Why did we buy a fifth wheel?
We started out camping in a Walmart tent. It worked, but then we walked into Cabela's in Michigan! Oh - that was a mistake (sort of). We walked out of there with a new "arctic ready" tent, a screened in room, two arctic sleeping bags, two sleeping bag mats and a whole lot of stuff I don't even remember! That lasted for a few years - until we got rained out one year and a river ran through it!
The next year we decided that we were getting to old for tent camping. We would buy the smallest bumper pull camper we could find, as long as it had a bed and self contained bathroom. So we bought an 18 foot Gulfstream Ameri-Lite. It was great and we loved it. We took that to Michigan and the Smokey Mountains. We still used the screen room we purchased at Cabela's - and most importantly, the three yorkies we had at the time loved the AC! They were not fond of the heat (or cold) in the tent.
The Gulfstream we thought would last for years - until we walked around a RV store while waiting for my nephews to join us near Hocking Hills one year. We walked into a 25 foot Forest River with one slide that held a couch. Oh my - "we could full time in this!" Or at least that is what we said at the time. We looked at that thing and commented about the amount of room we had and how much storage it had - and wow - look at the bathroom! We could turn around in it! The dinette turned into a bed, the couch turned into a bed and of course we still had our queen bed. It also had two doors and speakers outside! We thought we were living the dream when we saw that.
So - off to the RV show in Cleveland at the IX Center we went the following month and played "Lets Make a Deal." - We picked up our deal the following April (right after we had to purchase a new car because mine, which was paid off was totaled! ) We did not plan on that - but did not matter, we loved our new "huge" trailer! We had that trailer for about six years. We made little changes over the years, like turning the cupboard in the bathroom into our pantry, adding a fold down counter to the side to help with the limited cupboard space. Adding corner shelves under the TV for odds and ends while using the camper. When we got Zeke we decided to take out the dinette and replace it with cubby storage. That really made the camper feel more open and gave us more room since we had added a 96 pound dog to our family.
The Forest River took us to Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and all around Ohio. We really enjoyed the Forest River and planned on making a few more adjustments to make it a bit more homey an comfortable. See the couch was not great to sit on or sleep on - so we planned on changing it out for two recliners. But then the June of 2017 we were traveling to Virginia. We left on a Thursday about 7:00 pm and were on the PA Turnpike. It was about 9:00 pm in the rain and we were traveling in a construction zone. I was looking at my phone to see where the next rest stop was so we could pull over for the night when all of a sudden Gary yells "Hold on, we are going to crash." I grabbed Zeke (Annie was at home with the puppy sitter), and next thing I know a semi is crashing into the side of us, the driver mirror is smashed in all directions and we are pushed into the construction concrete guards, not once, but twice or maybe even three times. The semi keeps going and we are just trying to find somewhere to pull over. Finally about a mile down the road Gary finds a safe place and I called the Highway Patrol. We found out that that truck driver not only hit us - but also sideswiped another semi in front of us. After making the police report we were on our way to the rest stop for the night, luckily only 1/2 mile away. Long story short, we were able to complete our trip to Virginia - but the truck and camper sustained quite a bit of damage. The truck was fixed and the camper, well, it was going to cost over $8,000 to repair it - so we talked the insurance company into totaling it.
Now what? We planned on keeping the Forest River until about a year before retirement and then buying either a Class A Motorhome or a Fifth Wheel to live in full time. But, we did not want to go two to three years without a camper! We looked around and found a Cougar X-Lite from 2017 on sale since they were getting the 2018 campers into the dealerships. We were not sure the fifth wheel is what we wanted to retire in, but this camper was a lite version, so not as heavy and our current truck could pull it - which meant we would not have to invest in a bigger truck right now - and it looking at the used fifth wheels by Cougar - we could make most the money back selling it in a few years. It seemed like the perfect way to "test" out if we liked fifth wheel living.
So, that is why we bought a fifth wheel. So far so good. It is very homey. we have made a few changes to it, but overall we love the additional room it provides and the separation between the living and bedroom area is my favorite part. Our model is the Cougar X-Lite 28sgs. Just let me know if you have any questions! till next time!
Gary and Chris Rivett
and Zeke too!