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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Going Mobile

RV purchase a long time coming

"Maybe you're just not RV people."

We heard those words from a salesman at one dealership as we haggled over a vehicle during a shopping session last summer. He got impatient and finally decided to let us have it.

At first we were insulted. Then it got us thinking: Are we really RV people?

We're going to find out. We are now the proud owners of a 2017 Thor Gemini 23TB, purchased in late September from Camping World in Liberty Lake.

How did we come to this decision? Like all things in our lives, we debated the pros and cons endlessly, changed our minds daily, decided we weren't going to buy after all, talked some more, and then finally took a leap of faith.

It has been a long shopping process. We've rented RVs to try them out throughout the spring and summer and found a few we liked, but none we loved.

When we started on this road of RV discovery, we thought we wanted a van of some sort. We also wanted to stay small.

We tried out Caravan Outfitter's Freebird, a tight buildout on the Nissan NV 200 cargo van offered by Campell Nissan of Edmonds. We liked it a lot, especially the fuel economy. While it worked great for short trips, we knew it would be difficult to live in full time, so we started looking for something bigger.

What about a tall van? we wondered. We looked at many, many models, from Winnebagos to Pleasure-Ways. We finally thought we had something when found the Hymer Aktiv, a gas-powered van built on the Dodge ProMaster chassis.

We took one out on a test drive and loved the way it handled. We were offered a great deal at Blue Dog RV in Post Falls, and we thought about it long and hard. In the end, the Hymer felt a little tight for us, and the fuel economy was a little less than we wanted.

What to do? We tried out a short Class C Itasca Spirit in Alaska and liked most things about it -- except its gas-guzzling engine. That's when we started to look at other short Class C vehicles with better fuel economy.

RV manufacturers seem to be addressing people like us. An array of short Class C vehicles are on the market that are slightly longer than vans, with slideouts to open up more living space.

We looked at the Winnebago's Navion and Fuse and were impressed. Then we found the Thor Gemini, slightly used and at a great price. We finally pulled the trigger, and three days later, we hit the road.

First stop: Walla Walla wine country, where we camped at the award-winning Dunham Cellars, known for its spectacular cabs and chardonnay. If you're going to camp anywhere in Walla Walla, it's a pretty great way to go.

The winery, in Walla Walla's happening airport district, has an RV hookup available for guests.  No drinking and driving -- you can stay right on site a do a walking tasting tour in the airport district.

Next we traveled to Joseph, Ore., amid beautiful fall colors. So far, it's looking like a great adventure -- and maybe we really are RV people.


Going Mobile answers: Last week, we asked about your favorite RV-themed movies. One of our favorites is "About Schmidt" with Jack Nicholson (2002). Spokesman-Review film critic Dan Webster also weighed in. Here's his take:

"RVs have been featured in numerous movies of all genres, from horror (“From Dusk Till Dawn,” 1996) to family farce (“Meet the Fockers,” 2004). But few can match “Lost in America,” a 1985 Albert Brooks comedy that features a couple (Brooks and Julie Haggerty) cashing in their belongings to purchase a Winnebago and travel across America. Though they do -- to the music of Steppenwolf, “head out on the highway” -- they forget the sage advice of Gamblers Anonymous: Avoid Las Vegas. Brooks’ use of the term “nest egg” is a comic classic."

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.