My husband and I both come from outdoor families. We’ve been together for 25 years and have had many adventures; snowmobiling the Colorado back country, mountain biking, fishing – all types, ATV, UTV, back country camping… and so on. With age sleeping in a tent was getting harder and harder. So we started down the road of looking for a camper.
First we had to pick the type… and what would work the best for us. We went to RV shows, dealers, talked to friends and family, drove through local campgrounds. This was in 2016 and toy haulers were really starting to show up in the market. We thought that would be a great idea. At the time we had a 2016 Yamaha YXZ side by side. This is a large machine. The first issue we were faced with is at times we stay at Walmart while on the road and didn’t like the idea of pulling the machine out to be able to cook a meal or sleep. We required at least a 12 foot garage, so we started looking at 5
th Wheels. Finally, we found a model we liked. The Vengeance Touring 38D12. It offered a nice seating area and a residential refrigerator. The garage was also a nice place to put Bulleit’s, litter box and food. And it’s a nice place to hang out when the machine isn’t back there, and adds more room for visitors to sleep in.
We picked up special wheel nets from Mac’s in Sagle, ID, (
). They offer a great system that is easy to install. Traveling through California in 2018 we were cut off by a large motorhome. We locked up all of the brakes and came within a few feet from hitting the coach. We had a huge concern of opening the camper door and seeing the Yamaha in the kitchen, not in the garage. Those nets kept that machine from moving an inch! Well worth the money and time to install them. We only had a few things move, so we must have done a great job packing.
Learning about the 5th Wheel
th Wheel purchase was in March and we were over 3 hours from home. It being March in North Idaho not many campgrounds were open. It was late by the time we got back into town so we decided our first night would be boon-docking in the Post Falls Cabelas parking lot. We learned a lot that night. We used the generator and figured out all of the bells and whistles, pretty much we were kids in a candy store. Ryan and I have hauled many different trailers in our lives, but not a 5
th wheel. The next morning the parking lot was empty so we each took turns learning how to turn and maneuver.
Over the next 2 summers we put over 8,000 miles and spent 86 nights in it. I printed off a calendar that had all 12 months on one page so it made it easy to keep track of when and where we stayed. We didn’t get as many trips in 2018 due to surgery.
We tow our toy hauler with a 2016 Ram 3500 Cummins and it does an amazing job. Even when we are loaded with fuel and water and the Yamaha it has no problems going over the large mountain passes that peak out over 10,000 feet in elevation. Typically we take a 2-3 week trip in the summer.
The best addition to the camper was the all in one laundry center. We went with a Splendide Ventless unit. The hookup was in the front of the camper, so that added more weight, but it made us more self-sufficient. It takes quite a bit of practice on how to use it and make it work right, but totally worth it.
The laundry center uses quite a bit of water, and it fills the gray tank, so you do need to plan ahead on your laundry loads. The one thing that I still laugh about it how Ryan and I bought and brought it home in the pickup… then tried to figure out how to get it out of the truck and into the camper. Man that thing was heavy!
Cell phones or Walkie Talkies are very important. Having someone with eyes on the back of the rig makes parking very easy. Working as a team makes camping work. Plus you have someone to double check everything is packed up and put away before you hit the road.
The camper is a second home, so setting it up that way makes life much easier. The only things that need to be loaded are perishable foods, we kept a lot of stuff in the freezer, and of course any additional clothes… and the cat. Bulleit uses an automatic feeder, so he stays on schedule even when we are on the road. I like to think he enjoys that!
Thoughts about Toy Haulers
Before we jumped in the toy hauler world we did a lot of research and discussed the pros and cons … for months. The idea of having the machine enclosed and secure gave us a peace of mind while traveling. But, the machine filled the entire garage, so we couldn’t really walk around it and made the space unusable when not riding. The biggest con was why our 2
nd camper was not a toy hauler.
When you get to your spot and set up to camp, the last thing you want to do is pull up camp so you can get your machine to the trailhead. We lucked out and either were near the trailhead or we were in an area that allowed the machine on the road, or someone in our group had a trailer, so we would take a machine over and come back for the next machine… not ideal, but it worked.
Another huge issue, camp hosts are typically not very happy to see your machine roll out of the RV. They see them as machines of terror.
The other huge issue, toy haulers are not small. We had a heck of time maneuvering around in many campgrounds, even the ones that said they had large spots, our rig didn’t fit very well. Thankfully, we never incurred damage, but there were some very stressful moments.
But, if you plan on boon-docking or riding from your rig you will be golden. We loved that we were able to entertain a lot of people and save them from bad weather. We loved how comfortable the rig was and truly enjoyed relaxing by the faux fire. Being able to be totally self-sufficient is amazing.
It started in October 2018 when we decided to advantage of the market and sell our house. We built it in 2009 at the last dip on the market. We had it built in such a way that allowed us a large area on the side of the house, and thankfully the camper fit perfectly. Our house sold quickly for more than asking price.
Yamaha introduced their new machine, and it addressed all the issues we had with our current machine… it sold.
We moved into a house with a large garage that the camper should have fit in, it didn’t…. We stowed it in Cheney were Ryan’s parents live. This limited our weekend getaways, but we were moving. We decided that maybe we should see if we can sell it… it did in just a few days.
A family member wanted our 2016 Ram, so we were trying to figure out what our new adventure would be. When we stopped and looked at the 2018 Reflection by Grand Design. We fell in love with it! So that sealed the deal. New Ram for the new camper! The 2019 3500’s were not out yet, so we got a 2018 3500 with the Aisin Transmission. We just rolled over 500 miles on it so now we can get to towing… weather permitting.
Also, we need to get moved into the new camper. It has so much storage and really has some amazing amenities. I do work at Blue Dog RV, but I wasn’t sure what to expect… and based on the previous dealer we dealt with we didn’t expect much. However, Blue Dog has really exceeded our expectations. At first the service department didn’t know that I was an employee. We were both blown away with the services and the Post Falls facility. This place seems to keep growing and offering more and more. The Forever Warranty that comes with all new units really gives us a peace of mind.
I really hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and look forward to any questions you might have.
Keep your eye open for future blogs from Bulleit and me as we head out on more adventures!!