Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Search

No, it's not the search for truth, the search for love, the search for knowledge, the search for fulfillment, or even the search for God. This search is for the perfect RV or at least perfect for us within our price range.

Since buying our tent trailer three-plus years ago, we have talked about one day moving up the RV food chain. At first, we thought that next RV might be a travel trailer and perhaps one day a fifth wheel trailer. Later, we thought we would skip the middle steps and move directly to a motorhome one day.

Our beagle Oliver has made us realize that a tent trailer is a little too small for a family of four (he is, after all, a member of the family). As a result, one day has become a lot sooner than we first envisioned. After our vacation to Utah, we thought perhaps in a couple of years. A few more camping trips later, the time frame became more like a couple of months.

The search for the perfect for us at this stage of our lives and current budget RV started in earnest about six weeks ago. We initially focused on finding a used motorhome, then decided the layouts of the motorhomes we could afford were not what we thought we wanted or needed.

After looking at a few motorhomes, we returned to the idea of a fifth wheel trailer. we had always liked the kitchen layouts of the fifth wheels we had seen, and since I like to cook when we are camping, the kitchen was in some ways the most important consideration of any RV layout.

Now that we had decided what type of RV to pursue, we needed a truck. We didn't want anything too big, but we knew we needed something big enough to pull a loaded fifth wheel. Because we wanted a particular type of truck without four-wheel drive (I wasn't sure they were sold in Idaho), we still were sure it would be several months before we decided on a unit and were ready to make a purchase.

But the search for the truck actually turned out to be the easiest part of this process as we found a 2006 Ford F-350 dual real wheels with Power Stroke diesel and without four-wheel drive. Once we signed the papers on the truck, the search for a fifth wheel seemed to become more serious.

We found one we really liked for a price we really liked only to find cracking in the fiberglass and some dents in one side. Then we found another one we liked at an even better price. We looked at it several times before we noticed the stress crack below the slide out. We looked at one where the bedroom seemed designed for midgets, another that seemed to have been made mostly of plastic, wood veneer, and glue, easy on the glue since trim was pulling apart everywhere.

We looked at several that seemed as if they had been parked in the ocean and others that we might one day aspire to before finding what we thought might be the one. It was a 1998 Alpenlite, 29-feet long. It was a little beat up on the inside and had originally been way overpriced before the dealer knocked several thousand dollars off the price. We had a few reservations but felt if we could get the right price, this would be worth buying.

The salesman kept playing games with us ("I have to talk to my manager" and "Someone is coming to look at it tomorrow and might buy it"). The more they did such things, the more inclined we were to dig in our heels and not budge on what we were willing to pay for the unit.

In the end, it turns out someone else did buy the unit for what the dealer was asking. (At least that's what the salesman says.) I hope they enjoy it, and I hope everything on the unit works. We never were sure.

It could have turned out to be a great trailer at a good price, but we'll never know. And I'm okay with that. Our dealings with the dealer (Camping World of Boise) and the salesman always left us a bit uneasy about the trailer and about what might be wrong with it.

We've always been convinced we would know the right unit for us when we saw it. We still believe that. In addition, we now know where we probably won't be buying it.

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