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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Should I cut my losses?
Message-ID: <>
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2003 13:35:20 -0400

Several thoughts.

First off, you picked what is, IMHO, the worst possible combination to travel
in for all the reasons you mentioned and more.  I've been in every type of
camping device available except the big buses and I think I'd rather have a
pop-up camper than a pickup one.  too many hassles.  Unfortunately you'll take
a bath getting rid of the pair.

Your brothers' advice was sound - rent and try before buying.  I think the
wrong rig experience may have soured you prematurely.  That happened to my
parents about 15 years ago.  They bought a travel trailer from Three Way
Camper Sales in Marietta, Ga (NEVER EVER GO THERE!!) that was set up so badly
that it was almost uncontrollable.  They took it back and abandoned the idea.
That is, until I got my mom to take a short trip with me in my MH.  That was
about a year ago.  Within a couple of months she'd bought a MH of her own and
now is on the road every weekend.  She has no interest in full-timing.  Just
traveling around seeing the country.  I bet not a week goes by that she
doesn't say how much she regrets not getting a motorhome back then.  The sad
part is she's almost too old to drive the thing.  She almost waited too long.

For traveling, as opposed to camping, you can't beat a motorhome, particularly
one of the smaller ones that handles like and has economy similar to a large
van.  Say, a 24 footer.  With a small rig like that you don't need a toad.
Just unhook and go.

Getting mine ready to go involves tossing in some food for me and Bob the cat,
filling the water tank and going.  I keep clothes in the rig all the time.  I
can be gone literally half an hour after I get the urge.

On to traveling itself.  I've found that in most cases the best plan is no
plan at all.  I know it will take some time to get rid of job-think and start
doing things spontaneously.  It did me.  But once you do, the freedom is
wonderful.  For maybe half my excursions I open a map to the eastern US, close
my eyes and drop a pencil (now click a mouse in Street Atlas.)  Wherever it
lands is where I go.  I let Street Atlas plot a route but I rarely stick to
it.  With the GPS unit I now have zero fear of getting lost so I can wander

The other part of traveling freely is getting accustomed to stopping just
about anywhere that looks safe for a nap or a night's sleep.  I'm a frequent
Camp Wallyworlder but I also use Flying J's, grocery store parking lost,
C-store parking lots and the like.  With a small rig I find that I can almost
always get permission to "stop and nap a few hours".  Come to think of it I've
never been turned down.  I almost never stay in campgrounds.  Many states'
rest areas have dump stations.  So do many major truck stop chains.  the major
truck stops have nice showers for rent.  That's nice when I need a real soaker
:-)  Only when I decide to stay for a few days do I spend one or more days in
a commercial campground.

I do frequently stop at government camping facilities (forest service, NPS,
state parks and such.)  If you're (I believe) over 62 you can get a Golden Age
passport that gets you a 50% discount at federal facilities and some discount
in state parks (25% in Tn).  A handicapped placards gets you even more in most
areas (50% in Tn according to recent experience.)  These facilities are almost
always nicer than the run-of-the-mill commercial CG.  The sites are farther
apart, usually wooded (at least here in the east) and far apart.

Street Atlas has many of the government facilities already in its
points-of-interest database. I'm adding more every trip.  Using the web to
search the states' resources is a good way to augment that database.

If you're like me and can get lost in a paper sack, the last essential is a
GPS navigation system.  I have the Street Atlas/earthmate combo ($125) that
runs on a laptop.  I now would not leave home without it.  I can now ramble
freely in the country, knowing that I can always find my way back to a major
road when I want to.

It takes time to get used to the life.  I recall the first few times I stopped
at a Camp Wallyworld.  I was nervous as a whore in church, just imagining
every thug in the area coming to strip stuff of the rig or damage it.  Now I
pull in, sack out and sleep like a baby.  In the summer the AC drowns out
traffic noise and in the winter I play oceanside nature sounds from my Archos
jukebox over the stereo.  This drowns out the traffic noise and makes me think
I'm parked near water :-)

It takes time to get used to the freedom too.  Many times I'd drive past
something that looked interesting, remember that I was in no hurry to get
anywhere, turn around and go back.  I've now eliminated the turning around
part :-)

You may ultimately find that you just don't like the life but I bet not.  This
is the most fun thing I've done in my adult life.  You could spend a lifetime
exploring the country.


On 20 Jun 2003 01:13:03 -0700, (Don) wrote:

>Hi Everyone,
>Probably a tough group to ask, but after a few trips and too many
>hassels over a period of about 2 1/2 months my expensive 2003 Lance
>camper and 2003 Chevy 2500 HD crew cab pickup don't seem to be for me.
> I think I was naive, despite doing a lot of reading, and thought it
>would be easy to just put the camper on and drive away into the sunset
>of retirement. Well so far it has been a lot of problems and not very
>comfortable accomodations for someone used to better. I guess both my
>older brothers knew me better than I know myself as the were adament
>that I rent something first to try it out.
>I hate to take the camper off and put it on, load it up with food and
>stuff. I don't like the campgrounds I have been in, paying pretty much
>for full hookups and dumping sewer water. I don't want the trouble of
>researching every long trip I take to make sure I have a place to stay
>or end up in Walmart's parking lot.  Between the cost of the truck and
>camper, gasoline, and camp fees, it is expensive too.

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