The Great Drawer Dilemma

Owning a travel trailer comes with all of the joys and pains that go along with traditional home ownership. However, unlike a traditional home, the travel trailer bounces around which puts unique stresses on everything. One of the things that drove our decision to purchase our Micro Lite 21FBRS was the amount of storage – especially in the kitchen. In addition to two small drawers for utensils and such, there are two deep drawers perfect for holding pots and pans and other larger miscellany. However, those large drawers have been problematic from the beginning.

Opening a drawer in your traditional home is simple, you place your hand on the drawer knob and pull. Easy peasy. Opening a drawer in a travel trailer requires a bit of a tug; that extra bit of tension is required in order to (usually) keep the drawers from bouncing open when on the road. Early into our travels with Serenity (our 21FBRS) I kept finding pieces of “stuff” in the bottom drawer. Obviously, something was malfunctioning, but what? The what became clearer when the top drawer got harder and harder to open. It turned out that the drawer slide on the top drawer was failing and that where the random pieces were coming from. Kenn replaced the drawer slide and we thought that was that. Wrong.

During one of our last trips, I was getting ready to cook supper but I couldn’t get the bottom drawer open. Without the pots and pans in that drawer, no cooking transpires. I assumed something in the drawer had shifted, preventing it from opening. Wrong again.

It turned out that the bottom of the drawer had collapsed. We had to remove the top drawer in order to empty the bottom drawer and then wrestle it out of the cabinet. In order to save weight, many drawers and such in travel trailers and rvs are made from thin wood veneers; while these materials are lighter, they aren’t always sturdy. Kenn has already replaced the “floor” of the closet next to our fridge because it broke during my month-long stay in SC earlier this year.

Rather than tack the chintzy bottom of the drawer back in place, Kenn decided to just rebuild the entire drawer out of plywood. Once that was done he decided to go ahead and rebuild the other drawer as well instead of waiting for it to fail at some future date. While the new and improved drawers should last for years to come they have created issues of their own. Due to the increased weight of the drawers, new slides were required along with some sort of mechanism to keep the drawers closed while traveling.

The first device Kenn purchased to secure the drawers didn’t work out, but we had a weekend trip planned. As a temporary alternative he installed some childproof/cat proof latches of the same type we use on our kitchen cabinets in The Cabin. (Our kids are grown, but Nyx, our black cat, is fixated on the kitchen cabinets and refuses to leave them alone.) However, the latches were not strong enough to contain the drawers. Fortunately, we always stop a few miles from the house to attach the weight distribution hitch so we discovered the problem with the latches early on. Cue the arguing.

If you want to stress test your marriage, or if you just like stress, buy a travel trailer! I’m convinced that getting a camper backed into a site has led to the demise of more than one marriage. Kenn and I don’t argue much, but when we do it’s more than likely going to deal with navigation or something to do with the travel trailer. When we discovered that the existing latches weren’t going to keep the drawers secured, my recommendation was to just remove the drawers, leaving the contents in place, and put them in the bed of the truck. Kenn wanted to use bungee cords to secure the drawers to the faucet. This was a big NOPE from me. One of the first thing we did after buying Serenity was to replace the default kitchen faucet with a nice gooseneck faucet with a pull-down sprayer. I didn’t want to get several miles down the road only to find that not only were the drawers not secure but that we also had to replace the faucet. Basically, I wanted to err on the side of caution. After several rounds of both of us repeating ourselves, Kenn emptied the drawer contents into a container and then stored the container and the drawers in the bed of the truck. This in turn was followed by several uncomfortable hours of little to no communication. You’d think after thirty-six years of marriage, we would have learned how to argue. Not so much.

A permanent solution for securing the drawers is still in the works. Kenn has some industrial strength magnets on order so we’ll find out how well those work on our next trip. Once the drawer issue is resolved we need to figure out why the oven door insists on being cattywampus and why the stove burners keep falling off.

How do you keep disagreements from turning into arguments/pouting?

Meals on the Go

I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. It doesn’t come naturally or easily to me and it’s never been something that I have particularly enjoyed. That said, I did the cooking for the first few years of our marriage; Kenn took over a few years in. (I think he was tired of watching me stress out over every meal, bless his heart.) However, once I retired, it was only fair that I take over the responsibility once again. Less than a year later, the pandemic hit and eating out was no longer an option. Cooking may not be fun for me, meal planning is even less so. We had used the Hello Fresh meal kit subscription a few years ago and decided to sign up once again. Using Hello Fresh works for me on two levels: one, it gives us a chance to try things we normally wouldn’t and two, that’s two less meals I have to plan each week. Surprisingly, I’ve also discovered that I enjoy the prep work; I don’t mind getting in the kitchen and zesting, chopping, an mincing up a storm.

Now, we are planning our first long road trip with the travel trailer which means meal planning without the assistance of Hello Fresh. It also means meal planning within the limited storage of a travel trailer. We sat down and listed a few of our favorite meals and the ingredients of each. I know we’ll eat out occasionally during our trip. After all, part of the travel experience is trying new/regional foods. (My love of all things huckleberry is a direct result of our 2019 road trip. It’s too bad we don’t have huckleberries here in the South.) However, we know that we have a tendency to repeat the same handful of meals over and over. Pasta also features frequently since it’s so easy to prepare.

Image courtesy of Depositphotos.com

So, dear reader, I need your help. What are some of your favorite meals to prepare when you’re on the road? Do you have any cookbooks or online resources to recommend? (Insert puppy dog eyes here)

Until next time, happy trails!

The Evolution of a Couple’s Camper – Part 1

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My husband and I come from vastly different backgrounds. One of the biggest differences was that his family traveled, mine didn’t. His parents owned an RV and would hit the road for two or three weeks every summer and my husband frequently expressed a desire to do the same. Initially, I wasn’t sold on the plan. In my mind, the cost of an RV plus the insurance, etc. would more than offset any savings achieved. But, over time, I gradually came around to his way of thinking and we began dreaming of “someday” owning a small travel trailer – the RPOD by Forest River seemed a perfect fit for our needs.

Our someday arrived much earlier than expected when we found an RPOD 177 for sale by owner in the parking lot of a local pawn shop in 2014. After much discussion (spontaneity is not a strong point for either of us) we contacted the owner and set up a meeting to tour the camper. Honestly, it was almost too good to be true – it was the travel trailer version of the little old lady who only drove it on Sundays. The owner, an elderly man, bought the camper for he and his wife to stay in on his trips to his hunting club. However, his wife developed Alzheimer’s and passed away. No longer having a need for the trailer, he decided to sell – they had never even used it. It still wrenches my heart when I think about it. We agreed to a price and the camper became ours.

RPOD 177 Floor Plan. Image from RVUSA.com via Google

The 177 was the perfect size for two people with all of the necessities and none of the frills. And, for those rare occasions in which we might have guests, the dinette converted to an extra bed. What more could we need? Its small size also meant we could tow it with our existing Toyota Highlander – a definite plus as neither of us was interested in upgrading to a larger tow vehicle.

Once the purchase was complete, the next step was to name our camper. (Yes, we name our vehicles.) We named her Hope. At that point in our lives we were overwhelmed with full-time jobs and taking care of three elderly parents. We knew we might not get to travel much for a while but we needed some hope in our lives and Hope the RPOD became the physical embodiment of that much needed trait. She was quite forgiving of our newbie mistakes as we began our forays into the camping world. (We bounced the trailer off the hitch THREE times before learning to quadruple-check to make sure the hitch was properly secured.)

We also discovered a wonderful community of other RPOD owners when we joined the R-Pod Owners Facebook group. The group members have been a tremendous source of information and encouragement. If you own an RPOD and aren’t a member of the group, I highly encourage you to join ASAP. Oh, and we also learned that naming your RPOD is a Really Big Deal not to be taken lightly.

Stay tuned for The Evolution of a Couple’s Camper – Part 2.