Last year, we sold our ‘brick and stick’ home in Arlington, bought a fifth-wheel and pickup, and lit out for points hither and yon. Since then, as RV newbies, our lives have teemed with plot twists and lessons ‘lived and learned’.
Some things Life herself has taught us. Being a writer, I pictured myself journaling as Jeff drove us down the road. So before we took off, I bought a travel journal. But after bumpedy-bumping down the road in our F350 Diesel pickup, I quickly abandoned that idea when my jiggly handwriting resembled the penmanship of a doctor on crack.
We also learned, the hard way, that fifth-wheel RVs are the dickens to level. At least our 2011 Forest River Wildcat is. Although some newer ones might have switches, ours does not. After setting up our rig in Arlington, New Braunfels, Aransas Pass, and Comfort, that motorhome with its automatic levelers looks better and better.
Having since fallen in love with the motorhomes of our neighbors in the park, Jeff and I began to re-think our initial misgivings about buying one. Because people tow their cars behind them, motorhomes actually have relatively low mileage. And, as we have discovered, a number of older motorhomes — say 1999 to 2005 — are surprisingly reasonable in price. So, during the Christmas holidays when temperatures were cold and unforgiving, Jeff and I researched motorhomes on the Internet, every night. We learned about the most reliable brands, length, number of slides and ducted air-conditioners ( a “must” in Texas), layout, fuel — gas or Diesel — and price range. When the weather turned friendlier, we scouted the dealerships in person and even attended an RV show in San Antonio where we wandered into one coach and out of another. We were like kids in the proverbial candy store, drooling at the luxurious couches, flat-screen televisions, king-sized beds and — be still my heart — washers and dryers! Each motor coach was more luxurious than the one before it, but before we could buy one, we knew we would have to sell our fifth-wheel and pickup, especially our pickup, since it would bring more money.
So, in February, we posted ‘For Sale’ signs on our 2011 Forest River Wildcat fifth-wheel RV and 2009 Ford F350 King Ranch edition pickup, believing that both would sell within a short time. At least that was the way it seemed for the first couple of weeks. People did drive out to see the truck, the RV, or both. Some stayed until sundown and paid careful attention when Jeff explained the workings of the RV. The women loved the RV as I pointed out the fireplace, the recliners, the adjustable cabinets, and the night light underneath the kitchen counter, but before they left, either spouse would say, “We’ll see what we can do.” One couple from up North seriously considered buying the RV and living right here in our park. We were about ninety-five percent certain that they would buy it until the husband called Jeff and backed out.
Because there is a lot of competition among pre-owned RVs and trucks, waiting for “nibbles” has been worse than waiting for Polar ice to boil. And because both RVs are pre-owned, banks are not keen on lending money to people who want to buy them.
A few weeks ago, Jeff was recently hired for “workamping” (i.e. mowing, taking reservations, or cleaning cabins) in exchange for a paid site, including electricity) at the Appalachian Campground in Georgia. The woman who hired Jeff over the phone told him that she wanted us there as soon as possible. That was toward the end of April. So we planned to be there on May 6 or 7 easily after selling the truck, purchasing the coach, transferring our stuff from one rig to the other, and then leaving the fifth-wheel for consignment at the dealership. After stopping in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to store some things and pull others out and visit family and friends, we would roll on into Georgia.
Then, along came a plot twist. About two weeks ago, I was waiting for Jeff to come out of the gas station when I heard a thump. A woman pointed to the ‘For Sale’ sign. When I lowered the window, she introduced herself and said that she and her husband owned a landscaping company and needed a truck like ours for hauling trees. After we exchanged business cards, she drove away. Later, that same night, she called and arranged to come by on Sunday to test drive the truck. Before they left, she gave us a down payment of $1,000 and bought a copy of my novel, From Her Mother’s Arms to give to her mother.
As if we were not already under the gun,’needing the money to purchase the motorhome before we had to leave for Georgia, the wife informed us that the loan would likely take three days to be approved.
Although we almost nixed the deal, because of the time element, we went ahead and agreed to wait until Wednesday, the day they were scheduled to go to the bank. Thinking we might have to be there, as well, we waited for their call. Around four p.m., the husband called to say that the loan process would be delayed until Monday because their loan officer had to leave.
When we called the RV dealer whom we had given our deposit to hold a 1999 Newmar Dutch Star motorhome we had chosen, she cautioned us that someone with the cash to pay for it outright might buy the coach out from under us. Still, we have neither the time nor the money to zip to and from New Braunfels. So, if the unit gets sold out from under us, despite the fact that it has set on the lot for months, then we’ll just snap up another one and consider it not only the ultimate plot twist but also a lesson learned.