Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why am I so thankful?

Tim and Sharon about 13 years ago...

About 9 years ago we had no RV of any kind. We did, however, own a 26' Columbia Sailboat we kept in the water near Belmont Shores, CA. We became the owners of that vessel in 1992 quite by accident. A long time friend of ours, who lived aboard his 38' Scandia double ender sailboat in the Long Beach Downtown Marina at the time, called one day to tell us there was this sailboat for sale for $800, and that if I didn't buy it I was stupid. one likes an intelligence challenge more than I. Anyway, the long and short of it is we drove down to see the boat, and bought it on the spot. It was an amazing deal. The economy at that time was in the tank, and the market for boats of any kind was also in the tank. The fellow who owned that sailboat had health issues, and needed to sell it as he was moving to Colorado, and had run out of time. The lease on his slip had run out, and the boat was moored on an "end tie" on a day to day rental. In just a few more days he would be forced to donate it to the Sea Scouts to be scrapped. We were in the right place at the right time. It was well equipped, and presented an opportunity to us to expand our horizons. We had visions of our children really getting into sailing with us....trips to Catalina Island, and eventually the other Channel Islands danced around in our heads. The kids never really got into sailing, however, we did make numerous trips to Catalina Island with and without our kids over the 10+ years we owned the Columbia, however, we mostly did "dock" sailing. We would drive down on a Saturday afternoon every few weeks, spend the night on the sailboat, and drive back the next afternoon. Elaine and I used it as a getaway place where we could spend 24 hours every few weeks by ourselves (we had 5 children living at home at the time).

1973 Columbia 26'

In 1992 our oldest son had purchased his first RV...a Fleetwood Gear Box trailer. I would hear stories each Monday I came into the office of their adventures with their in-laws that weekend camping at Glamis, Dumont Dunes, El Mirage (a dry lake in the upper desert not to far from where we are now). Eventually my daughter-in-law came to me one day saying her mother and father were selling their Fleetwood Tioga Class C motorhome and were we interested? We had been talking about selling the Columbia and buying a trailer so we could spend more time with our son and grandkids, so it didn't take us long to sell the sailboat, and buy the 1987 Class C motorhome!

Our first trip with my son and his in-laws was to Lake Tahoe. I had been going to Lake Tahoe since the early '50's with my parents, and every other summer with my wife since we were married....we, in fact, spent our honeymoon at Lake Tahoe. Well, after 10 days on the road in that Class C were were hooked on the life style, and even began to talk about living full time in an RV when we retired. Over the next 4 years we put around 15,000 miles on that Class C mostly in the western half of the USA, and fell more and more in love with the lifestyle.

After returning from our longest trip yet (over 3 weeks) to Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes (in the Eastern Sierra) we came to the conclusion that if we were serious about fulltiming we were going to need a bigger motorhome. About that same time, my son, who had progressed from the 30' Gear Box to a 42' Road Warrior 5th wheel, and then to a 38' Fleetwood Class A diesel pusher (with 4 slides) suggested that we look at something like he had. Well, the one thing we knew for sure was that we did not want a loan payment, and if we went that route we would have to finance....I think his cost around $100,000. We decided we would try and find something around 10 years old that we could afford to purchase free and clear.

The time was late 2007, and I spent a few hours a week cruising the RV for sale sites looking at used rigs. We had decided we didn't want more thing to break. We were looking for a "low tech" coach that had systems I could work on myself. In early 2008 we went to the big RV show at the Pomona Fairplex and spent the better part of a weekend going from RV to RV. Nothing really struck my fancy....they all looked the same inside, no matter the manufacturer. The benefit of spending those two days looking at new coaches is that it helped us narrow down what we were looking for, and from which manufacturers. The key was to find something durable, well made, in good condition, in our price range. We found a number of coaches that interested us (Safari's, Monaco's, Rexhaul's, etc.), but the rigs in our price range, between 5 and 10 years old were just threadbare, and in most cases needed to have the carpet replaced, upholstery redone, wood floors refinished, had prior water damage, etc.

Then, in late February I was cruising Craigslist....just typed in diesel pusher in the search of the first items that popped up that day was a 1982 Newell. The picture in the ad looked like a bus conversion. I had never heard of Newell, but I showed the picture to Elaine. The coach was listed as being in the Thousand Palms area near Palm Springs. Well, as luck would have it we were going to Indio (also near Palm Springs) for a wedding that very weekend, so she says "Why don't you contact the people and see if we can take a look at it while we are down there". What could it hurt? We were going to be there anyway, so I e-mailed the person suggesting a rendezvouz that weekend, and within just a few minutes I received a call from Fred, and older gentleman. We set the time and made our plans. We were planning to drive our Class C down to Lake Cahuilla and camp that weekend while attending the wedding and reception. We drove down Friday afternoon (Elaine following in the T-Bird), and met with Fred the next morning at the storage facility where the Newell was kept. We walked up to the coach, and knocked on the door. Fred greeted us and invited us in....Elaine entered first, and before I got to the top of the stairs, following her, she had already fallen in love......with the Newell. I kid you not! In her mind it was already ours. I'm thinking, "What on earth! This thing is 26 years old, and I've never heard of a Newell before! Are they even in business anymore? What the hell is a 2 stroke Detroit Diesel?".....I'm seeing visions of a money pit.....but Elaine has already moved beyond that, and now I'm playing catchup. My good friend, whose wedding we were attending, told me he knew about Newells, and that they were still in business, and they were very well built. Fred gave me a 2 hour tour of every basement area of the coach, and every system inside and out. The coach was in immaculate condition, and we found out later, had been stored inside a warehouse for 22 of its 26 years of life. He invited us back on Sunday to look at it a second time...that afternoon, and evening after the wedding, I spent several hours on the computer reading about Newell, and Detroit Diesel 2 strokes, etc. By the next afternoon when we returned to visit Fred it was just a matter of discussing the details of the purchase. The price was right, and by March 1st she was ours.

Original Craigslist picture of our 1982 Newell

We love serendipity, and that moment in time when I stumbled across the Craigslist ad so smacked of serendipity, and the subsequent days as everything fell into place, were truly serendipitous! We have never looked back, and now, coming up on our 4th anniversary of being Newell owners, we are so THANKFUL we again were in the right place at the right time back in February of 2008! We had planned on our next RV being a transitional one, but, instead, found our future home. We can't imagine owning another RV.

So, now you know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey often said in his weekly broadcast. On this day of National Thanksgiving we have much to be thankful for.....our children, grandchildren, health, retirement, and yet untold adventures to come.

Thank you for stopping by, and may God Bless each of you on this special day!

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