Notes from an RV Newbie’s First Weekend on the Road

If you have been following my blog, you know that just before my birthday I made a life changing decision to downsize, buy a travel trailer and do some long-term traveling while moving in the general direction of southern Texas. Preparing to be an RV newbie has been a monumental chore with not much to write about so it has been a while since I posted. I’m back now and plan to share the whole adventure with you.

If my first weekend on the road as an RV newbie is any indication of how things are going to go for the next few weeks, I’m truly going to love this life.

If my first weekend on the road as an RV newbie is any indication of how things are going to go for the next few weeks, I’m truly going to love this life.

Day one, Friday, October 12

I finally pulled out from Pine Grove at about 3:45 pm headed for Flag City RV Resort in Lodi, 52 miles away. I wanted to stay at a resort with full hookups for the first couple of nights to check out the rest of the systems – especially dumping the tanks for the first time. Also, I hadn’t thought to run the water heater or refrigerator on gas and wanted to be sure those worked before doing any boondocking through Harvest Hosts.

Leaving Pine Grove

Flag City RV Resort

When I arrived at 5:15 pm, I hooked up everything but the sewer connection, opting to wait until I was ready to leave to dump the tanks. I was amazed at how smoothly disconnecting the vehicle and setting up went. By 6:45 the cats were fed, I had heated up some leftovers and was enjoying a glass of wine.

Flag City RV Resort offers a 50% discount to Passport America* members which, in my opinion, makes it quite a bargain. This is a super clean park with all the amenities and everything worked. Wifi is very minimal unless you pay an additional fee of $2.99 per day, but at least that option is available.

Day 2, Saturday, October 13

The cats and I have a morning routine. I get up pretty early, usually around 5, and make coffee while the cats STAY IN BED! I peruse social media while I have my coffee. After coffee, the cats get their breakfast then I get mine.

I used the RV park showers, which were right next to the laundry room, to check them out. They were clean, well-lit, and had plenty of hot water. I had contemplated doing laundry but decided to wait until I had a larger load.

Sightseeing in Lodi

By 10 am, I was headed to the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum in Micke Grove Regional Park. As you may know, I find history fascinating and this place was awesome. The museum has over 40,000 square feed of exhibit and workspace with more than 50,000 items depicting the development of San Joaquin County agriculture and history.

SJC MuseumSJC Museum Tokay grapes posterSJC Museum Weber house

After a couple of hours at the museum, I was ready for some winetasting and headed to Harmony Wynelands Winery. I made a quick stop for gas at Costco and was on my way.

I had been wanting to visit here for a while and it did not disappoint. My pourer, Louie, was interesting to talk with and I had the opportunity to meet Shaun MacKay, the winemaker.

HW winemaker Shaun and pourer LouieHarmony Wynelands organ

The tasting room was originally built as a music studio. They have an organ with 700 pipes and the sound was amazing!

Harmony Wynelands organHW tasting room

Their wines were delicious and I may have found a new guilty pleasure. I love my bubbly and they created the Zin Bom – a combination of sparkling wine and their Zinsation dessert wine. I love dessert wine but I have a bad habit of buying it then not drinking it. This just may resolve that problem!

By then, it was mid-afternoon and I was getting pretty hungry. I really wanted sushi or at least Chinese food but I couldn’t find an Asian restaurant open before 5 pm (it was Saturday, after all) so, as I drove by a Panda Express, I decided that would do. I took my late lunch back to the trailer, scarfed down half of it then took a nap with the cats.

I spent the rest of the evening just relaxing and watching cable TV. In retrospect, I should have checked out the rest of the park amenities but I didn’t even think about it. I guess I’m still decompressing from all the stress of the past few weeks trying to get everything done.

Day 3, Sunday, October 14

Checkout time at the park is 11 am, and since I didn’t know how long breaking down would take, I started around 8:30. I think stowing everything inside takes longer than disconnecting! Since I was going to be boondocking that night, I filled my fresh water tank about half full. When it came time to dump the tanks, even that went smoothly. I had bought a new Camco system and it was a snap to use. I didn’t have a bucket to store it in once it was used so I was concerned about that, but it came with caps to close the ends.

I was ready to head out for my first boondocking experience by 10:30. Arrival time there was noon so I hung out at the RV park until checkout time. I still had time to kill so I found a place on the road to pull over and watched some YouTube videos.

I enjoyed their wines and may have found a new guilty pleasure.

I was a little apprehensive about this first boondocking experience. Would everything work? Would I be able to keep electronics charged? There is just something a little scary about being cut off from electricity, at least for me, when we are so dependent on it. I don’t have solar and most Harvest Hosts locations don’t allow generators.

Bookdocking at Jessie’s Grove Winery

At Jessie’s Grove Winery, I was directed to the huge grass parking area where I was the only RV! It was a beautiful spot and I pulled up in the shade of a tree. It was surprisingly level for a grass field.

JGW RV areaJessie's Grove Winery from trailer

As soon as the trailer was set up enough, I got the cats out of the car. They loved looking out the open doors. I left the cats to enjoy the view while I went to taste some wine.

I hadn’t heard of Jessie’s Grove Winery before but the description on Harvest Hosts helped me decide that it was the place I wanted to stay. Jessie’s Grove was founded in 1868. It currently comprises 320 acres, 265 of which are planted in premium grapes, including the oldest Zinfandel producing vines in the Lodi Appelation. The grounds are beautiful and you can visit with the resident goats, horses, chickens and even a tortoise. I loved listening to owner Greg’s grandmother Wanda talk about the history of her German immigrant family.

JGW barrelsJGW tortoise

The red wines here are wonderful. I liked them all and it was tough deciding what to get but I finally decided on the 2014 Westwind Old Vine Zinfandel. They have three different zinfandels, each from a progressively older group of vines – old, older, oldest. The Westwind is from the “older” vines.

Tasting room entranceJGW tasting roomJGW towels

I spent the evening cooking dinner, texting updates to some friends and just relaxing. I finally feel like I can breathe!

Day 4, Monday, October 15

What a wonderful, leisurely morning, waking up in this beautiful spot. I’m starting to feel more like I’m connecting with nature and being free. When I was in Pine Grove, you would think I felt connected there, but I was surrounded by huge trees that I felt cut me off from nature. I had no view and never even saw much of the sunset. All that is going to change now!

Trailer from tasting room entrance

Oh, and by the way, everything worked almost perfectly and everything stayed charged during my first night of boondocking. I have a small solar charger for phones and a Goal Zero that kept my computer charged.

I have been amazing myself all weekend, hitching up the trailer easily, setting up and breaking down the trailer and dealing with small issues with the trailer. I’ve learned so much about how things work — most of it from the internet since the manuals are not very thorough. If you are thinking of RVing solo, go for it! If I can do this, anyone can.

I’ll be heading out today to another Passport America RV resort where I will finish this post and edit photos.

*In case you are wondering if Passport America is worth joining, I saved the cost of membership with this one stay alone!

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If my first weekend on the road as an RV newbie is any indication of how things are going to go for the next few weeks, I’m truly going to love this life.

Until next time…

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  1. Oh MeOW awnty Ava, you sure sound like you’re havin’ fun. We’re not sure we could go that long without ‘lectricity tho’. MOL Be careful and safe. Ya’ll are in our purrayers. Big hugs

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Raena

    • I have it planned out so that I only have to go without electricity for a day or two at a time. Most of the appliances in the trailer work on gas when I don’t have electricity. The only thing that doesn’t work is anything 110 like the TV. Hugs back to you all.

  2. Ava, you are absolutely incredible. I could never do this. Hope all continues to go well and that you see many great things, including sunsets. Sending hugs to you and the kitties, Janet

  3. Loved seeing your new adventures. Thanks for doing this! Melissa

  4. Congrats on newbie status! Here’s to many more adventures to come ?

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  6. It’s fun to read other’s RV experiences since we are still pretty new at this. Thanks for sharing!

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