On New Year’s Day 2018, I knew one thing for sure: I like the nomad lifestyle and want to continue for as long as I am able. Little did I know I would be faced with so many decisions and challenges before spring.
As of the last post, Decisions, Decisions… (Part 1), you can see I was 80% sure I wanted to trade the van for an RV before going to Yellowstone for the summer.
Thank heavens I’m not trying to buy something like this!
While shopping for RVs in Denver, I found that most dealers weren’t interested in taking Katrina as a trade-in. They offered anywhere from $5000-$7500 which torched my ego and dampened my spirits. I knew I could do better by selling it myself, so after kicking some tires in Albuquerque and Denver, I headed for Greeley to try my hand at marketing the van.
Using my dad’s yard and home as basecamp, I spent two days cleaning it, storing my belongings, (where did I put it all??) and posted a few pictures on Craig’s List.
At first, there were only a handful of inquiries. They all seemed real and I was excited and encouraged. On Sunday, the second day, I received a note from a prospective buyer. His text went like this: “We didn’t wake up this morning planning to drive to Greeley, but when an opportunity comes along…”
I liked the tone of our brief communications and felt confident this buyer was real, so I proposed a meeting in Brighton (halfway between Greeley and Denver) for later in the day. An anxious hour flew by and soon my friend Deb – you know, for safety reasons – and I were on our way. The prospective buyers, Jim and Kathy, met us in the parking lot at Wal-mart and I liked them instantly!
I was hoping Katrina’s warm, charming, and professionally-finished interior would captivate their hearts just like it did mine! As an added incentive, I threw in the porta-potty. (ha!)
After some chit-chat and a test drive, we started talking money. Earlier in our conversation, I mentioned that I just had the oil changed and a 27 point inspection done. During that inspection, the repair people recommended new ball-joints for the front. As part of the negotiations, I agreed to reduce the price if they would promise to get the work done at their expense. I also wanted to give them time to take the rig to a mechanic of their choice and/or any other due diligence they wanted to perform before taking delivery.
Early Monday morning Jim started his research. After reading my blog, making a few phone calls, figuring out what type of emissions test would be necessary, and a sleepless night or two, he was ready to go. By mid-week, we were exchanging cash for keys!
Bye, bye Katrina! I am going to miss you! May Jim and Kathy have tons of fun cavorting around in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and beyond!
As serendipity would have it, later that day I viewed an immaculate 24′ RV at RV Four Seasons in Loveland. My salesman had given me notice that this little rig was coming in as a trade-in, so the timing was perfect!
As it turned out, however, ALL the salesman had notified their buyers, so there were several of us hovering around the RV at the same time. (I give the dealer credit for creating a sense of urgency having all of us show up at once! 🙂 Since it was pretty close to what I was looking for – and without even taking a test-drive – I hastily negotiated a price and put a downpayment on it.
Then the doubt set in! Was it big enough? Did it have any warranties? How will I ever learn to operate one of these things? What if I don’t like the way it handles? Did I pay too much? On and on…
Prior to seeing this rig, my brother and I had spent several days looking at dealerships along I-25. We ran across an old behemoth for nearly $40K that had two slides, was 28′ long, had only 11K miles on it but was 12 years old. Geez, these things seem to hold their value!
Down the road at Camping World -Longmont we really liked this Gemini by Thor but had to walk away when the sales manager tried to pressure me into buying it. First off, it was more than I wanted to spend (“but you can get a “better deal” by financing” the sales manager said), it had a slide and was scarred up from being on the showroom floor. (Note to self: When the sales manager gets involved and starts to bully his way into a contract, run – don’t walk – the other way!)
On the plus side, the cabinetry was sleek and modern, the kitchen sink was huge, the skylight over the cab brought in lots of light, and the sofa was very comfortable. Eh gads! There I go again with the champagne taste on a beer budget!
Sensing my doubts about the Freedom Elite, my brother offered to take me to a big RV show in Denver. There we rambled through more RVs – from the smallest Class B to the largest Class A and even a few fifth wheel trailers. If you are in the mood for shopping, it is worth your time to check out the RV shows. You will be amazed at what is available! I think the coach above was in the $250K range.
The day finally arrived when I was scheduled to take the Freedom Elite for a test drive. The previous owners were still moving out the day I put the deposit on it, and the dealership wanted to check it out thoroughly before I drove it. BTW: this practice seemed to be universal. One salesman told me I couldn’t take a test drive until I qualified for a loan. Another said they would need a few days to get the unit ready to drive. (Note to self: Insist on a test drive before negotiations even start!)
I took my sweet time on the test drive to make sure it felt right.
Well…what can I say? It’s a truck with big side mirrors and swarthy body. Manageable? Yes. As agile as the van? No. I also had a chance to check out the interior more thoroughly. The fit and finish were fine with a barrel chair by the entry door, a dinette, corner bed, and bath. Pretty normal configuration for an RV this size.The only part that didn’t work for me was the clothes storage. See the minuscule closet near the fridge? It is perfect for a weekend trip, but not great for full-timing.
Much to the dealer’s credit, he offered a discount on the coach to help relieve the storage problem. But it is still a used vehicle, with not quite enough storage, on a little bigger chassis than I wanted and the truck warranty was about to expire. I got scared and pulled the plug!
I’ll never know if that was the right move or not, but in the back of my mind I was thinking about the Leprechaun I saw at LazyDays in Denver. It was spacious, in pretty good shape (except the Las Vegas-style curtains), no slides and was a little lower priced.
When I went back to look at it, I was reminded it was 27′ long with a V-10 engine. Both the coach and the truck were out of warranty – and they still wanted $53K for it. I think I’ll keep looking, thanks.
Starting from scratch again, I headed back to Denver. My friend Susan suggested putting together a checklist of the items I would like to have in the coach, the things I could live without and the must–haves. It was an ingenious idea and encouraging to know I was going to be more “scientific” about my search. In fact, I had visions of publishing this and other checklists pertinent to RV life but as usual, someone else beat me to it.
Check out this website to go through the buying process from the get-go rather than waiting like I did.
Here you’ll find a list to help you decide what you are looking for, a list for the pre-delivery inspection, a list for setting up and a list for preparing to leave. They thought of everything!
Now armed with a bunch of lists and sheer determination, Susan and I set off to search the local RV dealers one more time. With the May 1 deadline breathing down my neck, I was determined to find the right rig, buy it, take it home, camp in it and make sure everything worked well before setting off to the hinterlands. Sounds easy, right?
We started early one morning and hit the first of the three places I wanted to visit that day. The sales guy opened up a couple of the coaches and went back to the office, which gave us a chance to go over all the pros and cons without someone looking over our shoulders. Sweet!
The longer we sat there, the more I liked it! It had a nice bathroom, a corner bed, a “j” couch, on a Ford Transit chassis, with a V-6 engine, 24′ long and no slides. Extras were the backup camera, the side cameras (to catch the blind spots), only one TV -not 3, lots of storage with a decent-sized closet and drawers! And it was brand new!
OK, so that one hit a lot of the items on my list, but I still wanted to see one down the street (with a slide) and revisit the Leprechaun. We got as far as the one down the street and since it didn’t meet the criteria on my checklist, I stopped looking. Enough already! Let’s take it for a test drive! If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this gives you the rest of the story in an instant. Here is the new rig on its first outing. A lot happened between the first time I saw this vehicle and the day I left for the maiden voyage. Follow along as my new Coachman Orion 20CB and I become acquainted.
A special shout of thanks goes out to Susan for her ability to ask great questions; my brother for his patience and the keen eye; my wing-(wo)man Deb for helping me sell the van; Dad and Sue for letting me camp out in their backyard for the past few weeks; my sis for her love and support and YOU- my friends and followers!
I appreciate each and every one of you!
Category: Buying an RV, Coachman Orion 20CB, Looking for the Right Vehicle, Musings, Travel, Workamping, YellowstoneTags: Buying an RV, camping, Coachman Orion 20CB, Colorado, friendship, new beginnings, random thoughts, retirement, travelers