After Helen (adorable wife) and I delivered Sherman to the Cruise America dealership in California and returned home, we knew that we had been bitten by the RV bug. Our cross country adventure was wonderful and gave us much to think about in terms of our lifestyle in retirement.
It was not long before I began looking into the options for RVs–well aware that the options are endless. The choices include motor homes; fifth wheel trailers, towable trailers, pop-up campers and each of those come in so many sizes, prices, and configurations that it can boggle the mind. Nevertheless, we were able to sort through a few of the potential options based on our experience with Sherman.
First, because we like to explore the points of interest, and experience the food and drink in the areas where we are staying, we wanted to have a vehicle available to us and not have to move about in a large motor home. Therefore, we decided on a towable trailer. Second, because we usually stay in a new area for two or three days before moving on to a new spot, we would do fine in a smaller RV without feeling too confined. We never felt cramped in Sherman. Third, and probably the most definitive item on the list, we wanted to keep the impact on the budget within a reasonable range. After all, we are retired…
Meet Bertha…a used (2015 model) towable camping trailer that followed me home after spending a couple of days at the local Camping World dealership. Bertha is a Coleman Camper that measures approximately 21 feet from front hitch to the rear bumper. It has all the features that we considered important such as a refrigerator, cook-top, sink, shower, toilet, microwave, TV, stereo AM/FM/MP3, furnace and two air conditioners. It also has a queen size bed and plenty of storage space. We have all we need to enjoy Easin’ Along the retired road.
Once Bertha settled in, Helen’s nesting instincts took over. Her first mission was to develop the color scheme…something not within my range of talents. Bertha was decorated in varying hues of brown when she left the factory and we may end up recovering the couches and cushions before it is all said and done but, Helen is still experimenting and is leaning toward aqua. Again, I don’t do color.
She did a very smart thing and went to the local Goodwill and other thrift shops to find kitchen utensils such as pots, pan, skillets and other items. The prices were next to nothing for like-new items. One great find was a perfectly good electric drip coffee maker (Black and Decker) for $3.00! We had enough cups and glassware on hand to fill the cabinets, and she bought plastic dinner plates and bowls from Amazon.
On our first camping trip, we ventured into a flea market/antique shop in Bryson City, NC and found an eight piece place setting of Lady Doris silverware that dated to 1929. We splurged on this one and invested $55 in the set after driving a hard bargain with the shopkeeper. Once we apply a little polish, it will be a treasured addition to Bertha’s kitchen.
Other considerations came into play when deciding what (or whether) to purchase an RV. Once we decided on the type—a towable trailer—we had to determine what we were going to pull it with. Fortunately, I have a Dodge Dakota pickup truck (named Sophie) with enough towing capacity to haul Bertha. It’s not the ideal vehicle, but we were able to tow the camper over the North Carolina Mountains with no problems. We just have to take it a little slower than I would like to protect Sophie’s transmission.
Another consideration was where we would keep Bertha when we were not on the road. The restrictions in the neighborhood where we live do not allow campers, boats, etc, to be within view. After some additional research, I was able to find suitable storage at a facility within a ten-minute drive. Being somewhat obsessive about maintaining my toys in pristine condition, I purchased a cover for Bertha to keep her from being exposed to the elements.
So, after price, place, and pulling vehicle were determined, the final consideration ultimately came down to just how much were we going to use Bertha? My answer is… often. Fortunately, we live in one of the most beautiful parts of our country. There is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park within 30 miles of our home and we love to visit there. The Cherokee National Forest and Big South Fork Recreation Area are both within a two-hour drive. There is a food festival of some variety in our region almost every weekend. We also have the advantage of being able to use the facilities of our nation’s military installations which are amazing. And, as we have illustrated on four Easin’ Along road trips, there is our love of the road less traveled.
In summary, I feel certain that Bertha will become familiar to our readers. Next week’s post will take you to Camp II, the annual event of the Appalachian Angler’s Society as well as to Cherokee, NC where Helen and I spent our first camping trip in a beautiful campground with Bertha parked beside Soco Creek.
Until then, Helen and I, and now Bertha, are looking forward to a great summer and send you our best as we go Easin’ Along.