Edited by Russ and Tiña De Maris
Here’s another installment of your responses to our request for readers to tell us why they bought their first RV. We’ll continue to sharing as many as we can over the next while.
Yearn to travel
I retired in New York one winter, and had promised my dog (and wife, and myself) that we’d return to Oregon someday and “run on the beach.” I’d already promised my dog that I wouldn’t travel anymore where the dog couldn’t go along. No more temporary kennels! We’d all travel together, visiting National Parks, and dropping by old friends that had scattered across the country.
Those were the excuses I used to start looking for a motorhome. Because it was a significant investment, I thought we should rent one first, and try out – not just the motorhome – but the entire idea and lifestyle. Summer approached and I couldn’t find a rental unit available before August. I didn’t want to lose that much of the summer, just waiting for a rental unit. And I was looking at Class C’s thinking they’d be more “driveable” than a larger Class A. Mobility was more important than livability.
A quick-thinking salesperson found a two-year-old Class C that had never been sold (or so he stated). Only used as a demo, and as a vacation unit by the dealer and employees. Now June, and time to start out, if one was planning to go cross-country, coast-to-coast. (“Planning” is not the right word here. Every day was a new ad-lib.)
So, immediate availability was the final reason for purchasing that specific vehicle as my first motorhome.
Thirteen years and many trips later, we purchased a new, slightly larger (slideouts!) Class C to replace the worn-out and honorably retired original. Two years after that, we bought our first Class A because I could stand up straight in it without hitting my head on anything, and because it had a shower that I could use in comfort. Small things do mean a lot as you get older.
Our original was for traveling. When I first retired, my thoughts and dreams involved lots of road miles, with no limit (within reason) to where we could go in the USA and Canada. And we certainly did! Now, “motorhoming” means something completely different: Drive to Texas before the first of the cold, snow, and ice that winter brings to New York’s North Country, and live comfortably in a mobile home park for 5+ months. Then drive back home for the summer. Originally, a motorhome was for our summer travels; now one is our winter residence. —John Viestenz (Port Henry, New York, and McAllen, Texas)
Call it serendipity
Merriam-Webster defines serendipity as, “The … phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.” That perfectly describes the course of events that led to our first RV purchase.
In Spring 2010, we’d finally made the difficult decision to sell our home and downsize. Nearing retirement, our original thought was to buy a small condo. The plan was we’d buy something close to our newly married son and enjoy being grandparents. Little did we know the housing market was going to throw almost insurmountable roadblocks between us and our plans.
We began meeting with real estate agents and quickly discovered we had a problem. Each agent we interviewed agreed that our home was beautiful and well maintained. But the proposed listing prices were barely enough to pay off the mortgage. The financial crisis that began in 2008, caused in part by inappropriate mortgage loan policy on the part of many lenders, caused a drastic fall in home sale prices. Our home which had appraised at $450,000 only a year before, could now be listed at only $325,000. We were devastated by this news, and began to question the decisions we had made over the years, many of which were centered around what we thought was an increasing value of our home. We needed to find a fallback position and we needed to find it fast.
The answer appeared in an ad from a membership warehouse we shopped at for years. They’d made an agreement with an RV dealer in Florida and offered discount prices on new RVs. Living in an RV had never been close to being on our radar. At first we weren’t sure it was for us; but the more we thought about it, the more attractive the idea became. I was still working, but quickly realized all I needed was a space for a computer and an internet connection. My wife loves to cook, so we needed something with a reasonably sized galley. We began researching RVs and after much discussion settled on the idea of a toy hauler. Large enough to offset the trauma of moving from a large house to a small RV, and the garage would provide a space for an office.
Without further ado, we sold our house and both cars, bought a Ford F-350, and drove to Florida to buy our first RV. It was a 42-foot Heartland Cyclone. We had never driven anything larger than a minivan, and we both wondered whether we’d made the right decision. Now, after 10 years full-timing, we can’t imagine going back. We’d not sought out the lifestyle, but for reasons we may never know, it sought us out. —Matthew Mastin
Seeking history up-close
We bought our first RV (Establishment, Class C) in 1975. My goal was to take my two sons to visit the 13 original colonies and the historic places related to them in 1976. I thought traveling by RV would be healthier and less expensive than eating in restaurants and staying in motels and hotels. —Virginia Northington
Health – and helpful intervention
I can’t say that I bought my first RV, because it was given to me by a customer of mine. It was a 1987 Mallard 26-foot Class C, and I had to put four-grand into it to make it road worthy.
It all came about by talking to my customer about my wife, who was dealing with cancer. The customer’s brother had bought the rig because he was an avid fisherman and liked to travel. But after only owning it for a short time, he developed brain cancer and passed away. It had been in storage for a long time.
The thought was that maybe while my wife was dealing with her cancer, we could travel. Two months of weekend work, it was ready to travel. We live in the Northeast so we traveled the East coast to my wife’s brother’s in Florida. It was a godsend, this rig. It allowed her to travel, and when not feeling well the bed in the back was her sanctuary. Not to mention having her own bathroom available full time. Luckily she beat the cancer.
Fast-forward twenty years. We have fostered 150+ kids in the last 14 years, adopted three, and still remain open to two more. All these travel with us now in a-36 foot Class A. Teaching these kids that there’s a whole big world out there. Thank you, Lord, for keeping your part of her deal with you. And PS, we’re now in our 60s. —Stephen Malochleb
Thanks to our readers for their contributions. We’ll have more on this later.