Let it never be said that these nomads let grass grow under their feet.
Less than one week after we said good-bye to Lizzy Too, our 30′ Grand Design Reflection fifth-wheel, we also sold our tow vehicle, Alberta, a Ford F-250 XLT Super Duty 4X4 long-bed crew cab truck (that’s a mouthful!). Without having a fifth-wheel to tow, she was not living up to her potential by making occasional trips to the grocery store, and she was too long and wide to even go through the drive-through at our local bank. We sold her to a dealership in Las Cruces, where we were able to get almost as much as we paid for her in the first place more than a year ago, so we felt good about that.
With the cash in our pockets from the sale of Lizzy Too and Alberta, we were ready to find our next rig. We knew we wanted something very similar to Lizzy 1, our 2014 Thor Chateau 22E starter rig, but we also had a few additional requirements that helped us narrow down our search. We wanted:
- Class C motorhome between 24 and 26 feet long (Lizzy 1 was nimble and maneuverable, and we liked that.)
- Queen size bed in a slide-out (Lizzy 1 had a corner bed that was only a full size, so it was tight for two people and two cats.)
- Bench dinette (Lizzy 1 had a U-shaped dinette that took up too much floor space with unused seating area.)
- Decent sized kitchen sink (The one in Lizzy 1 was tiny, and was plastic to boot.)
I started my search for our new rig on RVTrader.com, which is where I had found our first two rigs and also where we sold the fifth-wheel. I was able to locate several rigs that were available within a reasonable driving distance, but the one that most seemed to fit our needs was a Thor Freedom Elite 22FE. It checked all the boxes, and the price was excellent. The biggest drawback was that it was located in Las Vegas, NV, which is 630 miles away from Deming. We were willing to make a road trip to check it out anyway, so I contacted the seller through the app. We emailed him a couple of times with questions on the rig, and each time he was very responsive. We agreed that he would call us on Saturday morning so that we could discuss price and set up a time for us to drive to Vegas.
We never got a call on Saturday or Sunday. On Sunday night, I sent him another email and asked if the rig was still available for sale (it was still showing as “available” on RVTrader, but we thought he might have already found a buyer and had just not updated the status). Since he wasn’t responding to any of our messages, we assumed he had moved on, so we did also.
I then checked Facebook Marketplace to see what might be listed there. I had looked before, but only in the local area. This time I expanded my search to a 500-mile radius, and that’s when I came across what would become our new Lizzy. I actually found a couple of rigs that met our requirements, and sent messages to two different owners, giving them our phone number and letting them know we were serious buyers. One of the rigs was located in Sun City West, Arizona (suburb of Phoenix), and the other was located near Tucson, Arizona.
Almost immediately, I got a call back from the owner in Sun City. Andy and I spent almost an hour on the phone with him, asking questions about the rig and then negotiating a price. After we agreed on an amount we could both live with, we sent him a deposit via Paypal to hold the rig for us until we could get out there to do a walk-through and make sure everything was legit. The owner had a clear title to the rig, and we were making a cash offer, so we knew we could get the deal done in one day if the rig was as great as it seemed in the photos and in the owner’s description. We agreed to drive out on Wednesday to get the deal done.
We spent the next day (Monday) in Las Cruces, finalizing the sale of the truck and depositing the check in the bank. On Tuesday we met with one of our neighbors who had volunteered to check on our two kitties while we were away on Wednesday night, giving her instructions on feeding and litter box cleaning. Tuesday afternoon we got everything packed for our road trip to Phoenix. We had decided that, on the way home after picking up the rig on Wednesday, we would spend the night at Picacho Peak State Park just north of Tucson, so we packed everything we would need for an overnight stay–bedding, a few dishes, all our coffee-making paraphernalia, toilet paper (you know, the important stuff). Our plan was to leave Deming at 6:30 AM on Wednesday morning, arriving in Peoria, AZ around noon (the owner had moved the rig out of the storage lot in Sun City West to his home in Peoria on the far northwest side of Phoenix). This would allow us plenty of time in the afternoon to look the rig over, take it for a test drive, swing by a nearby Wells Fargo branch to get the certified check, and then meet the owners at their Chase Bank branch to sign the papers with a notary.
Well, you know what they say about plans.
About 1:30 AM on Wednesday, I was awakened by the sound of our cat, Molly, puking in the hallway. Okay, no biggie, it was just a little bit and I cleaned it up and went back to bed. About 20 minutes later, she jumped up on the bed and started digging at the quilt and then started trying to throw up again (hope you’re not eating breakfast while you’re reading this!!). I managed to get her down on the floor before anything got on the quilt, but she was sick again. I got up and followed her into the living room where I found that she had left us a couple more “sick piles”. By the time I cleaned those up, I was awake for the day.
She continued to be sick every 25-30 minutes through the wee hours of the morning with me holding paper towels under her face to protect the carpet each time she got sick. But what worried me the most was that the color of her vomit was changing from clear to light yellow and then to pink/red. She was very lethargic and obviously did not feel good. I knew I needed to get her in to the vet’s office, but they didn’t open until 9:00 AM.
I started calling the vet at 8:00 AM, just in case anyone was in the office early. I finally reached someone at about 8:30, and they said to bring Molly on in. We dropped her off about 20 minutes later with instructions to treat and examine her and board her overnight; and then we headed out toward Arizona, totally stressed out and worried about her. One thing that helped make the drive better was the scenery–a winter storm had moved across the area on Tuesday, dumping snow everywhere. The highway was completely clear and dry, but the mountains and desert floor all around us were covered in snow. It was beautiful, and my only regret was that we didn’t have time to stop and take pictures.
Since we got such a later-than-planned start, we didn’t arrive at the RV owner’s house in Peoria until around 2:45 PM. That didn’t leave us much time to inspect the rig before we had to get to the bank to get the check and to get the papers notarized. Fortunately this is a rig that is very familiar to us, and as experienced RVers, we knew what things were important to look for, and what things are just part of RVing and are to be expected in a used rig. The owners were very cooperative and thorough in showing us everything about the RV, the good and the imperfect, and Andy was able to take it for a short drive around the neighborhood before we had to leave for the bank.
By 5:00 PM, the deal was done and she is now ours!
Meet Lizzy 3, our new-to-us 2018 Thor Chateau 22B Class C motorhome. She is 24′ long and sits on a Ford E350 chassis. She has one slide, a small one in the rear that holds the queen-size bed. She has a bench dinette that will convert to a bed (not that we ever intend to use it that way). She has a 3-burner cooktop, an oven, a microwave, and a gas/propane refrigerator/freezer. There is ample storage space, especially if you include the area above the cab, where there is a large television on a swing-out arm.
This was our first look at Lizzy 3 yesterday:
At first glance she looks so much like our first rig, Lizzy 1, that it’s uncanny. This was Lizzy 1 just before we delivered her to the consignment dealer for sale in December 2019:
They look almost identical (except for the color of the decals), but if you look closely you can see the rear bedroom slide-out on Lizzy 3 that makes all the difference in the world in the comfort of this rig. At our age, getting a good night’s sleep is a high priority, so having a walk-around queen-size bed instead of a small full-size bed crammed into a corner where one person has to climb over the other to get to the bathroom–well, that’s huge!
As soon as we finished the paperwork with the now-former owners, Andy quizzed them on a few final details in the parking lot, while I got on the phone with our insurance folks at Progressive to get the rig added to our policy (and to also drop the truck that we had just sold). That process took me almost 45 minutes. We stepped into Safeway for a last potty break, and we finally got on the road just as the sun was setting. Since it was rush hour, we decided to take a longer but less-congested route around the Phoenix Metro area rather than risk driving a new and unfamiliar vehicle at dusk on the I-17 and I-10 meat-grinder. We took the Loop 303 (brand new to us) to I-10, then dropped down the Loop 202 to once again hit I-10 at a less congested spot, and then we were well on our way.
We stopped in Casa Grande to fill up with gas at a Love’s Truck Stop, and while we were there and since we were starving (had not eaten lunch), we totally abandoned our normal aversion to meat and we ordered sandwiches from the Arby’s store in the truck stop. I had a Buffalo Chicken combo, and Andy got the Reuben. We took them back to the rig where we sat at our own dinette and watched the drama in the parking lot where the police were arresting some dude who was strung out on something after they had to wrestle him to the ground. Nothing like free truck-stop dinner entertainment!
From there, we drove another 22 miles to Picacho Peak State Park where we had a reservation for the night, arriving around 8:45 PM. It was a little difficult in the dark, but we found our campsite, got parked and leveled, hooked up to electricity, put out the slide, and we were home! It was awesome!! I made up the bed, we chatted a little bit, and then I was out like a light after having been awake since 1:45 AM and driving all day.
So this morning, I woke up early and as soon as there was enough daylight, I stepped outside to take a look around. Here’s what I saw (scroll right to view all):
I was back in my Happy Place! The scenery was beautiful, and we were doing what we love…camping in our home on wheels in the desert mountains, surrounded by saguaro cactus, enjoying a fresh cup of coffee in the cool morning air. It was magnificent!
After breakfast we took a walk around the campground, checking out the other rigs (cause that’s what RVers do), and then we quickly broke camp and headed toward Tucson. We stopped at Camping World to pick up a few things for the rig that we probably wouldn’t be able to find in Deming, and then we started the three-hour drive home. We stopped for gas and lunch in Willcox, AZ (Impossible Whoppers from Burger King in the Safeway parking lot), and then finished the drive. Andy brought the rig home while I went straight to the vet’s office to pick up Molly and bring her home.
By the time I got to the house, Andy already had the RV backed into the driveway and settled in. And this is the other big reason we’re happy to have a smaller motorhome instead of the large fifth wheel and long truck–backing this rig through the gate is a breeze compared to that huge setup we had before. The reduction in the stress level is everything!
So, that completes our huge project of changing rigs. To recap, we sold our fifth-wheel travel trailer and our Ford F250 tow vehicle, replacing them with a 24′ Class C motorhome and a Prius, all in a five-week period. And already we are so much more excited about getting back on the road to explore new sights and have new adventures. Yes, the state parks are still closed for camping here in New Mexico, but with this smaller rig we aren’t nearly as limited in the places we can feel comfortable getting to, so National Forest and BLM camping is back on the table.
In my next blog post, I’ll give you a look at the inside of the rig, and show you the features of this particular model that made us comfortable going back to a small 24′ Class C after trading our first one for a fifth-wheel. So stay tuned!
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