Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013-13, from Las Vegas New Mexico to Poteau Oklahoma


From Las Vegas New Mexico to Poteau Oklahoma

Finding a New Home

Campground:  Sayre City Park Campground.  $12 Elect/water.  Large park with baseball fields, tennis courts, horse riding stadium, picnic areas and of course the campground.  Very nice facilities.

Campground:  Fire Lake Grand Casino, Shawnee OK.  Water/Elect.  dump station available. Campsite is Free.  You get a camping pass from the gift shop for 3 days at a time.  Sites back up to a tree and grass lined canal with walkway down along the canal.

Campground:  Jammat RV sales.  Free while purchasing new camper

Distance Traveled:  from Las Vegas NM to Sayre Oklahoma:  364 miles

Distance Traveled: Sayre to Shawnee Oklahoma:  165 miles

Distance traveled:  Shawnee to Poteau Oklahoma:  160 miles

Before I get into the why of this trip, let me describe my first day on the road, heading toward Oklahoma.  I’m driving 364 miles today which is quite a bit of traveling for me, as I usually drive only around 150 miles before getting to my next destination.  Knowing I’d be on the road for a good 7 hours or more, I decided to leave as early as I could in the morning.  By 6:30 am, I was on the road heading south from Las Vegas to Interstate 40 where I’d be heading east through the rest of New Mexico, the panhandle of Texas and the stopping overnight on the very western edge of Oklahoma. This also helped me travel the hours before the afternoon winds would pick up and make driving a bit of a challenge.   As I got onto the interstate, I was pleased to find the traffic wasn’t heavy though there were the usual truckers out in droves.  We have an awful lot of commerce that’s transported via semi-trucks.  The dry prairie desert of New Mexico gradually was replaced by vast stretches of rich prairie farm lands as I crossed into the panhandle of Texas.  You know most of us Rv-er travelers often mention that it seems to take days to get across Texas and it usually does.  After all Texas is a huge state.  but crossing the northern panhandle I covered about 175 miles  to get through the state.  Amarillo being the only big city in northern Texas and it was a breeze driving through it.  As I got closer to the eastern end of the state, those flat prairie lands that stretch from horizon to horizon  were replaced by more and more trees and a landscape that has been carved up by the effects of water and wind erosion.  Huge ravines and gorges cut into the once gentle sloping landscape.   Quite a change from the expanses of green prairies divided by the patchwork of farms and cattle ranches and the miles of wind farms on the north side of the highway making all that free electricity.  

The second days drive started out a bit of a miss.  One of my tires developed a slow leak and with it being Sunday, I couldn’t take in to have it check out.  So instead I replaced it with the spare tire and headed on out. Just didn’t feel comfortable driving with a tire that might go flat again if I just filled it with air.  Oklahoma this time of year is stunning.  Coming across the prairie lands that are lush and green as far as the eye can see. Unlike New Mexico and Texas that are all shades of browns, the reds of sandstone and clay, tans and sand, Oklahoma has gotten rain and those farms that seem to stretch on forever have the greenest crops growing imaginable.  With deep dark evergreens and leafy trees covered in medium and lighter shades of green the landscape is magical to the eye.  It almost reminds of those cartoons where they show an idyllic landscape with roads winding over gentle hills covered in crayon colors of primary green and blue blue skies. Yellow and orange wild flowers cascade across the landscape.  

So as I head east across hwy 40 the storms have continued to follow me.  The first night went by with just tornado warnings and not much else.  The second evening found me east of Oklahoma City near Shawnee.  Strong tornado warnings and finally we were all asked to go into the casinos safe area and wait out the tornados.  They came within less than half a mile from where we were all hunkered down.  People continued to play the slot machines as a hushed stillness descended on the crowd.  Everyone on their cellphones checking the progress of the storm, watching minute by minute on radar screens.  A couple sitting next to me had a small dog with them and he was content with all the attention being sent his way.  The TV news has continuous coverage of the tornadoes.  Even with tv helicopters in the air almost the entire time shooting footage of the forming rotating clouds forming into those wicked tornadoes.  Whole communities including mobile homes were flattened within seconds.  The MH community not being far from where I stayed the second evening.  As I left the next morning, I saw some of the destruction along the southern end of hwy 40.  trees down, whole.

So another new adventure has begun.  I’m driving 690 miles to pick up my new, smaller camper.  Two and a half years ago, I had purchased the Montana Mountaineer 5th wheel camper which is 34 feet 11 inches in length.  I think it’s actually 35’11” but the original paperwork says 34’11”.  Well, it didn’t take me long (no pun intended, but a good one) to realize that a 34’11” camper is a bit too long to tow around the country like I do.  It would be alright if I was one of those RV-ers that travels basically to a summer location and a  winter place and doesn’t do much else.  

I had been able to pay off the previous camper in a relatively short time frame and after looking around for the past 6 months at shorter campers, around the 30 ft length size, I finally found one that fits the bill.  The trick is to find a camper with at least three slides and has a really good layout.  

So, after deciding on a really great camper, I made an offer, counter offered, and finally got a really great deal.  Rather than rush across country to pick it up, I’ve been spending the week organizing my stuff for the move.  taking down all the pictures and accessories and packing much of the stuff in newly purchased plastic bins of varying sizes to hopefully make the move go more smoothly.  But you know, purchasing a new camper is pretty much the same as moving into a new house.  It’s a lot of work.  Ok, I see I get no sympathy from this crowd.  

How to decide on what camper is right for you.

So you may ask, what goes into determining what is the best camper for your lifestyle.  Well, I’ve owned a few and I've also learned that for each phase in my life, the camper needed to fit that phase changes.  As an example, while living and working in Orlando Florida, I had lots of 3 day weekends and therefore I didn't need to spend a lot of money on a camper since I would only use it for short trips.  Just something that would finally get me off the ground and out of tent camping.  The most common decision in a case like that is to buy a pop-up camper.  It still has soft sides and heavy duty tenting material over the pop-out beds, but I was finally off the ground.  Sleeping on a dry foam mattress and I had to have a/c.  Those two were my main criteria.  Later, I would upgrade to a pop-up camper to include a small fridge, eliminating to a great extent the need to get ice each day to keep things cold.  

When I finally retired and had all the time in the world to go camping, I realized that for those extended periods I’d need a few more of the basic comforts of home, especially since it would be my home away from home..  My first 5th wheel camper was perfect for just one or two very friendly folks.  It was all of 24ft long had one small slide and had a bed that was more like a loft.  After a couple years on the road, I realized as a full timer, I’d like more space in the bedroom.  Adding that additional requirement meant a larger camper or so I thought at the time.  Finally deciding on the Montana because it had three slides (which always give so much more space).  The bedroom slide was heaven.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get used to the added length of the camper.  Those extra couple feet in length really made a difference.  Seemed I was having too many close calls with tight turns, trees jumping out at me.  Yes, trees can jump out at you, especially if you're towing a camper and trying to back into a campsite.  Backing in became more perilous.  Requiring more turning space and with all those slides, it seemed they were always getting in the way of electric boxes, water spigots and those dreaded trees.  

So after doing more research that I should have done before purchasing the Montana two and a half years ago,  I discovered there was a whole new breed of smaller, more lightweight, compact campers that still had all the slides necessary to make the space inside really liveable.  Actually that has been the fun part of looking and researching online to find that perfect camper.  And as if by dumb luck, I found one that exceeded all my requirements.  

  • It has three slides.
  • slides are moved via aircraft cabling and electric motors
  • (not hydraulic which I haven’t been a fan of)
  • automatic leveling, what a great feature!
  • an island kitchen with a large microwave
  • solid surface floors with carpeting only in low traffic areas
  • LED lighting throughout, even built into the outdoor awing
  • two a/c units completely ducted throughout
  • electronic thermostat

Well, those are only a few of the added features.  It doesn’t have as much storage in the basement area so I’ll have to really decide what to keep and what to get rid of.  That’s one thing I don’t have a problem with.  Getting rid of stuff is very easy for me.  I just have a yard sale or give the items to Salvation Army.  Less is more and simplifies life.  Though it does have good storage in the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom area where it’s needed most.

With a smaller camper, I’ll feel much more comfortable traveling around the country as much as I do.  Maybe even another trip to Alaska.  And of course it puts me back into some campgrounds that have limits on the size of campers they can accommodate.  A real plus.

So, Ta-Da, here’s the camper I’ve selected as my new and hopefully the last one for a long time.
It’s the Open Range “Roamer” model RF316RLS.   and here’s a 360 degree view of my new camper.  The purchase and trade-in went very smoothly.  Moving all my stuff to the new camper took all day, but at the end of the day, I had 4 workers from Jamatt RV Sales that helped me complete the final tasks.  Wish I could have had them for the earlier part of the day, but they were still a great help to me.  Not everything fit into the new camper and the back of my truck is now filled with “Stuff”.  But I’m all moved in this evening and after taking a much needed shower, I’m finally relaxing in my new home.  

Back on the road tomorrow, to where?  I haven’t a clue, but I’ll be sure to let you know.  

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