Bob-T: Hey, Jose! I've figured out how to log in to the blog while Jenni's away for a few days. Wanna tell folks about a few of the crazy adventures the Keiter's have put us through over the last 5 months?
Jose: Dude, it's about time you figured out how to access their blog site. Perfect timing, too. Let's get started. Since we're in Bend, Oregon, let's tell everybody about some of the stuff we've 'bent' through together! Har, Har...
Bob-T: Well, you know I'm not proud of my weight, but I can't believe they had to take me in to a repair shop to straighten out my bent axle hangers and get cross-bracing welded up under my mid-section.
Jose: Yeah, Bob. I'm not gonna get started on your weight either. On the upside, you do give me a chance to slow down and check out the surroundings when we hit about a 6% uphill grade. Isn't there something more you can do to lose a few hundred pounds? I mean, the guys who made me say I can pull almost 8 tons, but that doesn't mean it's FUN...
Jose: Yeah, that thing is nice. I'm almost ready to think about that stretch of I-75 between Cordele, Georgia and the Florida state line again. Man, I felt like we were part of that Star Trek episode where Scotty told Captain Kirk - "She won't take much more of this!"
Jose: You know that wasn't my fault. At least they know now to lift those rear jacks and keep the wheel chocks in before throwing all your weight on my honches.
Jose: Alright now, then let's talk about Tioga Pass! You made my rear discs put off more smoke than a homecoming bonfire doused with 50 gallons of cold water when we going down that descent. Why did you do that?
Bob-T: That wasn't my fault either. I am heavy but I couldn't help that they didn't yet know how to manually control my brakes. It's really your fault for not having an exhaust brake. You know the 2010 and newer Silverado's have 'em.
Jose: They probably think that they'll have to wait till we get to NYC and hire the guys that do the Empire State Building...
Bob-T: hmmph... err... hehe... Well, actually, that's pretty funny! I'm sorry I gave you a hard time, Jose. You know I was just kidding.
In case Bob and Jose didn't cover them very well, here's a little Top 10 from me (Kevin):
TOP 10 Things We've Learned
9. Some upgrade investments are worth it. The kingpin replacement wasn't cheap but the improvement in the towing comfort is PRICELESS. With a standard kingpin, the trailer and truck can get into some unattractive tugs-of-war and the folks in the truck aren't the only ones who suffer. Imagine all the items in the trailer doing the same jig and it's pretty easy to justify the investment.
8. Leveling pads are priceless. I don't think we require a perfectly level trailer. If we did, we would have spent $4k for an automatic leveling system for Bob. Instead, a couple level indicators and a few packets of Lynx Levelers has given us all the tools needed to quickly get Bob on the level for less than $100. We tried using a couple 2x6 boards at first but Bob managed to split and crack them on a couple gravel sites so they have been relegated to reserve status.
5. Make sure your truck and trailer are compatible. We make lots of jokes about Bob's weight and frankly, he deserves it! However, we had the mindset that a heavier trailer meant sturdier construction. I still think this is often true. Whatever you decide, please make sure your truck is truly capable of towing the weight of the fully-laden trailer. It is a safety issue.
4. Related to #5, don't buy a bigger trailer or RV than necessary. We have a huge long trailer. In fact, it seems to draw constant attention in campgrounds. For us, the added size gives us a more comfortable living space when we are at the campsite. The downsize is that we can't get into certain campgrounds because they were designed back in the day when something of Bob's size would have been called a travel lodge. We also have to have a big burly truck to pull it. Take a good look at what you need and buy only that. Rent something similar if you can to see how it will feel. Be patient...
3. Enjoy the journey. I'm destination guy who's trying to convert from the Dark Side. Truthfully, the beauty of a trip like this is enjoying wherever you are with whomever you are with AT THAT MOMENT. Life is short. There's real value in keeping things in perspective. It really should be more about the journey than the destination. I'm getting closer to living that every day.
2. Campers are great people and it's worth taking time to meet them. I'm technically an introvert but I have found from our time on the road that I also need a social outlet. We have met some amazing people out here. It is a true but sad statement that we seem to be more likely to develop relationships with folks in campgrounds than with neighbors in suburbia. I'm not judging because I was guilty of it before we went out on the road. For some reason, I think we are all just a little more laid back and open to this type of interaction when out in God's amazing creation. So, when you are out camping, take time to get to know your neighbor. Do the same when you're at home. Life is about relationships.
1. Adventure and even a scare can be exhilarating (after you recover). Though we often seek it, I don't think we were made to live boring and predictable lives. Your adventures and our family's may be different but we each have the choice each and every day to pursue lives of meaning and purpose. Often, that means going into the unpredictable and unknown... Changing lifestyle, experiencing a new culture or just learning to back a 40 foot long trailer takes us out of the comfort zone. I learn a lot from these situations and, to be honest, God knows that's usually what it takes to get my attention and change me. How about you? Is it time to make a change? It may be hard, but I bet you'll find it worth it!
Stay tuned for the next post which we expect will be a return to the much more entertaining and immensely more beautiful photography from my lovely and talented wife, Jenni!