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RV Podcast 369: Total RV Newbies = Total Disaster

| Updated Nov 3, 2021

Starting the RV Lifestyle as total RV Newbies can be very challenging, as we learn in Episode 369 of the RV Podcast from a couple that got their first RV just this past summer.

JoAnn and John Neely, from the Atlanta, GA, area candidly and good-naturedly share their first experience, which JoAnn describes as “awful.”

They hold nothing back and, in the process, will help lots of other RV newbies. You'll love meeting this couple, who, having worked through all those challenges, are now confirmed and committed RVers.

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  • :45 Welcome
  • 1:15 – Firearm deer season is happening in most places this month. Be careful in the woods, keep your pets on a leash and wear bright red or orange clothing
  • 2:50 – temperatures begin to drop, we talk about when to winterize your RV.
  • We read a reation from an audience member objecting to last week's email from an RVer who was disgusted by how many grossly obese RVers he saw at an RV show.
  • 4:08 We have new RVLifestyle merch in time for holiday shopping. including comfy new hoodies. See
  • 4:50 – Reaction to last week's announcement about obese RVers
  • 10:30 – Announcement of our newest Sweepstakes. We will giveaway a $400 gift certificate for Camping World. The winner will be announced live Nov. 14 on Ask Us Anything, our weekly RV Lifestyle YouTube livestream. To enter, go to
  • 13:45 – RV Interview: Total RV Newbies = Total Disaster, a frank and – in the end – optimistic conversation with JoAnn and John Neely about their first experiences in their RV.
  • 32:44 – RV News: How Elkhart, Indiana – the RV Capital of the World – went from Bust to Boom
  • 35:11 – RV News: A massive wilderness park is being planned in Michigan's Upper Peninsula that would have as many as 450 RV and camping spots.
  • 38:50 – RV Question: How we got two folding e-bikes into the garage area of our Leisure Travel Vans Wonder RTB (see how we did it with video on our @rvlifestylemike TikTok Channel)
  • 41:22 – RV Question: Do we wish we towed a car behind our RV?
  • 43:22 -RV Questions: How to add water to the black tank before draining
  • 46:00 – Hidden Campground Gem – Jalama Beach Campground, California –

Meet RV Newbies JoAnn and John Neely

rv newbies
JoAnn and John Neely

JoAnn and John Neely bought a Class B Pleasure-Way RV early this summer. Neither had any real experience before with an RV.

Here is a slightly edited transcript of our interview with this very likable couple on their first few month's experience as total RV Newbies:

Mike Wendland:           You guys are total newbies.

JoAnn Neely:                 Right.

Mike Wendland:           I mean, total newbies.

JoAnn Neely:                 Right.

John Neely:                   Pretty much.

Mike Wendland:           This Pleasure-Way is your first ever RV.

JoAnn Neely:                 Right.

Mike Wendland:           The first question is: How did you decide to do this? What's it been like?

JoAnn Neely:                 It was COVID. We have 60 cruises that we've done. We've done a couple of three-week road trips in the last few years since we retired that we loved. COVID hit, we didn't feel safe going into a hotel, stopping anywhere to use the restroom, and we thought, “Hey, get an RV. It has a clean bed, its own bathroom, you can cook your own food. It's going to…

John Neely:                   It's easy and carefree.

How these RV Newbes Bought their RV

Mike Wendland:           And you bought this Pleasure-Way, Plateau TS. You must have shopped really hard for it.

JoAnn Neely:                 We just got lucky. I read about it on RV trader. One Saturday afternoon at 3:30, called the dealer that happened to be in the Atlanta area that had it and said, “We can be there in like 35 minutes.” He said, “We're open until 5:00.” We put a $5,000 down payment on it and went back Monday and spent time looking at it.

John Neely:                   But Mike, there's more to that story. Because before that, she mentioned all the things with COVID and we were used to be going to Disney, we'd have annual passes, we'd go to Universal, we'd go on all these trips to the national parks. Then when COVID hit, she really started looking, “How can we continue to do that without having to risk being exposed      “… to COVID.” We started doing, she did do a lot of research on the internet, found your show and we had one in mind, then we had to switch because they couldn't deliver. You want to tell a little bit about that?

JoAnn Neely:                 Yes. It was, we had a Wonder Rear Twin Bed on order and our dealer only got so many allocations and we put $5,000 on it in July 2020 for delivery in February '21. Couldn't make it, moved it to May, moved it to July. In July, we thought, “We're running out of time from a health-“

The wait for their first choice was too long

John Neely:                   We're were going to die before you deliver that.

JoAnn Neely:                 They gave us the money back, but only after we found this one. This was probably our second choice. But we thought it was too small and it is too small.

John Neely:                   A little.

JoAnn Neely:                 A little.

John Neely:                   Not too bad.

JoAnn Neely:                 We're getting used to it. But we didn't feel like we really had a choice.

The first trips for these RV Newbies did not go well

Mike Wendland:           What have these first few months as total, newbies been like?

JoAnn Neely:                 Awful!

Mike Wendland:           You're not supposed to say that. It's supposed to be, “This was great, it was worth every second.”

John Neely:                   It was great. It was worth every cent, but it was challenging.

Mike Wendland:           That's the word, challenging.

JoAnn Neely:                 Add and out my terrible. We had problems, not with the Pleasure-Way whatsoever, but we had so many problems occur in the first few weeks. It made me scared to go anywhere.

Mike Wendland:           Like what?

JoAnn Neely:                 Well, the first couple of times we only went overnight to a corps of engineer site that was like 12 miles from where we store the RV.

They took baby steps in learning each new skill

RV Newbies JoAnn and John Neely
JoAnn and John share their RV Newbie challenges… and victories

John Neely:                   We took baby steps in learning these skills.

Mike Wendland:           That's smart.

JoAnn Neely:                 We tried to level. We have lots of problems leveling because corps of engineers don't want something flat, they want the water to drain up the lot. We were never level. We had to learn to level. The first big trip we went to-

Mike Wendland:           But wait, you did learn how to level.

JoAnn Neely:                 Well, we did, we did.

Mike Wendland:           Okay.

JoAnn Neely:                 Then the-

John Neely:                   One day, we got it down with two hours, we were level under two hours.

Mike Wendland:           Two hours? Okay.

John Neely:                   It was like three or four degrees off.

JoAnn Neely:                 Then we went on our quote, “first big trip” up to Biltmore. To Asheville. We got like 25, 30 miles out of Atlanta and the-

John Neely:                   Tire pressure monitor.

The RV Newbie problems just kept coming

JoAnn Neely:                 … tire pressure monitoring system that we had paid extra for, that we had as an add-on, went off. We thought, “Oh, thank heavens we have this because we have a flat. We could have been killed or something, but we had this system and it stopped us.” Well, by the four hours later, when Good Sam got there, they said, “The stem is broken and all the air went out. Your tire is fine. Maybe it was because you had this tire monitor thing attached to the stem that broke the stem.” We said, “Okay.” He said, “Get metal stems.” Then we went back to the dealer and he couldn't put on metal stems for some reason on these tires.

                                    Then we thought, “Okay, once in a lifetime experience, we're going to go to Asheville again.” We start out again and maybe 20 miles beyond where we broke down the first time, same thing happened. That time it took six hours, because it was a Sunday, for Good Sam to get there because they were in Gainesville, Georgia, and we were on our way to Biltmore. By that point, I was really frustrated. We went back to the dealer and they said, “Just take them off.” I didn't feel comfortable with that. We get to be good friends with the tire monitor system, the company, [crosstalk 00:05:20] the manufacturing. They said, “Get the ones that are banded-

John Neely:                   Inside the tire.

JoAnn Neely:                 Inside the tire. Then we had to go to three tire dealers that were willing to do that. We finally found one that was willing to do it, and acted as if they knew what they were doing. We haven't had a problem with the tire going flat again, but we did have problems the very next time with it turned very cold. The tire system monitoring all went off, alarming, scaring us half to death because the tire had warmed up enough and there was not enough air. Then, probably, the fifth tire dealer, which we were near that time-

John Neely:                   Sorry.

JoAnn Neely:                 … said, “Just put more air in. Put about five pounds beyond what it says.”

John Neely:                   They said, “Take it up to the max. If it says 80 psi on the tire, take it up to 80 in it.”

JoAnn Neely:                 But it did-

John Neely:                   We asked the TPM, the tire pressure manufacturer and they said, “We really can't make a recommendation. That choice is you.” We didn't know.

JoAnn Neely:                 We went five pounds more than what it says on the door.

Mike Wendland:           How's it working now?

JoAnn Neely:                 Well, now it's fine. It goes off, but we know it's going to go on-

Mike Wendland:           But it's just says sensor failure?

JoAnn Neely:                 No, it says that there's not enough Air?

JoAnn Neely:                 Low pressure, but then as soon as it warms up. It's up to where it should be.

John Neely:                   When we've gone five miles, it's fine.

Mike Wendland:           You've learned the lesson.

JoAnn Neely:                 Yes.

Mike Wendland:           How to level, and now you've learned not to sweat the hard stuff with the tires.

JoAnn Neely:                 Yes.

But wait! There were still more RV Newbie problems

Mike Wendland:           What else happened?

JoAnn Neely:                 We clogged up the commode, twice.

Mike Wendland:           You clogged the commode???

JoAnn Neely:                 Twice. With too much paper and not enough water. We did learn that you do need to use more water than what you would use in your home. But we didn't know that.

John Neely:                   Flush often.

JoAnn Neely:                 We found a YouTube video. Now, I have a master's degree in library science and an MBA, but with the library science, I do a lot of research. We found a YouTube video and they said, “Go to Lowe's, buy this little yellow package, it's a very thin auger and it's safe for your RV.” That worked. We had to use it twice.

John Neely:                   In the meantime, what she's not telling you, Mike, is she would read all this stuff on the internet and she'd be confused. I would too. She'd said, “I'm going to call Mike. Well, to ask Mike every Sunday on your Ask Us Anything YouTube show.

JoAnn Neely:                 Jana.

John Neely:                   She's Jana. She's sending you questions under a false name.

JoAnn Neely:                 Now, my granddaughters call me Jana.

Mike Wendland:           Did I answer it right?

JoAnn Neely:                 Yes, and sometimes somebody asks the same question that I did earlier. So Phyllis…

Mike Wendland:           We're good.

JoAnn Neely:                 Phyllis knocked me out, but somebody else asked the same question.

Mike Wendland:           But you got the questions answered. That's during our Ask Us Anything Sunday night show.

JoAnn Neely:                 Yes. I listen every Sunday night, I never miss it.

Mike Wendland:           Oh my goodness. Now that you are seasoned after four months… How's it going? I hate to ask this. I'm scared

John Neely:                   Well, we don't have to ask you a question every Sunday. We don't have to do that anymore. Read some YouTube things and understand what's going on, but there's always something. Little things that you don't even think about when you're… We didn't have any experience camping or-

The RV Newbies slowly found community…and help

JoAnn Neely:                 We didn't know anyone.

John Neely:                   Little things like, you can't run the coffee maker or the microwave while you have the air conditioning on.

Mike Wendland:           Because there's too much strain on your-

John Neely:                   But we didn't know that.

JoAnn Neely:                 Well, we… Thank heavens I'd read that. I did read everything I could read.

Mike Wendland:           You know, this is how you learn.

JoAnn Neely:                 Yes.

Mike Wendland:           Just like when you first get a house, all these things. You've now gotten through and victory over all these things. I want to turn this around. Is it still a disaster?

JoAnn Neely:                 No.

And now, they are having fun!

RV Newbie lessons make you a better RVer - rv newbies
JoAnn and John have taken all the RV Newbie setbacks in stride…and with a sense of humor

Mike Wendland:           Are you having fun?

JoAnn Neely:               Yes.

Mike Wendland:           Would you recommend this to others?

John Neely:                  Definitely.

JoAnn Neely:                Now. But I think we had to realize if you haven't done it before… Some people grew up camping. We didn't. If you're not handy, which we are not, we say to other people, “We're incompetent, mechanically incompetent.” That's not totally true, but we're not-

John Neely:                   It's almost true.

JoAnn Neely:                 We still can't fix it ourselves. We'd still have to get someone to help us fix it usually. But at the same time, I think you need community and you need places to go to for expertise. That's what I think is so good about RV Lifestyle. Driving down here, I told John, “I don't know that I want to keep this more than a couple of years when we can get past COVID.” But after being here…

John Neely:                   In this group, the meet-up has been wonderful. We learned so much.

JoAnn Neely:                 People talking about, “Okay. Yeah, I had problems in the beginning et cetera, and it came to pass,” as one of my favorite Bible verses. It came to pass. I think that we're at that point that it's probably come to pass. We haven't had any mechanical problems other than driving through the cemetery, and hitting a low lying limb and we had to borrow the ladder over there to see if we tore something off the-

Mike Wendland:           Well, I knocked off one of my antennas in that same cemetery earlier this year when I was there. But you know the thing that has struck me of why I really wanted to interview guys like this for the podcast is how happy you are. I mean, you seem really happy about this.

John Neely:                   Well, we are.

Attitude is everything!

Mike Wendland:           Attitude is everything. You read the videos and see the ads. You'd think that this was Nirvana, and it's not it takes… You know that every day can be a challenge.

John Neely:                   Well, I remember you warning us about that and we didn't really understand. When COVID first hit, you said “There's going to be a lot of people that start this out and they buy an RV and they think, “Oh, it's going to be one lot of fun and no work.”

JoAnn Neely:                 The market's going to be flooded.

John Neely:                   Later, yeah. They're going to… We were almost at that point, a couple of times, where we didn't think we could do it, but now we think we can do it. Other people are doing it. Everybody says they all have had problems. They've all had little difficulties. They just worked through it. I think it strengthens your marriage to do that

Mike Wendland:           It does. Don't you think it's helpful to realize that you're not the only one that had these issues?

JoAnn Neely:                There's help everywhere.

Mike Wendland:           I've always felt that we have to be much more open and honest about the challenges that newbies face. Because if you've never camped before, you've got dirt and dust coming in, you've got snakes slithering around. I've never seen one, but I'm sure they do somewhere out there. Well, you guys have been delightful to talk to and I am… You can use your real name when you ask questions on Ask Us Anything.

JoAnn Neely:                 No, it's… My granddaughters have built my-

John Neely:                   That's her nickname.

JoAnn Neely:                 Built my YouTube profile as Jana.

Mike Wendland:           Your profile?

JoAnn Neely:                 Profile is Jana.

Mike Wendland:           Well, now I know Jana. You guys are veterans now. You give us some advice for other newbies who are out there, and probably where you were a few months ago.

Now, they can help other RV Newbies wth what they've learned

John Neely:                   I'll take your advice. Which, one thing you said before you go out and buy an RV, go rent one for a week. Just try it. We-

JoAnn Neely:                 I wouldn't have done that.

John Neely:                  We argued about that. I said, “Let's do it.” Mike says, “Let's do it.” We should have done it. I would recommend that to somebody because you're going to encounter difficulty, but then you've got somebody who can help. If you only go on a short trip, you can always drive it back to the dealership or the repair company.

JoAnn Neely:                 See, I disagree with that. If we had rented first, we never would [crosstalk 00:12:41]-

John Neely:                   You never would've done-

JoAnn Neely:                 Because we wouldn't have-

Mike Wendland:           You might be right. I think you might be right. [crosstalk 00:12:44]

John Neely:                   Yeah. We would've missed out.

JoAnn Neely:                 Yeah.

John Neely:                   But that is a really important thing. Because it is not a lifestyle for everyone.

JoAnn Neely:                 Well, that's true. My advice would be: That you need to take advantage of everything that's available on the internet and people like RV Lifestyle, where there's all kind of information. And that is a big difference.

Mike Wendland:           Get together with other RVers too.

JoAnn Neely:                 Yes. We hadn't done that. This is our… Well, we occasionally here and there, would talk to people. Everywhere we go, we say something about RV Lifestyle. Everywhere we go that we stop, people have said, “I listen to Mike every Sunday.”

John Neely:                   Mike and Jen and that's it.

Mike Wendland:           Yeah.

JoAnn Neely:                 Every time we see someone walking a dog, we say, “Do you know Bo?” They go, “Yeah.” You must watch RV Lifestyle.

Mike Wendland:           Well, Bo is still chewing on your little gift that you gave Paula. They gave Bo a great gift of a little plastic ring with chicken flavor. I smelled that all last night. Every night he was chewing on it.

John Neely:                   Sorry about that.

Mike Wendland:           Well, God bless you guys. Thank you for sharing, honestly that. But let's make sure everybody hears. This is for you now. You like this lifestyle.

JoAnn Neely:                 Oh, yes.

John Neely:                   We're in. We are just planning where we want to go. We want to go from Maine to almost California to the Glacier National.

JoAnn Neely:                 Yeah.

John Neely:                   To the major national parks out west. We're thinking all, “Why do we have to wait for a winter? Can we go somewhere this winter and not freeze-

JoAnn Neely:                 Florida.

John Neely:                   … the pipes and burst the pipes.

And new challenges await… that's half the fun!

JoAnn Neely:                 Our next thing we have to learn is how to winterize and de-winterize.

Mike Wendland:           It's pretty simple.

JoAnn Neely:                 Yeah, well-

Mike Wendland:           It's pretty simple. Pretty simple.

JoAnn Neely:                 I'm beginning to think that.

Mike Wendland:           God bless you guys. Thank you for being so open and honest.

John Neely:                   Well, thank You for all the hard work you do. I don't want you to work so hard that you get stressed out about working too hard-

JoAnn Neely:                 Yeah, we think you work too hard.

John Neely:                   … have fun too.

JoAnn Neely:                 John will say, “Mike has sent something out again.”

John Neely:                   At 5:00 AM.

Mike Wendland:           There are days it gets a little much, but-

John Neely:                   Thank you.

Mike Wendland:           What a delight to meet you guys.

John Neely:                   You too.

Share YOUR RV Newbie challenges and lessons in comments

We'd love to hear about YOUR RV Newbie challenges and the lessons you learned. We've all been there.

Please use the comments below.

Mike and Jennifer's Summer T-Shirts for your next adventure

RV Podcast 369: Total RV Newbies = Total Disaster 1
Your Adventure Awaits! New colors and designs are waiting for you.

RV Podcast 369: Total RV Newbies = Total Disaster 2
Mike and Jennifer Wendland

Curious about the gear, gadgets, accessories, and RV products Mike & Jennifer use and recommend?

On this RV Lifestyle Travel blog, our RV Podcast and our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, we mention all sorts of RV-related products and gear that we use, So we created a special page that links to them. We update this all the time.  CLICK HERE to go to it directly. Have you caught one of our Amazon LIVE events yet? Just go here and Follow us – to be notified every time we go live.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-11-03

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

2 Responses to “RV Podcast 369: Total RV Newbies = Total Disaster”

November 18, 2021at4:13 pm, Susan Baldwin said:

We were very excited, sold the house, had a 9am signing and then off to the new adventure. Came home to pick up RV and it had a flat tire due the tire pressure monitoring system stem flattened the tier. Since it was not an emergency we could not leave our driveway until the next morning! Then we were off lucky for us the new home owners were not arriving until several days after the closing!


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