New Jersey Vacation
|The original plan was to drive a loop around the edges of New Jersey, roughly the black line on the map at right with plenty of time to make choices and relax. There was supposed to be some travel in the northwest corner. The red and yellow lines near the black are the extra travel. Morristown is in the red circle near the top.|
|Date||This was the Plan||And this is what happened||Penalties|
|Sat. June 12||SuperShuttle Pickup at 4 am
Flight depart at 6:30
Arrive at 10:55 Limo car to
Pickup RV at about noon
get training and setup
Go to reserved camp site at Allaire State Park and visit historic section of park.
|SuperShuttle thought the reservation was for 4 pm not 4 am. Taxi
The RV was not ready, the various household kits were not in place.
Eating and buying supplies cut into day. Very tired.
|Extra cost to airport $7.
Time lost, several hours
|Sun June 13||Drive to coast and visit ocean possibly drive down coast to Atlantic City, visiting odd things on way. End near Cape May.||Visit Allaire Village early and find nothing happens until about 11am. Drive to ocean and walk on sandy beach. Drive back and visit Village. Camp in same spot second night.||Time lost, several hours.|
|Mon June 14||Drive to Wheaton Village, spend 3-4 hours, visit sites, travel to Philadelphia||Drive to Atlantic City, walk the board walk, drive to Cape May, discover harness missing, drive back to Atlantic City, then stay again at Allaire and|
|Tue June 15||Visit historic and glass sites in Philadelphia||drive to Morristown to replace harness. Little or nothing being open in Morristown early in week, drive back to Wheaton Village, getting outrageously lost getting off Toll Road. Arrive late, continue on the Cape May and take 3 hour ferry ride on calm ocean. Camp in state park, water line to sink breaks.||about $100 in gasoline|
|Wed June 16||Travel to Northwest New Jersey for natural and historic sites.||Wake up MBA crew in Arizona with long time on hold on roaming cell phone minutes and locate repair site for water line. Drive to Millville then on to Glassboro, get repairs, and back to Millville for Wheaton Village. Try to get to Philadelphia, Nat.Park closes as 5. Drive to park in NJ, take wrong route, arrive late, sleep,|
|Thu June 17||Visit Morristown area historic and natural sites.||Wake to find valve missing from grey water tank, all grey
water on ground, toilet flushing with clear water. Drive to RR site,
find it only runs on weekends in June. Drive to Jockey Hollow division
of Morristown National Historic Park, have good time but RV won't start, bad
cell phone area, standing outside in hot humid rain to make connection.
Towed, parked in RV overnight next to repair center, G sick to stomach from heat. Low on water
|Fri June 18||Free time and Seeing Eye 75th||Rent car, get hotel room, go to Seeing Eye event. Cancel limo.||$99 room, $135 car.|
|Sat June 19||Clean up vehicle and drive to turn in. Limo to fly out.||Visit Washington's Headquarters on way out.
Arrive at DFW early, but sit on ground because a recent rainstorm (still over downtown) had delayed previous planes, so there were no gates available.
To: "RVNJ" email@example.com
I said that I would e-mail you a report about the trip. This is it.
Before the trip, I was extremely tense about the risks of picking an RV source over the internet that was reliable, including the fear that my choice would take the money and run. My first choice was dropped because they had not kept up their RVDA membership despite showing the logo on their web site and their own map directions to Mapquest had an improper address. The BBB had never heard of them.
I so wanted the trip to be a delight for me and my wife. It was the first real vacation – not business trips, not driving to visit family – that we had taken since we met 21 years ago.
The trip was not a disaster. It was a continuing, pounding, piddling, mediocre failure. I was weeping by the end of it and I think my wife will never have anything to do with RV’s again. All of the time I expected to have to relax and enjoy various activities disappeared in misjudgments and technical problems.
If you care, you can read the report below. Of concern to you will be
|1. The SuperShuttle people did not show up for our 4:05-4:20 pickup because they had made the reservation for 4 pm, not 4 am. AND we did not double check. They got a cab, which took longer than expected. We got to the airport in good time. Unexpected spending.|
|2. Having checked our luggage at the curb, I found myself standing in inspection with a $35 Swiss Army knife in my hand, which was supposed to be put in my luggage before checking it, but I missed that step. BUT they had an envelope, so I could mail it to myself. For $7. Unexpected spending.|
|3. The car driver met us nicely, the luggage came out promptly. He had to park someplace. He took some time getting back. He did not give us his phone number, insisted on calling us. We have an old style cell phone account with roaming charges and a less than reliable battery connection. We got out of the airport. The driver presented a nice looking bill that was higher than I expected, then he realized it was calculated wrong, but when done it still had a Fuel Surcharge not previously mentioned. Unexpected spending.|
|4. We showed up on time, in the middle of the day, and the RV was not ready. I expected to spend learning time. I did not expect to wait while a couple of teenagers dug up linens and silver. I did not expect to hear you say you didn’t find an advance check payment when we exchanged messages about using the credit card all the way, including the 5% surcharge. You are not a big operation. This should not have happened.|
|5. As planned, we went to Allaire State Park where we had a two night reservation. On the way, we bought groceries and supplies and ate a late lunch. The RV drove nicely. We got our first pounding experience with New Jersey roads. We arrived too late to visit their features, but went to the camp site, cooked a meal and relaxed some. The generator was louder than I expected, disturbing to others and to me. The water pump was loud enough to disturb sleep if on when the toilet was used in the night. For almost the only time on the trip, I got out and wandered around in the woods, which I really like. I bought matches for the stove. You should provide a long nose BBQ lighter for this.|
|6. The beds were a problem. The “queen sized” bed is not so if the TV is cutting off a chunk and if my wife can’t get into it. It is an awkward climb for me at 6’2”. The other beds are too short for me – so I slept upstairs and Gigi slept on the fold out. I tried the TV once and got no picture on any of 20 or so channels. We found it awkward to move about inside. Gigi, being short, had problems getting at the storage. I found it irritating that the design did not include simple features, as on a boat, to keep things from moving in the storage spaces or on the counters (except for the lip between the sink and the table, which kept stuff in place, but hit Gigi in the head when she sat there.)|
|7. Although Allaire Village has presenters, etc., they don’t show up till mid-day, so we swapped plans and went to the ocean for my wife’s first visit. It went well. On return, the Village was reasonably pleasant. The water tank held less than expected.|
|8. On Monday, an unexpected tension arose because I like to fill the day with varied events and my wife wanted to make sure we did what major thing we planned but wants no time limit announced on doing that. So stops I had in mind on the way down the coast to Atlantic City got skipped. And allowing three hours (parking time) for a walk on the Boardwalk and gambling seemed generous and casual to me and confining to her. Playing video slots went well. We got back in good time and drove off.|
Again skipping potential visits, we went all the way to Cape May for a
requested trip on the ocean on the Ferry, arriving on time for a late ferry
trip or an early morning one after camping. Getting ready, Gigi could not
find her dog harness or leash. This is almost impossible, because the leash
is never taken off unless the dog is in a confined space. We turned the RV
(ALMOST) completely inside out. Not found. We called back to the Atlantic
City police and asked them to look where we had parked, as the only scenario
I could come up with was that Gigi had set the harness down just inside the
door while parking her dog, released the dog inside and the harness and
leash had fallen out.
In order to continue the trip, we had to have the harness to make the dog legal. We called the Seeing Eye in Morristown and they would FedEx a replacement, but we had no place to have it sent to and it couldn’t be sent until Tuesday to arrive Wednesday. So we drove back up to Atlantic City to look where we had parked, not there, and went back to Allaire with the plan to continue on to the Eye to get the harness. I had been asking and continued to ask about fee dump stations, not finding any. I learned that using the park dump station is free to campers.
Driving north the length of the state of course wiped out a day and cost $55 in gasoline. When we looked at inverting the trip, since we were in Morristown where we planned to visit historic sites at the end of the week, detailed looking revealed that almost all the choices were only open Thursday to Sunday, which is why I planned a Thursday visit in the first place.
So I chose to drive the length of the state again to do my most important part of the trip – Wheaton Village.
|10. Both my wife and I hate New Jersey’s roads. While some of the few interstates and some county roads were smooth, the majority of the miles we traveled included tilted slabs and repeated cracks that pounded and shook the RV every couple of car lengths. This included the toll roads, where my wife asked what they were doing with the money. She called them Louisiana roads, where she comes from, where the bad roads are due to graft, poor construction, and low tax collections. She found she could not read her Braille display at times because the pounding was too bad.|
|11. The table would not stay firmly in place while driving and finally fell. In putting it down it would not fit easily and the guide plastic edge came off and the corner bent. We just left it down.|
|12. Getting from the Tollway near Philadelphia onto 55 to Millsville was a nightmare. I find it unbelievable how bad the markings are and can’t understand the bad planning that fails to interconnect serious roads. There are half intersections that the NJ map does not clue as to which way they load. We wandered around and ended up at the river. Asked directions and got directed to follow tiny grey lines on the map that led to unmarked Y’s when the person said “Turn left and go straight.” I got fed up, got on the Tollway – signs to THAT are everywhere – took the same exit as before (there is not a road in NJ that if it was worth driving once, I drove it twice), continued south east until I reached an obvious marked cross highway and followed it – at the price of badly maintained city streets, many stop lights and more lost time.|
|13.  Arriving at Wheaton Village several hours later than I wanted, we found it closing, but got details of timing. Having driven all around the state, we were back near Cape May, so I called the ferry, found it still had a round trip run, so we drove down, and made the trip. This was a HIGHLIGHT.|
off, we drove to Belleplain State Park to camp. We discovered water in the
fry pan stored under the sink. I searched the drains and found nothing,
then looked at the hot and cold water faucet connections. The cold water
being somewhat loose, I tightened it. The nut came loose in my hand and the
tubing came off. I tried sealing it, but having no duct or flexible tape,
only stiff packing tape, I could not prevent it from leaking.
In the morning we called MBA and spent a very long time on hold on our expensive cell phone. When they finally answered, they said a lot of people would be coming on in 13 minutes. They located a place that could fix it - involving backtracking to Glassboro. There we waited around a bit, applied a bit of pressure and got the new fitting put on. The step had refused to come out, so I asked them to fix it and it was obvious that I had banged it on a driveway exit. I remember hearing something, but I don’t recall exactly where. So four guys pounded on it. Here is a copy of the bill
The repair of the faucet was $35.49, the rest of the bill being the step repair and propane.
15. Following a visit to Wheaton Village (backtracking again), we went to Philadelphia, which cost a $9.00 toll bridge fare (vs. $3 for cars, when almost every other place, the ratio was more like 50/35 cents for tolls RV/car.) Unfortunately, Philadelphia now closes at 5-6 so we missed everything by arriving at 10 to 5. I chose to drive north to a New Jersey park, which took much longer than I expected. I also misread a list and a map and ended up at Washington Crossing Park, which has no campground and had to turn around and drive north to Bull Island State Park which does. We got in very late. When I woke up in the morning, the ground was soaked and all our grey water was on the ground. Kneeling, I found the valve for the grey water had just disappeared.
|16. My wife was on the phone when I noticed the storage space over the freezer and its handle. I realized I had not seen it before, treating it as a blind panel. I opened it and found her harness and leash. I had opened every door and enclosure on the entire RV while searching, EXCEPT ONE. My wife had looked almost every place, NOT EVEN KNOWING OF THIS ONE. Those mistakes cost us over $100 in gasoline and a full day of travel on pounding NJ highways. Plus whatever excess mileage charges accrue. Apparently, she stood on the sofa to put her harness where she had been storing it (above the sofa), got turned and opened the door over the freezer, putting it there.|
|17. We decided not to go back to Philadelphia, not to pick up our friend in Pennsylvania for the Seeing Eye anniversary and to visit a site or two near Morristown. We stopped at the Jockey Hollow portion of the Morristown National Historical Park. When we came out, the starter would not engage, clanging and banging. We had a very tentative cell phone connection, none inside the RV, it was hot and intermittently raining. MBA located a repair center 25 miles from Morristown, but it took several people, one of whom reported making over a dozen phone calls to get someone to tow us that evening, since we could not stay in the National Park parking lot over night.|
|18. While waiting for the tow truck, we decided we were fed up with the RV and rather than stay with it, we would rent a car and stay in a hotel for the final night to be sure we could get to the key event around which the trip was planned. So we got an Enterprise car ($135.00 total for two days and $50 drop off at the airport) and a downtown hotel room ($134 including $20 for a light lunch.)|
|19. We had a good time at the Seeing Eye 75th Party and finally visited Washington’s Headquarters. We got to the airport in plenty of time, checked in and flew home. We had an interesting time getting a SuperShuttle ride.|
|20. And the final bombshell was having been towed to the place they designated, they claimed the gas tank was empty and the dashboard was badly damaged, neither of which was true when we left it as I had just filled it before parking. So in addition to the damage I did acknowledge, somebody vandalized it and stole the gas and being exhausted, I did not take pictures of how we left it. They kept our entire deposit, doubling the cost of the rental, and would not send pictures of the claimed damage.|
Contact Mike Firth