Thursday, November 29, 2018

Let's Talk RV Dealers or Not All Dealers Are Created Equal.

We ordered our first RV and the Tampa RV Super Show in January of this year. We went to check out all the different Bs and B+ models that we could find. So when we made our decision to order our first RV at the show, we were handed off to a dealer that had a reputation.

We actually thought we got off to a good start when we got a phone call from them once we returned home. We were advised at that time that if possible we needed to pick it up by the end of the month they notified us. Okay, we thought, we can do this.

We were early for our closing appointment. And they kept us waiting a little longer. The person who did the finance closing was pleasant enough - probably because of the money we dropped. However, she and others kept reminding us that we were a courtesy delivery. We knew when we bought that we were not going to return to Florida from Tennessee to have warranty work done. Not at that dealer. Top that off with a salesman assigned to work with us who could not remember my first name to save his life.

So, we were wary when looking for a new vehicle. The first dealer was nice enough, but we were not going to get enough from our trade to make purchasing feasible. And they were honest enough about that. The vehicle, which hubby preferred had a part that was broken on the seat in a brand new vehicle. Did the dealer do it? Was the factory that careless?

The second dealer was A & L RV Sales, in Christiana, Tennessee. We looked there last year because they had a class B vehicle that looked interesting. While there we looked at a couple of small Class C vehicles, one a Coachmen and the other a Dynamax Isata 3 series. We didn't seriously consider them because of sleeping arrangements, which probably was a mistake at the time.  This year's experience was terrific. We met our salesman, Tim DeVine who was a real pleasure to work with. They gave us a better price on the Dynamax than we were expecting and a better price on the vehicle trade. When we closed on the vehicle and given our walk through, it was a very pleasant experience. We were introduced to the Parts & Service departments and expect that we will be treated fairly and politely when we take our vehicle in for service.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

One of the Reasons We Bought This Dynamax.

After a wet weekend camping in our old Class B, we really knew we were ready to move up. One of the reasons was the location of the bathroom, right across from the sliding door. It was a wet bath besides. And don't even think about having the slider open while you wanted to use it, since it was very uncomfortable for hubby.

Enter our Dynamax Isata 3 FWM. This picture was taken with the slide in. The door just beyond the fridge is the bathroom door. It opens as far with the slide in as it does with the slide out. It's very nice. It's a little more difficult to walk through to that back window due to the height of the folded bed, but due to my 5'5" height, I was able to easily pass below the TV mounted on the bedroom wall.  Our "Izzy" is a great fit. Hubs is able to get up in the middle of the night and make his way to the bathroom without any obstacles.

The other reason we wanted this particular model, was the ability to have a meal on the road. This picture was taken on our way home from taking delivery of the vehicle. Believe me, it was a lifesaver. We simply pulled off the freeway into the parking lot of an outlet center, had our lunch, ran into the outlet mall to use their facilities (no water in our tanks at the time, as we did a run through of emptying the tanks on walk-through.)

When we bought our first RV, the class B, we had no idea how it would work out for us. We genuinely thought that it would work for us. And it did on our way home from taking delivery of that vehicle in Florida. It just took a single camping trip in the rain to convince us that one was a mistake.  The next camping trip in "Izzy" was a totally new and wonderful experience.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Pets Like It!

One of the things that we worried about before and after the purchase of our RV is whether or not the the pets would travel well in it. We spent several nights in it driveway surfing prior to the BIG ADVENTURE - aka our first camping trip with the pets. Said pets are Mouse, the gray and white cat and Champ, the Tennessee Black & Tan Mixed Breed.

While they both took rides in our old Class B RV, they'd never ridden in the Class C Dynamax Isata 3 aka Izzy.

Getting comfortable
Our first trip with them, the dog barked, whined and panted while secured in his seat. For 40 minutes. On the freeway. Not a peep out of the cat. Or she couldn't be heard above Champ's barks, whines and panting.

Once set up at the State Park campsite, however, he was fine.

Mouse and Champ promptly took up residence on our bed. Mouse also has the entire cab over area dedicated to her as her safe place when Champ gets to be too much.

What's out there?
You can see that Champ was happy keeping guard. He really enjoyed barking at everything he saw and heard. One night Mouse saw or heard a raccoon. She screeched, woke up Champ who barked like a guard dog. I'm sure he woke the neighbors, but he also scared the raccoon off.

It was rather quiet at the campground, we being one of 8 RVs camping. So there weren't a lot of people hanging around and he soon got the idea that he can't bark at everyone. The next night, when the raccoon struck again? Not a peep out of him.

This is my spot
The downside? Well, once ensconced on the bed, Champ does not want to budge. It's quite the struggle for two people and a dog for bed space. Mouse will occasionally crawl into bed with us, but is usually happy curled up on the dinette benches, the cab seats or staring out her personal windows up in the cab over area. Or sitting in the middle of one of the benches and giving you the "look" when you try to move her. She does not like us to close the shades at night, and often when trying to get to sleep you will hear her moving from window to window to get behind the shades.

On the way home, we secured Champ between the driver and passenger seats where he could be with us. We hardly knew he was there. I'm anxious to try a longer trip with them.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Dealer Trip

We took Izzy to Knoxville to the Mercedes-Benz dealership for a couple minor-ish items. First, and most importantly was the parking brake. It's very difficult to disengage. That's due to the fact that it is a two-stage parking brake. We have swivel seats and to swivel them you have to drop the parking brake without releasing it. The second thing was a software update. Glad to have that out of the way.

The Mercedes-Benz dealership was quite familiar with RVs that are on a Sprinter Chassis. We didn't spend too much time there and were soon headed home. Note to self, DO NOT EVER GO TO KNOXVILLE THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING! Traffic on the way home - usually an hour and a half, took us over two hours due to a semi trailer that caught on fire. Traffic was heavy the entire way home. At least the weather was good.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Lovin' the Dynamax Isata 3

Dynamax Isata 3 24FWM
This is the floorpan of Izzy. We got the cab over option, mainly for our cat. It keeps her food and litter well away from the dog. We also wanted the dinette because we didn't want to constantly set up a table if we needed to eat inside. All in all it's a good floorpan for us.

Another thing that Izzy has that we desperately wanted was exterior storage. At first glance it doesn't look like a lot, but it's great and more than ample for us to haul what we need and want. 

Izzy is on a Mercedes-Benz cutaway chassis. Izzy drives like a car. Really, I forget while I'm driving her that I'm basically driving a truck. 

And the inside storage isn't shabby. We discovered that Izzy has some additional storage under the dinette seats.
Under bench storage
 Looks perfect for storing things we don't want our critters to get into. The storage that puzzles me the most is the storage over the fridge. It's wide and deep and home to the HDMI matrix (allows us to watch same thing on both TVs.) But it has a flip up door. And no strut to hold it up. And I'm 5'5" so I need a step stool to even reach what's up there. It looks like we'll be purchasing and installing a strut for that soon.

After our first trip in it, I discovered that while the cushion bottom had velcro sewn to it, the seat base did not. It should have looked like this. It does now. Worked great with my electric stapler/nailer. Now it no longer slides around when hubby sits on it.

There is one more thing we really like about the Isata 3, the floor space when the slide is closed. There is a direct path to the bathroom and the door opens as wide as when the slide is out. Win.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Are You Handy or Do You Have Money?

A close friend of mine, when informed that we were buying our first RV, told us to be prepared to either pay for repairs or be handy.

She didn't actually say anything about not breaking things.

On our Dynamax Isata 3 series, I forgot to do something about the third time I brought the slide in. I forgot to move the driver's seat forward enough. Crack. I broke off a piece of trim. I glued it back on. If that's the worst I do, I think we'll be lucky.

I probably forgot to say that I am the primary driver of this vehicle. And I'm happy with that. What amazes me is how quickly I adjusted to the "no rearview mirror" aspect of an RV and using the gigantic side mirrors. Our "Izzy" also has a rearview camera, dash cam and two side cameras which give you a great view of your turns.

I can pretty much back into our driveway using the rear camera and mirrors. For someone until this year never drove anything bigger than a minivan, I think I'm doing well.

Thanksgiving is coming up fast, then Christmas, then the new year. Hoping 2019 has many adventures for us.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Our 2018 RV Adventures

This is the year of the RV in our family. Hubby and I traveled to Florida in January to scope out the new RVs at the Tampa RV Super Show. We were mostly interested in Class Bs - or camper vans as some call them. We ended up ordering a Class B at the RV show and waited until the call came in April that it was ready for delivery.

We have never owned an RV before and knew little about what we were getting into. The 700+ mile trip home was an adventure. And scary. Getting used to the "noise" of the RV along with the workings of it were an education.

We sat out the summer at home while hubby finished projects around the house and enjoyed the pool and waited while hubby recuperated from cataract surgeries. Then fall came. This was our chance to get out and really find out what it was to camp.  We had three nights at a state park here in Tennessee. It rained most of the second day. Hubby and me and a cramped camper van in a thunderstorm. And a wet bath. By the middle of the second day, we knew that a Class B with a wet bath was not for us. We spent some of the time during that thunderstorm surfing the web looking for a floor plan and a van that would work for us.

A few days later, we checked out a couple RV dealerships that sold motorhomes that were relatively close to us. We found two that we liked, two different companies, two different dealers, both with full wall slides that would give us the room for hubby, me and our dog and cat. We settled on a Dynamax Isata 3 FWM.  October was a crazy month full of appointments that could not be put off. Finally, in early November we once again headed to our favorite state park, pets in tow. Again, it rained, but did not thunderstorm. Our full hookup campsite although small, was large enough for a modicum of privacy. We loved it. We could make and serve meals without tripping all over each other. Our cabover became the cat sanctuary. The dog was happy being with us and sleeping in the middle of our queen size bed.

Sometimes, you have to learn by trial and error. I wouldn't advise anyone to do what we did and buy two RVs in one year. But, too, you shouldn't be afraid to take a chance.  This is Izzy when we stopped for lunch on the way home from the RV dealer.

I hope to follow this up with our "adventures" our successes and our foibles.  Stick around and see what we get up to.