Kevin installed the GEICO app on his phone since they are now insuring the RV.  I have spent hours imagining how much fun this app must be.  I don’t want to actually launch it and see; I just want to envision the possibilities.

Are there different colored buttons depending on how bad we fucked up?  I hope there are.

  • A yellow button corresponds to “Whoops!”
  • An orange button is “Dammmmnnnnnnnn….That’s gonna be expensive.”
  • A red button means “Oooof.”
  • A purple button with an exclamation point means “Send the cops.  And tell them to bring a fire extinguisher.  And a life preserver.  Yes, we need all 3.  We’ll explain later.”

I know, I know, I shouldn’t make light of accidents.  But I’m pretty sure when we need to call GEICO (yes, “when,” not “if”) it’s going to be because of some slow speed, boneheaded, screw-up on our part.  That’s the thing with driving these behemoths.  When you’re on the highway, you’re usually pretty good.  You stay in your lane (the right hand lane) and everyone passes you and you don’t care cuz “Hey!  I’m in an RV.  Everything is awesome!!!”

The problems happen when you get on small side roads, parking lots and campgrounds, when you suddenly have to maneuver this 38 foot, 30,000 pound monstrosity in small spaces.  That’s when you notice there are all these people looking at you with this look of “YOU don’t look nearly competent to drive that thing” – which YOU know to be true, but you wonder why it’s so obvious to THEM? And, of course, all of this just increases the pressure on you because you now need to prove them wrong. But you can’t prove them wrong because you are – in fact – incompetent to drive this thing!  It’s all very circular.

Gridlock – even less fun when you’re in a motorhome. (Image courtesy of joiseyshowaa on Flickr)

Even worse is the look you get in campgrounds when you attempt to back into your parking spot.  Everyone is outside (because everyone is always outside at campgrounds) and you just know they’re all taking bets on whether you’re gonna hit a tree with your shiny new RV.  But then you can see the change on their faces when they start wondering if you’re somehow gonna hit a tree AND their car which is parked across from your spot.  And that is actually possible. You can hit something in front of you and behind you in one fell swoop.  And the reason I know it’s possible is because we almost did it.

Luckily we managed to escape certain disaster on our fourth day of ownership because we had Jimmy Johnson on our side.

Jimmy Johnson

No, not him.

A different Jimmy Johnson.

Our Jimmy was our driving instruction from the RV Driving School and Jimmy is pretty much the most patient, kind, understanding, talented, lovely human being who has ever walked the earth. Move over, Mother Teresa. You got nothin on Jimmy.

Anyway, Jimmy spent two days with us doing his best to make us less incompetent and by the end, we were feeling pretty good.  But man, parking Barney is NO JOKE.  It’s a two person job, even for a seasoned driver. Given that, and knowing we only had two days to work with Jimmy, we decided to focus on getting good at one role or the other. We quickly decided that Kevin would drive and I would direct.  But as soon as I started working with Jimmy on HOW to direct, I instantly regretted blowing off geometry class.


The problem is, you need to be in 3 places at once.  You gotta worry about the initial back tire making it into the parking spot at the right angle, then you gotta worry about the far side not taking out a tree and at the same time, you gotta worry about where the nose of the RV is going. Because that nose has got a VERY big swing.  So on this particular occasion, while I was in back celebrating getting Barney appropriately lined up with the parking space, Jimmy was up front helping Kevin not take out a car that was parked across the street.  Absent him and Kevin paying attention, I would have been hitting the orange button on the GEICO app before they even finished processing our paperwork.

The point is, this stuff is hard. But if you have skills, you can get into spaces like this:


Which is CRAZY, right???

In any case, Barney’s days of being the belle of the ball are clearly numbered.  We are not seasoned pros.  We are us.

So, in recognition of the fact that Barney is never gonna look this good again, here are some photos from the day we picked him up.  Before all the “oopsies”  and “whoopsies” and “Dammits!!!” to come.  If you follow us on Facebook (which you really should. We are delightful!!), you’ve already seen these.  If not, here you go.

Barney the beautiful…. for a little while longer….






The throw pillows are already gone. Because…terrible. I know.




Anyway, you’ll be relieved to know Barney is safely parked in storage at the moment, awaiting some more after market modifications and for us to actually move in.  If all goes well, we’ll be on the road for real by early August.  Stay tuned!

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  1. Barney looks GREAT, and he’ll always look that way. Yeah, the first scratch is the worst. But if you get one, then get a glass of wine, have a toast, and keep going! You’re resilient and it’ll be alright.

    Be safe and have fun! Happy travels =)

    • Thanks Mike! We will do our best to keep calm and carry on. We’re intending on really ‘living’ in it… it’s not a museum. So when it does get a little banged up, we won’t panic. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

  2. Get roadside assistance, if only for the nationwide 800 number (who you gonna call in Wyoming when half your electrical system blinks out?) And we can’t jack a bus to put on the spare (do you know where your spare is?) And, if it’s not too late, get the extended warranty. Remember, you are driving a house, with the same number of systems as a house, down bumpy roads that exert the same stresses as a level 4 earthquake. Our extended warranty included roadside assistance. Yes, a few thou, but worth it if only for the peace of mind..

    • Hey Mark… So because our rig is new, it comes with a full one year warranty from the manufacturer and they gave us a year membership to “Coachnet” – which is basically AAA for RV’s. So we’re good for now. Once the year is over, we’ll most definitely get an extended warranty and continue with some version of roadside assistance. Given the cost of repairs and our current employment status (UN), I want the peace of mind of a warranty. And I’ve had AAA on my car for years and have always managed to make use of it (usually because I do boneheaded things like leave my lights on or whatever.) 🙂

  3. Soooooooo purty!! I remember when our counters used to look shiny and clean. You guys have some impressive backing-in skills, that is some tight trees!

    Barney looks good! Curious to know what after-market mods you two are looking at. Is it weird going back to a house after living in Barney for a few days? Does the house feel HUGE? Every time we visit a friend’s home, we revel the 2-ply toilet paper. 😀

    • Hey,

      So the only major modification we had the dealership make was adding a track bar. We had the sumo springs added at the factory. We had originally asked for the Safety Plus as well, but the mechanics advised against it. Otherwise they just tweaked some minor stuff for us.

      At this point, the next big things on the list are improving the tank monitoring system (the 1/3, 2/3, full things sucks, so we’re gonna install a see level (?) system). We want to install the rain sensor vent covers, a surge protector and a tire pressure monitoring system. We’re working on getting the tow package installed in the next couple weeks. Hmmm, what else? I think those are the big things. Any other suggestions you have for things we need sooner rather than later??

      The biggest thing I noticed when we got home was my instinct to conserve water. I was so worried about the grey tank overflowing when we didn’t have a sewer connection (and the tank monitoring system doesn’t tell us much) that I got paranoid about letting the water run too long. I also am REALLY going to miss our shower at home. We got one of the oxygenics shower heads, but I’m pretty sure it’s not gonna replace my 40 gallon hot water tank. Oh well. Price you pay, I guess. 🙂

      • AH, see level! I’ve been on the fence about getting that for us since it would help us while we boondock. The only thing holding me back is pure laziness, I have to figure out how to install it. I may have to look into it again. Sounds like you have some good stuff on your list. The rain sensor vent cover, is that to close your fantastic fans when it rains? We have regular vent covers (Fantastic UltraBreeze Vent Covers) over our fans so that we can run them while it rains, plus it gives extra coverage to the fan covers so we can drive with our fans open and not worry about stress to the lifted lids.

        Dunno if you have them or not, but refrigerator bars come in handy to hold stuff in your fridge. We had a couple of incidents where sharp turns would cause the door to open due to the heavy items inside the fridge. Also, strangely enough, we found a grab bar for the screen door to be incredibly helpful! Didn’t discover that one for about a year, but it’s awesome to help close the door when you’re inside.

        I’m guessing you’re also getting the supplemental braking system with the towed? Also a truck/rv gps? It’s a pain in the ass to get it to work with the software on the computer but it helps identify tunnels, low bridges, weight limits, etc.

        We have a list of stuff we’ve gotten at and most of it is things you already know about. Most of it can probably wait until you are more comfortable in Barney.

        Yeah, the 40 gallon hot water tank….sigh….. 🙂 Bathtub……

  4. Once you live in Barney, there will be a lot of things you want to change, to remove, to modify, to upgrade until Barney feels like home. It will take a while to get to know your Barney and be in love with it.
    Also it takes teamwork to move in and out of a camping site, more so when it is tight. Steve and I developed our signals and know what to look for when moving in such as trees, overhanging branches, height of electric hookup and where it is situated and more.

  5. Congratulations on your new 36LA!!! You may also want to consider a steering stabilizer. Our 36LA drove MUCH better after installing one. That, the right shocks and the proper tire air pressure made a HUGE difference in the way ours rode and handled.

    One other thought is that Motor-coaching gets addictive. Get ready for it! LOL.

    • Hi Richard,

      Your comment ended up in our spam filter so I am just seeing this now. Sorry about that.

      We feel pretty good with the way the RV rides so far. The next big thing though will be the tire pressure and overall weight of the RV. Once we get it packed up, we’ll check our weight and make sure it’s properly distributed. We’ll then look into getting a tire pressure monitoring system. We’ve definitely heard it is key for so many things.

      We are definitely chomping at the bit to get out there and get moving. We are just a couple weeks out now so we’re in the final stages. Looking forward to it!!


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