Thursday, February 27, 2014

Southwest Culture Roadtrip

"So what are you doing out here? Are you trying to learn something or do you have a plan?"  That was the question a camping neighbor asked me while I stopped to have a chat.  I had been on the road for a little over a week and met this fellow in Rocky Mountain National Park.  He had been on the road for 12 weeks and was touring great places to mountain bike so he could strengthen his knee, while recovering from knee reconstruction surgery.  I pondered his question and just told him I was out doing a loop through the west seeing some sights that I had always wanted to see.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

St. Augustine Scrapbook

I'm just about to wrap up another pleasant winter stay at St. Augustine Beach.  This will be our sixth year coming down to north FL and escaping winter.  It was cooler than normal this year, but a lot warmer than it was back home in New England.  I got some good beach time in and got back on the bike after a 4 year hiatus.  Overall, it was a very good stay.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Daytona Speedweek

J. Dawg hanging out in the Infield
Drivers, start your engines!!!  Its February and that means the Nascar season is about to kick off at Daytona.  Nascar racing starts in the third week of the month.  Its a week long event called Speedweek.  I love stock car racing and going to Speedweek is a great RV destination trip for Florida in February.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Travel & RV Blogs

I enjoy reading blogs from other travelers. Its a great way to see and and hear about other people experiences.  I started reading blogs several years ago when I started using Blogger for my own posting.  I found that there are countless numbers of bloggers using Blogger, Wordpress, or Tumblr writing about their travels, providing technical info, and sharing their experiences.  Its a great way to learn from others about new places and to find some technical info.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Trading Up - The RV Buying Experience Revisited

Preface - Two comments about this entry.  First, like people with boats and motorcycles, many people with RV's trade up for something bigger.  This blog entry is about my experience in trading up.  I discuss a particular dealer and product but in no way offer this as an endorsement or recommendation for anything.  It's just put forth to share my experience.

Secondly, buying an RV can be an is a significant commitment and a expensive proposition.  Lots of folks may not have the means to trade up and/or are satisfied with what they have.  I respect that. I'm not a spendthrift and not advocating trading up.  Its just what I wanted to do at this point in my life.  Now onto the new RV.

Last month, I traded in my Roadtrek 190 camper van for a new Winnebago View Profile.  My new Winnebago is a class C motor home.  The class designations of these things can be confusing.  The big bus types motor homes are class A's, the small camper vans are class B's, and medium sized ones built on medium duty trucks bodies are class C's.  If you can figure out the logic in that classification system then you probably know the name of the second shooter on the grassy knoll!

I loved my Roadtrek, but wanted just a tad more space for when we did stay put camping.  I really like to go to Florida in the winter, but found the Roadtrek too cramped for extended stays.  For monthly winter stays, rates for an RV park in FL are about 1/3 the cost of renting a condo.  Spending $3,300 for a winter stay vs $9,000 was very appealing to me.  And I like the whole RV park experience.  In the condo setting, I'd rarely met any of my neighbors over the course of three months.  In the RV park, I'd meet half the people in the park within the first day of arriving.

I'd been doing some research on-line and really liked the small class C motor homes built on the Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis.  The Sprinter is a rock solid vehicle with a great track record.    Roadtrek uses it for some of their models as does Winnebago, Itasca, Liesure Travel, Pleasure Way and Thor.  The chassis has a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of about 11,000 lbs compared to my Roadtrek Chevy that had a GVWR of 9,600 lbs.  It also has a small V6 turbo diesel engine that gets great fuel mileage.
Winnebago View Profile

So it was on a whim, that while driving down to Fort Myers Beach in our Roadtrek, I decided to stop at Lazydays RV outside of Tampa. There are some huge RV dealerships in Florida and Lazydays is the largest single site RV dealership in the America's.  Their web site showed they had a few of the Winnebago Views on site, so I wanted to take a look at some while I was going by.

I had never been to Lazydays before and was impressed with the size of this dealer. It is huge; like a college campus huge.  It is so large that they have to ferry you around in golf carts to look at RV's.  And they have acres of them on display.  They have a large on site cafeteria for buyers and service customers, a large on site RV park to stay over if needed, they offer ongoing classes on RV topics, a service area has well over 50 bays, and a transfer lot that can hold about 50 units for people transferring from old to new RV's.  According to them, they are one of the largest Winnebago dealers in the US.

I also found them very easy to deal with.  Within an hour of stopping, I got to look at 4 units, got a tour of the facility, a competitive trade in value for my Roadtrek, and a discounted price for a new Winnebago was that wowed me.  All with no pressure to buy anything.

I really like the Winnebago View Profile model 24V.  The View is a very popular model.  I like the size (just 25 ft long and 7 1/2 ft wide) and the living space with permanent twin beds that can make into a king.  A key selling point for me was the fiberglass roof with a 10 year warranty (most RV's come with a 1 yr warranty).  Class C RV roofs are notorious for leaks, but the View has a unique fiberglass roof (unlike a rubber covered roof on most RV's) and with a 10 yr warranty on the roof, Winnebago is standing behind it.

So, with a two year old Roadtrek that had a great trade in value, a too-good-to-be-true offer on a new unit that I really liked, and a dealer that was very easy to work with, I did the sensible logical thing - I called them back and made a ridiculous counter offer.  An offer that I expected they might counter me on but most likely one that they'd probably say sorry we can't go that low because I was just fishing and wasn't all that anxious to buy.

So after more than a day of waiting, I got the call back from the sales rep that said "If you can buy it by the end of the month, you've got a deal".  I had to swallow hard and catch my breath and reiterate my deal, "You mean, if I give you my van and the sum I offered then I get the new Winnebago with no other hidden costs or fees?"  The response was "That's right".  I was blown away.  I got a great book value for my trade and almost 20% off the new unit.  Too good to pass up.

Buying an RV out of state can be complex with out of state registrations and sales taxes.  The state I live in makes it even more complex and difficult.  But the Lazydays staff was very much aware of the process and paperwork I needed to register it in my home state.  It took less than 30 mins to do the financial transaction, then it was onto a 2 hour walk thru of our new unit where they showed me how everything works.  Lazydays encourages you to stay overnight in their transfer lot so you get to use everything on the unit. They want to make sure everything works and that you are comfortable with the unit before driving off.

Lazydays assigns a Delivery Manger to each buyer who makes sure everything is working and, if needed, gets things fixed before you drive off.  In my unit, I needed another walk thru on the dump procedure, I needed the propane topped off, I had a cabinet that wouldn't close right, and the refrigerator wasn't getting cold enough.  It all got addressed pretty quickly the next day except for the refrigerator problem.  After checking all the obvious things, they conferred with Winnebago and concluded that the refrigerator needed to be replaced.  It was going to take 7-10 days to get the new unit delivered, until I complained to the head of Delivery that I couldn't wait that long.  I asked her to think of another solution. Within 15 seconds she was on the phone instructing the service techs to "rip one out" of another new unit and install it in mine.  When I asked if she could do that she responded firmly, "I can do anything".  And she did. I got to experience first hand one of the benefits of a big dealership.  I had to spend another night in the transfer lot, but she had the techs work late to take one out of another unit and had my new one installed by 9:30 am the next morning.  By 10:00am, I was on way with the refrigerator working perfectly.

So far I love it!  Its easy to drive like my Roadtrek and I love the extra space.  With the extra length, it takes a little more planning when finding a parking space but it still fits in most places.  The diesel takes a little getting used to.  On my first fill up, my fuel mileage was a respectable 15.1 mpg.  I'm looking forward to all the trips I'm going to take in it.


 And that's the way it happened, how I got my new Winnebago (and Mercedes Benz).