Thursday, March 27, 2014

Shopping for our Motorhome in Florida

After we bid farewell to our faithful Dutchman Voltage toy hauler following PooGate 2014, we had to brace ourselves for a new kind of disaster -- shopping for a new RV. It was a whole different breed of shit. 

Luckily for us we were in Florida -- home to an abundance of motorhomes, fifth-wheels, and travel trailers -- as well as the spineless, soulless cretins who sell them. So maybe that's taking it a bit too far, but if it's any consolation, I have a general dislike for all salesmen. Except for Billy Mays, who was an angel sent from above bearing the gift of a miracle cleaner. Who needs holy water when you have OxiClean?

But since no amount of OxiClean could rid our poopy RV of its foulness, Spencer and I talked about our wish list for our new home. After traveling around for over a year, we knew what worked for us and what didn't:

1) We were sick of driving Big Blue, our dually diesel truck, as our primary vehicle. 
This was one of our biggest factors. Although I grew pretty adept at maneuvering Big Blue, there were some stressful moments, like a meltdown while attempting to park in a ski lot in Park City, UT and the joys of cruising down the narrow streets of Chicago. Plus, the cost of fuel was disheartening. Big Blue chugged diesel fuel faster than a college senior playing a game of flip cup. 

Photo courtesy of Tyler Heschong
2) We wanted to keep one motorcycle. 
After downsizing from three motorcycles to two, Spencer was prepared to sell one of his bikes and bring along just his Yamaha WR250, which can ridden on the street or off-road. 

3) We didn't want to sacrifice too much space.
Our Voltage was 42-feet long, with tons and tons of storage space. Although we were prepared to get a slightly smaller RV, we weren't willing to budge too much on the length. 

4) We wanted something sturdy and well-made.
Our Voltage, though considered to be a high-quality fifth-wheel, wasn't exactly primed to last. Spencer spent a lot of time and money adding upgrades that should have been standard. With our new RV, we wanted something well-made that would last us for 10+ years and required minimal upgrades. 

5) We wanted to buy used.
Buying a new RV wasn't an option for us. We wanted someone else to eat the depreciation driving it off the lot. However, we wanted something that had a contemporary style so a charming vintage 1970s airstream wasn't going to cut it for us either.

Ultimately, we decided to narrow our search to a used diesel-pusher motorhome that was at least 38-feet long with a tag axle. Along with some less important wishes, these factors formed the basis of our search, which led us to a small RV show in West Palm Beach in mid-February. Most of the RVs at the show were new, but we did meet a cretin salesman at North Trail RV dealership in Fort Myers. The dealership sold large quantities of used Newmars, Tiffins, Winnebagos and other similar higher-end motorhomes. 

On our first trip there, we saw a few good options that fit into our price range. The one that jumped out to us was a 42-foot 2010 Newmar Dutchstar motorhome. It fulfilled most of our wish list, fit into our budget and was designed with understated contemporary details.

After heading back to Fort Lauderdale to think it over for a couple days, we decided to take the plunge. Although we would have preferred to purchase our RV from a private seller, our experience at North Trail RV was sufficient. I say that because they were able to accommodate certain requests from us, such as the addition of a motorcycle lift on the back, but they also dragged their feet with other things. In my opinion, North Trail was no better or worse than any other high-volume dealer out there. Dealerships exist to make money and that's their bottom line. 

Owning a motorhome has thrown us some new curveballs that we weren't expecting, but it has also given us some great comforts. We love driving around our Mini Cooper and we've probably already saved 50+ hours of travel time since we don't have to stop for me to empty my miniature bladder. Mostly, we're just happy to be back on the road again! 

For more pictures of our new motorhome, you can check out our photo tour here.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

16 Things Tougher Than Saying Goodbye to Your RV

Our fifth-wheel was picked up by the salvage company last week, which I imagine is a bit like shipping off your beloved horse to the glue factory.
No equines were harmed in the making of this blog.
From our RV-warming party on the streets on San Francisco (yes, really) to docking alongside the Florida coast, we have had some wonderful experiences with our Voltage.

Instead of harping on the sad fate of our home for the last 16 months, we decided to look on the bright side -- well, actually the dim side -- meaning, it could be worse. 

In the spirit of Buzzfeed-mania, and to remember our dear Voltage fondly, here is a list of 16 things that are tougher than saying goodbye to your RV.

1) Hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

2) Hiking back up again. 
Wait, I thought everywhere had valet?
3) Get frisky with a giraffe. 
In for the kill. 
4) Visiting a litter of puppies and only adopting one. 
This is the toughest of all.
5) Wearing dumb costumes your humans dress you up in. 
Ellie's thinking, "I will devour this, you peasants."
6) Driving a dually diesel truck everywhere.
Especially when you lack opposable thumbs.
7) Pulling your snowmobile out of a ditch during a storm. 
It takes precisely four men to pull a snowmobile from a ditch.
8) Kayaking the Colorado River. 

9) Officiating your best friend's wedding. 
It's all in the arms.
10) Rockin' for 50+ years. 
I've been around for a long, long year HALF-CENTURY. 
11) Going extinct. 
I believe that Spielberg will clone you one day.
12) Squats. 
My legs hurt, bro. 
13) Taking a decent family photo for your annual cheesy Christmas card. 
Can't we have one nice memory!?
14) Hiking the Appalachian Trail.

15) Having only 65 fireplaces in your country home
How destitute of you. 
And finally...16) Not having someone to reminisce with you on all the good times, not-so-good times, and everything in between. We'll miss you, Voltage! 

P.S. Thanks to Shyam and Mohini at the Yoga Warehouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale, FL for storing our RV while we search for a new home. If you're feeling limber and want to experience the benefits of traditional hatha yoga, check out the world's best yoga studio with the most devoted, caring and patient teachers. (Full disclosure: He's my father. I was highly compensated with food, shelter and financial aid for 20+ years to say these kind, but true things.) 

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