johnny September 2nd, 2007
Yesterday, we put down a deposit on the camper. We added and removed a handful of things that should really optimize the overall comfort for two people.
- No oven. Really, how often are we going to be baking cookies? A stove is plenty and Jenn wants to play with a solar oven anyway. Maybe we’ll pick up a small grill to go with the thermal cooker. We get a large cabinet where the oven would be.
- No dinette seating. We opted for the couch instead. This should be more comfortable for general lounging. There is still a table we can set up in front of the couch, although I think we will probably build our own articulating desktops.
- Wet bath. A lot of people don’t like wet baths. They do, however, provide a lot more room to move around by combining your toilet and shower space. Additionally, we get a very large wardrobe next to the bathroom by saving space. The only real downside in our mind is that the ‘bathroom storage’ is limited to what will fit in a medicine cabinet. But with all the extra storage we gain outside of the bathroom and the increased space to shower properly, it’s a net win.
- Full wall wardrobe in the cabover. This was a bit more difficult decision. It cost us a nice window, but the extra storage space is considerable. For long-term living, storage is one of our most important concerns. Besides, the window on the driver side is a wide escape hatch instead of a narrow, divided window.
- No skylight in the kitchen. The benefit of the skylight really seemed questionable to us as we stood in the unit on the lot. It added some light, but only in a limited area. It is one more potential leak and one more place to introduce heat and cold. We save a few bucks by getting rid of it as well.
- No generator. The standard generator burns LP gas inefficiently, is rather noisy and costs about $3k. We can pickup a quiet, efficient gasoline unit for around $800. It won’t make quite as much juice and we can’t push a button to start it, but overall I prefer this route.
- 7K BTU air conditioner. Hopefully, this will put an end to my search for the perfect AC unit. It’s a bit higher wattage than I’d like, but I’m more comfortable with it’s ability to cool the camper. Sadly, we actually had to pay more for a 7k unit than if we had gone up to a 13.5K unit. However, with this unit, we should have no problem running it on our downsized generator.
- Thermal pane windows. They really charge a premium for these, but if we’re going to be in the cold weather, it’s thermal pane or storm windows. And just where are we going to store those storm windows when we’re not using them?
The rest of the camper is pretty much standard.
I’ve got to say this was one of my better shopping experiences. Conibear RV in Lakeland, FL is certainly one of the better RV dealers we’ve visited. Their sales team (well, salesman and general manager) is very low pressure, friendly and easy to work with. Primarily, we dealt with Don Mills, the general manger. We negotiated the price and options we wanted via email and a couple of telephone calls. The negotiations started out a bit slow at first because of the complexity of the order, but once I called and spoke with Donnie, we were able to get things moving along pretty well.
I did a fair bit of the legwork for them by speaking with Northwood (the makers of the Arctic Fox camper) and figuring out which options weren’t really options and which standard things could become options. The pre-sales folks at Northwood were easy to work with as well. They didn’t waste too much time going back and forth, they’d just flat out tell me I couldn’t do something and we’d move on.
By the time we were ready to head out to Conibear again, it was Labor Day weekend and they were closed for the long weekend. However, Donnie told me he was going to be around trying to catch up on some of his workload and to come on by. So we drove on out and looked over all of the campers one more time to be sure we had decided on the right one for us. Again, there was no pressure when we got there. Donnie told us to go ahead and take our time and he’d be working in the office.
After we signed the paperwork, we sat around and visited with Donnie for an hour and a half or so. He’s one of the nicest guys we’ve run into during the entire process and I don’t doubt that he will take care of any issues we run into with the new camper right away. If you’re shopping for an Arctic Fox, Host or Northwood in Central Florida, you could do a lot worse than giving Conibear RV a call.