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Friday, November 11, 2011
Living Fulltime in a Fifth-Wheel RV (Part Two)
For about three years prior to the
cancer incident, we had begun looking at travel trailers, motor-homes, and
fifth-wheels. We had pretty good ideas
about what we wanted for when we retired.
It had to be a full four season RV with a decent kitchen area and lots
of closet space. The type of RV was
something on which we had not come to agreement.
I liked the idea of a Class A motor
home – you know – those big busses – not fancy van conversions. Ella hated the idea of a motor home. “I don’t want a steering wheel in my living
room,” was one of her frequent remarks.
We owned two conversion vans and
therefore began looking primarily at travel trailers that could be pulled by
the vans. We received confusing and
conflicting advice from sales people when we asked what size trailer we could
pull with the van. Some said we could
pull any thing on the lot and some said it had to be towable by a ¼ ton
vehicle. I finally went to the GMC
dealer (since the one we planned to use was a GMC) and asked for his expert
advice. The advice was, “Both are
correct.” As long as we were staying
local with the unit we could handle any trailer that could be pulled by a ¾ ton
truck. However, since it was a
conversion van, the transmission was geared differently and would not work for
long hauls with a heavy unit.
I remarked to the GMC salesman that
eventually I would probably upgrade to a ¾ ton truck which would solve my
problem. “Funny you should mention
that,” he said. “Come look at this truck that I just took in on trade.” Yes, I bought it! It was a ¾ ton extended cab
with both a fifth-wheel receiver and a bumper hitch. Since the pick up already
had a fifth-wheel receiver, it opened us up to looking at fifth-wheels.
Road Ranger and Sierra 2500HD
The same weekend that we
bought the truck we also bought a used 1991 Road Ranger 35Y fifth-wheel
manufactured by K.I.T. Nearly 37 feet
long with an ample galley kitchen and lots of storage space, it was very nearly
what we had been envisioning. It was not
a full four season trailer. However,
this was only to be our ‘first’ trailer and not the one we retired into.
We picked the Road Ranger (RR for
short) up on a Wednesday in the middle of April and took it home. That Friday night we took it out for a weekend
of camping. We returned home only to
pick up more ‘stuff’ until the Corp of Engineers Parks closed on October 30th.
Keep in mind that we were still
working so we had to stick fairly close to home – just like we had done when
tent camping. We had adult kids living
at home with us and they kept the ‘sticks and bricks’ house going while we
Cutty's Clubhouse and lake
The next year we bought a
membership with Cutty’s Des Moines Camping Club which is a members' owned
resort in the Des Moines
area. The campground is over eighty
acres of gently rolling sparsely forested hills with an eleven acre fishing
lake in the middle. The resort has amenities such as; two outdoor pools, wading
pool, eighteen hole miniature golf, western play village, giant slide,
playgrounds, basket ball courts, horseshoe pitching areas, sand volley ball,
shuffle board and tennis courts. It is
much like the small towns in which Ella and I grew up. There is a general
store, café, laundry facilities, RV parts store, repair shop and a large “main
street” meeting area where there are all types of entertainment every weekend
during the camping season. One of the biggest attractions for us was the large
clubhouse which remains open year around.
The clubhouse has in indoor pool, sauna, hot tub, exercise room, showers,