Broadening Our Horizons - May 2007 travel blog

our new home


living/dining area

half of what had been in the trailer

the new owners

new toad

We have been taken aback by the emails and calls we received after we ended our latest journey with many unaswered questions regarding our efforts to purchase a new rig. We felt like we had written the final and to many disappointing episode of the Sopranos. As the light is appearing at the end of the tunnel, it seems appropriate to update the story thus far.

There were questions about why we wanted to leave the 5th wheel trailer where we have spent many happy days since our retirement. The trailer had three slide outs, which gave us lots of floor space when we were parked, but made all but the bathroom area unavailable for entry when we were underway. It seemed like we never had enough storage space for the things we wanted to bring along, especially when we were gone for the entire winter. Eating while our feet were resting on our golf clubs under the dining table got old fast. Our trailer had single pane windows which did not seal tightly. When we would leave home in January and endure poor weather even in the southernmost parts of the US in the winter, we were cold and our furnace burned through the propane. It had been a great rig for summer trips, but no longer fit our needs.

Why hadn't we bought a motor home sooner? Because they are so #$%^%& expensive! It would have been so easy if we had had a fistful of dollars and could have just walked into a dealership and paid the listed price. Our neighbor had given us a lead on a motor home that belonged to a colleague of his. This man owns a Toyota dealership and is much too busy to take long trips. In the three years he had owned his motor home, he had only put 20,000 miles on it and he priced it to sell. When we took a look at it, it was clear that many features on this motor home were pristine and had never been used, but we had done no research and were not ready to buy. We told the dealer that we needed to trade in our trailer to seal the deal. While Toyota does not sell used RV's, he had a buddy in the automotive mafia that he thought would take our trailer and it could be a three way trade. We left for the Carolina's assuming that if it was meant to be, that rig would still be unsold when we returned.

In our last entry we wondered if we would be able to purchase the used Phaeton owned by the 80 year old doctor in FL that we saw on our way home. The dealership was selling his rig on consignment and warned us that he was not willing to acknowledge the fact that the vehicle had depreciated in the year he had owned it, even if he had not used it. They had given us a price that included trading in our trailer that we could afford, but barely. It took two days of calls from our end to get the disappointing answer. The doctor was not willing to negotiate and the dealership would not take our rig in trade as they had promised. Feelings ranging from anger to disappointment to frustration swept through our minds.

We returned to the Toyota dealer and his rig was on the lot right where we had left it. Armed with check lists and consumer reports, we combed through it inside and out, and liked what we saw. It was weak in the current technology area, but this is a deficit that Ken has the skills to remedy. The dealer wanted to see our trailer prior to making the trade but had scheduling a moment to do so. He seemed so busy and distracted by the construction he was managing on his car lot, that lots of time went by with no progress on the deal.

Frustrated, we returned to the internet and Ken spotted a rig similar to the one the doctor had owned for sale by a private owner about thirty minutes from our home. When we called to book an appointment to see it on Friday, they mentioned that someone else was also coming to see it on Saturday. When we examined this three year old Phaeton, we were astonished by how immaculate it was. You could have served dinner in the sewer hose compartment. Incredibly the couple selling it were the second owners and it only had 10,000 miles on it. His mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimers and their traveling days were over. As we discussed purchase issues, the sellers enligtened us greatly regarding sales tax issues. When you buy a new motor home for gazillion dollars you owe 6.25% sales sales tax in Illinois. If you buy a used rig, you owe a flat $1500. We couldn't believe our ears, but research revealed that they were absolutely correct. We loved their rig, but would have to sell our trailer on our own. Ken used the same internet site where had found their Phaeton to list our trailer for sale. When we contacted our friends at the RV loan company, they were not willing to loan the sale price, so we contacted the couple Saturday morning to make a lower offer. They accepted but called back an hour later, saying that they had failed to contact to couple coming to see the rig that afternoon. A few hours later they called again - the couple had written a check for their asking price and we were foiled again. Feelings ranging from anger to disappointment to frustration swept through our minds.

Within three days of placing the internet ad, we got a called from a young man in Duluth who wanted to purchase our trailer. It was hard to believe it would sell so quickly and easily sight unseen, and we rushed to empty the trailer. Our guest room and garage were full when we were finished. It was hard to believe we had crammed all that good stuff into that little space. Mr. Duluth showed up as promised check in hand and whoosh - the trailer was gone.

Finally Mr. Toyota called not realizing how close he had come to losing the sale. We no longer needed to trade in the trailer and things finally began to move. We told him about the sales tax savings, but he had bought the motor home through his dealership rather than as an individual and it had never been titled. After many frustrating phone calls to his accountant, lawyer and our state capital, he phoned to let us know that the tax would have to be paid even though he had already paid the tax when he bought it, and he offered to split the difference. It was still a good price, so we finally shook on the deal. Since he knew little about his rig, he offered to take it back to the dealer where he had bought it and pay for a lesson on how to operate all the features of this complex vehicle. The dealer would also check all the systems and make all necessary repairs. We completed the paper work on June 6 - Happy Anniversary!

While we waited for the pick up date, one more major task remained. We now had a truck we no longer needed and the need for a car that was towable - in RV parlance a toad. There are only three vehicles that can be towed without major modification, so we settled on a Jeep Liberty. A quick glance at the internet told us that there were 250+ used Jeep Liberty's for sale in the metro Chicago area. Our goal was to make an even trade for our truck and what remained to be paid on it. We wanted a Jeep with low mileage, earth tone colors, and a sun roof. We ended up with a blue Jeep with low mileage and no sun roof. As we visited every Jeep dealer south of Rt. 64 in metro Chicago, it became apparent that the value of our truck varied greatly with the dealer's knowledge of someone he could easily sell it to. It sounded like our truck will be pulling horse trailers in its new life. What did I get for my birthday? - a new car!

Yesterday we brought our new home-away-from home to our real home after the lesson at the dealer. Ken had barely set the brake when the neighbors gathered for tours of this monstrosity which blocked their view and our street. We've been hard at work finding new spots for all the gear we took out of the trailer last week. Next time we pass you on the road, I'll be washing a load in our onboard washer/dryer. The height of decadence! All that remains to be done is installation of a tow bar so the Jeep can follow us down the road. It's going to be hard to beat those anniversary and birthday gifts next year....

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