Tuesday, December 21, 2010

RV Shopping Report

Where the hell is Harriet?

Today was Step 1 in the RV decision-making process. Some part of me thinks I’m sweating this decision too much but I am painfully aware of my not unlimited resources.    

Re: the bottom line.  I’m accustomed to living frugally but at what point, after working a lifetime and living always within one's means, does one say:  this is the reason I save.  This is the reason?

It’s not easy to let go of the purse strings held so tight for so long.  And (not for the first time), I deeply envy the impulsive.  I hear the rewards are many. 

Anyway, John and I examined the 2011 Roadtrek 190 Popular.  This entailed a 4-hour round trip where I got into that deliciously mindless interstate groove that blue skies and comfortable temperatures seem to foster.  To say nothing of the dog.  This was Doris' first trip across county lines (as far as we know).  That gave the day a certain Lewis & Clark feel.    

Popular 190

All in all, the look-see was an ultimately unsatisfying experience because - I don’t know about you - but most test-drives are.  I really wanted to get away from the salesman and the interstate noise and go hook up somewhere and go hiking and afterward make some dinner …. you know, to see what it’s really like.  But, of course, I didn’t do any of those things.  As usual I let the salesman, well, drive the encounter.  But at least he didn’t patronize me – bonus points for that.       

Back to the bottom line.  The brand new unit cost more than my parents paid for their house in the 70s.  Can I afford it?  Yes.  Do I want to pay that much?  Decidedly not.  Fortunately, I have time and some pretty great internet resources on my side so I don’t have to.  Interestingly, the salesman told me “forget about finding a used one”.  But I know better.     
It drove really well - like some friendly 18-wheeler.  I love sitting that high above the road and the big windows and skylight.  It feels like a small Class A.  And the workmanship is apparent. 

Hours later I can still smell the new car smell.  What is that stuff anyway?  That overwhelming injected plastic aroma?  It’s indefinable and not altogether pleasant.  Just memorable. 

The rig was larger both within and without than I expected.  I’m thinking it would be awfully cozy (in good ways) on the road.  Especially at night with the shades down and the lights low.    

The entire experience has left me thinking: if I were more of a grasshopper than an ant – would I be happier?  Who knew that a visit to an RV dealer would result in this degree of soul mining?  It’s a bit maddening.  After all, what is an RV but a means to an end But the means can become so very tiresome what with the inverters and macerators and black water capacities and sway bars and …...

All I want to do is see Glacier National Park !!! 

However, today’s mission was not to see glaciers or even buy an RV but to test-drive a Class B. 

                                                                        Done ! 


  1. I've only been inside one Roadtrek and it was a similar experience. The roominess was very unexpected and the efficient layout was impressive.

    Oh, and never trust anyone who tells you that you can't buy an RV used. Used sales happen every day, with the original owner taking the huge depreciation hit. If you get a good rig out of it, you save handily.

  2. The Roadtrek looks great on you, Kim! Congrats on diving into the RV test-drive waters. Deep waters indeed. My only advice is to not be afraid to splurge a bit. You're monthly savings living this way should far outweigh the rate of depreciation, so whatever you buy will effectively eventually pay for itself. And you'll never regret buying something that takes your breath away a little bit everytime you step inside (as I'm finding with my new Chinook).

  3. As usual, I envy anyone on the verge of buying an RV. I am constantly asking myself "how much money" is enough! I drive a GMC van now, and could easily imagine tossing a mattress in the back and taking off. But marriage has it's "tie down" effect.

    I've asked for a sabbatical, but he says he wants to go to. But when?

  4. You've got the money, and you're not in a big hurry. I would suggest keeping your eyes open for something that wows you with a couple more years on it. And, don't be completely left-brained about it.

  5. While you're checking out Class B's have you looked at Pleasure-Way? They're made in Canada and I like the looks of the Dodge Plateau. It looks a bit larger than the Ford or Chevy. After going through price trauma with houses, I can appreciate what you're going through. But, these are houses on wheels and can go anywhere. I guess it just depends on how much space we think we need to comfortably go down the road. I wish we were closer so we could look at RVs together.

  6. Ourtakeonfreedom and Good Luck Duck - great advice and great truth in it.

    Merikay - he may never be ready. "Go for it" is my unsolicited advice.

    Glenn - See, I thought the continental
    spare tire kit made my butt look big. I like your criteria for buying!

    4 Windows - it would be great to have a buddy to RV shop with! One of us could assess the rig while the other distracted the annoying salesman.


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