The Test Drive – Part One

Before you buy a car, you at the least want to sit in it and drive it around the block. Well, most people do, although I have purchased several cars sight unseen from e-bay, but that’s another story for another time.  Now that I think of it, I do have friends who purchased their home without ever seeing it first, but I digress.

Before you make a purchase of this magnitude, I recommend checking all reviews for the coach you are considering, talking to everyone you can, and checking the references available for the seller. Taking my own advice, we decided to rent a forty foot diesel pusher for four days to give us a similar experience in a RV to the one we think we want to purchase. (see the blog link And In The Beginning) The goals going into this trip were to spend time behind the wheel, spend time together in a small space, learn how to connect and disconnect the rig, and most importantly test drive the concept of doing this for the next two or more years.

If you are the type of person who likes to read the last chapter of a book first to see how it ends before going back to the beginning to understand how you got there, then the story for you is Mission Accomplished! And so much more!! Have a nice day and thanks for visiting. But, if you really want to know what the RV lifestyle can be like, then make yourself a cup of tea as this was quite the ride.

Issue one was the rental company – to prevent being sued for slander, they will remain nameless. They were to deliver our rental to our home on Saturday morning, so we could be on the road by noon for the two hour plus drive to Orlando. We previously visited Lake Whippoorwill KOA and reserved the perfect newbie drive thru site right on the lake. I can’t say enough good things about this KOA!

The rental company issues started on Wednesday with a phone call asking if they could deliver our coach on Friday night instead. Sounds good to me, more time for us to get acclimated and load up earlier. By 3:00 pm on Friday I hadn’t heard a thing. Remember it gets dark early in December and I didn’t want to do the walk around with a flashlight. The office got in touch with the delivery person who was shocked to learn he was to deliver on Friday. His schedule said Saturday morning, had taken the day off, was spending it with his children, blah, blah, blah. Excuse me? I’m just the customer wondering what was going on.

After a series of phone calls it was decided he would take his children home, go get the coach, and still make the delivery by Friday night. As the hour approached seven and still no call that he was on his way, I called and waived the delivery off until Saturday as originally planned. Gee, that didn’t work well for his schedule either as he had other appointments Saturday morning and wouldn’t get to us until late Saturday afternoon. Excuse me? I’m just the customer who would like to get the full day I am paying for, would like to be on the road by noon, so I can set up at our site not in the dark. He was less than accommodating and didn’t know a way out. So, I suggested the option of I am up by 6:00 am so bring it early and go to your appointments as scheduled. He figured I was bluffing and agreed, 6:00 am is was. Of course, that never happened. It was closer to 7:30 by the time he arrived in front of our house. At least by then it was no longer dark.

Issue two was the rental company – to prevent from being sued for slander, they will remain nameless. The rental coach was never prepared for delivery, despite the fact we paid a preparation fee. The interior was filthy. One of the two dinette chairs was broken. A door came off in our hands when we opened the cabinet. The extra dinette chairs in the closet were torn and tattered and also unusable. The light fixture over the dinette didn’t work, not because the bulb was burned out, but because it was broken. There were personal items from the last user including a week’s worth of medication in the medicine cabinet. (I hope they are OK) All this and more was noted to the delivery person who was of course shocked at the condition and would speak firmly to his “cleaning people.”

After the walk around and he left, Kathryn noted there was no base plate in the microwave making it unusable. She called to add this to the list and he suggested we stop at Walmart and buy one. Seriously? The alternate plan was made that he would meet us at a rest stop on I-75 and hand one off to us. Sorry about that, but if you had checked the unit out in the beginning . . .

Finally we were loaded and underway! We got on I-75 North at mile market 193 and proceeded to stop at mile marker 200. Traffic was wall to wall, all three lanes, for as far as the eye could see. At least this was not the rental company’s fault. We inched forward one car length at a time well past mile marker 217, which meant of course delivery man extraordinaire had to wait and wait and wait for us to meet up and receive our microwave base plate. Do you think the next rental will be correctly checked before delivery?

A big part of the test drive was to learn how to drive a rig of this size. Know that every small car thinks you can stop when they cut in front of you to gain one car length in traffic. And they think or don’t care if you can see them in your blind spot when they run up beside you on the entrance ramp, only to cut you off at the last second. Well OK then, lessons learned. Also, on a blustery day, you are constantly turning left into the wind to keep going straight and not hitting the rumple strips on the shoulder. (I’m told this varies greatly depending on the rig you are driving?) In NASCAR they talk about dirty air and side drafting. Try it with a rig of this size, next to a tractor trailer truck!

Of course, by the time we arrived in Orlando, it was dark, just what I wanted to avoid.

Continued on The Test Drive – Part Two

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