A “Hitch” In Our Plans

A trailer hitch. It seems like such an easy thing. You just have it professionally installed, and then that is it, right? Nope. Well, not for us. This was our first trailer hitch and we were going in blind. We wanted to do this on our own.

The 2008 Mercury Mariner can pull up to 3500 lbs only if it gets a “factory installed trailer hitch” (according to the owner’s manual). We wanted to do everything the correct way since we were going to be pulling a trailer for one year around the entire country. So, we contacted the Ford dealer where we purchased our vehicle and made an appointment to get the actual factory tow package. Rather than paying $200 for a simple trailer hitch, we ended up paying a little over $600. The dealership also had to cut into our back bumper. We were set. Or so we thought.

The finished product.

We arrived at Camping World, so excited to pick up our pop-up. We were given a 2 hour set up and take down demonstration, which was great. We never realized how much work a pop up was. Getting it de-winterized, installing propane tanks, controlling the water pressure, learning about pilot lights, carbon monoxide detectors. . .it’s a big responsibility! Call us crazy, but we thought that owning a pop up was basically a tent that you could hook up into electric/water and be good to go! Were we ignorant? Yes. But, we knew this entire process would be a learning process.

So, to continue with our “hitch”. After our 2 hour demonstration, we backed the Mariner up so the employees could hook up our pop up to travel home. The employee was confused. We had no ball on our hitch. What? I thought that was provided. Or something. Nope. Should have come with our installation. Okay. So we take the 45 minute drive back to the dealer to find out why our $600+ did not include a ball. Oh, that’s not included with installation. We purchase that on our own across the street at Farm & Fleet. Oh. So now we already feel totally out of our league. We purchase the necessary equipment and head back to pick up our camper.

The employees hooked up the camper. They then realized that not only do we have a 4 prong plug when we need a 7 round, but we don’t have a brake controller. The camper has electric breaks. What? I don’t even know what that means. Apparently trailers over a certain weight have electric brakes that need a controller hooked up to control the amount of electricity that flows to the camper to help with stopping power. Hmmm. We drove home again without our camper. Defeated. Stressed. Ugh.

The next day we stopped at our local mechanic. The owner was not sure what we were talking about so we drove to another local mechanic. He directed us to an amazing company- I-90 Truck and Trailer. As soon as we walked into the place, the employees were so friendly and helpful. They knew immediately what we were talking about and were able to make us an appointment for the next morning.

A brake controller…for those like us who had no idea what it was!

The next morning I arrived at I-90 Truck and Trailer and was given the choice of brake controller that I wanted installed. The employee explained each one and told me which one they preferred (which was middle range). I went with that one. I was then called into the shop to choose which place I would like my brake controller installed on my dash. How great is that? I chose the place that I thought would work best for us. Four hours later, our brake controller was installed. We drove to Camping World and finally left with our new “baby”.

But our brake controller didn’t seem to be working on the 45 minute drive home. Our brake lights and turn signals worked, but not the actual braking. Gah!! Were we doing it wrong?! So, on our way home we stopped back at I-90 Truck and Trailer to see if it was an issue with our newly installed brake controller. Nope. It was because the wires in the plug of our pop up to our hitch were corroded. So, being the amazing employees they were, they proceeded to fix the wires inside for us. They charged us only for the materials and waived the labor fee because we had just been in that morning to get our brake controller installed. Go local. It always pays to go local.

Finally, our pop up was “home” in our storage unit that we had rented. Our plans were becoming real.

Hitched up and ready!!

That brings us to today. We still have so far to go, but it seems a few of the biggest hurdles are past now. We are renovating a little of the interior with fresh paint and new fabrics to really make our pop up feel like home. That and cleaning out our entire apartment are the two biggest tasks that we have left. I just cannot wait to be on the open road.



  1. Katie says:

    At least these problems were all taken care of. So glad to hear. Moving along on the road to start your new adventure indeed.

    1. Aimz1981 says:

      I’m sure that there will be many more problems, but we can only learn as we go! Just have to laugh it off and learn!

  2. scott says:

    Great!! look forward to reading more x

    1. Aimz1981 says:

      Thank you! So happy to have you following along!

  3. Elaine says:

    Sometimes you just have to laugh, so you don’t cry. This is all just getting you toughened up for life on the road. 🙂

    1. Aimz1981 says:

      So true!! It’s so much easier to laugh about it now that it has passed!! Lol

  4. Megan Wiedmer says:

    So happy to hear you are getting everything together minus the few bumps in the road. 😊

    1. Aimz1981 says:

      Thank you! I’m sure there will be many more…and at least we can laugh about this now! Thanks for following along!

  5. Lora says:

    How exciting! We are a pop up family too and I would love to do this!! Have a great trip!

    1. Aimz1981 says:

      Thank you! We have never used a pop-up before, so this will be and experience, for sure! Glad to have you following along!

  6. JLeone says:

    Sounds like an amazing trip is planned. I’m a little surprised to see a popup of that size with electric brakes. Technically you only need them at 3k lbs or more and that one doesn’t look that heavy. (Looks could be deceiving though.) None the less, you are now equipped for safety.

    With amount of miles you are looking at putting on, you may want to consider a tire pressure monitoring system as well (TPMS). You can keep tabs on the popup tires from the cab. If one loses pressure or overheats you’ll get some extra time to get off the road in the event of an imminent blow out.

    1. Aimz1981 says:

      The dealer that we bought it from was also surprised about the brakes! It is around 2100 lbs. But yes, it is nice to have the extra safety, especially when we are in the mountains.

      Thank you so much for the suggestion about the TPMS. I will definitely look into that. A blow out is one of my main concerns while we travel.

      We are so excited to get started on our adventure! Thank you so much for checking out the blog, and I hope you will follow along with us. I promise things will get very interesting, knowing my family!

      1. JLeone says:

        We owned a hybrid trailer for years. Some other things that you’ll benefit from:
        Get AC wrapping and cut them out for the windows of the popup. It can help tremendously for temperature. It made a huge difference for us. http://www.popupcamping101.com/reflectix/

        For extended stays we got what was called “popup gizmos”. These are essentially insulated tarps for the tops. http://www.popupgizmos.com/

        Great luck on your travels! We leave tomorrow for ~2k miles.

        1. Aimz1981 says:

          We have actually been meaning to get reflectix, but haven’t had the chance yet! That is in the plans for this week before we leave. Thank you so much for the suggestions. It is great to learn from more experienced people, which I am guessing we will be doing a lot of on our journey.

          Safe travels to you and I hope you have a great time on your trip! 2k miles is a long one!

  7. Meari says:

    Had to LOL at the lack of ball. I guess coming from a family of truck/hitch owners, I thought it was known that the ball has to be purchased separately. Glad you got your “baby” home.

    1. Aimz1981 says:

      Haha! I just assumed that when you got a hitch installed you were all ready to go! Lesson learned!! Lol!!

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