We are currently in Portland,Oregon waiting to get some travel trailer and truck issues looked at, and Nick and I have been reflecting how everyday has been a learning experience out here on the open road. We put in quite a bit of time into research before buying our trailer, thinking we knew so much, but yet still only grazing the surface of this great big world of full-time rving.
During the summer of 2013, Brittany convinced Nick that buying an RV would be pretty cool. We loved the outdoors, and traveling, and an RV would give us a place to store our St. Bernard Buford while out and about. We were starting to see examples of other people choosing to live their life in a different way, and it interested us. Brittany was starting to realize that the standard "American Dream" didn't really click with her. We were heading down a very predictable path of adulthood. We had gotten married, had the dog, had the house, and we were getting sucked into this world of obtaining more and more things. Things that were better than our last thing, more expensive, and meanwhile, never really having enough time to spend together. Brittany, a hairdresser for 10 years, was in the balancing the act of owning her own salon and putting herself through school to become a special ed teacher. After college, then it was surviving her first teaching her first year of middle school for children with Autism. Nick was getting promoted at work, gaining more responsibility and having less free time. Hearing and seeing other people living their lives in different ways really inspired us to stop moving in autopilot mode and examine how we wanted our story to be read.
So while Brittany was subconsciously thinking an RV could be their next home, Nick was just thinking it sounded fun on the weekends. Then came the hard part. Choosing an RV. We scoured online for months, trying to make sense of all the information out there. It was a lot to take in. Through websites, blogs, and our experiences visiting dealerships, we had decided that a travel trailer would best suit our weekend warrior needs. It was inexpensive, easy to maintain, and would (hopefully) be a nice introduction into the RV world.
Next came deciding on a size. Brittany was hoping to eventually go full time, so she was trying to find a size that would work in place of their home. Nick was trying to find a size that didn't scare the heck out him, as he had never towed anything in his life. Both of us were looking for a space large enough to entertain friends and family, and for Buford to be comfortable in.
The whole time, Nick already knew exactly what he wanted- an Airstream. Having completely redone our 1960's ranch home into a mid century mod paradise, he felt the Airstream would be a perfect extension of our current design element. While Airstreams are actually made in OH, finding dealerships or a used one nearby, proved quite hard at the time. We found one dealership that had just opened 30 minutes from our home in Columbus, and we set off. It was an overwhelming experience, one that left us with sticker shock, and a dream of owning a 25' International. After leaving the dealership, we entertained the sales persons offers and realized our monthly payment would be around $700 a month (!), and reluctantly moved on.
From there, we headed to a dealership in Indiana, about an hour or so away from our house. They had over 20 acres of RV's and we spent the entire day walking in and out of every unit they had. We were drawn to trailers that had rear living, with lots of windows and lighter colors. Neither of us can remember the brand of trailer we first made an offer on, but after we made the offer, the salesman directed us to our Springdale. Nick was very firm at not wanting to spend over $15,000, and we ended up getting a used 2013 26' Springdale originally priced at $19,900 right where we wanted it.
There are several features of the trailer we were not and are still not thrilled about. In the end, it came down to the Springdale having a huge picture window in the back ( like an airstream) and numerous windows throughout. We bought our first RV on January 1st, 2014.
Next, we had to find a tow vehicle. As it was winter, the dealership had no problem storing the trailer for several months while we found a truck. Trucks ended up giving us further sticker shock, and we quickly started looking at ones closer to 100,000 miles, rather than brand new. It was rough out there, in the used truck shopping world, and there were not many options.
The first truck we bought was a lemon. It was a grey, 2008, Ford F-150 with numerous upgrades, including a towing package. After the first day of driving it, it began to stall out, so we took it back into the dealership and they issued us refund and some excuses for why it was happening. It turned out to be a good thing, because in the end, we ended up finding the truck we really wanted - an '07 Black Toyota Tundra. We had some reservations about it only being a half ton truck, and towing our large trailer, but it towed and handled great.
That summer, we took a 40 day trip out west in our Tundra and trailer, and it turned into a catalyst for what was to come.