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  • Writer's pictureSusan Byers

Finding the Perfect Camper

I'm ... picky. I admit it. Details drive me crazy. So it took a long, long time--a couple of years--to find THE camper. I spent endless hours learning about different manufacturers and quality, about rigs built for weekending and rigs built for extended stays, and, importantly, about the ones that can handle four seasons; that's what we needed.

Then there was the question of whether we wanted a fifth wheel trailer to pull with a dually truck (which can be tricky to park or squeeze through narrow streets), or a self-contained motor home with a towed car (which you can't see from the driver's seat). I pored over countless chats and boards. We asked owners and dealers. Opinions were all over. Some leaned toward fifth-wheels because of more room and greater maneuverability, while others liked the convenience of a motorhome--just park it, run out the levelers and slides, and pour a glass of your favorite adult beverage.

We finally narrowed our choices to a few manufacturers that had reputations for building solid, 4-season rigs. We started actually looking at RVs, going to RV shows and to dealers. And, of course, I kept browsing online.

I must have looked at a thousand floor plans, and I wanted to tweak each and every one. But most didn't lend themselves to tweaking ... there just wasn't much you could change without a total gut job, and while we intended to reno, we weren't up to a total do-over. I hated things set at odd angles to add a smidgen of storage space, or sinks off center or squeezed into places they didn't fit; it was disconcerting and often ugly. A functional kitchen was a requirement--we will live in this RV for a couple of years--and I wanted space for a washer and dryer, something hard to find in an older unit (what we could afford). And since we still hadn't decided on a motorhome or fifth-wheel, I searched for both. And searched. And searched.

And then, one early spring day, there it was. It was a Newmar, a solid, well-built four-season rig. It had the usual unlovely furniture (actually, the sofa wasn't bad, but it was hard), wall-to-wall carpet, weird layered window treatments, and--who comes up with this stuff?--trim with fabric inserts (at least everything wasn't brown), but all that was easy to fix.

The space itself had lots of possibilities and there were lots of windows, big, beautiful, double-paned windows. There was space for a washer and dryer. This, I thought, could be IT. This I could work with. This we could live in.

The only problem was, it was in Grand Rapids, Michigan; we lived in Alexandria, Virginia, 660 miles apart. Hmmm ...

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