What more could we do over a three-week stay on top of visiting family and friends, celebrating birthdays, and checking out Denver? Downsize into a new RV, of course! And an entirely different kind of RV at that.
Week One: Arrival and RV Shopping
We landed in Denver refreshed after a week in Lawrence, Kansas. We were there to visit Brian’s sister Kelly and her husband, John, with the special bonus of seeing some of our best friends. You see, shortly after we announced we were moving into an RV a few years ago, our friends Kristen and LeRoi announced they were moving to Denver. We were thrilled! Kelly and John were already in Denver and Kelly had met Kristen and LeRoi when she’d visited. Plus Brian and I had started contemplating where we want to move our domicile to, and Colorado was (and still is) tied for number one on the list.
Kristen and LeRoi brought us dinner from Wahoo Tacos our first night in town. It was so good to see them and their son! It was almost like nothing had changed. We hung out munching and chatting. Their son tried to engage the cats, ignoring all attempts to get him to eat. It was like being home. And you know what? We were. Home doesn’t have to be about a specific place. It can very much be about the people you’re with.
The next night, Kelly and John showed up with a welcome bag full of food and things to help with altitude sickness. It was very sweet of Kelly. (Thank you!) It was great talking with them, but we had to cut it short since they’re allergic to cats.
I also want to mention The Prospect RV Park. It is a “parking lot” style park, but the people are super nice and there’s a lovely walking path around Prospect Lake and the surrounding park. It’s definitely a great place to stay if you need to be close to Denver, especially the west side.
Then, of course, we worked for the rest of the week. We did get the chance for dinner with Kelly and John, though, which was a nice end to the week. We also checked out some RVs at a couple of nearby dealerships. We’ve been looking at a potential new 5th wheel, or even a travel trailer, for a while – especially at Grand Designs. Brian’s been wanting to dump the extra engine that comes with a class A, and I was pushing for a smaller RV so we had more choices of where to park. For the first time, we saw some Winnebago Minnie Plus models. We hadn’t considered them before because we only knew about the regular Minnies – not knowing they had a slightly larger model. We liked them and put them on the list for consideration. We also knew we’d be checking out some dealerships farther north in the Longmont and Loveland area over the weekend that had some of the other models we’d been looking at.
Saturday, we did go look at those RVs and discovered that Longmont is a lovely, growing town with gorgeous farmland surrounding it. Could this be our future domicile? Maybe…but it’s not something we’re focused on right now. By the end of the trip north, I had changed from preferring the Grand Design Reflections 5th Wheel to really liking the layout of the Winnebago Minnie Plus, and wanted to go see it again just to be sure I remembered it correctly. Yep. I did…and still really liked it. Brian did too, so we got the dealer to hook up a battery for us to check it out more thoroughly. We still liked it, but dang it was small! The model is a 27REOK, which means the entire trailer is about 30 feet long; but the interior space is about 27 feet. Our Class A was 40 feet long and, if you don’t include the cockpit area, has about 34-35 feet of living space. That’s a huge difference in an RV!
We talked about how things would fit, where things would go, how we would work with no space for separate desks – all things we’d discussed in the other models we’d looked at, but even more important in this much smaller space. There were two similar models there. The wall and floor colors were the same in both, but one had dark brown interior with a gray and white exterior. The other had a lighter (“stone”) interior with a tan (“champagne”) exterior. Then Brian found out the one we were really looking at didn’t have four-point auto-leveling installed. The other one did. If we were going to purchase one, it would definitely be that one! We told the dealer we were going to sleep on it and get back to him on Tuesday. Apparently, you can’t sell vehicles on Sundays in Denver (or maybe all of Colorado) and he was off on Monday. We also had to go buy a truck, which was the plan even if we didn’t buy an RV here.
Week Two: Let the Fun and Chaos Begin!
This is a long one. Are you ready? Got a cup of tea or glass of wine? Comfy? Okay.
The plan all along had been to look at RVs and trucks in Denver and to definitely buy a truck. We knew we were going to be buying a 5th wheel or travel trailer when we found something right, and had just really settled on the truck size we’d need for what we’d been looking at. Brian had done massive research and settled on a few different models.
Sunday and Monday
Since we couldn’t go shopping on Sunday, we spent the day running some errands, researching (Brian), and working on the blog and editing photos (Julie.) After work on Monday, we went to a local Ford dealership to check out the F-250s Brian had seen and found one that fit what we needed – not perfectly (no seat/mirror memory function), but pretty close. It already had the truck bed set up for a 5th wheel along with the tow kit and it was a certified, pre-owned truck. I’m so grateful we didn’t need anything bigger! We started the purchase process, but it was late that day and we had plans; so we had to finish the next day.
Our plans were meeting friends we’ve been cross-following on social media for about a year and a half now – fellow full-time RVers, Robert and Jessica, and their kids, from Exploring the Local Life. It was great finally meeting them in person and getting to know them a little better! Their home base is here in Colorado, so we hope we get more opportunities to hang out with them when we return.
Our plan was to call the RV dealership on Tuesday to let them know we had a truck and wanted to proceed with a detailed look at the champagne Minnie Plus with power and water, and hopefully purchase it. Unfortunately, we were at the Ford dealership until 6:00pm (four hours); so I could only leave a message for the RV dealer and let him know we could come in on Thursday because we had plans after work on Wednesday. (The extended wait was due to other people in line in front of us and the misunderstanding that we were going to be living in Colorado. They had to completely redo our financing once we got in to see someone.)
We spent the evening at Kristen and LeRoi’s home celebrating Kristen’s birthday. Her birthday is near Brian’s and we’ve almost always celebrated their birthdays together for the past 20-odd years. It was so awesome to be able to do this again even though all our lives had changed so drastically in the past two years! We also got to see their home here in Colorado (which is lovely) and hear all about the plans to update it and make it their own.
After work, we went to do the detailed inspection on the Minnie Plus. Unfortunately, they hadn’t gotten the battery set up, or the water; so we had to wait a bit and forego the water part of the inspection. Our dealer had misunderstood our intention for this walk-through. He’d also misunderstood and thought I’d said we’d be coming in the day before. I know many of you will scoff at this, but all I can say between that and the delays buying the Ford is “Mercury retrograde shadow”.
After our walk-through, though, we decided this was the RV we wanted. Wow! Of course, this is where I got nervous. I honestly didn’t know if we’d get the loan. You see, we have to consign our class A because we wouldn’t get nearly enough on a trade-in to pay off the loan and we don’t have enough cash to pay it off on top of the down payments for the truck and the 5th wheel. Don’t fret. A lot of people do this. It can take a while, but it generally works out to consign your other RV unless you’ve already paid off the loan or it’s very low. But…I just wasn’t sure the banks would give us a loan for a second RV on top of the truck we just bought. We can afford it. Yes. But would the banks allow it? It turns out I was right to be concerned because some banks don’t allow it. I just kept telling myself that if it’s meant to be, we’ll get a loan at a good rate and payment…and we did!
Brian’s birthday! We worked, then took off a little early to sign the paperwork at the RV dealership. We had the keys! Happy Birthday to Brian! We spent the rest of the evening celebrating his birthday and our new purchases with our family.
Oh jeez. We have to move all our stuff! Yep. We knew we were doing this. We knew it. I just honestly hadn’t expected it to happen.
We did the walk-through on Saturday – again something that was delayed due to (I’m sure) Mercury retrograde’s shadow. In the end, we had about 1 ½ hours to move all our stuff from our old, larger, class A to our new, smaller, 5th wheel. What were we thinking?! Well, Brian wanted as much time in the 5th wheel as possible before we leave for Wyoming the next week. (Smart, but don’t tell him I said that.) We also had no available space at the RV park we were at because it’s booked solid through September, so we had to do the exchange at the dealership before they closed for the weekend.
I’d had time Saturday morning to pack four small boxes, a suitcase, and a duffel bag. Unfortunately, that was not the majority of our stuff. Every delay at the dealership made me frustrated that I wasn’t back at our motorhome packing up. (We’d left our class A at the park until they were ready for us to do the exchange.) Of course, we also hadn’t fully prepped it for travel yet either. Even though it’s only about a ¼ mile drive, we still had to batten down the hatches so to speak.
By the time we were able to start moving our stuff (parking the RVs side-by-side, door-to-door), I was in high anxiety mode. I knew we didn’t have enough time to get everything out and clean, especially since I had to unpack as we went. Beyond the fact that we only had four boxes (plus various bags and bins), there just isn’t enough space in the Minnie to hold all of our stuff packed in boxes. On top of that, we hadn’t had time to shop for the shelving and other storage items we needed in order to actually put things away. We were in a major rush with only a few places to actually store things! I was definitely having issues.
At first, the dealer said he’d stay late for us to finish; but we ended up admitting defeat and telling him we’d finish on Monday when they reopened. We pulled over anything really valuable and anything we’d need through Monday afternoon and took our new home – well…home. I think we ate dinner at some point, but I don’t recall what or where. I was exhausted, though not as anxious, and just wanted to figure out how to get everything stored.
Keep in mind, you can’t just toss things into cupboards in an RV. Even if you eye-balled space already, you still have to figure out how everything will travel as well as how exactly it’ll all fit. Do we need more of those tension rods? Yep. Do we need more bins or baskets? Oh definitely, yes. The storage is almost all large cupboards with very few or no shelves or partitions. Where will we put our laundry baskets now that we have three small closets instead of one big one? Ah…guess we have to buy one big one to fit under the bathroom counter. Oh and that lovely washer/dryer combo we have in the class A? Yep. It’s staying there and we won’t (can’t) install one in the Minnie. We consciously made the decision to use laundromats in favor of a smaller RV (and less concern about water leaks.) Oops…the clothes closets aren’t deep enough for normal-sized hangers so we have to buy smaller hangers. We forgot there wasn’t a linen cupboard or closet. Where will we put all the bathroom stuff with only a narrow medicine cabinet and small under-sink cupboard? Where will we find shelving lightweight enough to hang with only one stud and maybe some dual lock tape, or that will fit in the 8” x 8” space between the toilet and the shower? Where the heck will we keep the vacuum cleaner?!
We’ll let you know how it all works out in the next journal entry! (Can you stand the suspense?)
Thanks for joining us on our journey, friends! And remember to live yours…
p.s. Uncle Allen, the cats were fine after about two days. 😊