Sunday, December 14, 2014

The trailer, how it happened, if you care....

We bought a travel trailer.

Pros:  Everything!

Cons:  The shopping is over.

The latter really is sad, because it had kept us happily occupied since last spring.  It started like this:

Husband, who tends to allow his schedule to overfill because of obligations which sometimes seem to include taking care of the entire human population (slight exaggeration but you get the idea) along with an ever-expanding cache of hobbies........sometimes finds himself overwhelmed and looking for an escape.  (Fortunately, as far as how I fit in, he says he wants to escape with me, rather than from me.  Good thing.)  Hence, he started thinking about getting an RV some time ago, focusing on those new smaller types built on Sprinter chassis that get impressive fuel economy, compared to the larger, more traditional fuel-guzzlers.

I, on the other hand, didn't jump onto this band wagon at first.  I was happy with our tent.

But then, on one fateful afternoon, I happened to be near an RV-selling establishment called Camping World, with time to kill.  Thinking they might cater to all things camping, I ventured in.  It turns out they don't think much of tent camping.  They want to sell rigs.  Big expensive ones.  So I peaked inside one of their showroom models.

These things are incredible!  I'm talking guest baths and fireplaces.  Big screen TVs and kingsize beds.   No kidding.  You should stop by a dealer for a look.  Or maybe not.

Backtracking a little, this particular afternoon was during a stressful period, not uncommon in our home, when Husband's obligations were bearing down on him and I was helpless to remedy it.  So when I stepped into one of those gorgeous, luxurious motorhomes......suddenly I too, saw ESCAPE.  I mean, lights flashed in my head and a heavenly door seemed to open.

"I want an RV," said I to Husband later that day.

"You do?" said he, as he turned to his computer screen to commence the search.

Purchasing something big ..... like a house or a car, usually involves an evolution as you sort out what you want, what you need, and how you will pay for it.  

We started with the Sprinter models with the ever standing question of -- HOW will we use it?

1.  Will we take long ... meaning several weeks or months at a time ... trips?  Or short weekenders?

2.  Would we, could we, actually adopt the life of "snow-birds" who head south each winter?  After all, we are both now in our sixties and retirement will come..... eventually.

We never quite pinned down our answers but Reality says snow-birding isn't likely.  Some obligations will never simply go away.  Shorter trips are much more doable.

We looked at fifth wheels, which are big trailers that require a pickup truck to pull them.....

.... bringing us to pick-ups.  Wow.  What drove their price so high?   And I didn't really want to drive a truck full time since we wouldn't be letting such an expensive vehicle just sit and wait for occasion trailer trips.

We progressed into monster diesel pushers --- those big motorhomes that I literally could live in that require no tow vehicle, but do call for towing a car behind it....a problem in and of itself.  So we considered buying a scooter-type motorcycle to bring along for short excursions.  But seriously, did we really want to ride to church during those trips that had us layed over on Sundays, on a scooter?  Possibly in the rain?  Hmmmm.

We visited lot after lot, showroom after showroom, and several fun RV exhibits at the local convention center.  It was fun.  Did I mention we like shopping?

We planned and we dreamed.  Who wants a Caribbean cruise when you can wander through another RV show?

We thought we had settled on a model made by Winnebago.  It was a reasonably not-too-big motorhome which would have to have been previously owned because these things cost not-a-small fortune.  Think of buying a starter home.  The price starts there and goes up.  And it had to really be USED.  Like around seven years old or more.  And we found the exact one in Utah via RVtrader online.

So on an unrelated family-caused Utah trip, we went to look at it.  It was still in the starter-home cost range and yet was so...... used.  And with more depreciation to come.

We drove away.  It just didn't feel right.   Too much money for something so old.

Later on that same trip, we stopped by yet another RV dealer and began to look at small travel trailers.  Husband had not wanted to go this route originally because they are not as easy to tow.  But they began to make a lot of sense.  As I said .... evolution.

This new plan took us on another progressive round of visiting dealers, shows, and watching online.  We learned early on that all RV models have bad reviews.  Some are the makings of nightmares with flaws and failings and poor customer service by the manufacturers.  I must have read, "Will never buy another (fill in the make of any RV) again!" a hundred times.  Except for one.

And that one became our top choice.

A company in Indiana called Livin Lite makes a nifty little trailer, of their Camplite series, made entirely of aluminum.  No wood nor steel to be found.  Therefore, there will never be rust nor rot.  Ever.  Think airplane construction.  Plus they are light and towable with a mid-sized SUV and I love to drive SUVs.  And there were good reviews all around.

Downside?  Of course!  They are expensive.  But not as bad as Airstreams, the patriarch of the industry that are purported to outlive their owners.  And the model we wanted had just arrived on the scene this year.  Not likely we'd find any used ones.

But then, one popped up on RVtrader.  Used.  Best price we've seen.  By far.

Downside?  Of course!  It was in Little Rock, Arkansas.

We went to one more RV show to finalize our choice.  We could have bought a fancier one on the spot for a similar price.....but they all had some wood lurking deeply inside their walls, threatening to rot at any moment.  And they were heavier.  Not so sure our newly purchased Jeep Grand Cherokee could safely pull them.  Our choice was made and Husband booked a flight to Little Rock to check it out.

To be continued .... if you care.  (I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.)