The search for a tenement on wheels

I was a hard core tent camper.  And not those big honkin’ multi-room tents but the ultra light backpacking units.  I thought anyone who needed a trailer to pull their “tent” was a sissy.  Then we rented a popup camper and it was awesome!!  We started thinking about doing a long term trip and realized that we’d need something more substantial than a pop up.  And so it came to be…I’m now a sissy (but I still absolutely love the simplicity of backpacking).  With my pride swallowed we began the search for our tenement on wheels.

I read just about every blog of fulltime traveling families as they described the pros and cons of different options and came away pretty settled on a 5th wheel.  I really liked the idea of getting an older rig and tricking it out with a fancy remodel to make it look like something you’d find on Pinterest.  But my wife reminded me how much remodeling is still left on our current home that we’ve had 16 years to remodel.  So, no rig remodels.  It was not really what I wanted to hear, but at the same time, it was one less decision left to make….one step closer to launch!

I set my sites on a bunkhouse unit with 3 bunks, one for each kiddo. I researched, I read forums, I watched videos, I read reviews and I scoured Craigslist.  When I started to get a grasp on the different sizes and options and brands we stopped by an RV dealer one day and poked around in a couple units.  We were 2 years from launch at that point and I don’t remember much about that visit.  But 11 months before launch I spotted a 2007 Cedar Creek Silverback quad slide bunkhouse unit in Denver for $21k.  It was a cold Feb day after church and we met the owner at the place where the rig was stored.  I thought it was perfect but Steph’s Spidey-sense said no.  Weeks went by and I tried to convince her it would work.  The seller kept dropping the price until he sold it in April for probably about $18k.  I was sad, but I no longer had to consider that unit…again, a bit of a relief that the decision was made for me.

The spring and summer of 2015 we went to numerous RV stores checking out their offerings.  We really tried to like the 32 foot 3 slide units but then we’d go in a 38 foot 4 slide and it just felt….well, 6 feet plus 1 slide bigger….and more comfortable.  I was really starting to hone in on exactly what I thought would work and I got pretty good at valuing units.  We found a really nice unit by private seller, made an offer that was neither accepted or countered.  But then I saw an ad on Craigslist for a model I was not familiar with: Keystone Avalanche 340TG.  I was surprised I hadn’t run across that model before because I thought I knew the full landscape of quad slide bunkhouses.  On top of that, it was in CO and listed at a good price.  I contacted the seller via email and… silence.  I prepared myself for disappointment a decision being made for me again.

I was getting ready to head to church to teach Sunday school and I decided to try sending a text to the seller and BOOM I get a response back.  The family has been living in it full time for the summer as they volunteered at the YMCA camp.  We chat back and forth and although they have people coming to look at it on Tuesday we can’t get up there to look at it until Wednesday.  Wednesday morning arrives and the seller says its still available.  So Steph and I deliver the kids to school and have an awesome day just the two of us on a road trip through Rocky Mountain National Park….its been a very long time since  just the 2 of us were on a road trip together.  I’ll remember that day for a long time just because of that time we spent together!


The unit we were going to look at was a 2010 and I was worried that Steph’s Spidey-sense would once again say “nope”.  We showed up, met the family and they gave us the FULL tour of everything.  We had a 3 hour drive back home to pick up kids after school so we got in the car to head home.  We barely drove 100 yards and Steph said, “should we make an offer?”.  SMSapalooza ensued as we texted back and forth with sellers on our drive home but pretty well came to an agreement.

And that is how we ended up with our new home on wheels, Ava!


Now, its going to take a separate post dedicated to describing the drama between the deal struck over SMS and taking possession of the rig!

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