After a brief pause of something a little less less than 2 years–well, that’s brief in geological terms, anyway–my 18 month adventure of traveling the USA in a motorhome that concluded in October 2015 has resumed. It will be different this time: rather than traveling by motorhome I’ll be towing a 5th wheel RV with my new pickup truck. (Those of you who follow my blog may have caught my four part series How to Get the Best Deal on a New Car or Truck Without Ever Talking to a Salesman.) I also hope to take more time traveling the USA this time around, more than the 18 months I spent the first time. However, the biggest, most important difference of my trip this time will be that it won’t be my trip, it will be our trip, as I will be traveling with my lovely companion Diane whom I met back east on my earlier excursion. (Previously, in A Single RVer’s Guide to Finding Romance on the Road I wrote about my methods for pursuing love while RVing the country. I was extremely fortunate in my pursuit.)
A few days more than a month ago Diane and I loaded up our pickup truck with things we wanted to have in our new 5th wheel and we set off from Berkeley toward Portland to pick up the new trailer. We traveled mostly along the California and Oregon coastal route because Diane is a coast lover and hadn’t yet seen much of the CA coast and none of Oregon’s.
On Oct. 10 after loading the RV with things from the truck we hitched the two together “officially” launching this new chapter in both of our lives. From the Portland area where we camped in beautiful Milo McIver State Park we headed north toward Seattle to visit Diane’s family. We stayed one night at a Walmart along the way in Yelm, WA, so Diane could see what “Walmarting” is like. The next day we found ourselves at the Washington State Fairgrounds RV Park in Puyallup where we parked while visiting Diane’s family. After that it was down toward the Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mt. St Helens which is highly worth a visit. There we stayed in Silver Lake at the new and sparkly Silver Cove RV Resort. This was followed by a couple days in Ashland and a couple nights in CA before arriving back in the bay area where we are now tasked with readying the rig and our lives for full-timing beginning sometime in the spring. Before then we plan to head south for a month or so to enjoy some desert warmth and sunsets at the Imperial Dam LTVA about which I penned a five post series and separate boondocking report when I stayed there back in 2014-15.
Our new fifth wheel, BTW, is an Arctic Fox 29-5T. We settled on it after many months during which we compared more than a few. Things that influenced our decision included: warranted even for full-time use; floor plan; lots of windows; large enough to live in and as small as we could get to feel that way; custom made frame; large net carrying capacity, nearly 4,000#; reputation for being well insulated; we can navigate the entire rig when the slides are closed and access most cabinets, the fridge and bathroom. The trailer is about 34′ long.
In the first three parts of this article my energies were focused on providing readers with information about finding the best deal possible on a new vehicle, in particular when ordering one from the factory. Part One was on the basic principles. In Part Two I wrote about helpful web sites, collecting price information and going or not going to dealerships. Part Three addresses the right and wrong people to talk to–who to deal with and who will waste your time–and how to request a price bid. There are better and worse ways of doing these things and I gave voice to my thoughts about them.
Here in Part Four, the final installment of this article, I expand on my previous remarks about titles given to dealership personnel, I’ll have some things to say about the dealers with whom I interacted along the way, relating my experiences with each (negative and positive alike, mostly negative–surprise, surprise). I will also write about my final moments at the dealership where I made my purchase and how things almost fell apart, hoping that by doing so it will help equip you toward avoiding similar scenarios. For good measure I’ll toss in something counterintuitive about how financing may in some cases actually save you money, if handled properly. READ MORE…
It’s that time of year: barbecues, burgers and beer, hotdogs and a trip out to see the local fireworks display. I always look forward to photographing fireworks because “it’s like a box of chocolates… you never know what you are going to get.”
In this post I’m including four shots I like best out of about 100 I shot during one of the area’s smaller shows. I think three of them are a little less typical than most fireworks photos I’ve seen. I think that’s why I like them so much.
Getting cool fireworks photos is surprisingly easy. I could tell you how, but then I’d have to kill you… hahah. Kidding!
For how-to tips on photographing fireworks see my how-to post titled… drum roll… How to Photograph Fireworks. Well, what did you expect? LOL.
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The Right & Wrong Way to Find the Right & Wrong People
When it came time to chase down the dealer at which I would get the best price for the truck I was going to buy I soon learned how not to go about contacting dealers. Most if not all dealerships have some sort of Contact Us page on their web sites where you fill out an email form, field by field, entering your name, email address, sometimes phone number and finally your message. Do not do this! If you do you will find yourself bombarded by absolutely idiotic, automated replies that completely ignore what you’ve written, mindless salespeople trying to sell you whatever they have on the lot, or somebody that will say anything they think you want to hear in order to get you to come to their dealership. If you give them your phone number you will get phone calls from dealers who will press you and press you again and again to come down to their dealership because they know people they can get through their doors represent their best chance at making a sale with the largest profits. If you fill out those forms you will also find yourself subscribed to promotional mailing lists where dealers send you advertisement after advertisement about things in which you have absolutely no interest–you are going to get SPAMMED. [READ MORE…]
In Part One I wrote about retail (MSRP) and wholesale (invoice) pricing of automobiles. I pointed to hidden profit areas such as holdback that allow dealers to sell vehicles “below cost” and still make money. I also said that knowing the MSRP and invoice pricing really doesn’t matter because in the end the only thing that does matter is getting the lowest price for which a dealer is willing to sell the vehicle. Even so, if you are like me then it will be a matter of some comfort to know invoice prices for the base vehicle, options and packages. [READ MORE…]
If you’re like me, when it comes time to purchase a new vehicle you become filled with dread at the thought of being worked-over by a team of sophisticated, sleaze-ball sales reps in the offices of a car dealership. If you don’t experience that sense of panic, you should, because those guys can sell ice to an Eskimo while making him feel like they just saved his life.
In my recent quest for a new vehicle I have learned that, thanks to the Internet, if you handle things wisely you can get great price without leaving the comfort of your home, indeed without ever talking to a sales rep. Here is how I did it… (READ MORE)
While pepper may make you sneeze, choosing whole peppercorns over pre-ground, paired with a good quality pepper mill is really nothing to sneeze at. Freshly ground pepper is preferable to pre-ground pepper bought in a tin because peppercorns contain volatile compounds that begin evaporating the moment peppercorns are ground and exposed to air. There are green peppercorns, black peppercorns, white peppercorns and more. How do you know which to choose? There are different pepper mills. Which are the best? Can you refill those “non-reusable” pepper mills from the spice isle in the markets? All this and more in today’s episode of Old Man in the Kitchen. […READ MORE]