Buying an RV: Finding Nemo…I Mean RAIF

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You made the decision. You have the money.  You have a plan.  You even have a date. None of this means a thing without actually buying an RV.  Where to start?  How to start?  You’ve never done this before.  

You’ve done this before.  You’ve bought a new car, maybe even bought a house, or at the least, rented one.  What did you do then?  You got it, you perused the web.  So, let’s start there.  What about Craigslist, or RV stores, or friends?  We tried all three when looking to buy our RV.

Checking out a 32-footer - Buying an RV

I recommend the first thing you do is to start talking…to everyone. The more people know what you are up to, the more they can refer you to others that are up to the same thing.  If you are looking at moving into an RV, then talk about it. Ask around.  We were talking to family about our plans, and lo and behold…“Hey, I have a friend who is looking to sell their RV; you should come check it out.”  And so began our search for the perfect RV.  A note of advice, you will not find the perfect RV.  You will, however, find and create the perfect one for you.

On the Road to Buying an RV

Was it work, you ask?  Oh yeah, but it was a job well worth the effort.  We did start with the one recommended, a 24-footer Class B, even though we had done our research and knew we wanted a Class C, but this was the one recommended by family, so it had to be done.

Not sure yet, we hit the road…for at least 40 miles, to check out a big, bad ass, beautiful 32-footer Winnebago.  We knew our budget, and we knew – or thought we knew – we wanted to buy a smaller RV, one that could hit the hills and the cities. But, oh that Winnebago was a beauty. And affordable. And drivable. And well, maybe we didn’t know.

Checking out a converted RTD bus - Buying an RV

We checked out a few fixer-uppers and another bad ass beautiful 32-footer, and one unique converted bus.  This one was adorable, with beautiful reclaimed wood paneling on the inside, and creative colors throughout, but the work would be plenty: no bathroom yet, only a bed, no full kitchen, and barely a space to create one.  It was from viewing this unique ride we realized that, while we may want to convert and create our own ride one day (we have begun calling that idea Version 2.0), we wanted to buy an RV that was move-in ready, something nice, pretty, and comfortable.

Well, at least we narrowed it down to 10 instead of 11.

So, even if you do the research first, which I recommend, you may (or may not) change your mind when it comes time to actually looking for your RV.  See, I told you that you’ve done this before.  This is probably what you did when it came time to look for your new car, or bike, or apartment, or house, or snowboard… Get it?

Industrial Revolution Brewing - Buying an RVSo, what were we to do?  In true House Hunters style, we had to sit somewhere, have a drink, and discuss the pros and cons of our top three.  Our place of discussion was just as important as the discussion itself and a place we would recommend… Industrial Revolution Brewing Company in Erie, Colorado.  No matter where you are or what you are doing, if you are close to new breweries, that is where you go.  At least, that is where we go. And this one had it all, the football game (not that the Broncos did anything this season), the outdoor patio on a sunny, crisp fall afternoon, and to top it all off… free samples from their chili cook-off!  Oh yeah, and not to mention great beer!

Now that the ambience was set for our House Hunters conversation, it was time to begin.   Choose the top three: that beauty – the 32-foot Winnebago was definitely on the list, another 32-footer similar in look and price but also list-worthy, and then, of course, the first one we checked out, the 24-footer BTouring Cruiser. Cross one out – the second 32-footer – why lose our minds debating over almost one in the same.

More beer, please.  This was a long conversation. Which RV would we buy?

It’s not just about the vehicle, it’s about the dream.  We visualized ourselves in each RV, cooking dinner, writing blog posts, hiking off in the distance with the camper receding from our view, welcoming us back from a chilly hike.  Which one welcomed us home?  Which one called our names?  The 32-footer with its wide expanse of space and room to be separate from each other if needed?  The 24-footer with its limited space, and no place to escape but the outdoors?  Was it really time to leave, to head back to home to our traditional life, and lose this idea for the day?

It saddened us to know that we hadn’t yet made a decision, that we weren’t yet buying an RV, that we weren’t quite living and traveling in our RV, but it also gave us a buoyancy, to know that the search wasn’t over yet.  That we could do this again next weekend. And we did just that, and made a decision. One that we love, and we now only have five months until launch.

Which RV? There Was Really Only One Choice

RAIF - the RV we settled on - Buying an RV

What did we choose? I think we knew the answer the first time we saw him, the first one we checked out…RAIF, our 24-footer.  We went back that next weekend with cash in hand just in case (although we knew).  We poked and prodded, checked under the hood (we had no idea what we were looking at, but we looked anyway), made sure the slide-out worked, heard all about the gray water, dark water, and fresh water tanks, listened about winterizing pipes, opened up every little nook and cranny, took it for a test drive, and talked some more. We eventually ended up in the owner’s house, talking about personal travel stories, lives, adventures to come, and adventures already had.  It was this link that became the true deciding factor.  This was something that I don’t think we would have understood before listening to podcasts, other RVers, and finally listening to the stories behind the places these RVs have traveled.  They become a character in and of themselves, almost their own personality, they must have their own name, and you must feel a connection with it somehow.

Ken and April Pishna - Buying an RVHis name, the owner, is Ralph.  He was the first in his generation to be born in the U.S.  His family was from Scotland.  He has lived in Sheridan, a small suburb, southwest of Denver, with a small-town feel, most of his life.  He and his wife traveled during the summer in their camper, now ours.  They took great care of it, as though it was one of their own.  Their love for it was evidenced in the way they spoke of it, the way the trusted their “son” to care for it, like it was a brother.  But it was time to let it go. This son, our brother, recommended this beautiful piece of machinery cared for by this kind old man, Ralph. We bought an RV!

So why the name RAIF? Ralph is phonetically pronounced Raif when you are from Scotland.

Raif then becomes Real Adventures in Freedom.

We found RAIF.

RV Life: Divine Intervention Can Simply Be a Kick in the Ass!

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Lin Hark
5 years ago

Love your story telling! And I am sure I will have an adventure following your life in RAIF. I envy you both.

Ken Pishna
5 years ago
Reply to  Lin Hark

Thank you Linda, that means a lot, especially coming from you. You have been an inspiration to us!

Debbie LaFleiche
4 years ago

What a great story. I love that you chose a name with significance and then turned it into an acronym.