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Old 05-02-2021, 08:35 AM   #1
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Further developing our options. Seeking new input.

AS I have posted before, we are planning to live full time in a motorhome upon retirement. We may or may not buy a small house and rent it out to one of our kids so we have a place to go if we need a break, and/or a place to die if we become unable to travel any longer. Over the past several years, we have been investigating the lifestyle and working on selection of brands and models of motorhomes we want to consider. IRV2 has been critical in finding information and opinions. Most have been very helpful and some opinions have even caused us to change the directions we were going – especially in deciding between a motorhome and a 5

Here is where we are now in our thinking. Sorry if our preferences or opinions offend anyone. We are looking for further comments or advice/suggestions to consider. I realize some people will feel threatened because our perceptions and choices are different than the choices they made, and I am sorry that you will get mad, but we really do not need any attacks. That is not at all helpful. WE may just have different opinions/perceptions and that is OK. The majority will provide well thought out advice. Thank you. We have studied RV living pretty extensively now. We know a lot about RVs conceptually, but we have no actual experience. W have been to show, visited large RV lots with scores of used RVs to explore, talking with a hundred or more RVers live and online. We have done a lot of tent camping, and many road trips in our converted van with our family. Both for practice and by preference, we have started using only a tiny part of our house at times (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and one parlor). We find we mostly use the bedroom and the porches. We rarely use the parlor at all and in the kitchen we mostly cook with the microwave

We are shedding stuff and pets as quickly as possible. The thing we will likely miss the most are our chickens. We may or may not eventually get a dog to travel with us unless one of our parrots is still alive when we hit the road. We will not have more than one pet if any. (right now we have reduced our pet load to one dog, two parrots, one outdoor cat, 20ish fish, 8 chickens (soon to be 20) and my daughter has a cat, a parrotlet, and a giant snake - that is a drop off from when we had all 5 kids living at home).

Our timing will depend on the economy and the real estate market. We are not ready to sell our home now, so we will wait until the next peak, unless this one lasts for several more years (I do not think it can). My retirement will also depend on the economy and what happens with taxes and social security. If I were to lose my job in the coming crash, I probably will not look for another and just go into part time consulting. That could happen in the next 3 years or not at all. My wife’s outlook is changing somewhat for two reasons, her work is becoming less pleasant, and we have had several friends/family members die in their early 60s recently and never get to enjoy the retirement they have been saving for during their entire lives.

We hope to buy an RV a few years before we go full time so we can practice, make certain the lifestyle is right for us and tweak the RV so it is just how we want it. We may buy a really old/cheap motorhome sooner and use it for a few years to get a better idea of what we want in our permanent one.

My wife mostly likes to read. I like to do things outside. She will tag along on outside things both because she enjoys them and so we can spend time together. She usually brings a book and looks for a shady spot to sit and read while I go explore, or kayak, or whatever. sometimes she will tag along as well, but my idea of adventure can be a bit too much at times. I think the RV lifestyle will suit us very well. We love road trips and camping. We are not super finicky about comforts and conveniences and I am handy with tools and sometimes enjoy fixing things. Spontaneity is important to me. I dislike being tied to and controlled by a plan, although I like to get as much information as possible for making a decision. So I may spend a lot of time and research developing a plan, but I keep the leeway to change the plan dramatically at any time. To me, the ideal vacation is to point my truck in a direction and drive in that direction until I see something cool to visit. However I may spend a lot of time on the internet looking for information so I do not pass up any opportunities. My wife prefers more control and planning, but she has learned to put up with my need for chaos and freedom to change plans as we go.

These are our thoughts about what we like and don’t in various kinds of RVs so far. We are happy to get input from experienced people, especially if they have something new to say thank you.

We have decided on 2006-2008 motorhome for several reasons. Mostly cost/value. This was the golden period for RV quality. Before the SHTF and all the companies nearly went out of business and cheapened everything up. 2006 is when some companies increased the height of their motorhomes. It also keeps us away from the problem fraught giant full wall slides. I prefer to avoid DEF and EGR – more to break and/or worry about. Prior to 2006 some brands were still transitioning from a fancy camper to a home on wheels. We would be OK with 2005 or 2004 in some brands and a bit earlier for a Bluebird. We are not overly worried about longevity. It is hard to wear out a high-end motorhome and people tend to take very good care of something that cost as much as their house. I am not interested in paying for trendy or latest technology – which will no longer be so within a couple of years. The older RVs are cheaper and better quality and I can update anything I want with better quality products at a fraction of the cost difference between new and old.

We will go all electric. Primarily for safety reasons. I do not like the idea of using fire based things inside a firetrap. We will use an aquahot or equivalent, but they are not really an open flame item. We will have a large generator and probably a significant solar array. If I can find one with a good solar system, that will be a plus. Otherwise, I will wait to see how much we would make use of it before putting out the $10K + for a 2000 watt system. Hopefully these will get cheaper and more powerful over time.

For electronics any kind of TV is fine, but a good Sat system is a must. I saw one RV that has sat tracking system for camping and a Mobil sat system for travelling. That seems like a nice concept. Not sure I would pay for it, but if it is already there, it would be nice. We are internet addicts. Self levelling system seems like it would be an important convenience. I would like to have lots of exterior lights and cameras, but i can add them. Lighted and heated storage bays is a major plus. I really like the hide away televisions, but I am concerned that they will break frequently. However being unable to watch TV for a while is not a disaster.

As for electronic control systems, less is better imo. I do not want the fully automated systems, especially ones controlled by remote controls. More to break and less I can fix myself. However I realize these systems may be unavoidable. A large generator is a must. I will add lighting wherever I want it (everywhere).

I hope I can find an RV where everything motorized has a manual back up if the motor or drive system breaks (Slides, awnings, storage bays, stairs). That is pretty important IMO since a broken motor could leave you stuck with the motorhome undriveable.

We will probably put in a new bed. My wife wants a bed that can be made to sit up like a couch. I would like one that can raise my knees, because I have to sleep with a pillow under my legs due to back problems. We are thinking sleep number because they are light and supposedly comfortable. We need to try one.

Toad – Etc. We intend to tow a Jeep Gladiator. Possibly Diesel. It will have a roof rack for kayaks and a bike rack for our bicycles. Our selection of a motorhome will be partially dependent on being able to tow this. The bicycles may go in the bed of the Gladiator or we may put them on a rack and put a cricket in the bed if we find a second vehicle necessary or convenient. Gladiator seems to be the ideal mix of fun and useful. We love off-roading on forest service trails and want to try dune/beach jeeping. It is nice to be able to haul what you need, help people move, etc. A convertible pick up is awesome. If it is diesel, I will try to find a way to hook up a spigot and hose to fill it from the RV’s tank in a pinch.

Windows. - Lots of windows is critical. The more and bigger – the better. We really dislike the surface mount windows found on so many RVs. WE prefer like inset windows. This is really the only exterior aesthetic that I much care about. Double panes is important. Windows that open are critical. The more that open, the better.

We have some preferred options that we would like, but are not necessary. Heated floors. A built in vacuum/dustpan. A deep sink. Lighted and heated storage bays is a major plus. An outdoor kitchen is important. An outdoor TV seems stupid. The extra freezer in the storage bay might be a good idea as long as there is enough other storage available.

Size. Most of the nicer motorhomes are 40+ feet long. To get the kind of drive train power I prefer, you pretty much have to stay in that range. However the big rigs create limitations on where you can go and camp. If we went smaller, it would be cheaper, but we will have to re-think everything we have decided about brands models etc. The dream of getting a series 60 engine would be out. They did not put them in anything smaller. We will rent some smaller motorhomes (32-36'), which I hope will help us decide whether the additional space or the additional maneuverability are preferable to us.

Layout. important to us are: lots of windows; defined spaces; queen or king sized bed; table with chairs instead of a booth; lots of cabinet/storage space. A tall shower (we find few that I do not have to crouch to get under the shower head); Swivel front seating is important to us. We will entertain at times and the extra seating will be needed. That is one disadvantage of the Prevost – the entire front area is wasted space when it comes to living.

Still debating between one or two toilets. Two could be important if someone needs to go in a hurry. Since we will be full time, we will be living in the RV even when we are sick. It is also nice to have a toilet for guests to use. However a second bathroom takes up valuable space, and is hard to find. We may leave this to be determined upon what we find that we otherwise like

Brand preference:

Prevost. We thought we had settled on Prevost, but are now rethinking. Far sturdier overall (stainless bus shell). Everything is better/more heavy duty. Surprisingly not as much in the clever idea/convenience department. At first, we hated all of the interiors we saw. Too much chrome and plastic – too blingy. Most interiors look like Las Vegas. We thought maybe we could buy one with a damaged interior and gut it then rebuild to our liking. Then we found Royale. These have more of the homey feel we are looking for, only not as much as the Monaco brands. Prevost comes with our much-desired Series 60 DDAD engine. However they are three times the price of a like new T.O.L. Monaco with a DD S60. I thought we had settled on a 2006 – 2008 Prevost Royale, but we have been house poor for a large part of our lives. I do not want to make that mistake again. We can have a lot of fun with an extra $250,000.

Monaco/Beaver/HR (Signature equivalent). This was our original choice. They made some of the best thought out, most homey class As out there. Better layouts, nice division of areas - living area, kitchen, bedroom. Beautiful woodwork without being all shiny/blingy (usually). Great floor plans. Obvious high quality (although not as sturdy as Prevost). The only concerns about Monaco is that they are a fiberglass box built on a chassis and not as sturdy overall as a Prevost. Also, it is hard to find a DD S60 (but not impossible). Another downside is more limited weight carrying capacity (I think).

Newmar. Quality is obvious. Layouts and features are not as well thought out as Monaco. Too much more expensive for not enough more betterness. Could not find a layout/style we liked. Still a contender though. They are harder to find, and very few have that homey” feel we are looking for, but they remain an option if we are unable to find another brand we like when the time comes to buy one.

Bluebird. This is a strong contender. They are very well made and less expensive than Prevost. We have not seen many of these other than online. Not as homey as Monaco. More so than Prevost. Definitely in the running and will require further investigation.

Entegra. We really like some of the Entegras. We like the layouts. They have some neat features that we will definitely adapt for any motorhome we buy (like a removable two burner induction stovetop. You can pull it out, take it outside and sauté your onions or fry greasy spattering bacon outside.) The interiors tend to be a bit sterile, but there are some that are just inside the edge of acceptable. Not out of the question. I would not buy a newer one (after Thor took them over) and their reputation for problems with “porpoising” concerns me.

Tiffin – not the same quality as other high end Class As. Reputation for breaking a lot. Layouts not as nice. Pricing does not reflect the step down from Monaco, Newmar, etc. Tiffin is not ruled out but it is highly unlikely we will settle for a Tiffin. I am especially uncomfortable with their reputation for lots of time spent at repair shops and we just have not found them as appealing when we looked at them.

Winnebago. This is the company you think of when you think if RVs. They have been such a major player for a long time. We do not know much about them but we have looked at a few. They are worth further investigation. They seem sort of Thor-like (lots of neat features very cheaply made). However that is just a passing first impression. Will investigate these further.

Newell. High end, but nowhere near the quality level of a Prevost (at nearly the same price. The curvy interior looks like it would be very hard to repair or replace anything and we did not like the curvyness - especially the rounded off bed. We really did not like the layouts and the interiors are too plasticy/chromy (like most Prevosts).

Foretravel. Too expensive for the benefits. We disliked all of the ones we looked at new or old.

American Coach. Not sure whether these were even made in the time period we are looking at. Never seen one.

Country Coach. No sure this is even a brand rather than a model. Only seen online and one older one that was pretty beat up. We might look at some of these if we find some.

There are a number of other brands I do not remember that we looked at and thought they were nice enough, but really do not compare well to the ones listed above. We still have more investigating and research to do.
Some brands were recommended here, and seem nice, but there are just none around that we can find to look at. Anything owned by Thor is out. I have looked into this and look at enough RVs to know this is not even a consideration for us. It is clear that Thor is the Walmart of the RV world. If we were just going to go camping occasionally it might be different.
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Old 05-02-2021, 10:33 AM   #2
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Class A's are nice if you're on the road a lot. Setting up camp can be as easy as turning off the ignition. Problems --

1. Forward ten feet (cockpit) isn't really useable space, although it does help with sight lines, makes it seem less claustrophobic. All those windows and stuff.
2. Mechanically MUCH more complex. Diesels are expensive to maintain and not everybody can do it. Air system (brakes, suspension) will need maintenance and repair. Etc.
3. Watch environmental extremes. You can find 5th wheels that are well insulated for winter stays, and fewer big windows means easier to cool in the summer. (We lived in SLC last winter, lows typically in the 20's and while we burned a ton of diesel we were comfortable. Kind of marginal, keeping the thing cool during Florida summers tho).

I'll admit, a fifth wheel gives you more livable space, more rig for your money, mechanically simpler (one engine to maintain instead of two) but I just like motorhomes I guess, sounds like you do too. Especially if you want superior fit and finish, a quality class A can't be beat there IMO.

Agree with your thoughts on all electric. Aquahot does have open flame but it's so slick and nice to have I'd ignore that part We haven't blown up yet

If you have a toad, you can go anywhere, so I wouldn't worry about the length of the rig. You don't necessarily need a 50-foot pull thru, it only takes a second to unhook the toad and you'll learn how to maneuver the thing in forward and reverse easily enough. Tuck in in anywhere. Steering angle on those big rigs is really good, it'll surprise you what you can do. At 40 feet it starts getting tricky tossing the thing around in the Walmart parking lot. Sometimes. But, that's why you bring the toad, right

Out on the open highway you can't beat the ride of a diesel pusher, you'll be spoiled rotten.

Agree with your assessment regarding year of manufacture, we've been delighted with ours. Wish I'd a thought a bit more about TAG axle, we put a lot of miles on the highway and I can kinda see now how the handling might be improved by it. I think Newmar had a TAG 40 footer, didn't they? Only thing is, you're gonna lose storage space. Which if you live aboard, can't have too much of that.

Beauty of having a backup home, in part, is the storage space. Allows you swap out clothes and equipment for the season. Also nice to have a place to park for free if you don't feel like spending money for a while.

Just the two of us, 40 feet is plenty. Bathroom and kitchen layout are the main things. We only have one couch in the living room, having a desk/workstation instead of the second couch makes it more livable for us anyway. I dunno about retrofitting the bed, the base is probably just a plywood box but there will be some innards under it. Slide mechanism, electrical cables and whatnot. Love the idea -- I'd do a murphy bed myself -- but implementation might be tricky. And as is, we have plenty of room to spread out. I get starboard, Her Majesty gets port side, cat gets the dashboard and everybody is happy. OTOH you want to have room to move around in the kitchen, and believe me, a cramped bathroom will get real old, real fast.

Rig that old, you'll be upgrading electronics. Not a huge big deal, some light carpentry is involved. We got Dish For My RV, the equipment itself was surprisingly inexpensive down at Camping World, mounted it using existing cable, works like a charm. We mounted a soundbar rather than rewiring the rather quaint surround sound system. Bluetooth for the win, all the way around.

Definitely ditch the propane refrigerator (if not already done), putting in a residential reefer is an easy swap.

Washer/dryer is a huge quality of life item, and personally I'd rather have a dishwasher than an oven (although we don't bake much, and eat very little meat, YMMV)

We love living aboard, wouldn't have it any other way. Nicer than any house we ever lived in, and it's just right for the two of us size wise.

As for one brand over another, it'll come down to construction, layout, and detail work. Customer support. Some people like one chassis over another. You're gonna have a standard diesel engine, like truckers use. Which is fine, they are durable (NOT indestructible) and a normal diesel mechanic should be familiar with it. There's no such thing as a "reliable" RV, not until Honda or Toyota gets into the business anyway. Systems are all the same; Aquahot is aquahot, dometic is dometic, Kwickee is Kwickee. HWH is HWH. Those things break sometimes; is what it is. On our 2008 I constantly have projects to do. But, I like doing projects.
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Old 05-02-2021, 10:40 AM   #3
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well you seemed to have organized your thoughts on this well in advance - don’t get why anyone “will get mad” about any of this, other than that it’s a long and rambling discussion with no real request for input, as the title suggests. Maybe the Thor/Walmart thing, but that’s just an opinion, so.....?
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Old 05-02-2021, 01:54 PM   #4
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RE: Get mad - for those of you who have been part of this forum for many years, its likely lost on you at this point. However, for those of us on here that are new to the forum, IRV2 comes across very elitist, at least in the ‘A’ forum. If you don’t have a Prevost, Newmar, or Tiffin, etc. the emphatic undertone here is you’ve got a piece of garbage. So the OP is probably hoping somebody doesn’t sound off on him/her.

For sure, there is a difference in quality as you climb up the ranks, as is anything else in life. But those of us driving a Toyota or Honda shouldn’t feel like its junk if its not a Lexus or Audi.
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Old 05-02-2021, 04:40 PM   #5
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Question

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Originally Posted by Jopopsy View Post
RE: Get mad - for those of you who have been part of this forum for many years, its likely lost on you at this point. However, for those of us on here that are new to the forum, IRV2 comes across very elitist, at least in the ‘A’ forum. If you don’t have a Prevost, Newmar, or Tiffin, etc. the emphatic undertone here is you’ve got a piece of garbage. So the OP is probably hoping somebody doesn’t sound off on him/her.
Really? I must have missed something, but I suppose that is because I am so new to the forums? I guess that having just joined 11 years ago next month, I just haven't enough experience to know how bad thing are.... I am sure that there must be at least one forum member who owns a Prevost, but I have not yet run across him.
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Old 05-02-2021, 06:41 PM   #6
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You want all-electric due to lower fire risk; be advised most RV fires occur in motorhomes, most MH fires are in diesel pushers, most diesel pusher fires are in the engine compartment. Do your own research to confirm my statements.
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Old 05-02-2021, 07:01 PM   #7
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A couple of issues with your plan.....you say you're a few years away from buying an RV or going full time, by then, many things will change. You'll be looking at 20 year old coaches, which will be long in the tooth. The second issue, it sounds like you're anticipating waiting until your mid to late sixties. Each year brings on more medical issues and doctor visits.

Find a way to get out sooner and enjoy your retirement now, before you can't!
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Old 05-02-2021, 11:09 PM   #8
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"We have studied RV living pretty extensively now. We know a lot about RVs conceptually, but we have no actual experience."

As a way to get out there and do some RVing sooner, like Don suggests, and since you have no first hand experience, I recommend that you rent something for a week. You are likely to discover something important, making it worth the cost of the rental even if it's not exactly what you think you want.
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Old 05-03-2021, 07:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
"We have studied RV living pretty extensively now. We know a lot about RVs conceptually, but we have no actual experience."

As a way to get out there and do some RVing sooner, like Don suggests, and since you have no first hand experience, I recommend that you rent something for a week. You are likely to discover something important, making it worth the cost of the rental even if it's not exactly what you think you want.
I think this is some of the best advise given. You would not be the first person to buy and RV, go out on their first trip or two and decide "This is not at all what we expected." Before you make that much of a financial commitment, I would encourage you to rent and RV, and take a trip someplace for a week and see how it goes. We all here love it!...but not everyone does. Good luck!
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Old 05-06-2021, 06:25 AM   #10
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"We have studied RV living pretty extensively now. We know a lot about RVs conceptually, but we have no actual experience."

As a way to get out there and do some RVing sooner, like Don suggests, and since you have no first hand experience, I recommend that you rent something for a week. You are likely to discover something important, making it worth the cost of the rental even if it's not exactly what you think you want.
Thanks. We are renting a 32 foot Thor in July. Not quite what we will be looking for but it will give us an idea.

Prices are dropping quickly for the years we are looking at. That may allow us to buy one sooner, and give us time for upgrades before we go FT.


I lived on a sailboat for two years long ago. I expect that was pretty similar.
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Old 05-06-2021, 06:34 AM   #11
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A couple of issues with your plan.....you say you're a few years away from buying an RV or going full time, by then, many things will change. You'll be looking at 20 year old coaches, which will be long in the tooth. The second issue, it sounds like you're anticipating waiting until your mid to late sixties. Each year brings on more medical issues and doctor visits.

Find a way to get out sooner and enjoy your retirement now, before you can't!
From what we have seen, the higher end RVs are meticulously maintained and cared for. Still we are aware there will be some work to do. I prefer to start with a better base quality over newer but chintzier to begin with. We have always been that way with houses too.



The medical issues worries me. I am trying to get into better shape as retirement approaches. I am hoping retirement will allow me to increase that effort. I will need another knee surgery before we go. However we are not going to just sit around missing our kids and an RV is a much more comfortable way to travel than airplanes and I hate hotels.



Another concern is the movement towards banning diesel engines. That may start occurring before we are done living in an RV. The cost for diesel may go through the roof and there may be many states that do not allow us. Swapping diesel for electric may be crazy expensive. All we can do is deal with it if it happens though.
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Old 05-06-2021, 06:45 AM   #12
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3. Watch environmental extremes. You can find 5th wheels that are well insulated for winter stays, and fewer big windows means easier to cool in the summer. (We lived in SLC last winter, lows typically in the 20's and while we burned a ton of diesel we were comfortable. Kind of marginal, keeping the thing cool during Florida summers tho).


Those things break sometimes; is what it is. On our 2008 I constantly have projects to do. But, I like doing projects.



Thank you for the super helpful response!


Our plan is to winter near kids who live in warmer places, and then travel to the beautiful northern climes in the summer and fall (Michigan, Canada, Alaska, Maine, Montana, Minnesota). Grandkid events may alter those plans if we have any grandkids (none on the horizon yet), but we hope to avoid most weather extremes.



All of our houses have been over 100 years old (current one is approaching 190), so we are accustomed to projects.
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Old 05-06-2021, 01:59 PM   #13
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You didn't mention Alfa in your list. An Alfa Gold that has been reskinned already would meet most of your wish list. Or one that hasn't been reskinned can be picked up cheap and then you can have it reskinned and updated as you wish. There are two companies in Indiana (MCIRV and New Debut) that specialize in reskinning and updating Alfas.
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Old 05-06-2021, 06:34 PM   #14
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“ Another concern is the movement towards banning diesel engines. That may start occurring before we are done living in an RV.” California banning Diesel engines will be another plus for not going there. Diesel engines are not going away and current ones in non commercial use will be grandfathered, even to visit California.
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