While the RV is in the shop getting some warranty issues repaired, Pam, Spanky and I took the Jeep on a day-trip around the Apache Trail. For a different point of view, we drove to Roosevelt Lake via US 60 to Miami, then came in to the Apache Trail from Roosevelt Dam and back to Phoenix. After going the west-to-east route before, I highly suggest this east-to-west route instead. Coming into Fish Creek Canyon, you get better view of the mountains, plus you're on the lake-side of the road the entire way. We made the trip from NW Phoenix easily in a day and got home in time for Christmas dinner leftovers!
Two years ago, when researching which motorhome to buy for our first RV, I told myself after reading everybody's comments about gas-vs-diesel that a gas RV would be sufficient for us. Boy, was I wrong! Peoples comments in the RV forums all said that if you just drive it around your home state for short weekends or one-week trips, then the gas coach would be fine, but if you live it in or drive it long distances, get a diesel pusher. Well, I couldn't justify spending $75,000 more just for a diesel pusher at the time, so I went with a brand-new 2014 Tiffin Allegro 35QBA. After putting over 10,000 miles on it in the first 18 months, I now know why people said to get a diesel pusher. Our new 2016 Tiffin Allegro RED 33AA does everything head-and-shoulders better than our gas RV did.
Just like we did with our 2014 Allegro motorhome (click here to view blog post), we went to Lake Pleasant this past weekend for a shakedown cruise to organize everything in the new motorhome. Good news...even though this one is slightly smaller, everything fit! Towed the Jeep behind it for the first time, you couldn't even tell it was back there. The diesel engine makes a huge difference in power over the gas engine in the last RV. And, it handles like a car because of the Freightliner chassis and air shocks. So far, we love this coach.
Camp near Coleman Lake, Arizona
We camped near here last year and loved it so much, we came back again this year! Our camp this time was near Coleman Lake on Fire Road 186/Bill Williams Loop Road at 35.158840, -112.170286. Because of the rains the area has had in this past Spring, the meadows were beautifully green. The temps were between 50° at night to 86° during the day, which felt great compared to 115° down in Phoenix this weekend!
Lava River Cave, Arizona
About 10 miles north of I-40 between Williams and Flagstaff is this Lava River Cave. We saw an article in the latest Arizona Highways magazine about it and thought it would be fun to go see. Apparently, everyone else in Arizona saw the same article because there were a lot more people there than we expected! It was still fun, though. The cave is about a mile long and is about 42° year-round, which felt great on a hot, summer Arizona day.
Bill Williams Mountain & Lookout, Arizona
This was a great first-test for the new Jeep, a climb to the top of 9,255 foot high Bill Williams Mountain, Arizona. The sky was a little hazy because of a forest fire in the San Bernardino Mountains, about 350 miles to the West, but it was still a spectacular view. Paul climbed to the top of the lookout and had a nice conversation with the Forest Service lookout spotter. He's a math teacher by trade and spends up to 6 months a year on the mountain watching for forest fires. The Jeep performed wonderfully on the 9 mile road to the top of the mountain. We couldn't be happier that we chose the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk as our tow-car.
We picked up the motorhome and Jeep from Camping World after leaving them there for a few days to install all the equipment needed to flat-tow the new 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and to have some additional suspension parts added to improve the handling of the motorhome.
1. The reason we chose the new 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is because it is one of the few SUVs that are flat-towable with an automatic transmission, and is relatively lightweight (about 4,100 lbs.). We wanted a vehicle that we could drive on paved roads plus take off-road once we get to camp. The Jeep hasn't disappointed us. We towed it from the 1,200 foot elevation of Phoenix, Arizona up to the 7,000 foot elevation of Williams, Arizona, without any problems. It towed just fine, and once we made camp, we drove it about 50 miles on the dirt roads to the Lava River Cave and to the top of 9,255 ft. Bill Williams Mountain. We're extremely happy with the way it handles.
List of the main equipment added for towing:
2. After putting about 7,000 miles on the Tiffin Allegro over the past year, we came to the conclusion that we'd like something to help with the handling, mainly during driving on freeways with big, heavy trucks passing us and blowing us all over the road. After researching many RV forums and talking with Tiffin and Camping World, we had the following equipment added to the motorhome:
We drove about 300 miles on June 20 & 21 with the new setup (and towing the new Jeep) and were very happy with the results. There was a noticeable improvement in keeping the motorhome going straight down the road. Before this equipment, it took both hands firmly grasping the steering wheel, constantly making corrections to keep the motorhome in its lane. Now, I can drive with just a couple fingers on the wheel which should make long drives a lot easier.
We sold our 2009 Pontiac Vibe tow-car that we've had for the past year and bought a new 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk for towing behind the motorhome. I chose the Cherokee Trailhawk because it's fairly small and relatively lightweight (about 4,100 lbs.) and it's equipped with a neutral position for the automatic transmission 4x4 transfer case that makes it flat-towable. I've got all the tow equipment ordered and scheduled to be installed by Camping World around the first of June. Can't wait to go exploring the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone in it this summer!
States We've Trekked To