2007 Fulltime the road back, final chapter
Dinky is a good way to start off 2007 :))
2007 Was to be a quiet year for camping, but a big year for traveling. With tax time upon us we stayed close to home and kept busy with work. A decision was made to convert Truckers Helper to ADO and so a major rewrite was required. This kept us hopping until it was time to leave for the Louisville Truck Show.
For some reason which I can't seem to fathom the pictures of the 2007 Louisville show have disappeared. So there's nothing to show from that trip. It was a short trip this year asd my partner had decided to leave the business and I needed to get back right after the show to keep things running and make preparations for them to stay running on the rest of our travels for the year. We still had the Las Vegas show and the Dallas show coming up. So we came straight back from Louisville and got back to work. It was the end of May before we actually took off again, this time for the Las Vegas show.
This trip we tried something new and used the camcorder instead of the camera. Now I just need to find the time to get the recordings onto the computer and extract a few of the stills so we'll have some shots of the trip. It was a really good trip for us and here's a brief Itinerary-
May 26, depart for Las Vegas
June 3, arrive Las Vegas
June 7, setup booth for show
June 8-10, truck show
June 11-12, Kaysville, Ut, meeting with one of our distributors
June 13-15, Yellowstone National Park
June 16-17, enroute Seattle, Wa
June 18-19, business meetings
June 20-22, enroute Fairfield, Mn
June 23-24, off at Flying Goose RV Park, Fairfield, Mn
June 25-29, professional services with customer
June 30 day off, Flying Goose RV Park, Fairfield, Mn
July 1, enroute Grain Valley, Mo
July 2-3, recording sessions for Landline Now radio show, OOIDA
July 4, day off Trailside RV Park, Grain Valley, Mo
July 5, enroute Lebanon, Mo
July 6, recording session with truck.net for podcasts
July 7,8 entoute Atlanta, Ga, Atlantic South RV Park
July 9-13, professional services with customer
July 14-15, day off, visit with family in Atlanta
July 16-17 enroute home, Palm Bay, Fl.
While we were on this extended trip we had talked a lot about the idea of getting rid of the house and full timing in our RV. We had pretty much made up our minds that we wanted to take that step and we doing a little research on what we wanted in the way of a full time coach. We both agreed that while Almost was a wonderful coach, there were a number of shortcomings if we were going to full time. So once we arrived home we started actively looking for our full time coach. With the Dallas truck show coming up in mid-August we didn't have a lot of time to find what were looking for, but we made up a list of must have features and headed out on the weekends looking for our dream coach.
Our initial list ended up with 3 top contenders, Newmar, Holiday Rambler and the Allegro Bus. I got on the internet and spent a lot of time researching, posted on the RV.NET forum and talked to owners of each there. Then we found models we wanted to see and headed out to check them out. The Holiday Rambler Scepter was at the top of our list and was the first coach we looked at. We walked around, opened all the doors and basement storage, kicked the tires and were duly impressed. Then we said, "Ok, let's bring the slides in so we can see how it works with the slides in." - oops, the passenger side front slide wouldn't come in. Being the "omen" person that I am, and that my better half is becoming, the Scepter fell off the list and we moved on.
The Newmar Dutch Star was the next coach on our list and the dealer we were at for the Scepter also carrier the Dutch Star. Because of Sheila's emphyzema we needed to have the coaches we wanted to looked at cooled down and aired out, it was July in Florida after all. So when we called to let them know what we wanted to look at we explained this. As we headed to the Dutch Star the saleslady informed us that something had gone wrong (I'm still unclear what it was) and the Dutch Star was not cooled down for us. We took a quick look inside, seemed fairly nice, but we were not able to stay in it as it was too stuffy for Sheila to be able to stay in it. That finished off our time for that day and so we headed home with little to talk about.
Last on the list was the Allegro Bus and it had really moved up on my list after talking to people on the forum about the reputation that Tiffin has for service after the sale. A reputation which we were to learn later was well deserved, but that's anohter story and we'll get to that in a minute. The following week we made an appointment to go down and take a look at the Allegro Bus and as soon as we walked in we just knew this was the one. So without further adeu I give you TIS-IT our new home -
TisIt (I'm sure you follow the progression, WannaBe, Almost and now Tis It :)) had all the features we had on our list and then some. If you're going to full time then a 120v house referigerator is really nice. Also a 3000watt inverter to power that fridge when you're off the grid, a 10k Onan Quiet Generator to power everything when you dry camp, a hydrohot heating and hot water system, an apartment style stacked Washer/Dryer (220v dryer that really dries) and that's just the tip of the iceburg. Here's a view of the inside -
These are of course before pictures and aren't actually TisIt, but a close relative with the same layout. We'll have a few more of TisIt after our trip to Red Bay for some modifications that we put on the list before we even drove him off the lot (see below).
Time was off the essence now as we needed to leave for Dallas in a couple weeks and needed to get the Datastorm moved from Almost to Tis It and we needed to get a motorcycle rack on. Because of the extra length of Tis It we decided to go with the Hydralift which allows us to get the car much closer for overall length and allows us to fold up the rack when the bike isn't on it to help with tight (as in short) back-in spaces. So here we all with the initial modifications in place and on the way to Dallas for the show then up to Red Bay for some warranty and custom work.
The Dallas show was a good one this year. It seems to grow a little more each year. We found a local mobile home park with RV parking and so were only a couple miles from the convention center which was real convienent.
As usual for this year I didn't get any good shots of the park. That's my New Years resolution for 2008, but more on that in a bit.
The booth came out real well this time. I'm finally narrowing down a look that I like. We'll have 10x20's at all the shows for 2008 so I'll keep this photo handy to remind me how to lay out the booth.
After the show we visted with friends for a few days and then headed up to Red Bay, Al, the Tiffin Factory to get some warranty and some custom work done on our new home.
That's us, 3rd coach up. The one with the datastorm poking up into the sky.
Here's the campground at the Tiffin Factory. They purchased the old airport, that's the old runway that is running down the middle of the photo. They've setup spaces with full hookups on each side of the runway and there's another row behind each of these. All together they have over 100 spaces. If you're in for warranty work the stay if free, if you're just camping or in for other service there's a $10/day fee - and that's for full hookups :))
When we arrived we were told that it would be about 2 weeks before we'd get in so we settled in and did a little riding and some fixing up that I wanted to do on my own. We figured this was a good test for our new life style.
Two weeks came and went and we were happy waiting. The Natchez Trace was only a few miles away and there
several lake in the vicinty to explore.
But as we started into the 4the week I started getting a little impatient and so I complained a little and like the squeaky wheel everywhere they got us in and started on fixing our problems. We also had them install a desk for me and we had one of the guys there build us a custom stand for Sheila's oxygen equipment.
They more than lived up to their reputation, fixing things that we hadn't even complained about, rebuilding the closet because they felt the design was bad, paying $500 of the cost for Diamond Plate because they didn't like the
way the coating they used came out, etc.
So here's the finished product -
and looking the other way -
The desk was a real necessity. Since the plan is to work from the road I needed a good work space and room for multiple computers. We had the desk put in at the factory and I then added the slide out shelves for my laptops. While both my laptops are touchscreen, the Motion, next to the monitor, is really portable and easy to carry around and I'm working on some new in-cab functionality for the program that needs a small portable computer like this one. On the floor between the desk and the front wall is my ACER with Vista on it. A real losing combination, but it is a small unit and since it's Vista it's strictly for testing and gets very little use.
It's also real important to keep the cook happy :)) and the additional pull out counter space is a real help for her. The drawers are also impressive - they run the full depth of that pull out so they're 27 inches deep. In fact, overall, the storages space in this coach was one of it's big appeals. We've moved in, brought everything we thought we'd want or need and then some and we still have some empty cupboard space and I have a little room left in the basement. We'll get to the basement in a minute - but first -
The feature that has turned out to be the bigest plus for this coach met with a little derision at first but has turned out to be a real work saver for the honey.
Yep it's her very own on board laundry and it's not the
make believe washer/dryer you find in some RV's, this
is an apartment style 240volt dryer. It does small loads
but it's real easy doing a small load every couple days
and avoiding the trips to the laudromat.
Luxury is our 120 volt household refrigerator. Granted
we have given up the convience of a propane fridge, but
we've also gained the cooling ability of a compresser
instead of a heat transfer unit. Gone is the need to be
perfectly level, and we have an extra battery bank and
a heavy duty inverter to keep it running when we're off
shore power and the generator.
Now back to the basement. The passenger side front compartment came with an outdoor entertainment center which we both agreed we'd never use. So we pulled out the TV and the compartment was just the right size for one of the show cases. The monitors and screen also fit in on top of it.
Just behind this compartment there are 2 more full basement compartments. The forward one we use for the other display case and misc. show stuff and then we have long term storage in the rest of that bay.
The rear bay is the slide out tray -
The slide out tray keeps my tools, cleaning stuff and other
necessities handy. It slides out either side and I keep the
fueling stuff on the passenger side along with the windshield
cleaning pole, etc. Our collapsible ladder also fits in the tray
so everything I need for my outside maintenance is handy.
On 12/1/07 we finished moving into TisIt, loaded the bike, hooked up the car and headed off for our new home. We tried that settling down stuff and it's just not for us. We lasted almost 7 years in the same house - a record for us - but the gypsy in us just wouldn't leave us alone so it was time go get on down the road.
Here's a last look back as we pulled out from the house for the last time
For now it's over to a local RV park till it's time to leave for Louisville. Then it's the open road for us.
NEW HOME & CHRISTMAS ON THE NEXT PAGE