Easing Along

Easin’ Along Brings Home “Bertha”

Bertha – Heading to new home

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…

Bertha’s Living Room

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.

Bertha – Interior

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.

Flea Market silverware

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.

Bertha and Sophie

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.

Bertha on first camping trip

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.


12 thoughts on “Easin’ Along Brings Home “Bertha”

  1. Carol Ann

    So interesting and educational for those of us who are just a few years away from retirement! Thanks!

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      There is quite a learning curve to the RV lifestyle, but we are really getting into it and can’t wait to see where it takes us! Thanks for visiting!

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      Thanks much! We’re really looking forward to the summer. Have a couple of trips planned already.

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      We’re pretty excited. I’m not sure we’re ready for full-time…yet. But we plan to be on the go throughout the summer. Planning to do North Carolina coast to the Keys in the fall. Keep taking those awesome pictures.

  2. Andy Clark

    Bought Dakota 4.7L V8 w/ full time AWD (not just part-time 4WD) new in ’01 until selling it in ’16 w/ 130K on it. Properly Factory-equipped, it carried a 1300# slide-in and pulled 16′ boat on tlr GREAT out all over the West! It handled well, was a brute compared to “toy” trucks; only sold it because it was little tight in our “downsize” condo garage. You have a perfect vehicle all things considered, AS long as you take care of RPM (3K min. on grades) & Trans (good aux. cooler). Trans.

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      I’ve been a Ford man all of my adult life, but after I retired, I took a part-time job and my company furnished me a 2011 Dakota and I immediately fell in love with it. When the job was over, I purchased one as soon as I could. I am a big person (6′ 4″) and worried that it would be too small to feel comfortable, but I was so wrong. Very comfortable, and I loved that I could park it anywhere. My Dakota (nickname Sophie) pulled our trailer without any problems, but I had to baby it over the mountains as it was a V-6. I was very disappointed when the model was continued, but I am now forever in the Dodge camp. Thanks for visiting Easin’ Along and I hope you’ll come back.

      1. Andy Clark

        I, too, was (still am) Ford goin’ way back to when my 1st paying job was as clean-up boy in lcl Ford dlrship way out in mid. of “nowhere” on High Plains :-). Yes, Dak’s were great vehicles (especially the ’01-04’s & w/ 4.7L), and yes it was DUMB(!) for Dodge to cnx the line! I say ’01-’04’s, because, as a “true truck,” they gave up 500#(!) P/L capacity in ’05-’11 model re-do. My ’01 had, not just new full-time AWD option, but a “door jam sticker” 1700# P/L capacity when properly factory-equipped. More than entry-pt F-150’s & Chev 1500′!

        Been waitin’ ever since for good new “Midsize” w/ similar specs as those “old” (HAH!) ’01-’04 Dak, and still nothing compares. Certainly not the new GM, et al, overpriced(!), but underwhelming, “all hat; no horse” pretenders!

        1. jobruner01 Post author

          Andy, what a coincidence. I was a clean-up boy at a Ford dealership during my junior and senior years in high school. I drove one of the first Mustangs delivered to Knoxville as well as a Shelby Cobra. My first pickup was an F100, three speed on the column (with air conditioning). Nevertheless, now that I own a Ram Hemi, I have become a Dodge lover. My “toy” is a 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser that is my most prized possession. Us boys gotta have toys! Stay in touch!

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      Well, I didn’t know how much work it would be when I started, but it has truly become a labor of love. Thanks for visiting Easin’ Along. I hope you’ll come to Knoxville for a visit sometime…would love to see you.

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