Fear and Trepidation in the Driver Seat

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Last week, we took a few days away and went to Wyoming for a shakedown trip in our new-to-us RV. This was our trip to work out the kinks and give ourselves time to fix any identified issues before we become full-timers in late August.

But that was not the only reason we went to Wyoming.

After we bought the RV in mid-March, we joined Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA). We discovered they were having a rally in Gillette, Wyoming, in early July. Prior to the rally, they were co-sponsoring RV driving lessons with RV Driving School.

Gwynne knew she had to go. From the time we purchased the RV until the first day of driving class, Bob had been doing all the driving. Just the thought of driving the big beast that will be our home filled her with fear and trepidation.

She is happy to report that the beast has been transformed into a beauty!

The program was 2½ days of education and in-the-driver-seat training. George Mayleben, the owner of RV Driving School, offered classroom presentations focusing on safety and what to think about before we get in the driver seat and as we put the key in the ignition. There were twelve driving instructors on-site, men and women who have backgrounds in heavy equipment, truck, and bus operation; several have over a million miles behind the wheel.

Her assigned instructor was Bill Anderson, an affable fellow with the ability to help Gwynne learn how to handle our big rig safely, without getting down on herself. You see, she told Bill that the voice in her head (she named the voice Nancy Naysayer) had a LOT to say about how Gwynne wasn’t good enough to drive the RV, so on and so forth, blah, blah, blah.

After successfully navigating the challenges Bill tossed her way – and having a couple of not-so-successful maneuvers early while in an empty parking lot – fears have been conquered, trepidation has been replaced with calm and the voice in her head has been evicted.

Gwynne learned how to drive and back up our RV. She backed it up in a truck stop, parking between two sets of concrete barriers. (We’re not sure if the truck drivers were watching, but to Gwynne, it sure felt like all eyes were on her during this maneuver.) She even parallel parked a couple of times. That’s parallel parking a 45 foot RV, for those of you playing along at home. Don’t be fooled – those orange cones are a lot closer than they look in the photo below. Backing up and parallel parking require teamwork and communication between the driver and the spotter. And Bob is an excellent spotter!

One important thing Gwynne learned from this class is that there are many “information points” to reference while driving. One information point is the GPS, providing directions to the next destination. Due to the size of our RV, we opted to purchase an RV-specific GPS. We can enter the height, width, length, and weight of the RV and the GPS system routes the drive accordingly.

We chose the Garmin 785 RV model, as it has a large enough screen for viewing the route (7”) but is not so large that it takes over the dash area. Also, we liked that this model has a front-facing camera that can record what is happening in traffic in front of you.

The folks at TechnoRV offer great customer support and are knowledgeable about the products they sell. Click here to see the Garmin GPS RV systems they sell, along with other tools and products to help your RV journey be safe and more comfortable.

As we wrap up our blog this month, we want to encourage you to seek out professional education around RV operation. Most of us have been driving for a number of years, but there’s always something new to learn, especially about operating a larger vehicle.

We also want to share a couple of pictures of a successful back-in and parallel park, along with one happy RV Driving School program grad and her instructor. We’ll be seeing you on the road pretty soon!