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Old 03-01-2010, 10:10 AM   #1
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Our first trip - It was great!

We bought our Safari back in October but had not had a good opportunity to make our first trip in it until this past weekend. My wife traveled extensively in her family's travel trailer when she was a kid, but I had never had any experience with one. We had a real blast. Here is the not-so-condensed version. We live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and for this first shakedown trip we wanted to go to a destination very close to home and services. We chose the Vineyards Campground on the edge of Lake Grapevine in Grapevine, Texas. We had read several good reviews about it, and it turned out to be a really nice, pretty, relaxing place. We got there at about sunset on Friday in a cold, miserable drizzle.

That's when Crisis No. 1 hit - the electric jack was dead, so we couldn't unhitch from the truck or get completely level. We decided to leave it alone until the morning when the weather was supposed to be better, and troubleshooting wouldn't be so uncomfortable. The trailer was in a slightly "nose-down" attitude, but it wasn't enough to be annoying. I fixed us some drinks to celebrate, and found that I had forgotten the vermouth and olives, so my "martini" had to consist of gin on the rocks. Even in this denuded condition, it was found to be restorative. The next morning I found that the wire that runs from the positive terminal of the battery to the jack has an in-line fuse, and this was fried. Although I had read in several places on this forum that one must always carry spare fuses....I had forgotten to buy any. Fortunately, the man at the campgound office had plenty to spare, and he gave me one. He said "I buy them by the box," so at least I am not the first idiot he has had to deal with.

Crisis No. 2 was the water heater, which seemed destined to remain cold, but this problem was resolved by patience and following the manual's directions. It just took quite a bit longer to get it started than I had expected.

Crisis No. 3 was the most stressful of all. As we were going to bed at about 9:30 on Saturday night, I went to lock the door. The deadbolt didn't want to engage, so I was pulling the door handle every which way, trying to get the deadbolt lined up just right. Then there was a pop, and the door handle suddenly was able to rotate freely, without opening the door. I had managed to disengage it from the mechanism inside, and it was now useless. We had no way to get out, other than the emergency exit window. I figured that I could get the door open if I could unscrew the panel around the door handle, but the screen door was blocking my access to 2 of the 3 screws, and in any event, my screwdrivers were in the truck. I felt sure that anyone on the outside could open it right up, so rather than flopping out of the emergency window, I called the office's after-hours phone number and the same nice man who had given me the fuse that morning had to come over. Sure enough, he pulled on the latch and it opened as normal. I got my screwdriver and in just a few minutes got the problem fixed. Turns out the interior panel around the handle had been a bit loose, and I think it was just loose enough to allow the handle to pop out of position when I was tugging on it. I had noticed ever since buying the trailer that the door had a slight "rattle" sound whenever I closed it, but I had never investigated it and seen that the screws holding the panel in place needed to be tightened up.

Finally, the Crisis I had feared the most turned out to be no crisis at all. I had really dreaded emptying the black water tank. I had visons of raw sewage shooting out with the force of a fire hose, bringing an end to civilization. It turned out to be a piece of cake. Altogether, we had a GREAT time and can't wait to get out there again, next time venturing a little farther from home.
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:16 AM   #2
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Glad your first outing wasn't a deal breaker for you. If it had gone smoothly, you'd have had to report on the weather conditions (smile).
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:56 AM   #3
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Great report! A great learning experience, too. And I remember the trips that included "issues" as fondly, or more, than the ones that just progressed.

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Old 03-01-2010, 11:41 AM   #4
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Great report/ Hopefully you will have many more trips with minor mishaps. It is what makes the trips memorable. Like the time I chocked the tires the wrong way and the trailer kept moving as we were trying to hook up. When you figure it out it is a duh! moment. Happy camping
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Old 03-01-2010, 11:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mddsmith View Post
Finally, the Crisis I had feared the most turned out to be no crisis at all. I had really dreaded emptying the black water tank. I had visons of raw sewage shooting out with the force of a fire hose, bringing an end to civilization.
Sort of reminds me of the scene when Robin Williams tries to empty the black tank on rented MoHo in the movie RV .

Glad your outing was a success.

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Old 03-01-2010, 12:05 PM   #6
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If your electric jack is the same as the one that came on our 2007, the bubble level is a cap that comes off with a quarter turn and you should be able to see a bolt to manually hand crank the jack. You should have a crank in the storage compartment that fits the bolt.
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Old 03-01-2010, 02:38 PM   #7
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The electric jack that came on my '07 was not the one with the bubble level; it was the OTHER one, the INFERIOR one! Biggest problem was that it couldn't handle a great enough range of travel in either direction without exceeding its limits, at which time it would just simply shut itself down, requiring me to go through the annoying re-rigging procedure. The other problem was that mine wasn't getting a good ground (from the mounting flange to the frame)....had to remove it, then scrape away some paint. I
eventually trashed it, and replaced it with a primitive Atwood hand operated jack.
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:09 PM   #8
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Congratulations on your maiden voyage. It sounds like you had a great time considering that you forgot the vermouth and olives, but "roughing it" is what makes it camping.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:21 PM   #9
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Sounds like you were a good sport working thru the details. It just makes life a little more interesting. Enjoy your AS.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:52 PM   #10
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Well sounds good for a first trip. They only get better from here on out!
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:40 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the replies! Our jack is probably one of the cheaper ones too, as it doesn't have the bubble level or, as far as I can tell, any option for hand-cranking. All the problems turned out to be pretty minor, and they haven't discouraged us in the least. We are already planning the next trip!
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:22 PM   #12
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Part of the adventure is overcoming these little "test".

Glad to see you passed.
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:40 PM   #13
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Makes me think of all of our camping adventures. Get a log and keep it in your trailer. In 10 years you'll look back and laugh at your camping experiences. As we have found out, each trip out brings new challenges. Camp On!

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Old 03-01-2010, 09:55 PM   #14
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Md, sounds like my first trip over 15 years ago. When I pulled into the campground with a 21' behind a S-10 and the first thing I was told was "I don't think I would have tried to pull that behind a S-10," as with most advise a little late but a lession learned. After learning how to turn on the lights and such, they also told me about using an electric brake and how it was a really good idea for any future trips.
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