Friday, March 6, 2015

Ghosts of Trailers Past

That spiffy looking 31' Evo Trailer is actually the second trailer we bought.  Like typical crumb-bums we did what everyone does and bought the wrong rig at first.

We used to have a KZ Sportsman Classic 240.

This was a 28' trailer with no slides.  This is an approximate picture from the KZ site.  Ours looked a little different.

Now when we decided to go full-time RVing we had a Chevy HHR which couldn't tow anything.  Seriously.  I had to use it for a big convention once and I needed a little U-Haul to fit all my stuff.  It could barely tow the smallest U-Haul!

I knew we needed to trade in our car for a tow vehicle.  My thinking was that we should get a truck so I could get a 5th Wheel.  A 5th Wheel would be easier to tow than a trailer (I believed...maybe I'm wrong?  We never found out).

We went to a car dealership to check out some trucks.

The first truck we looked at was a Nissan Titan that could tow up to 9,000 pounds!  

It was in our price range--meaning we could get it with our trade-in and the cash we had.  We hate financing anything!  I was ready to sign on the dotted line!  The only thing was, my mom needed to be able to drive it too.  This would be our tow vehicle and our every day vehicle.

My mom could not see over the steering wheel.

This was just too much truck for her.  She was not going to be able to drive it.  So we ended up with a Ford F150 instead.  I was so happy that she seemed able to drive this one that I went ahead and bought it.

Only later did I realize it could only tow 5,500 pounds.  This pretty much meant we couldn't get an 5th Wheel.  Yes, there were one or two brands back in 2012 that met our weight restrictions.  There's even more now.  However, all the 5th wheels available to me at the time did not have floor plans I could work with.

We need separate sleeping areas!

Not just separate beds, but separate bedrooms.  We both need space and privacy.  Our ideal floorplan has beds on opposite ends of the RV.

All the 5th wheels I saw in our weight range only had one permanent sleeping area over the hitch.  To get a second sleeping area required converting the dinette to a bed.  Where would we eat?  There was no way I was going to build and tear down my bed every day.

It looked like a travel trailer was the only thing that would work for us.

I liked the KZ Sportsman because it had the floorplan I wanted and was under 4,000 pounds.  We could safely tow it loaded up with our F150.


As you see, my 'bedroom' would be the bunks in the back.  My mom got the big bed in the front.  We had a dining room (the dinette) and a living room (the gaucho)! 

We took the RV for a test run in Morro Bay California and found it was difficult to live in.  When I got back I started my modifications:
  1. I cut the top bunk in half so I could sit up in bed and use my computer, and have a little shelf for my stuff.
  2. I replaced the toilet to a higher and bigger one so my mom would have less trouble using it.
  3. I put a rod across my top bunk area (now a shelf) so I could have enough room to hang my clothes.
  4. I replaced my mother's mattress with a nicer one.
  5. I installed a curtain in front of my bunk.
  6. I put three hanging things above and on the side of her bed so she would have room to hang her clothes.
  7. I padded the edge of the dinette so it wouldn't poke my mom when she slid in and out to sit.
  8. I installed a lip on my mom's side bed shelf so she could keep a big trunk there with more of her stuff.
  9. I put hanging stuff under the cupboards so we could hang pots and pans.
  10. I attached a spice rack on the side of the cupboard (above the gaucho).
  11. I took the door off the storage under the gaucho so my cats had a place to hide.
Then we got rid of our truck and got a Nissan Armada which could tow 9,000 pounds.  We bought this on a whim.  We really weren't looking to buy a new vehicle, and we stood fast to our numbers.  When they wouldn't give us the deal we wanted we shrugged and made to leave, but they chased us down and let us have the beautiful luxury SUV for our trade-in and a modest amount of cash.

Man do we love this SUV!  It's so much easier for my mom to drive than the truck was!

I felt that we were now ready to live here comfortably in our RV full-time.  We bought a campground membership with Thousand Trails and took the newly modified RV out for a second test run using our newish (it was used) SUV for a tow vehicle. 

At this time our house was already for sale and we had gotten rid of the bulk of our belongings.  

I moved us completely into the RV to make sure that we really could fit all our stuff.  It took some doing, but we were fully moved in!

This trip was pretty miserable.  It rained the whole time so we were trapped in our tiny tin-can which got very humid inside.  Even with the new toilet using the bathroom was still a pain in the you-know-what.  My mother has mobility issues and just didn't have enough room to do her business.  I hated it too because the door hit your knees when you closed it.  I'm not going to give a TMI, but we just hated that tiny bathroom.

I had a bone tumor in my leg that had laid me up and caused me to gain a lot of weight.  My tiny bunk was torture to sleep in.  Ugh!

We really were stepping over each other a lot while trapped in the RV.  You can't walk past each other without one moving out of the way of the other.  Cooking with all my hanging stuff dangling all over the place was a pain too.  Getting stuff out of the jam-packed cupboards and from the dinette storage was difficult.

This was just not going to be a good situation for us.

On the way back from California I saw a Giant RV Superstore sign from the highway and pulled in!  We weren't planning to buy anything, but we wanted to know what better options were out there for us now that we had much greater tow capacity.

I still had the same criteria:  Two separate sleeping areas, no slides, and something small and easy to tow.  They showed me just that!  A wonderful Forest River RV that would give us a better layout and still be relatively easy for me to tow.  Bigger bathroom.  Bigger bed for me.  I was ready to grab it!!

But then my mom asked to see this other one...


Well, it was longer than my 28' max and had a slide, which I really didn't want due to cats getting in them and possible mechanical problems.

My mom and I went to lunch to discuss things.  Were we really going to buy a new RV?  My mom put it to me this way:  "I'm not going to live full-time in our piece of $@#! camper."

Wow...don't hold back.  Tell me what you really think!

Seriously, though.  The KZ just wasn't going to work for us.  We were trying to make it into something it wasn't.  We really needed a bigger rig.  Either of the ones we saw would be a vast improvement to what we had.

I voted for the shorter RV without the slide, because I'm the driver!  It was hard enough to tow a 28' RV.  I didn't want to go even bigger!

My mom had already fallen in love with the 31' Evo with the slide.  ::sigh::  And that's the one we ended up buying.

This is my dream, not my mom's.  I have to make sure she's happy.

And so, we are getting ready to start our adventure in this sweet RV we have now.  It's so swanky!  Every time we go into it we fall in love.

Of course...I can barely get the thing from point A to point B without a panic attack, and it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to back it in to a spot in any way shape or form...but we're doing this by golly!!

And I got a secret weapon for my backing up problem, so we're going to be just fine.