With soo much to look forward to this spring, it makes the winter months drag by!! This is especially true for Rick who is counting the days left for work!!!
Since our maiden voyage with the new RV, we have been in preparation/transition mode for our full time RV journey. We took the RV back down to the dealership for them to winterize it and work on the "TO DO" list from our walk thru. We have been working with the dealership and Grand Design over the last couple months to ensure everything will be ready come April.
We have also been making some purchases as well as selling things. We have been selling some items we no longer use on the FB Buy, Sell, Trade's and Ebay. We also hosted both our families Christmas parties this year and they identified the holiday items they wanted. I was like a notetaker, making sure I logged all the items. Once Christmas was over, we packaged everything up for each person. Happy to report I only have two bins of misc. items left for a rummage sale and/or Goodwill.
It almost seems like there is more coming in than there is going out. Christmas this year was all about what we will need on the road. It was not as hard this year to think of what to get each other or what to put on lists for others. I will do a post for those items, with links, for those interested.
We also sold our Outback camper, rather quickly. We posted it on Craig's List first as well as the local FB Buy, Sell, Trade's. We were selling it with most everything in it, so it was ready to go. We had a couple general inquiries and then we received a text from a couple on a Saturday that wanted to come look at it the following day. They came out Sunday and spent an hour or so with RIck, walking through it, asking questions about camping in general and asking about our upcoming transition. They then said they were going to think about it and call us, but did mention that they were very interested. Well, in less than 30 minutes they called back and wanted to take it. They came back with a deposit to put down and we arranged for them to come back in two weeks to help Rick winterize it so they understood how to do it. They are an older couple who had a pop up several years back when they camped with their kids and now they would like to take their grandchildren camping. They were sooo excited to get back into camping and really liked the camper since it had bunk beds. We have stored the camper for them since they did not have a place lined up and they will be picking it up in April. We even gave them all sorts of information on state campgrounds we have been to and the best sites at each. It is good to see the camper going to a family who is going to take good care of it and is excited to get back into camping.
With getting the RV earlier than expected, we decided to take it out on our last scheduled camping trip for the year at Astico County Park. We love this county park and the sites are wide open and long so we knew we could fit the RV in there. It would be a great first trip to get used to the new set up and we were only 45 minutes from home if we forgot something.
Well as luck would have it, the weather was less than agreeable and it rained Friday and Saturday. We arrived and had to set up in the rain. What we did not realize is that the power cord is at the mid-front of the RV and the electric hook up is at the rear of the site. The 50 amp cord was not long enough to reach and we did not have a second cord to extend with. (Note to self-order more cord) Also, since the 50 amp pedestal is at the rear of the site, we could not back up any further. We then decided to back it in on an angle to back up far enough to connect and also miss backing into the pedestal. For those not used to handing a 50 amp electric cord, it is VERY heavy. So pulling that around in the cold rain was not a fun experience. We were also hooking up our Progressive electric management system for the first time in the rain and now dark. Well, all went well and no one was electrocuted. We did plan ahead and made sure everyone had raincoats, blankets and plenty of rugs to hold wet shoes, so that made it a bit more bearable for 4 people jammed into this new little place trying to get acquainted with everything for the first time. One thing that was an added bonus was the fireplace. It really kept it cozy inside and the ambiance was comforting.
Another thing we really like is the steps. You can see above that they go all the way to the ground and have adjustable legs for uneven ground. This makes it a very stable climb without the bounce of regular camper stairs. For those that know me, stable stairs with skid pads will hopefully help to alleviate some of my accident prone falls!
Even though we weren't able to get out alot and hike like we love to at Astico in the fall, we did have a great time playing games inside and watching movies by the fire. We were certainly able to get acquainted with the interior and who knew we could seat 7 folks in the dining area playing games?!?!
Sunday was dry and we were able to hook up and dump the tanks at the dump station without any issues. I would call this a successful maiden voyage!
With the truck purchase behind us and Rick happily driving it every day to and from work and adjusting quite well to the bigger wheel base, our focus turned back to the 5th wheel. We knew that preliminary research led us to the Grand Design Solitude 375res, but we wanted to ensure we were making the right choice in not only the RV but the company. With this being our only home and the fact it had wheels, we wanted to ensure we felt good about the company, the quality of the product and the service after the sale. It is a huge chunk of change and we wanted to make the best investment right, NOT a rolling money pit!
So, what better way to do this than to go to the company's manufacturing facility?!?!?! Grand Design welcomes factory tours and we were lucky enough to get on a tour of the Solitude line in July. We spent a day down in Shipshewana, IN enjoying the Amish folks and spent the following day at the Grand Design factory in MIddlebury, IN. The tour was very good and I recommend it to anyone looking into purchasing an RV. Our tour guide Justin was very thorough and was patent with all of our questions. Believe me, we asked alot!!! He was also honest when he did not know something but promised to get answers. We saw the Solitude from every angle at every stage of build, up close. This really helps as an owner to understand where all of your internal workings are and how it was constructed as you contemplate future upgrades. After about an hour and a half, we felt that we made the right choice. We also got to meet the infamous Bill Martin. For those that are not Grand Design owners on the Grand Design FB blog page, Bill is Grand Design social media, solver of all problems, extraordinaire! Bill is another reason we feel confident about our decision to go with Grand Design. He has been extremely responsive and helpful to the FB group of owners and attends rallies as well to meet and talk with owners. He is a great representative for the company and an example of what every company should strive for in customer service! (More on what Bill did for us in a bit. )
So having the tour and then meeting Bill, how can the day get any better? Well how about the co-founder and president of Grand Design, Don Clark, coming over to greet all of us. Wow! He talked with all of us (12) for awhile in the lobby and then invited us up to the boardroom to talk further. Knock me over with a feather...what company president takes over an hour out of his day to do that??? No topic was off the table. We asked the hard questions about recent axle issues and what they were doing about it. We asked about the recent acquisition by Winnebago. We felt he answered honestly and really wanted to hear what we all had to say. So do you think we bought a Grand Design Solitude? Umm, you betcha!
Riding the high of just coming from the factory, we started looking around to see if, by chance, there was a dealer out there that had the model we were looking for with the options we wanted. Unfortunately our search turned up nothing. We then happened across a blog post where someone else was looking for the best place to buy a Solitude was and there was a salesperson responding that they would not be beat on price, even for ordering an RV. We decided to see what he could do for us. We knew we had the local RV dealership that we had visited several times that we could compare with. We messaged him with what we were looking for and he came back with a crazy low price. Rick then started talking with our local Burlington RV dealership and after the dust settled, they would meet their price and store the RV for us over the winter free of charge!
We ordered our 5th wheel on August 26th with the options we were looking for. We did end up adding a generator and we are sure glad we did. We were told that the factory is at about a 3 month lead time, which we were fine with since we really weren't looking to use it until 2018. A week later we got a call that Grand Design was going to be adding our 5th wheel order to the next production line which starts at the end of the week! AWESOME!!! We got ahold of Bill Martin to see if by chance he could take a picture of our baby coming together and sure enough, he delivered.
Bill also called and went over some updates for the 2018 model they would implementing in our RV such as the integrated bathroom sink, storage box in steps to living room and supposedly a secret storage in the top of the bedroom dresser. We have yet to validate that one but would be cool!
With seeing those pictures we knew we were close to delivery and on September 30th we went to pick her up. We spent several hours there completing paperwork, getting a tour of the service facility and completing our PDI walk thru. I am sure that they have other walk thru's that go much quicker but not ours! Not because we need alot of education on how to use the different systems but more so because we went over it with a fine tooth comb. It is going to be our house and this is our opportunity to ensure everything, and I mean everything works and that we identify anything that needs to be addressed. Rick was on the roof and underneath it and everywhere in between. The staff was very patient with us and we documented the list of items to be addressed while it is there for the winter. It was then time to hook her up and take her home. Now we have pulled a camper before but something that is over 13 ft tall and 41 ft long is a whole other story!
We brought her home and it was amazing how well the truck did pulling that behemoth. We pulled onto the front lawn so we could transfer our gear out of the old camper into the new one.
Here are some initial pictures on the inside. We will take more once we get it back after the winter and have set it up for full time. If you remember from the previous post that showed the floor plan, the living room area is elevated from the kitchen/dining as is the bathroom and bedroom. In this picture, I am standing in the living room looking down at the kitchen. The door in the middle is the pantry. The refrigerator and stove on the left side are in a slide that comes in, and on the opposite side, there is a dinette that is also in a slide. The very right side are the stairs going up to the bathroom and bedroom. I love the stainless 70/30 split sink with the pull out sprayer faucet. The island also has a bunch of drawers and under sink storage.
This picture is standing in the kitchen looking up to the living room. The living room is windows all around with two opposing couches that fold out to beds and then two theater recliner seats with massage and heat. Oooh, they are soo comfy. In the forefront you can see the dining area to the left. This also has large windows all around. It also has the only carpet in the RV. To the left is a nice hutch that has the ability to hang another TV or a computer monitor.
This is up in the living room area. Yes, that is a fireplace. It throws off alot of heat and works well to take the chill out without running the furnace. We can also have it on without heat and change the surrounding colors. The TV is called a televator as it can be raised or lowered. Each window has room darkening shades to make it nice and dark. Above the TV is the radio/CD/DVD player with surround sound in the cabinet. In the forefront is one of the other additions for 2018. The silver rectangle is on each side of the theater seats and are trays for setting drinks or snacks. They swivel in or out, sorta like airplane trays. You can also pull them out and store them if you don't want to use them. I bought a 5 x 7 area rug to make it more homey.
This last picture is the bedroom. At the top of the picture, you see it has a AC that runs on sort of a race track system throughout the rv with the other AC to keep the entire coach cool. The queen bed is in a slide and has little windows on each side and one above the headboard. We bought a cool mountain scene cling on for the above the bed window since it does not open. We will put that on in spring and share pictures with you then. We saw a fellow Solitude owner do that and it really looks cool with the light coming in through it. If you see at the end of the bed under the comforter, there is a handle. This pulls out a padded bench to sit on and if you open that padded lid, there is storage underneath. So far I have used it as a clothes hamper. The glass closet doors slide open to reveal a really large, almost walk in, closet that has shelving for clothes and shoes, along with plenty of room for hanging clothes. Off to the right of that is another 1 door closet that can house a washer/dryer but we will use that as storage, probably Rick's closet! LOL
Well there you have it, a sneak peak of the inside. I will share more pictures in spring when we have it all moved in and ready to go full time.
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