|From Torrey Oaks RV Resort, in Bowling Green, FL, 50 miles east of St. Petersburg.
We had our last 80 miles or so to go Friday morning before landing here at Torrey Oaks for a month. We had originally found this park last August in our Passport America directory under another name (Wagon Wheel Campground).
When we called them for a rate quote & they responded with $550/month, including electricity, we knew that it sounded like a bargain compared to the $700-900/month, sometimes plus electricity, that we were finding at most other Florida campgrounds. Remembering that “you usually get what you pay for”, I was at first a bit skeptical of its quality.
We don’t look for resort facilities, but we don’t want to feel like we are in a slum area either. Or said differently, we may not have a full load of scruples, but we have some. I don’t care to drink my tea with my pinkie stuck in the air, but I don’t want to drink it while holding a clinched fist & jaw either.
As I talked further with the person here at Torrey Oaks & they explained that they were new owners developing the property to be sold as individual campsites & they explained the improvements they were making & their timetable for opening sales, I became comfortable with a bit of trust that the park would be suitable for our level of neighborhood.
Any concerns which may have lingered quickly disappeared when we entered. True enough, it is not a luxury resort, but it certainly suits our level of taste. It is evident that they are still in transition, but much has already been completed. Some lots have been sold, more were sold over the weekend.
While granting that there is a reason that Baskin Robbins offers 31 flavors, I totally don’t understand the idea of buying something like this (a motor home, or even nice RV trailer) that has wheels & an engine, then spending upwards of $50,000, sometimes well into six digits, plus monthly association fees, plus taxes, etc., etc., for a fixed piece of ground. Motor homes are designed & built to M-O-V-E…..T-R-A-V-E-L. And how boring can it be to come back to the same 1500 square feet of dirt every year!?!?!?! Again, I give respect to Baskin-Robbins.
But I’m glad that there are people who do want to buy a campsite, because if not for them, I would not be able to be parked here at very, very reasonable rates.
I have to make a confession at this point, too. When I made the reservation, they asked for a $100 deposit, which I sent to them. So the figure of $450 (balance due) had been bouncing around in my head for several months.
When we arrived here Friday & sat down for the check-in process, the lady-owner asked what rate she had quoted us. I recited the figure that I was thinking (again, balance due) of $450. She looked at me just a little skeptical, and then said, “Are you sure it wasn’t $400??”. I replied that no, I was almost sure it was $450, but if she thought it was $400, then I would not argue.
Then she said, “So $400, less your $100 deposit, you owe me $300.” Well, I’m liking the place better already. Only when I got back & checked my notes did I realize that the $450 was balance due, not total rate…..but she had already convinced me that she only wanted to charge $400 total for the month.
By noon, we were parked & set-up, time to get back to more sorting-out, rearranging stuff, & doing those things equivalent to hanging pictures, running cords, etc, etc, comparable to moving into a stick house. Vicki was busy on the inside, I was busy on the outside.
We spent all of Friday afternoon & all day Saturday being busy, including making some runs to WalMart & Ace Hardware, since the nearest Lowe’s is 20 miles away. By late Saturday afternoon, we were at the 97% mark. You & I both know that it is the last 3% that seems to stretch over the next several days…….so it has been with this move. We are still tweaking, but are at the point that we can leave it alone if there is something better to do.
Now that I have spilled our activities through the first few days of actually living in the Phaeton to learn & better appreciate its features & niceties, I feel better qualified to talk about some of them. I’ve listed those features & niceties, using the Bus as a base line so that I only list the improvements over the Bus, in random order, somewhat as I thought about them while brain-storming. I have moved the photos from the previous entry, added some comments to those photos, & posted some additional photos, all to this entry.
The improved features & niceties include:
4 slide-outs vs. 2, much more interior room;
Auto-start on generator, to charge the batteries when needed without guessing;
All-tile floor from front door back to the bedroom area, much cleaner looking & easier maintenance than the carpet;
Electric patio & over-door awnings, with auto-retract when winds get up to certain speed;
MCD vinyl sun & privacy screens on windshield & windows at door, passenger seat & driver seat, provides full-width electrical screens to replace side by side sun screen & cloth curtains on a sliding rail;
Stacked washer & dryer vs. combo unit, laundry chores can be completed in half the total time;
Computer desk makes the daily “business” work much more convenient;
Larger shower, now I can shower without getting totally-bruised elbows;
Larger space around the toilet, now I can sit on the toilet without bumping my knees on the vanity cabinet, pull-up my pants without getting totally-bruised elbows & fall asleep while answering nature’s call at 3:00 AM without konking my head on the counter-top;
Main TV located mid-ship vs. hanging over the dash board, we had lost count of how many times we had both konked our noggins as we walked up the entry steps, also opens the frontal view even more, gives the over-dash cabinets a nice clean look;
TV in the exterior wall under patio awning;
All TVs are Hi-Def, amazing difference in the picture quality;
Hi-Def rooftop antenna replaces “batwing” for local stations, very new on the market, much better reception of more stations, eliminates the need to raise & lower at each parking, has power rotation to fine-tune non-HD stations (this is the UFO looking thing on the top);
Larger, prettier ( < Vicki’s word) kitchen counter space, with drawer section that slides out to provide additional counter top;
Free-standing dinette, much more comfortable & nicer looking, can be extended with two additional matching chairs added;
Larger engine, Cummins 360 HP vs Caterpillar 330 HP, first indications are possibly better fuel mileage plus the extra power;
Select Comfort bed, we can each have the softness/firmness level with which we are most comfortable;
Quieter rooftop A/C & heat pump units;
Better handling while driving;
Solid headboard vs. a window curtain to rest our head as we do our nightly spiel of working crosswords & Suduko’s, while sitting in bed just before drifting off to sleep;
Windows on each end of living & bedroom area slide-outs, so that we can see front to rear & provide cross-breeze;
Cargo bay doors hinged to swing out vs swinging up, easier access to the bays;
Just new, first owner, vs. being the second owner, now we know the full history & that all usage has been ours;
Even more storage inside & out;
Battery Minder, to maintain engine batteries’ charge while plugged into shore power;
See Level monitoring system, dealer-installed option, to supplement the worthless industry-standard 1/3-2/3 system for knowing the status of the water tanks, propane tank, & battery charge, with a monitoring panel both inside the living area & in the water utility bay, can monitor status from either location;
Décor touches nicer, more “homey”;
Nicer plumbing fixtures, with built-in soap dispensers, at each sink;
Higher interior ceiling;
No mirrors that require frequent cleaning on kitchen backsplash;
Electrical roof vents, with controls at levels that Vicki can reach;
Made me feel guilty about not doing some things that I had been contemplating in the Bus, so I have now done those as part of moving-in process!!!!
Sometime Thursday or Friday, Vicki piped-up & commented that “I’m liking this (the new Phaeton) more & more every minute”. Friends, we both feel like kids who have just awakened to the best Christmas morning ever. In addition to all of the niceties listed above, there are others that are just too detailed to list, such as the very nice cabinet woods, cushiony seats, even more lighting, on & on……little things that give you that tingle when you think about them or use them.
I want to reiterate two things here, (1) that we would have been totally content continuing with the Bus, we were very appreciative & felt blessed to have it to be doing what we were, & (2) we had provisions in our financial plan to replace the Bus in a few years with something comparable to the Phaeton. After doing the financial analysis, we were better-off for the long-term to go ahead & make the move now before the Bus further depreciated.
I would also be very remiss if I did not express our gratitude for your many congratulatory comments as we have gone through this transition. Your comments have meant a lot to us.
We have worked hard & been very diligent to improve our lot in life from our meager beginnings, but we also KNOW that we have been very blessed & fortunate to have been able to end-up where we are.
I can never express enough gratitude for our blessings.
With that thought, the best ending I can make here is simply, THANK YOU!!!!!!