Monday, January 2, 2012

Rule #1: Run away from RV deals that seem too good to be true

So as you learned from my first post, after 6 months or more of RV shopping we made the plunge and bought a 2006 McKenzie Starwood 5th wheel. This was in December so the camper was winterized and we spent the winter working on stocking the camper with supplies. We loved this camper. It was perfect. It had a bunk house which we insisted on having with Miah's arrival. Here are a few pics of the inside.

Right after we bought the camper, we booked a major trip for Spring Break to Pontchartrain Landing RV Resort in New Orleans. We were going to jump in big on our maiden voyage but we decided to take the camper out for a test run close to home the first weekend in April 2011. So we went about 45 minutes away from home to Kings Mountain State Park right over the NC/SC line into SC. It was a great weekend. It was crisp so the camp fire was great. J's dad went with us and we just relaxed a lot and got to know our camper.

We figured out that the pack and play for Miah fits perfectly between the bunks and the wardrobe in the back so we could close the door on her. The bad news was that Miah HATED the pack and play so she screamed bloody murder for 30 minutes every time we put her down to go to sleep. But we were hopeful that she would get used to it. (Which she did).

So we were ready for New Orleans. We ventured out on our first long haul on Thursday evening after work and drove as far as Montgomery, AL where we boon-docked in a truck stop over night. I should have prefaced this with the fact that J's mother, father, and brother were also in tow for this trip so we had a FULL camper. We made it to our campground Friday afternoon and got a BEAUTIFUL site on the water. My brother-in-law was in heaven. His sole purpose for coming was to fish on that channel and fish he did.

View from campsite
Poppy with Miah during feeding time
J with his fish!

Breakfast by the water
The trip itself was great! The pool was great, the food, the sites, the fishing was all great. But New Orleans is hot and we ran the air full blast and this is where we began to realize this camper was a dud. The condensation from the AC ran off the back of the camper the whole time, about 3 days in, J, who was sleeping in the top bunk, began to notice that the top corner over his bed was soft and damp. We quickly realized that the water from the AC unit was running between the seam of the roof and the back wall and causing a lot of rot and delamination. We were sick. We knew we had been duped by the salesman who assured us the camper was great and there were no leaks of any kind and that the bubble in the fiberglass that we asked him about was just a fault in the original gluing at the manufacturer. There was nothing to do but finish out our trip and come home and decide what to do. So our dream camper was now a nightmare and we didn't know what to do.

So we parked it and started shopping again......

The Reason for Big Al's New Adventures

This is Miah Grace on her birthday August 14, 2010. This is the reason my husband and I have set out on our new RV adventure life style. But really we started started on this adventure when she looked more like this...

Why else would two 30 something's who work full time in stressful jobs decide to buy a camper and spend our weekends and vacations on the road looking for new campgrounds and adventures? When we found out we were having a baby, J started talking about this idea of getting a camper so that we could have an easy way to go on lots of trips and have quality time with our daughter. I have secretly, (well not so secretly) always wanted a camper. I thought they were the coolest thing since sliced bread when I was growing up. Anytime an RV show came to town in the Wal-Mart parking lot, I made my mom take me to look at them. I was obsessed, so it didn't take much for J to convince me to look into getting one.  

But money was the issue. We didn't have much to spend so we started looking for used campers mostly travel trailers. We shopped the whole spring and summer before Miah was born. We traveled around looking a campgrounds and spent countless hours looking online for deals.  Then she was born and learning to be a mother and father took some time so we put our ideas on pause. Not for long though because we had finally decided on a new lite weight travel trailer until we went shopping one more time and found this...

A 2006 McKenzie Starwood 5th wheel for the same price as the new travel trailer. We had long since ruled out a 5th wheel for the time being due to the price, but we couldn't pass up the deal. That leads me to Rule Number 1: If the dealer seems way to eager to sell you a used camper and takes your ridiculous low ball offer, run away.  Continued in next post.