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Monday, January 7, 2019

Our RV history

Cullman, AL

For several years Leonard talked about buying an RV to see if we would enjoy it.  I told him my idea of roughing it was not-soft-enough towels at a Holiday Inn.   Finally in 2005 I agreed.  A friend was selling her 1989 Georgie Boy Motorhome.  We bought it.

One of our first trips was to Charlottesville, VA where we met a couple who were working there.  We became friendly and were amazed they lived in a Fifthwheel  trailer full-time.   We were horrified.  We never knew people actually did this. What?  No house?  No stable home?  Can't be.  Are these people crazy?

We kept the motorhome two years and took a few trips in it.  Once from NJ to Louisiana at 3 miles per gallon.   We knew by then that we would prefer a fifthwheel.  We already had a  2006 Ford F250.    In the Spring of 2007 we bought a 2002 Cedar Creek Fiver.  We were living!!

Then I got to thinking.  We planned to retire in a few years.  What about selling the house

and giving the full-time lifestyle a try.   I started doing a lot of research of full-time RVing.  I read blogs, I joined RV clubs, I talked online to other RVers.  Len wasn't too keen on it but eventually came around.  My younger daughter was getting married and was interested in buying the house.

In January 2009 she and husband-to-be moved into the house and we moved into the Cedar Creek at a small RV park about 12 miles from the house.   Winters are cold in NJ.   We could feel the winds through the slides.  We were really going through the propane and were still cold.  Since we didn't plan on traveling until our retirement in late 2009 or early 2010 we purchased a brand new 2009 Montana Fiver.

It was warm.  It was cozy.  We loved it.

We hit the road in February 2010.   We had a few problems with the Montana but none that we didn't cause.   The only things we didn't like was the refrigerator.   RV fridges are SMALL.  And the bedroom closet.  It was very narrow causing us to have to push the hangers in to easily close the sliding doors.  Had I been able to foresee the future, we would have changed out the RV fridge for a residential and lived with the narrow, but quite usable, closet.

In 2011 while in Texas we had a problem with the F250.  We had had several issues with it.  We traded up to a 2011 F350 dually.

In 2014 while in NJ we were looking for something to do.  We came up with a very bad idea.  Let's go look at newer RVs.  Our Montana is just fine. But let's just look we said.   But we are not going to buy.  Absolutely not!

Packing up the Montana.

From Montana to Cedar Creek

We loved the openness of the new Cedar Creek.  We loved the self leveling jacks.  We really loved the  large residential fridge with ice maker.

We loved the bedroom closet.   It was huge.  The unit was beautiful.

What we didn't like was we were soon tearing through tires on one side. One side ran an inch and a half lower.   We contacted the manufacturer and they told us to move things around.  Just what would that be.   They put the fridge, stove, pantry, sink, hot water heater, the shower, TV and entertainment unit, etc. on one side.  Did they not know that one can't rearrange the appliances and furniture in an RV?  Had they never been in one?

To solve the issue we changed out the axles from 7,000 pounds to 8,000 pounds and added an additional spring on one side at a cost of over $6,000.  Then we had additional issues.   We got disgusted.   Again while in Texas in 2016 we went RV shopping.

Hence, the Open Range:

Since we never had a problem with the Montana I found a nearby Montana dealer.  There was a floor plan back in 2009 we loved.  They no longer make that model but Open Range has one quite similar.  We fell for it.

As shown here the living room can be shut off from the kitchen/dining with French Doors.  Great when we had overnight guests.

The island in the middle was on wheels.  We preferred it along an empty wall in the kitchen.   There is a sofa bed in both the living room and kitchen along with TV's in both rooms. We added one in the bedroom.   Great for when the granddaughters traveled with us.

And the storage!   Loads anywhere except in the basement.  (Those who don't rv ----  the basement is the storage areas under the rig).   But we managed just fine.

We were thrilled with the Open Range.   UNTIL.   One spring hanger broke.  Under warranty, manufacturer paid but we had to stay in a motel 5 days as the work was done.  We were reimbursed.

Then we found a large crack in the side under the bedroom window.  Again, under warranty.  It lasted 25 miles.  Then another spring hanger broke.  Again the manufacturer paid to have it fixed.  Then the side cracked again.   Then the refrigerator only worked sometimes when not hooked to electric.  There was a problem with the inverter.    Then another spring hanger.   Then the floor rotted out first in dining area and quickly spread to living room.  When walking on it, it would sink at least 1/2 inch.

The unit was less than  2 years old.  It came with a two year warranty.  The manufacturer picked it up and took it to Indiana for repairs.  We had to pick it up and inspect it. It looked beautiful. We were happy.  They fixed everything that we could see.  Even items we had damaged such as the awning when a wind came up and bent an arm.

We got back on the road headed home to Alabama.   Got 200 miles and A SPRING HANGER BROKE.   These things always have a way of happening in traffic, on an Interstate, in a town.  We were in Indianapolis.   We called the manufacturer.  They sent a tow truck.  Between Len and the driver they got the wheels separated and us into a Walmart lot for the night.

The next day technicians from the frame manufacturer arrived.   They fixed the spring hanger and told us another one was about to break.  They fixed that too.    We held our breath all the way to Alabama. We went directly to Madison RV, a Open Range dealer we had dealt with and where we left the dang thing.   We returned on Monday and traded it for our 2018 Grand Design.

This is our first travel trailer and smaller than any of our Fifthwheels.  At 37 feet it is not all that small.  We figure since we are no longer full-timers we don't need a large rig.   It will do for when we still do NOMADS projects and for vacation travel.   I do miss a large kitchen, the counter space, a large residential fridge with ice maker and most of all the automatic leveling system.

 I don't miss expense of towing a heavy fifthwheel.  We see a huge difference in our MPG.

We still like to have the granddaughters with us.  They have their own room.  With a TV even. There is another bunk that folds down over the fold out sofa.

I miss the bigger living area but this is sufficient.   We do have lots of storage space and an outside kitchen to boot.  It has a fridge, cabinets, drawers and a stove.

So that's our story.    A word of advice, if you have an RV that gives you no problems and is comfortable for your needs..... KEEP IT.     Had we known we were going to settle in 2016 we would have kept the 2009 Montana.   And for sure had we known in April of 2016 when we plunked down more money for the Open Range that our full-time life on the road would end 8 months later there would never have been an Open Range.  Had we followed this advice, we'd have a heck of a lot more money left in our investments.

 As far as quality of RVs.....  They don't make them like they used to.

Until next time.


  1. Good round up of your years RVing and good advise keep what works. I remeber all those problems you were having. It makes one think twice about which direction to go.

  2. Oh I remember all those times. Such frustration for you two. Glad the one you have now and your lifestyle is working well for you.

  3. Wow, you sure have had your challenges. Hope this one works out for you! I am beginning to think it is more of a matter of luck then which brand you buy. We have a '14 Cardinal and love it. I think we will take your advice and not trade it in.