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Old 03-18-2017, 11:50 AM   #1
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RV Driving School lessons

This past Sunday I headed over to Sequim WA to take some two-day lessons with an instructor that's part of RV Driving School. The school is nationwide, with instructors in different parts of the country. Some will only teach for motorhomes or trailers or both. My instructor, Dan Cyr, does all types. He's a retired commercial driver rated for just about everything that hits the road.

Here's their website: RV School

Each lesson is 4 hours per day. The cost is a smidge under $500, which does make ya think a bit before signing up. I had contacted other driving schools and I felt these folks were the best fit for me. There's another Seattle company giving RV lessons, but not this time of year. I thought about heading up to the one next to ETI, but their lessons weren't very long (time wise) and I knew I needed more than what they were offering. Dirk and I discussed it and we felt the 500 smackers was well worth it in the long run.

And it was!!! I have TONS more confidence in driving the rig. Previously I had only driven it from Sumas to home (3 hour drive) and then the 2 hour drive to Sequim. I felt comfortable driving it, but knew I needed to know/experience more. Especially in backing.

I arrived at Rainbow's End RV Park Sunday afternoon. Very quiet place, if you're looking for a place to stay in that neck of the woods. They have a duck pond so you'll hear the mallards squawking away from time to time.

Dan had previously offered to get me into my spot if it was a back-in, which it was. So, he came over and helped. We eventually got me in the straight back-in spot, but it wasn't pretty. I had never backed to hand signals before. Or even backed the rig up very much (which wasn't successful, I might add). Yeah, not pretty, but we eventually got it in.

The next day he came by to make sure I was hitched properly. Yep, had a few problems there, which we fixed. Such as the breakaway cable was under and around the spring bar of the hitch.

Headed to the local ex-Staples parking lot and did LOTS and LOTS of backing up. I learned you need to take it slow and stop whenever you're not sure what you're doing. I'd start with my hands on the bottom of the wheel, but I'd keep them attached to the wheel and then get all confused when the hands were elsewhere. By keeping them on the bottom and sliding the wheel through my hands, it worked lots better.

I eventually got the backing straight figured out and then we were on to backing at an angle. Yep, need more practice with that, but I at least know what I need to do and will be practicing quite a bit on it. We have a huge mall near us and we've already gone down there to practice. One part of it doesn't get much traffic, which is great.

Where I want to park the trailer I can pull into the side alley across the street and then back straight down, with a jog to the right when crossing the street and then straight down. We've measured it out and we'll practice it with some small sports cones I picked up at Target the other day.

Before the lessons I would never have even had a smidge of thought I'd be able to do this. My neighbor did it for me (he's also a commercial driver). Now I have the confidence! Yay!

The second day we did a bit of backing up again and then we hit the gas station and then the road. It was actually sunny, which was nice after all the rain Seattle has been (and still is) getting. We drove up and down hills, narrow twisty roads, through Port Angeles, down to the beach and all over. Hit a residential area that has curbs but not many homes (still being built) so I could practice a slow turn around a corner and use the curb as a reference point. I nailed that! I was thrilled, to say the least. I could not have done that a few days earlier.

We hit a weigh station and got that all taken care of. Dirk looked at the numbers last night and liked what he saw.

Oh, we also fiddled around with the built-in brake controller so I feel lots more comfortable with that. Before I was clueless about adjusting it, using it and all that.

A gal in a motorhome near my spot had watched the fun of backing me up on Sunday and she also saw me back up (on my own, I might add) on Tuesday afternoon (we had chatted afterwards on Sunday so she knew why I was there and why the trailer disappeared each day). She came out and said how impressed she was and that I had inspired her. She wants to learn how to drive her rig (her husband does it all now) and now she knows where to go. And she saw how much I had improved in two days, which was her inspiration.

As another Escape owner mentioned in another thread (sorry, blanking on who it was now), taking lessons is well worth it. He took 'em in Texas (I believe), so it was with a different instructor. But they're all qualified and I have 100% confidence anyone taking their lessons will feel it's been well worth it.

Oh, I might add, that Dan was dedicated enough to the lessons that we spent almost 6 hours together on Monday, instead of the scheduled 4 hours. That included coming to my campsite and lots of time spent getting me comfortable with backing up in the parking lot. I so greatly appreciated that dedication.

Here's a photo of the site I backed in to. It's the only picture I took as it's rather hard to do so while driving and all that.

I have enough confidence that I decided to head down to Corvallis OR this coming weekend for a Horse Expo down in that neck of the woods.

If you're in Sequim and you like to rubberstamp, there's a most excellent store there in town. Yeah, I helped the local economy out a tad bit. I even found 3 spots on the main drag where I could park the rig and pull out into traffic when leaving without any problems. Due to the lessons, I had confidence I'd be able to park it, even on a side street, and get out safely.

All in all, money well spent and I fully recommend it to others thinking about it or freaking out about driving their new rig. And especially backing it up!

(Nope, not getting any kickbacks here. )
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Old 03-18-2017, 12:28 PM   #2
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That sounds excellent and well worth the money.
I think he may be getting more customers after your post
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Old 03-18-2017, 01:22 PM   #3
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Very inspiring Laura :-)
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Old 03-18-2017, 01:26 PM   #4
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Good job Laura - that's awesome! Let the fun begin with your newfound confidence! I'm a firm believer that everyone who is traveling should have some level of confidence because you never know when the non-primary driver may need to take over. Last August I had a medical issue while in Chilliwack and Linda had to drive, towing our Casita, most of the way home from BC to Texas. Fortunately she had been practicing and she was confident doing everything including setting up when we arrived at campgrounds as well as getting us going the next day.
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:00 PM   #5
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Great story Laura. Glad you got the right instructor and the right class.

Do you have any pictures of the campground?
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:31 PM   #6
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Good for you ! ��Pat
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:01 PM   #7
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Excellent report, Laura. Thanks for the detailed info. I think I need to do this.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:14 PM   #8
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Good for you ! ��Pat
What kind of thumbs up is this . Let's try it again . Larua Pat
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Old 03-18-2017, 06:40 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone - greatly appreciate your comments.

Here's the link for the place I stayed at. Nothing was blooming this time of year, like they show at their site:

Rainbow?s End RV Park

Yeah, Stephen, if you think you need the lessons, definitely take some.

We did some more practicing at the mall today, but finally gave up as there were just too many people zipping around the less empty part of it (plus the wind kept blowing the cones all over the place and Dirk was a popsicle). But, I got to practice going through a mall, turning out of an aisle without hitting anything (even though nobody wanted to give me space) and then head home through a ton of impatient drivers that all wanted to zip in front of me. Got to take it up a really steep hill on the way home and then take a tight turn - all good practice.

We hope to take it out each day for more practice. I tried backing like I would down our driveway. I nailed it the second time, but after that kept hitting the imaginary retaining wall, so not quite ready to try it in real life. But I know I will eventually.

Dave, bummer on the health situation. Hopefully that's all taken care of now, but good for Linda getting you guys home safely. Dirk realizes he needs to learn those things as well, but for now we're concentrating on me since I'm the one that's going to be taking the rig out most of the time by myself.
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Old 03-18-2017, 07:03 PM   #10
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Hi Laura,

Although I live in Texas, I took the training in Palmdale CA. That was the closest place for training on my way home from being the trailer.

Yes, I agree all the trainers are most likely well qualified.

The only thing I'd add to your write-up is the fact that if two people are being trained at the same time, the second is only $75 (or it was when I trained).

I also fully recommend these guys. Once you take their training you can go almost anywhere and do it safely. More importantly, you know where not to go.

Rich
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Old 03-18-2017, 07:21 PM   #11
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Rich, are you the fellow that posted earlier about it and how your son (or son-in-law) can only borrow your rig if he takes the lessons himself? That comment has stuck in my mind - very true.

Yes, they do offer a discount for two. Dirk and I talked about it, but figured we'd concentrate on just me this time around. We knew I'd be under lots of stress and it'd be worse if he was there.
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:40 AM   #12
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I am picking up my Escape 17B this coming Friday. I'd love to take this training. Would you happen to know if he'll do a Sat/Sun? I could come back up any weekend from Seattle. Sun/Mon is a work conflict. Thanks!
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:58 AM   #13
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I am picking up my Escape 17B this coming Friday. I'd love to take this training. Would you happen to know if he'll do a Sat/Sun? I could come back up any weekend from Seattle. Sun/Mon is a work conflict. Thanks!
What you need to do is go to the site for the RV Driving School (link in my original post) and book lessons through them. You tell them what type of rig you have and the dates you want, plus which instructor. They then contact the instructor and will let you know.

They require a $100 deposit once you confirm your booking and then the balance is charged once your lessons are completed. I don't remember exactly when they charged the deposit as that was done before I had to reschedule due to pneumonia.

But, yeah, you have to go through the school itself for the scheduling. Dan works out of Sequim, which is where he lives. It was about a 2 hour drive from Seattle.

PS, YAY on getting your trailer this Friday! Exciting times ahead of ya!
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Old 03-19-2017, 08:05 PM   #14
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Rich, are you the fellow that posted earlier about it and how your son (or son-in-law) can only borrow your rig if he takes the lessons himself? That comment has stuck in my mind - very true.

Yes, they do offer a discount for two. Dirk and I talked about it, but figured we'd concentrate on just me this time around. We knew I'd be under lots of stress and it'd be worse if he was there.

Yup, that's me. He hasn't taken the training so he can't borrow the trailer. I suggested that he and my wife take the trainer together and get the discount.
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Old 03-19-2017, 08:48 PM   #15
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Thanks for posting this. Once we get our Escape 21, I would like my wife to take a course. With our Casita, I do all the driving, parking etc.
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Old 03-19-2017, 08:59 PM   #16
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Good job Laura - that's awesome! Let the fun begin with your newfound confidence! I'm a firm believer that everyone who is traveling should have some level of confidence because you never know when the non-primary driver may need to take over. Last August I had a medical issue while in Chilliwack and Linda had to drive, towing our Casita, most of the way home from BC to Texas. Fortunately she had been practicing and she was confident doing everything including setting up when we arrived at campgrounds as well as getting us going the next day.
Wow Dave you didn't tell us about that! Way to go Linda.
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Old 03-19-2017, 10:09 PM   #17
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Great to hear! I did not realize they had RV training like this. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 03-19-2017, 11:03 PM   #18
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Backing update

Since getting back from the lessons, we've been practicing every day (but Friday). Today we hit the local high school and I practiced backing, once again, through cones that represent how I need to back down our steep gravel driveway. Dirk put the cones closer together than I really need to do, so if I can do it that way, I can do it at home.

I nailed it in practice 4 out of 5 times. Impressed some fellow that was watching (and then wanted a tour of the trailer afterwards!) and yakking to Dirk while I was practicing.

Came home and I nailed it on the first try!!!! I was so excited, I could barely contain myself. Some friends (Jensworks), Larry & Judy came over soon afterwards for lunch. Before I even said "hi" I said "do you see where the trailer is?". And then "oh, yeah, hi".

I didn't slow down traffic much either way and I timed it so the metro bus wasn't coming by at the same time.

I have to pull into the side alley across the street and then take a bit of a jog to the right while going over a bit of a hump of the road (higher on their side of the street) and then a steep downwards slope. I have to avoid the retaining wall on the right as well as a rail for the steps and a drop off on the left.

So, the lessons have really paid off! Now to practice more on backing at an angle, but that will wait until I come back from this weekend's trip (got a pull-through spot). Gotta get ready for that.

Washed all the road grime off this afternoon. Not pristine, but it looks much better than before. Got the KoJack levelers put on (Dirk did put one in place, but I did the other), as well as the boot clamp, unhitched, replaced some pins with locking ones and got it level (not in that order though). I'm getting more and more done on my own, which is what I wanted/needed.

So, yeah, thrilling stuff going on around here!
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Old 03-19-2017, 11:05 PM   #19
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Thanks for posting this. Once we get our Escape 21, I would like my wife to take a course. With our Casita, I do all the driving, parking etc.
It will be so worth it if she does. Dirk will take them eventually and I'll let him go off on his own with the instructor so I don't provide any extra stress or distractions. We had lunch today with some friends and he wants to take the lessons as well as his wife does most of the driving in their rig.
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