Neither of us is exactly sure when it happened or who was responsible for it, but sometime in early 2015 we thought it would be a fun idea to buy a camper and see some of this glorious country that we live in. A short time later we found ourselves taking serious steps to see this dream come to fruition.
One major step – our search for the wheels that would take us on our journey. From the start we knew we wanted a used vehicle for two main reasons – first, brand new would be way too expensive for us (I worked for an engineer not a lawyer); second, we wanted to renovate most of it to make it our own (we wanted to see the country and camping was the only way we could do it…compromises would be made). Our search for a recreational vehicle wound up covering just about every option that is out there. We started out looking for motorhomes, thinking that we wanted to have the kitchen and bathroom right on board with us and you can’t help but picture yourself rolling down the highway behind the wheel of one of those behemoths seeing all there is to see. It took one trip to the RV dealer to realize that may not be the right fit for us, not to mention way out of our budget. We debated for a very short time over a Class B (midsize) rig that would’ve been a decent fit for us, but we were scared away by the potential maintenance costs not to mention increased insurance costs, etc. Plus, we realized we would still need to tow a smaller vehicle behind it to do the sort of traveling we wanted. So no motorhome. The Class A land yacht would have to wait.
Next on the list for consideration was the travel trailer. At this point the fifth wheel trailers just looked too intimidating. When your lifetime towing experience amounts to one trip to the dump with your brother-in-law’s 10 foot trailer that didn’t go well…a fifth wheel sends chills up your spine. Plus, we had the outlandish idea that we might find a small trailer that our Toyota 4Runner mid-size SUV could haul. If possible, we were hoping to avoid buying a new tow vehicle on top of the travel trailer itself. So we headed back to the RV dealer with smallish travel trailers in our sights and once again it only took one trip to realize this wasn’t the right fit either. Actually it took about 10 seconds inside the first appropriately sized trailer for our 4Runner’s towing capacity to realize there was no way we would be spending any significant time in it without wanting to poke our eyes out. So it would need to be a decent sized trailer, and, for the first time, we figured that we would need a new towing vehicle if we were going to do this right.
Some quick research and discussions with folks “in the know” indicated towing a long travel trailer can be a little tricky, especially for first timers like us. All I needed to hear was “sometimes it will feel like the trailer is pushing the vehicle instead of the vehicle towing the trailer…”. Right. Next please. It turned out fifth wheel travel trailers can be better for towing as well as hooking up, not to mention the floor plan layouts may work better for what we are looking for also.
So we zeroed in on a fifth wheel trailer. Items on our “need/want” list included as large a kitchen as we could find (not easily done), a separate bathroom (as opposed to half in your bedroom!), a small space that would lend itself to being converted to an office area, and hopefully find this all in a package under 30’ in length and not too old….and pretty darn cheap now that we had to add “new tow vehicle” to our list.
From this point forward the majority of our search was done online, we started locally around the Williamsport area and it quickly spread to as far away as Southern New Jersey. Daunted at the idea of our first tow being a five hour trek from NJ through Philadelphia I was hoping to find a more local option. I could see the news headline in my dreams “12 car pileup on the Schuylkill due to moron towing fifth wheel”. Lovely. You can imagine our relief when we found a good possibility at Bonner Sports and RV located right near us (at the time) in Jersey Shore, PA. We went to look at it and pretty much knew right away it would be a good fit.
She is listed as a 26’ Copper Canyon by Keystone Trailers. She is a 2006 model and had one previous owner who took very good care of her which was a big reason why we liked her. And it was at that time that we named her Aunt Gladys. Glady for short. It just fits.
She has a slide out on one side which is great for opening up the floor plan. The kitchen is located at the back of the trailer allowing for much more counter space – another HUGE reason this was a good fit for us.
Separate bathroom that I can actually stand up in? Check.
Space for creating an office area? Check. The bedroom is pretty “cozy” which helps keep the overall length of the trailer down.
A couple of other pics of what Glady looked like when we bought her. We were off to a great start. The easy part was done…now we had to dive into the renovation! Check back for a post with some before/after pics.