After having such a negative experience with AC Nielsen RV, I found a family owned RV seller and maintenance shop actually closer to me in Elkhorn, NE. Petersen RV. From the moment the receptionist picked up the phone, I felt welcomed and understood. She sympathized with my issues, got it all down and confidently felt they could fix the municipal water line rather quickly. I also asked if they could just give me a brief tutorial of the water system overall and explain to her what had happened before, and she said they would.
So, I dropped the RV off and hoped for the best.
Just a few days later, I got a call that it was ready. Cost was roughly $240 – a little steeper than what I was expecting/hoping. Left on the list is some cosmetic work I need to do around the municipal water line where the paint tore off. When I got to Petersen’s, I paid and asked again for a tour of the water system. The young gentleman who had worked on my rig came out and he did just that.
Come to find out that not only did my municipal water valve need fixing, but there was a hose to the water tank that was also broken and off which explained the internal flooding I had experience when I tried to fill the tank! I was so happy that it wasn’t my fault that I flooded the interior!! So, he showed me what all the valves did and why, including the water heater. It was EXACTLY what I needed. And it was also very simple. And worth every penny.
There’s a main lever that drains the water tank, it’s big and hard to miss. I did figure that out on my own. In addition, there is two little white water valves that need to be in the off position (down) – they are for draining the tank when it gets to a lower level that the main drain can’t empty. Got it. So, when they winterized it, all valves were in the open position. They just all needed to be closed. They are closed now. There’s a similar little valve for the heater, it also has to be in a closed position. When I use the municipal water line, I shouldn’t need the pump. When I use the water tank, I need the pump. Easy peasy!
Friday: Treo plays on a red dog dream team called “Red Dogz Rule” and Pixel plays on the Mini-Aussie Dream team called, “Mini Madness”! Saturday and Sunday Treo and Pixel share the height dog spot on the Speedracers team.
Home for a few days, water goals failed, back to MN for a Flyball tournament at the same location as CPE Nationals. This time I came prepared with my own 30amp slip lock adaptor. Flyball is a team sport, so my team also decided to camp on site as well. I can understand why now. Nearly everyone at the tourney was camping. It was like a Flyball Festival. (if you want to learn more about this dog sport called Flyball, click here.)
Among the campers in my team were 2 tenters, one extended van and me and my Rialta. Upon arrival we all got set up. I was nearly in the same spot as last weekend, but this time I had access to water. So, I attempted to plug in the water to the municipal water but it seemed to wreak havoc with everything inside. I couldn’t get anything to run, so I quit and got distracted with playing Flyball throughout the evening. I didn’t end up using the toilet or the water, just used the on site facilities.
The next morning we woke up to looming storms. We managed to play all day without a ton of problems, except the cold, but big storms were coming our way. The tenters were nervous, and I didn’t blame them. As evening set in, we decided to close up camp – chairs, awnings and the like all put away. Just as we settled in for the night, the storm came.
The camper’s view of me.
My view of the campers
I had Treo with me and this time, I also added my Mom’s dog, Gabby. Treo is a mini-aussie and Gabby is a tiny aussie. Both play Flyball. Both are pretty worn out from playing that day. As the storm started to come through, Treo was scared and Gabby, clearly was not. It thundered and rained all night. It would actually be cozy if Treo tolerated it better than he does. Unfortunately, he’s pretty scared.
Treo: I am scared. Gabby: I’m not.
The next morning when I got up to let the dogs out to potty, as I opened the door, I almost stepped into a 4″ pond that had formed outside the RV. Holy rainy buckets. I still took he dogs out, got them back in, and eating breakfast. Tenters already were packed up, having had a not so fun night with leaky tents and very frightened dogs.
As I assessed the situation, I realized if I just moved forward 3 ft or so, I’d be out of the pond. So, I decided I’d go ahead and do so. I put the keys in and started moving forward. One of my teammates said, “your hose!” But it didn’t register what she was saying until I heard a loud “POP!” noise, and damn if I didn’t snap off the face plate for the municipal water line, and the faucet to boot. As I had driven forward, I ran over the hose and created enough tension to do the damage. WHAT a bummer. I just hadn’t considered that to be an issue. Now it’s on the list to have fixed. My first self-inflicted wound. Lesson learned: check around the vehicle before pulling up, back or out. I’m thinking this will be an expensive lesson.
By the way, again, it was FREEZING outside. Here’s some pics of my friends “weathering” the weather. NO, I did not leave them out there to freeze like that. They came into the RV and warmed up a bit between runs. I do have a feeling, though, that this experience might have soured them from camping for a while. That’s why I am a “Glamper” – the Rialta solves for those unsavoury variables like “too hot” or “too cold” and “too wet” or “too buggy”. Which is why I got it in the first place, among other reasons.
Last discovery of the weekend, the RV had a very pungent smell. Was it from the leakage I caused earlier in the week when I was trying of fill the tanks? The carpets did flood a little, but this smell was kinda like a pungent cat urine smell. If you have cats you know EXACTLY what I mean. Was it the black water tank needed to be emptied? That would be strange because I’ve hardly used it. Will have to figure that out too when I get home. But, at the moment, I had to find some duck tape for the hole, and go play out the weekend of Flyball.
We got done playing at a good time, we got home at a decent time. I decided to stop and empty the grey and black water tanks on my way. I downloaded an app called: All Stays RV Dumps. It’s cool. It looks where you are, and it finds the nearest RV dump sites. Low and behold, there was one right off the interstate I was on just 13 mi from home. It was at a Rest Area, near Underwood. I didn’t know rest areas had free RV dumps. So, I got there, put on my latex gloves, and got to work. Unfortunately the tube disconnect the second I pushed the black water lever, and I had gunk coming out while I tried to get it shut back off gain. Gross, gross, gross! Can’t believe i am the first one that’s ever happened to, though. I got it connected again and it worked fine. I then pulled the grey water, and got that going through. Once done, rinsed it all out with the water there on-site. Wasn’t so bad, actually. Lesson learned: check the valve connection, but then check it again before pulling the lever or you WILL be punished. 🙂
My priority prior to the next trip is figuring out the water system. Can I get the water system working whether it was the tank, or as a back up, the municipal water line? I brought the RV home from storage, and opened the owners manual. (see the RV bio page for the owners manual link)
My goal was to sanitize the lines and the tank, fill it, and be ready to rock and roll this weekend. I followed the RV cowboy’s advice. So easy….? If you remember, I flushed the lines the week prior, so all the pink gunk was gone, but I ran out of time to figure out the water tank. The capacity of the fresh water tank is 16 gal. That’s well beyond what I need for just a couple night’s stay. So, I was only going to fill to 1/2 way. Here’s the very NOT detailed instructions on how to fill the water tank.
I think we all can agree that these instructions are not adequate. It assumes A LOT. So, making a very poor assumption that I’m good to go, I put the hose in, and turn on the water. I really don’t understand what happened next. As the water flowed, it POURED out the bottom. There was a gush directly below the undercarriage, and water coming out of the back corners as well. I ran to turn off the water, and stop the madness.
Ironically, just as I returned to the RV, a group of 10 y/o kids approached me to buy some baked good supporting children in other countries who didn’t have access to clean water. I kid you not, I burst out laughing, they just stared at me with big, hopeful eyes, the irony completely lost on them that I just flushed at least a gallon of water down the street on my weekend toy. I bought a brownie for a $1 which I think is double good karma because I am gluten intolerant and can’t eat it. They ran away happy.
Returning to my chore, I read the instructions again thinking I must have missed something. Yes, those same instructions above. Ok, maybe I need to read further…
I don’t know about you, but for a novice RV owner who never had a walk through of the water system…this isn’t helpful. But, I have an advanced degree, so surely this can’t be THAT hard. I learn by hacking, so it’s time to open and close some valves and see what happens. The water system itself is located under one of the dinette seats in the back. I go back there and remove the panel and I see a series of valves. One big lever, and several little white valves. What I also discover is that the floor now is damp. Damp as you walk into the unit and by the water system. Awesome. Now frustration sets in.
Go big or go home, so I pull up the big valve. I have no reason to believe I need to mess with any of the other valves, so I leave it at that, and run to turn on the water. The gullywash underneath ceases. Victory! The leakages in the back undercarriage continue. Failure. I go head and “fill” the tank a bit and the leaks continue. Both inside kinda and definitely outside. I play around with the valves again, but nothing seems to make a diff. I run the pump and open up the water in the sink and it’s nothing like when I was flushing the lines last week. Lots of struggle with air and it’s just not happening right. I try some other trouble shooting things with the valve and really nothing seems to make a diff. I even drove it around a bit to see if the water leakages just needed to get out, but as I pulled back into the driveway, a trial of leaky water is clearly in my wake. Net result of this experiences is that I need the help of a professional. Either there’s a nuance I’m missing that s/he can show me quickly or there’s a break somewhere, and it needs to be fixed. On the list. Abandon mission, moving on. Killing daylight.
I needed to give the unit a good scrub from the last trip. Lots of buggy lives were lost on my way home from MN last weekend, and I have this really cool system that I figured would be great for the RV – Mr. Clean Autodry Car Wash System. I had about 1/2 hr before dusk, so I abandoned the water goal, and decided to end on a good note with a clean unit. The system did a really good job, with one exception. My stubby arms. I couldn’t really get to the middle of the windshield very well. So, I did the best I could what what I had and had to abort mission on the windshield. Dangit. I need an extended car wash brush to achieve that feat. On this list.
Funny now, but not at the time, I hopped into the RV and headed to put it back in storage where I had left my car. It was 9:15pm. Unknown to me, the storage place closes at 9pm. And locked inside is my car. And I have a presentation I have to give at work the next day at 7:30am. This notes the end to a very, very frustrating evening. I took the big gal back home and switched out for my car in the morning. A couple days and I leave for MN with no time to figure out the water system between now and then. Municipal water hook up it is, and I’ll bring some gallon waters as back up.
I’ve come to the conclusion that RVs are meant, primarily for, dudes. If you’ve heard me rant about this already, you can skip this paragraph. The rest of you, hear me out. Dudes love projects like this. They can tinker, and dawdle, and ponder, test and research for hours on something like this. Whether is a sailboat, motorboat, car or RV, Dudes dig this shit. It’s the BEST excuse to avoid sitting on the couch with the spouse being forced to watch The Bachelor during the off-season of any given sport. “Oh no, can’t tonight, honey. Got to work on the RV so it’s ready for this weekend.” Then, they grab a beer and proceed to kill several hours getting it “camping ready”. And, once they figure things out, feel very satisfied with themselves. I argue that we women, for the most part, are very different. I don’t care HOW this things works, I just want it TO work. I was even willing to pay to have it ready for me, so I don’t have to figure out anything until I was shamed by the stupid receptionist at AC Nielsen to figure it out myself. So, here I am. Wet floors, leaking RV – because it was supposed to be ‘OH SO EASY’ according to her. She, who probably hasn’t done anything even near an RV other than answer their phone at the dealership. Thanks for nothing lady. When I get back from this trip, my goal is to find someone to help me with this issue. Totally willing to shell out dough for this tutorial. Part of me is hoping it’s broke so I can have the satisfaction of knowing I’m not a complete idiot.
First on the list was to “de-winterize” the RV. Mid-May, I emailed the folks (AC Nielsen RVs) who winterized the RV last year, and a very unpleasant women seemed disinterested in my business called me back. I guess it was the fact that I over-excitedly said that I wanted them to “de-winterize” our RV and make it “camping ready.” I guess to better versed RV-ers, “camping ready” means more than what I meant. I meant for them to just undo what they did. Flush the lines, deodorize and sanitize the fresh water tank, and I was hoping for a tutorial of the water system. She said, “We don’t do that (camping ready) for RVs not bought from us.” I told her that they winterized our unit and I simply wanted them to undo what they did. To which she said, “we won’t make it ‘camping ready’ because we can’t be liable if something doesn’t work.” I told her to pretend like I don’t know what I’m talking about (because I don’t) and I want them to just de-winterize it. Her response was, “you know, you can watch YouTube videos and learn how to de-winterize it yourself.” I told her I was aware you could learn most things from YouTube, but I’d prefer someone who knows what they are doing to do that. She said, “Ok, we can get you in at the end of June.” Well, that simply won’t work, so shamed into watching YouTube it is. I found the RV Cowboy, and I started to following his lead. He’s hysterical. Check out the RV cowboy here in “Springify your RV”
Flushing the lines went relatively well. I hooked up the hose to the municipal water connection and started to run water. Ran the pumps, and turned on the faucets. Pink, foamy stuff ran out, and eventually the lines ran clean. I did that for the sink, the toilet, the shower hose and the outdoor shower. Learned that the outdoor shower has leaks and needs to be replaced – add to the list. I walked away from that session feeling like I got something accomplished. Then, after I slept on it, felt I forgot the water holding tank. Probably need to flush and sanitize that too. So, I put that on the list for next time.
Additionally, it seemed appropriate and prudent to take it to the Volkswagen Dealership to get the engine looked at, oil changed etc. When we showed up for the appointment, the workers pretty much poured out of the building to look at our RV. They all loved it. Comments were in the lines of whether we were willing to sell it and that it looked like it was kept in a time capsule, and that they are impressed with the overall concept. People just can’t believe that Winnebago stopped making these. I feel the same way. So, we had the oil changed and everything inspected. The net of that was that our coolant line has a bit of a leak, and should be replaced, but no rush. Other than that, good to go. So, coolant line replaced…on the list.
No time left to flush and deodorize the water tank so, we’ll have to tackle that next time. I hoped I could just hook up to municipal water source when I got there. Just in case, brought two 1-gallon jugs of water.
Cost: CPE Nationals cost was $120 for the weekend, or $40/night
Review: Well, technically this isn’t an RV campground, it’s fairgrounds. That said, for CPE to charge $40/night, I’d expect a little more than what I got. I didn’t have a water hookup, and I had to put a deposit down on a special adapter plug for the electricity. (30 amp twist and lock) Showers were a bit of a walk, unless you used the one (and I mean one) in the dining hall. All showers were marginally clean, but with shower flip flops, very do-able. Hot water…seriously, what more could you want? A mirror…yes, a mirror would have been nice. Outlets, also nice. Without these creature comforts, I considered myself “really camping”! Ha-ha. Bottom line, though, was the ability to be right on site where all the action is throughout the weekend. I did enjoy that.
CPE Nationals was my first solo trip in the RV, with Treo. We headed to Washington Fairgrounds near Lake Elmo, MN. Oh by the way, it’s early June. Early June in MN means variable weather. We had it all. Thursday, arrival day, was pleasant. Friday was HOT – low 90s. Friday night thunderstorms came through and into Saturday. Saturday morning was rainy and very cold, rain finally stopped in the afternoon. Sunday was perfect – top 10 day even. So, in this trip I got to test the fan with windows open, the AC, and the heater. All worked to perfection.
A thunderstorm experience in the RV is cozy and terrifying all at the same time. I like the sound of rain – it pings. But, when coupled with dog agility, it’s the sound of dread. Thunder and lightening are particularly loud and freaky. Luckily I remembered Treo’s thundershirt, but even with that, he was very sad. Again, in pouring rain, a working bathroom right there would be nice.
Storage for foodstuffs was tricky, but I opted for the overhead bins in the front (closer to the kitchen), and jugs of water under the passenger side captain’s chair. That storage area is right by the side door and it’s perfect for a couple jugs of water, my lantern, and the toolbox. Clothes were in the back overhead bins and the closet. I also store a lot of things in the bathroom. The trunk holds my chairs, camp mat, insect zapper, pop up trash bin, and fold up table. The storage area in the back of the unit itself has room for hoses, the power cord, and a storage bin that I pack my black/gray water hose into. I also put all my converter plugs in there as well. I think I’m up to 3 different kinda now, including the 30 amp twist and lock.
What I learned on this trip was that I needed to buy the twist and lock adapter (done); that sometimes you HAVE to go to the bathroom in the unit – so, I have to get that working and understood. I have enough water in the pipes to be able to use it a couple times, and I tossed a bio pod in there as well. AND, that being able to brush ones teeth, or wash one’s face would be nice too. So, figuring out the water system would be ideal.
Next trip? SAME location the following weekend. Washington County Fairgounds, in Lake Elmo, MN. This time it’s FLYBALL.
The second voyage was Ami and Tazer off to ASCA Nationals in Colorado. The week went off without a hitch, but then again, she didn’t use any of facilities, just the fridge and the microwave. She was fighting a cold all week, so after she ran agility, she’d just come back to the RV and crash. Lots of Raman noodles She did bring her bike so she could ride to and from the showers/toilets etc pretty quickly.
She camped on asphalt, but had electrical hook ups. All in all, it looks pretty cozy. Her choice was to sleep on the folded down front captains chairs and keep the back dinette open for watching movies and sitting space. This was the last trip for the RV for 2013. We had a local RV joint winterize it, and we put it in a garage at at storage place. We broke it out of there for 2014’s first camping trip, CPE Nationals. My first trip by myself.
Our 2005 Winnebago Rialta QD arrived last August after a long, long search and lots of talking. We had finally committed to getting an RV in partnership with my Mom last summer, and since that time there was at least one that was sold out from under us because we didn’t act fast enough. So, when we found the opportunity for THIS RV – 2005 limited edition with less than 2k miles on it, we jumped sight unseen! It is all that it promised. I think our VW service tech called it a “time capsule” and he’s right. Here’s a pic from the day it arrived:
Inside it’s all leather. We added an awning and a new TV (the standard one is analogue). Everything works great and it came to us camping ready. So within a few weeks, we decided to take it out for a weekend close to home. Key stats to remember: (1) Other than when I was a kid, I’m not versed on RVing; (2) There’s no men in our immediate family to kick the responsibility to to learn how to run this thing; (3) Seems like most the instructions in the Rialta manual simply say, “turn it on and it works”…like magic.T
We decided to take it on a test run close to home.
Before we went, though, we decided to also buy a trunk to fix to the two package on the rear. I’m a “why drive when you can buy online” kind of gal, so I ordered our trunk online. When it came…it’s huge. Not sure how it would work on our RV, I got a swing away package so we’d be assured to have access to the back storage area. That turned out to be unnecessary, as it sits pretty far away from the unit. Of course it didn’t fit right out of the box. The tow needed an adapter, so I had to go get that it a local U-Haul store. Once I got that, we were ready to hook it all up. By the time I got it all together, and on the vehicle, it was 8:00-ishpm. We didn’t have a lot of light left in our evening to get to the park and get set up. It was like this.
RV camping sites with 30 amp or 50 amp electrical services
$15.00 per night
They also have tent camping and cabins.
Review: We really liked this park. The bathrooms were clean, the sites were very level and we were surrounded by nature. They did have fire pits with firewood you could buy right there. We didn’t get a lot of time to explore since we were off at an Agility Seminar during the day, and dinners there at the host’s house at night.
So, we learned a lot that night. Here’s the list:
(1) Read ahead of time how to plug-in RV because it’s really hard to figure out in the dark, when it’s 89 degrees+ outside.
(2) Know where your going ahead of time. It’s hard to find a campground, in the dark, when you don’t know where you are going.
(3) Leave early to assure you will have enough light.
And we learned a lot during the weekend. One of our dogs doesn’t like a bunch of little dogs jumping around in tight spaces, and this space is tight with 2 adults and 3 dogs. Thus, we separated everyone with a baby gate.