It was a cold and dreary day in central FL, a bit too damp for outdoor activities. We decided to go shopping for a new outdoor rug for under our awning, pick up a few groceries and kill some time until the drizzle moved on and the Florida sunshine returned. Little did we know that day, that there was more ‘afoot’ than a new rug, and that our quest for flooring would turn into a two week adventure, ending with the purchase of a new home for these two rambling RVers…
We hopped in the car and drove the half mile down the road to Camping World. If we had decided to go to WalMart that day, our lives would most likely be much different right now. We would have enjoyed the convenience of one stop shopping, picked up our rug and our groceries and we would have been home in less than an hour. But no… we went to Camping World. And that is where our adventure began. Unlike the Camping World in our home state of MN, the one in Kissimmee, FL also sells RVs… Nice shiny new RVs… complete with all of the associated sticker shock and the required monthly payments that come standard with nearly every make and model.
It started out harmless enough. We decided to wander through a few of them to kill some time on a rainy day. Like most campers, Bruce and I have always enjoyed looking at new RVs. When we were in Minnesota, we would attend the local RV shows each spring and other than the time that we were actually in the market for one, we always escaped unscathed. We walked through the lot that day, oohing and aahing at the shiny paint, the nice new tires and we ducked inside each one to escape the rain, take a peek and ooh and aah some more.
To this day I still doubt the existence of the perfect RV, but when we stepped into the 2013 Winnebago Sightseer 33C we both knew that we were about as close to our dream floor plan as we were going to get. It was only seven feet longer than our Winnebago Sightseer 26P, but the nearly full length slide on the drivers side and the additional living room slide on the passenger side made us both entertain thoughts of being untrue to our beloved home on wheels, Shorty.
Almost as if on cue, the salesman arrived and popped his head inside the RV. We chatted with him as we continued to poke around, opening cabinets, pushing buttons and going through our ‘perfect RV’ wish lists in our heads. When we finished our tour there wasn’t a box left unchecked on those lists for either one of us and needless to say, both of our lists were long. We were smitten, but we couldn’t come to terms with the dealer that all of us could agree on. Their price was too high and ours was too low, so we didn’t buy the Winnebago that day. But the seeds had been planted and we were destined to stray. It started with an appraisal of Shorty, next came an online affair with the RVs on several dealerships’ websites and finally we started a (relatively) long distance relationship with a 2014 Itasca Sunova 33C (the younger twin brother of the Sightseer 33C) at the LaMesa RV dealership about 40 miles up I-4.
We were in love, but we were still a bit hesitant to sign on the dotted line. Shorty was ours, free and clear, and we weren’t sure if we were ready to make a monthly payment again. The dealership tempted us with a great deal, offering us the Itasca for only $2000 more than the Winnebago which was a previous year’s model and we did a bit of hemming and hawing with them over the value of our beloved Shorty. We had nothing to lose if we walked away again, so I was feeling good. Then suddenly I heard Bruce blurt out, “Throw in a mud flap and we have a deal.” The dealer extended his hand to shake on the deal while I tried to pick up my jaw off the floor before anyone noticed. I guess we were going through with this after all. They shuffled us off to the finance department so we could fill out some paperwork and put down a deposit and then we went home to Shorty, feeling just a little guilty about what we had just done to him.
The next week was supposed to be our yearly trip to Disney’s Fort Wilderness. Instead of theme parks and character meet and greets, our week was filled with calls to insurance agents and emails with loan officers. Getting a loan when you are a full time RVer is not as easy as when you live in a sticks and bricks house. If you don’t make your payments, the loan company wants to know where they can come and pick up their property. That isn’t easy when you move around a lot, so there are very few companies that will even consider making an RV loan to a full timer. Fortunately Florida is a snowbird Mecca, so LaMesa was familiar with the ins and outs of our situation and they hooked us up with a company that worked with full time RVers. So other than a bit of last minute panic about whether our loan papers would get to the dealership on time, everything went smoothly as we prepared for moving day.
We picked up our new RV aka ‘Homey’ on our last day of our vacation. We got there early in the morning, hoping to make it back in time for dinner that evening with friends. Our loan paperwork was being delivered by FedEx when we walked in the door, so we were able to get that out of the way first thing. Next came our walk through. They pointed out all of the important stuff and we found a couple of minor issues, which were quickly corrected. Then came time to move our stuff. We pulled Shorty up next to homey and we started carrying things out of one RV and straight into the other. As a full time RVer, it isn’t physically possible to have a whole lot of stuff, but Bruce and I are crafty packers, and we were using every available inch of storage in Shorty. It took us over three hours to do the job and as time approached for our dinner date we went from putting things away to simply putting things wherever they would fit. For the most part that meant throwing it on the bed. When the last cupboards and compartments were empty, we pulled in the slides, said our goodbyes to the folks at LaMesa RV and headed back to our campsite. We were about half way there when it dawned on me.
“Did you empty the storage compartment under the bed?”, I asked Bruce, knowing full well what the answer would be.
“Damn, I thought you did”, he replied.
I reached for my phone to call LaMesa. It was a few minutes after five, so I hoped that someone was still there. They answered and said we could come back, but we were in the middle of rush hour in downtown Orlando and we still had a dinner date to make. There was no way that we were turning around. We would have to go back and get it in the morning. There was only one problem. We were supposed to check out in the morning. We decided that Bruce would take the car to get the stuff under the bed while I prepared for our departure.
The traffic through downtown Orlando was terrible, but it gave Bruce a chance to test his skills driving Homey during rush hour. Homey drove like a dream and we made it back without incident. By the time that we got settled in our site, we were more than a little late for dinner, but our friends were gracious enough to wait for us. We enjoyed a few hours with our friends and then made our way back to our site to try to find the bed under the carnage. It took until 1:30, but we were finally able to clear away enough stuff so that we could go to sleep. The Sandman was calling, so the rest would have to wait until morning.
The next morning I went to work on finding a home for the rest of our belongings and Bruce headed off to the dealership to fetch what we had left under our bed. Our friends came to our site to take a look at our new digs and to lend a hand with getting Homey ready to hit the road. Checkout was at 11:00AM, so time was short. We got things packed up with minutes to spare and Bruce arrived just in time to say goodbye. We headed down the road to our next destination, where we were able to spend the next few days to find a permanent home for all of our things in the RV.
We are all settled in now and we are adjusting to our new home on wheels. We miss our little Shorty, but we feel that we made the right choice in getting Homey. Shorty just wasn’t quite big enough for two adults and two fur babies to live in comfortably and Homey should fit our needs for years to come. By the way, we never did buy that rug…