Retiring and travelling the country in a 42 foot RV and towing a “dinghy” was not always our dream. But, as we get close to the point of retirement we find that there are many benefits and positive reasons that point us in this direction. We looked for an affordable class A RV for years, and our standards were higher than our savings. We eventually found one that was exactly what we wanted, and in our price range.
As many of you may have done, we started our camping adventures at a young age. We began in our 20’s when our young son was in the Scouts and our daughter was too young to believe that girls don’t go camping. She picked that idea up later in life around 12.
We began with a SMALL tent which was all we could afford, but was also required by the Boy Scout program. This was great for hiking for miles up-hill both ways to and from the camp site. We learned after the first trip that an inflatable mattress was also an essential part of our camping gear.
After my wife and our daughter slept, ooooh I would say about 30 minutes, in the scout tent they decided it was time to graduate to the next level. This was in the late 1980s and pretty much ended our dream of “living off the land”. So we invested all our life savings into a Coleman pop-up camper that we pulled behind our Pontiac Bonneville until I could afford a truck worthy of towing our new prized possession.
An image of our first REAL CAMPER. had an air conditioner, an awning, and one side was a king size sleeper mattress !!!! Who could ever need anything more than that ?
This worked for years, and we enjoyed many trips together to enjoy family time together. We went so far as to take a two week summer trip from our home in North Alabama to stay one night on the Pacific Coast in Los Angeles at Will Rogers State Beach.
Along with us and a few Volkswagon love buses 🙂 like this one. The campground was nice when looking at the coast, and the wife and kids enjoyed it immensely. Then there was the hourly passenger train that blew by the campground at about 100 miles per hour and the Ventura Freeway that was just beyond the tracks. Then there were the portable potties that had not been emptied in a couple of decades and the gentle ocean breeze that was trying to use my pop-up as a kite. But other than that, we all loved it.
Oh yea, there was an issue with the exit that we needed to take to get off of the interstate was closed for construction. The next exit put is smack dab in the middle of down town L.A. Did I mention we were in a pick up towing a pop-up with Alabama License Plates ???? The fact that we were lost, and going 1/2 the posted speed limit when everyone else wanted to go about twice the speed limit led to a lot of interesting and educational gestures from the onlookers.
Other than that, it really was the most memorable family vacation we had ever taken.
Jumping forward in time to the mid 1990’s we decided that going to the bath house to use the restroom or take showers was unacceptable because we can’t allow anyone to see us before we are beautifully adorned. It would be embarrassing to have others think we are less than perfectly groomed and clothed with our wrinkle free pressed shirts and polished shoes – right?
So for our next step in the maturing process ( speaking of camping equipment of course ) was to upgrade to something that require stabilizers, and a larger truck to pull. It must have a bathroom, couch for a nap, and a TV for “the game”.
My parents had a 28 foot airstream camper and a membership to one of the nicest resort campgrounds on Guntersville Lake. We figured if we spend all our money on a used ( but new to us ) camper to fit in with the upper crust membership only camping clubs. We purchased a 1989 Holiday Rambler which was a very nice, very well built, but very heavy camper.
We pulled this Holiday Rambler ( named “HOLLY” by my wife ) with a Chevy extended cab Silverado truck for several years. We pulled this one to Orlando to Disney World, and Pensacola Florida with my parents where we were entertained every day by some gentleman who was very talented with the bagpipes. But, Alas, The pain finally hit when our children both reached their teens that this too was not large enough to meet our needs. All the other camper owners had a new technology called “slide outs” which made the living area and bedrooms actually larger that our brick and mortar home ! Even though we had many good times, adventures, and experiences in the Holiday Rambler we were undersized yet again.
We soon moved up to a larger 1998 Sunny Brook camper (named Sonny) with slide out and everything. This was to support our growing family and had much more room to relax and take naps, and enjoy time with the family.
RV and Dinghy camping
We have good friends who have a motor home, and enjoy towing a dinghy behind them as they travel all over the country. This is what we hoped to be able to do in our retirement years. In 2014 we were blessed to accidentally find the motor home of our dreams. We had been looking for years, but not with any real hopes of finding anything we wanted AND could afford. We just continuously browsed the internet in a daze, dreaming like a child would do before Christmas.
One Friday evening I was just cruising the internet, and Google searching for motor homes for sale by owner, and bank repo’s and the like. Mostly dreaming and killing time before bed. To my surprise and shock I found something unusual. More like suspiciously wrong!
Normally I could divide my findings in to two categories.
(1) Junk that I would not want, and
(2) what I want but couldn’t afford.
We wanted a Class A RV similar to our friends, and preferred a diesel pusher RV due to long trip durability. It had to be new enough to have slide-outs and plenty of room for grand children. We really wanted something that would last through our retirement years that we were about to enter.
For the first and only time I found one that crossed the boundaries of both categories. One that we could afford, and it was what we wanted. Class A RV, low miles, like new, had been in the garage most of its life, and was close to where we lived.
Well, you can imagine my doubts, and I called my wife in to show here just to make sure I wasn’t delusional. She read the ad, and didn’t see anything wrong either except what is one this nice doing at that price?????? The motor must be frozen up, or no transmission or something. We just are not that lucky.
I called the owner because we both had agreed that something must be wrong or a typo in the ad or something. When the owner answered the first question after confirming I had the correct number was “What’s wrong with it?”. He promptly said nothing and explained his need to quickly sell the motor home. It was a terribly sad story that I won’t go into, and that in itself made me feel guilty about the reason he was selling it.
Well, I quickly got over that, and we took off like Batman leaving the bat-cave, and drove to look at it. It was about an hours drive, and it was as nice as the photos represented it to be. We took it for a spin and the owner let everything in it go with it. We also got lawn chairs, lights, dishes, coffee maker, silverware, aluminium foil, tools, grill, etc.
When we sealed the deal and purchased it, we immediately drove it to Monte Sano State Park and only purchased food items and enjoyed a fully stocked motor home without needing anything else. My wife named this one “Newman” since it is a Newmar Dutch Star. She names every vehicle and becomes personally attached to them. (nuts I know but I still love her)
Our motor home is down there somewhere 🙂