Reality Sets In

After we spent the weekend in the RV we were happy to be home, in our comfortable space.  It made me think about how this RV experience feels a lot like when you bring your new baby home for the first time.  You go through your pregnancy and you can’t wait for that new baby to get here.  That day finally arrives and you are excited and totally in love, but then you go home.  Everything is new, you have no idea what you are supposed to do.  And then there is the poop! You know that eventually you’ll figure it out and it will be awesome, but right now you are thinking what did we do. No turning back now.

We were definitely outside of our comfort zone this weekend, trying to figure everything out. The weekend was stressful but I think we handled it in stride.  We made it through, but Sunday night when we were sitting in our comfortable bed we were both questioning this whole RV thing.  The idea of it was very exciting, we couldn’t wait for the day to get here so we could try out our new “baby”.

Much like having a baby, this is a totally life changing experience. No turning back.  I think that is kind of the point, though.  You grow when you are challenged and get out of your comfort zone.

Homemade Sun Shade

Homemade sun shades for our Winnebago Vista LX 35B
Homemade sun shades for our Winnebago Vista LX 35B

The first day in Irving was a hot summer day in Florida. When we got to him, the dealership only had the back A/C on and the front shades were open to the sun all day. Needless to say, it was very hot in there. It took quite a long time to cool down, but once the sun went down, we were OK.

As Amber usually does, she set out to find a solution. She first started looking for pre-made sun shades, but none of them matched the one we have for our car, a silver, reflective sheet that cover the whole windshield. Her next search was Lowe’s web site to find insulation and that’s where she found pretty much the same material our car shade is made out of. She went to measuring and made her cuts, strengthening the edges with duct tape. She got command velcro, you know, the one that doesn’t damage what it’s stuck to. We hung the panels using the velcro and attached each panel together with the same. In the above picture, you can see that it looks fantastic!


On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT-Portable 16,000 Grain RV Water Softener

I have heard about minerals like calcium that build up in the hot water heater of a RV over time. We deal with the same issue in our home with hard water, so we know the issues that water with lots of minerals can cause. I was a little skeptical about how effective a portable water softener would be, but after our first use during our stay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground, I am a believer. Taking a shower was amazing with the soft water this unit gave us. To recharge it takes only two regular sized boxes of table salt. It really is an amazing product.

Camco 43051 20′ Sidewinder Plastic Sewer Hose Support

Leaving your sewer connection hose laying on the ground is not the best solution. Depending on the grade of the ground it is sitting on, the hose could end up backing up because it is not naturally sloping downward into the sewer connection. You can take care of up to 20′ of hose using this useful support.

Lazydays Campground – Seffner, FL

Irving at Lazydays campground in Seffner, FL.
Irving at Lazydays campground in Seffner, FL.


Date Stayed: 06/18/20016

This is our first campground review. Until we stay at more places and find out what is important to report, we will still be feeling our way through this process.

We spent one night at this campground the day after we took delivery of our coach, so we didn’t get a chance to see everything this campground has to offer.

There is a big, screened in swimming pool, a restaurant and a large activities room at the main building. The camp site was big enough to hold our class A with a little room left over and had full hookups. The sewer cover was on way too tight and we didn’t have tools (1st night at a campground), so we had to call for a maintenance person to help get it off. They came quickly and had it off in no time.

There was no much to do in the immediate area of the campground. There is a truck stop and a few restaurants, but that’s it. Walt Disney World is only about 30-45 minutes down I4, so this might be a great place to stay to be far away from the hustle and bustle of the Orlando area.

Like I said, we didn’t spend a whole lot of time here, but we would be interested in staying again.

Our Second Night

Our first campground stay at Lazydays in Seffner, FL.
Our first campground stay at Lazydays in Seffner, FL.

The dealership was great about addressing the issues with our coach, so we got to spend the night at their campground last night.

We got some good practice getting hooked up to electric, water and cable TV. We were disappointed that the TVs in our coach (one in the bedroom and one in the living room) were not showing cable channels. We called our dealer’s 24 hour help line and they suggested scanning the cable signal for channels. That worked just fine. We held off hooking up the sewer line, more on this later. We were hungry and tired after a long day, so we went to dinner.

While at dinner, a pretty significant thunderstorm blew in and dumped heavy rain on us. We didn’t feel like hooking up the sewer line in the rain, so we went inside to get ready for bed. Christopher and I finished our shower and Amber wanted to get in next. I checked the level of the gray tank and it showed full. Oops. If we had hooked up before dinner, we could have, at least, dumped enough water out to allow Amber to take her shower. To make things worse, this morning when I went to hook up the sewer line, I discovered that the previous occupant had screwed the lid on way too tight and I couldn’t take it off. We didn’t have any tools, so we had to wait until 9:00am to call the office and have someone help us take it off. This really cut into the time we had to get our tanks dumped so we could check out of the park at 11:00am. Fortunately, it all worked out and we were able to dump all of our tanks before heading out right at 11:00am.

Lesson #1: Set up all connections as soon as your arrive at the campsite to address issues right away.

Our First Night In Our New Motorhome

It was an overwhelming day yesterday. We took the driver’s confidence course, which was great for both of us. Amber had never driven a vehicle as big as our coach and I had only driven ours once during the test drive. Amber did great, better than me in certain places. 😉

Then it was time to do the walk-through. There is a lot to know and Amber felt a bit overwhelmed after it. Not so much for me since I have been reading the owners manual for the last few weeks and I was somewhat familiar with the systems and workings. For anyone that isn’t familiar with a class A coach, there is the generator, fresh water, black water, gray water tanks, batteries, liquid propane (LP) tanks, among other things. It can be pretty overwhelming. We also found some issues that will be addressed this morning. From what I have heard, this is common since there are so many things in these motorhomes.

Next, it was time to spend the night at the dealership’s lot. We had a 50 amp electric hookup, so the vital systems of the coach, the A/C’s (there are two, it’s Florida, this is vital to us), fridge, water heater, and water pump, were fully operational on AC. We had a full tank of fresh water (91) gallons, so we had to take it easy on the water, but no big deal since are used to water restrictions. The bed was pretty hard, much harder than we are used to, we have a memory foam mattress at home. We will definitely be looking for a mattress topper for it, but since the size of the beds in RVs are different from residential beds, it may be a challenge.

For our first time ever in a motorhome, I think we did pretty good. We did forget some things (ibuprofen, waste baskets, etc.), but we are hoping this becomes second nature after a while. We are planning on staying at the dealership’s campground tonight, at least that’s the plan if they can get the issues we discovered fixed.

Our RV Journey Starts This Weekend!

We have signed the papers and it’s time to take delivery of Irving, our name for our new motorhome tomorrow. We were supposed to take delivery on June 4th, 2016, but we were having a hard time finding storage, so we delayed it until now. We are so anxious about finally having it and planning trips!

We will stay the first night at Lazydays, the dealership where we purchased the motorhome. We are taking the driver’s confidence class during the day and have the walkthrough after that, then we stay with only an electrical connection and full water tanks that night. Saturday night, we will stay at their campground and get a feel for what camping will be like.

Which one is it going to be?

Now that we have decided that a Class A would be the best for our family and situation, we need to figure out which brand would offer the best quality in our price range. Chris took to the internet to research reviews, complaints and other RVers experiences.  After a few weeks of research we zeroed in on Winnebago.  From what we read, it seemed like Winnebago had less issues with initial quality than other brands.

Our goal was to try to stay under $100k, but we knew that we might need to go a little higher to get something that would work for us for the long term. RVs are depreciating assets, so starting too small and then needing to upgrade in just a few years would be too costly. When we started looking at prices, we noticed that they varied widely from dealership to dealership. That got us wondering if the RV buying process was similar to the car buying process. From what we could gather there seems to be a 30% mark-up from dealer invoice to MSRP.  The other challenge in determining price is all of the available options and upgrades and very limited information on the cost of upgrades.

We decided to head back out to the dealership Memorial Day weekend armed with all of the information we had to look at some Winnebagos.  We wanted to see a 2016 Vista 31BE and a 2016 Vista LX 35B.  The 31BE had an MSRP of about $113k and based on our assumed formula dealer invoice would be $87k. The 35B had an MSRP of $151k and assumed that the dealer invoice would be about $116k. The dealership had already listed “discounted” prices which looked to be $4000 over invoice. We wondered how much negotiating room was left.  Another thing that influences what kind of deals car dealers are willing to make is manufacturer incentives and floor planning.  As each month comes to a close, dealerships get more aggressive in order to reach sales targets so that they get additional incentives or “kickbacks” from the manufacturer.  Floor planning is short-term financing that dealerships use to finance the inventory on the lot.  If they have new inventory coming in, they are more motivated to “move” the vehicles that are sitting on the lot.  These are just a few reasons that the end of the month and end of the model year are great times to purchase a vehicle from dealer stock.

We looked at the smaller 31BE first, it was nice and would work for our family.  It had one slide that was the length of one wall. It was well within our budget at the dealer’s sale price of $92k. Next we looked at the 35B, it had a lot more room with an additional 4 feet of length and 2 more slides.  The 35B was fully loaded with all available upgrades, but at the dealer sale price of $120 it was still way over our budget. At that point we asked our salesman, Bob, if there was any room in that sale price to get us closer to our budget.  We decided to go to lunch and talk it over and to give Bob a chance to talk to the sales manager and see what could be done.

After lunch, we came back, and to our surprise, they came down an additional $5000. He worked up some finance numbers with an assumed rate of 4.99% and $10k down. After looking at everything we felt that it would work in our budget, so we headed off to talk to the finance guy.  We completed an application and waited for an answer from the bank.  It was a Saturday, Memorial Day weekend, so we weren’t sure if we would get an answer that day.  After 20 minutes or so, we had an answer, 5.49% with $13k down.  At that point, we decided to take a break.  This was such a big decision and we just want to make sure we are not getting in too far over our heads.

Over the next 24 hours we went back and forth, should we buy this one, should we stop.  Of course, we got a call Sunday from the Finance manager to check in with us.  Some how, they managed to get the rate down to 4.99%, we still were unsure.  So Monday, our salesman, Bob, called. They couldn’t come down on the price any further, but they could offer us $1500 in Visa gift cards to offset the increased down payment amount. With that, we said yes! We went in on Memorial Day and signed all of the paperwork.
We are now the proud owners of a Winnebago Vista LX 35B!!!

Finding the right RV for us

We started really talking about looking at RVs in early 2016, we were watching all the shows about RVing. In April we made the decision on a trip back from Disney to stop at a big RV dealer along I-4. At that point we had NO idea what we were looking for. Class A, Class C or Fifth Wheel.  So we asked to look at all of them.  We made it clear that we weren’t buying that day and were just gathering information.  So we looked at a Class A Gas and a couple of Class C’s, one in particular was a Minnie Whinnie.  After looking we went home to do some more research and see what our budget could handle.  Over the next month or so we talked ourselves out of doing this and talked ourselves back into it. Not the right time, need to save more money.  Or if not now, when? Our son, Christopher, is young and still likes hanging out with us and Chris has a job that he can work anywhere as long as he has internet.

We are not campers.  I think that the last time I went tent camping I was maybe 6 or 7 years old.  It rained the entire time and my mom and I slept in the car.  The only other camping I did was with girl scouts when I was 10 and we slept in cabins.  We are not what you would call “roughing it” kind of people.  So in looking at an RV, comfort and amenities were at the top of our list.  We also did a lot of research on quality, we wanted something that would last and hold up well if we decide to do this full time.  We needed space, somewhere Chris could work and bunk beds or a bunkhouse for our son. We also wanted a kitchen with some counter space, which is hard to come by in many RVs.

After all of our research we were torn between a Class A (32-36 feet) and a Fifth Wheel with a bunkhouse.  We have a 2016 CR-V that we purchased in November which obviously would not be suited for towing anything and, as we discovered, can not be towed behind a class A.  The choice between the two was a difficult one.  In a Fifth wheel, we could have the most overall space, including a full bunk room for Christopher. The downside is that our travel time would be spent confined to a vehicle rather than having the more open space in a class A coach.  The other con was the cost of the truck that we would have to buy in order to tow the size of Fifth Wheel that we want.

One of the pros of a Class A is that everything is self-contained. No hooking up to truck, you can grab a snack from the fridge while cruising down the road and just have more space during your driving time.  The biggest con is price, since it is all one unit, you are paying for your living space and your vehicle.

Since we would have to purchase a large, expensive ($50K+) truck to tow a fifth wheel, a class A just made more sense for our situation.