Sunday, February 8, 2015

Maiden Voyage of the Freedom Express

Donna and I just returned from the maiden voyage of our new travel trailer. It was a good trip, and everything went well.

For our initial trip, we wanted to go someplace fairly close with full hookups. I also wanted to go to a state park so that we could be in natural surroundings. There aren't that many state parks with full hookups in our area, so the choice was obvious: Lake Brownwood State Park. The park is just over 100 miles from our house; by West Texas standards, that's just around the corner. We visited the park about 3 years ago; I wrote 2 entries for the park at that time:
After looking at weather forecasts, we decided on spending 2 nights, Friday and Saturday. 2 nights should be enough to get a feel for the trailer. We had pretty good weather for the 2 days, with highs in the mid 60s on Friday and the mid 70s on Saturday. The mornings were rather cool, especially with typical West Texas winds, but the afternoons warmed up nicely. Nights were chilly, dipping into the low 40s each night.

We put the trailer through its paces, and it passed on all marks. Initially, we got pretty good mileage, peaking at 12 mpg. However, we reached that level after driving for about 35 miles or so on a 4 lane highway where we could drive at 55 to 60 mph, which is my preferred speed when towing. Trailer tires are only rated for 65 mph in most cases, so I like to stay below that speed. And the 55 to 60 speed seems to be the sweet spot for mileage. Once we got to a 2 lane highway, I sped up out of consideration for other cars on the road. By driving 65 mph, my mileage gradually dropped to about 10.5 mpg by the time we reached the park. On the return trip, we faced the wind and got a measly 9.1 mpg.

After checking in, we found our assigned spot. Another site 2 spots over had a better arrangement, so we changed to that site. The trailer was easy to park. The site was not level from side to side, so after placing 2 boards under the tires on one side, we were sitting nice. We blocked the tires, unhitched from the truck, and proceeded setting up.

It had been 2 years since the last time we set up a trailer, but we seemed to remember everything. I especially like the scissor style stabilizing jacks on this trailer. They provide a much more stable trailer than the arm jacks our previous trailer had. I'll address this in another entry.

Everything worked well. We enjoyed hot showers each night of our trip, and the heater worked great. The fridge cooled perfectly, and the gas stove and microwave also worked without problems. We encountered absolutely no problems during our stay. On our last night, we tested the table-top grill that came with the trailer, and it also worked just fine.

Really, the only problems we experienced were a result of human error. There were several little things we forgot to bring along, but we've made our list and we'll be sure to have those on our next trip.

And that is the experience you want with a shakedown cruise. Now we can look forward to a longer trip in our new trailer.

Our new trailer. You can tell the site was not level front to back.
We enjoyed a nice view of the lake from our campsite.
We have a single, shallow slide. It accommodates a sofa and a wardrobe.
The back of the trailer, where the kitchen is located.
And to top off an already great day, a beautiful little friend came to visit.

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