Now that we had the DutchStar and the toad all set, we wanted to take it on a “shakedown cruise” to make sure everything was working correctly, so that we could get North Trails to correct any problems before the big trip. It turns out to be pretty hard to find an RV campground that isn’t booked up for January in Florida, but we were able to get a site at Riverbend RV Resort in Labelle Florida. Riverbend is a fancy destination RV resort. Only Class A motorhomes are allowed, and it even restricts the age of the motorhomes to less than 10 years old. Unlike most campgrounds, the sites are individually owned, but can be rented out to the riff-raff like us when the owners aren’t there. We discovered that most of the owners are midwestern “snow birds” who drive down in November and stay in their motorhomes for the entire winter in the mild climate of Florida. There were lots of very fancy motohomes there – Prevosts, Newells, King Aires, American Coach, etc., and most were the 45 foot maximum size. There’s a clubhouse where they have various activities, and Therese and I went to a few of them and enjoyed meeting the people. As RV’ing newbies, we got lots of good advice from the experienced RVers.
We got some practice driving the RV, hitching and unhitching the toad, leveling the RV (which it actually does automatically), operating the slides, hooking up the electric, water, and sewer connections, and running the A/C, heating systems, TVs and appliances. I’m happy to report that we had only one minor problem with the RV (the display for the solar panels on the roof wasn’t working), which I was able to fix myself. From what I have read on internet forums, that is a pretty fortunate situation for a new RV. After four nights, we called it a success and headed back to Naples.