The first time I towed the camper was from American RV in Maryville, TN where it was in storage to our first campground in Pigeon Forge, TN on 8/28/2012. It was about 30 miles. Most of which was on 321 through Wears Valley with a couple of switchbacks, no shoulder, etc. A perfect storm for a first time camper tower.
A little history about me. I was active duty Air Force for about 13 years as an aircraft mechanic. Part of that job involved towing airplanes, and support equipment. So, I’m not a newbie to towing, but when towing an airplane we had a team of people to make sure wingtips were clear, we also had an open flight line with no oncoming traffic.
Thankfully, I had a great friend with me, Louis Caldwell. He has been a huge help in the process of Charlie and I getting our first camper. When I had camper questions, I’d go to him or our neighbor, Rick Gates, who has also been a huge wealth of information. I’m sure Louis and Rick are glad that we’re finally in a camper instead of still nagging them with questions. LOL!
Other than cutting some turns too tight, we made it through Wears Valley and to King’s Holly Haven RV Park without incident. It took me about 3 times to back in to our spot before the camper was situated correctly, but it was a good experience.
By this time we had already planned our next trip and booked our campsite. We were going to Coastal GA RV Resort in Brunswick, GA. It was right off of I-95 so very convenient for me having little experience. On 10/1/2012, we headed out of Pigeon Forge for Brunswick, GA. A 465 mile trip that would take us about 8 hours. Remember my drive for a day, live for a month motto? Well, driving a car for 8 hours is VERY different than towing a camper for 8 hours. Big newbie mistake. One we’ll never make again. When driving a car, you can set cruise and just sort of go. Not so when towing a camper. The speed I felt most comfortable towing was between 55mph and 60mph. Anything over 60mph I felt like the camper was pushing me. I’d much rather the truck pull than be pushed. The slower speed resulted in better gas mileage though. We averaged 12 mpg for that trip. I had really only expected 10 mpg. When trucks pass you they kind of blow you all over the road. And because of this, you’re ‘driving’ the entire time. No cruise control because you’ve gotta let off the gas when the trucks pass to make it a little easier on you. 10 hours later, white knuckled, and having to fill up once next to all the big rigs at a pilot gas station, we made it to Brunswick, GA.
Almost immediately the next day I mapped out our next destination which was a month away. It was 200 miles, about 4 hours. Perfect. I’m happy to say we made that drive from Brunswick, GA to Kissimmee, FL on 11/1/2012 in about 4 hours and without having to pull over for gas. The drive was relatively easy with the exception of a few idiot drivers in Orlando.
As my friends Louis and Rick both said, just go slow. And that’s what we did. We took our time. People made their way around me, and we made it in one piece. It worked out for everyone.
So, future trips will probably not be longer than 4 hours (ish) at a time. I’m even thinking about taking a state 4 lane road on the next adventure vs. the interstate. Less traffic, less big rigs, slower speeds. I think I’d be happy with that….we’ll see.