, refrigerator all have vents with no screens on them to keep the mud wasps etc. outside. So I bought all of these custom screens $10-12 each for these.
We also bought an insulated pillow you stuff up into the skylight over the bed (so you can sleep in the morning) and a small solar charger for the battery, as well as hundreds of dollars of odds and ends; fresh water hose, water filter, water filler nozzle, poop hoses, a grill, etc. etc.
Measured all of Minnie’s storage spaces, went to Walmart and purchased plastic containers to fit and some other junk. A lot like setting up a summer house or a cruising boat. Need the usual; silverware, knives, sponges, bucket, scotch brite, cleaners, etc, etc. on and on. We also bought locking lugnuts for the fancy rims, water filter, big mirrors, back up camera, refrigerator bars to keep things from bouncing around during travel (per June) and on and on. Put cups, paper plates, bedding, etc. etc. on board and repaired a few fit and finish spots not worth returning to the dealer for. It was a cool night so we tried to use the DVD to watch a movie in the trailer but the TV needs 110 volt power and we only have 12 volt from the battery (the cord is about 2 ft short to plug it into the house and we were too tired to move it). So we went back in the house.
Minnie’s galley with bathroom at the end and bunks behind wall on right
Here they are safely in our drivewaay
Drove down to the dealer in Bartow, FL about 45 min. from our house around 9AM. Danny didn’t know a thing about putting on no trailer hitch of course, but they did have the parts. Chuck, the delivery manager who walks you thru the new trailer and shows you how to work everything, lit a fire under service and they ran right out to put the hitch on the car. We spent about two hours or so with Chuck going over the trailer, appliances and the hitch, brake controller, etc. He did a great job. Then we got to spend about an hour with the financial person signing our life away. Now Minnie was really ours (and Bank of Americas). We bought the recommended essentials in the store (poop hose, water pressure regulator, single ply poop paper, poop chemicals, etc.) Then we rolled Minnie out of there and hit the road for home. She was definitely bigger than we remembered (but then everything looks small at the shows surrounded by those giant trailers, buses and RVs). The Ford though handled the load perfectly and then we backed her into our driveway for the weekend. I’ve backed other trailer items before, boats, etc., but nothing like this. We had a great time of it as I couldn’t cut off the rear warning sensor, so it was busy buzzing the whole time and I couldn’t hear any of Lynda’s direction. Eventually we were successful and Minnie was safe at our house.
Inside Minnie, sitting at settee
We went back to the show with our check book. We were going to look at it again and see what we liked or didn’t like. If we still loved it, and they would give us a good deal, we’d put a down payment on it and buy it. Bright yellow with a big “Minnie” on it, how could we not like it again. They gave us a good deal and we wrote a check. Lots of paper forms to sign, lots of added charges (just like buying a car). She would be ours and we left the show shaking from the stress of the purchase.
We went to the summer RV show in Tampa. Our main goal was to talk to the Airstream people about how one would finance one of these things, seeing as they are three times the price of a “white box”. We were also concerned that they might be a little delicate for newbies, any dent or crease can’t just be filled and painted over. Its shiny aluminum, a dent stretches it and you’re SOL. Anything big and the Ins. Co. totals it. We’ve seen them with a crease caused by a branch falling against it: totaled, hail damage: totaled, a bump on the front side: totaled, etc., etc..
So after talking to the Airstreamers, we went out and looked at the rest of the show and we found a brand new Winnebago Minnie Trailer, bright yellow, model 2451, 29 ft. long counting the hitch. It had a big queen bed separated from the inside by a wall, a good kitchen, bunk beds in the back (we’ll use these for storage) tons of appliances and a bath. Oh and unlike the Airstream, it has tons of storage, we don’t know how we would use it all. We went home to talk about it.