Wombat poop comes out in cubes, and no one knows why. It is one of the more interesting things we have learned on our adventures, and it’s funny. Both characteristics are important to us and keep us looking for new experiences.
We are a far from normal family of 4 that seeks opportunities to grow and inspire each other to be their best self. We’ve created a new path through adventures, schooling, careers, and family and decided to share it with you. We hope to instill in our two daughters character, respect, curiosity, adventure, resilience, responsibility, hard work, flexibility, and kindness.
So we purchased the motorhome and then had to figure out what we needed to do in order to drive it. Every state is different so check with your DMV. In Nevada, drivers of vehicles over 26,001lbs gross combination weight rating (GCWR) are required to get a Non-Commercial Class B license. This will let you drive the motorhome and tow another vehicle that does not have a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000lbs. Our motorhome is over 36,000lbs so we had to get a new driver’s license.
We thought this would be easy. Take a written test then do the inspection test and maybe drive the motorhome around a bit. Wrong! The written test was easy. We reviewed the material and my husband, Cameron, and I passed with no problem. So we scheduled the driving test. Cameron didn’t make it past the inspection test. My test was the next day so I studied more that night. I didn’t make it past the inspection test either! The tester told me what she was looking for in the inspection. It was word for word what was written in the study guide. We had to use the same words as in the guide! This is a link to the Nevada study guide – https://dmv.nv.gov/pdfforms/dlbookabj.pdf
We rescheduled our appointments for a week later and started studying and testing each other. I went first and passed all parts of the test. I used all the words in the study guide to describe what I was looking for during the inspection portion. ALL THE WORDS. It seems so silly but that is what they were looking for.
Next, I had to do several maneuvers in the parking lot behind the DMV. This involved driving straight forward and backward, stopping and not crossing lines both forward and backward, and backing up into a parking spot. Then we left the parking lot to drive a couple of miles through town to show I can turn left and right correctly, change lanes, and drive appropriately among other cars. I passed. Cameron passed the next day.
It was a frustrating exercise to have to recite the study guide verbatim. I was also extremely helpful in becoming better motorhome drivers and understanding our motorhome and all the parts we need to inspect to keep us safe.
If you have ever looked for a class A motorhome you know there are many, many options. We were overwhelmed almost immediately! We started researching the top motorhome brands with a bunkhouse. We knew we wanted a top brand diesel pusher with slides and settled on the Tiffin Allegro Red 38QBA model.
This motorhome has a great layout! There is tons of seating with a 3 seater pullout couch, a 2 seater jack knife couch, a bench dinette and the 2 captains chairs. There is a queen bed in the back with the bunks just past the kitchen.
Once we decided on the model, we researched the price and depreciation of these vehicles using www.nada.com to limit surprises. Unlike most houses, motorhomes do not appreciate in value so they are losing money all the time. Doing this research helped us understand how much we were likely to lose and how much we could expect to spend.
It is very important to understand how purchasing a vehicle works in your state. In Nevada, where we live, we are taxed if we purchase a vehicle from an out-of-state dealer. We are not taxed if we purchase from an out-of-state private party. This is critical to know when purchasing big ticket items. This is money you will never get back. We decided to purchase from a private party to save some money.
There are not many high end bunkhouse motorhomes available at any given time so we kept looking on www.rvtrader.com and were lucky to find one 2 hours away. We made the deal and bought a 2018 Tiffin Allegro Red 38QBA. Now, how do we drive this beast?!
It’s been a couple of years and I am back with more adventures!
The pandemic stopped my family in its’ tracks and we stayed home for over a year before we got itchy to travel again. This time, we purchased a Tiffin Class A motorhome. Where our last motorhome was small (24’) with no slides and a lower end model, this one is the exact opposite. We chose a 40’ diesel pusher with 4 slides and Tiffin’s excellent interiors.
Our first motorhome was a great introduction to motorhoming but not a practical size for 4 adult-size people and 2 large dogs traveling for any extended time. So we said goodbye to it as the pandemic was ramping up. A year later, we decided that if we were ever going to motorhome with our daughters, it was now or never. We found a three year old Tiffin Allegro Red with a bunkhouse that fit our growing family. We didn’t add any kids but we did add a new puppy! Our first trip was to pick her up from the breeder. Isn’t she cute?
She is no longer a puppy and has grown into a very large 85lb dog! Thank goodness we have a large motorhome that will accommodate us all!
We got home from picking her up before planning a much bigger trip across the United States hitting as many states as we could. First up, the northern states…
We thought our only opportunity to see kiwis up close was to go to Otorohanga Kiwi House, so after we landed in Auckland, we got a car and drove to Otorohanga. This is a small sanctuary for New Zealand’s native birds and reptiles, some are rarely seen in the wild.
It was worth the visit. We saw kiwis, keas, kakas, kakariki, and tuatara. Keas and kakas are native parrots, and kakariki are native parakeets – who would have thought New Zealand had parrots and parakeets?! There was a New Zealand pigeon that liked to sit on Cameron’s head. My older daughter kept wanting to go back to have the pigeon sit on her arm. It was very friendly.
If you have visited a kiwi house before, you know they are dark since kiwis are nocturnal. We attended a keeper talk, and she put out a bowl of food that the kiwi then approached. They are challenging to photograph in such low light, but you can see one in this photo. They are all behind glass, so you can’t hear them. We ended up seeing kiwis at another sanctuary just outside of Christchurch. A portion of their enclosure was open so that we could hear the kiwis moving around. It was so much easier to see them that way.
If you are near Waitomo to see the glowworm caves, you are not far from Otorohanga. We made it a quick visit, and it’s worth an hour or two of your time to see these amazing birds.
We love New Zealand! Cameron and I have been to New Zealand together twice and once each before we met. It’s an easy country to travel around by bus or car, the people are so friendly, and the scenery is beautiful. I’ve had the good fortune to have traveled around the North Island and all over the South Island. My favorite is the South Island, and we keep returning to it.
The last trip we took there was with our daughters so we attempted to cram as much as we possibly could into three weeks. We were just going to stick with the South Island, but there are some exciting experiences we could only have on the North Island, so we included some of those. Mainly, the glow worm caves at Waitomo and Hobbiton since we are big Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans. With an added stop at Otorohanga Kiwi House, we had a great start lined up.
Now, where to go on the South Island? We love Milford Sound and Queenstown so we’ll fly into Queenstown. Then how do we get from there to Oamaru to see the blue penguins and more of the east coast? We aren’t attempting to see the entire South Island in one day, so we plan on driving from Milford Sound to Invercargill in the far south Then it’s on to Oamaru then Akaroa to swim with dolphins before heading back to Queenstown before flying home.
That is how we planned our trip. We realize we will miss out on many, many things but we also don’t want to come home from our trip needing a holiday to recover from moving around so much.
Now, what to pack for New Zealand in November? I think a bit of everything. After all, this is the place where there can be four seasons in one day if Crowded House is right!
When we were traveling through southeastern British Columbia, we stumbled on the little town of Radium Hot Springs. What a great find! It’s located just outside Kootenay National Park. And, as the name implies, there are hot springs nearby. There were also bighorn sheep roaming around the town, which is always fun and very intriguing to our dog. Needless to say, we all gave them plenty of space.
We stayed at The Canyon RV Resort on Sinclair Creek, and it was lovely. Our campsite was beside a creek, and we had the best sleep there. Too many previous nights we heard highway noise and so many trains! From the campground, we walked to town, but it seemed too far to walk to the hot springs which are inside the Park.
It was mid-August, and the weather was hot, so we decided to check out the hot springs in the morning. What a great idea! The warmest pool had very few people, and it was quite tranquil and shaded. The pool is large, shallow, and has a bench seat all around the inside of the pool so we could soak as long as we wanted. Our girls went into the cooler pool with the diving board, but Cameron and I were content to hang out in the warm pool.
We purchased the day pass and went back in the evening. It seems like everyone else thought this was a good idea, too. It was too busy for my liking with most of the bench seating occupied inside the pool. It was still enjoyable but the morning was much better.
All in all, Radium Hot Springs was a worthwhile side trip. Where are you favorite hot springs?
Forty years ago, my parents took my brothers and me on a road trip from Bowmanville, Ontario to Vancouver Island and back. We tented across Canada and the United States for seven weeks. We stopped and saw everything. It was a great trip, and I have very fond memories from it. Even some not so fond memories of having to blow up my parents’ air mattress every night while my brothers and I slept on the ground. I still bug my parents about it at every opportunity. 🙂
Anyway, one of the stops we made was to see Lake Louise. It was lovely to drive up and park at the lake and get out to see the views. A lot has changed in forty years! We attempted to see Lake Louise this past August on a Wednesday, and it was a huge disappointment! We saw the signs that told us the parking lot was full at the lake and to take a shuttle instead. We didn’t have time to park, wait for a shuttle, drive in, get out, see the lake, and take the shuttle back so we decided to drive in to see if that would work. It didn’t. There were people directing traffic all the way into the lake, through the parking lots, and back out. There were no opportunities to turn off or even stop to let people out. We couldn’t even abort the trip and turn around. Plus you can’t turn on to the road to Moraine Lake until you are on the way out of Lake Louise. It was a massive waste of time.
Thankfully we were able to see Moraine Lake, and it was beautiful. There is an easy path around the side of the lake where there weren’t so many people. The scenery is spectacular, and it’s worth a visit. Sadly, that means you have to drive to Lake Louise and out when it’s in the middle of high season.
If you want to see Lake Louise, make plans ahead of time.
Did you know there is a bird of prey conservation center in Duncan, British Columbia? We were driving from Nanaimo to Victoria on our last trip to Vancouver Island when my daughter and I spotted The Raptors sign. We both looked at each other and made a snap decision to visit the center a couple of kilometers off the TransCanada highway. She looked up their website and found out there was a live show with the raptors in 15 minutes. We had a plan.
We arrived, paid for the “Closest” experience, and raced to get a seat for the flying demonstration. I’m glad we rushed, it was worth it. The presentation showcased one bird of prey at a time with a total of 5 birds presented throughout the show. The handler told us all about each bird and answered questions while having the bird fly over the audience multiple times. We were definitely up close and personal with the birds.
After the show, we met with one of the handlers for the Closest experience. Our family of four (just us) spent an hour with her and the various birds she brought out for us to hold. The birds were beautiful! We each got to hold 3 or 4 birds and take all the photos we wanted.
The last part of the experience was the Hawk Walk when we walked on a path through the woods, and a Harris’ Hawk would fly to the person holding the food. This hawk was so fast. Almost before I put up my arm, the hawk was there! We tried to trick him, and it didn’t work. We all loved that part.
The Raptors is a worthwhile stop on the way from Nanaimo to Victoria. When we visit my parents in Victoria next year, we will most likely go back for more close encounters with these raptors.
What are your favorite places for close encounters with animals?
What are the dealbreakers in deciding on your motorhome purchase? For us purchasing our first motorhome, we needed a generator, air conditioning, kitchen, and three places to sleep. What we didn’t know is that there are other, equal, if not more important aspects to consider. Kitchen storage was the first to be highlighted in our motorhome .
Don’t get me wrong; we have kitchen storage: two upper cabinets, an under the sink cabinet and a large drawer under the oven. Sounds good…until we started to put items into these places. We have the usual – plates, bowls, cups, silverware, cooking utensils, a pot, a frying pan, a kettle, and food.
The plates, bowls, and cups go in the upper cabinet that has a shelf. The pot, frying pan and kettle can go in the large drawer. Now, where are silverware and utensils going? There was no good place for those items. We purchased a small plastic bin for silverware and had a bigger plastic container for cooking tools. They went into the upper cabinet. They are stacked, so it’s a pain to get the utensils out.
The under sink cabinet was just one big open space. We used a couple of plastic bins to store more frequently used items like snacks and paper towels. It was tedious getting things out of the bottom container, so we just moved the items we needed to the bin on top.
Other, non-refrigerated food went into plastic bins over the table. This is not a great arrangement, but it’s what’s available. I have to remember; it’s a motorhome, not a permanent residence.
Also, I thought I needed an oven since I use mine at home all the time. After traveling for two weeks, I don’t think we will use it. I didn’t have time or want to take the time to cook that way.
Next time, a cutlery drawer and drawers for food storage. Oh, and an oven is not essential.
What are your must-haves for your motorhome kitchen? How do you organize your kitchen?
If you have looked at motorhomes recently, you’ve noticed there are many different types from standard van-size Class Bs to bus-size class As. The Class Bs look like a taller, longer van from the outside and inside they can range from an empty shell to a fully customized interior run by gas or diesel. Class Cs, gas or diesel, have the family-friendly loft over cab. Class As are the biggest of the bunch and are generally diesel vehicles.
I am really attracted to the Class Bs because they don’t seem like too big of a jump in size from a mini-van. When it comes to the interior, Class Bs seem luxurious. A little too luxurious, especially for my 70lb dog. I’d far prefer functionality and efficient storage over luxury for a camping vehicle. Another consideration is the interior size. Yes, they are compact and seem well designed for two people max, maybe even just one. There are four people in my family, big people, plus a dog. Perhaps we will consider a Class B again when the kids have left home but for my husband who is 6’3”, maybe not.
So we settled on a 24ft Class C for our first foray into motorhome ownership. This was mainly because of me since I didn’t want to get a large vehicle that I thought might be a challenge to maneuver. It was the vehicle we took to St. Helena for one week and to Montana and Western Canada for two weeks. I like the size of the motorhome for driving and parking. What I found to be more critical is the storage available, how storage is accessed, and the vehicle’s power.
Our small motorhome is an excellent choice for two people or a family with little children. We are ready to move to a bigger motorhome with a more powerful engine. Class A here we come!