First Time Driving the Fifth Wheel

We left this morning on our first ever two-week vacation and our very first trip with our brand new fifth wheel!!! We have been waiting all winter long for the chance to take this first trip which is to an RV rally in Tennessee.  What is even more awesome is I finished the last class of my MBA program last week.  I’ve been going to school pretty continuously for one thing or another for 9 long years and finally I am done!!  So it was a great feeling to hook up that fifth wheel this morning and get out on the road.  Lee had made some nice upgrades over the last few weeks.  One of the major things he did was add netting to the insides of every cabinet.

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The net is so awesome because it holds everything in but is VERY easy to undo and put back on.  It took him hours to custom cut the mesh and attach the fasteners and he did it because he knew how much we struggled with things in cabinets in our previous trailer.  What a sweetie!! (Yes, I do, in fact, rock.-Lee)

When we got the trailer hitched and were on the road I looked over to my right and this is what I saw.

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He bought this cactus in the 90’s when he was driving a truck cross-country and it had been growing dust on a shelf in his den ever since.  Totally cracked me up as the little arms wave in the wind and it was a great way to set the mood for the trip.  (He used to have a little cowboy hat, but that got lost in the last move to NH. Not to worry, I’ll find him another one once we take a trip out west. That’s where the cowboy hats are, because that’s where the cowboys are. Because that’s where the cows are. – Lee) Not that it wasn’t a little stressful.  Lee had only hitched it up twice and only driven it once from the dealer and I had never even driven the truck let alone the truck and fiver. (fiver is the short hand for fifth wheel).  He drove for a long time and it was going very well but after several hours I could tell he was getting tired.  In NY on 84 I told him to pull over and I would take a turn.  I’ll be honest, I was pretty nervous.  The fiver is huge (40 glorious feet of awesome!-Lee)  and the truck is big (Less than 40 feet, but still pretty glorious and awesome in its own right. – Lee) and well, it was intimidating, but Lee explained everything very well and I knew we had plenty of time to get to our first campsite.  The first 10 miles went great..it actually was easier to drive than the 32 foot travel trailer we used to have, because there was minimal sway…it’s more like driving one big car.  But then I hit construction. (Technically, she didn’t actually HIT the construction, she arrived at it.-Lee)  And not just any construction…it was one of the super narrow lanes with high concrete walls AND on top of that, a very steep downhill. I stayed cool and slowed way down and did OK, but it was incredibly nerve-wracking.  Then to make it worse we realized we had missed the exit to the truck stop I had picked out and only had 57 miles left before we ran out of gas.  Lee took out his phone and checked tons of apps;  All Stays, Gas Buddy, and My Pilot but could find nothing.  Finally when we were down to under 40 miles remaining before we hit empty, he said we need to take this next exit and deal with this off the highway.  (I’ve already learned not to trust the “distance till empty” indicator. 40 miles could end up being 14.-Lee) We both stayed very calm considering and then WOW! there was a diesel station at that exit that wasn’t on any of the maps.  The station was awesome!!!  It had diesel at our target price ($4.09 versus the $4.49 in NY) and a small three lane truck area in the back.   I am not ashamed to say when I pulled into the pump we took a minute to celebrate. God really does watch over drunks and idiots. (We’re the idiots, not the drunks.-Lee)

We stopped around 3pm at Woodland Campground.  We knew we needed to stop early the first night to run water through all the systems, do some more organizing, and basically get settled in.  This campground was perfect for an overnight stay and the couple who run it are incredibly nice.  It doesn’t really offer any features that would warrant a long stay for us personally, but it was perfect for an overnight and getting things together.  We had a wonderful time settling in…(think first night in a new apartment) and I have to say I really really love my fifth wheel. It gets better and better every time I am in it.  The sweetest thing was Lee put up our sign and this really sums things up…

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Lessons Learned

  • Buy mesh in bulk and cut to size for every cabinet.  Install little latches on the four corners (inside of cabinet) so it can be added and removed easily
  • Take a turn driving the rig right away.  Yes its intimidating but it will NOT get better if you wait.  As a place to start pull into a rest area on the highway (where the trucks park because its easy to get in and out of) and then take a turn on a long stretch of highway and pull off at a rest area to switch
  • Driving a fifth wheel is easier in some ways than driving with a travel trailer because there is no sway
  • Pick a speed you are comfortable with and set the cruise control.  If people want to pass they can pass.
  • I know I’ve said this one before but gas can vary wildly from state to state or even region to region.  PLAN AHEAD on full ups.  We saved $12 by going 30 more miles on one stop alone.
  • Get the My Pilot app for Flying J’s and Pilots.  Flying J’s with RV lanes are the best!!
  • When you hit construction slow down.  You shouldn’t be going faster than the trucks around you.  Speaking of that watch the trucks.  Those guys and gals are professionals so if they change lanes you might want to also.

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2 thoughts on “First Time Driving the Fifth Wheel

  1. Driving next to one of those concrete walls is one thing I’m not looking forward to! Sounds like you did great! Love your sign. How sweet! Can’t wait to see you Monday evening.

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