Our Motorhomes

Again we have moved up to a newer coach with more room.

2005 Itasca Suncruiser 37B
We were not in the market to buy a new coach but fell in love with this one and the rest is history. The previous owner bought this motorhome when he was 75 years old only using it 3 times. The coach had 6000 miles on it and was like brand new. There were still tags hanging on the interior lights and the shower and convection oven had never been used.

The things we like most about this coach are the 3 slideouts, the 4 door stainless steel fridge and the space in the bedroom, the bedroom has 2 chairs and a table. Having that extra sitting area makes it very nice. Also the heating and cooling system is not on the roof its below the floor in the rear, this makes it very quiet. We upgraded the 2 TV's with new HD flat panels and replaced the 2 front tires. The tires only had 6000 miles on them but being they were nearly 10 years old we just wanted to play it safe.

Selling our National was not a problem as it was in such great shape. We placed a couple of ads on the internet and parked it at the end of my buddy Kevin's driveway in Watertown, MN and within a couple of weeks it was sold.

This is our first motor home.

We bought this RV from a nice couple in a town just 7 miles from us in 2006. It was a great deal for us and it was exactly what we were looking for. It was a 1985, 33 foot class C motorhome. You can see it was very clean. We drove this motorhome to South Padre Island, TX, Kansas City Mo. and many other places in 2006 & 7.

It was a great RV, a little too small for 2 adults, 3 kids and 2 dogs. So, we decided to sell it after only 2 years. We sold it to a man from Canada. He saw our ad on RVtrader and flew down to Minnesota, Laurie met him at the airport. He loved it and that's the last time we ever saw it.

This was our second motorhome.

It's actually called a "Coach". With tons of storage under the the main body, we have no shortage of storage. We Bought this coach in 2008 from Brambillas in Shakopee MN. It is a 1995 National RV, 35.5 foot Dolphin. It has a strong motor with only 32,000+ miles on it. We did put tires on it, replaced the (in the tank) fuel pump and the air conditioning compressor that needed to be replaced.

We’ve done all of our research and have educated ourselves about the advantages and disadvantages of each type of Motorhome.

These are motor homes types that were rejected

Fifth Wheels - Two reasons; the expense of buying a heavy duty pickup truck and a fifth wheel would be far too expensive. Reason #2, Laurie would never pull a trailer.  She has pulled the jet ski behind our pickup truck and complained she didn’t like it at all, not to mention I don’t care for it myself.
Travel Trailers - Same 2 reasons as listed with the Fifth wheels.
Class C - Our first RV was a class C and we liked it very much except the limited storage space, not to mention these are way too small to live in full time.
Class B - These were not even a consideration as they are way too small to live in full time.

We’ve decided to stick with the class A style Motorhome.

A 1998 or 1999 is around what we can afford. A newer coach would be great but it’s not our intention to go into debt or to spend all kinds of money on our coach. We have been looking mostly at diesel motor homes for the fuel economy and power.

For Full Time RVing we feel this is the best fit for us. Below is a list of the reasons why.

Budget - We want the best we can afford within our budget. Our budget is no more than $40,000. At first we were hoping for a coach newer than a 98 or 99 but after looking at newer ones we soon discovered we need to make a choice, diesel vs. gas. If we choose gas we could get a unit 4-5 years newer than if we choose a diesel. Given our budget that put us in the 2002 to 2004 range for a gas model vs.1998 or 1999 in a diesel model. With some luck maybe we’ll find a newer diesel in great shape within our budget.

Fuel Economy - We want a motor home with the best fuel economy we can get within the Class A field. We are going to try and stick with the diesel engine. Diesel has far more power than a gasoline powered engine and gets nearly twice the miles per gallon (mpg). From our experience, our last motor home (gas powered Class A 33 foot) averaged 6 mpg and the diesel models that we have been looking at average 10-12 mpg. Granted diesel fuel is higher in price but the
added mpg is a no brainer.

Our last coach

Wow, we have looked at a lot of junky RVs in the last couple of months!!

We were looking primarily for a diesel rig but we decided to keep all of our options on the table when all the diesel coaches we looked at in our price range were either too small or too old.  It feels weird calling it a coach when our entire life we’ve always called them motorhomes or RVs. We have learned a lot about RVs in the last couple of months. It's obvious some people have much different ideas of "clean and in great shape" then we do. This RV (I guess I should start calling it a coach) was the cleanest of all we looked at.
The time you spend looking for a coach is a lot like the time you spend looking for a sticks and bricks house. We traveled all over Minnesota and invested a lot of time.  The slideouts on the coaches we looked at varied a lot.  The slideouts on the diesel coaches seemed smaller than the slideouts on the gas units. The small slideouts seemed stupid; the larger slideout are great!  2 slides are definitely better than 1.!!  The diesel coaches got better mileage, but within our price range we were able to purchase a newer gas coach with a lot more options, and 2 slideouts vs only 1 on most of diesels.

The condition of the tires was a pretty big deal considering a new set of tires is about $3,000. A lot of the coaches we looked at needed tires; it was nice to find a unit with new tires. The owner we bought this unit from was a professional truck driver and kept everything in tip top shape. They owned it since it was 2 years old and have always had an extended warranty on it and as a added bonus the warranty is still valid until September 1st of this year!!!   The warranty covers almost everything.  In addition, the previous owner had it painted in December 2010, knowing he would never recoup the money he put into having it painted, but still wanted to paint the coach and was able to afford it so he just got it done. I think it was because his brother had a newer coach and they traveled together a lot and he wanted his coach to look as nice as his brothers coach .

We chose a 2001 Dolphin By National RV 36 foot Class A.

Here is a list of some of the features.

Triton V-10 with 57,000 miles,
New full body paint in December 2010 (2009 paint scheme)
2 slide outs, 1 in main living area & 1 in bedroom
Extended warranty until September 2011
Pull out queen size hide-a-bed
New transmission

New tires, New shocks
New refrigerator, New power converter
Automatic levelers
Washer / Dryer combo
Porcelain toilet


  1. Beautiful RV! I know you must be anxious to start your full-time RV journey soon. My husband and I bought a 36' Class A 2005 Monaco diesel pusher a couple of years ago. We are in the process of liberating ourselves from all of the "stuff" we have accumulated over the years in order to pursue our full-time RVing dream. Seems like it just isn't happening fast enough! Looks like you did a great job in finding a beautiful coach -- ours looks very similar to the interior decor and layout of yours. It's frustrating trying to make a budget with the cost of living and fuel prices going up so high, so fast. But hopefully we will see you on the road one of these days! Take care,
    Dawn -- Fairbanks, Alaska

  2. Hi Jeff and Laurie,

    Just checking in to see if you have moved up your date of departure. It's been a while since I've seen an update. I have to say a year ago I starting looking at the possiblilty of Fulltiming and came across a few blogs that got me excited about the possibilities. Yours was one of them :)We've sort of inherited a 1998 winnebego brave. The poor baby has never been out of Alaska. Hopefully next year. Your blog has gotten me thinking of how much stuff we have in our house that we don't need and I have been slowly getting rid of stuff. Thanks.
    Debbie- Eagle River, Alaska

  3. Wow. Your rig is really nice. You have so much room, and everything looks so nice. I have RV envy! Enjoy.

  4. Sounds like you have a lot of experience on the road and camps. Your first RV sounds great, but I think your current motor home rocks! This one looks better than the previous one. Even the body paint looks smashing! It looks like the ones used by the singers and stars when they go on tour! The interior looks even better. The rooms of this RV were made for plush living while on the road!

  5. That is a beautiful RV and it just shows, you don't have to have new to hit the road! Taking care of your tires and continued maintenance are the biggies...

  6. Nice, we're working our way to full timing, but we've been doing that drill since we got our first (and only) motorhome in '03 (coach if you will). Ours is a 1991 Journey (made by Journey Motorhome Inc, an orphan) front engine diesel, no slides. It's just the two of us, we don't need the slides or the extra maintenance or width. A lot of the camping areas we go to, the new 102" width is too wide. We've re-engined ( more hp, better design, old one died), put in a new tranny (old one lost reverse at 92,000 miles), almost completely updated the interior, new fridge in '05, flat screen TVs, floor coverings are new; couch and chairs in the living room are next. The house goes up for sale this year, and my wife is planning her retirement in two years. I'm retired from the Navy, and between the Navy retirement, my VA disability, the small amount of retirement money my wife will get, and eventually, social security, we should be OK. A new paint job for the coach is also on the list. Right now, we average about 10,000 miles a year on our coach, it's got around 130,000 miles on it.
    I agree it's very difficult to get rid of the "stuff" too.
    We're also from Minnesota (north central) and belong to the FMCA.
    Dan & Susan Pine River, MN