We took our time leaving the Traverse City KOA to head north. We’d hoped to meet up with some friends TACCO had met while teaching at USNA (they were doing our route through Michigan in reverse), but the maintenance delays in our schedule made that impossible. Bummer. The silver lining was that WoodSprite was able to practice her newly acquired biking skills and I had time to do all that it takes to get Davista rolling and try my hand at driving her.
As Flight was talking me through the departure process, I took copious notes so I could build a Getting Underway Checklist for any time we pull chocks. Aviators love checklists, they make life so much easier. “What does such a checklist look like?” you might ask. There are appropriate steps to prepare everything for departure and it is best done in a natural flow. Some steps aren’t all that straight forward and improper procedures can end up ranging from embarrassing (driving away still plugged into the electrical site) or really gross (forgetting to close the grey water tank line (sink drainage) prior to dumping the black water (sewage) tank so the latter ends up in your kitchen sink) to deadly (anything with the toad hookup). A checklist is a very good thing, especially if I ever need to get underway while Flight’s on the road.
After we put away the outdoor cooking station (after burning off all the propane in the lines prior to disconnecting), hefted and secured all five bikes and helmets (girls’ bikes on a rack above our tow bar, Keeper’s and mine atop and Flight’s riding in the toad), and secured the inside for movement (Keeper stows his drop-down bunk and retracts the awning, the girls tidy up their spaces, Firebolt puts away all missile hazards (anything that might take flight en route) in the bathroom, and WoodSprite checks to make sure all the outdoor compartments are shut and locked), we’re ready to pull in the slide, come off the jacks (used for leveling), do one last walk-around before we pull out of our spot and lumber on to the next one.
Because we were shoehorned into our Traverse City KOA spot, Flight drove us out and gave me a few hours stay of execution on my getting behind Davista’s wheel. We drove along the western coastline and up to the Mackinac Bridge, which is the 5th largest suspension bridge in the country and allows one to go from the “Land of the Trolls” (according to da Yoopers) to paradise itself.
About an hour or so from our new campsite (for future reference, it’s tricky to find last minute spots in paradise over the summer – that took hours of combing websites), Flight pulled over and offered me the wheel. Because he is a pilot, he gave me his recommendations on how to stay in the lane in terms of “sight picture” (how the picture out the windshield is referenced to landmarks in the flight station – if you keep them consistent, so will your course be). Not being a pilot, I found it easier to visually reference the lines in the road similar to the way I use landmarks on a sewing machine and fabric while running a line of stitching. Whatever works, I suppose…
Although initially daunting, it took about fifteen minutes to forget I was driving 50’+ and almost 22,000 lbs of gear, that is until it was time to brake. That was another of Flight’s points of information – you have to be thinking way ahead of where you are (aviators refer to this mindset as increased “Situational Awareness”) because everything you do takes much much longer. I made it into the campsite without incident, disconnected the car, and backed it into the site. Instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment, I felt as though I (and everyone in Davista) had narrowly escaped unimaginable harm and eagerly hung up the keys with a great sigh of relief.
Our campsite could not have been better. We were steps away from Lake Superior and were given a beautiful sunset to celebrate living through my driving the bus. The kids eagerly raced from Davista as soon as the jacks were down and the door opened, looking for playgrounds, beach time, and new friends.
The evening ended perfectly with s’mores. Exactly what we’ve been seeking – awesome.
Update… So, I melded two travel days together with my initial summary of this part of our trek. I’m going to claim being overwhelmed by driving Davista and will move the appropriate pictures and commentary to the next post…. Oops.
I love the app RV Checklist. After we left our weather station sensor in the middle of a highway (along with our sway bar pins) somewhere in western Kansas, we never took off or landed without referring to working through the checklist.