Movin’ On Up

It’s both exciting and sad to make a change. Case in point, we tearfully said farewell to our beloved Coachmen Freedom Express travel trailer — aka The Coach — as we traded her in for our first fifth wheel today.

As you may recall, we’ve had ongoing A/C issues and had discovered a leak someplace at the front of the Coach, and we couldn’t figure out the source, although we’re fairly certain it was caused by the awning getting ripped off last year. The dealership that maintained her said it wasn’t a big deal, but we could already feel the front left nose cap softening and the odor in Mama ‘Skiy’s closet (from the leak and resulting dry rot) was getting stronger.

The fifth wheel we decided to get is actually one that we’d seen plans for online months ago and really, really liked. But finding this model at a dealership or show anyplace in the southeastern portion of the US seemed impossible. And there was no way we were purchasing an RV online or driving across the country just to “research” another rig.

Then a couple of weeks ago we were on the way to a dealership to take a look at a travel trailer model we’d found online. We were a mile from that lot when we passed another dealership…and saw the model that we’d only before seen on the computer.

We immediately stopped to take a look. She’s less than 36 feet long, mid-profile in height (almost 2 feet shorter than traditional or full-profile fifth wheels), has a desk in the master bedroom, room for a washing machine, no island or extended counter in the kitchen, a bunkhouse with two bunks, a huge master bathroom…and a half bath right off the bunkhouse, complete with wardrobe space for our sons!

In short, she was everything we’d hoped to find.

We left and still went to go look at the travel trailer at the other location, but this rig — this Wildcat — had stolen our hearts.

That night, the remainder of the weekend, and over the course of the week that followed we made phone calls, did more research, played with numbers, and measured to make sure we could park it next to our house. It didn’t have the extremely high cargo carrying capacity we’d hoped to get, but we figured RVing was about doing more with less and are considering upgrading the wheels and tires (up to 16 inches).

There was so much to do if we wanted to get this rig, though. We now had the horse — more than enough horse, actually — but we didn’t have the hitch to tow her. Papa ‘Skiy had already counted on getting a slide hitch if we went this route. Now it was a matter of finding the right one.

We decided to go with an auto-slide hitch as opposed to a manual-slide.

Days later, we made the tentative deal over the phone, but you know how we are: what’s meant to be will be…so to the dismay of our salesman, we didn’t put a downpayment on her.

Apparently, it was meant to be. We went back this morning — July 22nd — to have the hitch installed in the bed of Bertha, trade in our Coachmen (*sniff-sniff*), and pick up our new — and first — fifth wheel.

But guess what. Towing a fifth wheel is nothing like towing a travel trailer! No, Bertha had no problems pulling the rig. As a matter of fact, Papa commented how he couldn’t feel it behind him and never felt any shear or sway from the storm that decided to test us and the truckers that zipped by.

It will certainly take some time getting used to pulling, maneuvering, and backing up a fifth wheel, but we are convinced of one thing: there’s no way we could or would want to go with anything larger than this Wildcat!

At just under 36 feet and with the nose of her sitting over the bed of Bertha, the remainder of the rig hanging from behind the truck is no longer than that of our travel trailer. So length isn’t what we need to get used to. The fact she’s taller, heavier, and now hitched inside the truck’s bed are all challenges for us to overcome.

It’s worth it. It’ll all be worth it.

OMG! We now own a fifth wheel!


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