We are really starting to settle in to our Grand Design Reflection travel trailer. Here are some interior photos and one more outdoor shot!
So it has been a whirlwind three weeks, but we are finally settling in. Our road trip down to Florida was beautiful even though it was rushed. I am so glad we saw Shenandoah, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Savannah and Charleston! I can highly recommend all of them.
There were some hiccups along the way. We hit a huge pothole in NJ that cost us $400+ due to a back wheel issue. We could not fit in the Adams Inn’s reserved parking spot (actually an old, small garage) in DC, so had to drive on to Shenandoah. And Craig’s bike was stolen from Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground last night. Very aggravating since we use the bikes often. Scary since we were in the RV when the thief cut our cable lock and took it!
They (Disney management) are giving us a golf cart for a few days until it is all sorted out, but looking at posts online it is an ongoing issue. Even the Magic Kingdom has fallen prey to thieves. Sad.
Otherwise, we love the RV so far and have nearly everything set up the way we like it. Can’t wait to start applying to Yellowstone and Grand Teton jobs next week!
Just three more days and we are off on our road trip to Florida. We are keeping a close eye on hurricane Irma and hoping she goes out to sea. We have a lot of friends and family in Florida and are pretty nervous right now. Our RV is sitting on a lot in Tampa, so our fingers are crossed it will weather the storm.
As you can see from the pictures we have gotten rid of most of our furniture and belongings. A few things will stay for the new tenants. So far it looks like what we are taking fits in our truck-whew!
We are super excited to see Shenandoah, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains. We will really miss family and friends here in the north east, but hope they come visit us around the country.
More posts soon from the road.
Today Craig’s coworkers threw a really nice party to say goodbye. He has a few days left of work and then we get down to packing the last of our stuff and the truck! People are coming Labor Day weekend to pick up the couch, TV and table. Then it will really be empty in here!
We loved all the cute decorations and food. The highlight was the camper cake our friend made.
I feel like we have been looking for a tow vehicle for such a long time now. Finding a truck was actually harder than finding a travel trailer! Diesel trucks are very expensive here in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire area. I would do 150 mile searches every few days. We also looked in Florida since that is where we will be registering the truck and RV and living off and on.
Since we bought the RV new, we had to go with an older truck. New diesel trucks can be $75k! We wanted a Cummings, Duramax or old 7.3L Ford engine. There was one F350 with a 7.3L and a cap already on it that we liked, but it had a ton of rust when we went to look at it. We nearly bought another F350 dually with a 7.3L engine in it. It was a beautiful truck and in great shape, but after checking the Car Fax we found out the odometer had been rolled back 100,000 miles! Pass.
A closer dealer had been emailing us truck info that might interest us when he got them in trade. Once GMC 2500 looked promising so we went to look at it this past weekend. We really liked the truck and it is in pretty good shape for an older vehicle. It has a Duramax 6.6L V8 Turbo and an Allison transmission-great combination. The dealer also took our old Monte Carlo in trade and knocked nearly $2,000 off the truck. This one drives much smoother than the F350’s. It is also much quieter. It does not have the crew cab that we liked, but the cats came for a ride in it yesterday to get their shots for the road and the extended cab worked fine.
Since we needed a cap to store our moving boxes in the truck bed, we looked on Craigslist. There was one cap that popped up in NH that seemed to be the same color and size as the GMC. It had been on an old Chevy. We decided to chance it and drove 45 minutes yesterday to take a look. It worked out great! The color is nearly the same, and after some adjusting, the cap will be a great fit. The guy selling it even had the clamps to hold it to the truck bed.
We are both so relieved to have the tow vehicle worked out. The dealer gave us a 30 day warranty, so it has been good to drive the truck around and see what might need to be done. They are going to replace the fuel gauge for us since that was acting up and got us a new spare tire. So far so good! Can’t wait to start our adventure in September. Now to price out a hitch…
Our RV shopping trip to Florida was a success! We went to look at several RV parks and a few RV dealers. We also went back and forth by email with some other dealers to make sure we were getting the best price we could. In the end we decided to order a new 2018 Grand Design Reflection 297RSTS from the factory. It will be ready for us to pick up in September. Grand Design seems to have a good reputation in the RV world.
The first RV dealer we looked at was Lazydays in Tampa, Florida. This is a large dealer with an RV resort, big store, restaurants and even training classes. I had heard they did not deal much, but we knew they had a lot of stock to look at and we were interested in seeing everything they offered. We wound up buying our Reflection from Lazydays. They offered us a nice percentage off of MSRP, we liked our sales person and we loved the ability to stay overnight (or several nights) and test everything out. They will give us a full walk through of our travel trailer and even have classes we can attend since we are new to all of this. They are also a close drive to Orlando where we will be for several months in case we need any warranty work done.
Lazydays is so large we were driven around in a golf cart. Our sales person dropped us off near all of the Grand Design Reflection and Imagine travel trailers. He asked if we wanted him to look with us or come back. Since we wanted to take our time in the trailers and not rush, we looked for a while without him hanging over us. He had other customers waiting around too so this worked out well for all of us. Many of the trailers were hooked up to electric and the AC’s were running. This helped us to get an idea of how cool they stay in 95 degree Florida heat!
The floor plan we chose was one we had been eyeing online for a while. It is just shy of 34 feet and has a nice layout for full time living. There is a small fridge and grill outside as well as a television. Not sure how much we will use that, but it is a nice option. The loveseat folds out to a bed and the recliners are heated and face the TV and a small fireplace.
We decided to go with a free standing table and chairs even though we thought we would like the dinette better. The dinette was not comfortable and Craig was really cramped at 6’4. We also opted for a second AC since we will be staying in some hot areas (like Florida in September and October.) There is a lot of cabinet space, so hopefully we can fit the small amount of items we are taking with us. It looks like a small cat litter box can fit in the bathroom and a crate can fit near the center kitchen island. Their water and food also can fit in the kitchen area. There is a combo washer/dryer hookup in the bedroom, but we will see if it is worth loosing some closet space after we move in.
We also looked at Orlando RV in Winter Park, Florida. They were very nice to us, but did not have any Grand Design Travel Trailers there. We got to look at several floor plans that were really nice, but the RV companies (Forest River, Jayco, etc.) do not have great reputations from my research. I feel like we have been researching for years, so it is so exciting to finally have a decision made! Now for the truck shopping… And job applying…
When we got home our new campsite sign that we custom ordered was waiting. We love it and can not wait to get on the road! 3 more months!
Yesterday we gave our landlords notice so it looks like our start date is official! We are going to be heading to Florida on September 10th or 11th. The departure date depends on how fast we pack the truck. I think a Monday will be the better travel day, so it will probably be the 11th.
We are going to Acadia National Park with friends for Labor Day weekend and held Blackwoods Campground again. We are staying 5 nights, so that gives us 4 full days to pack all of the things we are taking when we get back. Right now, that is not much. We plan on having about 10 boxes, a few bags of clothing, tools, camp gear and a few odds and ends. A lot of things we need for the RV we will get while we are stationary in Florida. We need a few things like a surge protector, a water pressure monitor, a few Corelle dishes and a generator.
Next week we are looking at several RV dealers in Florida. I am excited to see the floor plans and RVs we like in person. We will look at more up north as the weather gets nicer too. Some of the local dealers are having open houses with give-a-ways. I want to win a national park annual pass one of them is giving away!
We continue to get rid of furniture and clothing. Last week we sold our bureau, desk, big chair, shelving and coffee table. We are down to the bed, couch and dining table. I did get a few collapsible pet bowls for the cats. I figured they would be good on the trip down to Florida. They have been really calm with all of the packing and furniture moving. I think they know they are going on an adventure soon. This place has been way too boring for all of us.
We also cleared out some more things from Craig’s parents storage area. They are holding a few boxes with pictures and scrapbooks for us. I am bringing some framed prints to friends in NJ and FL-hopefully they all fit. We did have a free coupon to make a softcover scrapbook/memory book online so we used it for a small one we can bring with us. We might get a small digital photo frame too. We can always show people pictures on the TV or our phones. It is so nice to not have a ton of huge photo albums sitting around. I love pictures, but we only looked at the hard copies once in a while.
I will post pictures of the RVs we like after we get back from Florida.
One of the things you have to decide when planning on full time RVing is where your domicile state or legal residence will be. Florida was the top choice for us all along. We lived there for six years so we are very familiar with the state. My parents, our friends and other family live there. We will be spending our first six months living and working there. We plan on working and spending a lot of time in Florida in the future. The ACA plans are still OK in Florida. We also love the state.
We decided to use Saint Brendan’s Isle for mail forwarding since they have been around for a while. The process to get our new address was painless. We had to send in postal form 1583 with two forms of ID and we were all set. Escapees and My RV Mail are two other options in Florida.
Several websites really helped us with our planning and info. Here are their links in case you need to do some research:
The past few weeks we have been busy getting rid of furniture on local groups and selling things on Ebay. We are trying to get rid of as much stuff as we can before our September launch date.
In between work projects, I have been planning our September route down to Florida and our Florida to Wyoming route for March/April 2018.
We hope to travel down to Florida with just the truck and pick up the travel trailer there. I was able to book our rooms for Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, Congaree, Charleston and Savannah. I still need to look at Florida and see where we may want to stay for two or three nights before we pick up the RV. A few of the RV dealers there have parks that you can stay in overnight while you load your RV up.
Lazydays even has a huge RV store where you can purchase a lot of RV items. It would be great if we can make a deal with them for a travel trailer we like. Then we can stay for a few nights and take some RV classes and shop. Also, we want to make sure everything with the RV is OK.
I have also started booking RV sites for our Florida to Wyoming trip in March/April 2018. We want to give ourselves around 5 weeks to get there and stop along the way. We hope to see some beautiful beaches, New Orleans, Austin, San Antonio, Big Bend National Park, the Rio Grande, Guadalupe Mountain National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Roswell, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (hoping for no snow) on our road trip! Whew! The Florida state park sites go up for booking next week, so I hope I get the ones we really want. I heard the Florida beach parks can be tough to get.
The first three months of our Florida fall/winter season are booked at Fort Wilderness. That should work out great if we work seasonally at Walt Disney World. We will look at some other parks for January 2018 to the end of March 2018 while we are visiting Florida in May.
We are both super excited to start our travels and work in the national parks!
Craig and I decided to try and keep our original plans to start full time RVing this fall. We are going to take a trip to Florida in May to look at several RV dealers, a few RV parks and see what seasonal positions may be opening up for the fall/winter season.
We have been busy clearing out our living space. Every day we sell, give away and donate clothing and other items. Furniture will be listed in August. We are going to try and get a truck in July or August as well. We have been looking, but inventory changes all the time.
In May we will change our address and start to apply to seasonal work in Florida. I held Fort Wilderness for a month (the end of September until the end of October), but we will see some other parks in May.
We would like to make a deal for an RV after we see some first hand, and pick it up in Florida in September. That way, we only have to drive a truck and not a travel trailer through New York, Connecticut, etc. while we are new to this! Then we will also be close to the dealer for several months in case anything needs to be worked on.
We plan to start applying to seasonal work in Yellowstone and Grand Teton in the summer/fall so we have something set for May-October of next year!
Then, we will head out for Wyoming at the end of March 2018. We want to take 5-6 weeks to drive through FL, AL, TX, NM, CO and stay overnight in several places. We will try and follow the 2-2-2 RV rule. No more than 200 miles of driving a day, get to the spot by 2pm and stay at least 2 nights. I actually have to start holding some of the popular state park sites (like the Florida panhandle) this month.
We will post more updates soon. Very excited!