Some folks that decide to go on the road fulltime have been camping for years and have some experience with what they already like and don’t like, what works and what doesn’t. We, on the other hand, had NO experience with campers and in fact had never gone camping together in a tent, much less a camper. So here is a snippet from our journal from the time we starting THINKING about going full time to the moment we purchased our first trailer.
August 16, 2011– A phone call from our good friends and Navy buddies changed our life. Heather told me that they packed up the kids in a camper and started fulltiming. Well what the heck does that mean? After a lengthy conversation about what it meant to them, I got off the phone and told Jim: “Your not going to believe what Heather and Johnny are doing”. I thought it seemed interesting, Jim thought is was crazy. Well, Jim spent a good portion of the night researching full time RV which led us to begin shopping on August 17. We were both actually quite excited at this point.
Here was our initial criteria:
28-31’ Travel Trailer (NO fifth wheel or Motorhome)
Less carpet the better
No Bunk Room
Living Slide vs Bedroom Slide
Separate Bath from Bedroom
Favored Models: Keystone, Fleetwood, Jayco and Heartland
August 25, 2011– Toy Hauler or not. We had a good conversation about whether or not we should get a toy hauler. I felt it was a bad idea since we had never towed anything that big and I didn’t feel that we needed something with a garage. Jim felt that it may be a good idea, primarily to haul more stuff. But we didn’t have the “toys” that are generally associated with toy haulers, so again, it just doesn’t make sense for us.
September 8, 2011– By this time, after a great deal of research, visited a few dealers, read a ton of books and a fifth wheel was looking more like it would make sense for us.
October 15, 2011– We were really beginning to learn how limited we were with our current truck in regards to towing capacity. This was a huge problem since we would likely have to spend a bit of money reconfiguring our truck to tow what we needed it to tow. We decided that we could put a sliding hitch in our F150, narrowed our options to the 27-29ft range, and the favored manufacturers at this point were Heartland, Forest River and Keystone.
November 25, 2011– Jim went to his weekly chiropractor appointment and decided to stop by FORD on his way home. He called me and said that he was about to pull the trigger on a 2012 F350 Dually. WHAT?!?!?! Yep, we had obviously spent the past few months discussing the type of trailer we were going to need and our 2011 F150 King Ranch was just not up to the task. With that, we decided that we wanted to get the biggest truck we could afford to eventually pull the biggest trailer that we may ever get. The theory was that bigger was better and we would be able to update the trailer without having to update the truck when the time came. Needless to say our salesman LOVED us, since just 8 months prior we had bought the F150. Over the next few weeks, we would continue to research campers and were making serious plans for getting on the road.
January 20, 2012– We went to an RV show in Hartford Connecticut. It was here that we found the perfect trailer for us. A Forest River Cedar Creek Silverback 35QB4.
Let’s take a look back at our initial criteria:
28-31’ Travel Trailer (NO fifth wheel or Motorhome)- We bought a 39’ Fifth Wheel
Less carpet the better- Learned that carpet is pretty standard, particularly on the slides
Two Entrances- Bought a bunkhouse- not many other floor plans have two entrances
Washer/Dryer- We decided AGAINST this option. Takes up too much weight and we need the storage space. Besides there are usually laundry facilities every where we go.
No Bunk Room- Well, we decided on a bunk house so that when our 18 year old visits, he has his own space. Polar Package- Many come with polar packages.
Under Storage- Let’s just say, now we know. All come with under storage, just some more than others.
Toy Hauler- We didn’t need a toy hauler
Exterior Entertainment- This model has exterior entertainment and we love it.
Living Slide vs Bedroom Slide- Most models in this length range have both. Bonus
Separate Bath from Bedroom- This is a biggie. I am not a fan of showers or toilets in the bedroom nor do I like the pass through bath configurations.
Balance Hitch- This was actually a slider hitch that we didn’t need because we bought a bigger truck.
In February 2012, we traded in our brand new 2011 F150 King Ranch and picked up our brand new 2012 F350 diesel dually.
April 3, 2012– We left Shelter Island NY and drove to Smithfield RI to pick up our new camper and camp for the first time ever at Normandy Farms for a few days in Foxboro Mass for our shake down cruise. Everything went great, we did our walk around tour and inspection, Jim hooked up the camper like a champ and drove the two hours to the campground. We got set up and started checking everything to see how it worked. Everything was fine except for the sink drain on the outside kitchen was broken. We really enjoyed getting to know our camper and looked forward to bringing it back to Shelter Island so that we could finish packing it up and heading out on our journey. We spent the next three weeks, parked in our driveway, plugged into electric only (still had access to the apartment for water and toilet) and realized during that this time that not only was this completely doable, but it was also going to be the adventure that we had hoped for. So, as you can see, our initial criteria changed quite a bit after some research and discovery. The process was quite interesting since we had never even stepped foot into a camper prior to this adventure. While the process was quite overwhelming at times, we learned so much and grew as a couple. There were some concessions that we both had to make in order to find the “perfect” rig.