Somewhere along the line, Laura and I became interested in RVs.
I’m not sure exactly how this happened, and I remember being surprised that Laura was interested. Laura was no stranger to camping, having done quite a bit of back packing as a young adult. I grew up camping. My family did a lot of it – car/tent camping, RV rentals a couple of times, and lots of boat camping. Neither Laura or I had much exposure to the “RV Lifestyle” as adults. We had seen some TV shows about RVs which probably got our interest up a little bit, but I can’t remember a single moment where we both decided we wanted to seriously look into this.
We heard about an “RV Show” being held out in Pomona, and decided to go check it out. At the time I thought this was the big manufacturer’s show that is held there each fall. It wasn’t – it was a dealer show, but they had a lot of units to show. We went to check out lower end travel trailers, which seemed to be a pretty affordable type of RV to start with. We looked at all of the trailers they had in our price range, and were on our way out of there when a salesman invited us to look at a motor home. It was a 26 ft Winnebago Vista Class A.
We were reluctant to look at the Winnebago, believing that Class A motor homes were way beyond our price range. This one wasn’t – it was under $70K, bringing it pretty close to the nicer travel trailers we looked at, when you add in the cost of a tow vehicle – something we didn’t already have. We were very impressed by this small Class A, and while there was no way were were going to purchase one of these right away, it did the gears in our heads turning. That led to a lot of internet research, and expanding interest.
There is a lot of information about RVing on the Internet……both advertisement – driven content and open forums where anybody can participate. Laura and I learned a lot in a couple of months, and were ready to start looking a little more seriously.
We decided to look at a couple of the largest dealers in Southern California. We looked at travel trailers, as well as Class C and Class A motor homes. We were concentrating on new lower end units.
The first place we visited is the second biggest dealership in our area. The sales person there was a woman, and she was pretty laid back. She just let us look at coaches at our own pace, and answered questions. It was a good experience. Our favorite coach there was the Coachmen Mirada 29DS, but there were others that we liked as well, including the 29 foot Thor Hurricane and the 26 foot Winnebago Vista.
The second dealer that we went to is the largest in the area. We started out looking at new coaches there – Class A only. They had the FR3, which we liked a lot, and the Thor Windsport, which was very similar to the Thor Hurricane. We were also shown a few used Class A Motorhomes, but they were too old and run down to be of interest to us. The sales person at this dealership was a young man, who seemed to be pretty new on the job. He was very pushy. There was a lot of pressure to buy something right away, which neither Laura or I liked. When we were about ready to leave, this salesman rushed us into an older Class A that was sitting in the parking lot, still running after the prior owner gave it to them in trade for a new coach. He told us how “lucky” we were to be able to look at it first. It was a beat up, dirty mess, and it smelled bad. This dealership has probably lost our business by rushing us into that old nasty coach and then pressuring us to buy it right away. The final straw was the shifty-eyed sales manager, who, after we turned down that old coach, tried to back us into a corner, and grilled us about when we would be ready to buy, how much we could spend, where the down payment was coming from, and so on. This idiot talked to us like we were suspects in a police station. Very bad vibe. We left their lot quickly after that, but these guys continued calling us over and over again, trying to get us to come back.
The good news is that the experience at that second dealership slowed us down. We went back to the Internet research for another couple of months, and only visited one other dealer during that time – a very small Newmar dealer in the northern part of LA County. The Newmar units were very nice, but they were beyond our price range.
Now fast forward a few months. I decided to retire from my job of 35 years. Preparing for that consumed most of our time for a month or so. We were still very much interested in RVs, but decided to go slow. We planned to attend the big manufacturer’s RV Show in Pomona. After that, we would rent an RV to see if we enjoyed it enough to proceed.
The next post will be about the California RV Show in Pomona.