Sunday, August 12, 2012
Recently a friend came to visit for a spell. He was super handy, helping me repair all sorts of oddball things around the wheel estate. On a few different days, we set out in the motorhome for a day trip. We could have taken his car, but it's far more fun in the motorhome. We left the car holding guard at the campground while we careened around in the wheel estate.
By day tripping in the motorhome, we were able to take the movable feast and beast with us. One day we drove to a special RV dealer.
In Williamston South Carolina (off I-85) near the South Carolina and Georgia border is Porter's RV Sales. They only carry used RV's. They are not a new dealer. They don't sell parts. Other than working on the RV's that are up for sale, they don't do servicing. They are family owned and operated, open every day except Sundays.
Residential Vehicles (RV's) come in all sizes, weights, shapes and prices. We had the thrill to tour numerous high and low end RV's to do some serious daydreaming. We saw Class C's, Class A's, big diesel pushers, small and large Fifth Wheels and travels trailers. The only thing they were lacking were the Class B's which are very small van type campers.
It was oodles of fun to check out the assorted sizes, ages and prices.We looked at $7,000 units and $320,000 palaces on wheels with all sorts of stuff in between including a unique fifth wheel that not only had the usual RV accouterments but also included room to haul 3 horses in a movable barn that took up the rear half.
The lovely thing about Porters is that they have all their RV's unlocked, ready to be shown and you don't have a salesman trailing you around making ridiculous comments or asking inane questions. You can just simply careen from RV to RV looking, drooling, wishing.
Since my last visit there years ago, they've moved their lot and added golf carts to the sales team. In other words, you can borrow one of their golf carts to peruse the expansive inventory which is spread out over several acres. It was hot and humid when we arrived, so we opted for a golf cart, mainly so little Harley dog could go with us.
He loves golf carts! He was absolutely thrilled when we hopped in one. He sat up tall with that "Look at me! I'm styling in a golf cart!" attitude. He thought we were at a campground, so he was eagerly looking for other campers and dogs. Needless to say, he was perplexed that this campground was devoid of both.
At the first RV, I told him to "stay". He looked so sad, but at least the golf cart had a shady roof, so he could sit in the driver's seat, watching the world go by, while the humans traipsed through nearly all the RV's. We would look at three or four RV's then fetch the dog and golf cart, moving it up to the next section. Harley got the hang of it. His job was to guard the golf cart in the shade, while we visited these unseen humans and dogs. This in turn saved me from having to run the generator back at my RV just to keep him cool. This lot had no shade at all, he would have cooked inside the RV without AC. This way, he was able to sit in the shade of the golf cart and every 10 minutes or so, we took him for a short ride in the treasured cart, to the next set of RV's.
I figured all in all, it was good training for him to learn to sit quietly and wait on the humans to turn up next. We found out later, that Harley and his golf cart perplexed a family that was also visiting RV's. They didn't realize you could borrow a complimentary golf cart. Later when I ran into them, they said their kids thought the dog was driving the golf cart, because every time they looked, the golf cart had moved and the same dog was just sitting in the driver's seat staring at RV's.
At one fifth wheel, Harley went nuts, whining and straining at his leash, wanting to get out of the golf cart. I thought he had to water the bushes, so I walked him around, but he was dragging me towards the door of the fifth wheel, his tail wagging in wild excitement. Then I realized he thought it was our Brazilian friends we had met while workamping last winter. They often had Harley and I visiting in their fifth wheel.
Today we had come upon one that was nearly identical to theirs and this strange little dog recognized the similarities enough to think that maybe our friends were inside!
I scooped him up in my arms, to take him in with us. He seemed crestfallen that nobody was at home. I am still amazed that he picked a fifth wheel that was nearly identical to theirs in size and layout. How did he do that? Is there really something going on inside of his tiny brain? Sheesh.
I think he has selective learning disorder...
We were into our second hour of touring RV's when the skies clouded over, the heavens opened up, and a ferocious storm dumped buckets of rain. We raced as fast as that golf cart could go, down a muddy bumpy hill that made us wonder if we would tumble out, back to my motorhome. We ran inside, all three of us soaking wet. I mean to say we were dripping so badly that I was able to give the floor a good serious mopping.
It needed that anyhow.
My wheel estate was hot and humid inside. The windows quickly steamed up. I fired up the generator to run the air-conditioning while fetching towels to dry us off. It seemed silly to drive out in the storm, so I made us lunch. An hour or more later, as I was washing up the dishes, the skies cleared, the rains stopped. Since we were still parked at the RV lot, we decided to go see more RV's with an enthusiastic doggy in tow. He was thrilled to get back in the golf cart.
It was so much fun to look and see how the different manufacturers had laid out their living areas, bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. We discussed what we liked and what we thought was ridiculous. One RV had such shoddy workmanship on the cabinetry, I made a mental note to never consider that manufacturer. We oohed and aahed at the four-door refrigerators, the one piece sink and counter tops (my dream!) and laughed at some of the horrible decors.
I guess everyone has their own idea of good and bad taste, but some of the color choices and fabrics were about as exciting as a freight elevator. Others were done in such deep dark dreary colors it was more like a padded cave.
Years ago, when I first toured this lot in search of my own RV, it gave me a hefty education in a hurry about what to look for in an RV as well as coming up with my short list of "must-haves" and a long list of "wishful-wants".
For anyone considering a new or used RV, go look at hundreds of RV's so you get a feel for what's available, your likes and dislikes. Some of the layouts were very livable.
Others were thrown together with as much thought as a weekend flea market booth.
We liked the fancy pantries that slid out on wheels, giving you a chance to find the perfect spice or ingredient without digging around.
Years ago what I learned was, besides a good running engine, it seemed to me, the number one consideration was good quality workmanship on the cabinetry. You surely don't want to go bouncing down the roads, with the cabinets regurgitating their contents or falling apart every time you sneeze.
Oddly enough, this is a more common problem than you would think. I've met several RV-ers who have to tie up all their cabinet doors and drawers before setting out, because to do otherwise would mean finding all their stuff unceremoniously dumped out onto the furniture and floors.
One RV we drooled over, had a big slide-out with a glass roof. It appeared the former owner had removed the usual rectangle table and replaced it with a heavy round oak dining table on a massive pedestal. The round table amid an otherwise angular area, was a welcome treat.
A few had their bathrooms split up with a small broom closet with a toilet stuck inside but no windows or sink. It seemed a bit too claustrophobic for me. I think I would have to either put a window in there or mirrored all the walls. Many bedrooms had ornate headboards where as mine has windows.
One had such a massive kitchen, I could easily go back into catering with room to spare. Another one had French doors with glass panes to enter the bedroom which also had mini blinds on one side of the French doors. I could just imagine the glass rattling and the blinds banging around.
A big diesel coach had this huge bedroom with lovely built-in closets and dressers with oodles of storage plus a massive entertainment center. To the side of the bed was an overstuffed lounge chair.
Another one had a comfy sofa with matching built-in end tables with lamps screwed down to the table tops. One RV had a strange looking dining booth. I sat down and saw why it looked so strange. The booths were measured out and built all wrong. Anyone weighing over 80 pounds would never be able to sit there comfortably.
What were they thinking? You stand at the sink and eat?
In one 45 foot luxury RV, I finally sat down at the driver's seat to see what it would feel like to drive the rig. You know, just in case I sold a zillion books tomorrow or found a winning lottery ticket.
I slipped into the seat then put my hands on the wheel to stare out the windshield and check my rear view mirrors.
Was I ever in for a shock. It seemed like I might as well be driving an 18 wheeler truck. No wonder people that own these big rigs are forced to tow a car with them too. That makes the overall length around 60 feet or so.
I can't imagine trying to navigate a beast like that in a common parking lot to fetch groceries or supplies. I was thinking of all the fun out of the way places I have taken my little old rig and the beautiful campgrounds in remote places.
I pondered all the times, I make unscheduled stops, because I saw an awe inspiring vista or something of interest like a dog park or a picnic wayside by a stream or a public park or a beautiful waterfall.
As I sat in the driver's seat imagining the thrill of owning all this luxury, the fun factor just totally evaporated for me. I felt like half the planet would be off limits. I wouldn't get to go to those funky RV parks that are nothing more than the backyard of an entrepreneurial spirit.
And what about all those whimsical stops I often make. Or the times I get lost and end up rolling down skinny country roads, soaking up the scenery rather than worrying about where on earth I would find a half acre to turn a 60 foot rig around. Or the time I got lost on a gravel road, but found this incredible campground far out in the country.
If you read my blog last summer, one day I taught myself how to make a 12 point turn on a steep hill that had abruptly dead ended.
See This Is A Fine Mess
I got up out of the driver's seat. By now Porter's would like to close, we had spent nearly the whole day there just sight seeing and day dreaming. Educating ourselves in the world of used RV's.
We turned in the golf cart, then walked back to my little old motorhome.
I just fell in love with it all over again. The sun coming through the windows made it bright and cheerful. I liked the layout, the decor, the ease of driving it anywhere.
It's simple, it's fun, it's home.
I put away the dry lunch dishes, then drove away.