How to Get Annabelle Home (and What to do with Annie)

So we find ourselves in southern Arizona with a truck, fifth-wheel and a motorhome. Not the best plan, and not one that I really recommend. But here we are.

We briefly contemplated taking both RVs along for the remaining two months of our trip. But besides having no navigators (we’d both be driving a vehicle), figuring out how to fit a fifth-wheel, truck and motorhome on every campsite (if it was even allowed) seemed a stretch. And several places we’re going have no more campsites available so we can’t reserve a second campsite for the motorhome.

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Reflections on Annabelle After Our Shakedown Trip

Five days isn’t enough to make definitive assessments about our truck camper replacement, but we definitely did learn and confirm some things. Some are obvious and inherent to the nature of the vehicle. Yes, Oma appreciates being able to use the bathroom without needing to find someplace to stop. And yes, you hear the motorhome and cargo creak and rattle as you drive down the road (especially if the road is bumpy). But I’ll focus on things that were more notable to us.


Besides the noises from inside the motorhome, wind noise is far louder than in the truck. On a positive note, the truck camper occasionally causes a very loud and annoying whistle on our truck. (It’s caused when there is a crosswind at just the right angle to resonate between the truck and camper.) It’s not a huge problem, as it usually doesn’t last too long nor happen that often, but it’s nice to not have that in the motorhome.

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Organ Pipe National Monument (in our new motorhome) – February 2018

Organ Pipe National Monument had been on our list since our last visit to Arizona two years ago. (Last time, I decided to hang out in a Tucson hospital  when we had planned to be in Organ Pipe, so it didn’t happen.) The original plan had been to take the fifth-wheel. However, now that we had a brand new motorhome, we needed to do a shakedown trip in it so that we could find out if there were serious issues to be resolved before we drove it to Texas and ultimately home. So we transferred a week of stuff from the fifth-wheel into the motorhome.

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Meet Annabelle

So there we were in Tucson, checking out various class C motorhomes on a random dealer’s lot, when we stumbled across Annabelle….

(Annabelle got her name because she is a compromise between Annie (the fifth-wheel) and Belle (the truck camper), with additional characteristics all her own. A friend suggested we name her Goldilocks as being “just right” between Annie and Belle, but Annabelle the motorhome just doesn’t have golden locks (or golden anything).)

We looked at mid-sized gas class C’s, but all manufacturers clearly focused on price over quality. And it wasn’t clear that the floorplans and sizes were an improvement on the smaller class A’s that we’d looked at. We’d looked at nice Mercedes Sprinter-based models that were under 1,000 lbs. of capacity dry (Leisure Vans, Tiffin). These were automatically out because that’s just not enough cargo capacity. But we did find a Winnebago View that we liked.

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RV Shopping

Back when we were younger, we transitioned from tents to sleeping in trucks and, especially, vans. This was nothing fancier than a mattress in the back of the vehicle. Cooking was outside on camp stoves, a bathroom nearby was required (or at least preferred), and showers were often heated (or not) by the sun. It saved us the trouble of setting up and taking down a tent and rain was less of an issue. (I don’t like setting up and taking down tents in the rain.) We usually travelled without reservations even in the summer, could sleep nearly anywhere (parking lot, rest area, National Forest Campground with small sites), and could (and did) stop pretty much anywhere we wanted along the way.

As much as we loved that life, adding a cat and large dog made a van way too small. Trips are much longer since we’re no longer limited to a week or three of vacation. And having an inside bathroom is just much nicer for most of us as we get older. We purchased a small, inexpensive fifth-wheel five years before I retired and enjoyed the comforts of a bathroom and kitchen on our vacation trips and learned what we would want in a retirement fifth-wheel.

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