Frustration is what did it. We have a very old house in Santa Fe, NM, 2 wonderful Bernese Mountain Dogs... and between the 2 (or is it 3?!) there seemed no hope of traveling. You'd think that a couple who cruised on water in a sailboat for several years would have realized cruising on dirt in an RV is a logical next step. Nope. Took 5 or 6 years to connect the dots.
During the summer of 2009 we had sequential visits with 2 different couples who came to visit us in their RVs (they both had motorhomes). "Hmmm... we could do this. And we can take the dogs!" Or words to that effect.
Once the seed was planted it didn't take long. We started by looking for a motorhome but quickly realized what we could afford to spend on what was clearly an experiment was far short of what a sufficiently large motorhome would cost. A local dealer, TravelTown of Santa Fe, had a 2003 Montana 5th wheel trailer (6 years old at the time) at what seemed a bargain price and we already had a truck. What could be simpler?! 'Hold it dude. You just bought a 15,000# trailer and you want to pull it with what?! Let's talk this over.' We will be forever grateful to Wayne for his early guidance. We knew Wayne was a really cool guy cuz his dog Farley is about the nicest Chocolate Lab you could ever imagine!
So off we went to surf the CarMax site in search of a truck that could handle the load. We bought a 2004 Ford F-350 long bed diesel dually, probably paying a few thousand too much. Then on the trip home from Albuquerque to Santa Fe the truck decided to change lanes without asking first. Scared the crap out of me and we returned the truck a couple days later.
The nice thing about CarMax is that if you get the wrong vehicle you have 5 days to do something about it without additional charges. Just a few button presses by the sales manager to return the first truck and get a different truck on its way. So now we have a 2008 Ford F-350 long bed diesel dually and it seems willing to follow instead of lead.
Once the dealer had the new B&W Companion hitch installed (our truck came with a B&W gooseneck hitch from the factory, so the choice was a no-brainer), we moved our 37' 5th wheel trailer a whole 1.7 miles from TravelTown to Santa Fe Skies RV Park. That was a convenient location to move our "stuff" aboard without having to guess what we needed. With apologies to George Carlin, here's a little about "stuff".
In 2000 we bought our Gemini catamaran Goosebumps. Before we took delivery we had to decide what to bring with us from California to Maryland. We bought equipment cautiously, weighed everything to make sure we were under the manufacturer's 1,500# load limit. It included things like navigation "stuff", anchoring "stuff", dinghy "stuff", cooking "stuff", clothing "stuff". We tossed it into a rented van and off we went to Annapolis. At the other end we packed all the "stuff" aboard only to discover some of our choices were wide of the mark. So, with all our "stuff" aboard, we started buying the things we really needed with no way to get the unneeded "stuff" back to California. We ended up at about double the designer's load limit and as a result our speedy catamaran sailed like a pig.
We did much better this time. The Dog House was parked less than 10 miles from home. We stayed on board and only added what we needed to be able to live, stay warm and keep the dogs happy. No wild guess what would work.
The result was we needed far fewer extras than on the boat. We did add an Onan generator (a winner) and a combo washer/dryer (the jury's still out). We also replaced the old analog TV with a new flat panel digital TV. We're trying a VIZIO we bought at Sam's Club which so far is great. DirecTV again which we used on the boat. And a Winegard CarryOut antenna which simplifies finding a satellite each time we move the Doghouse.
Enough for now. I'll update with entries as we get underway.