The Water Tank Rant

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.

freshwaterI 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…

drains3 drains2drains1


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.


2014 CPE Nationals

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.

Location:  Washington County Fairgrounds Lake Elmo, MN

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.

RV Newbies – Sept 2013

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:

other side rv

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.



Where:  Hitchcock Nature Center


  • 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.


One of the great things in our RV is the many, many outlets for charging our many devices.cozyrvlivn rvlivn2Clearly the dogs are very settled in this new “house”. warm glow

More adventures to come…