9/24/19: We had another catastrophic failure with the RV. (Hydraulic system and living room slide.) Nothing exploded, nothing caught fire, and nobody got hurt. Two RV Guys (Father & Son) spent nearly 8 hours getting the living room slide back into the RV so I could safely drive it. Absolutely gut-wrenching and heart-breaking is the only way to describe it. I was deeply emotionally invested in our 2004 Winnebago Adventurer 33V. For a time I seriously thought we'd just stop RVing altogether. When the intense dissapointment faded a bit I thought about how much we like Florida State Parks, how much we like hiking in Florida State Parks, and how much Bailey likes Florida State Parks and hiking. We can't just quit.

I've already put too much money into this RV and I'm just not willing to spend more money on it. After we get rid of this POS we're going to look at some TVs (Tow Vehicles) and TTs (Travel Trailers). I won't be looking at 5th Wheels and I'll never consider another Class A.
I'll be looking at a slightly used TT... But a brand new TT isn't out of the question. I'll be avoiding Camping World like it was a toxic dump site, which it may very well be... (Psst, this is a secret: Gander Outdoors (including Gander RV) is actually Camping World...)
I started looking at SUVs mainly because I like them more than PickUp trucks. I quickly discovered that (all other things being equal, including cost) you can get significantly more towing capacity from a Pick'emUp than from an SUV. And I also quickly discovered that good old classic power still rules. V8s beat 6-cylinders for towing, period.

So, Step One in this process was a quick evaluation of Pickup Trucks. Americans love pickup trucks, it's like a religion. Most Americans are either Dodge, Chevy or Ford (with a few folks buying foreign brands for some weird reason). Whichever one you are that's the flag you salute. It lasts a lifetime. That's just how it is. I'm a Ford Guy, been a Ford Guy my whole life. That's just how it is. So, it didn't take long at all to decide on a new 2019 Ford F-150 SuperCab STX:
WOW! What an awesome tow vehicle! Full towing package included (I still need a WDH (Weight Distribution Hitch)).
This pick'em-up has Pro Trailer Tow Package w/101A. (I have no idea what that means...)
Pro Trailer Backup Assist (automagically back up the truck and trailer for you, I'll believe that when I see it).
Auxiliary Transmission Oil Cooler.
Engine Oil Cooler.
Class IV Trailer Hitch Receiver.
Upgraded Front Stabilizer Bar.
Maximum Conventional Towing Capabilities of 10,200 lbs. to about 13,000 lbs. Realistic towing capacity around 9,000 lbs. I'll want a cushion to account for gear on the RV and payload in the truck so I'll be backing that down to around 7,500 lbs.
Power? Really massive power! Engine: 5.0L Ti-VCT V8. It can easily tow just about every small to medium-sized TT (Travel Trailer) out there.
2019 Ford F-150 Owner's Manual (Online).
This may apply only to just my specific truck, or not, I'm not a Ford truck expert. I kinda thought that if you got the Max Tow Package you would also get towing mirrors, right? Makes sense, right? Nope, it apparently does not make sense at Ford. Towing mirrors are part of a higher-end "Trim" package that I don't have. So I bought some snap-on towing mirrors and probably saved lots of money. Also, doesn't "Max Tow Package" sorta sound like it would include everything you need for towing? Of course it does. Did I get a Brake Controller? Nope. Did anybody tell me I had to have a Brake Controller? Nope. I found out at literally the very last minute that I had to have a Brake Controller installed. Fortunately, the fantastic folks at Gator Ford had one in stock and got me in and out the door in 2 hours!

While we're looking at TTs I'll be junking up the F-150 with accessories...

Junking up my truck...
(Mouse over or tap the thumbnail for the larger picture...)

Low-profile antenna.
For tying down stuff.
For loose stuff.
Nicer armrest.
Grille Badge!
For dog hairs...
Because... America!
Pedestrian bumper.
Rugged Floor mats.
Cover your hole.
Hitch step.
Slowly lowers tailgate.
Wheel well covers.
Tow Mirrors.
Easy Chain Hookup.
Onboard Power!
Visor Storage.
The truck looks great, runs great, drives great! After some random driving around (to get past the Break-in Period) I'm getting very close to 15mpg.

Time to go Trailer Shopping...

Now we need to go buy a Travel Trailer. Where do you start? We start on the internet and we start slow.

There are a gazillion different types of Trailers! Gotta narrow it down. Gotta narrow it down a lot. We watched (literally) hundreds of walkthrough videos on YouTube. We started figuring out what we like, what we think we need, what we must have and what we would rather not have.

It's very important to remember that there are certain realities that really are pretty much written in stone. For example, if you buy a trailer with a queen-size bed it's never going to become a king-size bed without ridiculous modifications. If the trailer has a bedroom in the front and a bathroom in the rear you will be walking through the entire trailer, back and forth, every single time you go to the bathroom. Along those same lines, if you buy a trailer wired for 30amp it would be prohibitively expensive to re-wire that trailer for 50amp. (If you need two roof-mounted ACs then you need to be wired for 50amp to run them both at the same time.) Lastly, if you buy a pre-owned trailer there are going to be certain things, features, that are built in that can't realistically be removed. Examples would be an outdoor kitchen or an outdoor entertainment center. We'll probably never use an outdoor kitchen or an outdoor entertainment canter.

So we became very familiar with manufacturer's models and floorplans, we made our soft list of Must Have's, and only then did we set out to visit dealerships and meet with salespeople.

Our Must Have's:
50 amp. electric service. We live and RV in Florida so we need two ACs and that means we must have 50 amp service. I also run a small dehumidifier most of the time.
2 roof-mounted ACs. 15,000BTUs each. The smaller roof-mounted ACs, 13,500 BTUs, are an industry gimmick. You always want more heating and more cooling than you think you'll need.
King-size bed. We might have to settle for a real queen-size bed. We managed okay with the full queen bed in our Winnebago Adventurer, plus a dog, but not a single night passed that we didn't wish it was a king bed.
So-called Farm-style kitchen sink. (One large sink, not 2 smaller sinks.)
Line of sight TV to Couch/Recliner.
We really like the generic floorplan called Rear Living (RL). These usually have an island in the kitchen, which we also really like. They also usually come with so-called theatre seating (recliners) facing the TV and a separate couch.
Very much prefer a slightly used travel trailer over a factory-new trailer because I'd rather not have to eat the huge depreciation and it would be nice to have the kinks and bugs fixed prior to dragging this thing all over Florida.

But there's one more thing we have to do:

Now we can go Travel Trailer shopping...

Where do we start? We visited a smallish dealership nearby. Got our feet wet, got some practice abusing a salesperson. Then we visited a medium-sized dealership. More practice. Then? Why not start with the best, the very best, the absolute top of the heap, the largest RV dealer with the largest inventory on the entire freaking planet?

So we collected all our notes and off we went...

And we looked at a bunch of rigs, and we asked a bunch of questions, and we carefully inspected a bunch of rigs. And then magic happened...

We decided on a 2020 Grand Design Imagine 2970RL...

2020 Grand Design Imagine 2970RL...
Grand Design Imagine Owner's Manual (Online).

We got all of our soft Must Haves except a King-sized bed. (They just don't offer one.) Most importantly we got it pre-wired for 50amp and two ACs. With 2 ACs and a 25,000 BTU Furnace we can go RVing all year long in Florida. (Also, the recliners are heated and the electric fireplace serves as a large space heater in the living area.)
We did not have to accept stuff we don't want and will never use (such as an outdoor kitchen or an outdoor TV).
Unfortunately it comes with some very cheap Chinese-made tires. They are included in the Grand Design warrany but I'm going to have to keep an eye on them... (I'd really prefer Goodyear Endurance tires.)
I was prepared to buy the actual model we looked at on the spot, unfortunately it came with free standing Table & Chairs instead of the traditional Booth Dinette. I think the free-standing Table & Chairs is a dumb idea, and the traditional Booth Dinette is, well, traditional. So we have to wait a few weeks for delivery because they need to intall the Booth Dinette on the next unit on the assembly line. We'll be using that time looking for a pair of table lamps, some throw rugs, an ottoman for the couch, and sorting through all the stuff we took off the old Winnebago...
2020 Grand Design Imagine Brochure.

And now...

And now...

Delivery. We're told our trailer came off the assembly line 11/22/19... And we're told our trailer arrived at the dealership 11/26/19... Sweet!
Install Anti-Sway Weight Distribution Hitch. I studied several of these things. I liked the Anderson WDH but eventually decided on the Equal-i-zer. (American made, lifetime warranty, 70-year old company, voted best performing sway control & weight distribution hitch in America, seven years in a row. What's not to like?)
The friction surfaces of the head and sockets should be kept clean and well lubricated with a good quality multi-purpose or bearing grease. These are the surfaces where the arm sockets rub against the top and bottom plates of the head. We recommend Equal-i-zer high performance lubricant. They should be lubricated before each trip. Check for damage or abnormal wear at the beginning of each towing day and replace if necessary. Clean dirt and road grit from all friction surfaces regularly.
Update: 8 Years In A Row...
The GDI is prewired for a Furrion Wireless Rear View Camera, I had one on the Winnebago Adventurer and I'm going to want one on this trailer. I didn't find it all that useful when backing into a campsite, that's what a spotter is for. But it's nice to know who's behind me when I'm driving and how close they are. I'm also going to have Slide Toppers installed.
Practice hitching and unhitching. It's not as simple as it sounds, I'll need supervised practice. But I did purchase a Secret Weapon:
Practice towing and backing up. Definitely not as simple as it sounds, I'll need to run our new trailer up and down the Interstate a few times, and practice backing it into a campsite at the dealer's location. My spotters, (Kathy and Bailey), also need practice. The total length, Truck + Entire Hitch + Trailer is probably a good 10' longer than my Winnegabo was so driving/towing will be different. I got real good at backing up the Winnebago, backing up the Trailer is exactly the opposite... Plus, backing up the Trailer onto the cement pad I installed next to my house is the very first thing I'll have to do...)
Spend a night or two at the LazyDays Resort, fully hooked up, testing absolutely every-damn-thing. Everything is under warranty and extended warranty so I'm not gonna freak out if something is broke or not quite right. We just want everything perfect before we drive it home.

Our brand new Trailer left the factory as promised, arrived at the dealer a day earlier than promised, and we paid her a visit. She is beautiful! This is the first year for the lighter colored interior. It makes the room look brighter and appear larger. With opposing Slides the Living Room (and Dinette and Kitchen) is simply HUGE for any RV. I don't feel bad for not buying a Winnebago travel trailer (they were over-priced and too heavy but they were very nice). Plus, Winnebago owns Grand Design so I didn't entirely abandon the family. I'm very happy I insisted on the Booth Dinette, the back cushions are reversible with the other side matching the Recliners and Couch. (After we pick out some rugs we might reverse those cushions...)

Booth Dinette, Theatre seating. Recliners, heated, massage. I didn't know my butt needed a massage. Now I know.

Couch, entertainment center, Pantry, Island Kitchen.

Pantry, Microwave, Oven, Island Kitchen, Large Refridgerator.

Big shower.

Excellent storage in the head.

Firm mattress, hanging clothes locker, drawers and power on each side.

Big closet with 2 big drawers in bedroom.

She's beautiful!

Grand Design Imagine 2970RL.

The awesome people at LazyDays inspected and cleaned the rig. We showed up, inspected it, found a few little things that needed fixing, the awesome people at LazyDays fixed them, we spent the night and drove her home!
The overnight was fun, exciting, strange and excellent. This trailer is gonna be everything we wanted. The Weight Distribution Hitch got installed. The Brake Controller got installed. The new Slide Toppers look great! The Booth Dinette is perfect but I will need some Velcro under the cushions to hold them in place.
Learned how to hitch and unhitch. Learned how to configure the Brake Controller. Tested the Brake Controller. Did some laps around the LazyDays lot.
The iBall Hitch Camera was very helpful. The F-150's backup camera will line you up nicely but the iBall Hitch Camera gives you a closeup view as you close the gap.
Then we drove her home. It actually was something like effortless. The add-on tow mirrors gave me an excellent view along and down both sides of the trailer. The Furrion Rear Camera shows everything going on directly behind you and a lane on each side of you. The brand new WDH is extremely loud when making turns. Apparently it needs to wear off some excess paint. Thanks to the LazyDays Tech I was prepared for the noise (otherwise I mighta crapped myself!). Running down the Interstate the trailer tucks in behind the truck and together they function as one unit. They brake as one unit. They accelerate as one unit. Acceleration is noticeably slower towing almost 8,000lbs. compared to towing nothing at all, but I expected that. I was passed by 4 18-wheelers on the Interstate on the way home as I was driving 60mph and they were doing about 75mph. I felt NOTHING. Not even a light breeze. There was absolutely ZERO swaying, wobbling, bouncing of the trailer. I'm entirely comfortable settling in to the right lane, keeping a lot of distance in front of me, and cruising along at around 60-65mph. The Ford F-150 (V8) and the Grand Design Imagine 2970RL were entirely comfortable with that driving style. Incredibly satisfying and confidence-building. For the record, this is easier and much more comfortable to drive than the Winnebago Class A was.

Welcome to our website. Nobody just runs out and buys an RV and everything is pretty flowers and little birdies. You have to learn a lot of stuff. You have to learn a lot of stuff before, during, and after you buy an RV. So we make note of much of that here because we've learned a lot along the way, we're still learning as we go, and we've learned a lot from other RVers on the Internets and that YouTube-thang.

But let's be honest, too much of what goes around the Internet and Youtube is boring and waay too much is self-serving. We'll try not to be boring and we aren't selling or even representing anything.

We like it simple: We drive around Florida in our RV with our dog visiting State and National parks and campgrounds, enjoying nature trails and hiking. That's it...

Our Dog

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Our RV

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Our RV

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Our RV

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Our Adventures

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Our YouTube Channel

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Our YouTube Channel Videos
(Without Youtube overhead...)

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Email Steve
Email Kathy

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(Some stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else...)

Special thanks to some folks we found especially entertaining, especially informative, or both. Please visit their websites and enjoy their YouTube Channels.

We hope you enjoy our website.