We knew it would happen, but it happened sooner rather than later.
In April of this year, after we returned from our trip across the country in a rented RV (Sherman), we purchased a travel trailer that we named Bertha. Both Helen (adorable wife) and I agreed that the laid-back RV lifestyle was something that we both enjoyed enough to want to pursue it further. We love traveling, seeing new places, and being outdoors as much as possible. We enjoyed planning our cross country excursion as well as the anticipation of making the trip. For future trips, we would have the privilege of using the wonderful (and inexpensive) campgrounds on military bases throughout the country and, finally, we felt that traveling by RV would be a great way to stay active during our “Golden Years”.
We found Bertha on the lot at Camping World. She had been used, but well cared for by her previous owners. Bertha was a small trailer (16’) but had all the essentials for comfortable travel such as a bathroom, queen bed, refrigerator, microwave, sofa, a television, and air-conditioning. Being small and previously owned meant that we did not have to make a large investment while making certain that RV travel was “our thing”. It didn’t take long to decide that this was meant for us.
We took a couple of short trips at first to get the hang of our new trailer. In Nashville, we met some very nice people that we enjoyed getting to know and we loved sitting by the lake and having the time to relax. In Cherokee, NC we discovered a small campground by a beautiful creek that has become our favorite “go to” place, and we have returned twice since the first visit. Helen enjoyed decorating and equipping Bertha with small appliances, bedspreads, space-saving organizers, and the like and did a great job with all of it.
I had fun outfitting Bertha with gear although she didn’t require much more than a Coleman Roadtrip XLE portable grill…oh, and a Dodge Ram 1500 Hemi to pull her around. Sophie, my Dodge Dakota got the job done, but she was at the outer limits of her pulling capacity. Sophie was traded for Bert and I became a happy camper.
After three short trips, we decided that we were ready to take Bertha on an extended journey. We made reservations at several campgrounds and state parks along the coast of North and South Carolina and extending to Tybee Island, GA near Savannah. This trip would run for a little over three weeks. The trip was a large amount of fun and only served to increase our enthusiasm for the RV lifestyle, but one thing did become apparent to us…we wanted a larger RV.
Our original plan was to keep Bertha for a year in order to determine the features we wanted in an RV and then decide if we needed to upgrade. We saw a lot of trailers on our trip that had some really nice features and even got somewhat nosey about asking if we could see inside some of the trailers around us. We learned a lot and met a bunch of great people along the way who were willing to put up with us and our questions. Helen and I settled on the features that were “must-haves” if we were to trade Bertha for something else. We both wanted space for at least two grandchildren on future trips. We felt that we needed a larger refrigerator. More sitting space on the days that rain or heat (or bugs) forced us indoors would be nice. Helen demanded two items–plenty of windows and a large bathroom with a vanity. I agreed to all of that, but didn’t want to increase the size to the point that I couldn’t pull it with Bert…another truck was out of the question.
While staying at Kure Beach, we met a nice couple who owned a 24-foot trailer that they pulled using a Ford F-150 with less pulling power than Bert. We didn’t go inside his trailer, but I did look up the floor plan online. That started the ball rolling. Over the next few weeks of our trip, we looked over many floor plans and found several to our liking. We agreed that once we returned home we would just go out and look around. Once again, with the help of the internet, I scoured the local dealerships and found several with the models and floor plans that we were interested in and printed off those plans. Three days after returning home we visited those dealers.
The first visit was to look over a previously owned trailer with a very attractive price. The floor plan was great, but not enough windows. At the second dealership, no one came out to greet us so we walked around on our own and couldn’t spot the model we were interested in. By this time, we were a little tired, but since we would be passing Tennessee RV, the third dealership on our list, we agreed to look around. I had spoken with one of their salesmen earlier in the week and I asked for him when we arrived.
Kelly was in the lobby and greeted us with a warm smile. I showed him a printout of a model we liked and he took us right to it. It had everything we wanted—big windows, including one in the rear next to a spacious sitting area; a nice, large refrigerator; a very roomy bathroom with a vanity; a couch that folded out to a bed large enough for a grandchild, and a dinette that also made a bed; two televisions, plus an air-conditioner and an electric awning. At 22 feet and only a thousand pounds more than Bertha, we could tow it with Bert easily. Kelly walked out of the trailer and I took one look at Helen…this was it.
Among the many things we learned during our research was that the time to buy trailers was in the fall when camping season slowed somewhat, but we had agreed that we would wait a year before buying another trailer. Sometimes the best-laid plans have to be altered. We went back to the office and negotiated the purchase. Three days later Bertha would be traded for Betty. Less than a week later we were back at our favorite Cherokee campground to get acquainted. Helen’s smiles below say it all.
Easin’ Along the retired road just got a little more comfortable.
Note: Helen and I both agree that our experience with Kelly Cubbedge, Roger Sellers, and Nancy Harvey, as well as everyone at Tennessee RV, was one of the most pleasant sales experiences we have ever had. They were wonderful to deal with and we left certain that we were treated fairly and that they truly cared about our business. I would recommend Tennessee RV to anyone.