Friday, September 20, 2019

Ta-da! Introducing...

September 20, 2019—Update. When we sold our 27-foot Class A Thor Axis a couple of weeks ago, I hinted we would have an update concerning our preferred mode of motel-on-wheels.

In May, as you know, we purchased a combination package from a private seller: a 1999 Dodge Ram 3500 “dually” long-bed truck with a 2003 Lance truck camper, with one slide. The seller, a rabbi, had purchased both the truck and the camper new, and had taken good care of them. At the time of purchase, the truck only had 90,000 miles on its odometer!

Despite the rabbi’s good care, however, the truck camper was beginning to show its age. Jim recently replaced the floor with tile planks (inexpensive), and we also installed a new flat-screened TV (inexpensive). His honey-do list of things to do on the camper included building and replacing the kitchen countertop, replacing the kitchen and bathroom faucets, and recaulking all exterior seams. 

We really like the truck camper. It gives us freedom to travel without towing a car, and when we aren't traveling, we have a truck available as a second vehicle or to use to carry our Porta-Bote. Eventually we want to get a boat trailer be able to tow the boat behind our camper--something we could not do in a Class A RV. 

Although the camper is small, it feels like it has more room than Thor, mainly because there is more room in the cabin area, where we spend most of our time relaxing. Our only complaint is that it lacks a comfortable way to stretch out—no room for easy chairs with leg rests as we had in the first two big RVs we owned. After dinner, Jim generally reads at the kitchen table, while I resort to lying in bed to read, or we sit outside in the tented canopy we purchased. On the rare occasions we watch TV, each of us sprawls across the dining table banquette. We can see the TV, but we aren't super-comfortable.

When the sale of our 27-foot Thor Axis was confirmed, we decided to see about remedying our discomfort situation: We looked at truck campers with two slides. (We actually found some brands that had three slides, but they were way out of our price range.) We found a 2019 Lance 1171 that met our needs. And fortunately, we were able to make a deal.

So here it is—our new home-away-from-home.

The “footprint” of our new Lance is essentially the same as the old one—just a tad longer. But its design is much better. It has a side entrance, which must be extended to get into the camper. This extension accommodates a jack-knife sleeper sofa that has built-in footrests. So now we can stretch out and watch TV or read.
Looking from the bed to the end of the extended cabin. The couch opens into a sleeper. 

The couch actually becomes two chairs with footrests. There is a coffee table, which is stored when the slide comes in. On the left side of the couch are two cabinets. The upper is a pull-out pantry; the slower has shelves for storage. There is also storage under the couch/bed.

The kitchen area has more counter space, with the addition of a drop-down counter. Alas, it does not have a real oven as our old Lance did, but it does have a combination microwave/convection oven, like our other RVs did.
The upper cabinets on the left have additional storage  toward the wall, which admittedly is difficult to access but can accommodate rarely used items. The microwave/convection oven is below the range. You can see a flip-top countertop to the left of the sink.

The banquette is not as high as in the other Lance, nor is the bed. (We will sleep well, because we had them swap out the manufacturer’s uncomfortable mattress with the memory-foam mattress we had purchased.)
The banquette turns into additional sleeping accommodations when the table is lowered. Two full-length drawers are available for storage under the bench seats. Also note that above the table is one additional bunk that is available for a child. We won't be using that and may decide to add additional shelving for storage.

We swapped out the manufacturer's mattress for the one we recently purchased. There is a closet behind the wall to the right, and some additional storage to the left, as well as a hamper-like bin. 

The bathroom is a huge improvement, too. Like the old Lance, it is a “wet bath,” meaning that it has a separate shower. (A “dry bath” means that the whole bathroom becomes a shower stall.) It has more storage and more legroom on the john.

The shower has a seat, as well as an adjustable shower head. This bathroom has much more room than the one in our previous Lance.

The camper also has larger water and waste tanks, all LED lighting, outdoor electrical plugs and shower, and good “basement” storage. We haven’t yet loaded it with our goods, but we think we will have plenty of storage inside.

We are eager to try out our new camper, but this will have to wait a couple of weeks. Right now we are dog-sitting Molly, while her “parents” are out of town. Molly is getting on in years, and although we have taken her camping with us before, she is now totally blind with cataracts, has bad arthritis, and doesn’t get around easily, so we don’t want to take her out in a new “home” environment.

Besides that, we had an unwelcomed surprise this morning: We arrived home from the dealer last night in the rain, so I waited until this morning to open it up. That's when I discovered that the drawer under the banquette seat had not been latched prior to our departure from the dealer. It had flown open during our trip home and smashed into the microwave door across from it. (The microwave is under the stove top, not above it.) The damage will be covered by warranty, but waiting for it to be fixed will delay our next camping trip. In the meantime, we are not allowing that to deter from the good feelings we have about purchasing this truck camper. We anticipate many good fishing trips in it.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer,


P.S. Should you be interested, here are photos of our previous RVs. This truck camper--I swear!--is our last!
We are standing in front of our first RV--a 38-foot, 1998 Dutch Star that had one slide.

This is our second RV--a 40-foot, 2005 Country Coach that had three slides. It was as big as a New York apartment!

In September 2017, we downsized from the 40-footer to this petite 2016 27-foot Thor Axis. The size itself was not a problem, but its configuration was. We just were not comfortable. We decided to sell it and get a truck camper, which we could use to tow a boat, if we wanted to.

Even before Thor was sold, we found this truck and truck camper combination for sale by a private party, a local rabbi in Jacksonville. This 2003 truck camper affirmed that we liked this type of camping, especially if we could get just a little more comfortable...
And this is our 2019 Lance. It has two slides--one on the side (banquette) and one in the back (the couch). It is just slightly longer than the previous Lance, but offers a lot more space with its ingenious interior design. I believe we will be very happy with it. And yes...this is the last RV we are buying. I promise!

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