Sunday, November 8, 2015

Liberty's Second Birthday

Location: Highway 509 RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

(click pictures to enlarge)

I woke up this morning feeling a little restless. While drinking my first cup of Community Club coffee, I started browsing through some of my pictures on the computer with wild and crazy thoughts of organizing them better. Currently, most are organized in files with the date being the file name. There are a dozen or so with real (words) file names. That is one of the reasons I created the map pages with my travel route and dates so I could locate the picture files by date. The coffee must not have been strong enough because no organizing happened. 

However, while looking at some of the older pictures, I saw the first picture I took of Freedom and Liberty hooked up together. It was taken on the day I took delivery of Liberty and towed it to the Red River South Marina/RV park. I have used that picture as the header picture for this blog ever since I started the blog. I guess I ought to change it since it has been up for a while. The difference between the header picture and the original is the original has the date on the picture. That date is two years ago, today!!!!. Wow, I knew I took delivery of Liberty in the month of November but I usually don't remember the exact date. I guess I don't have to remember ti any more since the picture will remember it for me. 

As I was looking at some of the older pictures, I was reminded of the decisions I made concerning the truck, RV, equipment, routes, etc. I don't think I wrote a lot about my thought process back then so I figured I would do it now. It will be good documentation for me and perhaps some readers, although boring, may find it useful or interesting.

Now I'm stumped a little bit because I'm not sure how far back in time do I go. I guess I will start after I made my decision to retire and travel around the country in an RV. That would have been about the spring of 2012 or somewhere around there. The first question was "what type of RV"? I spent many hours online learning about the different types of RV's such as Motorhomes (big class A's and smaller class B's and C's), bumper pull RV's and fifth wheel RV's (like Liberty). I listed the Pro's and Con's for each type and found that for me, a fifth wheel RV would do the trick. I went to two RV shows, and with the exception of having a nice visit with a friend in Fort Worth, I didn't like them. I went to a few RV dealers and didn't like that experience either. The sales people are looking to sell you their RV and will put down any other RV model or brand you mention. I narrowed the manufacturer down to Forest River and the brand down to Rockwood. My only decision left was which floorplan/model. I thought I knew which one I wanted and I was lucky in that a Texas dealer about 45 minutes away had the model in stock. I went there specifically to see that model so I could make my final decision. I told the salesperson what I was looking at and to my surprise, there was no sales pitch at all. They told me to look the model over and to take my time. I did just that and sat down inside for while and tried to picture how it would be living in it full time and traveling around. After 30 minutes, I made my decision, I didn't like it and it wouldn't work for me. Dang, I thought I had wasted my time. But, the good news is I saw another Rockwood on my way back to my car (didn't have the truck yet) and looked at it. That floorplan was Liberty's floorplan and I knew it fit me. That cinched it for me as to which RV I would buy. It would be a Forest River, Rockwood Signature Ultra Light Model 8280-WS. I liked the rear kitchen, queen sized bed, high ceilings and lazy boy recliners. I chose the "diamond package" which has many of the options I wanted. The main options I "needed" was the free standing dinette (not a booth) and second air conditioner (I want to stay cool). I have been very pleased with my choice of RV and have not second guessed myself. I have only had a few minor problems with the RV, but it was to be expected after towing it 20,000 miles in the first 18 months. 
This was taken at a truck stop after picking Liberty up from the dealer. The first campground was about 10 minutes away. They match up nicely. Notice that Liberty is level to the bed of Freedom. I was satisfied.

This was taken after getting her set up for the first time. The water hose is one of those fancy "pocket hoses" that shrinks up when the water is off. It didn't last very long and I never bought another one. I also notice I don't have my Surge Guard hooked up. I don't know if that is because I didn't have it or I just forgot to hook it up. Also, I didn't place any blocks under the front landing gear or the rear stabilizers. I'm now in the habit of placing 5 yellow plastic blocks under each. The shorter the travel of the landing gear, the more stable Liberty sits.  
This was taken in February of 2014 which was about 2 months before I hit the road. The BBQ grill was an option on the RV that I chose but wish I hadn't. I have not used the grill since I hit the road. It is too much trouble to clean it when I'm moving every few days. This picture also shows the "D" ring on the water heater door. It prevents the door from opening while going down the road. It looks like I hadn't installed the bug screens over the furnace exhaust like the one over the water heater. They keep the dirt daubers from building nests in the vent. 

This was taken 3 days before the picture with the BBQ grill. Louisiana winter weather can change very quickly. The temperature got down into the low 20's but my two electrical ceramic heaters kept me warm inside. I've only used the furnace in the RV a couple times, mostly just to check it out.

Once I decided on the RV to buy, I needed to decide on which truck to pull it with. Liberty's weight tops out at 9,000 pounds fully loaded. I wanted a truck that would not only tow that amount but would have some extra towing power and load carrying in reserve for those times when I would be crossing high mountains. I also wanted a short bed truck (easier parking in cities), extended cab (not 4 doors) with single tires on the rear axle. I really liked the Toyota but it didn't have the reserve power and load carrying I wanted. That left me looking at Dodge, Ford and Chevy. I eliminated Dodge, out of hand and unscientifically because of some bad memories with Dodge trucks from my work. Chevy was eliminated because it looked like they were going away from extended cab trucks. That left me with Ford which was fine with me because my father once owned a Ford F-150. The one I chose, based on towing capacity, payload capacity (the weight of the RV carried by the truck) and comfort level, was a Ford F-250 Lariat with the 6.2 L V-8 engine. I chose a gasoline engine over a diesel engine because I figured if the truck had problems in some small town somewhere off the beaten path, the chances were greater to find a gasoline mechanic than a diesel mechanic. Also, every gas station sells gasoline but does not always sell diesel fuel. Again, I've been satisfied with my choice of truck and have taken it places where nobody was around for miles and miles. My confidence in the truck was super high and I never doubted that she would start and get me where I needed to go. Although I have had starting problems recently with the truck, it seems to have been solved and my confidence in its reliability has been steadily climbing back to where it used to be.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.     


  1. Thanks for the recap. We have decided on a Class A but size is something we still disagree on and we have not been to any "big" shows to see a variety of plans, mainly because there is nothing near us in the SF Bay area.

    1. I really liked the large windshield on the Class A's. It must be a great view while driving. Good luck on ya'll's looking. Planning is part of the fun too.

  2. I agree with your tow vehicle selection. I love my F150 with the 6 cylinder ECO Boost (two turbos) which pulled my 3000 pound Winnebago Micro Minnie right up and over the Rockies and the Appalachians in West Virginia/Virginia. It wouldn't work for you, but does me just fine.

    1. Hello Anonymous. Yes, Ford makes a great product. The 150 with Ecoboost would tow Liberty but there wouldn't be any extra power which I wanted. I know a couple people that tow the same model as Liberty with their 150 but it is strictly on flat ground and only a weekend or so per month. Thanks for your comment

  3. Do you have problems climbing mountains? What kind of mileage do you get?

    Hope your son's health continues to improve. Have a blessed Thanksgiving. You've got a lot of reasons to be thankful this year.

    Cat Lady

    1. Hello Cat Lady. Thanks for your questions. The hardest pull was going over Wolf Creek Pass in southern Colorado. It was a long and high crossing but Freedom just dropped in 2nd gear and we went up at a steady 35 to 40 mph. As far as gas mileage it varies, but when towing, I've never been lower than 7 MPG nor higher than 9 MPG. When just exploring without Liberty, it will run between 15 and 19 depending on the conditions.

      Thanks for your comment on my son's health. Yes, there will be extra "thanks" this year.

      If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.