We started the RV search by googling until our eyeballs almost fell out and clicking through a ton of listings on rvtrader.com. We then decided we needed to look at some of these things in person to really get a feel for their size and floor plan. We headed out to La Mesa RV (LMRV) in Mesa, Arizona to check things out. We immediately ran into Bob who was an incredibly knowledgable guide through our next four trips to explore models. In all we made three trips to La Mesa RV, one trip to Glendale to a big RV show put on by the valley LMRV dealerships, two terrible but informational trips to Worldwide RV in Mesa and one incredible trip to Affinity RV in Prescott.
In the beginning we were thinking we wanted to do a custom sprinter van conversion. We both liked the idea of it fitting easily into parking spaces and looking pretty normal on regular city streets. Then we remembered that Rivers owns like 4,000 Hot Wheels cars and there was no way we were going to survive in a footprint that small. Then we moved on to class C options. They seemed really cool and our favorite was the Winnebago View. Those weren’t going to work out because Rivers needs to travel properly restrained in a car seat and they don’t offer that option (legally, anyway). We finally settled on the safest method being a 5th wheel or travel trailer and a truck to tow it. As much as that sounds like narrowing things down, not so much.
There is an incredible amount of options and choices in the world of towables. We started out looking based on price. The travel trailers (TTs) are much cheaper and in some cases have more spacious floorplans. The interior ceiling height was fairly low, though, which is a problem if your husband is six feet tall. We did entertain the idea of getting a TT for a while and found a ton of models we liked. It was nice to have Bob as our salesman, and once he had the full story of our plans to fulltime in it, he really knew what direction to guide us in. We really liked Bob for his no-bullshit style and the amazing wealth of knowledge he had. He was very honest with us about a few brands that he felt were cheaply made and would not stand up well to full-time occupancy no matter how careful we were.
On trip number two to LMRV Bob showed us a bunch of travel trailers and of course we fell in love with a few. Our original favorite was the Dutchmen Denali 371BH. It had a bunk house for Rivers to have his own space, a bathtub, a kitchen island with lots of storage and nice solid surface countertops. With two opposing slides in the living room and kitchen area, it provided a really open feeling to the space we knew we would spend all our time in. Then Bob wanted to show us some Keystone brand options. Our favorite Keystone TT was the Keystone Outback Ultralite 293UBH. This model was cool because it had three beds in the bunk house and a small dinette. We thought it would be a great space for Riv to color or play with vehicles on the table top. It also had a bathtub, which was an original necessity on my list that I had to give up once I realized how impractical it was. We also noticed during this trip that the TTs didn’t offer much extra storage space. Considering we would be fulltiming, storage was a big necessity. We left that day feeling like we were definitely headed in the right direction of finding the right setup for us.
After looking at so many towable options Ben set out to research towing and the kinds of hitches available for TTs these days. He had memories of traveling with his family when they had a TT they towed to the mountains, and was hoping that time & technology offered a more stable/less swaying option. During his research he became pretty convinced that with as much as we would be moving around during our winter travels he would prefer towing a fifth wheel (5er). We also learned how much more headroom it would offer for him, so we decided to hit up LMRV again.
On our fourth trip to the dealership we found out Bob wasn’t there because he was busy getting things ready for the company’s big RV show they would be hosting that weekend at University of Phoenix Stadium. We were then warned that inventory was low on-site since many of the rigs had already been moved to the stadium in preparation for the show. One of Bob’s colleagues showed us a couple of 5ers they still had and we made plans to hit up the RV show to have a better selection to consider. Since we had a few days before the show we used the LMRV website to look at the brands & layouts we would want to see in person.
Next Post…The Rv Show