I am cheating a bit here. I created a blog in 2010 and did a test post and we are now editing that post to record our 2010 acquisition of our full-timing rig.
THE MOTORHOME PURCHASE
We decided we would be most comfortable with a motorhome and toad setup. And we decided that we would start looking in 2010 and purchase a rig some time within the calendar year ahead of our planned full time start (mid 2011).
Gary felt we should have a diesel for its size, cargo carrying and torque. He narrowed our choices to three brands -- American Coach, Newmar, and Country Coach. We decided that within our budget we would concentrate on somewhat older somewhat higher line models than newer more entry level coaches. And we also decided we would pursue a coach with a tag axle for its cargo carrying and ride and handling.
He no more than joined the Country Coach forum on Yahoo when he started receiving emails from individuals selling coaches. One particularly promising one arose in the Bay Area of California. The price was right on a 2003 Country Coach Intrigue always garaged and with only 12,000 miles. Gary flew to Oakland and had it evaluated both by a Cummins shop as well as an inspection with a mobile RV mechanic. It didn't check out to be quite as pristine as had been represented and Gary scheduled a flight back to Detroit. While taking a day at least to go sight seeing in SF, the broken off negotiations resumed and a new deal was reached. I wired the money and Gary received the title and started the long trip back. (Gary had made a very long trip in a diesel once delivering a Discovery from the Detroit dealership to a customer in Phoenix and returning with his trade).
Gary stopped for a couple days in Livermore, California to have it serviced and a few minor adjustments made. As it was March, he didn't want to take the most direct route back -- I80 -- and possibly get stuck in super cold or snow. He headed south through central California and came back across I40. But one issue arose almost immediately. Gary observed some drips of hydraulic fluid from the ceiling of the front slide out room. He detoured slightly to see if he could get some service for it. Some detour -- he went to Las Vegas. There he was rolling into Vegas at Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard on his way to the Sam's Town RV Park and I hadn't even seen it yet. And then he couldn't get anyone to work on it timely in Vegas but got some great advice to route himself through Iowa on the way back and stop at the HWH factory -- that there was a service bulletin out on that particular type of hydraulic hose. So in Oklahoma City he headed north, and of course the timing wasn't quite right so he had to camp a couple nights at another casino in Iowa. Lo and behold, HWH replaced all the hydraulic hoses for the slide outs throughout the coach at no charge. One can't say enough about that level of customer service.
The garage we lined up was some miles from our home, so Gary scheduled his return for the weekend when I could come and pick him up. And as he had some time to kill to arrive on the weekend, he detoured to visit his Mother in Indiana and his son in Ohio -- and I still hadn't seen it!
I was waiting in my car in the parking lot outside the garage when he arrived. He pulled right up to the front of my car, and somehow I just know he was going to blast me with that air horn which is exactly what he did. And even though I saw it coming I wasn't prepared for a horn that seems as loud as a train horn -- scared me right out of my seat.
THE TOAD PURCHASE
How does one turn the purchase of a toad into a saga nearly as large as a cross country motorhome purchase? Well, Gary can. Being Ford people, our toad obviously has to be a Ford. We looked at new ones and felt a Flex, Edge or Escape would be too big and heavy and perhaps too nice and new for towing. We would have purchased a new Focus Wagon, but Ford discontinued the wagon bodystyle after 2007. So Gary started a new national search for a Ford Focus Wagon with a manual transmission. And sure enough he found one and with a Blue Ox baseplate to boot -- IN COLORADO SPRINGS. So off he flies again and drives home another new to us vehicle.