Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Holloween Everyone!

We carved our very first pumpkin ever yesterday.  We didn't want to be too ambitious our first time out.  I think we did pretty well. 

We usually have a good size crowd of ghouls and goblins show up on our porch. 

Got the candy. 

We are ready!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Slide Ups? Slide Downs?

Looks like I’ll be making a 2 hour trip to a dealer on Monday.  They have 2 small used units.  One is a 2009 21 ft. Four Winds Chateau Sport with no slide and 10K miles on the odometer.  The other a 2007 24 ft. Vista Cruiser with a slide and 13K miles on it.  I just spoke with the salesman and will plan on seeing/driving both (provided they don’t sell before Monday).  

Four Winds Chateau Sport 21 RB Floorplan

2007 Gulf Stream Vista Cruiser with Mercedes diesel engine

Just curious – I know about the biggest advantage of having a slide i.e. more room.  Are there others?  What are the disadvantages?  Keep in mind that I won't be full-timing and most of my trips will be solo journeys.  And I'm more of a "tourer" than a camper, if that makes sense.

 I’m about to jump on my bike and ride to campus where football game tailgating is in full swing.  It’s a good opportunity to check out rigs - although the majority are large Class As.  Maybe I can meet the owners of the 24 foot Sunseeker I spied yesterday – the same rig owned by the most excellent full-timer blogger Me and My Dog.  If you’ve never visited this blog, check it out.  She and little Katie are currently enjoying Zion  National Park.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shopping Report

Goose egg. Nada. Three stops - three strikes. It was fun looking though.  And a beautiful day to be out on the road in the bug! 

As I was forewarned, the used inventory at Bankston is piteously low. Even the new rig numbers are at low ebb. It turns out that the lady who promised to contact the older couple with the "um, Dynamax, maybe?" did contact them (but not me). They have decided not to sell, apparently. She promised to call them again yesterday and let me know. I haven't heard from her and expect I won’t ever again. The salesman proper wasn't interested in talking with me at all - not even in a cursory hey-how-ya-doin'-type way. Not even after I uttered the words: "I'm ready to buy". Geez, I thought, if that's how they treat you before they get your money....    

Second stop: Camping World in Calera, AL.

There was hope in my heart when I got out of the car and saw this:

But then I saw the sign reading “EMPLOYEES ONLY” and realized I had stumbled upon the rigs waiting to be worked on – not waiting to be purchased.  (That Concord in front looked just the ticket too).

I expected a dazzling showroom like the one in Dothan but it was just a normal sort of a store.  Had a good time browsing though.  As I suspected from the website, there is no used inventory (1 rig, I think) but it was fun to look at the new small Cs.  I got my fill of new car smell, for sure. 

Third stop (unless you count Milo’s for lunch) was Burton Campers.  I’ve been there several times – most recently to test drive the RoadTreks which I blogged about in January.  They had a 2011 Conquest with 54,000 miles (!) on it, but it had that dedicated bed in the back that makes everything so cramped.  IMO, that bed is a waste of space – I prefer the jackknife sofa that translates to a larger living area.  Most Cs are designed to sleep a family of 8, not for solo travelers. 

There was a RoadTrek 210 on the lot that was much less claustrophobic than the 190 that we drove in January.  In fact, it was downright roomy and a dream to drive/park.  Alas, it was new and priced accordingly.  There was also a very fetching Jayco GreyHawk but, at 26 feet, just too massive.  And it was new too so I didn’t even ask the price.  I left my card and wish-list with the nice lady.  What do they do with that contact info anyway?  I’ve never had any salesperson follow up.    

Here's what I’ve learned – no matter the specs, year, model, make, or mileage, you don’t know until you walk in the door.  I’ll know it when I find it. 

I hope it doesn't leak. 

My next move is to squeeze in some time over the coming weeks to travel to the Camping World in Woodstock, GA (a little over 2 hours away).  You people who live in RV-concentrated environments probably take it for granted, don't you?  Yeah, I’m talking about you – Orlando and Houston.  And Elkhart, Indiana.

CW/Woodstock currently has 3 pre-owned units that fit my requirements:

2005 Chinook Glacier LE
2005 Winnebago Aspect 23D
2006 Gulfstream BT Cruiser 5231

Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Monday Shopping

On Monday, I plan to travel to Birmingham to visit one of our clinical sites and will also make a day of it RV shopping-wise.

First stop is Bankston Motorhomes in Montgomery.  This is a dealership I have visited several times but now, I'm ready to buy.  The salesman I was working with (who never took me seriously) is no longer there.  That's OK because some say that a chummy seller-buyer relationship always costs the buyer money. 

I spoke with someone else at Bankston last week and was told that their inventory is down at the moment due to the appearance of the 2012 models.  BUT .... there is an elderly couple with a 2002 B+ that are considering a consignment sale.  She had little information beyond that ("um, a Dynamax .... maybe?") but promised to call the couple for details.  She also promised a follow-up call the next day but I never heard back. 

Next, I plan to stop at Camping World followed by another dealer visit in the same neighborhood.  Although neither place has much available at the moment. 

Here's an example of the size/floorplan I'm looking for.  Small enough for one, big enough for two.

I'm scouring the internet, of course, and am still hoping to find something suitable nearby. Any purchase would necessitate at least 2 trips: one look-see and one pick-up.  Of course, I'll have plenty of time for that sort of thing come December. 

Not sure if it's my imagination but everyone's used inventory seems low right now - even Ebay's.

I remain optimistic.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Travel Aids

I've obtained a few items that will be helpful for road trips. 

The priority was a proper car seat for Doris the Exploress.  She's never liked my bug because the sides are high and precluded her from seeing out.  Kinda like a bathtub.  We've experimented with a couple of unsuccessful homemade solutions.  Last week, I found this car seat at PetSmart for about $35.  It seems to do the trick though she is still getting accustomed to it.  She should have a great view from whatever RV we decide to buy. 

The buffalo are roaming!!!  The antelope are playing!!!

The other acquisition occurred a few weeks ago.  Oh how I love it!  I just knew it would turn into one of those "how did I ever live without it" gadgets.  And it has.

Garmin Nuvi 660  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

RV Update: Ongoing Process

First, I want to thank everyone for your touching comments and heartfelt congratulations on my last post.  What a great bunch of folks!

Now for the RV news.  After much deliberation, I cancelled my Casita order.  I just couldn’t get past the distasteful prospect of buying a vehicle just for towing.  It finally dawned on me: a trailer is a great choice ..... for someone who has a tow vehicle!!!  

It wasn’t a fear of learning to tow or hitch/unhitch etc .... by myself.  I could learn.  I just don’t want to. 

Furthermore, a trailer would alter my preferred travel style.  The tail began to wag the dog.  See, I camp to travel, not the other way around.  I like to keep moving and I want to be able to zip in and out of locations with minimal fuss.  I also want to stealth camp when needed.  As much as I love the Casitas, they don’t exactly blend.

Sometimes it takes a while to sort this stuff out in your head.  Maybe my cranium's gotten too full to make a big decision.  As I say, it's a process.   

Soooo .... back to my original plan of obtaining a B+ or small C.  Now that I have time to breathe, I will resume my search in earnest.  Naturally, I hope to find a good used unit for a great price close to home.  It may not work out quite that way but I think it’s a buyer’s market for sure.  However, I don’t want to get attached to any particular make or model since ultimately my choice will depend upon what’s available in the next couple of months.  

What an exciting time!  And thanks for sharing it with me!    

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Successful Defense!

It finally happened yesterday.  I presented my research and, 40 minutes later, was informed that I had earned my doctorate.  Just a few minor edits to the final manuscript and that's that.

I'm mostly numb still, but happy.  Deeply happy.   

I'm so fortunate.  For many reasons ... but mainly to have had so many fine people on my side.  Especially John, my wonderful husband, who made the journey every step of the way.  I also received much support from my in-laws, colleagues, my committee members, and friends (including all of you - my cyber buds who left encouraging comments and best wishes).

I'm beginning to feel the possibilities.  As Whitman said, soon I will be "done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms".  At least for a while.  I'll trust in the "long brown path before me" to provide perspective.  I'll rely upon the open road to figure out what's next.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blogger Comment Fix

Levonne from A Camp Host's Meanderings posted Rick's tip yesterday about steps to repair the comment issue that have been plagueing Blogger readers for a while now.  Pass it on....

Thanks Rick & Levonne!