Return to Home Base, Our New Big-Boned Gal, Decision on a New Rig

Currently located at Escapee’s Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston, Texas, our home base:

Whew, what a whirlwind this past week has been! We wrapped up our stay in Tupelo, Mississippi on Sunday, after spending Black Friday doing a little shopping with my Mom, and then helping my parents put up their Christmas tree and decorate the house on Saturday. It was sad to leave my family again, but we were ready to get on the road and start the process of upgrading our rig.

We pulled out of Tombigbee State Park on Sunday morning with the goal of spending the night in Monroe, Louisiana in a Walmart parking lot. The Allstays app reported that the manager there allowed overnight stays even though there were signs in the parking lot prohibiting it. We arrived at Walmart at dusk, and I went in to speak to a manager to make sure it was OK to park overnight.

“Absolutely not”, she told me.

Well, that was a bummer. She told us we could go to the “truck stop” a “couple miles down the road”. I looked on the map and surmised that she was referring to the Pilot Travel Center about two miles further west, so we headed in that direction. (Needless to say, I did not spend any money at that Walmart.)

It was getting pretty dark when we pulled into the Pilot station’s rear parking lot where all the big rigs were located. It was almost full, but we managed to find an empty spot toward the end of the lot and backed in between two semi trucks. I did call the Pilot station to make sure it was okay for us to be parked there, and was told it was fine.

Parking with the big boys at the Pilot Travel Center in Monroe, LA

There was, of course, some noise from the big rigs during the night as generators turned on and off, but it soon just became white noise and we slept just fine. We got up and pulled out fairly early, and rolled into our spot at Escapees in Livingston around 1:00 PM on Monday. We got the rig set up, ran into town for a few groceries, had an early dinner and then crashed after two long days of driving.

On Tuesday, we hit the ground running. Our first order of business was to take a tour of a rig that was listed for sale on RVTraders.com, and that just happened to be parked here at the Escapees park where we’re located. We met the owner (solo RVer who lives and works fulltime in the rig), and spent a little over two hours examining everything from the roof to the tires. It’s a 2017 model, so it does have a little wear and tear on it, but the floor plan is exactly what we want. She’s the original owner, so she has had the privilege of going through the process of getting all the little nit-picky things (and some things a little more serious) fixed under the manufacturer’s warranty. That’s an advantage to us, since she knows the rig inside and out, and she’s already taken care of problems that every new rig has.

At the end of our tour, we told her we were definitely interested in buying the rig, but that there was a 2018 model in Houston that we still wanted to look at before deciding. We told her we would give her our decision the next evening.

After completing the tour, we walked back to our rig and had a quick lunch, and then we headed to Liberty, Texas to look at a truck. I found this vehicle on AutoTrader.com (gotta love the Internet for RV and vehicle shopping these days!), and according to the description, it met all our criteria for a tow vehicle (late model, low mileage, 3/4-ton, long bed, gas engine, appropriate towing and payload capacity).

We took the truck for a test drive and really liked the way it handled, although the longer length makes it a bit tricky backing up. The outside has a few dings, but the inside looks great. The Carfax report shows that the truck was previously owned by a rental company, with no accidents or repair work done.

We knew we wanted the truck, so the next question was what to do with the Tacoma. We really hadn’t anticipated actually completing the purchase that day, but you know how used car salesmen are–they’ll do anything to keep you from walking away and possibly reconsidering. But we hadn’t even brought the title with us, and the back of the truck was still packed with all the stuff that we keep in “storage”. It hadn’t been washed in weeks, and the inside could have used a good vacuuming.

Regardless, the salesman said he REALLY wanted that Tacoma, so we told him to work up some numbers. They looked the Tacoma over, put their heads together, and then presented us with some numbers, and we finally came to an agreement. By then it was 3:50 PM.

He started talking about financing options, and I told him we were going to pay cash for the truck, but that we would need to visit the bank to get a cashier’s check. Since it was so late in the afternoon, we said we could finish the deal the next day.

Oh, no, that’s not a problem, he told us. They would just accept a personal check.

Are you kidding me?

Yes, they took a personal check for the entire amount of the truck, plus the extended warranty that we purchased (there was less than 3000 miles left on the original warranty).

OK, but what about the title?

No problem, he said. Just leave your new truck here on the lot, take the Tacoma home, clean out the back end, and come back in the morning with the title to pick up your new truck. So that’s what we did.

Let me tell you, it was a little nerve-wracking driving that Tacoma back to Livingston and then back to Liberty the next day, knowing that if something happened to it, we could really have some issues. On top of that, we had to find some place to store the stuff from the back of the truck until we get a new rig. So on Wednesday morning I started calling around to try and find a small storage unit.

The storage facility closest to us is completely full, so that was out. I tried a couple more in the Livingston area, but first of all they were all located on the opposite side of Livingston, which would have delayed us in getting the Tacoma returned to the dealer, and secondly, they were pretty pricey. So, just to expedite things, we found a storage facility in Liberty close to where the Ford dealer is located, so we could just drop off our stuff and then go get the truck. Yes, it’s about 40 miles away from where we’re parked, so it will be more of a hassle to pick up the stuff later, but sometimes you do what you gotta do.

So yesterday morning, we drove to Liberty, rented a storage locker, unloaded all our stored possessions from the rear of the Tacoma, drove over to the Ford dealer,  picked up our new truck and said goodbye to our beloved Toyota Tacoma.

Everyone, meet ALBERTA!!

Alberta is a Ford F-250 XLT Super Duty 4WD Crew Cab with an 8′ bed. She has a 6.2L V8 gas engine (we opted against diesel), and a fairly basic package of amenities such as power windows/locks, speaker systems, etc. She had 33,497 miles on her when we signed the paperwork.

This is Alberta, our new tow vehicle (pic from the ad)

So why is she named Alberta?  Well, we were just talking about what a big truck she is, “she” being a “girl”, which led to “big gal”, which reminded us of a song by one of our favorite artists, “Big Boned Gal” by k.d. lang. I’ll just link the live version for you here. Take a listen and you’ll understand the reference to Alberta. Enjoy!

So we had our truck situation pretty much resolved by lunchtime yesterday (Wednesday). We do need to add running boards because right now it requires some athletic ability to climb up and down into and out of the cab. And we’ll probably want to add a bed cover at some point. More to come.

After we drove away from the dealership in our new truck, we headed to Houston to look at another 5th wheel and to also discuss putting our current Class C up for sale on consignment. But before doing that, we stopped for lunch at Green Vegetarian Cuisine, a 100% vegetarian restaurant located on Chimney Rock Road in Houston near our old stomping grounds. We love being able to go into a restaurant and order anything off the menu. Andy had their chick’n fried “steak” with gravy, and I had the spicy buffalo chick’n sandwich, both with some delicious sides.

My spicy buffalo chick’n sandwich with Asian sesame slaw from Green Vegetarian Cuisine in Houston, TX

After lunch we drove over to PPL Motorhomes, which is a very large RV consignment dealer in Houston. First we took a tour of a 2018 fifth wheel, same model as the one we viewed the day before, just a year newer. It was barely used, and in immaculate condition, at least as far as we could tell which was only cosmetic. However, there had been a couple of changes made in the floor plan between 2017 and 2018 that, in our opinion, gave this RV less usable storage space, especially in the bedroom and the pantry area. But everything else about it was beautiful, so we had a tough decision to make.

While we were there, we talked to their consignment specialists to find out what we had to do to get Lizzy listed with them, and by then it was after 4:00 PM, just the right time to hit the infamous Houston rush-hour traffic for the drive home.

Traffic jams in Houston are just as bad as they were when we left almost 20 years ago.

On the 90-minute drive back to Livingston, we discussed to the pros and cons of the two units we had viewed: the 2017 that had been lived in for three years with all the bugs worked out but a little wear and tear, versus the 2018 with the like-new appearance and smell but less usable storage space and possible shake-out issues yet to be found. The 2017 is already located less than 100 yards from where we are parked, the 2018 would need to be moved to some yet-to-be-determined site in the already-crowded RV parks in the area.

We continued our deliberations when we got home, and finally made our decision. We called the seller and gave them the news.

This is our soon-to-be home, Lizzy 2.0!

This is our soon-to-be new home, Lizzy 2.0 (the truck pictured is not ours)

She’s a 2017 Grand Design Reflection 303RLS. She’s  32’5” long, 12′ high and 8′ wide. She has three slides; a kitchen island and pantry (love, love, love); dual recliners and a small sofa; a standard queen size, walk-around bed (hooray!!). The deal includes a great hitch, which is another reason we went with this rig instead of the newer one.

We have agreed on price and terms with the seller, so at this point we’re just trying to coordinate a closing date. There are a lot of moving parts to this transaction, the first of which is an inspection. We’ve hired an NRVIA-certified inspector to basically do a home inspection of the unit on Saturday (day after tomorrow). The inspection will take 5-6 hours and will result in a 70-page report detailing the condition of the rig, the appliances and all the systems and safety equipment. The seller has been very up-front with us about any issues that she’s had with the rig in the past, so it will be interesting to see what the inspector has to say.  His services are not cheap, but in the worst case he could save us from making an expensive mistake, and in the best case we’ll have documentation of all the features and systems of the rig, along with peace of mind that we’ve made a good choice.

Assuming the inspection goes well, we’re going to go ahead and close the deal hopefully early next week so we can start the process of getting the title transferred. In the meantime, we’re going to rent the unit back to her through the 18th of December so that she can have time to move. Of all things, she got a summons for jury duty on Monday of next week, so that’s impacting things a little bit. She had originally reserved her site through the 18th, so she went ahead and extended her reservation by another month to give us time to get settled in the rig without having to move it immediately.

She will have the hitch removed from her truck so that she can then use the truck to move all her belongings to storage, and she will also deliver the hitch to us. We’ll then get the hitch installed on our truck. Once she has moved out of the rig on the 18th, we’ll be able to start moving our things out of Lizzy and into our new home.

As soon as we get Lizzy cleared out, we’ll give her a thorough cleaning inside and out, and schedule an appointment with an appraiser at the consignment dealer (PPA Motorhomes) in Houston. We’ll drive her down there and say our good-byes, leaving her on the lot for some lucky person to discover her.

The first time we tow the new rig will be shortly after the seller moves out, because we’ll need to have the Texas inspection done on it so we can get the tag. The inspector’s shop that we’ll be using is located close by, so it will be a short haul on country roads, a perfect place to get our feet wet.

So right now, we are both pretty much exhausted from all the running around and decision making of the past few days. Tomorrow should be a nice, slow day where we can just relax a little bit and catch our breath. Andy has had a bad case of allergies for the past couple of weeks, and hasn’t been able to get as much rest as he’s needed, so hopefully he can recover some over the weekend.

This is a very exciting time for us, but it’s also very stressful. We’re just trying to stay calm and concentrate on how much more comfortable we’re going to be  in the future with more living space. The rig and truck are big investments, but we’ve stayed within the budget that we had decided on. And the sooner we can get out of this paid campground and head back out to our favorite boondocking areas in the Southwest, the sooner our monthly expenses will go back down.

Speaking of monthly expenses, I’m very close to having the November expense report ready. We’ve just been so busy for the past week that I haven’t had time to complete it and get it posted, but stay tuned, it’s coming soon!

Thanks for taking time to read our blog! Feel free to share it with family and friends who might be interested in full-time RV living. If you want to keep up with our adventures, please subscribe. You can also find us on Instagram at Instagram.com/JustCallUsNomads if you want to keep up with us between blog posts. And we do occasionally post videos to YouTube–if you would like to subscribe to our channel, check it out here.

Safe travels!!

 

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