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Opinion: That RV is not your friend

Christina and I drive our kids crazy, I think. We are very frugal, and we like to buy used things whenever we can instead of new things – like this 32-foot-long class A RV that we bought a few years ago for not much money. It is giant. It sleeps like five or six fairly comfortably and has three air conditioners, an almost full-size refrigerator, sink, shower, oven and more. And while it is maybe about 22 years old, it only has 36,000 miles on it.

When it was running, we liked to take it out to state parks in Georgia for short trips, although a few years ago we did make the mandatory road trip to California and back. I recall thinking when we had been on that winding Highway 101 in California headed to Big Sur that it was odd that there were no other RVs on the road. It didn’t take me long to figure out why. Some of those bridges along that road are scary – really scary – especially when driving a giant RV. There is no place to turn around.

After I drove under the overhanging heavy branches of a huge oak tree and discovered that the vehicle was too high for us to fit under it, and after I had picked up as much of the equipment that had been ripped off the top of the RV by the branches as I could, we finally found a place to turn around and head back north in the direction of safety and solid ground.

I am not even going to get into the story about trying to drive through Texas and the Texas sheriff and his deputies who stopped us (for a couple hours) because I looked like a smuggler in an RV, transporting either drugs, currency, weapons, or all of the above.

“Now where you been and why are you driving this RV? Where did you leave from and where did you stay last night? Sure you don’t have currency somewhere in that thing? Now who is that traveling with you, your - wink, wink, wife?”

Never did care for that state.

Anyway, that was another time though, a time when the RV was running. We are now going on about a year trying to get it fixed. The part we need on our 1999 Fleetwood Bounder – an air-intake manifold – is no longer manufactured by Ford, even though their V-10 engines I believe are still being made. It took us about six months to even locate a mechanic place that would work on the RV during COVID, and now it has taken the next six months to finally realize that there are no used air intake manifolds for our engine in the United States. So, we have gone to plan “C,” which is to repair the manifold, which has at this point, been done.

The repair place in Norcross is going to call me in a day or two to let me know it is running. I will go pick it up and drive it directly back to the other RV repair place where it usually stays to get worked on for more mundane things like water systems, cooking systems, the generator, brake pads and other non-engine repair stuff. I know the in-dash air conditioning is still broken and, while we have the two overhead air conditioners that cool the RV fairly well, I will probably obsess over the in-dash AC and get it fixed or replaced, too. It is probably just a condenser that needs to be replaced, but they have to take half the engine out to get to the AC! That is, it will be very labor intensive so, not cheap.

After we had owned the RV for about a year, we figured out that there would always be something that breaks during a trip, so we just started driving back to the repair place automatically after every trip. They are very nice there and always save my spot for me.

I used to think that boats were the biggest money pits out there – we have two – but I was definitely wrong; that title belongs exclusively to big RVs – both used and new – and maybe any vehicle made by Mercedes Benz.

So, at this point, I am beginning to think that I just need to find a small lot somewhere that has electricity so I can just go park the RV and use it as a weekend getaway that doesn’t move much. Either that or take it to the coast and have it transported offshore so it can become an artificial reef. I am probably not smart enough to just cut my losses. Sure Ray, let’s go look for a lot to buy with electricity so that you can park the RV you never use and into which you pour money like an IV dripping a saline solution into an arm somewhere. Smart, good stuff, no?