My palms are sweaty, and my heart is racing as I pull into the parking lot of Motor Sportsland. I park and walk into the building, scanning the lot full of motorhomes and imagining my life on the road. The first row filled with various brand-new sprinters, I feel like that is the one I should want, the Mercedes peace sign smiling at me. Isn’t this what the cool kids want, or the absolute coolest kids drive into sunsets? The Gen-Xer in me steers toward the much more practical used class C area, sensible adults buy used and gasoline-powered don’t they? I don’t know what I’m talking about which has prevented me from taking the short walk from my car to the reception desk for at least a decade. I choke out that I am looking for a used class-c motorhome and the woman behind the counter calls for Frank as I pace around reading the posters in the lobby. Studying the tiny trailer parked in the lobby, so small and so adorable. With its little booth table that turns into a bed and the little sink and two burner range. What more could anyone want?
Frank shows up, middle-aged with a decent beer belly, and shakes my hand. I’ve noticed lately that men who shake my hand are putting their index finger on the inside of my wrist, it throws me off. Have they always done this or is it a new thing? I make a mental note to start paying attention. Briefly explaining my plan with “always dreaming of driving across the country in a motorhome.” My heart is still racing, why do I care if Frank judges me?
I want a class C with a bunk over the driver’s seat. Henry will sleep in the bunk; the dream section for the kids and teenagers (is it?). I don’t want to overbuy or overestimate how much this will be used and how many people will be sleeping in it at any given time. For this trip it will be Henry and me for the first half of the journey, adding Colin when we meet up in Washington, DC. I will be doing all the driving. The boys have their licenses, but the memories of teaching them how to drive cars are still way too fresh and it is terrifying to think I can teach them how to drive something I myself am learning how to drive. But maybe this is the best time for us all to learn, give them the skill and confidence and myself the knowledge that I’m not actually in this alone.
Why so short?
Frank takes me to the motorhomes I scoped out online, I open and close the drawers. Sit on the mattress, the booth dining. Finally, I jump into the driver’s seat, and can’t see above the dash. Fumbling for the seat adjustments, I get out and examine the chair. It will go forward and back, but no up and down. Frank recommends a booster (really? as in a toddler seat?).
The second motorhome I like less than the first. The driver’s seat is short again, the ‘bunk over cab’ is so far over the cab it feels like I’m driving in a tiny tunnel (if I could see over the steering wheel that is). On our way back to the office I ask to look into the Winnebago Minnie Winnie. It is brand new; everything is in pristine shape. The driver’s seat adjusted to suit a person of petite stature. I could actually drive this without buying an adult booster seat. I did the very thing I was not supposed to do, and I fell in love with Winnie. I gave Frank a deposit and made an appointment to come back on Monday to drive her and solidify our commitment.
I had to cancel my Monday appointment with Frank, but before setting up another one, I decided to look at some other motorhomes in Minnie’s price range, and with more sleeping spaces. I grabbed Alice’s ankles and dove straight down that rabbit hole. I still loved the Minnie but decided that I liked the 22R better than the 22M that I had put a deposit on. I looked at floorplans that had twin beds. My eyes must be bleeding, they burn every time I blink. How many motorhomes are there? I’m back not knowing what I want, how much to spend, where to find it. I almost give up on this dream again. Every chore, walking the dog, cooking, eating, all of it postponed in the name of finding that perfect home on wheels. I finally had to make myself stop.
My heart is racing again. I’ve decided to journey to Draper, where RVs seem to grow and multiply. The first one I come upon is General RV. I walk to the reception desk with confidence, knowing exactly what I wanted to see and knowing that I wanted to go on a test drive. I look confidently at the men in the cubicles I pass and talk to the receptionist, doing my best to drop some RV lingo I’ve picked up online. She calls Brett, and he walks around the corner with a giant smile full of straight white teeth, his blond hair in a perfect quaff. He shakes my hand hard, without the wrist touch.
I explain that I want to see the used Thor Axis 24.1 he has advertised on his website. He walks me to a golf cart, this lot is much too large to explore by foot. As we drive up the lot, I see the Axis, but he informs me that it is the brand new 2019. We keep driving, and as we get to another Axis, he looks in the window, another 2019, or maybe 2020. I ask to walk through that one as he gets on the phone to find the used 2018. Oh, my fickle motorhome heart. The Axis is as dreamy as she appeared online. Best of all, she is a class A with a seat that fits me and a gigantic windshield. She has most of the things I hoped for, I open and close the drawers to make myself look like I have any idea what I am doing.
New or Used?
Brett locates the 2018, and we climb back on the golf cart for a wild ride around the lot. She is just as lovely as the 2019, identical actually, except there is duck tape on her awning and a crack in her windshield. I take her for a ride with Brett in Shotgun, and I zone in on my life on the road. Back in a cubicle that is filled with pictures of Brett, his beautiful wife and three darling toddlers in matching clothes. The walls are covered in certificates of achievement in RV sales. Brett is a big deal. We talk briefly about money, I’m not prepared to go into real negotiations yet.
Within 24 hours I get at least 15 texts and two phone calls from Brett. He tells me there is a brand new (never been used) 2018 Axis 24.1 on their lot in Michigan. In another text, he tells me about a Winnebago Intent that they just took as a trade. I start wondering why he doesn’t want me to buy his used 2018. He tells me he has never had anyone ask to test drive an RV. Could that be true?
Negotiation Really Sucks
When we talk on the phone, I give him my offer for the used 2018. There is a rush of negotiations, thankfully via text. I provide another offer, but this is for the new 2018 in Michigan. He calls back with his manager. Frantic back and forth discussion, they will consider the offer if I would be willing to finance the purchase and to get it off the lot in MICHIGAN before May 1st. It is April 25th, and I am supposed to be in Boston on the 27th. I tell Brett I will get back with him when I am back in town.
Because I was in Kaysville that same day, I stopped into CampingWorld. Much to my surprise, there is an Axis pulled right up front. Talking to Glen, an older gentleman with gray hair and a Camping World polo. We sit in his cubicle, and I let him know I am interested in the Axis they have on their lot. It isn’t an Axis. This motorhome is a Vegas. It is the Axis with a different name, Glen tells me that the “Vegas” has a few more features but that they are basically the same. He invites me to think about a class C again and takes me to tour a few, pointing out the differences between a Thor and a Jayco. We walk through a Winnebago Navion that has the floorplan with twin beds and the Mercedes diesel, and even though my heart is fickle, it isn’t $124,000 fickle. Finally, we end up at the Vegas, that I already love. Of course, I’ll be out of town and he promises to call when I get back.
As much as I want to buy my motorhome from Glen, I haven’t called him back yet, and he hasn’t called me. I text Brett because deep down I’d rather drive an “Axis” than a “Vegas” – I guess a name does make a difference. I give Brett two offers, a new lower offer for the used 2018 and an offer on the new 2019. As it turns out, on May 1st, all the new 2019 Axis dropped in price because the 2020s have arrived. Brett laughed at me for my low offers but said he would give them to his manager. We bickered back and forth on five phone calls in 30 minutes. Time to sleep on it, but I think I’m going to go forward with shiny Brett and sexy Axis.