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Stepping Into The Future. Slowly.

September 28, 2014

2008 Montana Mountaineer.1

Yep.  That’s a fifth wheel.  I’ve said from the very beginning that I have no desire nor intention of towing a fifth wheel. And that’s still true.  But we have decided that we want to live in one.  So we will buy one and have it towed to the location where we intend to live.  That’s Phase One.  Phase Two involves continuing to travel, but in a much smaller second RV.

We’ve spent considerable time looking online, and we’ve spent hours looking at them on the ground.  We have found this one at PPL Motorhomes in Houston, Texas.  Our last fifth wheel search outing was in the middle of summer.  We pounded the pavement and sat inside an awful lot of trailers that day, and we finally called it a day to avoid heatstroke.  This past Friday, we went again, taking advantage of a nice mild day. But instead of trying to see every one that was in our budget range, we went armed with a list of specific fifth wheels that we wanted to see.  We left after a few hours after narrowing it down to two rigs we liked for different reasons.  Either one would have sufficed. Friday night, we found a new one listed on PPL’s website, so new that there weren’t even any photos yet. Saturday is an RV seller’s biggest day, so the next morning, we were in the parking lot before they opened for business. We found it on the lot, but the slides were not out, so we could only step inside the door.

Turns out it had been taken to the lot from the wash area and just plugged into an open spot. At our request, PPL lot staff fired up a forklift with a hitch on it, moved the rig to a wider slot, and ran the slides out.  Nell went inside and the next I heard was “This is it!”  I stepped in, took a quick look then told the lot manager to put it on “hold” immediately while we looked it over.

2008 Montana Mountaineer.2

While the largest fifth wheel I’ve found so far is just under 42 feet, this baby is still big.  It is a 2008 36 foot Montana Mountaineer by Keystone. It has four (4) slides. The exterior has just a couple of scrapes, but you have to look for them. Otherwise, the only exterior cosmetic issue is the logos and decals, and that’s an issue with a lot of RVs. It’s something we can live with and work on later.  But for the price, the interior was hard to pass up. Since this isn’t a done deal yet, I’ll just hit a few highlights…

2008 Montana Mountaineer.3While one does enter at the kitchen, you don’t walk through the kitchen to get to the living area.  This arrangement gives a lot more counter space while making the kitchen a separate space.

2008 Montana Mountaineer.5

A left turn at the kitchen counter takes you past the dining area into the living room. The ceiling fan will be a welcome touch in the hot Texas summers.  There are also two ducted air conditioning units, one in the living area and one in the bedroom.

2008 Montana Mountaineer.6

This unit would take us back to a free standing dining table and chairs.  Having had this arrangement and a fixed dinette, in this case, we like the idea of chairs that can be moved around if needed. That is a sofa/sleeper, and it’s comfortable.  It has a pull-out storage drawer underneath.  There are also two recliners that swivel and rock. And as usual, there are cabinets everywhere.

2008 Montana Mountaineer.4

There is a desk/entertainment area which can serve as both office and tabletop studio space and still allow TV watching.

2008 Montana Mountaineer.10Looking forward past the kitchen and dining area toward the steps leading to the bathroom and bedroom.  The cabinets behind Nell contain pantry shelves, a short broom closet and coat closet.  The box near the floor is the fusebox and circuit breakers.  The little opening in the cabinet at eye level has the tank monitors, slide controls and ceiling vent fan controls. The electrical service for this rig is 50 amp, which was one of our “must-haves”.

2008 Montana Mountaineer.14Having the toilet, shower and vanity/lavatory in an enclosed bathroom was a big plus for us. If that sounds odd, look at a few fifth wheel floor plans.  The vanity sink is often located in a corner of the bedroom.  This also happens to be larger than the bathrooms in both of our motorhomes.

2008 Montana Mountaineer.15If you have followed our adventure for very long, you know we’ve had the experience of replacing RV flooring.  Not necessary in this one.  The vinyl is in beautiful condition and the carpet is nice and clean.  The mark you see on the carpet is from the dining/sofa area slideout.  Once we’re parked, that should smooth out with a good vacuuming.

2008 Montana Mountaineer.8

While there is an abundance of cabinets inside this trailer, the outside is a bit more limited.  Still, there is a lot of room in this pass thru located toward the front.  I think we could get almost all of the show equipment in this space with a little space to spare.  There’s another, smaller space just in front of this.  Nell thinks we may need a small storage building.  As usual, she’s probably right.

At this writing, since it’s the weekend, we still have to finalize the financial aspects of the purchase next week while PPL will check out all the systems, including sewer valve operation, plumbing, electrical, kitchen appliances, air conditioning units, furnace, etc.  This could all fall through, but we feel pretty confident about it.

We’ll take delivery by having the rig towed from PPL to our location here at Advanced RV Park in Pearland/Houston.  The towing company will drop it in the front parking area near the office.  Then we’ll move the Bounder up and park it next to the fifth wheel.  We’ll transfer everything from one to the other, then the RV park will use their forklift to move the fifth wheel back to our site and we’ll get it connected up and make it liveable.  We’ll drive the Bounder to PPL the next day and put it on consignment with them.

We’ll make use of a few weeks here in Houston to get used to the fifth wheel and the local RV tech if we find anything that needs attention that wasn’t on PPL’s checklist.  Then we’ll relocate to the Austin area.

rio bonita rv park4We’ve found a place just a few miles northwest of Austin, TX that provides what we’re looking for in a long term RV park.  It’s in the country but within fifteen to twenty minutes of major shopping.  While it’s only a half hour from our kids/grandkids who live in Austin, it’s only 3 hours from the kids in Houston and 3 hours from my brother in west Texas.  We also have kids in Ohio, but we’ll have to see them as part of our travels.

rio bonita rv park7

I won’t name the RV park until we’ve confirmed our space, but it’s a nice, clean park that’s owned and operated by a couple who bought it several years ago and continue to improve it.  Most of the sites are oversized, in some cases allowing for 2 or 3 cars. The monthly cost is very attractive.  We visited after a couple of days of heavy rain, and that pea gravel surface was flat, hard and free of standing water. In the photo above, all the pea gravel you see is part of that one site.  Eventually, we hope to be able to have a small Class C motorhome parked on our site, ready to roll on short notice.

rio bonita rv park5

Long term residents are welcomed, but from the look of the park, they apparently screen folks well and keep a close watch on clutter.  Some sites have decks, but in every case, they are neat and attractive.

rio bonita rv park6

It’s just a short walk across the park to the North Fork of the San Gabriel River. Sadly, the drought conditions in this part of Texas are keeping the river almost dry, but there are painting and sketching opportunities everywhere.

It’s another exciting time for us, but we have to move with some patience and deliberation.  Not exactly our strong suit, but we’re trying.




10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2014 9:33 pm

    good luck, looks like a great deal. Syd

    • September 29, 2014 9:18 pm

      Thanks Syd. It’s being checked out this week, and if there are no problems found, we think we did okay.

  2. September 28, 2014 10:15 pm

    Wow, that’s a BIG one!

    • September 29, 2014 9:20 pm

      It really is, Yorky. I told Nell that since someone qualified is going to tow it, I want a big one with as many slides as we can get. It’s like a nice small flat inside.

  3. September 28, 2014 10:35 pm

    Sounds like a plan Ralph – good for you guys – I envy you!!!

    • September 29, 2014 9:22 pm

      Richard, I believe someone told me “one foot in front of the other”. So far, we’re keeping it going. Thanks for the support, my friend!

  4. September 29, 2014 9:05 pm

    The her looks really nice, and Montana is a good full-time brand. Your home base park sounds really nice too; and convenient to all the necessaries. Hope it all works out for you. Good luck!

    • September 29, 2014 9:28 pm

      Thanks PG. We’re anxious to move things along so we can get back on the road. Your blog is showing us some great places.

  5. Carolyn Sears permalink
    October 2, 2014 7:13 pm

    We looked at yet another “retirement” place this week. So far haven’t found “it”. We are somewhere between too big….too small. You have certainly done your homework. New home are looks neat. Out of this humidity sounds wonderful….but alas family all here. Will miss Nov.1 Saturday again. Aggieland calls. Will catch you later tho.

    • October 2, 2014 10:29 pm

      Enjoy yourselves Saturday. There will be others. Thanks for thinking of us!

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