As I write this, it’s been 12 days since I arrived at the Marina at Ortega Landing, Jacksonville, FL. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind.
My crew consolidated her vehicles by getting her motorhome and Jeep first moved to the parking lot here at the marina. Then came the task of packing her clothes, sheets, pillows, blankets, toiletries, food and dog stuff and moving it off the boat, carting it to the motorhome and moving it on and putting it all away. She then moved her motorhome to a nearby campground.
We took several trips to look at a number of motorhomes for me. I saw one about 100 miles away that was of interest, for sale by owner. It needed some work but was nice and realistically priced. I calculated the cost to fix, mentally split it, and made an offer. The offer was better than 97% of asking. That’s when the seller told me he couldn’t take the offer since he had received a call from someone (a stranger) in North Carolina who was interested and who wanted to drive down to FL to see it by 11am the following day. The seller said he didn’t know if the prospects had even left NC yet but he felt an obligation to show it to them. Apparently he didn’t feel the same obligation to me – who was actually already there, who had actually called first, who had actually already inspected the coach and made an offer, etc. Or maybe the seller wanted to play my offer against this stranger, several states away who might or might not have left, who might or might not show up, who might or might not like the coach and who might or might not offer, have money or good credit to finance? Seller told me he’d call me the next day if the guy didn’t show up and buy. I apparently was second choice. The seller actually watched a real buyer who made a very good faith offer drive away!
That evening I decided I wasn’t going to buy the rig because I didn’t think I could trust him. I Imagined being at a closing with $ in hand and the seller getting a call from some Nigerian prince offering $millions and the seller telling me the closing was delayed to see if the prince wired the funds. It was satisfying when the seller called the next day, told me that the NC folks came but did not make an offer and so he, the seller, was going to take my offer!!! Before I hung up I reminded him that he turned my offer down and had watched me drive away. Apparently there’s still some work to do improving the gene pool.
Back to the drawing board. And it was worthwhile. Another overnight trip A few days later found us looking at a rig in Orlando and then another one just south of Tampa – within a few miles of where I found my prior Winnebago. After an afternoon looking in all the crannies, test drive etc. I bought myself a new home! A Tiffin Allegro Bus 40QSP. The dealer needs to replace the tires, replace an awning motor, order a new dual pane window and install to replace one that has fogged between the panes and fix some other minor issues. Then it will be taken to a nearby CAT center (even though a Cummins) where they will pull samples of all the current oil from engine, trans and generator for analysis, then change out all oil, coolants and filters and check and replace any belts and/or hoses showing wear. I expect to take delivery after Memorial Day.
With that done, I need to buy a car. Time to pull the motorhome magazine towing guides to see which cars, which models and which years can be towed with 4 wheels on the ground (toad). I once towed with a tow dolly and will never do that again. The guides also tell you any special instructions for the various toads – like this one can’t be towed faster than 60mph or that one needs to be started and placed in drive for 5 minutes every 5 hours etc. The maker that has the most towable models and has been fully towable since the ‘80s and has no speed or distance/time restrictions is Jeep. And that’s what I went looking for.
I found and really liked a 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 4WD. Called to make sure major franchise dealer was open for business due to COVID19 and said I’d be there in 2 hours to see a specific vehicle. Arrived on time and the Jeep was buried/‘parked in’ in the middle of the lot. They got access to it only to find out that not even the interior lights would come on. Battery flat dead. They brought out a mobile charger but it didn’t work. They brought out the wimpiest jumper cables I’ve ever seen and tried to jump it from the next car which was running but the Jeep wouldn’t turnover. Immediately next door was a PepBoys. Their paved lots adjoined. I suggested to these wise people that they get a new battery next door. They looked at us like we were nuts and said, ‘we’d need to drive it over there so they can replace it but we can’t drive it there till it starts’. Walk??? Where do these people come from? Apparently slimed out of the same gene pool as the motorhome seller. Two hours standing in the hot FL sun maintaining social and gene pool distance and we left without ever seeing the Jeep start and move so much as one inch.
I got an email during the night from my crew who found a ‘sister’ Jeep for sale from the same franchise but in Orlando. So we called at 9am to be sure it was available and they were open, told them which vehicle we wanted to see and that we’d drive there and be there before noon. Arrived and…guess what… it wouldn’t start. This one didn’t have a battery in it and they hadn’t managed to get one during 2 hour drive. Apparently the ‘main office‘ has parts contracts with certain suppliers and this battery is a sealed AGM and their suppliers didn’t have one “but we think we can get one tomorrow!” Their personnel folks must take special courses to be able to hire these specialized no customer service people!
My crew and I went to lunch and while there I called a Jeep Chrysler dealer 5 miles away and gave them the VIN. Yes, we have that OEM battery for that vehicle in stock and it’s $243.00. Back to the stealer/dealer and advised them that their almost next door Jeep dealer has the battery in stock and did they want to go pick it up or would they like me to go get it. And if main office doesn’t like buying from this supplier, lower the price by that amount and I’ll go buy the battery.
To keep a story from getting longer (and there’s more idiocy) I now own a really clean 2019 Jeep Cherokee to tow behind the motorhome. And we got back to JAX by 9pm that night.
I’ve ordered from Blue Ox in Nebraska a tow bar and a base plate that needs to be attached to the front of the Jeep’s frame. I hope they arrive this coming Tues and that I can get the base plate mounted yet this coming week. If not, I’ll see if I can get the Tampa motorhome dealer to throw in a base plate install. I’ll wait to install the supplemental braking for the toad till the motorhome and toad are together.
Once I get the motorhome in JAX, then I can start moving myself off the boat and turn it over to the broker
Other thoughts. Getting sick of masks, gloves and wipes. At least the thin rectangular ones masks are more comfortable than the N95s
And the Toad