Monday, October 15, 2018

It’s Over!

img_1002-1Monday dawned sunny, but colder, and as we woke this last morning in Lake Tahoe, the Wedding Weekend was officially over.  We’d spent most of Sunday saying goodbye to folks.  Starting about 9:30 in the morning when our friends Denise, Chris, Patti, and Meade headed out, continuing a couple of hours later when our oldest Billy headed back to North Carolina, and ending that night when our daughter Krissi and future Son-in -Law Mike, along with several other New Yorkers who were on the Jet Blue red eye to JFK , said their goodbyes.  Most of us headed to bed early, and after another visit from Mr. Bear, we hunkered down for the best sleep we’d had in several days.  Susie and I knew we had a 7-8 hour drive ahead of us, so we were up, had the car packed, and we were on the road, after saying goodbye to the boys and David and Lexi, a little after 9:30.  Grandma and Aunt Kim slept in that morning, so unfortunately, we didn’t get to say goodbye to them in person. 

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Our trip out of Tahoe Vista was very picturesque, as we traveled around the lake and back into Nevada from California.

One would think that between two major cities in Nevada like Reno and Las Vegas, there would be a 4-6 lane Interstate Highway, but the reality is the route is US 95, and for most of the distance between these two cities, it’s a 2 lane road.  It’s a quiet, lonely trip, and what you pass along the way is interesting.  One of the first things you pass heading south towards Las Vegas is the US Army Hawthorne Ammo Depot.  Covering 147,000 acres or 226 sq. mi, the depot is where the US stockpiles ammunition to be used after the first 30 days of a conflict.  The depot has 600,000 square feet of storage space in 2,427 bunkers, most of which are underground, so there is not a heck of a lot left to see, beyond the entrance sign.

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Susie and I agreed, that this road has a certain Route 66 feel to it, as many of the buildings you pass, and the towns you go through, are leftovers from the days of active mining in the area.  You’re traveling along at the 70 MPH speed limit, when suddenly the speed drops to 50, then 45, then 35, and then 25, and they are serious.  Not this time, but when we did this drive the other direction last year, we did see folks run afoul of the law, when they thought the 25 MPH speed limit was just a suggestion.  Some of these towns still seem to be making a go of it, but others are just abandoned buildings, rusted-out cars and trucks, and visible remnants of mining activity.  Take a look.

As I said, it’s about 7-8 hours from Lake Tahoe to Las Vegas, and the road just keeps going on and on.  As it’s a 2 lane road, there’s always the fun of trying to pass a slow moving truck, or a truck pulling a travel trailer.  

One of the last things you pass of interest, as you get near Las Vegas is the Creech Air Force Base in Clark County.  On first look, you’d assume that it’s no longer an active Air Force base, as you see no planes as you drive by.  But when we researched it last year, you discover that Creech is the main headquarters for all the remotely piloted aircraft systems which fly missions around the world!  Drones that are currently flying in  Afghanistan and Iraq, are piloted from Creech.  We certainly do live in a video game world!

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Not a great picture, but that is Creech’s Entrance Gate!

img_0997-1And then, before you know it, we were in fabulous Las Vegas!  We had one free night at the Rio Hotel and Casino, a Caesar’s property we’ve stayed at lots of times.  We were tired and hungry, and shortly after checking in, we were down at Guy Fieri’s restaurant, El Burro Borracho, which I believe means the drunken donkey!  We’d eaten here a couple of years ago, and were in the mood for some good Mexican food. Their table side Guacamole and their Margaritas are second to none!  The food was good too, but sorry, no before pictures!

After dinner, we headed into the casino.  The Rio has a lot of old machines that you no longer see in many casinos, and we headed to a couple that have disappeared from Atlantic City!  We had very good luck at a Top Dollar machine, hitting the bonus 20 times and racking up Tier Credits equivalent to putting $1500 through the machine, and all we contributed was a 100 dollar bill.  It was a successful stay in the casino.  Even though we didn’t walk away with money, we played for close to 90 minutes, and for us, that’s almost as good as winning!

Then we slept like dead people!!

Ocean City – Part 4

 

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So, when we last left you, Susie and I had a house built in Las Vegas, had been the first ones to sleep in the house, and had then rented it out on a yearly lease.  We had a local property manager who collected the rent, took a percentage, and sent the balance to us monthly.  The money we got, covered the majority of the expenses of the house, we got a pretty nice tax benefit from owning and renting the house, and we had an excuse to travel to Las Vegas, which we did several times. The only thing missing was that we never got to use the house.

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Sometime in the Spring of 2004, Susie and I went for a weekend trip to Atlantic City.  Since it’s only 12 miles away from Ocean City, on Sunday, after checking out of the hotel, we took a drive to Ocean City.  I don’t remember if we hit the boardwalk or not, but we did drive around town, and when we drove by an Open House on Asbury Avenue, we decided to stop in and take a look.  The town was empty, and the realtor had been alone for most of the day, so he was more than happy to spend some time talking to us after we viewed the house.

His name was Ray, and that day was the beginning of a relationship that changed our lives!  We got down to the nitty gritty, started talking costs, hearing about how much property values in Ocean City had been increasing, talking about what we could rent out a house for during the summer season, and really had our eyes opened that day!  In the car, on the way home, we talked a lot about our future and about our real estate portfolio.  The more we thought about it, although we’d enjoyed Las Vegas a lot, we both knew that we’d miss the ocean if we retired to the South West, plus having a house 3 hours away by car rather than a 6 hour plane ride seemed to make a lot of sense!  It appeared we’d made a decision!

img_0768-1The next call was to our friend and realtor Sharon Malloy in Las Vegas.  We laid out what we were thinking of doing, and she agreed it made sense.  We loved what she told us about the Vegas real estate market, and were ecstatic when she told us what we could probably get for the Vegas house!  We gave her the okay to put the house on the market, and to have the Property Manager let the tenant (who was now renting month to month since the 1 year lease had expired) know that we were putting the house on the market.  Everything sounded like it was on track!

Well, not quite!  First wrinkle in our plan was that for some reason, the Property Manager had sent the tenant a signed lease for a 6 month extension of her rental.  Although she’d had the lease for several months, and had never signed it and returned it to the Property Manager, she was right that she had a signed 6 month extension.  Okay, that pushed the potential return of the house to us back by a couple of months.  We thought we could deal with that.  Then, the second wrinkle hit…..as we were about to put the house on the market, the bottom fell out of the Las Vegas market!

90204822-C099-4C04-B9A9-926D82D5900CRemember the US Housing Bubble in the late part of the first decade of the 21st Century?  Well, Las Vegas had it’s own housing bubble burst, but a bit earlier.   Turns out that they had overbuilt the housing stock in response to a population increase that leveled off.  Because many folks had bought multiple properties without enough capital to carry them if they didn’t have renters, they were in trouble, because the rental market was over saturated.   In reaction to what was happening, housing prices were dropping as landlords attempted to unload their unrented houses, rather than lose them to the bank.  It appeared we’d missed the house price peak.  Trust me, this only increased how pissed off we were at the Property Manager for screwing up the lease extension with our tenant!

We were very lucky, because our real estate agent Sharon was well versed in what was happening in the market, and had great advice for us.  She knew what was going on regarding sales in the development our house was located in, and came up with the perfect asking price and marketing plan for the house.  Although there were a couple of weeks of nail biting on our part, in the end it worked out.  Even though we’d missed the market peak because we couldn’t get rid of the tenant when we wanted, thanks to Sharon’s good guidance, we were able to sell our house for a very good price. We’d owned the house a bit more than a year and a half, and we’d sold it for about $140,000 more than we paid for it!  A pretty good profit in our minds for a 19 month investment!

img_0767Doing some research, I discovered that there was a tax legal way to transfer the profit gained on an investment property to another investment property, and not pay any Capital Gains tax.  Called a 1031 Like Kind Exchange, in essence it allowed us to “trade” one house for another, and if we met certain requirements, not to have a taxable event.  We found a company in Nevada that acted as the intermediary for this, and they handled all the paperwork and banked the funds until we bought the next property. One of the requirements, however, was that we had 45 days to identify that next investment property and then had 180 days to complete the purchase.

The clock was ticking!

Next time…finding that property, which turned into a home!

FYI…..

Sharon Malloy…https://www.realtyonegroup.com/realestateagent/sharon-molloy-5870774

 

 

Ocean City – Part 3

I firmly believe that you can’t live in the past, but in a sense, it’s sad that so much from both my childhood and even our kids’ childhoods are gone now.  The house I stayed in way back in the 50s, the beach stand on the 32nd Street beach, and even Campbell’s Seafood have given way to new construction and the 3200 block of Asbury Avenue looks totally different.  In the same way, both “John’s House” and the beachfront house across the street from our last summer rental on Central Avenue have been razed for new construction.  Change is inevitable, and so change did come to Ocean City, as it did to our family.  The kids grew, vacations went in different directions, prices went up, and our expectations went down.

img_0387The summer of 1988 the D’Elia’s did Florida, including a week in Disney World.  If you think bringing two babies to the beach had been something, you should have seen this Florida trip with two 18 month olds and a 6 year old!  Boy did we have “stuff” loaded in that Ford van!  Even though that was our big trip, there still was a couple of days stop in Ocean City, and that’s the way we continued our Ocean City connection for many summers.  Wherever we went, whatever img_0398else we did, there was at least a weekend in Ocean City.  In fact, for a number of years, Ocean City was a part of the D’Elia Family’s Memorial Day weekend!  It was fireworks on the beach on Long Island on Friday night, then Saturday morning it was off to Ocean City, where we’d walk the boardwalk, play mini golf, visit the arcades, and eat Hose Pizza. 

 

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 [Okay…time for a little side bar here.  Our favorite boardwalk pizza in Ocean City was from Mack and Manco.  It turns out that rather than using a ladle to put the sauce on the pizza, the sauce came out of a hose when they stepped on a peddle.  When Billy was small, he started calling it Hose Pizza, which incidentally we still do!  Back to our story] 

img_0470That was the way we got our Ocean City fix, but then in the summer of 1996, things changed.  We discovered camping!  That summer, we rented a small pop-up camping trailer from Tent City in Hempstead, and also had them put a hitch on our Ford van.  We made reservations to rent it for a week in July, and then set out to look for a campground on the shore.  Back in the 50s, when I was a kid, a ride along Route 9 in Cape May County was a img_0465trip down a totally desolate stretch of road, bordered by forests.  In the 90s, it was more populated, and the home to many campgrounds.  After looking at a number of them, we picked out Pine Haven in Ocean View, NJ, just off Garden State Parkway Exit 17.  It was close to Ocean City (just about 13 miles up Route 9), but our “rent” for the week was more like what we’d have paid for one night in an Ocean City motel!

Billy was 10, Krissi and Kenny were 6, and we got to spend several nights on the Ocean City Boardwalk and even had a day on the beach!  There was a pool, a lake, mini golf, and even bingo at the campground, and a good time was had by all!  We thought that this could work!  

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Attending a camping show the next winter, we came across the Tent City booth and told them we loved the last summer and were going to rent one again next summer, but for two weeks.  One thing led to another, and the next thing we knew, we owned a pop-up camper!  Two weeks the next summer at Pine Haven worked great, except for the 3 days in a row of rain we had.  The camper turned smaller and smaller each day it rained, but we were doing Ocean City on the cheap, and that was great!

 

 

                                       Crabbing and Fishing at Ludlums Landing!

 

The next year, when I took the pop-up in to be serviced, I made the mistake of dropping Susie at the showroom, while I went across the street and dropped off the trailer.  By the time I got back, she’d found this incredible new and big camper on the display floor.  Two king sized beds, an additional single bed, a large storage cabinet, sink and stove, place for the porta potty, and a table that sat 6.  Yes, soon we were the owners of two pop-ups, but we quickly sold our original one at a price that the dealer said qualified Susie for a job selling atTent City!

And that’s how we did Ocean City for the next 3 or 4 summers.  We’d stay at Pine Haven (the kids had made friends there that they saw every summer), travel down route 9 to spend time in Ocean City, and do the two weeks for less than what a couple of nights in Ocean City would cost us!  That is, until a 12 year old Krissi told us she was tired of going to the bathroom with bugs, and the D’Elia’s camping days were over!

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Our kids celebrating Christmas in July with their Pine Haven friends Kim and Tracy

img_0746Then for a couple of summers, we rented Denise’s house on 50th Street and Asbury.  This was a great 3 bedroom 2 bath home that had more than enough room for us and everybody could invite friends to drop in, and they did!  About the same time, Susie and I got the idea that we might like to retire to Las Vegas one day.  We had family friends out there who were in the real estate business, and in 2003 we went out for a visit and decided to have a house built.  We had no intention of using it, but thought if we could rent it and pay for the costs of the house, it would be a great way to get our foot in the Vegas Real Estate market!

I know, you are asking, “What does you building a house in Vegas have to do with Ocean City, NJ?”…just hold on, and you’ll see!

Our friend Sharon Malloy showed us many areas, and knew what to look for and keyed us in on what was right for us.  Eventually we decided on the Maryland Heights development, in the South East part of Las Vegas.  We picked out the lot, decided on which of the 4 models we wanted built on the lot, went to the design center and picked out finishes, appliances, cabinets, and the like, and that was that.  In 3 months we were the owners of a beautiful new 1800 square foot 4 bedroom, 3 and a 1/2 bath home.  We were close to Henderson and about 6 miles from the strip, and as the surrounding property was not yet developed, had a view of the Strip from the master bedroom.  It was a beautiful house and thanks to a king-sized Aero Bed we’d shipped to Sharon, we were the first people to sleep in the house.  We even had company, because oldest son Billy was doing a semester in Los Angeles, and he came for a couple of days too. 

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10423 Gwynns Falls Street, Las Vegas, Nevada

In very short order, the house was rented, for a price that allowed us to pay our mortgage and all costs associated with the house.  It was a reason to make 3 or 4 trips to Vegas, gave us a nice tax deduction, and the house was increasing in value.  What could be better?  Well, perhaps had the house been less than a 6 hour plane ride away, and something we might be able to use, but that’s a story for part 4!

To be continued…. 

 

Day Twenty Three – Monday September 12, 2016

The above are views from our room on the 35th Floor of the Rio hotel, that we woke up to this morning. It was a mixed bag day, with us running here there and everywhere to take care of some things. First it was the AAA for some additional maps. Then a Citibank branch so we could take some cash out, as all our other withdrawals have been via cash machines on the weekend. Next a stop at an Albertsons, to renew our supply of happy juice, and a stop at a Wells Fargo ATM to withdraw some trip money. Once that was all done, the day was ours again!

Today we did one of our favorite things to do in Las Vegas, and something we have done virtually every time we’ve been here. We drove the 13 mile scenic loop in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. I think that about 16 or 17 years ago, on our first drive around Red Rock Canyon, was when we fell in love with this area. As I told you yesterday, we owned a house out here at one time, and I think it was a visit to Red Rock Canyon that made us think that we’d like to retire here, and the original reason we bought the house was to get into the Vegas real estate market. Times have changed, as have our thoughts on retirement, but not our love of Red Rock Canyon. Honestly, in all the incredible places we’ve been in the last 3 weeks, almost every time we have compared some aspect of it to Red Rock. There is something mystical about it to us, and real beauty that we think compares to the best the National Parks have to offer.

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Unfortunately, today was spoiled by the increasing familiar selfish folks that we have encountered in our travels. My absolute favorite place in Red Rock Canyon, happens about the 4th or 5th mile into the drive. At that point, you are about halfway back into the canyon, a little elevated, and the quiet and peace I feel in this spot, overlooking the canyon is just magical. But today, some bozo was sitting there in his car, with his motor running, so his air conditioning could be blowing at him, while he jabbered away on his cell phone! As the guy used to yell at Adam Sandler in the movie Happy Gilmore, “JACKASS!!!”

Maybe it’s us, but we see wanton selfishness everywhere lately. Everybody’s got to have their picture taken by the sign that says Old Faithful, or Yellowstone Park, or you are looking at some of the most beautiful things in nature, and have to dodge tourists with selfie sticks. Honestly, I think that the selfie is to blame for a lot of this attitude, as people seem to have a need to interject themselves in everything so they can take a picture of themselves. From ball parks, to National Parks, to the top of Pikes Peak, it is EVERYWHERE!!

Okay, enough ranting for now! So after Red Rock Canyon, we went over to the Red Rock Casino for lunch and then played for a bit, winning nothing! Then it was time to head over to CVS to pick up prescriptions. Once we got them, we ventured to Green Valley Ranch for our last visit there this trip.

As Susie and I were coming up to the room tonight, we both agreed that it will be good to get back on the road again, and our routine. Although we always love visiting Las Vegas, this trip was weird for us in several ways. First, this is a place that we know very well, and it was odd, in the middle of visiting new places and having new experiences, to be in such familiar surroundings. I said it was almost like we parked the car, and flew home for 3 days! Then it is just so different from what we have been doing and seeing for the last 3 weeks. Third, Susie won’t let me wear my denim shorts, which have been almost like a second skin to me! But the good news is she says I can ditch the golf shirt and khaki shorts, and get back to my t-shirt and denim shorts tomorrow! Yes, it’s been fun, but it will be good to get back to our familiar routine tomorrow!

Speaking about tomorrow, our plans are to head southwest in the morning, leaving Nevada and heading into a little corner of California. Needles is our way point and our purpose is to pick up old Route 66 for a little bit, as we travel east, out of California, into Arizona (and Mountain time again), on our way to the Grand Canyon. A night tomorrow along route 66 in Arizona, and then two nights in the Grand Canyon!

See you there!

Day Twenty Two – Sunday September 11, 2016

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We woke up this morning on the 35th floor of the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Looking at my watch, I thought it was 10:30 AM. I thought that was great, that we were already attuned to Pacific time! Then Susie pointed out to me that it was 7:30 not 10:30. I guess I blearily looked at my watch upside down, or something. Oh well, since we went to bed a little after 11 last night, it still was fine.

We putzed around this morning for a couple of hours, and then got our act in gear. The first order of business today was to get some errands done. First, we were off to CVS on Eastern Avenue. I had a couple of prescriptions that I was running out of, and Vegas was the first place we’d seen CVS Drug Stores on our trip. I had 3 prescriptions that needed to be refilled, but unfortunately they didn’t have enough of one of them to fill them today, so we have to go back tomorrow and pick them up.

After CVS, it was time to take care of the Sonata. We have driven over 5,000 miles since we’d had it serviced by Mike at C&S Automotive on Long Island, so we headed over to Terrible’s Quick Oil Change, just down the road from CVS. They changed the oil and filter, checked everything else, and sent us on our way, charging us $41.
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The reason we know about all these things that are on Eastern Avenue, just off Interstate 215, is that 12+ years ago, we bought a house in Las Vegas in the neighborhood. We picked out the lot, the model of house to be built on the lot, and then went to the design center to pick out appliances, paint colors, counter types, and cabinet finishes. The house took 3 months to build, and when it was finished, we slept in it exactly 3 nights, on a king sized Aero bed we shipped out to our real-estate broker/family friend. After those 3 nights, the house was rented, with the tenant paying all our costs. About a year after we bought it, the market in Las Vegas took off! It took 6 months to get the tenant out, and not too long after, we sold the house for a substantial profit. The reason we bought our house in Ocean City 11+ years ago was because of that substantial profit! We haven’t owned the house since the fall of 2004, but every time we go to Las Vegas, we stop by and take a look at 10423 Gwynns Falls Road.

By the time we finished checking out the house, it was lunch time, and we just so happen to know that there is an IN-N-OUT Burger on Eastern Avenue, so of course, we had to have IN-N OUT meal 2 of our trip.

Tasks out of the way, it was time for some fun, so off we went to one of our favorite casinos, Green Valley Ranch in Henderson. No big wins, but we had some fun!

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Once we got the car back from the valet, rather than head back to the Rio, we decided to head over to one of our other favorite casinos, Red Rock Casino in Summerlin.

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We were very disappointed because a Video Poker machine that we have played for years, and that we’d only ever found at Red Rock, and that there were only 2 of at Red Rock, was gone!! Oh no!!! We walked the entire casino looking to see if they had been moved, but found nothing! Damn! So, we played some other machines and again no big wins. We had a couple of martini’s at the Lucky Bar, but they didn’t bring us luck!

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Then we had a nice Italian Dinner at Salute Restaurant, and afterwords headed back to the Rio.

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It’s close to 11 PM here (almost 2 AM back at home), and once this blog is posted, it’s time for bed for us!

See you tomorrow!

The Number One Question We Get Asked

We honestly thought that the next time you heard from us, we’d probably be on the road, or just about to start our Big Adventure, but because we keep getting asked the same question over and over again, we thought it might be worth exploring the question, our answer, and our reasoning. For as long as we have been contemplating and talking about this trip, almost every time it comes up in conversation, we get asked this question. In fact, just yesterday, at a lunch with some former workmates Sue was asked it, while at almost exactly the same time, Frank was asked it by our Dentist. Invariably, as we are talking about our route and some of the stops we’re making, someone pipes up and says, “So are you renting a Motorhome for the trip?” Our answer is always the same, “Nope…we’re going in our 2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited and staying in hotels.” Sometimes you see a little disappointment at our answer, because I guess this is the kind of trip many see doing in a Motorhome, but for us, it’s just not what we’re looking to do, and here’s why.

PRICE

Here’s the first downer for using a Motorhome, unless you already own one, the cost of rental. They are not cheap vehicles to rent! From research we’ve done, it looks like a smaller Motorhome, that would be perfect for 2 people rents for around $100 a day. Then, there is a fee of 35 cents per mile driven, plus it gets about 9 miles to a gallon of gas. On the other hand, our 2013 Sonata with 47,000 miles on it is fully paid for. Any service costs that we’d have to pay in preparation or during the course of our trip would be normal wear and tear items that we’d already have to pay for, and it will get close to 35 MPG on the highway all day. “But you’ll save the cost of hotels in the Motorhome”, you might say. Well, lets take a day out of our trip and compare the costs of the two styles of travel, and you decide.

For argument sake, lets take a day when we travel 300 miles and as a stop, let’s talk about our visit to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

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Daily Rental………………………………$100
Mileage Fee………………………………$105 (35 cents X 300 miles)
Cost of Gas……………………………….$ 75 (300 miles @ 9 MPG X $2.25 a gallon)
Campground………………………………$ 63 (KOA Hill City, SD)

Motorhome Total……………………………..$343

 

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Daily Rental……………………….$000
Mileage Fee……………………….$000
Cost of Gas………………………..$ 22.50 (300 miles @ 30 MPG X $2.25 a gallon)
Hotel……………………………………$ 86.51 (Econolodge, Keystone, SD)

 

Sonata Total…………………………….$109.01

Some might try and throw in the expense of food, but as we already travel with our cooler and supplies for breakfast and lunch, the only meal you might be able to argue about would be dinner, and we’d bet the difference there would not be enough to tip the balance towards renting a Motorhome. Add in the fact that our current plan is to be on the road at the very least 2 months, and to cover upwards of 6,000 miles, and you can see just how much the Motorhome would cost us in terms of daily rental, mileage charge, and gas! Score one for the car!

CONVENIENCE

Ever notice that when you see a Motorhome driving down the highway, if it’s an owned Motorhome and not a rental, it’s almost always towing a car or some motor bikes on a trailer? That’s because if they didn’t have this other form of transportation along for the ride, every time you’d go anywhere, you’d have to take your home with you! Think about it. You stop for the night at that KOA Camp Ground near Mt. Rushmore we used in the price example. We’re staying two nights in the area because there’s a lot to see, so let’s assume we’re doing the same renting a Motorhome. That first night you pull in, get the unit level, hook up the electric service, the water, the cable TV, and you settle in for the night. The next morning you’re off to Mt. Rushmore and what do you have to do? Yep, unhook the water, electric, cable TV, put away anything and everything you took out of it’s storage the night before, and like the turtle, head off to Mt. Rushmore with your house on your back. Then you get to Mt. Rushmore, and you’re not looking to park a car, but a Motorhome. Everything we’ve read, parking for a Motorhome at a lot of these sites is limited, and in many instances far away. We’ve also read that in places like Yellowstone National Park, it’s even a bigger pain to try touring in a Motorhome. But say you do have a successful day touring around the Mt. Rushmore area with your rented Motorhome. When you are done for the day, do you get to open the door of your hotel room and flop on the bed? Nope, you have to start the hookup procedure all over! And what about any cities that may be on your itinerary? How convenient do you think it’s going to be going around Denver or Salt Lake, or even Las Vegas in a Motorhome? All reasons that we think the car wins again.

LOCATION

You know the old Real Estate adage, Location, Location, Location. Well, when you are talking about campgrounds where you can spend the night in a rented Motorhome, it also comes into play. Campgrounds need lots of space, and because of that, are often farther afield from tourist destinations than hotels. In the Mt. Rushmore example we used earlier, the hotel we have reservations for is a mere 8 minutes from Mt. Rushmore, while that KOA we used as an example is 30 minutes away. The more populated the area, the bigger that time difference. You can stay in a hotel in Denver or Salt Lake, but a campground will probably be well outside the area that you wish to see, which will mean added travel time, and then the nightmare of trying to park the Motorhome! Some may disagree, but for us, another win for the car!

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

Back when the kids were young, we owned a succession of pop-up campers. For about 6 or 7 years, we towed the pop-up behind our van. Many times, it was to return to a known campground where we went every summer, but there were also sightseeing trips that we went on. One year, it was up to Mystic, Connecticut, another year a 10 day journey through New York State and into Canada. On those sightseeing trips, most days we stayed one night in a location, so each afternoon it was set up the camper, and the next morning it was pack it up. Different campgrounds every day, setting up and knocking down daily, dealing with dirt and campground bathrooms, finding parking at tourist sights for our van/camper combo, driving down the road with a vehicle that was more affected by wind and the force of passing tractor trailers than a car….we’ve been there, and done that. It was great back when we did it, and it may be great for many people today too, but it’s just not what we want on this trip. Once again, for us, and based on past experience, the car wins out!

So, no, we’re not renting a Motorhome for our Big Adventure. We will be driving our Sonata, staying in a succession of national chain hotels, and National Park hotels, and enjoying clean sheets and good air-conditioning (or heat) every night! Nothing against Motorhomes and if your own one, we’re sure that they are a great way to travel, but it’s not just for us! The trip itself is going to be a Big Adventure enough for us, without adding the cost and inconvenience of a rented Motorhome. We’re just not prepared for that Big an Adventure!

Hope that answered your question.