Wednesday, December 1, 2010

PURCHASING A NEW CAMPER, MONTANA, MOUNTAINEER (Hickory Edition)

Decisions, decisions.
Sitting on the backlot of Sunshine Rv

Every Rv’er goes through this process a couple times throughout their Rv life.  Which camper to pick.  Motor Home, 5th wheel, travel trailer, Class C.  Once that decision is made, which usually comes down to, do I want to drive inside of the Rv, or tow it with a truck.  Quite often pets help make that decision as well as the wife as to her preference.

For me, it has always been the 5th wheel camper, as that would afford the most space, high ceilings and easiest to maintain compared to motor homes and Class C campers and driving would be easy as I‘d be driving a truck.  Not sitting inside the camper driving a couple feet higher up in the front cab of the camper, looking down at all the little cars and seeing eye to eye with all big truckers.  But once one decides on the type of camper one is to live in, there’s now a huge decision as to length, weight, how many slides it will have and all the goodies that make the camper unique.  Oh and don’t forget about layout.  That can start the wheels spinning literally and figuratively.

I’m now on my third 5th wheel camper, or will be in the next day or two.  And this wasn’t any easy decision to make.  First off, I love the current one I’ve had for 5 years now.  It’s a Titanium 5th wheel by Glendale though they’ve gone out of business as of Jan 09.  Kind of sad as they were one of the many RV manufactures that just couldn’t hold on during the recession.

My old Titanium 5th wheel
The Titanium was a unique design in that it has a double hump up front that puts about 5 more feet of camper over the truck bed and cab.  This makes is easier to tow as a 32 foot camper only has 26 feet being pulled behind the truck.  And it’s a super aerodynamic design.

But alas, it didn’t have a lot of space in the bedroom.  But really, that was it’s only major flaw.  construction, design and style were all there.

So what made me decide to go to a bigger camper?  From a 24’ to a 31’ to a 35’ camper?   One, I’d convinced myself that as a full time Rv’er, I should have a larger bedroom.  Did I have to compromise anything else.  Yup.  Sure did.  One being that the larger the camper, the more limited places one has to stay.  Many older state parks and forest campsites can’t accommodate campers larger that 24 feet long.

Of course one always can keep searching so one doesn’t have to compromise at all, but do you know how many different manufacturers there are, and how many different designs there are as well?  It’s mind boggling. The search could take years.  And in my case, the camper I had been interested in, the Domani was discontinued while I was trying to make up my mind.  Gheez… really.
3 slides, I'm living big.

My decision was to go with the Montana, Mountaineer (Hickory Edition), now if that isn’t a mouthful I don’t know what is. I had to decide whether a smaller kitchen, going from an island kitchen to galley kitchen would work.  I figured it would be ok, since I don’t cook that much while on the road.

The Hickory edition has lots of extra features I didn’t have on the Titanium, like power leg stabilizers on the front and back of the camper, electric awning, an actual door into the bedroom, desk and entertainment unit with fireplace and two plush recliner rockers.  Even a TV in the bedroom though I doubt I’ll ever use it.

 But I’ll miss the designer spot lights in the living room and bedroom.  No stereo in the bedroom.  The kitchen sink has a really nice composite counter top and flush sink with covers over each sink as well, though the sinks are really shallow, no where near as deep as the old one in the Titanium.

My last Titanium had real hard wood floors in the kitchen and entry way.  But it was the last model that contained that anyway and it would be hard to find a new one with hardwood floors.  Unless one really steps up to the top of the line RV series.  And the new Montana doesn’t have a built in vacuum system.  Imagine.  I actually thought at that point, how cheap.

Decisions… decisions.  Bout the only other thing is the bathroom, or on-sweet which has the shower, toilet and sink all in one room.  Most campers these days, have the sink or shower actually in the bedroom.  And although the Montana has them all together, it is a pretty snug room but very well appointed.  I guess the final decision came down to the fact that the Montana has a huge basement, meaning that all the “stuff” that gets thrown into the back seat of the truck and bed of the truck will now nicely fit in the basement!  Ok, it’s probably a guy thing, but I almost started to salivate when I saw the size the basement.  Sold.

Well a very good friend wrote and said, “you are never satisfied” when he heard I was looking at getting a new camper.  I had to search deep within to see if that was a true statement or not as I value his opinion very much.  The more I contemplated it, the more I realized that I really did like the Titanium a whole lot, but I also enjoy change.  So, though it may not be practical to some people or even cost effective, for me I will enjoy the change of having a new place to call home on the open road.

It’s even a bit scary, as I’ll be towing a camper a bit larger and heavier than the previous units I‘ve owned.  My practical side says, you don’t really need it.  But I do like the excitement and challenge so I guess it’s a done deal.
there's actually walking room in the bedroom

So the decision is made and I pick up the camper in the next day of two.  Happy Thanksgiving and oh maybe the next 4 or 5 Christmas’s all rolled up into one as well.

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New Camper, Part II

After a six hour drive up from Tucson, I arrived at Cattail Cove St Pk once again.  It’s Thursday, Thanksgiving day, and I’ve arrived around 2PM.  As I quickly set up in one of only two sites remaining, a St Pk volunteer came over and invited me to Thanksgiving dinner.  I’d figured I’d missed out on Thanksgiving, so it was an especially enjoyable dinner and one well worth being Thankful for.  After dinner one of the rangers sang and told some corny joke for the entertainment.

The next day, I was all set to go and drove out early to complete the last 15 miles to Sunshine Rv to pick up the camper.  A minor hitch developed that made it impossible to complete all the paperwork until Monday morning.  We needed to have a paper signed across the boarder in Calif. By a notary republic so they could wave the AZ taxes since I would be registering the camper in Florida.  Sounds a bit complicated doesn’t it?  Bottom line, it’s going to save me hundreds of dollars in taxes if not thousands.

each dining chair has stg under the seat!

With the rest of the transaction completed, my name signed on the dotted line on a half dozen legal papers and writing a check for the new camper, it was time to begin the arduous task of transferring all my “stuff” from the old camper to the new one.

Both campers were set up next to each other and two planks where run across through each doorway.  Yikes, was I going to be walking the plank metaphorically speaking.  I must admit, looking across at the new camper, I was trying to judge how comfortable I’d be towing a 35 foot camper as opposed to a 32 foot camper that towed like a 26 footer.  Would it be hardly noticeable it being technically only 3 feet longer, or would the reality of it being 9 feet longer behind the truck that would hit me once I was on the road.


Thoughts of how much more difficult will it be pulling into gas stations to fill up the truck while towing.  How would it handle going around corners?  And most importantly, how will it be backing up into a campsite for the first time, second time and beyond?  Can I get my old camper back?  NOT.  The deals done, now get packing, I told myself.

I’d done some preliminary packing before heading out, even leaving lots of storage stuff etc. back at the campsite in Tucson.  Removing all the choch kas and taking pictures off the walls.  But once one starts to unload a camper lived in for 5 years, it’s amazing the amount of stuff that needs to be transferred out of one and into the other.


Probably the hardest thing is deciding where everything will fit in the new camper.  Like all the stuff stored under the old bed now had to go into the big new basement, as the new camper had very little room under the new bed.  Finding hidden storage space under the new couch, who would have thought to look there.  Fortunately about mid way into to moving all the stuff, they were able to get me a helper, who toted stuff along with me back and forth between the two campers.  After about 4 hours, I was done transferring all the stuff, with quite a few piles of stuff just sitting on the floors of the new kitchen and living area, waiting to find a new home behind cabinet doors and drawers.  My last trek between campers was to pull all the bedding out of the old camper and put it into the new one.  Coming down the steps from the bedroom, I tripped on the bedding sheets and tumbled the last few steps right on top of all the sheets, waffle/memory foam padding and blankets breaking the fall.  I sat there all tangled up in the bedding, completely exhausted and thankful I hadn’t sprained or broken anything.

With a fork lift, Paul, one of the workers here at Sunshine Rv backed my new camper out with all the slides still open, guiding it over to a holding area where the camper would be plugged in to elect. Water and cable tv for my few days stay here until we could take that drive into Calif.  On Monday for the notary signing.

I’ve had a few days to begin to enjoy my spacious new camper.  The subtle smell of a new fabrics, carpeting and walls.  The joy of being able to walk into a bedroom with space to get around in with lots of storage for all my clothing.  How do couples do it?  I’ve filled a good ¾ all the cabinets and closets.

I’ll enjoy one more evening here, keeping warm by the fireplace and watching my big 32” TV.  I might have to become taller, or get a step stool, as many of the cabinets are very high up.  All in all, I can’t wait to move it down to Tucson and enjoy the winter  in my new camper along with my friends at Desert Trails Rv Park.
yes, I even have a hallway leading to the bedroom

2 comments:

luvglass said...

Congratulations on your new home. You'll get used to the length difference in not time.
Enjoy!

Fred & Jo

dreamjosie said...

Hey, Doug. Congratulations on the new 5th wheel. You took some really nice pictures of the interior. Looks like a great rig. Enjoy your winter getting settled into it.

Jo Wishnie