As mentioned previously, our first foray into RVing was in a wee Mallard 19N. It was only about 20 feet long and tipped the scales at 3,750 pounds dry. We had been shopping for something like this figuring our 1993 Chevy Astro with its powerful V6 and 5,000 pound towing capacity would be able to handle it.
At the time we lived in South Texas and had bought the trailer in Corpus Christi. We turned towards home with our prize in tow and were met with a fierce headwind. Not only was it impossible to tow in overdrive, the van kept dropping into passing gear. What had we gotten ourselves into? We were glad to get home without burning up the transmission.
The only logical thing to do next was to sell my Toyota pickup and get a used half-ton Chevy extended cab with a nice V8, 350 (5.7 liter). That should do it. That expense plus the brand new hitch on the van that would now likely go unused was beginning to make our trailer not such a bargain. Although our bank account was a bit lower, our spirits were not. We were excited to go on our first outing.
We were in love with this new-found life after our first state park. But the girls were cramped in the back ‘seat’ by the time they added books, games, stuffed animals and who knows what else. So time for another upgrade, that’s right – crew cab.
We ended up with a F350 Crew Cab Super Duty that had a powerhouse 7.3 liter diesel. I know, overkill. But the experience was great. The girls had plenty of room. I had to keep a close eye on my rearview mirrors to make sure the trailer was still back there. And the fuel expense was lower. It was almost comical because the truck was longer than the trailer.
Well, you can’t “waste” a truck like that on a trailer so small. It makes an imbalance in the natural order of things. Anyone could see that we had no choice. We had to get a fifth wheel. Living in an area where the snowbirds migrate and nest has it’s advantages. We were able to find a Wilderness 28RK for not much more than what we got for selling the Mallard. A queen-sized bed we could walk around! A sofa on a slide! A HUGE bathroom. Yep. This was going to be great.
Of course, with a fifth wheel, the bikes couldn’t go in the bed of the truck and that flimsy aluminum bumper didn’t make the first trip with 4 bikes hanging on it (ropes and bungees helped keep the rack off the road until we got a proper bumper during one outing). Not to mention the new vinyl floor and carpet that had to be put in before we could go anywhere.
So as the snowball grew, so did our experiences. We were loving it. And we were still spending less than many families who travel to resorts. We were more than satisfied with this lifestyle we had found and looking forward to more.