Sunday, January 7, 2018

Another short RV, Forest River TS2390

We almost didn't go to the RV show in Denver this weekend because we are both getting over the flu. But last minute we decided to go and boy are we glad we did.
We fell in love with the Forest River Sunseeker TS2390. The asking price was $59,980 and they were asking for a fully refundable $1000 deposit so we decided to make the deposit and evaluate again after a test drive next weekend. Why this one and not one of the others we've seen? For a new RV it had a very low off gassing odor. The bedroom had the strongest odor but I suspect that is being contributed to by the memory foam mattress which we would remove and replace with the mattress from our Brave or buy a new latex foam mattress.

Impressions:

  • Great length at 25 ft.
  • Easy access of only 3 steps into the RV. Access to the passenger/driver side not quite as easy because it is like getting in and out of a large truck but still very doable.
  • Access to the back without going outside not too bad, even with the table in because you can rotate it.
  • Front seats were comfortable. There was foot room on the passenger side but it was slightly impinged for the left foot. Less so if you take your shoes off. I have to evaluate this further on a test drive.
  • Small dinette type set-up behind the front seats had comfortable chairs. However with the table up the post really eliminated foot room. Also with 2 people sitting there your feet were crowding each other even without the table.
  • Bed was lower so the dogs could jump up. Good access on the shower side to the bed.
  • Shower was oddly open to the bedroom. After we got home we looked on-line and there is a new model, the 2380 that has an enclosed shower room. I love having our current shower area heat up a bit from the shower so I don't step into cold air. Also I wonder about all the condensation and moisture in the bedroom. It doesn't seem like a good combination. The 2380 also has a wardrobe.
  • Bed is only double bed so probably smaller than what we have now. Was really hoping to move to a king so will have to give this a great amount of thought.
  • Storage was really great amount for this size RV. We loved the pass through storage in back that had a third door opening to the back. It looked like we could get lawn chairs and the dog's fold up pen in there. Wardrobe size was alot smaller than we have and no coat closet. 
  • We loved that it had no slides. Yes, were odd that way.
  • Refrigerator was smaller than ours but bigger than alot of other class Bs. Also it wasn't on the floor.
  • Liked the convection microwave. No wasted space on an oven that we have never used. 
  • Would really prefer a double sink. This one was a single sink and size was OK. Not too small.
  • Had this odd trash pass through to an exterior available compartment. Honestly we were thinking of using this as a dirty laundry shoot and keeping a small trash can in the kitchen cupboard the way we do now. Not sure if it has that under kitchen cupboard so will check that out when we see it again.
  • Great under bed storage. This is also a consideration for the dirty laundry bag as there is a large compartment under the bed where the bag could go. But this is less practical because one of us and the dogs are likely lounging on the bed while the other person showers. So getting everyone up to store the dirty laundry doesn't work well.
  • Tank sizes seemed great for this size RV. 35G water (we currently have 50G), 30 G Grey and 30 G Black. We currently have 20 G shower so this is bigger which is nice for not filling up the shower holding tank so quickly.
  • A big concern is where the dogs will ride and hang out. In our current RV we took out the sofa and put two garage door style crates. The dogs can hang out in those and not be under foot. Also they ride in there and seem to like the security. We also put their spill proof water bowls in the crate. This is a big one for us. While I love the smaller RV I need to work out a way for the dogs to ride that doesn't involve always being on the bed. Sometimes they are wet and dirty from a hike and I don't want them getting on the bed.
  • Overall the quality seemed pretty decent. We didn't see misaligned panels, or sloppy workmanship. There was a stray fastener on the floor and one loose panel under the sink. But compared to some new ones we've looked at it looked pretty decent.
  • Decisions, decisions...
Edit:
Our current thoughts on this RV.
I am so excited to see it again I may go out and do a test drive before the weekend. The only hang up that keeps bothering me is that when I saw it I thought it was under 25 ft. The reason this is important is our HOA will let us park it at the property if it is under 25 ft. Over 25 ft we have to build a garage that is sided and roofed like the house. This is very expensive and may be a deal killer. The alternative is if we like it enough to store it at a storage lot which is what we do with our current RV.

The other thing that is bugging us both is that we can get a short class A that is under 25 ft if we accept a slide. Then we can store it at the house. My husband feels storage lot is OK but I think we will use it more and I certainly will like it more if we can store it at the house and leisurely get ready for trips and leisurely clean it out from trips. A third consideration is with the low ground clearance we aren't sure we can get it up the driveway. Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rocky Mountain National Park - Old Fall River Road

We took a day trip, not in the RV, to Rocky Mountain National Park. We had no plan and just followed the signs. If you go through Estes Park and follow the RMNP signs you enter through the Fall River Entrance. This is a bit of a secondary entrance, no movie at the visitor center but plenty of other stuff on display as well as a restaurant and extensive shop.

Our plan was sort of to just drive around and see what we saw as we did no research.

Our first stop was Alluvial Fan.
Plenty of falls to walk around and explore.

Many people climbed the rocks to go higher up.

The view was really pretty looking down.

These falls had something for everyone. There were two parking lots. The first one you hiked through some wooded area to get to the falls but it was full so we parked at the second which had the falls practically in the parking lot. People with toddlers took them downstream to play in the water. Some people were in wading gear for fishing. Some people were climbing on the rocks around the falls.

This is where I met a couple from Denver who were going to drive Old Fall River Road. Old Fall River Road is the old road to the top prior to the opening of Trail Ridge Road. It is dirt and crushed gravel, one lane, one way. We had our SUV so decided to drive it also.
https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/old_fall_river_road.htm

The start of Old Fall River Road

It was in great condition.

One of the places we stopped at had pretty falls. This is the lower stop. The people you see in the distance above are observing the falls in the next picture.

This is same area but hiking down from an upper stop. You could have hiked up from the lower stop also.


This critter was always crossing the road. Then he would run up the hill and we would see him at the next switchback.
 Lots of scenic views.
Getting close to the tree line.


Above the tree line.

Storms kept following us but never got us.
Little tiny building you see in the center of the picture is the Alpine Visitor Center.

It was kind of chilly for July and the snow had not yet all melted.


Alpine Visitor Center is where you join up with Trail Ridge Road.
If you had come up Trail Ridge Road you could park your RV at the Alpine Visitor Center. They had a person restricting access to the RV parking to RVs only so plenty of spaces.
Looking left from the visitor center sign.

The pesky clouds are after us again.


Click on this picture to enlarge it and you will see the pretty alpine lake.


Wildlife had their own crossing guard.

After we drove down Trail Ridge Road we went to the main visitor center for the movie (not memorable) and the on to Estes Park for an early dinner. Then home.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Looking at short RVs

This weekend I ventured forth to look at some of the new short RVs. Our HOA lets us park rvs less than 25 ft on the lot so I thought I'd check some of these out.

Fuse 23A - Nice RV by Winnebago. Good styling. For us the beds were too high for the dogs to jump on and the twin on the drivers side was too short for either of us to sleep on without the mattress extension. This means putting it up and down every night because it blocks the refrigerator. Also means no sleeping with the slide in. Decided this was a non-starter for us. Tank size was pretty good though.  If they put a small dinette in and gave you two beds that tall people would sleep in this would be more of a contender. However bed height would still be a problem.

Trend 23B - Really interesting floor plan that was not in the brochure. (24Gas, 27F/40B/35G) For a single person this could be a very good RV. You could make the sofa up as a permanent bed. It has a larger bed that lowers from the ceiling but I can't see that being a good solution. Bad part is it is on a RAM chassis and I couldn't get the front passenger seat to recline. Had another looker give it a try and he couldn't either. So not sure there is a comfortable position for the seat. Also read a comparison on the RAM vs the Ford diesel vs the Mercedes Sprinter on the internet where the Ford was tops and the RAM was the bottom. The Fuse has the Ford. The Trend 23D didn't seem to suffer from the super short bed length issue that the Fuse did.

Viva 23B - Same as the Trend 23B but is in this year's brochure with the 23B floor plan whereas the Trend brochure does not have this floor plan.

View 24V - This was may favorite of the bunch. The twin beds had a small platform that the dogs could use to jump up. Would still prefer a small dinette vs sofa. Tank sizes OK. Have read concerns regarding CCC cargo carrying capacity on these being so low you go over them just trying to use them. Don't know if that is still an issue with the current models.

Thor Axis - I only saw one model of this, the 25.2. However the quality seems better than the past few years of models. I wanted to see both the 24.1 and the 25.4 but neither are in my area. I love the big windshield and the captains chairs on our current class A. The 24.1 has the same problem as other twin bed models of no dinette.
The 25.4 has an interesting corner bed in that you can access it all down the side as opposed to just the end corner. However it still has the problem of one person having to crawl over the other. The other bed is a drop down bunk bed over the drivers seat. Concern for this second bed is the heat. The drivers side windshield is huge and might make this sleeping area too hot. The 24.5 is 27 ft long so this gets into a larger range of the bigger class As like Thor ACE, Winnebago Vista and Forest River FR3.

Travato 59K - Would like to see but could not find.

Era 70A - Pretty sure I saw one but ruled it out based on bathroom/shower size. Can't remember how the beds were.

FR3 - I only saw the 30DS which is nice and has a king bed but like the similar Thor ACE it has a single ducted AC for the entire thing. I just don't see how this can keep the RV cool. Our 30 ft Brave has a single overhead AC but we can aim all the air and don't have duct loss or heat up from running in the ceiling where the sun is beating down. The 25DS is a great length at 26'7" but has a folding king bed which we do not want. However with the bigger tank sizes is a great alternative to those above. But I suspect many are like us and want a bed that is available full time without deploying a slide. This would bring one to the 29DS. It looks completely useable with all the slides in. Length is 30'9". This isn't a bad option but I don't want the dogs on the slide and that is where the sofa is on this option. Too much trouble to transfer them off the slide for deployment and take in. I need somewhere to safely park them while the moving parts are moving.

Vista - This brings me back to the Vista 26HE 54F/43B/38G. Unfortunately I did not see one. But at 27'4" it is a better unit for us than all the above shorties. The lounge chair could be removed and a dog crate installed so there was a safe place to park the pooches. Dinette and full time bed. But in the pictures the bed looks very high. Tank sizes seem good. I think more people would be happy with option than View, Navion, Axis/Vegas, Fuse, Trend.

Fleetwood - Also has a shortie, the Flair 26D. Same set up as the Vista 26HE but the one I saw felt really low quality. Flair has  50F/35B/35G tank size so not too bad but the Vista is higher so not sure why you would ever get this one over the Vista 26HE. This brings me back around to the Flair 30U which only has 50/35/35 tank sizes which for this size RV is fairly small.

For comparison our current RV has 78 g fuel, 55 g fresh water, shower 20 g, bathroom sink 17 g, toilet and kitchen sink 28 G. This is fairly convoluted so we start washing dishes at the bathroom sink when the black tank starts to get full. Several times we have filled the 20 g shower tank. To compare with the above ours would be considered 55F/28B/37G.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Thor Ace 29.4 vs. Fleetwood Flair 30U

While our RV was in the shop we killed time RV shopping at a dealership across the street. They had a Thor Ace 29.4. I couldn't believe it but it looked like they designed this RV just for me. It had a number of things I was looking for but had not yet found in a floor plan.

These include:
  • King bed that does not fold up when slides are in.
  • King bed that is not too high for dogs to jump on.
  • Shower with higher shower head and enough room to turn around without hitting the walls. They accomplish the latter with a shower curtain that is stiff plastic and bends out on an arc tract.
  • Full size dinette with comfortable foam that does not collapse when you sit on it.
  • Sofa for the dogs to ride on that is not on a slide out.
  • Plenty of foot room for the passenger's chair.
  • Good tank size.
  • 30 ft or less size.
  • Decent ground clearance for going up our driveway.
Negatives were:
  • Closet appears cut off by bed when slides are in but I need to verify this as I did not check it out at the time and am just interpreting the floor plan in the brochure.
  • Exterior kitchen eats up storage space.
  • Exterior TV probably is taking up storage space but hard to tell. This RV appears to be designed for tailgating and we would want to use it for camping.

When Thor Ace came out I eagerly watched the floor plans evolve and was hoping for something like this. I also was a bit concerned with the quality I was seeing but in the 29.4 that we looked at the quality looked pretty good. However, I need to verify this by looking at it more closely. I am going to try and find one nearby to view. I would also want to drive it to check cabin noise and handling.

Considering a new RV is so hard. Should we go smaller? Should we get a diesel? Ours has worked so well, drives so nice and has been customized to suit us. Do we want to do that again? Or should we just stick with what we have. Advantage of ours is we know it really well. All the seams are Eternabonded. The mechanics are in good shape. We do alot of remote site camping so get scratched by a branch, run into a cone? Slap on some Eternabond and move on with your life. Taking a new one where we go might not be a good idea.

Edit: Just saw on-line the Fleetwood Flair 30U so going to look at that also.

Edit2: Got to look at both the Thor Ace 29.4 and the Fleetwood Flair 30U. Overall the Ace workmanship seemed alot better. To compare:
AC - Flair wins.
Flair has 2 ducted roof airs and the Ace only 1.
  • The Flair has the ability to aim some ducts at the sofa where the dogs would sit.  Flair also has oddly small dash air vents. Didn't run them so don't know if they are effective or not.
  • The Ace has the side of the AC unit pretty much over the sofa so no ability to provide air to it.
Dinette - Ace wins.
  • ACE has a very comfortable dinette seat with good thigh support, good foam and a good angle for the back cushioning
  • Flair has oddly uncomfortable seats. The back has too much rake to it. The seat cushion is too short and has no thigh support.
Bathroom - Ace wins.
  • The Ace has a high shower head because of it's larger dome. It has an arced out stiff plastic shower curtain that gives good shoulder room. 
  • The Flair's bathroom is horrible. The shower is a safety hazard as there are three sharp metal rails on the bottom for the sliding doors to go in. If you accidentally step on them you are going to the emergency room and likely will cripple yourself for life. The step down from the shower to the floor is a huge drop which makes stepping on the rails or tripping over them even more likely.
Generator - Ace wins.
  • I have no idea why but the Ace generator started smooth and quiet. You could barely tell it was going.
  • The Flair generator was rough at start up and sounded like someone forgot to bolt it down. Really made the RV sound/feel like poor workmanship. 
Cabinet Space/Placement - Flair wins.
  • Flair had a coat closet near the door and some cabinets angled to be able to be opened when the bedroom slide was closed.
  • Ace has no where to put coats and no access to the wardrobe when the bedroom slide is in. 
Usability with slides in - Flair wins.
  • Surprisingly there was alot more hallway space with the slide in on the Flair. Two people could get by each other easily. Plus see the above on cabinet space/placement.
Door Placement - Flair wins.
  • Because I plan to put my dogs on the sofa I like the Flair having the sofa behind the front seat with the door midway in the coach. 
  • The ace has the door right behind the front seats.
If I felt the Flair was decent quality I would probably get it and dismount their shower door and install the shower door like the Ace has. However in reading info on Fleetwood I'm not confident that their RV is built well. Will have to do more research. Also could wait for the recall on the shower door so they have to do the fix.  There is no way that door can be considered safe.

Other Flair quality issues:
  • Slide did not come in properly and was sticking out a bit on one end.
  • Slide in Flair was noisier going out than slide in Ace.
  • Generator ran rough and might not have been bolted down.

Reflections on New Mexico - Arizona Trip

On this trip I fell in love with RVing again. I had done almost no planning. With just one day of research and reservations I was able to book a very interesting trip on the way out. Playing it by ear on the way back worked out really well also.

I had no idea about the richness of the attractions on the path we took. Most of the time in the summer it is very hot down there so we head up in altitude or north. But this year we had a very cool wet spring so the first part of the trip was actually quite cool. It wasn't until the last few days that the serious heat moved in so we lucked out.

Surprisingly our somewhat dangerous fuel leak didn't impact my enjoyment because we kept thinking we fixed it. Every time we thought it was fixed we went on our merry way until the next time we found out it wasn't.

In terms of sight seeing we did a little bit of everything which was taking me back to how we used to use the RV when we first bought it. See something fabulous, move to the next fabulous thing, have our kitchen and bathroom in tow, rinse and repeat. This is a style of travel I really like.




Nambe Falls - Oh Wow!

Our next stop was Nambe Falls. This was fabulous! I had wanted to stop on the way out as it is close to Ojo Caliente and Bandolier National Monument but there wasn't time based on the reservations I could get in Prescott.

You pay $10 for the vehicle to get into the recreation area. Or you can camp for $25 or $35 with electric. We did not go through the campgrounds to look at them because of the heat but I wish we had. The area is beautiful.

We arrived on a hot Sunday so there were lots of families enjoying the area. The parking lot was large so no problem parking the RV. The lot was also dirt which wasn't too hot for the dogs paws.

On inquiring we found there was a trail up to the falls overlook or along the stream to a pool at the base. If you take the base trail you get wet because you have to go in the water sometimes.

We started on the overlook trail but it turned to crushed rock/granite which was too hot for the dogs paws so we went down to the base trail which had shade and they could cool off by getting wet.

Sunshine is dubious about the rushing water.

There were quite a few areas like this where you just strode into the stream. On a hot day it was delicious!
Blossom getting a little help through a rough area.

Dogs investigating the water.

Even Sunshine eventually gets his paws wet. But he isn't happy about it.

The base pool. Just out of the picture to the right there is an area about knee deep and calm where you can cross over to a sandy bank.

Many people came carrying toddlers and babies.
The trail was excellent. Everyone was enjoying themselves and making way for each other as people came and went. I was surprised by the number of toddlers and hand held babies. I would have thought it would be too rough for the toddlers and a bit dangerous to carry a baby in case you fell but no one did. In every area there was either a path around or a shallow easily navigable area. Also it helped to watch the path others took.

Coronado Historic Site

I was disappointed in Coronado Historic Site. Apparently it was excavated and then covered over so nothing you see is real. It was all rebuilt by modern rangers. As a result it lacks authenticity. However the museum inside is interesting in that it is hands on. There is much out to touch instead of everything being behind glass. For instance I could see what a yucca sandal felt like or how heavy Spanish armor was.

I started out with the one hour tour which by all accounts is good but shortly into it I was feeling a bit of sun stroke so I didn't make it to the kiva part with the reproduced painted walls. In part of the museum they have the original murals mounted (or what is left of them). Apparently there were many layers that they had to separate so they are in very poor condition. Next to them there are small reproductions of what they think they looked like. I don't recall seeing much of an interpretation so it wasn't that interesting to me.

An ox cart out front.

The fake reproduced ruins.
They mentioned that NM is under a budget crunch and will close one site depending on attendance. I don't see why it shouldn't be this one. There isn't much of anything to see on site and all the museum exhibits can be relocated to a larger facility.