Friday, April 23, 2010

In search of the perfect RV…

After studying RV floor plans, visiting RV dealers, and having numerous discussions with my partner in crime – my wife :) I have begin to wonder if there really is such a thing as the perfect RV out there somewhere for us. I come to this conclusion simply because the more we look and talk the more the whole process morphs into an entity of its own.

So, what is important to us in an RV?  This list takes a life of its own as time passes slowly by on this road to retirement.  The items that continue to pop up in this search is my quest to find the perfect RV that is small enough to get into the more out of way places while at the same time wanting it to feel like home and be within our budget.  It is becoming increasingly clear that for this to happen we need a larger budget and unfortunately that is not going to happen unless we keep w$rking. And THAT is not going to happen!

So that leaves us looking at used RV’s and not new ones that we can custom order exactly how we want one.  So we are focusing on other smaller items that we believe will affect our quality of life.  Such as no booth dinettes, the need for a small computer desk for the spouse, adequate kitchen counter space and cabinets, large enough refrigerator etc…  Now we are beginning to balance these factors with the wisdom on the net that suggests we may actually end up loving one of the options we didn't think we would like at all such as a booth dinette.

So we will continue our quest by scanning the web, stopping by RV dealers and looking over their rigs, and start asking those who own an RV similar to what we think we want about their RV experiences and eventually we will find our future home… after all time is still on our side… yes it is…

So if you own an RV maybe we will cross paths someday, somewhere in a campground or parking lot or gas station. All I ask is that you educate these poor RV rookies step by step along the way so they may too reach their goal of owning the perfect RV…

Believe me we need all the help we can get and we look forward to learning from many of you out there!Carribean Lizard

Sunday, April 18, 2010

North Carolina, RV parks and some softball...

We were on the road this past week the non-RV way... we flew to Raleigh, North Carolina and drove a car to see our daughter play some fast pitch softball for her University.  When we firsAzalia and smilaxt planned this trip we decided it would be a good idea to look at a few RV parks since we plan on staying in this are next March.  We decided to check out one near Chapel Hill called Birchwood RV Park. This park is in an excellent location deep in the mature pine forest near the hospitals and Duke University and is located in Durham, NC.  This site has a lot of potential but in its current state is is nothing more than a mobile home lot with a small area dedicated to RV's.
pink azalia We got to watch a lot of softball this past week as my daughter's team played six games and split them 3-3. Between the days that games were played we would check out the countryside and man were the azaleas in bloom.  All around the North Carolina countryside azaleas of all different colors were in heavy bloom everywhere.  We found ourselves ohhhing and awwwwwing everytime we saw them in CU well and azalias bloom. 
We also managed to check out another RV park near Wagram, NC called Pine Lake RV Resort. Now this little site is a work in progress but if you are looking for a little bit of rustic peace and quiet this may be the site for you.  However, we are still looking for a site we may stay at a month or two and this was not it.
Between softball and traveling the countryside in search of RV parks  we took a side trip to Raven Rock State Park near Lillington, NC.  What a wonderful park for hiking in as there are numerous hikes from short distance to longer hikes over sweetgum leavesfive miles.  We took a hike of about three miles to see the parks main feature and also to see the overlook.  This park is nestled in the pine oak forest so typical of this region. The terrain is rolling so you will experience  some elevation change and the most strenuous part is the last 150 steps down to the river’s edge off the cliff face of raven rock. Actually the 150 steps back up are the hardest but well worth the hike.
We then traveled out to another RV park we found interesting by its description.  This one is called Cane Creek Campground and RV Park and is in Snow Camp, NC.  This too is a spot for rustic peace and quiet but it has more going for it that the one in Wagram.  This one actually has some potential as a future home for us for a month or so.  We may be back here but we will continue to look for RV parks within an hour or so of the research triangle.What does the future hold?Looking out towards the falls at Raven Rock State Park makes one wonder…What does the future hold?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Bluebonnet Festival – Chappell Hill, Tx…

 100_2970 Every spring in Texas thousands of wildflowers bloom and paint the roadsides with sweeping colors. Well today was such a nice day we went for a drive in route to the Texas Bluebonnet Festival in Washington County, Texas near the small town of Chappell Hill.

paintbrush This small, scenic and sleepy town was founded in 1847 and now has a population of around 600 or so folks. On the second weekend in April, every spring, the population of Chappell Hill expands exponentially as vendor's of arts, crafts, food items, and “stuff” are everywhere as are tourists from all over the place. With no admission fees and parking only $5.00 this place has become the seventh largest festival in Texas.

Since we are in the process of ridding ourselves of stuff and largebb2 crowds don’t necessarily excite us, we went mostly for the wildflowers and a nice relaxing drive. Also, we planned to visit my daughter’s former fast pitch coach as he lives in the area.

Driving along the back roads of Texas the wild flowers were in rare display this year as we had abundant fall and winter rains.  The Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) and the Texas Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) were everywhere as were the moms and pops taking pictures of the young ‘uns in the pastures.

phlox We had a really nice and pleasant day amongst the wildflowers.  This is how we envision we will spending more of our time in retirement. 

We met our friend at The Lazy Mule Saloon in Chappell Hill. One of our weaknesses is we really like quaint “dive” bars and I figure we will be visiting a lot of them once we full time.  This little bar makes some killer Crawfish Étouffée.  Well we only planned on staying for one or two frosty beverages but after meeting several of his friends time went by rather quickly… we probably should have spent less time at the The Lazy Mule Saloon with our old friend.… but that too is another story…

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Other exterior considerations…

I have focused on slides, walls, roofs in earlier blogs but there are a lot of other items on the exterior that require some thought. For example”
  • Window type – I want double paned for insulation
  • tinting – yes, yes and yes…
  • awnings – yes and powered would be better
  • seals – better be tight
  • horizontal vs. fixed vs. vertical – horizontal please….
  • electric or manual – give me manual please
  • slide out awnings – yes please
Exterior lights
  • check them for proper operation headlights
  • check to see if you have lights where you need them
  • LED lights use less power and thus are great for boon docking
  • Make sure they are secure and not damaged
  • Make sure they operate smoothly
  • likewise with the windshield wipers
Ahhhh… but I am beginning to digress and cover things that should be check when buying an RV… but that is another story…

Monday, April 5, 2010

To slide or not to slide…

There is no doubt that when we walked into our first RV that had slide outs we were overwhelmed about how spacious it seemed, and from that point on we would not even consider buying an RV without at least one. The consensus on the web is that if we only have one slide it must be a bedroom slide since the bedrooms in RV’s are the

most cramped. So what will it be fur us? One slide, two, three, four or none?

Slides operate using two types of systems, hydraulic and mechanical. Hydraulic slides use a motor-driven hydraulic pump to push or pull the slide in or out. Mechanical slides use things such as screws or rack and pinion to move the slides. The key here is they both involve moving parts.

So what can go wrong with slides? Both types can have electrical problems. Hydraulic slides can also fail when the hydraulic fluid is low, or if it is leaking. Hydraulic valves can also fail causing the slide not to work properly. Mechanical slides may also have problems and fail due to broken shear pins or gear or clutch problems.

If we get a rig with slide outs we need to make sure it has a way to manually operate the slide if, and when, problems arise. If not then we just won’t buy the rig. If a slide fails it is said we should always check first for a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker. For hydraulic systems this may involve physically pushing on the slide to get it in or out… now that sounds like fun… Not! Mechanical slides use some type of hand crank however before we manually operate a slide we will be sure to consult the owners manual.

Pros of having a slide out from the net:

  • It is all about space – slides = more space, more slides = more space
  • Furniture can be moved around (if not fixed to the floor)
  • Better for resale value based upon the current trends.

Cons of having slide outs:

  • Increased weight of slides will reduce fuel economy
  • When retracted there is limited usable space
  • Space constraints in some sites may make it impossible to open the slide
  • Water leaks will eventually occur if you have a slide.
  • More parts moving mean more maintenance required
  • Usually result in reduced "basement" storage space

Lastly if we do get slides we need to check each campsite before we take one to make sure that nothing like a tree or post will block the slide from going out. To slide or not to slide that is the question…

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Exterior of the RV…. basements

It is all about your CCC or Cargo Carrying Capacity.  The consensus  on the web is to allow for no less than 3000 lbs of CCC. So if we have adequate CCC then we need to focus on storage.  Do we want slides or no slides. 
The pros of having slides:
  • convenience – easy to get to our stuff
  • time saver – easy to get to stuff in the back of the storage compartment
The cons of having slide:
  • reduces storage – they take up considerable space
  • they are heavy – reduces you effective CCC

Also the quality of construction on the storage doors should be very carefully inspected for any damage and excessive wear. Check all exterior storage compartments for proper operation of doors and any signs of leakage. Also, we must consider whether or not we will need a heated basement and whether or not since we will at some point in time be stuck in less than favorable temperatures although we will do everything we can to avoid this). Is a pass through storage compartment really necessary? This will depend upon a couple of things – 1) what will be bringing that would require it and 2) what can be stored on our toad (i.e. via a roof rack or in the back of the toad). 

My gut feel is that we won’t need a pass through storage compartment and I am not sure we will really need the slides due to their reduced storage and increased weight.  Not to mention they are expensive to have installed if they aren’t already on the rig.  Besides I am fairly handy and can always add them myself at a later date as can be found in these links:

So the only critical thing we need in our storage compartments is one large enough to accommodate two rather bulky folding chairs.  As long as one compartment can handle that I believe we will be in good shape with storage…