First time ‘in charge'
The Good Life|February 2021
You would expect some lessons were to be learned on extended trailer trip

I have been a camper all of my adult life; in tents, tent trailers, pickup campers, trailers, fifth wheels and motorhomes.

However, I have never been the “in charge” person. That changed in the summer of 2020 when I bought a 16-foot vacation trailer.

I had looked for a small vacation trailer two years ago but didn’t find what I wanted in the price range I wanted to spend. Then, in 2020 as I was having to deal with COVID-19, I began to rethink owning a small trailer.

My daughter and grandsons live in Salt Lake City, Utah and my son lives in the Vancouver, Washington area.

I was not willing to fly to Utah and with two little dogs, Suki and Lilly, and I didn’t want to drive and stay at motels either. So, it made sense to me to look into buying a small vacation trailer.

In June I began a search in newspapers and online ads to see if I could find what I wanted. I wanted it to be no longer than 20 feet but I was flexible about what else it featured. A walkaround bed would be nice but seldom had I seen a short trailer with one.

After about three weeks, I was getting discouraged. What I saw was either new for more money than I wanted to spend or several states away.

Then one afternoon, I called All Seasons RV to see if they offered used trailers.

The salesman said that they did offer some used trailers, as they received trade-ins, but that the smaller trailers were hard to find.

I already knew that but at the end of our conversation, he took my name and number and said that if anything came up, he would call me. We concluded our conversation at about 3:15.

Then at 4:45 he called me with the news that a lady he had sold a 16-foot Coleman trailer to a few years ago had just called to say that she wanted to trade it in for a motorhome. I couldn’t believe it. Lesson learned: Shop local. So, my friend, Linda, and I went to see the trailer when it came into the dealer the next week.

It was four years old but looked new in every way. And it had a walk around bed. It felt like that trailer was meant to be mine and I bought it.

I had some concerns about my Chevrolet Colorado being able to pull it but I thought it would be easier finding a different vehicle than it was to find a small trailer I liked.

Over the next several weeks a lot of things happened. Although I had planned to use my Colorado, it proved to be too small to pull the trailer without overheating. So, the search started for another vehicle.

My son helped me look and found an ideal vehicle for me in Seattle.

After a day or so of negotiations, I bought it and days later the dealer came to get my beloved Subaru and brought me a Toyota Sequoia. Wow, was it big!

Then more time was spent to get a hitch on the Toyota, get the brakes on the trailer wired, get new batteries for the trailer and some other odds and ends.

I took the trailer and Toyota to the Big Lots parking lot and practiced backing up until I could put the trailer where I wanted it… well almost.

And I made plans to leave Wenatchee on Sunday, Sept. 20, and travel to Boise to see a friend then on to Utah to see my family.

I’d meet two lady friends at Cape Disappointment and I’d come back through Vancouver to visit my son and daughter-inlaw, then head for home.

On Saturday, Sept. 19, with the trailer packed with essentials, I was ready to hook it up to the Toyota.

Like a lot of trailer owners, I had used a cinder block under the jack when I unhooked the trailer. Now, I couldn’t get the tongue of the trailer jacked up high enough to get the cinder block out.

To get help with the jack, I called my friend, Jill, and she and her husband brought a floor jack the next morning.

We got the trailer tongue off the cinder block and hooked up to the Toyota. Now I should be ready to go, leaving as I originally planned on that Sunday.

Lesson learned: Don’t use the cinder block with my Toyota.

My plan was to drive to Pendleton to spend the night at a KOA campground. Everything I was going to need for the next three weeks was in the trailer. I’d stop to visit an old friend in Boise, then go on to Salt Lake City.

As I tried to pull the trailer into the driveway, it pulled so hard that it was holding back the Toyota. I realized that the brakes on the trailer were locked, a safety feature in case the hitch comes off while traveling.

So, for the next three hours, I tried to figure out exactly what was wrong. The trailer brakes were controlled by a computer program that was set using an app on my iPhone.

I adjusted the brakes from my phone but it didn’t make any difference.

When I couldn’t get the trailer brakes to release, I concluded that I was not leaving on Sunday but had to wait for help from All Seasons RV on Monday.

The dogs and I slept in the trailer that night in front of my home because it was easier than taking all that I needed back into the house and bring it out again whenever I was able to leave.

Monday morning, I ended up going to All Seasons RV to ask what could be wrong. An initial phone call went to an answering service and I thought the in-person contact would prove timelier.

Mike at All Seasons RV showed me that a small plunger on the emergency braking system for the trailer had been dislocated and it needed to be put back.

I came home and scooted under the hitch and pushed on the little plunger. In an awkward position where I could only use my left hand to push on the plunger, I was not strong enough to push it in all the way.

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