Wednesday, November 16, 2011


A few weeks ago Craig brought up the idea of taking a two day, 12 hours, private RV driving course.  He had read an article about it and thought it would be a good idea for us.
Some of the things covered are:

  • Pre-trip Inspection

  • Proper adjustment of mirrors

  • Effective use of mirrors

  • How to test your air brakes

  • Safe braking

  • Backing straight

  • Backing on a curve

  • Backing into campsites

  • How to allow for tail swing out

  • Turning radius

  • How to make sharp turns

  • Campground maneuvering

  • How to drive in a city

  • How to drive on freeways

  • Freeway on and off ramps

  • Proper lane changing

  • Staying in your lane

  • How to properly go up hills
       Safe braking down hills

  • When to use engine/exhaust brakes

  • Defensive driving

  • And more...

    All done, hands on in our rig on two days, six hours each day.

    There is an excellent article about the course on RVers online that gives a lot of detail.  Actually it was this article that Craig read on day at work, and sent the URL to me to consider.

  • We have both watched the videos from Lazy Days several times, and do not find it difficult to drive the Alfa, but also feel there is a lot we can learn.

    We have booked the lessons in Auburn, December 3rd and 4th. 

     Auburn is the last town before you start going up into the Sierra's.  We know we are pushing our luck on the weather.  But we have driven thru there many times on our way to Tahoe to go skiing and we have not seen any snow on the ground.  

    What we might run into is cold, rainy or windy weather.  We hope not, but if we do we will just have to learn under not so nice conditions.  It will make driving in good conditions even easier.

    The timing couldn't be better for us.  Actually if it had been the first week of November it would have been better, but as it is it is just weeks before we take our big trip down to San Diego and to Pasadena for the Rose Parade.

    We expect some real driving challenges then.  One of the things I don't look forward to is the long pull up over the Grapevine, a rise over a mountain summit, and then coming back down.  I think I remember it as having a 6% grade for several miles!  The lessons should help prepare one of us for that!  One of us will be driving the Alfa, and one of us will be driving the Prius.

    We will also be challenged with driving on city streets to the parade in Pasadena, and parking the Alfa in a parking lot with other rigs.  Since no slides will be allowed, I have a feeling the spots will be a bit tight.

    So what is the conflict? 

    The drive from here to Auburn is 160 miles.  Four hours, five if you count the time to get out of our road.  Maybe more if we run into rush hour or weekend traffic.  

    We had planned on having Craig check in at work for a few hours on that Friday, and then come home so we can take off a little after noon. That gives me time to get all the necessary stuff carted up to The Big White Box.
    Thats what we've done the first two trips and it has worked quite well.

     But today one of the bosses talked to Craig about being sure he comes to the company Christmas party. Since he is retiring just a few weeks later, Craig figures they might be planning a little going away toast or something.

    The party is on the afternoon of the Friday Dec 2nd.
    Just when we want to be driving.

    We've been talking about it this evening, trying to decide what to do.  Change our dates?  A week later and we would really be risking winter weather.  

    Skip the party?  I think Craig really wants to go.  You only retire once.

    The party is going to be held at a winery in the hills above Los Gatos.  We have looked at Google Earth to see road to the place and the parking.  It looks like we could drive The Big White Thing to the party.  Only about a mile and a half of residential and mountain road.  Nothing can be worse that our road.

    I am going to go drive it tomorrow.  If it looks like a "go" we will take the Alfa to the party, I will not imbibe, and can drive up to Auburn.  We can stay for the lunch, and then take off.

    If it doesn't look like it will work, we will come up with another plan.

    Actually, as we talked about it tonight, it seems like  fun.  We could show off the Alfa to all his soon to be former co-workers. He's been telling them he wants to fix up the house and "drive off into the sunrise."  Since the sunset is just down the hill.


    1. life is filled with conflicts! will figure it out!!

    2. Sounds like you have some decisions to make. I'm sure you and Craig will find the right answer.

    3. Oh, decisions, decisions. It will all get figured out. Maybe the long term forecast for the following weekend looks good?

    4. Wow, always having to decide, this or that. Driving to the party may work. The weather we can't control, and they must have some type of weather related cancellation policy. I'm interested in taking a driving course for driving in the mountains with my rig. The LazyDays courses are good, but not the same as being in the rig with the instructor.

    5. Hope it works out for you. Driving course sounds like a good idea and the party sounds like fun!

    6. The class sounds like a good one. We probably should all be made to take some sort of class like that before driving away on these monsters!

      Let us know what you learn about driving on inclines. We haven't done any mountain driving and it's something we'll definitely worry about when we see our first mountain!

      Boy, Craigs retirement is coming up soon. Then you can be "anytimers."

    7. Looks like a very good course. We attended one of Dennis Hills Rv Driving Schools seminars last year at the RV show in Pomona which has helped with our weekend rental adventures. We look forward to your feedback and will probably do the same when we make our purchase. Good luck on your planning.

    8. I think Craig should go to his party. I know I would have regretted it if I hadn't gone to my party. That's my opinion, of course. And I also think taking the Alfa up there is a great idea.

    9. Sounds like a good compromise. I hope Craig doesn't miss the party. The class sounds like an excellent idea!

    10. Hope you can take the Alfa to the party! Sounds like fun! I took a 4-hour RV driving course and it was well worth the money (although I rarely drive this 40 footer). I was amazed at being able to back up well, drive on skinny streets, etc. It builds confidence.

    11. I think a Driving School is some of the best $ we ever spent. While I already knew how to drive a motorhome, the confidence and lessons learned were well worth the time and money. You can read about my experience here

    12. I'd definitely plan on going to the retirement party as you only retire once and there are no do-overs.

      If it's a drive of 4 hours or more that means you'd be arriving at your destination after it's dark. I'm not so sure I'd be up for that after a long day.

      Just my thoughts!

    13. I say drive the Alpha to the party and make 'em all jealous....why not...If the weather gets bad, pull over and turn on the furnace...Life is too damn short.

    14. Merikay...I know how to spell Alfa, I think my fingers just did what they're used to and spelled it wrong. I'm embarrassed that I spelled it wrong...I hate typos. I, too, spent a lot of time in a part of my house with a very tall ceiling and I think that's why I liked the Alfa so much. The floor plan was wonderful and I think I'm going to keep looking.

      Good luck on getting to your class. I drove the Grapevine last month and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be based on what I'd been told.

      I think the class sounds like a great idea. Maybe I'll check it out for sometime next year...after the snow and ice melt!!

    15. Sounds like a good plan to me. You guys have a wonderful weekend. You will be glad you took the driving class, I think. Not sure I'd want to drive much in that Rose Parade traffic. You will have a great time, so it's going to be worth it.

    16. Excellent idea on the course, no matter how much we know, we still always learn anyhow. You'll figure out the details. Good luck!


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