Return of the RV

Nothing good lasts forever…but 3 hours? That’s like waiting in line for a Disney ride only to get to the front of the line and have it break. Not that we’ve had that happen or anything. Ok, we did.

So, when we left off we had purchased a lemon RV that broke down three hours into our first adventure.

BUT we also purchased an extended warranty. For $3200. Everyone says those warranty things are dumb and for suckers. But after breaking down 3 hours into our first RV trip with a 2014 RV – I was feeling like that was a GREAT buy.

We are $432 in the hole from the mobile repair service, which basically consisted of the guy running diagnostics and saying you’re screwed. Down about $32 in diesel fuel, cancel fees at a few KOAs, an overnight in a truck stop, bad coffee in a.m. (very upsetting) and a long nerve-wracking trip home.

Not a great start.

But we made it back home safely. Unloaded the whole RV thing (we packed WAY too much) and called the used RV dealer. To their credit, dealer sent a driver out. Driver picked up RV and dropped it at the Sprinter repair shop.

Meanwhile…we let everyone in Wisconsin, Kansas and Illinois know we won’t be seeing them until maybe August AND we get back to research.

BTW, we are socially distancing, not hanging in large unmasked groups, and wearing masks in public. We’re adventurous. We are trying not to to fly in the face of science. The only time we don’t don’t wear masks is when outside walking walking elderly dog. But that’s it.

But back to the little problem (versus huge, awful, pandemic problem) how the flying fig are we going to make this RV work for a kid?

The first call was to Leisure. They confirmed – not safe for kid. That’s why they say so in manual. Derek at Leisure was awesome even if his message was crushing my skull.

Now, I love the Serenity. LOVE it. The woodwork for the drawers is exquisite. The finishing perfect. The toilet not plastic. And it’s sized for 3. We want this RV.

So repair shop fixes idiot lights and drives it to dealer to work on power in house problem.

Remember the no power/air conditioning in house problem? Yeah, that was our stupid. Apparently, we had knocked the battery dial in all of our how can we fix this thing shenanigans. The dealer twisted the dial and it all came back up. See that little dial down there by the fire extinguisher? Yeah, we think that was it.

Mad/frustrated at truck stop with three idiot lights on the dashboard, kid, and dog. Didn’t check that dial. Anyways.

So dealer drives it back to us, and apparently they didn’t know about the no kid thing. Or so they say. And I kind of believed them. They deal in all makes/models. They can’t know the minutiae for every one, even though we are their demographic (we are old parents – what can we say?).

But, see the thing is – we want THIS RV. So, we set out to see if we can get a kid-legal Captain’s chair in second row. Or something (anything) to make this kid legal. It might not be as pretty – but can we in the immortal words of Tim Gunn “make it work.”

So we start calling up VAN aftermarket build people. They all say, we need to look at it, and we are backed up 6 weeks. 6 weeks? Yeah, because everyone and their brother wants an RV.

Ok, the trip timing is already blown. Can we fix this RV though?

Husband pulls into aftermarket RV Sprinter/Van shop 30 minutes away. I follow with kid in our SUV. We are hoping to leave it parked there instead of having it block our driveway and continue to piss off our neighbors.

An old guy name Lych comes out of RV aftermarket shop. He opens the door to RV. Kid plays annoyingly close and Lych tells us he has grandkids and it’s OK. He then humphs at interior (and us). Smiles at kid though.

Tells us next time to talk to Gramps first. Apparently, the diesel heater is under the passenger seat. He would have to reroute ducting/heating and a ton of stuff underneath the bench pictured below and likely couldn’t get forward facing chair in there anyways.

Bottom line- we are screwed. We have an expensive RV. That we can’t use.

Now, what do we do?

We ask used dealer. What do you have that is legal for kid that we can trade this beautiful RV for. Remember our requirements:

1. Used

2. 24 ft

3. Diesel

We’ll now add car seat friendly to that list.

So a new hunt begins. We go back and forth. We call more dealers than you can name. Wrong size, wrong gas, too much $, just a crappy RV, you name it. We can’t find a used one that they can get for us. And this is a HOT market.

So – it didn’t work.

Last Thursday, the dealer picked up the Serenity. Friday we had a wire with our money back. Today they reversed the charge on my Amex for the Warranty.

So we now have money, time, and no RV.

Stay tuned for “Paradise by the Dashboard Light?”

Because nothing ever goes as planned….

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

So this pandemic, Covid-19, Coronavirus thing…drove us to purchase an RV… that totally didn’t work out.

June 2020. We have a kindergartner/six year old. No school. No camps. And a long summer stretching out before us.

The future….It doesn’t look pretty.

So we start researching about buying a used RV. We figure, what the heck? We are nomadic souls. We love adventure and travel. Our kid travels well.

Our elderly retriever – not so well.

My job will let me work remote – why not adventure forth and show the kid some cool stuff while he can’t play with other kids?

We got a Netgear Nighthawk hotspot and a Netgear antenna thingy on the advice of real RV people and not us goofballs.

So with about a week’s worth of discussion…we decided to go forth and find an RV. And we did!

We located a reputable used RV place. Really they are. More on that in next post. We we didn’t want to buy new (depreciation). And we want to be on the road by July. And its early June. My mom’s birthday is in mid-July and we want to visit all the Wisconsin relatives at the height of mosquito season. Not really, but there is only construction, mosquitoes, and sub-Arctic weather in Wisconsin – so there you go.

We did research. TONS of research. We had rented from Cruise America last year. We knew what we liked and what we didn’t. And we found a gorgeous RV. Gorgeous. In a week. With all the right dimensions….

Length we wanted – 24ish feet.

Fuel-Diesel (better power/lasts longer/quieter).

Sprinter chassis.

The RV…that was not meant to be.

A Serenity from Leisure Vans. Mfg. Year 2014.

We loved it. Oh, how we loved it…for a brief three hour moment in time.

We bought it. Packed a week’s worth of food, the kid, and the dog. Got on the road. And then three hours down the road …we had three idiot lights go on.


Three idiots. Maybe the lights…maybe us?

Thankfully, there was a truck stop about 1/4 mile ahead so I risked driving it into the truck stop. Now, we are planners. And as an attorney, I always hate it when people don’t take my advice. So I try not to get caught with my shorts down. I read and take advice. We had bought fuses. And repair tools. We had everything under the sun. We bought stuff we have no idea how to use – well I don’t. My husband might. Anyways.

And we had Good Sam. (Also an extended warranty- more on that later). We just didn’t expect to need to use all of them the day after we’d bought the damn RV.

‘Cause nothing ever goes as planned.

Good Sam sent a “classic” crusty mechanic out to the truck stop where we were (it took 3 hrs for him to get there. Highly reasonable). He then ran his million dollar diagnostic machine and told us it was safe to drive it back home – but that we really needed to drive the damn thing back to the city. And by now it was getting late. And we had a six year old and an elderly golden retriever. And after he left the battery in the RV house side died. And now we have no power and no air conditioning. And it’s late June.


So we spent our first night as RV owners in a truck stop. Without air conditioning or power. And so the queen bed wouldn’t fold out.

Notice the beautiful floor my husband slept on for our first night in RV. Because no way was he fitting on that dinky couch.

It could have been worse…and it could have been much, much, much better. And so the next morning, we bought the worst truck stop coffee in existence and headed back.

And then things took another turn for the worse. How you ask? I’m glad you did. Because on the way I read the owner’s manual. Who does that. Well, me. ‘Cause I already feel like an idiot having bought a potential lemon. Wherein, having read the manual re child safety it clearly states “Placing a child or child restraint system in a rear-facing or side- facing seat is not safe under any circumstances.

Full stop.

There are only side-facing seats in the RV house/cabin thing. My six-year old is in one of them. And he is neither safe nor legal – and the dealership sold it to me knowing my kid was going to be in the back. He was present for our three visits to dealer. We talked about where he would sleep, etc.

No seats legal for kids under 12 in US or Canada here. BTW – I called and confirmed that with mfg.
Small spawn in RV that is not meant to be.

So. We have a broken RV. It’s not legal for the kid to ride in it (we are on the road) – and we aren’t making it to Wisconsin by mid-July for my mom’s birthday.

Stay tuned for what happens to your crusty adventurers in our next episode: Return of the RV.

So You Want to Know Something About These People….

So our whole “buy an RV” idea began for us last year pre-pandemic, but it took a worldwide shutdown to get it off the ground. We need really big motivation. We are screwing things up in wholly new and wildly imaginative ways.

Also, right now everything is tragic – and less than honest. So we are going to be chronicling our foibles (with embarrassing honesty) and you can laugh/cry right along with us. You, my friend are going to get an embarrassing amount of information. See how we get conned. Watch us make bad deals. Yeah, we are letting it all out there.

Just like you, we’re figuring it out as we go. We’ll let you know what we find.

Ride with us.