We interrupt the story of our Inaugural retirement trip to Texas to make a BIG announcement!
We did it; we are the proud owners of an RV!
But before we go there a little background. Those of you who have followed curvyroads for any length of time know that we have dreamed about, thought about, talked about, researched and obsessed over RVs and choosing an RV for a long, long time.
We were so incredibly fortunate to be able to retire in March of 2015, and you can read about how that felt here: Attitude of gratitude. Then, in April 2015, we embarked on a bucket list motorcycle trip to celebrate being together for 20 years, and you can read most of that story starting here. There are links at the end of each post to the next. Until today…where we interrupt the tale of our trip for this big announcement. 😀
Our dream has always been to travel the US on our own schedule and experience all the legendary motorcycling roads we have heard and read about over almost 20 years of riding. But we wanted to be able to spend some time in each area, discovering the not-so-well-known roads as well. Initially, we thought we would just ride the motorcycles everywhere. But doing just that for so many years, we realized we would have to approach it from a different direction than riding from hotel to hotel daily. Now that we have retired, we do not want to rush, and we realized we would love to have some of the conveniences of home along on our trip. We met people on our travels that were RVing and towing bikes, and able to spend longer periods exploring a region or state. We decided that was what we thought we might want to try. The catch was that they were using all different sorts of RV types for their travels.
So, over the past several years, we have spent literally hundreds of hours researching all types of RVs online, going to RV shows, and shopping RV dealers. We went to seminars. We talked to anyone we could find that had RV experience to learn from their successes, and their failures. Since the motorcycles are key to this whole idea, we started with RVs that had a garage. Several years ago, there were some larger motorized units that had garages. Those are now really hard to find, with a few exceptions. Then we considered towable options, such as toy haulers. We looked. We looked some more. We heard from everyone that we needed to determine what we could afford, and would make us comfortable and happy, and buy that. To a person, everyone said: “buy your last RV first”. Apparently, buyers frequently underestimate their needs and end up trading up once, twice, or even three times.
We knew we were leaning toward a diesel Class A motorhome, so we decided to find a way to rent one. I say “find a way” because rentals of this class are few and far between, and pricey. We found a rental company near Atlanta and booked a week in early May 2015 in a 2007 Sportscoach 37 foot diesel pusher. We got our bikes and trailer ready and went for it. We picked the unit up a day after it returned from a rental at Talladega, and it had really suffered during that event! Anyway, it was cleaned up and we took it home to check out a couple of logistical things, and then pack it for a week away. First, would it fit in the entrance to our neighborhood, and second, could we get it in our driveway? I am pleased to report the answer to both questions was a resounding YES!
We packed, loaded the bikes, and headed out to eastern Tennessee, after a couple of unplanned stops for additional items at the grocery store, and our house…for our forgotten pillows! 🙂 Jerry started us out on the smaller highways GA 53 and US 411 for the first couple of hours, till the numerous red lights drove us to the dreaded interstate just inside Tennessee. I took over driving just before we got on I-75/40 and headed toward Knoxville. Boy did we ever appreciate that air ride suspension on the truck-beaten highway! We now had a much better appreciation for the truckers and the challenges of being 20,000 plus pounds and slowing down going uphill. We worked our way through Knoxville, to our destination about 25 miles east, the amazing Anchor Down RV resort. We had seen the park online, made a site choice, and knew it was nice and had lots of amenities, but we were still gobsmacked.
One day, the kids and youngest granddaughter from Chattanooga came to visit, and we rented a boat for the afternoon. A few pics must be included, although they have nothing to do with the RV decision. 🙂
Ok, back to our regularly scheduled program…we spent 5 nights in the RV, enjoying the park and the lake, riding the wonderful roads in Eastern Tennessee, and shopping a couple of days at local RV dealers. We were able to drive a similar-sized (39′) gas powered Class A RV and confirm that what we really wanted was a diesel pusher. The diesel pusher we rented was cosmetically rough, but had the air ride quality, engine power (and lack of engine noise), and air brakes, all of which were important to us with our plans to cross the country on numerous occasions. We looked at a 43′ Newmar Ventana in Knoxville but were not ready to pull the trigger just yet.
Since this whole RV idea is to facilitate lots of motorcycle riding, I must include just a few pics from our rides in the Eastern TN area. The roads here are just generally fabulous, with twists and turns that rival the famous motorcycle roads like the Tail of the Dragon, or the Snake, but no one knows about them. We even managed a ride over to our daughter-in-law’s mother’s farm for a quick visit. It certainly didn’t hurt that some of the roads to get there were awesome! 🙂
Our last night, we did NOT want to leave. That night we knew we would buy an RV, it was just a matter of when, and which one.
A couple of shots from the ride home. We went east on I-40 to Waynesville, then south on 441 down the BIG mountains above Franklin. The big diesel pusher did great, and that was with 300hp.
May 13th, we returned the rental RV and visited our local Georgia Newmar dealer, National Indoor RV Centers, in Lilburn, near Stone Mountain. We looked at used, we looked at new, and by May 16th, we had decided. Sweet deals were to be had on 2015s as the 2016s were already arriving. Meet our newest member of the family, our 2015 Newmar Ventana 4369. 43 feet of perfection, with 400hp to get us up and over those mountains! 😀
Talk about delayed gratification, we put down a deposit, then waited TEN WHOLE DAYS to pick her up. Ok, there was a reason…we had a years-overdue project to put strand-board walls on the bike garage, so we completed that, as well as, some long overdue basic yard maintenance prior to pickup date. Plus, we wanted to avoid the Memorial Day weekend. The dealer provides a two-night shakedown stay at the very nice campground at Stone Mountain Park, so after about 6 HOURS of walk through with a technician on the multitude of systems and features of the coach, off we went to test it out. Did I mention that a massive storm system was hitting the area just as we drove off the lot? Baptism by fire, anyone?
Jerry drove the massive beast, while I followed him for the 10 or so miles to the park in our truck, loaded down with stuff you need to equip a new RV. As we drove, I watched streams of pouring rain shoot off both sides of the back of the coach.
We pulled into the park, behind two other massive coaches, and I went in to register. Everything was paid for and ready, just as we had been told. We were directed to our site, a back in site, on a hill overlooking the lake. I went ahead, and parked the truck to the side, and got out with my umbrella and cell phone to direct Jerry into the spot. We did a yeoman’s job, and it took only a couple adjustments to settle the beast into our site. Then the fun began…leveling, hook ups, slides out, then unloading the truck into the RV in the pouring rain, thunder, and lightning. LOL
The storm finally passed, we got everything in its place (at least for now) and then sat down for a well-deserved festive adult beverage. Whew, we made it through the storm, and have this lovely home on wheels to enjoy for many years to come! Ironically, a couple of posts ago, I compared Stone Mountain to Enchanted Rock in Texas and mentioned the commercialism. Well, I could not have been more wrong. It was lovely and easy to avoid the more commercial aspects of the park. A couple of pics of the coach and some scenes from our two-day stay at Stone Mountain, which we thoroughly enjoyed:
Just a note, the carving was started in 1923 by the same artist that eventually carved Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, but not finished by him due to a dispute between him and the managing monumental association. Two other sculptors worked on the carving, after 36 years of lack of funds and neglect, and it was finally completed in 1972 after it was purchased by the State of Georgia.
Anyway, at this writing we have been the proud owners for almost a week now, and we are over the moon! This coach met all of our expectations and then some. We have already planned a week long trip to the Ozarks in June, our big trip to Montana and beyond in July and August, a long weekend in September at the MS Bike ride in Callaway Gardens, and a trip to Balloon Fiesta in October. 😀
We have a SmugMug album with some of our photos and some of the dealer’s photos, if you are interested in the interior, you can check that out here: http://goebeler.smugmug.com/Our-new-Home-on-Wheels-HoW/n-x84Bp6/
Thanks for following along, answering our newbie questions (for those readers who are already RVing and blogging about it), and wishing us well in all we have done. We can’t wait to share our stories of combining our passions of travel, motorcycling, and RVing!
PS: She doesn’t have a name yet, and we are entertaining suggestions. 🙂 Best suggestion wins…well…the honor of having your suggestion grace our HOW for years????