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My husband and I have our own list of things we look for each time we are heading for a new campground. Here are a few of them:
- A campground that is clean and not loaded with RV that are falling apart
- Sites that are wide enough so we are away from the neighbors and can’t hear their table conversation or other intimate talk
- Sites that are long enough so our 35 foot fifth wheel isn’t hanging out in the road
- 30 amp electricity for normal lights, radio and television, 50 amp if we need air conditioning
- A hook up for water – we have our own filter
- The ability to easily get into the campsite (back-up or pull-through) without colliding with trees or power-lines or other obstacles
Those are the basics. If a campground doesn’t have those, we don’t stop. On the second tier of amenities (very nice but not critical) we like to have:
- Wifi so we can communicate with the rest of the world in addition to doing our banking, bill paying, shopping and so forth (really nice if we have it at our campsite and don’t have to tote the laptop up to the office)
- Cable TV hook-ups
- Picnic table
I think we’re pretty reasonable on both our basics and the extras that we like to have when moving to a new campground/neighborhood. But, in order to attract more busines, campgrounds are now offering more and more amenities. Some of our fellow RVers are now expecting these amenities as basics. Here’s what they are demanding:
- Swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs
- Recreation Centers with a full range of social activities (usually with an Activity Director) like organized pot-luck suppers, dance lessons, crafts of all kinds, trips to local attractions and lots of clubs
- Sports activities such as golf courses, horse shoe pits, shuffle board courts, hiking paths, gardens and game rooms
I could go on but you get the idea. What made me think about this is a picture I saw in a book I’m re-reading from my childhood, Homer Price by Robert McCloskey. Homer’s parents run a camp for tourists. Notice their sign out front touting their one amenity. Times sure have changed, haven’t they.
The sign says: Shady Rest Tourist Camp – Running Water.
Once we made the decision to travel fulltime in an RV after retirement we immediately began doing research on the subject. We thought the fun part would be picking out and buying the RV. After all, how hard could that be? Were we ever naïve! From the time we decided to fulltime RV until purchase was about five years.
First we had to decide what type RV:
A motorhome, called a class A, is completely self-contained. You get into the driver’s seat which is the same thing as getting into your house. You can pull over, park, and not even get out in order to fix lunch. The downside for us was two-fold. First, it was too big. Second, we’d have to tow a vehicle behind the motorhome for those times we wanted to go exploring the back roads. We crossed the motorhome off our list.
Similar to a motorhome, we discovered, is a camper, called a class C. It is self-contained like a motorhome but much smaller. After sitting in several we decided this was just too small. Check this one off the list.
A trailer was the next type and we looked at a ton of them. A trailer requires a truck or heavy-duty vehicle to pull it. There are a wide variety of floor plans in trailers. Some have the bedroom up front, some in the back. Many have an outside door going into the bedroom and one into the living room. For some reason, none of the trailers felt right to us. OK, now what?
I’d never heard of a fifth-wheel before. It is similar to a trailer in that it must be pulled or towed. But in this case the front of the trailer sits right in the back of a pick-up truck with a special hitch. It shortens up the overall length of what is to be towed. Well, unless you buy one of those super-long ones. The design of fifth-wheels are different because they have to accommodate the front lift of the trailer that goes into the back of the truck. So, fifth-wheels are a two-storied house. Most are designed to open with one door into the kitchen or the living room which is on the first floor. There are stairs up to the second floor, which is usually the bedroom and bath area. After sitting in several fifth-wheels, this felt right.
Now we had to figure out which fifth-wheel and which truck. We divided up the decision. My husband, Jay, picked out the truck and I picked out the new “house”. I think we both did well. Jay picked a Ford 350 diesel dooly King Ranch. I’m probably not saying that right but, if you know trucks, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s the most luxurious vehicle we’ve ever had.
The new house is a Hitchhiker made by the NuWa company. Our outside door opens into the kitchen/dining area but you immediately turn left to the living room or go right and up to the bedroom and bath area.
It has three “slide-outs” which add greatly to the living space. One slide-out accommodates the head of the queen sized bed. This allows the whole front of the fifth-wheel to serve as closet space. The second slide-out is larger and holds the dining room table and the couch. The third slide-out was pure luxury for me: it holds a desk with cabinets up above and next to it is the entertainment center.
In the coming weeks I’ll tell you more about the pluses and minuses of our new home and why this particular model works for us. We are very pleased with the decisions we made. It’s made our retirement life freer and, of course, more joyful.