After an incredibly dull weekend, suddenly there’s something to report! Tonight I’m writing from a boondocking spot in Quartzsite, AZ. It’s fantastic to not be in Las Vegas!
On Monday (yesterday), I called in the morning to check and see how the truck was coming. With an original estimate of having it done Thursday, I wasn’t expecting anything of note, just hoping they didn’t find anything wrong. They surprised me thoroughly by saying it would be ready in the afternoon, that day. I thought they were joking. Apparently they like to under-promise and over-deliver.
It’s at about this point that I decide I’m going to buy the truck camper. If I can get them down to $6k, including the swivel jacks and their install, then it’s a pretty good deal. Plus, it’s already all set up and ready to go, and I figure if I hate the thing, I can sell it off and if I take a hit on it, it won’t be much. It’s worth it to me to experience it and learn more about what works for me and what doesn’t. So I called, haggled ’em down some more (so they’d include the swivel jacks), and after speaking with the owner, got the grand total down to $6,099. (They like to do a $99 fee for various paperwork.) Not bad considering the unit originally listed for $9,000 plus I had them put the swivel jacks on and a new battery. I let them know that I’d be picking it up either in the evening (today, Monday), or tomorrow morning.
About quarter to three, the shop calls, and I hop in an Uber and head out there. The Great White Knight’s original estimate was in the $6,500 range, but fortunately there were a few parts that were actually up to spec, and the grand total came in just under $6,000. Granted, it’s a ton of money that I wasn’t anticipating spending on repairs after just buying the truck, but at least they found things in my favor instead of against. Quite pleasantly, their work also comes with a 36-month / 36,0000-mile warranty, which is about 3 times what most other shops offer. They also threw in a couple of decals (BulletProof logos), which I added for fun. If I’m spending $6k on repairs I didn’t think I’d need to have, I should at least have a little fun!
Since I wanted to leave Vegas in the morning, I figured it would be best to head out to the bank and get a cashiers check ready to go for the RV dealer. On my way to the bank my salesman calls and asks if I’m coming in. We work out timing (basically so I can go to the bank and then over to the shop) and I’d pick up the camper. They’re anxious to be rid of it.
Loading a truck camper is not nearly as simple as it seems. For the major figures, things like the length that fits in the bed, and the width of the floor are included, and my truck fits all of those things very nicely. However, what’s not mentioned is that near the end of the bed, where the door of the camper is, the camper gets wider. Significantly. When it’s completely in the truck, there’s about 1/4″ of clearance on both sides between the bed of the truck and the camper. Generally it seems that one side is actually scraping and the other side has about enough room to stick your finger in. It’s amazingly tight.
So we get it loaded in, and we’re lowering it down onto the truck, and I start hearing something cracking that sounds awful. The cabover portion of the camper is hitting the clearance lights of the truck. For some reason, a couple of 2×4’s had been attached to the bottom of the camper near the middle (running side to side) and in the back, but not in the front. Because of that, the unit tilted forwards when it was set into the truck and caused the clearance issues. The RV dealership was already past closing at that point, so I told my salesman I’d pick it up tomorrow after a stop by the hardware store.
So off to the hardware store I went and picked up a solid 2×12 board and chopped it up in the necessary sizes to fit it in the truck. This, of course, after considering about three or four different alternatives as well. At this point, it’s around 7pm, I haven’t eaten, I’ve been running around town spending gobs of money, and I’m tired. But there’s no food back at my hotel, I was planning on grabbing dinner out tonight somewhere, so I have to pick up something.
I ask google what’s around, and it offers up various suggestions, including a chinese take-out place that’s not far away. $10 later and an order of Shrimp with Pea Pods, and I’m finally able to head back to the hotel and call it a day. Eat, get cleaned up, and go to bed.
This morning, I’m up pretty early. I spent some time packing and organizing, thankful this is my last day in Vegas. I ran out of cereal the day prior, so once everything was pretty much ready to go, I hopped in the truck, fueled it up, and stopped by the Omelette House which was directly across from the hotel. I don’t normally go out to eat for breakfast, but this isn’t a normal day.
Today when I go to get the camper, things go better. It’s still a really tough chore to try to line up the truck so precisely, and at one point I’m slightly off and accidentally push the camper a bit while it’s on its jacks. I think I caused a little bit of damage to the drivers side front jack mounting point. Everything’s still working, but there’s a bit of a cap in the joint that wasn’t there before. I’ll have to look into how and whether to fix it at some point in the future.
Once loaded, I took it back to the hotel and packed everything up and had a bit of last night’s chinese for lunch. Next up is a stop at Walmart to pick up some basic RV gear (sewer hose, potable water hose, various other items) plus groceries. It’s almost 2pm before I’m completely packed up and checked out. And the wind has picked up. I seem to be cursed that way, high winds on the day of big purchases that have to be hauled or towed.
The Great White Knight handles the camper well. I can certainly feel that it’s back there, but it’s not causing me at any point to feel like it’s out of control or unmanageable. Quite nicely, it’s smoothed out the ride a bit too, which is a bonus. On today’s trip, I have various winds, sometimes steady, sometimes gusting, but almost always either a direct headwind or close to it. The truck works hard to maintain speed with the headwind and the camper, so mileage on the dash is reading 11.6mpg at the moment. Which, given how that system works, I’d be lucky if it’s actually 11mpg. However, I’m not concerned about it at this point because there was such a strong headwind, and I know that affects mileage greatly.
On the way to Quartzsite today, it got to be about dinner time, and I thoroughly enjoyed pulling into a parking lot, hopping in back, and grabbing real food and having a meal instead of going to a fast food place. Granted, it was just a store-bought, pre-prepared salad, but it was still better (and cheaper) than getting fast food somewhere. In the picture below, you can see one of my parking-lot companions and just to the right of it, a Class A, and then the Great White Knight, partially blocked by another pickup.
Got in to Quartzsite just before sunset, having just enough time to get to one of the boondocking sites and maneuver the truck around to find an appropriately level spot. I’ve just started on “moving in” to the camper, and there’s a lot more of that to be done. Simple things like placing a garbage can (which is in the trailer which I haven’t picked up yet), or learning how the oven works (a bit different than a residential model) are all part of the process.
I’m really enjoying the peacefulness of being out here in Quartzsite. I’m close enough to town (and the highway) that I can hear the highway (and see both), but far enough away that I have some (overall) quiet and tranquility. It’s such a welcome relief after living on top of a stack of people in the hotel in Vegas, and the popular culture there of how people seemed to be essentially living outside, being loud, and smoking all the time. I feel at ease here.