Narrowing Down the 5th Wheel

The best place to get an overview of RV vehicles are the RV shows. The largest one on the East Coast is at Hershey Park, Pennsylvania, which is held every September. We have been to this show the last three years. Not only is it an excellent opportunity to see all the major brand RVs in one place, but also attend numerous classes on the different aspects of the RV life.

By going to these shows we have been able to narrow down the 5th Wheels that meet our criteria. Not only have we talked to the salesmen, but also the factory representatives. To our dismay, we found that not all manufactures have representatives in every State. In Maryland, for example, our home State, there are only two dealers that carry the 5th Wheels in which we are interested. One, Chesaco RV in Harford County, Maryland and Beckley’s Camping Center in Frederick County, Maryland. And each only carry one of the vehicles we are interested.

While Chesaco is 2 miles from our house, Beckley’s is an hour and half drive away. We eliminated some 5th Wheel models because they did not even have a dealer in Maryland. The importance is warranty work. If we need to leave the 5th Wheel for a couple of days or weeks for warranty work (and our sources say that RVs are notorious for needing warranty work, no matter which manufacturer you purchase from), we want to return home for the wait, rather than travel to another State.

At this point we have narrowed down our choices to the Solitude by Grand Design and The Cedar Creek Hathaway Edition by Forest River. We will make our final choice, and purchase, this September after we attend the Pennsylvania RV show.

Below are pictures of the two:











Version 2

OOPS!  I am still learning how to use my iPhone 6, I think I had the camera turned the wrong way.

Finding That RV, Part 2

My wife decided she wants a 5th Wheel. Since we will be living in the RV full time, she says the trailers don’t give her the feeling of “home”. Although the Class A gives her that feeling, for us towing a vehicle behind is out of the question. Therefore, 5th Wheel.

How big. Well, since she won’t be driving, size doesn’t matter. Therefore big enough so there can be a king size bed, full size refrigerator, a bathroom shower you can comfortably turn around in, and a living room to give her the same comfort as home. Therefore, about 38 feet. WOW!

We have been on many road trips during our 33 year marriage. I like to drive and she likes to ride. A perfect combination. Many years ago we belonged to a road rally club. The purpose of the club was the gathering of car enthusiasts who would be given clues to transgress a 100 mile or so course through the city and countryside. The couple who figured out the clues and arrived at the secret destination closest to the time allotted won. We learned through this club the responsibilities of the driver and passenger (navigator). The driver had to know what road he was on, the speed limit of the road, the speed of the car, and the last intersection passed. The navigator had to know, according to the directions and clues given, the speed the vehicle was suppose to be going, the next turn maneuver (by clue or street name), and give the driver adequate notice to make the next instruction. If the driver missed a turn or the navigator failed to give the correct instruction, the other was not permitted to criticize. There were no exceptions to this rule. You were not permitted to blame the other for getting lost, or having to make a U-Turn. My wife and I follow the above on all our trips, and it has made for happy motoring.  The same rules will apply on our 5 year odyssey.

Looking for the perfect 5th Wheel, has not been as easy as expected. There must be about 70 different brands and types of 5th Wheels. Each has 4 or 5 individual floor plans. We are in the process of narrowing down the number by eliminating those that are not meant to be lived in full time. This is a result of quality of construction and insulation. The vehicle has to be comfortable in temperatures above 100 degrees and down past freezing. Our anticipated journey will take us to the southern United States and as far into Alaska we can go on paved roads toward the North Pole.

Finding That RV, Part 1

RVs (Recreational Vehicles) are divided into two main types: those that have a motor and those that don’t. The first type are divided into Classes. When you say RV most people think of the big Winnebago, bus type, Class A. Class B RVs are the size of a van, and Class C are the ones you see on the road that look like a school bus with an overhang above the driver. I don’t know why they aren’t grouped in size order.

The second type are again divided into two main categories, trailers and 5th wheels. Both require a tow vehicle. Trailers are hooked to the rear pumper of the tow vehicle, which can be a car, van, SUV, or pickup truck. 5th wheels, usually larger than trailers, are hooked to a hitch, like tractor trailers use, in the bed of a pickup truck.

When deciding which RV to buy, consideration is given first to what you plan to do with the RV, then price. The most luxurious are the Class A. They have all the comforts of home, and cost as much, above $100,000.00. Because of their vast size, you can’t drive them into small towns, and most people will tow a car behind. The class B’s are for those that have minimum requirements, a place to cook, sleep, bathroom, and TV. They cost a little more than a mid size luxury car, and like a car, can go anywhere. The cost of a Class C are between the two. We rented a 31 foot Class C when we first thought of the idea of retiring to an RV, just to see if we liked the experience. We loved it. We spent a week in the finger lake area of New York State. The Class C was just the right size for camping out, and driving through the small towns.

You can get a trailer from just a basic pop up to a 40 foot trailer. From basic necessities to glorious living. Usually you won’t get a trailer longer than 30 ft. or so, you would then go to a 5th wheel. The term ‘fifth wheel’ comes from a similar coupling used on four-wheel horse-drawn carriages and wagons. The device allowed the front axle assembly to pivot in the horizontal plane, to facilitate turning. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (oh, look! I was able to post a picture, another first).

While a smaller trailer is easier to drive and gives you both maneuverability and gas mileage, if you plan to live in the vehicle, a bigger 5th wheel has more advantages, including more stability in the larger sizes, and easier to backup (but it does take practice).

So, how do I decide which vehicle is for me? Simple, my wife and I put on boxing gloves, and the last person standing decides.

Looking over my Shoulder

The purpose of this blog is to get experience on producing a blog to keep my family and friends informed of our 5 year travels in our RV. We will not be buying the RV until September, with delivery expected in February, 2016. Therefore I have plenty of time to practice and learn about this blog.

For now, the blog is just my ramblings for my own amusement. In fact, it wasn’t until today that I even invited some of my relatives to view this blog (mainly because I just discovered how to do that). I want to get their feedback, so when I do this in earnest I won’t embarrass my self.

Therefore, it was to my great surprise that I found I have some followers. My first question, why would someone want to follow the ramblings of a man about to retire. My post are nothing new or earth shattering. How did they even find me?

Don’t get me wrong. I am flattered that someone would take the time to read my posts, and I invite you to continue. Now that I know people, whom I don’t even know, are reading me, I will try to use correct spelling and grammar.


Feel free to comment (I just learned how to do this):

Full Time RVing

I never camped as a kid, I was not a cub or boy scout. Of course I camped in the army. It was OK, you slept in a small pup tent with another guy. You had to dig your own latrine. It always seemed wet or damp. You were never fully clean. You shaved in cold water. Therefore I never had the desire to do additional camping.

My wife, on the other hand, went camping all the time growing up with her family. They would camp locally as well as going to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive in Virginia.

When we were dating, the Baltimore Ski Club, of which we were both members, had a summer trip to Kitty Hawk to do some hang gliding. They planned to camp in the park adjacent to the dunes. I wanted to go hang gliding, but had no desire to go camping, plus I had no equipment. She insisted, telling me it was not like the army and I would enjoy it. We borrowed a tent and equipment from her cousin and off we went.

Sure enough it was great. Hot showers, the tent we borrowed was huge, not like my pup tent, we had camp fires and hot food, roasted hot dogs, made marshmallows and smores. Plus they had clean, heated, indoor bathrooms. It was heaven.

That night it stormed (I love storms, especially with lightning and thunder, still do). With a large tent we could stand up and move around, plus it did not leak. It was great. Because of the storm, hang gliding was cancelled. 

My girlfriend (eventually to be my wife) apologized, saying it was the worst camping she ever had. The facilities were not as nice as she was use to plus the storm.  I told her I thought it was great.

We then camped for the next 30 years, going with her son, friends, and eventually her son’s children, our grandchildren. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Now that we are retiring, the grandchildren are to old to hang around with us, and our bones no longer appreciate sleeping on the ground, we decided to go RVing. Although most people who own RVs use them for camping, so they do not have to sleep on the ground in a tent, our camping days are over. Been there, done that. We are now looking to see the Country. The purpose of our RV is not to get away for the weekend, or even a week or month, but to replace our home. Hence, full time RVing. Living in your RV 365 days a year.

We will no longer be camping, we will be sightseeing with our house.

To Sell or not to Sell, that is the Question

The plan is to buy an RV in September, retire at the end of the year and travel around the continent for 5 years. The question, therefore, is what to do with the house I now live in.

Plan A: Sell the house, use the money to buy the RV and tow vehicle and not have to finance.

Plan B: Rent the house and use the money to pay off the RV.


Plan C: Tell my wife it is her problem and not to bother me about it.

The problem with Plan A is what if I don’t like the RV life, I am now homeless. My wife’s concern is, she wants a place to come “home” once in a while. She wants the feeling there is a “base” for us to work our of.

The good part about Plan A, other than not going into debt, is that if we don’t own property in Maryland, we can call any State our home State. For example, if we called South Dakota or Montana our home State there is no income tax. If we stay in Maryland, our social security and pension are taxed as income.

The problem with Plan B is that we need to hire someone to manage the property, that is, take care of all maintenance issues, find renters if the first ones leave. Make sure the property is not abused or trashed by the renters.

The good part about Plan B is if we decide that the RV life is not for us, we can come back in a year and retake our house. Count the RV as an expensive toy we broke and live happily ever after.

I see no downside to Plan C. That seems like the wise choice to me.

Can you hear me now?

In preparing for my 5 year sojourn, I need to think how I will communicate with family and friends. I have always been into electronics and computers. I was on the internet before there was an internet. It was called bulletin boards. My first “computer” was a Commodore 64. If you remember them, you probably qualify for AARP.

My early computers were Tandy by radio shack (sorry to see you go) and Intellivision. I really liked Intellivision, but it did not last. Being a lawyer, the standard for writing documents and briefs was Microsoft Word. I wanted to use Apple, but they were considered a toy back then. I can now break the shackle from Microsoft. I bought an I phone 6 plus.

My plan is to also buy a Mac Air and skip the tablet, therefore the 6+. The truck I plan on buying to pull the RV has an I Phone port, so I can switch between the three devises when using the GPS.

I took an Apple workshop on the I Phone and read the manual cover to cover (it’s a character flaw). I find I can’t use my favorite e-mail program, Incredimail, and I am therefore learning to use

Eventually I will learn to place this blog on my own web site,, where I have unlimited e-mail addresses. All in good time.

Ok, I need to get Organized

In transforming from an active worker to a retired RV’er, I need to make a plan.

First: Start winding down my law practice. I have been a criminal trial lawyer in Maryland for 40 years. My retirement date is December 31, 2015. Therefore I need to trim my practice so that I can make money, but have everything done by the end of the year.

Second: Begin planning for the purchase of the RV and a tow vehicle.

Third: Set up how I will be communicating with my family. Since I plan to be on the road for 5 years, I want to be able to keep in touch with everyone. This blog will be the first step.

Finally: Preparing for living in a 37 foot vehicle rather than an 2,800 square foot house.