T001 View From The Trek–First Impressions

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Downsizing from Odyssey’s 36’ length and 15’ beam to the Trek’s 28’ length and 8’ 6” beam has been easy. We went from 3 berths to one berth that lowers from the ceiling at the push of a button. The tool/spares storage area in the generator workroom moved to the Trek’s ‘basement storage’–the outside storage compartments under the floor. We’ve lost the convenience of an onboard washer/dryer but many RV parks have laundry facilities so doing laundry is not much of a problem especially when we can park directly outside the laundry room. Our biggest loss was Odyssey’s cockpit–our comfortable screened in living area with its all around view. The view from inside the Trek is a bit more limited when we are not moving. We’ve traded Odyssey’s inside L shaped bench settee for a much more comfortable sofa and lounge chair. The driver and passenger seats are very comfortable and swivel 100 degrees for use when not traveling and form a comfortable inside conversation area especially when guests are aboard.

In spite of the Trek’s smaller size the galley is larger with increased and more convenient storage, a microwave/convection oven and larger refrigerator with an ice maker in the freezer. Bed making is easy since it’s not necessary to be in the bed to make it. In fact since it’s elevated it’s not even necessary to bend over. All the conveniences have won Ruth over. Besides she loves to drive and loves driving the Trek with our elevated panoramic view out the front windows. She’s now an RV convert although not quite ready to give up the adventurous parts of boating; i.e. the rough water passages and remote quiet anchorages and wonderful people we meet.

I’m still adjusting to RV life. I miss the look, feel and pace of being on water. We’ve traded the worry of running aground at 12 mph scraping bottom paint and maybe doing prop damage on Odyssey for the potential of clearing the Trek’s roof of air conditioning and roof vents at 50 mph if we were to encounter a low overhanging branch on the back roads we like to travel.

It’s interesting that towns feature their waterfront marinas and the marinas attract people who like to look at boats. We’ve yet to encounter a town that welcomes RV parks into the heart of the city as waterfront communities do with marinas.

Click  for a 15-photo gallery of what the Trek looks like.

Living aboard the Trek is easier than Odyssey. We take ‘home’ shopping. The Trek is two parking spaces long so we just park out away from the congestion and bring purchases directly home to unload. Talk about convenience when there’s a question at the store about measurements or color, the answer is just steps away.

Private RV parks may not have the ambiance of a marina but they sure do have convenience at a reasonable cost. Most have power and water as a minimum included in the park fee. Many have direct sewage hook ups and cable TV. From there the conveniences go up. The state parks and COE (Corps Of Engineers) parks we stayed at have the ambiance we love with rural or wilderness settings, and nature trails to explore.

Staying at marinas we’ve paid from $18 (Illinois River) to $90 (NYC) a night for dockage. Typically we’d pay about $45-60 for dockage. RV parks run from $5 to dry camp (no hookups) at a National Park to $20’s for private full service private parks near cities or attractions such as New Orleans. Monthly rates are available in private RV parks and marinas and provide a significant savings over daily rates. By joining various RV clubs we’ve been able to stay most places for $10-15 night. Anchoring out at no cost is an option with either vehicle. On the water we’d find quiet wilderness areas and anchored out frequently. We’ve yet to try a shopping center parking lot or rest stop on the freeway for a free night.

Fuel prices are interesting. On the water we were paying close to $2.00/gallon for diesel and doing well getting 1.5 mph on our cat running at about 12 mph. On land gasoline has been averaging $1.80/gallon. However we are getting 8.2 mpg cruising at 65-70 mph so land cruising is a bargain for both dockage and gas compared to the water.

Our travel style hasn’t changed. We move along until we find someplace interesting to explore. Then we extend our stay and explore, or in some cases just rest up from all the travel. A long stay for us has been a week.

Traveling like we do has made meeting people a bit more difficult than when on the water. At state and national parks we look for sites that provide physical and if possible visual separation form other RV’s. Even when that’s not possible the opportunities for meeting other people are not as frequent. On the water other boaters come out to grab lines and help others boats get into a dock providing opportunities to meet. Docks themselves channel people along narrow paths providing more opportunities to interact. Parking an RV is much like parking a car and rarely needs help for onlookers. Roads are wide and people don’t seem to be outside as often as when on a boat. We were more likely to strike up conversation while hiking a trail and encountering other hikers than when walking the park road.

Our limited sample of RV populations has been interesting. The ease of RVing allows a much older group to enjoy the lifestyle. We saw people with walkers–something that is rare on boats. Along the coast people working construction for hurricane damage or just working full time were evident as were people with kids. A much larger percentage of RV folks were full timers than boaters we met.

This provides a feel of our first impressions of traveling by RV after seven years on the water.

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