Thursday, February 23, 2017

Where have we been? Where do we go from here?

If any of our readers are even still here... THANK YOU!  We have definitely been missing for a few months (ok, like 6!)... so, what happened?

WHERE HAVE WE BEEN?

Well, like most of you know, real life comes at you fast.  We purchased the trailer in the spring of last year, took delivery in April, went on a few trips, went on our BIG 5,000+ mile trip in August/September, and put the trailer away for the winter fairly quickly at the end of September.

Then life just got in the way.  We both work full time.  Shortly after returning from our trip out west, Lauren was given a promotion and now spends 10-12 hours a day running her department at work. As an airline pilot, Jeff's busiest time of year is the fall and winter as everyone begins flying more to visit loved ones around the holidays.

Now that it's towards the end of February and we're seeing the finish line in terms of winter here in New York, we're getting that RV'ing bug again.  I'm getting the itch to rip the cover off the Jayco and get her ready for spring.

BUT...

After winterizing the trailer and a few weeks went by, we discussed selling the trailer.

Yes... Selling.  After all of that hard work.  After all of that fun tinkering with mods and add-ons.  After all of that money spent upgrading and fixing up our trailer.  Selling.

Turns out that Lauren didn't enjoy our "big trip" as much as I did.  I don't blame her.  She had very good reasons.

It was my fault, really.  I pushed us hard every day driving 8-12 hours, with short rests at night so we could hit the road early the next day.  Not because I enjoy driving, but, we had a large itinerary and a short time period in which to do so before returning home for work.

If you have your own or rent an RV, you know that every time you plan something it winds up taking ten times longer than you expect.

I did as much of the work as I could knowing that she would hate having to do a lot on her own.  So it was all me hitching the trailer, connecting and disconnecting the sewer hose, the power cords, and so on.  Unfortunately it was also deathly hot during our trip (dog days of August in the Mid West!) and it was often uncomfortable in the trailer while she wrangled our two energetic puppies or fixed up dinner in the hot trailer waiting for me to set it up before the air conditioner got going every night.

Only once on our trip did we set up camp for more than one night.  It was a constant go-go-go.  I was thrilled just being out on the road with our trailer.  It was something I had wanted to do since childhood.  She, on the other hand, didn't enjoy sleeping in rest areas when we were tired, having most of our food spoil on our first day because the ice in the cooler wouldn't keep them frozen during the day, or the stress of towing a trailer on busy roads.

Looking back on it now several months later, I'll admit that towing the trailer stressed me out more than I admitted during the trip.  We went through some pretty busy areas.  Even though we scheduled ot pass through Chicago early in the morning, traffic was still hectic and very heavy both times we passed by.  Major construction between La Crosse and Madison Wisconsin caused a few white knuckle moments.  The winding hills (and steep cliff dropoffs) of Pennsylvania also caused us to go wide-eyed at times... among a few others places where towing a 27 foot long trailer weighing nearly 5000lbs made me quite uncomfortable.

Plus, it was pretty slow going.  Most Travel Trailer tires should not exceed 65mph, plus with the high winds out in the Great Plains, there was times we were swaying pretty good even going 50mph.  I was also constantly concerned with the tire temperature and pressure as there would often be some pretty large fluctuations throughout the day based on my TPMS monitor.  

SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

We've both decided that a travel trailer likely isn't for us.  It's a lot of work and time just getting hitched and unhitched.  It's a lot of stress towing it.  When I think about it, between my truck and trailer, we have over 45 feet of heavy metal rolling down the street.

So, we've been thinking.  Perhaps... a Class C is in order for the two of us!

We've discussed what we enjoyed and didn't enjoy about the trailer.  One of the many items, as I've mentioned here, was the time it takes to hitch up and unhitch the trailer.  We also did not enjoy the fact that whenever we stopped for a nature break we had to get out of the truck, walk back to the trailer, fold down the steps, unlock the door, use the bathroom, and then repeat the process in reverse.

Having a motor home would allow us to easily slip back and forth between "Driving" and "Living" without ever leaving the vehicle.

We'd also have beefier tires and be able to drive a little faster than 65mph with a bit better fuel economy.  Our living in New York isn't changing any time soon so any place we go would be more about the destination than the journey because it would take so long to get out of the North East, just like our trip to Mount Rushmore.  We'll have to travel larger distances during the day and a bigger gas tank (my truck only got us about 180 miles before refueling where as some of the Class C's we've been looking at carry enough fuel to easily go 400-500 miles before stopping.

I don't want to go 100mph in a motor home, that's just crazy talk.  A lot of the time towing the trailer, we found ourselves between 55 and 60.  On a road where driving 55 is almost a safety hazard because everyone else is doing 80 or 90, going 70 or 75 would be nice.  Just increasing that to a constant 70 could increase our distance traveled by nearly 100 extra miles per day!

(As a general disclaimer, please spare me the safety lecture on driving at high speeds.  As an airline pilot, safety is ALWAYS my number one priority when operating heavy machinery.  I adjust speeds as I see necessary.  Just because I want to go 70-75mph doesn't mean I will.  I take situations as I see them.)

So, what do we want in a class C?  Something small.  Less than 30 feet, less than 25 feet if possible.  The Winnebago Minnie Winnie 22R is what we've been sort of looking at.  We'd also happily consider something on a Mercedes Sprinter of Ford Transit chassis as well.

We also want something small enough that we could use it like a car should we want to.  We'd really like a Class B but those are truly just too tiny for us and the dogs.  We won't be towing a car (TOAD) so anywhere we go we'll have to be creative to get around once we get there.  Hopefully a lot of the places we want to go will have parking large enough for a small Class C.

There may be some things we miss out on in the future.  We never could have done the Iron Mountain Road and Needles Highway in a motor home, but, there's always rental cars!

Originally we only wanted an island bed like what we have in the Jayco.  We probably won't find one like that in our size range, so we're considering a corner bed.  Most really nice motor homes in our size range have floorplans where the bed is on a slide and only usable when the slide is out.  The bed literally folds in half and unless the slide is extended fully, the bed is unusable.  That won't fly with us as we like to take a nap or two during the day if we're driving and we don't want to keep putting the slides in and out, especially at a rest area or Walmart.

We're also likely to buy something used.  Saying we're buying used is something that sends shivers down my spine.  I may sound like an elitist here, but, I really prefer to buy new.  Not just RV's or cars or whatever, I really don't like hand-me-downs or used anything.  Maybe it's my OCD, maybe it's me being snooty, but, I know how I take care of things.  Who knows how people really took care of their stuff when they sell it to you.  Sure it looks nice, but, is it really good under the surface?  Was it babied like I baby things?  Maybe.

We're looking at used strictly based on cost.  A new motor home like we would like would cost nearly $100,000 and Lauren and I are currently saving for a sizeable down payment on a vacation home/rental income on a beach somewhere (somewhere we would have fun driving back and forth in our new motorhome!)  and buying something worth $100k just isn't in the cards now.  We've seen some used ones online for $35-50k and that's a little more reasonable to considering shelling out, especially considering the trade in on the trailer.

SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE THE BLOG?

I still plan on blogging as long as we own the trailer.  If we really do pull the trigger on a Class C, there'll be plenty to cover as we transition from Travel Trailer to Class C.  I promised a whole host of articles in my last post, and, honestly... I don't think they'll ever get published.  I have some of them half done.  Some are nearly done and maybe they will see the light of day.

Really, the only one I truly want to get done and post is our experience RV'ing with dogs.  I feel that will be the most helpful to you guys and gals out there that travel or think of traveling with pets.

Lastly, thank you for sticking with us.  We promise to get back in the swing of things here with the blog and look forward to providing more content for you to enjoy!

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