I made this 30-minute video of LaMesa's Johnny showing us how to work everything in our new 2019 Winnebago Navion 24D so I could refer to it later if I forgot anything.
When buying a motorhome, would-be RV'r's often become distracted by size and think that bigger is better.
We have learned by experience that bigger is NOT better, at least for us.
After purchasing a new 41', 4" long 2018 Tiffin Phaeton 40IH last summer, and driving it about 7,000 miles to Seattle and back, twice, we have decided to go smaller. While that RV was absolutely beautiful, we found it to be too large for what we wanted to do. We like the "camping" feel when we go places. At 41 feet, we were very limited to the places we could go and stay. We could only stay in expensive, large, pull-through RV parks. We couldn't stay in most national or state parks because they limit your length to about 35'. We had to fill the 100-gallon fuel tank at big, inconvenient truck stops. We couldn't stop anywhere without first looking to see if there was a way out without backing up (you can't back up an RV towing a car).
With RVs, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, but at 41 feet, there are even more things to go wrong. We had this RV for five months. The last two months it has been sitting at LaMesa RV's service center, waiting to get 30 items fixed. Most of the 30 items were problems that came that way from the factory. This is our third Tiffin, and we've had similar poor quality experiences with the previous two. After 7 years of owning Tiffins, we're done.
It's time to simplify!
Last weekend, we traded the Tiffin Phaeton in for a 25', 8" long 2019 Winnebago Navion 24D. The Winnebago will allow us to go just about anywhere, as it's not much bigger than a large SUV. With the Winnebago Navion, the entire chassis is made by Mercedes-Benz. With Tiffin, the engine was made by Cummings, the transmission by Allison, the chassis by Tiffin, the dash by several different manufacturers. No wonder there were so many things wrong all the time! With the new Winnebago, the entire chassis, engine, transmission and cab are all made and serviced by Mercedes-Benz. With the Winnebago, we're simplifying from three roof air conditioner units to one, four slide-outs to one, four TVs to one, two bathrooms to one (see the trend here?). I still expect things to go wrong, but there are fewer things to go wrong in this smaller motorhome.
We're looking forward to being more nimble. The Winnebago drives like a SUV, not a semi-truck. It gets 15+ MPG instead of 8. It can sleep 5-6 adults and/or children with its ingenious queen-size Murphy bed that turns into a couch when not in use, 4-person dinette and above-cab bunk. It still has all the comforts of a larger RV; shower, toilet, bathroom sink, kitchen sink, stove, microwave and 30" television with DVD player, but in a smaller footprint. Plus, we think that it will be less of a burden packing up for short trips rather than always feeling like we had to go on long, major trips.
We are going to sell our Jeep tow-car, as I hated always having to hook it up, tow it, and being limited to where we could go because you can't back up an RV towing a car.
I wish everyone the opportunity to own an RV. We've had a lot of great memories in our 7 years of owning RVs. Certainly, the big, 40 foot plus size RVs are perfect for many people. If you like driving a long distance to stay in one place as a home base for a month or more, then the bigger-is-better theory can work for you. But, we've found that bigger is not always better.
We drove the RV and towed the Jeep from Phoenix back to Seattle and stayed there for two weeks to attend the "Celebration of Life" get-together with family and friends of my mom who passed away the previous month at the age of 95. It was great seeing everybody and hearing their stories of how much they loved my mom. We miss you, mom.
Forest fire smoke was thick all the way from southern Utah to Seattle, and during the first week in Seattle, but it cleared up for the trip back to Phoenix.
We stayed at the Lake Pleasant RV Park the first week. We love this park but it's very popular and difficult to get reservations at the last minute. We stayed at the Trailer Inns of Bellevue RV Park the second week. This park is basically a parking lot, but the location is great for us because it's closer to family in Issaquah.
We stayed for two nights in Salt Lake City at the Pony Express RV Resort so we could attend our grandson's first birthday party. It was held in a city park with lots of relatives from Crystal's side of the family who live near Salt Lake City. We're so glad we were able to move our reservations around to be there. He's growing up so fast! We'd like to go back and spend some more time at Park City after we took a day-trip there exploring the beautiful area.
On the way up and back, we stayed at the Ambassador RV Resort, in Caldwell, ID. This is our go-to park for traveling between Salt Lake City and Seattle, as it has very nice, wide, pull-through, paved spaces with easy access from I-84 (and a convenient Flying J truck stop nearby for fueling up).
One park we won't be staying at again is the Solstice Motorcoach Resort in Mesquite, NV. This place is billed as one of the nicest RV parks in the country, but it's terribly run down now. The original developer went bankrupt and it was bought by someone else in 2015 who hasn't put a dime back into the property. Weeds everywhere, dead grass, empty fountains and ponds, etc. It looks nothing like the photos on their website! The only good thing about this place is the nice territorial view over the valley below.
Our new 2018 Tiffin Phaeton 40IH motorhome performed great over the 3,000 mile trip. I'm constantly amazed at how well this RV drives compared to our previous ones. I can drive 650 miles in a day if I need to without getting worn out. Love it!
Slide show from our Garmin dash cam:
Another west-coast summer trip! We spent 10 days at San Diego's Campland on the Bay for the 4th of July festivities, then made our way up to Seattle via the S. Cal. coast, Medford and the Oregon Coast. Ended up driving all the way back to Phoenix in just 3 days, thanks to our new 2018 Tiffin Phaeton 40IH motorhome which drives like a dream!
Campsites we stayed at:
Video highlights of our trip through the eyes of our dashcam:
When you start considering a RV to buy, all the "experts" say you should buy your third RV first. After almost 6 years of RVing, I now know why they say that. Until you own one and drive one, you just can't anticipate what your needs will be. With that said, we traded in our 2016 Tiffin 33AA RED for a new 2018 Tiffin Phaeton 40 IH last weekend.
As I'm sure every RV owner does, I've been dreaming upgrading our motorhome for the past several months. I started a list of all the things that would make up my dream RV, and the Phaeton 40 IH ticked off all the boxes. Such as:
This will be our third motorhome, and Pam and I believe we'll be very satisfied with it for years to come. We're looking forward to our next adventure!
We had a nice 3 days/2 nights camping at Arizona's Dead Horse Ranch State Park over Mother's Day weekend. We were planning on going to dinner Friday night at Pizza Bocce, a very well-known restaurant here in Cottonwood, but the wait was over an hour and a half, so we got some good BBQ ribs at another place. Several family members met us at the lake on Mother's Day for a nice picnic, kayaking and fishing. Weather was perfect with highs around 75 and lows in the 50s and not a cloud in sight. We camped in space #104, which was high up on a hill with a great view overlooking Cottonwood, Jerome and the surrounding mountains. Price was only $30/night. The site had a nice paved drive with a fire pit, picnic table, water and 50 amp electric, but no sewer hookup (they do have a dump site near the entrance). No wi-fi, but my Verizon phone worked well as a hot-spot so I was able to get some work done. I'm sure we'll be back here again!
This is a video that I created of footage from our new Garmin Dash Cam 55. This little camera is awesome. It records in 1440P resolution (this file is only 720P to put on the blog) and has voice control! While you're driving, you just speak commands to make it save video, take a still photo or record in time-lapse mode (Garmin calls it "Travelapse"). I added a 64 GB microSD card so it will record about a days worth of driving at a time before it starts recording over yesterday's footage. You can always tell it to "Save Video" if there's something you want to save for later. I love it!
Click the play button above to watch a short video of the event.
We attended our first Tiffin Allegro Club Rally this week. 315 Tiffin RVs and over 700 owners and spouses converged on the Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson, Arizona for 5 days/4 nights of fun-filled Tiffin-related activities including vendor seminars and displays several meals, concerts, ice cream socials, hobby & craft displays, swap meet and much more! I enjoyed the Freightliner seminar the most because I learned a lot about our Freightliner chassis that I didn't know. There were large vendor displays and a Tiffin accessories store where you could purchase Tiffin clothing and assorted parts. One of the best features of the rally was the Tiffin factory technicians performing up to three minor repairs on everybody's coaches. The nightly entertainment was a lot of fun with "The Piano Man", a tribute band to Billy Joel and Elton John on Tuesday night, Sarah Getto on Wednesday night and "December ’63", Frankie Valli tribute band after Thursday's farewell dinner. It was really fun getting to meet so many other RV enthusiasts and swap travel stories!
We had one issue occur on the trip, which I cannot fully explain. Our key fob to the RV wasn't working when we got there, which I attributed to just needing a new battery. Then, neither Pam or my key fob to the Jeep would work either. I thought it was just a big coincidence that all 3 key fobs didn't work, but I did tell Pam that I had a feeling that we were in some kind of key fob dead-zone. I pulled the key out of the fob and manually opened the driver's door to the Jeep, which set off the alarm for what seemed like an eternity! It finally shut itself off, but I couldn't start the Jeep or do anything. I suspected the Jeep's battery was going bad, so another Tiffin owner volunteered to bring over his portable jump-starter. After another 10 minutes of the alarm going off, we tried to jump start it, but it would not start. I ended up calling Jeep and having a tow truck haul it 15 miles to the nearest Jeep dealership. Of course, the key fob worked for them there at the dealership. They tested the battery and it tested OK so they took the Jeep out for a test-drive to make sure everything was working, and the battery failed on them during the drive, so they got it back to the dealership and installed a brand-new battery. After getting a ride from their shuttle back to the dealership, I got back to the rally just in time for the farewell dinner. Went out the next morning to load the Jeep up to leave, and the key fob didn't work again! Remember, all this time, the RV key fob didn't work either! I managed to get inside the Jeep and hooked it up to tow home behind the RV. Once we returned home, both Pams' and my Jeep key fobs and the RV key fob all worked perfectly! WTF?
We traveled the 150 miles from Phoenix to Tucson on Saturday, checking in to the Lazy Days KOA RV park for two nights before moving on to the Pima County Fairgrounds for the Tiffin Allegro Rally on Monday, Presidents' Day. This KOA was a real nice RV park with wide spaces and a good BBQ restaurant that even delivers right to your RV!
On Sunday, we took the Jeep about 75 miles to the top of Mt. Lemmon, via the Mt. Lemmon highway, which is a very scenic road that climbs from Tucson to over 8,000 feet. We're glad we took our coats, because the temperature went from 67° in Tucson to 39° at the top of Mt. Lemmon. We had lunch at the quaint, Iron Door Restaurant next to the chair lift, where we had a delicious lunch of homemade chili and grilled cheese sandwiches with a beautiful view overlooking the surrounding mountains.
I love our new Thompson's Treks bumper sticker that Krista and Jason made for us as a Christmas gift. Thanks guys!
We had a great time going on the Grand Canyon Railway Polar Express with the grandkids and more family members on Dec. 16th. The train leaves Williams, Arizona and travels to the "North Pole". The total round-trip takes about 90 minutes. Hot chocolate and cookies are served along with lots of Christmas sing-alongs, and the story of the Polar Express is read over the train's speakers. Santa makes his way through the train on the way back to the station to the delight of everybody. A great time was had by all!
We stayed overnight in the RV at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams. The temperature got down in the lower 20s but the RV stayed nice and toasty with the heat and electric fireplace (who would have thought that we'd need heat and a fireplace in Arizona?).
We don't usually dry camp, but when we do, it's usually somewhere beautiful. We camped out with relatives near Seligman, Arizona (
We had a great time staying in the driveway of my brother's house for three weeks in Issaquah, just east of Seattle. We always enjoy visiting with all our Seattle-area relatives, and Paul's 94 and 95-year-old parents. This year's annual family picnic was held at Paul's cousin's beach house across Puget Sound, near Kingston.
We visited Mt. St. Helens for the first time since it erupted in 1980 (see video below). We were amazed at how much the area has grown back. When we were there 37 years ago, it looked like the surface of the moon because it was so gray and lifeless.
Our son and daughter-in-law's baby due date was Sept. 2nd, so we hung out at our favorite RV park, Pacific Shores Motorcoach Resort, in Newport, Oregon for another 10 days and caught the total eclipse through a light fog (it was still pretty spectacular).
We spent a week in Medford, Oregon with our new grandson, who was born on Sept. 4th. Stayed at our favorite park in Medford: Southern Oregon RV Park.
A quick 3-day drive home to Phoenix via Susanville, CA to Reno, NV (stayed overnight at a nice park: Sparks Marina RV Park) to Las Vegas (stayed at the very average Las Vegas RV Resort - probably wouldn't stay there again) and back home to Phoenix. We were very happy to get back home to our nice, big house after 10 weeks in the RV, our longest trip yet!
Time to start planning another trip!
Day trip to Mt. St. Helens video:
We left Phoenix on June 29th and stayed through the 4th of July at San Diego's Campland on the Bay in space #I-7, which was right on the bay. It was a fun-filled 10 days with live music almost every night and several fireworks shows visible, all from our camping spot. From there, we drove to Pismo Beach and stayed for a couple of nights at Pismo Coast Village RV Resort. It was a very nice spot, although it wasn't right on the ocean, but you could walk to it. We stayed at the Vineyard RV Park in Vacaville, CA for one night. I wouldn't recommend this park. It didn't deserve it's high rating on Good Sam. The next day we drove up I-5 to Medford and stayed at the very nice Jackson County RV Park for four days and visited with our son and daughter-in-law. Then, it was on to a beautiful ocean-front space #162 at Pacific Shores Motorcoach RV Resort for three days (this is our favorite RV park that we've stayed at in our four years of RVing). We went on to Long Beach and stayed at Anderson's Oceanside RV Park for two nights, which had a nice, short walk across the dunes to the beach. Then, on to Seattle for three weeks (see the next blog post).
We reserved space #I-7 at Campland on the Bay two years ago, and already have a space reserved for a week over the 4th of July for the next two years. You have to reserve two years out to get a good spot right on the bay! This isn't the place to come if you want peace and quiet! It's crazy with kids, partygoers and the like, but it's been a lot of fun and it's a great place to stay for the 4th of July because you don't have to get in your car and drive anywhere to watch the fireworks. We just walked about 100 yards from our space out onto the jetty and watched five major fireworks shows from our patio chairs, all with a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band playing live behind us, finishing with "Free Bird" as the fireworks from SeaWorld just across the bay were finishing. There's been a live band here almost every night. Saturday night will be a Journey cover band (really looking forward to that one!).
On the morning of the 4th, we packed a lunch, rented a pontoon boat and cruised around Mission Bay for two hours.
I can't think of a better place to hang out with the RV for the 4th of July!
I finally got the motorhome washed today! I've been needing to do this since our return from Seattle three months ago. I tried taking it to Blue Beacon a couple of weeks ago but there were 15 trucks waiting in line and I didn't want to sit there all day. I usually pay $85-$100 at TNT Car Wash in Surprize, AZ, but they keep jacking up the price every time. This time, they wanted $175 but I talked them down to $120 (+ tip). I've tried doing it myself but the water spots terribly here in Phoenix. It might be time to seriously consider the CR Spotless Water System so I can wash it myself.
Technically, Freightliner didn't refer to it as a "recall", but a "campaign", but I had to take it to W. W. Williams Company in Phoenix and sit around for two hours this morning while they performed "Campaign TT8009EN", where they adjust the settings on the TCM because Allison and Cummings decided that an adjustment was necessary. I figured that I better get it done before we leave for our 3,000 mile trip this summer. I didn't notice the transmission shifting any differently on the 20 mile drive home.
Phoenix to Seattle:
Jason joined us for a 3-week trip up to Seattle and back March 11-April 2, 2017 to celebrate my parent's 94th & 95th birthdays. My brother had a 30-amp service put into his garage so we squeezed the RV into the tight driveway between some businesses and enjoyed a week "camping" in his driveway. On the way up, we stopped at the Pomona Fairplex KOA (very poor wi-fi - worthless!!!). Otherwise, a decent park) for a night, drove to Lodi, CA the next day and stayed at the Flag City RV Resort (which we like because of the paved pull-through spaces, good wi-fi, and is a nice, mid-way stop between L.A. and Medford), while in Medford, we stayed at the very convenient brand-new Southern Oregon RV Park (no wi-fi but my Verizon phone as a hot-spot works well here) while visiting our son and daughter-in-law. Last stop before we got to Seattle was at the Pheasant Ridge RV Resort (super nice park with paved terraced spaces with a good distance between each one (Wi-fi was very slow but they're currently installing a faster version with 15 poles throughout the park. They have good fast ethernet internet in a room by the office. My Verizon phone as a hotspot works great here. They have cable TV but it's very fuzzy and has limited channels. No antenna TV channels available because of the mountain behind the park. No satellite channels because of the trees).
We averaged driving about 350 miles per day, which is the most I like to drive the RV at one time. The hills throughout California and Oregon were unbelievably green because of all the rain they've had over the Winter and Spring. We had good weather most days, except for the drive from Medford to Wilsonville, where it rained the entire way. Seattle weather was typical for March - mostly cloudy and raining about every other day. Kyle and Crystal drove up and stayed with us in Issaquah for a couple of days. We all enjoyed dinner at our favorite restaurant; Ivars Salmon House.
Seattle back to Phoenix via S. Cal. Coast:
We left Issaquah and drove the entire 450 miles to Medford, Oregon in one day, which is more than I like to drive, but we made it OK. We stayed at the Southern Oregon RV Park for a few nights, then continued on our trip back home. We decided to change directions after leaving the Flag City RV Resort in Lodi because the winds on I-5 were very strong and the forecast called for wind speeds up to 60 mph in Arizona, so we headed out to the coast on highway 152 and stayed a couple of nights at the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay KOA, where the winds were forecasted to be minimal. The park was great, except for the roads leading to it were not made for 35' long, 13' tall motorhomes. I wouldn't stay there again because of that. Our satellite radio wasn't working well the rest of the trip, I suspect, because of being scraped by low trees. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves with day trips in the Jeep to Santa Cruz, Monterey and Carmel, where we took the spectacular 17-mile drive through Pebble Beach. Our timing was perfect to return home (with an overnight stop at the Pomona Fairflex KOA again) because the wind died down for two days. The day after we returned home, the winds were howling again!
Overall, we drove 3,235 miles over 3 weeks, averaging 9.5 mpg.
What a beautiful four days we had at Lake Havasu, AZ this past weekend. We put our name in a year ago for a spot at the Islander Resort. They called me about six months ago to let me know that they had a spot available. We ended up with space #33, which was right on the lake with our own private beach for the granddaughters to play on. Son in-law Dave even got a little fishing in! Saturday’s festivities were rained out, but the rest of the time was beautiful. Highs were in the 60s and lows in the 50s.
Video: (click to play)
We had a great time dry-camping (no water, electric, sewer) in our RV this Labor Day weekend near Pine Flat (exact location: 35.051240, -112.154390) with a nice group of relatives, friends, and friends of relatives. It was a perfect, cool, 78° in the afternoons at this 6,500' high elevation about 20 miles south of Williams, AZ. Pam and I took a rigorous 12-mile day-trip in our Jeep Cherokee tow-car, but it was worth the jostling around because the views were spectacular overlooking the Red Rock Wilderness Area.
States We've Trekked To