We rented our RV from Cruise America for a number of reasons, their rates are very reasonable, they have a large number of rental depots so it was easier to find a convenient location to pick up and drop off, plus they allow pets which many RV rental companies don’t.
The downside of this company is that they tend to rent more basically finished vehicles so they don’t have the extra insulated walls, double pane windows, TV’s etc so if you we were renting for a longer period we would probably consider a more high-end rental company.
We had a 25’ model which was actually reasonably easy to drive with excellent door mirrors, although backing-up was always much easier with David looking out for me.
Parking and manoeuvring the van around RV parks was no problem. Most RV parks are designed for the huge bus-conversion RV’s that many people drive so our rental was positively compact compared to lots of the other vehicles on the parks. However, on occasions such as some roads in Death Valley, there were length restrictions which meant we couldn’t take the RV.
The cab area was big and quite comfortable, plenty of space between the two front seats for Mojo – a place he loved to snuggle up when we were driving. Once we got used to the rather noisier, squeaky, rattling experience of the van it actually drove OK – it could cope with highway speeds fine although if the road surface was bad it wasn’t the most pleasant experience.
Inside there was the main living area with a table and bench seats plus a comfy chair. Off to the right out of sight from the camera was a 3-ring gas stove with extractor and a large microwave and convection oven. With a fridge and freezer behind there were all the appliances you needed for basic self-catering.
To the rear of the van was a queen size bed (there was also another queen size over the cab but we didn’t use that one as it had low head clearance).
Next to the bedroom area was the shower and toilet.
The RV has a large propane tank which supplies the gas for the hot water, stove etc, a high capacity battery for electricity and a water tank. This, together with generator for emergencies enables you to ‘wild camp’ if desired and be self sufficient for a period of time.
The van also has ‘holding' tanks’ for waste – grey water tank comes from the kitchen sink, vanity and shower while the black tank comes from the toilet.
However the weather was unseasonably cold on our trip so some nights the temperatures were a few degrees below freezing and to stop the water or holding tanks freezing etc it was important to keep the van warm overnight. This meant that we wanted to be liberal with our use of the heating system and so we made it a priority when choosing campsites to pick ones with ‘hook-ups’.
Hook-ups are basically connections at each RV pad for electricity, water, waste dump and at some parks they even provide cable TV and phone all as part of the $20-$30 overnight pad fee.
This photo shows the hook-ups at the River Run Park in Bakerfield. The larger white tower provides the electricity (a very long cable in an external compartment of the RV has a plug on one end and you just plug it in). The smaller black tower is the water supply where a hose can be used to either fill your water tank in the RV or just connect directly to the ‘city water connection’ on the van so that the water you use by-passes the water tank and comes direct from the mains connection.
Getting a spot with hook-ups at the campsite means you can just relax and use electricity, water and so on as much as you want and would normally do so. The propane was in a tank similar to the engine fuel and can be filled up at gas stations in just the same way. The cooking and heating, water and so on don’t use a lot of propane, in our 9 nights using the heating and water a lot we only used about 1/4 tank of propane which was about $12 worth.
Now, a big drawback to an RV’ing lifestyle was the dumping of the waste tanks. Essentially this involved removing the large waste hose from it’s external compartment on the van, attaching it to the outlet pipe on the van and the other end to the dump tube. You then had to open the black and grey holding tanks…….and try not to breath or smell for a couple of minutes ! Not the nicest of jobs as I demonstrate here at the park we stayed in on our last night near Santa Clarita.