So, I sat down with a cup of coffee and caught up with Kathy's Kampground Kapers--about the campground at which we are parked right now in Montgomery City, MO--and then began thinking back about how we decided on our 5th wheel...
Being a realtor, buying houses is easy. Also, I know how to buy a vehicle. So, one would think--shucks! How hard can buying an RV be, right? Uh...
So, I go to Craigslist and start looking at RV's in our area. Gosh! I see RV's that are 15 years old for $30,000 and RV's that are 2008 models for under $20,000 (just lost our job and need to sell quickly it said). I am thinking Wow! An RV that is only a year old, 40' long--wow! So, of course, I call the guy for more photos and find that it has leather furniture (a must for pug people!) and everything!
I also see a 40' in Wichita with a kitchen in the rear that looks interesting and really seems to have a lot of space since the kitchen is in the rear making the whole coach open. I think I will look at that one to see the floorplan. But, it is more than the 2008 model. How can this be?
Then, there is an Avion in Salina and a lovely looking one in OK and a couple in TX and some in Missouri--but the prices are all over the place!
Then, I find out about my little friend...the RV NADA! Really?! Okay, I know this sounds crazy, but I didn't even know there was such a thing! Halleluia!!!!!! Not only does this book tell you what the various prices are for the RV's, but also what they sold for new! Yahoooo!!!!
It is at this point that I also find an article on the net about buying RV's and all about the chasis, etc. I read this and find out about steel I beams--10" versus 12" versus G shaped and U shaped, etc. Now we are talking turkey! (and where did that little saying come from?)
So, I find that the one that is only a year old was about $26,000 new in 2008--and lets not even think about how it is constructed. Cross that one off.
As I read about the chasis and other components of RV's and 4 season RV's (which we will definitely need since we are going to be living in it), I begin to see that I want something that sold new about $70,000 or more and I want two A/C units. Motor coaches are out of reach beginning at close to $100,000 for used models and what does one do if the motor quits or if the camper part has a major meltdown--then, what do you do? There are good reasons to have a motor coach too! But with the pricing, we decide to look at 5th wheels. I later find out that there is also a difference in the sound proofing--with the 5th wheels being the more quiet of the two.
So, I begin narrowing down the list of possibilities and armed with my Dave Ramsey list of how to buy (we were coordinators for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at our church--a GREAT idea for everyone to take!). At any rate, we have a price above which we will not go, a list of amenities that we want to find and are willing to travel as far as needed to get the right unit.
I begin locally and go to see the one with the kitchen in the rear. I speak with the owners and find that they have lived in it for about 3 years. They give us a lot of great information on winterizing the unit and how long propane lasts, etc. I have a really good feeling about this unit, so off I go to look. They have it parked at a camper retailer in Wichita. I arrive and the man from the camper retailer gives me the keys and points the direction. I begin by looking at the outside of the unit, the tires, the chasis, what kind of construction, etc. It is a long time before I even open the door to the unit. By this time, the retailer guy comes out to move me into the inside of the camper--I mean, what is wrong with a woman who is crawling around on the ground? Doesn't she know she needs to look at the pretty interior? I ignore him and continue my inspection. When I am ready, I finally open the door. Yes, I look around to get the idea of space that a rear kitchen gives and then on with the inspection looking inside of the upper cabinets for signs of leaks. Looks great in the Living Room and Kitchen portions. The yappy salesman is following me around by this time--really weirded out by this woman who doesn't seem to be interested in the decorations and wooden floors and cabinets.
I get to the master bedroom and open the closet and find signs of a leak around the light in the closet. I finally talk to Mr. Yappy and ask about the leak. There is no leak he states. Okay, tell me about this liquid stain. Oh. Never noticed that! So, how much is a new roof? A couple thousand says Mr. Yappy. K. What is the deal with the hitch? Oh that is a ranch hitch to hook to a ball hitch on a flatbed 1 ton truck, but the owner has stated that they will work with a buyer on the hitch. Hmmm...
I tell yappy I will think about this unit and leave. I am hot, my face is red from the 99 degree heat and I need a/c! But, I have a feel for the rear kitchen and I really like it! Something to add to the wish list.
So, I stop at the other dealers in Wichita as I make my way back towards Augusta. I see some new units that make my mouth water. They have high ceilings and fireplaces! Wow! They feel WONDERFUL!!!! But, they are out of my pricerange. I do find, however, that unlike car dealers, cash talks. They will come down $10,000 immediately which brings some of the units down closer to my limit. But, Dave is sitting on my shoulder telling me to stick to my guns. Get a deal says Dave! OKAY!!!!! So, on I go.
I find that anything under 36' is just too tight to even consider living in full time for me. So armed with my new info, that begins to shorten my list of potential units.
I have two in TX, one in Columbia, MO, two in Wichita, two in OK, one in Salina and one in the country in KS and a couple in Springfield MO area.
My brother Tom looks at the one in Columbia for me. Good shape, but no place for a washer/dryer. Out!
I check out the ones in Wichita. One has a huge leak in the kitchen area that has damaged the cabinets and the other one is possibly on the list.
Who do we know in TX? Well, my hubby's cousins live down there by the consignment place in TX. I ask him to call them and ask if they can go and look at a couple of units. By this time, I am getting to know the brands and years. I know I want to look at those units. He doesn't want to call them ask them. After a couple of weeks, he finally relents and his cousins readily agree to go look. I call the place and both units have contracts. Oh well, guess they were not meant to be.
I head to Springfield next--actually Strafford, MO to look at two units. One unit will need a motor for the large slideout and really looks like it has been abused a lot. The other unit is a 40' Kountry Aire that looks well cared for and has a new rubber roof, new 19' awning, new satellite dish, etc. I wonder about that and find out that a tree limb hit it in a storm and it has been repaired. Makes sense. This unit actually has a sectional in the back--something that I have not ever seen before in a RV. The salesperson, Cindy, was very nice and I even got the opportunity to see a couple of their new toy haulers--which I love! I keep looking at them and thinking of the garage as "family room!" However, they are more expensive than my limit, but they are definitely in my mind for the future!
On the way home, I see many RV dealers, so make a circuit of them as I travel. There is a dealer that gets RV's from insurance companies, fixes them and resells them at a deep discount. He has a RV with the kitchen in the slide. This is a floorplan that I have wanted to see. I take a look and readily decide that I don't care for that particular unit. Feels tight to me.
By this time, I have found that I want the 40' unit with the normal height roof. Many places have low bridges that don't allow the taller units with those lovely spacious feelings. I want 3 slides minimum, but the unit in Strafford feels really great with the sectional.
The units in OK have roof problems and I find out that it is $6,000 to replace those roofs. Out! The one in Salina is still in the running and the one in the country in KS. The Avion in the country turns out to have been abused and I get a bad feeling from it. Out.
I keep coming back to the Kountry Aire in Strafford. So, I call and tell them that I am interested. Jim and I set out and take the dogs with us. Tank, our 155 lb dog gets up in the camper and spies the sectional. He heads straight for it, jumps up and goes to sleep immediately. Guess he has made his decision!
It is 100 degrees this day and the camper is HOT! We crank on the a/c units and it cools down very quickly. Yeah!!!!! I might add at this point that the people at Camping World in Strafford are nowhere to be found. We are trying things out in the camper blindly. I called them before starting out so they knew we were coming down. Each time I have a question, I must go hunt them down. We finally get a service guy to show us how to get the drawer open on the camper so that it can be plugged in and we can try things out before buying this camper which comes with no warranty.
After hunting the people down again, we do find that a washer/dryer can be put into the camper and arrange for that to be done at Camping World before it is picked up. After much internet searching, I find a couple of brands which seem to be the pick of people and choose the Splendide euro type unit (put the clothes in and it washes and then dries them in the same unit).
We agree on a price for everything and will return when our driver (my brother Tom) is available. The salespeople agree that the work will be performed on a few minor details and the washer/dryer installed and then they will go over the unit with us when we pick it up as they don't have time on that day. Okay.
So, we contact Tom and he lets us know when he is available. I give Camping World a call and let them know when we will arrive. They state that they will have it ready to go and we will go over the camper together, at which time, they will tell me about the camper and it's components. Sounds great!
I take off at 5 am and head to Strafford arriving before Tom and expecting to meet these wonderful folks who will introduce me to all of the parts of my new camper. Hah!!!!!! Again, I have to hunt them down over and over. They disappear to get a key, find a book, get whatever and never return. It is like dealing with an ADD child! I am ready to put a leash on them so that I can keep them long enough to go over the darned unit!
Tom gets there and is ready to roll. Wants to get it to Augusta before dark just in case there is a problem.
I am still trying to keep one of their people long enough to get the paperwork done and go over the camper. They do not have the temp tag, they do not have my paperwork, they do not have my keys, they are simply not ready, though they had more than a week's notice. And, everytime they disappear and I find them again, they reek of smoke! They are off taking smoke breaks while I wait????!!!!!! Arghhhhh!
After spending hours (literally) trying to wrangle these people, I am getting angry! So, I begin to let it show and ask them if anyone is actually going to help me, or what!!!!! I have to go. My driver is here! I need my temp tag! Let's move it people! The lion is very much on the verge of appearing and leaving some marks!!!!!
Tom, having owned several campers, is really used to them, so we begin going over it. He is showing me the various parts of the camper. We are ready to hook up and leave and still no salespeople in evidence! I am seriously considering yelling by this point!
I go into the the place (stalking by this time) go to the manager's door and say I am ready to leave and I want my temp tag and keys NOW!!!!! I have been here for hours and am quite unhappy. Get someone out there NOW!!!! We are leaving NOW!!!! And I stalk back out. By this point, about 3 people are running out with various items and the rest are running for cover.
We hook up and go. Fortunately, there are no problems and we get the camper out to it's parking place in the country about 8 miles from our house in Augusta with no incidents! Thank goodness!
Would I want to go to Camping World in Strafford, MO to purchase a camper ever again? Uh NOOOOOOO!!!!! What a poorly run organization. Yes, I know it wasn't a new camper, yes, I know it wasn't the most expensive on the lot, but come on! Are you there to be in business next year, or just to drink coffee and take smoke breaks?
So, here is our new home:So, I am ready for lunch. Next, a little tour of our new home!