Lessons from Colorado - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-14-2006, 11:02 AM   #1
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We finally got the chance to give our 2003 Casita 17 SD a real workout this year with a four week trip to Colorado, Aug. 13 to Sept. 9. We visited seven national parks and monuments, and spent more time relaxing and less driving than on other trips. It was also our first major excursion without kids. We had a blast!

We learned a bunch of things that may be of interest.

1. Casita quality is real. Ours is nearly four years old, so I took it in for service including re-packing the wheel bearings. The mechanic told me it wasn’t needed, as everything still looked like brand new. He couldn’t believe the trailer was that old, and we really have used it. Nice to have an honest mechanic, too.

2. The ability of a minivan to haul a 17 over mountains has been much debated. We had no problems with our 99 Honda Odyssey. We took most climbs in 2nd gear, a few in 1st, and also geared down on descents. You won’t set any speed records, but take your time, be gentle, and everything will be great.

3. The cleanest vault toilets in the world are at the Heaton Bay campground in White River National Forest, at 9000 feet near Frisco, CO. This was a two night stopover to get “re-charged” between no-hookup stays at Rocky Mountain NP and Colorado National Monument. They have water and electricity on every site in loop C only (reservations needed). The whole place was sparkling clean, and someone put up fabric softener sheets in the toilet windows for a pleasant aroma. There is no dump station, but it is a great campground.

4. Some of the visitor centers off I-70 have free dump stations!

5. Previously, we had run down the trailer battery in two days. We discovered two things that made a big difference for us. First, do not run the 3-way fridge on DC if you are not going to have AC power at your next stop. It prevents the trailer battery from being fully charged when you arrive. We found we can simply turn the fridge off while traveling, light it on propane while stopped for lunch, and it’s still plenty cold when we get to our next stop. Second, turn off the water pump when not in use. It does draw a small amount of power even when not pumping. (We noticed that with a weak battery, the lights are dimmer when the pump is turned on but not running.) With these two tricks, we had no problem with 5 night / 4 day stops with no hookups.

6. Two people can each take two water-conserving showers on one full 25-gallon tank, if they are not using too much water for other things. You can save a lot by using campground faucets, where available, to fill dishpans and teakettles for other stuff.

7. Water heater and fridge on propane are awesome when boondocking! They work great, and those twin propane tanks still last a long, long time.

8. Normally, the fresh water tank runs out before the gray tank gets full. However, the Casita gray tank drains poorly because it is so low and flat. One time I used a dump station that was poorly leveled (low on the right and front), and did not block up as I should have, and it did not completely drain. At our next stop, we found out what happens when the gray tank is full. First clue is a nasty smell, then it backs up in the shower floor. Ick.

9. Camping with kids is great. Camping without kids is awesome.

Happy trails to all,
Bob (and Klaudia) in Indiana
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Old 10-14-2006, 11:06 AM   #2
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Hi everyone! Let me re-introduce myself. I was moderately active on CasitaClub before and after buying ours new in November 2002, less active here but I did post a few times. (These now show as “Legacy Posts” so they don’t have my name attached.) We attended the 2003 rally in Kentucky. After that I mostly abandoned the forums, except to browse quietly every now and then. After our return from Colorado, I had some thoughts to share, so I tried getting back on CasitaClub. I couldn’t remember my old login, so I registered anew. New users are not allowed to post, so I waited a couple days, then sent Eric Mayer an e-mail asking for permission. No reply. Several days later I sent another e-mail. Still no reply, but he disabled my new login.

I never posted or said anything inappropriate or even argumentative. Only thing I can figure is he has me confused with someone else. But it’s hard to say because he never replied to me. Draw your own conclusions.

Anyhow, it took me another month to think of it, but I’m glad I am still welcome over here. I am also posting two questions in the “Care and Feeding” forum which I hope someone can answer. Happy camping!
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Old 10-14-2006, 11:23 AM   #3
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Hi, Bob Smucker! Welcome back, indeed! And, thanks for your comments on your trip to Colorado. Ah, how I would love to get up there for four weeks!
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Old 10-14-2006, 11:51 AM   #4
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Welcome Bob! sounds like you have had some great trips. Thanks for the tips!
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Old 10-14-2006, 02:11 PM   #5
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Bob,

One of the things I like about the MFROG forums is that there always seems to be valuable information for people at every level of experience. As a relative newcomer to fiberglass trailers, I enjoy the insights I get from nice summary posts like yours.

While in the learning mode, I've been hesitant to post comments, here or elsewhere, unless I was confident I could add to the discussion. Each of the fiberglass oriented sites is different and each contains an abundance of information. My experience with the CasitaClub site has been the same as yours. I've tried 3 times to register since July so I could add my tiny bit of an idea. The first two times my registration was dropped without validation and I'm now on my third attempt. My guess is that the site administration is just not actively working on adding new members and that neither of us has somehow been deemed unworthy.

I'm certainly glad you are back on this board and look forward to learning more from you.

John C.
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Old 10-14-2006, 07:16 PM   #6
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I am currently IN Colorado.. in Colorado Springs.

Tho I can see the Rockies, and they indeed look like a challenge to tug on/over.. I am a bit confused, however.

I have been here less the 24 hours, and this is my first time... by no means an expert

I see the flying monkeys getting all a fritter, cause this might as well be Kansas! LOL! (Yeah, I know Kansas is not that far away)

I was expecting it to be a bit more rugged. Denver wasn't exactly what I expected, but.. I have only seen pictures.

Guide me.. what am I missing?

I LIVE at 4600 feeet, most of the communities on my mountain are higher than Denver, OR Colorado Springs.. and.. well... I tug on and over them regularly. My family here tells me how horrid it would be for my rig to tug around here at "The Springs".

uhm.. I don't get it.. Guess I have to go up into the Rockies to see for myself, but not this trip
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Old 10-14-2006, 07:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
I am currently IN Colorado.. in Colorado Springs.

Tho I can see the Rockies, and they indeed look like a challenge to tug on/over.. I am a bit confused, however.

I have been here less the 24 hours, and this is my first time... by no means an expert

I see the flying monkeys getting all a fritter, cause this might as well be Kansas! LOL! (Yeah, I know Kansas is not that far away)

I was expecting it to be a bit more rugged. Denver wasn't exactly what I expected, but.. I have only seen pictures.

Guide me.. what am I missing?

I LIVE at 4600 feeet, most of the communities on my mountain are higher than Denver, OR Colorado Springs.. and.. well... I tug on and over them regularly. My family here tells me how horrid it would be for my rig to tug around here at "The Springs".

uhm.. I don't get it.. Guess I have to go up into the Rockies to see for myself, but not this trip
Hi: Remember..."Its better to be over the hill than under it!!!" Get over IT!!! Regards Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie going to my room now
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Old 10-14-2006, 07:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
I am currently IN Colorado.. in Colorado Springs.

Tho I can see the Rockies, and they indeed look like a challenge to tug on/over.. I am a bit confused, however.

I have been here less the 24 hours, and this is my first time... by no means an expert

I see the flying monkeys getting all a fritter, cause this might as well be Kansas! LOL! (Yeah, I know Kansas is not that far away)

I was expecting it to be a bit more rugged. Denver wasn't exactly what I expected, but.. I have only seen pictures.

Guide me.. what am I missing?

I LIVE at 4600 feeet, most of the communities on my mountain are higher than Denver, OR Colorado Springs.. and.. well... I tug on and over them regularly. My family here tells me how horrid it would be for my rig to tug around here at "The Springs".

uhm.. I don't get it.. Guess I have to go up into the Rockies to see for myself, but not this trip
p.s....Altitude sickness???
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Old 10-14-2006, 07:44 PM   #9
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p.s....Altitude sickness???
Hardly.

I am about where I normally am daily, with a much quicker rise.

I am at Big Bear California often, almost every weekend. It's at 1000 feet higher than here.

I am sure I am just not in the areas I have heard about with that Colorado mystique. OR... since my brother moved here from Portland, Or. it may have been an elevation shock for him that he had to get used to. He has spent very little time at my place, so maybe he just doesn't realize I have been "up" there for many years. He did have to come up there this week and he mentioned the steep climb but I am not sure he actually realized just how high he was.
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Old 10-14-2006, 08:46 PM   #10
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Bob and Klaudia,
Interesting story about your month long camping journey! Thanks for sharing.

A couple of things which came up when a friend purchased a used Casita. He was not aware that the fitting where the dump hose attaches, swivels down to dump and up so it doesn't get damaged while towing. Sometimes the elbows get stiff and you've got to struggle a bit but they will move. The other point, and he apparently shared your experience, was that he was unaware of the valve which controls grey water from the shower only. When you look under the Casita forward of the entrance step, there is a drain handle like on the black/grey water tanks drains under the other side of your Casita. Pull the handle, and the shower will drain, push it in and it won't drain and neither will grey water surge forward flooding the shower floor. Of course this only seems to happen when towing. One also must remember to open the valve prior to showering , or face the "indignity" of trying to hold a towel around one's body while trying to find the handle without getting on hands and knees!
Take heart, many of us, if unaccompanied by a supportive significant other , have been faced with this dilemma.
This discussion brings to mind a popular "mod", which is to extend the valve handle so it is easier to find by "feel".
You needn't inquire why "Nuestra Casita" has this particular improvement.

We hope these hints are of benefit to either you or someone else reading this forum!
Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 10-15-2006, 11:10 AM   #11
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Kurt and Ann,

Yes, I am quite familiar with that valve, and I have forgotten it a few times upon arrival. One tends to remember it as one's shower water refuses to go away. I am better at remembering when packing up, because my father taught me to check everything three times before moving out when I was young. Stories about ruined stabilizers also help.

The experience I reported above was not a valve problem. It was the result of draining the kitchen sink when the gray tank was full. The water came up into the shower, where we had just put all of our bathroom supplies in preparation for travel. It was gross.

The lesson there is to block up if necessary at the dump station to make sure the gray tank drains properly. Also, the smell is a clue that your tank is full and starting to back up, before it is visible. Normally this is blocked by relatively clean water in the traps.
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Old 10-15-2006, 10:11 PM   #12
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Well Gina, you could always take a run up to the Mt. Evans Crest House, West of Denver a bit......Altitude there is about 14,480 ft. ...highest paved road in the USA.....used the highest auto highway period when I was up there.....Used to own a high performance Plymouth Sport Fury at the time, and when I reached the crest house, the car wasn`t so high performance any more.......sorta like the average worn out car,LOL ......amazing how you breathe different at that altitude also.....Benny
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Old 10-15-2006, 10:37 PM   #13
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Benny, I have already left.. this was a short family business trip, but I will go back and go West up into the Rockies.

I guess I was just a bit stunned that the populated areas like Denver have such a mountain reputation, and I was looking forward to seeing some of the grandure, but was a bit dissapointed. I thought it was right there IN them.

I'll have to come back and give it a second chance, a short weekend, no doubt, does not give it a fair chance.
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Old 10-15-2006, 11:11 PM   #14
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Spoiled by the living in Sierras and having lived at the foot of the Cascades?
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