Before embarking on an extended trip, I tested out Bambi in a controlled setting. I checked a bunch of sites in the East Bay, and decided on Del Valle Campground near Livermore.
It has been almost three weeks since I brought up Bambi from Los Angeles. So I conjured up images of Ken, the GM at Airstream Los Angeles, who coached me on how to hitch up. This is the most critical step of towing. You have to make sure all of the components are connected so everyone in and out of vehicle are safe. With that massive pressure I put on myself, I proceeded with the following steps:
1) Raise up the trailer.
2) Back up the Touareg slowly until its hitch ball is right below the coupler of the trailer. It is recommended that someone guide you toward the coupler. Butters wasn’t going to help so I used the backup camera and jumped in and out of the Touareg a few times to check how close I was. I actually did pretty well with this step. If all others would be this easy…
3) Lower the coupler onto the hitch ball and lock the mechanism with a padlock.
4) Attach the two leveling bars that weigh a ton to some contraption on the Touareg.
5) Try many times to attach these bars.
6) Try again.
7) Try some more…and finally, success!
8) Attach the leveling bars via chain to the trailer hitch. Yikes. Sweat. Deep breaths.
9) Have inner monologue: Chains don’t seem to reach. Did they shrink? I swear Ken showed me that they go on the second link.
10) Sweat some more. Get nervous. Breath. Step away. Come back, sweat some more.
11) Remember what Ken said, “Bring up the trailer so you can put the chains on.” Bingo! That seems to help. I’m not sure why, but it does. The chains reach another contraption and I’m able to lock it all into place.
12) Attach 7-way plug from trailer that sync Bambi with the Touareg lights and brakes. (Very important.)
13) Check lights. They don’t work.
14) Jump out and re-attach 7-way plug, scrape hand on concrete as I pull the 7-way plug out.
15) Check lights. They don’t work.
16) Try Step 14 again. It works!
17) Attach safety chains from Bambi to Touareg.
18) Connect the brake controller to the 12V in the Touareg. See if brakes are working on the Bambi. Yes!
19) Drive a little in the storage parking lot and test backing up the trailer. Backing up was a nightmare so I aborted the mission.
60 minutes after arriving at the storage facility, I was on my way. I doubt it will take this much time each time I hitch up. The blunders caused by this newbie resulted in the delay.
I pulled into the ranger station at Del Valle campsite and was assigned what’s called a “back-in” site. It was also one requiring me to “boondock.” Meaning, I would be relying on the batteries and water leftover from the first trip. Newbies like me aren’t thrown into a situation where I have to 1) back up a trailer and 2) boondock. I needed the practice so I decided to go for it.
“It will be my first time backing up, will it be hard?” I asked the park ranger. He looked at me with a raised eyebrow and then an expression that resembled pity overcame his face. He assigned me a spot that was wider so it would be easier. He also put me near the ranger station incase I needed his help i.e., if I were still trying to back up when he was off his shift.
I found my designated spot and saw a group of campers near by. I waved and one of the guys came over. “Please don’t laugh at me, this is my first time backing in.” Soon Matt was giving me pointers on how to back in. Then Tiffany, his wife came over to offer some moral support. Backing up a tailer is extremely confusing. I’ve watched Youtube videos, looked at diagrams, read the Airstream owner’s manual. I would be putting it all to the test, in front of an audience. Matt guided me for what seemed like half an hour. But I think it was more like 15 minutes. Eventually, the deed was miraculously done and Bambi was situated. This would not have been possible without the help of Matt and Tiffany!
Bambi backed up!
Yes, Bambi backed up! Yes!
I’m so proud of myself that I had to post another one! (And thanks to Matt and his family for guiding me.)
Once Bambi was set up, I remembered all the little tips about boondocking. Essentially, living on what was available in the Trailer.
My main concern was not the electricity because I know how to conserve energy. I wouldn’t be watching TV or charging any of my electronics so I wasn’t worried about my battery.
Here we are, conserving energy by lighting a candle and using one overhead light.
I was more concerned about the fresh water which was about 70% full. Since the fresh water tank provides water to the kitchen, bathroom, and the bathroom, water can be a scarce resource.
So as a test, I used minimal water to brush my teeth and wash my face. I checked the water monitor and it was 60% full. This was going to be a problem since I like to be clean no matter what environment I’m in. The last campsite in Gilroy had full hook ups, so I had a constant flow of water and I didn’t need to worry about running out.
Prior to this trip, I had read about “city water” and “potable water.” The city water is what I hooked up to at the site. I was dumbfounded about the potable water since it was supposed to be locked behind a door on the trailer exterior. I could have sworn I looked for this and couldn’t find it. I figured I would tackle that and other questions I had about the trailer the following day.
So far, it was a good day…to be continued…