Buying our Motorhome

Kramer's motorhomeWe hadn’t planned to buy our home on wheels until mid to late 2013. Meantime, we decided to research all the varieties of campers and motorhomes available. We have been campers since about 1972, and have had many different types of campers during that time. We know the floorplans we prefer, decided we wanted a good sized bedroom area-as well as living areas, and plenty of cabinets and drawers in the kitchen with ample countertops. We needed enough storage for our necessities, and plenty of room to spread out in withseparate areas for Joan and Dave (for those times we needed our own space). And of course, there was our cat Smoke to consider; he needed room for all his toys, litter box, food and water bowl, and for a small cat tree or scratching post to climb and play on. We discussed getting a camper with a washer and dryer, but decided we would rather have more storage, and didn’t want to add the extra weight.
We thought a motorhome would be ideal, especially if we could find a used late model motorhome with at least 2 slides (versus buying a new, very expensive motorhome). We already own a Jeep Wrangler which makes an excellent tow vehicle.

One Saturday morning in September, we stopped in at Couler Valley RV, here in Dubuque. We had known the owners Larry and Karen Gauer for many years, and thought they would be just the people to give us advice on full time RV living. We wanted to ask them about the pros/cons of gas vs diesel engines, buying used rather than new, and get some advice from them on full time RV living.
Larry was eager to give us advice. He was also eager to sell us a unit he had on the lot. He said, “have I got a deal for you” and took us outside to look at a 2004 Damon Intruder with 3 slides, and a gas engine. With only 6500 miles on the speedometer, it was in good condition, like new inside, and with a floorplan we immediately fell in love with. The kitchen had lots of cabinets, a pantry, and a good sized Corian countertop. The living area had a recliner, sleeper sofa, and the the two captain’s chairs in front.  Instead of a slide in booth, there was a table (which had extra leaves to make it larger) and chairs with storage alongside, and next to it was a very roomy hutch cabinet. The bathroom was good sized, with a separate toilet area, large corner shower and sink with medicine cabinet above. The bedroom was surprisingly spacious with two slides; one for the bed and another for the large wardrobe and drawers just across from the bed. There was a picture window on the back of the motorhome with two easy chairs in front of this and a cabinet between them-more cabinets above. There were french doors between the bedroom and bath. All the windows in the motorhome had day/night shades and hard valances. The decor was very homey; it looked more like a house than a camper. And the basement style storage outside used every available foot wisely. There would be enough room for everything we needed. In fact, this was the perfect “home” for us.
We told Larry, that yes, this would be the perfect motorhome, and it was exactly what we had in mind. But it was too soon, we couldn’t afford to get it now. Besides we had our pickup and travel trailer to sell first.
Larry then said, “We’ll take them in on trade, and we’ll give you a fair price”. I looked at David and he looked at me, and we went inside to talk dollars and cents. Larry was right; he did offer us a very fair price, about what we could have sold them for ourselves. And even though we hadn’t planned to buy a motorhome almost a year before we needed it, we realized that this kind of opportunity doesn’t come along very often. And as Larry pointed out to us, “if your home sells quickly, you will have a place to live. You will also have plenty of time to get the motorhome ready to become your home; find out what will fit in it, and make any changes or additions needed”.
Late in September, Couler Valley installed a Blue Ox hitch system to tow our Jeep Wrangler behind the motorhome. We traded in our pickup and travel trailer, and made arrangements to keep the motorhome stored at Couler Valley RV until we were ready to move into it.
Although the inside of the motorhome was like new, the outside had some minor flaws. There wasn’t any damage to the motorhome body, but the couple who had owned it hadn’t been able to use it for a long period of time due to an injury the wife had suffered, with a long rehabilitation period. It had been parked in the same spot, in direct sunlight; causing some fading and peeling of the decals. We haven’t decided if we are going to replace the decals, or get them painted; we may just leave it as is for now.
We were able to take our motorhome camping a couple of times before storing it for the winter, and are sure it will make a great home for us. Our cat Smoke adjusted to it pretty well; he was a little anxious the first time out, but now seems comfortable with his “new home”. He especially likes to sit on the large dash in sunny weather, and enjoys all the windows where he can watch birds and the activity outdoors.

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