Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here I Go Again, Runnin' Down A Dream...

Here I go again, I'm runnin' down a dream. Who wouldn't wanna be me? Just me and you and a dog named Boo, just me and my Bobby McGee. With the window rolled down and the wind in my face, I'm cruisin' down the highway, singin' the roadhouse blues. Just me and you and a dog named Boo, just me and my Bobby McGee.

Beside my ramblin' man, the King of the road, I'm taking the free ride, just rockin' down the highway. On the long and winding road again, maybe this time goin' all the way to sweet home Alabama. We gotta travel on, eastbound and down, but we're takin' it easy now, cause we've been everywhere. We were born to run, even if we weren't exactly easy riders. We got our kicks on Route Sixty Six. We took a magic carpet ride on a magic bus, over the hills and far away on Thunder, Thunder Road.

Life was a highway in those days, sometimes with no particular place to go. It was road trippin' with my travelin' man, no sleep till Brooklyn. Sometimes runnin' on empty, but always singing the open road song, 'take me home country roads to the place I belong', one moonlight mile after another, hoping not to get lost on the highway to Hell.

Now, we're on a slow ride, we're midnight riders, maybe on the way to Graceland, still cruisin' on. Slow running down a dream, maybe two hundred more miles to the Promised Land, we're on the road to find out, just runnin' down a dream. Takin' the long way home, seeing America, free and easy down the road, loving this land which is my land, this land which is your land, from the New York Island, to the redwood forests, to the Gulf stream waters.

We're rollin' down the highway, headin' for the light. I can't drive 55 anymore, so its lucky there's two of us. Rolling the dice, we sing out, 'heads Carolina, tails California'. Just roll me away, Bobby, roll me away, 'cause the road's my middle name. Say good bye to Maybelline, get out the map and head towards Kansas City. So happy goin' mobile on the road again. Can't nobody say, I can't get the load out, cause honey, I get around.

Hit the road, travelin' man, 'cause its 200 more miles to Cadillac Ranch, its somewhere off Lake Shore Drive. Give 'ten four' to the convoy and a salute to the low rider as we pass by. They might laugh, but we're still born to be wild, even if we've gone mostly grey and we go a little slower now, even if we're closer to going up around the bend down the lost highway. It's God's truth and we know it, we gotta travel on.

So, lets take the road to California this time. Drive down Ventura Highway while I hang out the window singing 'cause I'm a free bird. There's plenty of time to take it easy after the travelings done, to turn that page when we come to that place in the story. For now, lets just keep cruisin', taking the long way, just following the white line, one headlight at a time.

We're still up to speed, ain't we Bobby? So, roll me away, I'm running down a dream. I'm bad, I'm nationwide. Who wouldn't wanna be me?

Maybe next time, we'll drive south, me and you and a dog named Boo. After we we go from Jersey to OC. We'll ease on down the road, heading south and down, down country roads to somewhere I forgot, somewhere I might belong. We'll go, East bound and down, six days on the road, gonna make it home that night.

I had a lot of fun with this. How many 'road' song titles can you identify in the piece? Tomorrow, the Badger comes home to Bobby McGee (Danny) and me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Purchasing and trading in RVs

What an interesting, if somewhat frustrating experience this has been.

Two Friday evenings ago, we looked at a beautiful Four Winds class a Serrano model (diesel) motor home that seemed to fit our needs and desires to increase the size of our unit from our present 24 foot Winnebago class c model and provide a bedroom with a queen bed. Danny was thrilled with the exterior storage and the automatic leveling and automatic awning and the outside flat screen TV. I was thrilled by the luxury interior appointments, bath, and the large amount of clothing storage. I was not so thrilled by the placement of the galley at the front of the unit or the fact that the windows in the bedroom could only be opened when the slide out was out. But on the whole, I was ready to buy if the terms were right. The salesman was pretty positive that we could make the deal. The trade in offer for our Winnebago was fair.

The finance man at the dealer called the following day and nixed the monthly payment I was willing to make and asked for a sixteen thousand dollar down payment instead of the ten I offered in addition to trade in. I said I'd consider it. But I knew it was too much.

So, I said to the sales man on the phone basically, sorry no can do, and was ready to walk away. He urged me to come over and talk to the finance guy in person. We did. It didn't help.

"There's another floor plan of the same motor home," said the salesman, "slightly less expensive without a bedroom slide out that might fit your needs. It's at our New York outlet, but I have pictures."

We looked at the pictures. It had all of the same luxury appointments, a kitchen in the mid coach, and a bedroom with less clothes storage but an island queen bed and windows that opened. The price and payments and terms was acceptable. I put a small deposit down to hold it and the dealer said they'd ship it down in a few days. It took a full week to arrive but when we finally saw it on the following Saturday afternoon we liked it as much as we'd hoped we might. After examining it with fine toothed theoretical combs we gave each other thumbs up, trooping happily into the finance guys office to sign all the papers.

We were ready to leave just as soon as I wrote the check for the rest of the previously agreed ten thousand down payment. "That will be $38,000," said the finance man.

"What?!!" I said in horror. "I agreed to ten."

"No can do for that," said Mr Finance man.

"Thirty eight thousand is the pay off on my present loan not the down payment," I said. "I agreed to ten."

"You agreed to $16,500.00," said the finance guy. "On the phone last week. I said could you come up with that much and you agreed. Don't you remember?"

I shook my head. "No, I said only that I'd think about it. But anyway that was when we were talking about the other floor plan that was more expensive. When I was here last weekend the amount mentioned was ten for the unit we are negotiating for now."

"Can't be done for that," he repeated.

"Then the deals off," said I, ready to walk once more. In came the dealer manager. "There's been a misunderstanding," I said.

"I really want your Winnebago," he said. "We can work it out."

More negotiations followed. In the end, the manager gave me a bigger trade in amount, came down in price a little more, I agreed to eleven thousand for down payment and agreed to fork over the rebate for unused warranty (which I didn't know I was getting back anyway). We agreed to the terms. The demo and delivery day was set for eight days later since they were prepping for a large RV show and their service guys were backed up. I agreed that we would trade in the Winnebago on that day.

I thought all was well. We went off happily, in our present RV for a week end extended family wedding at the beach. We broke down on the road on the way, but that's another story.

On Monday morning the dealership finance manager called me. He informed me my driver's licence was expired. (Untrue, it was renewed in 2009). He said I needed to provide an insurance binder on the new RV before the bank would approve the loan and asked when we were bringing the old RV in for trade. I said, "When we pick up the new one."

He tried to talk me into bringing my Winnebago to the dealer right away. "We will lock it up but we need it on the lot to finalize the deal," he said.

"I'll talk to Danny and let you know," I replied. Both Danny and the insurance rep said not to give up possession of the present RV until the new one was in our possession.

"Deals fall through at the last minute all the time," said the insurance rep. "You could end up with your current one sold out from under you and nothing to show for it."

I called the dealer manager and informed him (again) that he would get his trade in when I got my new one. He agreed. The finance guy backed off. Then followed three days and six phone calls and three emails trying to get insurance information faxed to the dealer. Finally, today, that was accomplished. I THINK all is set. I THINK we are getting the new one next Wednesday. This has been educational, but not completely in a positive way. Stay tuned to the next episode where I will tell you about our roadside break down and how Danny, a computer expert, fixed the motor home.

PS 1: Watch finance guys as if they were spiders. They are as sneaky and out for blood.

PS 2: FYI: Winnebago Views (diesel) from 2006 are in demand for resale right now. The value stays high. Buying a used one was a great choice as an entry RV.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I was reflecting this morning how much fun we had traveling in our Winnebago View in the last eighteen months. Aside from day trips to Cocoa, New Smyrna, and Flagler beaches too numerous to count, we spent Sundays in Mt Dora, visited NASA four times, enjoyed a Renaissance Faire in Lady Lake, went to Tampa and Melbourne, and the Wekiva National Forest. We spent a long holiday week end in St Mary's and another in Savannah. We drove to Destin in the Panhandle and returned via the Big Bend area. We drove to Gainesville for an adoption party and Atlanta twice to visit with Danny's family. We went to Anna Maria Island for a wedding.

And then there were the even longer trips: North Georgia at Christmas, Asheville, The Blue Ridge Parkway tour, the Shenendoah Valley of Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Wonderful memories of misty mountain mornings and evening aglow with the flashing of lightning bugs. Arts and crafts, wild deer and bear and groundhogs, stunning vistas, living history museums, amazing Biltmore, hikes and river rambles, Fallingwater, the RV resorts with friendly staff and fellow campers, Jefferson's Monticello, climbing the Tybee lighthouse, caves, haunted restaurants, and rocky national monuments.

Road tripping provides endless opportunity to experience the unexpected and the offbeat, like a theme park named 'Foamhenge' or seeing a goose being walked like a dog on a leash along the seashore. Stumbling across historical homes and obscure museums and mascot dogs named Opie in a Virginia orchard store. Road tripping in an RV means you can change your plans at a moments notice and meander wherever the road leads, cause after all, your home away from home is always with you. And there's nothing better than showering and changing clothes at the beach in the vehicle you drove over in!

And maybe best of all, for us it means taking the dogs with us on our travels. We really enjoyed getting to know RV ing in our first one and I am excited about the adventures we are going to have in the second. More about the process of trade in and purchase of our second bigger RV in the next post.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Arrgh! It all started out as simple curiosity. Labor Day week end was upon us and we wanted to do some out of the ordinary things and go somewhere in the Parakeet but it was still too darn hot to stay anywhere overnight with the dogs, even with a/c. So, I said, "Why don't we take a little day trip over to Tampa and Lazy Days and look at the 2011 Winnebago Vias?" We'd heard, you see, that they were putting out a new model with a slide out queen bed. Danny also swore that according to what he'd read on the online forums, the actual cost would be thousands of dollars under the listed prices.

So, off we went. The kindest thing to say when we saw the Via with the bedroom slide out is that we didn't exactly hate it. Almost but not quite. In order to keep the vehicle to 25 feet and accommodate the slide out bed, Winnebago had decreased the already small bathroom and small galley until both were essentially not usable. The only good thing about the vehicle was the bed. The price was steep for what you got: aside from the galley and sub microscopic bath, the sofa was smaller and there was a teensy portable dining table.

We looked at last year's convertible twin bed plan and it was pretty nice but not nice enough to tempt us from our present 2006 View at the price. So we went home, pretty content with the Parakeet.

Several days later though, a sales brochure arrived from a local dealer. In it was advertised a 31 foot diesel RV (made by Thor/Four Winds) called a Serrano at a price lower than the Via. Well, to make the story short, we went to see it. Of course, the dealer didn't have that particular plan. The one they had was 10K more expensive than the one on sale in the mail
out. But we looked, we fell in love with Serranos, we test drove the one on the lot, we drooled, we coveted, we put a deposit down on a similar model. Which has to be shipped to FL from New York.

So, that is how, I signed my life away on a new RV even though I wasn't planning to buy another one for several years yet. Now I can't think about anything else. I look at the pictures downloaded from the internet over and over and over, like a kid waiting for Santa.

I wasn't planning to get a bigger one, either. But, life happens doesn't it? Of course, I don't have the new one yet. Things can still go wrong. In the meantime, I will stop typing. And scroll through the pictures again.

Live long and prosper. Happy trails.