Friday, October 28, 2005
1st Camping Trial! (& It Was One!)
Duchess and I loaded into the 33 ft. coach and headed up I-4 in Florida from Tampa to a campground just West of Disney's wonderful establishment.
This was a "90 day free membership" type of deal in a campground company which wanted us to part with half a thou per year for "free" camping at their campgrounds East of the Mississippi......
The events of the 2 days there were not pretty.
Let me say 1st, we had some problems of our own. New to the camping thing we had yet to attach our "Toad" (small towed vehicel for local travel). That meant we were basically local for the entire time....no driving off to a restaurant or to sightsee in the area.
However, for a test flight to try a campground we were less than impressed. The site we chose (you take whatever you like from the availables), was large and easy to access. The hook up of water, sewer, electric went surprisingly well considering we were literally doing it for the 1st time with equipment we had just purchased. It all worked well.
The problems: Electric within the campground was on and off frequently. That meant we went on battery, or fired our generator when the power left. The electric to the water system also failed twice, leaving us with little to no water pressure. We switched to onboard water supply.
The problems were not limited to the amenities of the site. We walked up to view the putt-putt golf course which was nicely placed among trees and bushes. It was also overgrown with weeds, and the mats for the course floor were old, wet and in bad repair.
The club house was a small building with one lone coke machine where for the price of $1 you too could own a diet or regular drink. They served meals but mostly on the weekends. The much promoted wireless net available there (according to maps, written material, etc.) was described to us by a ranger as "dead for the past year".
We stayed two nights and pulled up stakes to head home on Friday. We missed the sales pitch, but may yet give them another chance at a 2nd park...just to make sure we are not being picky.
The coach was marvelous, and the training given by LazyDays, and their guide thru our unit was invaluable. We both felt we knew how to operate the various systems, and we had a nice checklist for both setup and departure to insure we did all the right things in the right order and didn't do one of the stupid things like driving away with our TV antenna up, or our sewer still connected.
Then home to park our baby until we can spring free for another weekend.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
TAKE THE COURSE!
We went back to LazyDays for our "Driver Training" course.....free since we bought our Coach there.....
This is a MUST HAVE!
There are NO alternatives. The Duchess and I have had a boat (27 foot - 10 foot beam, flybridge, dual station....etc.) We found you need to know what to do, and how to do it.
Thus the Motorcoach driving school.
It is a school aimed at things not-obvious to most. It is aimed at things so basic as "how do you know when to turn your coach?" (believe me, this is crucial as your auto was 2.5 feet narrower than your coach....and you drove from "amidships" rather than "out front" as your coach now directs you)
You learn how to use your "hip" location to determine when to begin turning so you don't wipe out the corner mailbox, or some poor individual whose car is near you.
You learn signals to back your coach using the wife/hubby combo......(Note here... The Duchess and I work very well together.....thus we worked well docking the boat, and now we seem to click on the coach!) The secret is a few signals which are common to all....plus the sound in my backup camera which allows the Dutchess to let me know when I am doing wrong!!!!!
TAKE THE COURSE!
p.s. Next is our 1st camping experience! You need to read this!
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Catching Up Today!
1st Night - Sunday morning. I awoke at 2am to the sound of water gushing through a hose. After searching by flashlight under the coach and finding no leak, I returned inside to check the gauges (the coach has a control panel telling you approximate levels of propane, fresh water, grey water and black water......(if you don't know about grey and black water just picture dishwater and shower water in one...And the rest of the stuff from the bathroom in the other).
There I found an apparently lower fresh water supply, and rising grey and/or black water levels.
I knew the thing had to be leaking somewhere.....I turned off the water heater, and the noise stopped. At noon, that is when they open on Sunday, I went to the office and left word about the problem...."We'll take care of it 1st thing Monday morning," I was told. We went home, as we only live about 30 minutes from Lazydays.
Monday at noon, I got a call asking why my coach was still in the delivery site. Now I got a bit angry. Promises came to fix it. Later I got a call asking me to meet the technician at 8am Tuesday at the coach. We met. The noise was not water running, but the sound of the water heater flame as it heated.....We are not used to such a sound as we do not have gas at home. My inexperienced bad!!!
Overall, the folks at Lazydays are friendly, and every one who has come to our coach has been very competent, and solved whatever problem in minutes. If I have a complaint, it is the huge size and vast number of folks involved seem to lack a bit in communication.
Next: Our 1st trip and "driving school"....
Sunday, October 09, 2005
My God, We Did It....but then.....
We have a gasoline engine, and lots of room....plus one slide (a minority in today's market) for the really, really, ready-cash folk (of which class we are not!)...
We arrive at 9am.....ready to take possession.
Oh Well, so much for design....
We take from 9am until 11am to get done with the major paperwork, purchase, and then such nicities as warrantee, tire/wheel warrantee (separate, of course), and then insurance.
Now, we are ready to go and take possession of our coach.....
Now we are directed to the desk of the folks selling memberships in an exclusive club for camping in areas closed to others....vis-a-vis gates, etc. It sounds good, but seems limited to few campgrounds in a few states....
The folks at our dealership....Lazydays in Tampa, FL, are really great, and give us lots of information.
BUT...we now need to move to taking possession....
Our unit is set up on a "delivery site"...we have electric, but no sewer or water...
The folks give us a tour of our unit to tell us what we need to know...."Ski", our instructor, is more-than-adequate.....he knows coaches, and he knows lots more, and it shows.
Then he leaves....and the "repair" folk come to take care of problems we found.... like a non-functional VCR....(they replace it with new)....
The entire process is fine....
We enjoy the unit and knowing how to level it, and find it ready for our 1st night!
It is exactly what we dreamed of......
Friday, October 07, 2005
Tomorrow is THE day!
This is quite an experience, and with Lazy Days, our dealer, they make it so!
The technician assigned to transport us to ownership called today....just as I was meeting with one of our top surgeons (I work in a hospital in Tampa).....I said, I'd call back....
I got the number, and we never connected again....
Sure hope the deal is OK, and the unit is ready for tomorrow, as we have a lot of eggs in this basket!
Will advise as it develops.....
OK, We Need to Think This Thru!
Oh, yes, we have decided upon the Coach....we have signed the purchase agreement, plunked down a "hold-it" payment, and followed thru with money to close the deal and make it ours......
Things keep popping up! Insurance......seems we priced two sources, and they were identical in price......AMAZING!!! The cost of insuring a motorhome like ours (33 ft Class A) is LESS than the cost of my insurance on my Town Car!....In fact, it is LESS than the cost of the insurance on our Suzuki Vitara (jeep-type vehicle)....which will become our "Toad"....(Towed vehicle)....
The explantion, from the insurers is....they are typically driven fewer miles, and they are driven much more conservatively than cars/trucks, etc. Thus they are in fewer accidents, and present a smaller risk to the insurers!
I accept it, cause it costs me LOTS less than anticipated!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
The Buying Experience!
We found the purchase process to be fairly easy; however, despite their protestations to the opposite, it can be compared to buying an automobile when the final haggling commences. Salesperson writes a proposed deal.....off to sales manager. Sales manager stops by to introduce himself in the absence of the salesperson. Salesperson returns with slightly higher price than we wanted to pay. After a discussion he returns to sales manager who then comes back with salesperson.
Done deal. Then, of course, off to see the financial people and to get a quote from their insurance department.
Now we visit with the man who describes our "delivery process"....that is another post and is more than a little interesting.
Monday, October 03, 2005
A Long Wait - A Short Shop!
Our RV - A Damon Challenger Lovely vehicle!!!
We thought about this, and saw several RVs over the past two years. Finally, this past weekend we decided it was time to begin shopping. We had shopped for 18 months for our boat before buying our 26 foot Penn Yan Flybridge Sportfisher......then used it for 5 years and sold it when we stopped using it.
We looked at 4 Class C (The Van front end with cab-over bed), and then 3 Class A full sized vehicles. The last one was a joy. We got there and stayed and stayed, and stayed! Then we drove it. Then we bought it! Simple? I am sure not usually, but it was what we envisioned, and I partially credit two things....The folks at LazyDays are true pros....sales to service to whatever! & A pat on our backs for knowing about what we wanted.
So there it is folks....we are off and beginning the RV adventure!
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Now it Begins!
Already a blogger, I have made the decision to mark the trip thru RVing with a blog on the topic.
Perhaps we can learn and offer insight to the adventure of owning and using an RV; perhaps we can find commonality with other RVers!
Let me set the scene for you. Dutchess and I are within 1 year of retirement. We have long been enthused by the thought of an RV and travel in one. We love driving across this land, and have so much of it to yet see that an RV seemed the natural way to do so.
We are NOT the moneyed folk who buy the units in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, however we are able to afford a decent unit. In the same fashion as we boated several years back, we have chosen a used unit, less than 5 years old.
Our particular unit is a Damon Challenger, a 33 foot Class A Motorhome with a single slide expanding the kitchen and couch area. It is nicely equipt with ducted air and heat.
Now the fun begins.....calls on insurance, finding a place to store it when we are home (won't fit in our driveway...and would annoy the neighbors if we placed it there), and delaying a planned vacation by two days next weekend so we can take delivery of the unit.
We happen to have in Tampa, Florida, the world's largest RV dealer, LazyDays. They do the entire purchase thing quite nicely.
We will arrive next Saturday to find the unit set up in one of their campsites. There our own personal technician will give us 1-4 hours (whatever we need) to learn the controls, and do and don't items about our unit. Then we will spend our 1st night aboard. Sunday we take it home.
Following our vacation (not in the RV as we have booked a couple of weeks of time share), we will BOTH take the special driver's school Lazydays offers. Given the feeling of piloting a 747 I had this afternoon when we "test drove" the beast, we will need the class.
More as this little new, exciting section of our lives begins to unfold!