Saturday, August 1, 2009

Land Lubbers

August 1st , 2009 was a milestone day. In the morning, we negotiated our first RV purchase, a 37',1999 National "Tropi-cal" model with 35,000 miles.Why did we BUY an RV you ask. Side-by-Side was "on the hard" at the Severn River Marina in Virginia awaiting a new transmission. Most boat yards forbid living on the hard. We have done it once and it is no fun and nearly impossible for the 3-4 weeks it was going to take to fix the boat. So we were officially home-less. Ideas were tossed around including rent an RV in Europe as the sailing plan there was squashed by the kids. Heading to South America was an option. Then sailing friends in Idaho (formerly Mima), who purchased an RV after sailing, invited us to visit and tool around in the RV. Maybe it was time to "See American First" as the original National Park travel slogan stated. Renting an RV was costly and, for the 4 weeks, would have been as much as buying one. Brad, my CPA brother in law and I approached the decision from a non emotional "run the numbers" approach. Brad asked to see my spreadsheet analysis of the cost of an RV vs. nightly hotels factoring in gas, depreciation and the opportunity cost of money. I'm still working on it. Inspired by our friends the Olson's who had tented camp for 3 weeks last summer, I suggested driving the 1996 teal Plymouth Voyager with 120K on it and tent camping. Marc just said, "It is about the experience, not the numbers." so off shopping we went.
After almost buying an RV in Virginia until metal appeared in the transmission fluid, we were spending every day looking in Michigan for an affordable, low mileage older RV. We checked Craig's List, walked through pre-auction lots, called dealers to no avail. Anything reasonable was trashed inside and/or water damaged and delaminating. Seems that Michigan's15% unemployment rate has lead many fore-closed families to move into motor homes as their primary residence. Feeling discouraged, we saw a large RV sitting in a used car lot in Caledonia Michigan, outside of Hastings. It looked entirely unaffordable but Marc said, "Let's take a look." Wow, it was not trashed, had Corian counter tops, tons of storage, TWO slide outs, palm tress on the outside and etched sail boats on the inside. On the down side, it had some evidence of water damage, non working batteries and was $7,000 outside of our upper limit. The sales guy, without asking, takes $5,000 off the price. After a 6 hour work over by a mechanic and a list of repair issues, we went in for some hard negotiating. 2 hours later we left with an insured, paid for RV but running late for Hannah's baptism. Then onto Angie's 25th class reunion.. Quite the day!