We talked about buying an RV for a while. We still enjoy living on a boat, but there are places we want to visit where you can’t get to by boat. We are already used to living in a small space, so moving to an RV is not difficult.
In January of 2016 we go to the Tampa RV show. We know we want a class A or class C motor-home because we don’t have a vehicle to tow a travel-trailer or fifth-wheel. We want something pre-owned, but not too old. We look at a lot of brand new motor-homes and come away with more questions than answers.
The next day we go to an RV dealer in Tampa to look at pre-owned motor-homes. Everything we see seems too expensive or too abused. We go home with a clearer picture of what we want.
Once back in Marathon we look on-line at General RV, another Tampa RV dealer. We see a 2015 31′ Winnebago Vista that looks perfect except or the price. We email a sales person we met at the show and tell her we are looking for something like this, but for a lesser price. She calls us and says they will sell it to us for that amount. We hardly believe it.
We put a down payment on our credit card and apply for a loan. A couple of days later we are approved and head up to Tampa to test drive it. After 5 1/2 hours of driving we get to the dealer and find our sales person. She has them pull the RV out for us to test drive and it is a Mini Winnie, not the one we talked about. We show her the email and she says she misunderstood, but she will bring out the Vista.
We finish the test drive and she leaves alone while she goes inside. We imagine that we will not get it for the price. After a while she comes back and tells us she made a mistake, but they will honor the deal anyway. We have ourselves an RV.
We come back the next day to walk-through and complete the deal. Its late by the time we finish the paperwork and they still have some work to get the RV ready. We spend our first night in the RV in the General RV parking lot.
The Adventure Begins
They finish at 1:30 the next day. We are nervous driving this huge vehicle. Our first stop is Walmart. After shopping we eat lunch and call campgrounds. Every place we call is full. We call Linger Lodge, in Bradenton and they have a site with electric for $46. Its 40 miles away. We wanted to go farther, but we decide to take our time getting back. Then we make reservations for two nights in Big Cypress National Preserve.
Our campsite in Big Cypress National Preserve is at Monument Lake. This campground has no electric, water or dump station. We pre-paid for two nights at $28 a night. We didn’t realize that because we’re 63 that for $10 we could buy a senior pass which would give us 50% off at all national parks.
After two nights in Monument Lake campground, we drive down the street to the Oasis Center and buy a senior pass for $10. Then we drive a few miles more and reserve a site in Midway campground. This campground has electric hookup, water and a dump station on site. With our senior pass it cost $15.
We dump our gray and black water, fill with fresh water, go to the grocery store and stay the night before heading back to Marathon. In Marathon we make arrangements to store it.
Here is a link to a Google Map of our stops.
About our RV
Our RV is a 31 foot Winnebago 2015 Vista. It has a slide out for the u-shaped dinette and sofa/bed. It has a queen-size bed and a pull-down twin-size bed over the dashboard. The dinette table can be dropped to make another queen-size bed.
One of the things we like best about the layout is that it is completely functional when the slide is in.
We made some improvement right away. We replaced all the cushions with new, high quality foam. We replaced short RV-queen mattress with a regular queen-size mattress and memory foam topper. This does make our room seem smaller, but we sleep better.
We also replaced all lights with LED bulbs to save on batteries. We added an electric water heater, so we can heat water with electricity or propane.
We had a rear sway bar and steering stabilizer added to make it drive better. It makes a big difference.
Towing a Car
On the boat we have a dinghy to get us from anchor to shore. Many RVers have a dinghy, or toad, to get you from the campground to another destination. We try to get by without towing another vehicle.
When we need groceries we look for a place with a large parking lot. Sometimes, when visiting family and friends, we borrow a vehicle, or bum a ride. Other times we take a Uber. For times when that doesn’t work we have bicycles.
We purchased a Swagman bike carrier that attached to the hitch and holds two bikes. It work great except that the inner bike handlebars hit the RV. So we loosen the handlebar the its perfect.
Using the bicycles allows us to go shopping, site seeing and exploring. We also get some exercise. We may decide to tow a car someday, but for now we get along just fine.
The Adventure Continues
We are like vagabonds, moving from place to place and enjoying our RV. We have been all over the east coast, putting 7,000 miles on in ten months. Here are trips so far: