With a bit of excitement and no little trepidation, we set out in the Motorhome's maiden voyage, a 12 hour trip to Pennsylvania, and Sinnemahoning State Park. Very early on, my son, James and I discovered that the Mallard's cabin heater was completely non-functional. The only thing that was working was the fan on the defrost setting (no heat, just the fan). The temperature was close to freezing, and for the entire trip, we could see our breath as fog. The dogs loved it, and spent a lot of time sleeping on my bed and bedding in the back when they weren't trying to crawl in my lap or look out the windows. With us went Freya, Princess, Bucky and Yukon for the four dog team, and Moony was going to be my bikejor dog. The trip would have taken just about 9.5 hours according to the GPS, but it doesn't have to stop for dogs or boys to go potty.
James was a good help holding back the dogs as I took them for walks, but we discovered a flaw in the door structure of the Mallard. When a dog jumped on the door and slid their paws down, the door opened. Bucky was the first to discover this while we were stopped at an Arby's for lunch. Fortunately I was close enough to him to stomp on his leash to prevent him from going anywhere, and double fortunately none of the other dogs were close enough to get out the door before I could get to it. Bucky was a good boy though, and headed right to me as I was bringing Princess back from walking, which allowed me to get a hold of him so quickly. I stomped on his leash, snatched it up, leaped to the door and shut it just before Moony could get out. I then carefully let Princess back in, used the key and set the deadbolt before taking Bucky for a walk. My heart settled back in to a reasonable beat after I had all five dogs walked and stowed safely back in the motorhome.
The scenery driving through the Pennsylvania mountains was amazing. Fall was in her full-color cloak spread along the mountainsides broken only by rivers and signs of habitation. It would have been perfect except we were freezing, and the motorhome had a bit of trouble on the steep grades. The four-barrels had their own sense of timing, and decided only to work when they wanted to rather than when we needed them. The Mallard also had the tendancy to catch every breeze as if it were a sail on a tall ship. So I was constantly correcting our heading to stay reasonably in the same lane. The brakes on the motorhome were rather slow to respond, and was rather like running dogs, you hold on and pray the brakes are adequate. They were in good condition and worked as they were supposed to, but I was still getting used to the fact that there would be no instant stopping, even for the deer that jumped out in front of us. Fortunately the stopping power it did have was just enough to miss the deer.
I'm sure many of the folks driving along the same highway as us in the dark were non-too-pleased to be behind my overly cautious rate of speed, but, well, I don't think my heart could have taken another deer incident. We finally found the campground at around 8pm (after dark), and with the help of our camping neighbor, we got settled in rather quickly and they already had a fire going. which they shared with us. It was just starting to snow lightly, little flakes that turned to water almost instantly. After walking the dogs, we settled by the fire for a while to socialize until I grew sleepy. Being a morning person, and not a night owl has its drawbacks. At least with the Motorhome plugged in, we were able to fire up the ceramic heaters we had brought which made the inside pleasantly warm. I slept with Freya, Yukon, Bucky and Princess in the bed with me while Moony slept with James.
(more to come)