August 21 & 22, 2006 - Kate Goes to RV Driving School

I just wanted to give a report on my driving lessons, for those of you who might be considering this as an option.

I feel that this was definitely money well spent.

While I have driven Cholula (and our other two motorhomes) I haven't been REALLY comfortable. I felt like I needed some pointers and boy, did I get them! By the way, I went to Dick Reed's RV Driving School and my teacher was a gentleman named Frank Piccolo. He's been driving big rigs for over 40 years, and still drives on occasion, in addition to his teaching duties.

Someone asked me, how does somebody teach you to drive an RV? Well, we introduced ourselves and Frank asked me to get behind the wheel so he could observe. We talked about mirrors and he showed me how they should be adjusted. He stressed the importance of checking all lights and mirrors every time, before you drive. Now we all know this is pretty obvious, but it's good to be reminded (and really, when was the last time you checked your headlights and turn signals from the front?? We always check the toad, but now check Cholula from the front as well).

I then started to drive and he just talked about what was going on, what I should look for, and started giving me lots of pointers. Fortunately, he allowed Terry to ride in the back, so when something I needed to remember came up, Terry would write it down for me to check on later. This has been really helpful. Every day now, before I get behind the wheel, I look over my notes, just to refresh my memory.

So after we drove around on the Freeway for a while, he asked if I was ready to try getting into a campsite. I said sure! So we went to a parking lot and he set out cones and I started learning to back up. I backed up for what seemed like days, but now I'm pretty comfortable with it, and I know where to look in my mirrors for things to avoid.

Then he set up cones like a tiny campsite (about 15 feet wide, maybe a parking space and a half) and I learned how to back in. Now I won't lie, this took a while, but I'm pretty confident now. I would still like help if it's available, but I know that with the help of my trusty mirrors and back up camera, I can do it.

Then we did a bit of driving in a mall parking lot, where I learned how to make turns and what to look for. One of the things I need to watch is making sure I'm far enough out before starting my turn. In our rig, that's pretty much waiting to start the turn until my shoulder is even with the curb. Now that's what I call useful information! Then we went on some REALLY tiny country roads, and he got me comfortable with driving in more tight spaces.

With that, Day One was over and I drove back to Gini's house where we were staying for the night. This involved some freeway driving, then going on a teeny tiny country road, making a lot of turns onto even tinier roads, then making a tight left turn into her driveway and turning the rig completely around and parking,


The next morning, I looked over my notes and we started all over again. Once again, I practiced backing up and parking in tight spaces, I drove in parking lots and on small roads and the freeway. By now, I was feeling pretty good. Frank asked what more I wanted to try next, so I asked if we could hook up the Tracker, so I could try everything with the Tracker in tow. He said sure, and then we started all over again (minus the backing up of course).

By the time we were done, I even pulled into a gas station (with the Tracker attached) and got gas. What a wonderful, competent feeling!

That afternoon, I drove from Auburn to Fairfield, about 100 miles. The next morning, I drove from Fairfield all the way home. This involved a LOT on interchanges in the Bay Area, and through San Jose. Then I drove over the dreaded Highway 17 (which only those who are familiar with this road can appreciate).

So was it worth it? You betcha! This has truly made me confident and ready to go.

I recommend it completely.

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