Our Navion Takes a Victory Lap

A day by day blog of our trip to the Pomona RV show

Don Cohen Don Cohen  |  10.24.2014

(In October 2014 we made an eleven day trip that’s pretty typical of our RV adventures.  The trip revolved around visiting the California RV show in Pomona where, as part of the extended Winnebago family, we’d kick the tires of new models and share our travel experiences with GoLife readers.)

Exactly two years ago this week a couple of RV tenderfoots loaded up their brand new Itasca Navion and, with a mixture of excitement, anxiety and an iPad of collected RV tips, hurtled themselves down a new highway of uncertainty at sixty-five miles an hour.  Rereading my first blog on our tiretreks.com web site brings the memories back like they were yesterday.  And, in adult time measurement, it sure does feel like yesterday.

As the time zoomed by, so have the miles, and the Navion is reading 38,400.  Yup.  We’ve done some traveling.  Our travels can be defined as much more than dots on the map.  They are defined by the various strains of RV culture we’ve been introduced to.  They are defined by new friends and new experiences.  And, perhaps most surprisingly, our great relationship with the Winnebago company.  Wow.  From being a rookie RVer, to becoming the blogger-in-chief of WinnebaGoLife — that’s been an incredibly fun journey.

To celebrate our two years of growth, stories and adventure, we’re making a two week autumn hop out to California to add another signature event to our experience:  attending a big national RV show.  There are many smaller RV shows across the country, but there are two:  Hershey, Pennsylvania in the east and Pomona, California in the west that are really big.  How big?  We’re going to find out.

For this GoLife story I’m going to return to how I started our first RV adventure with a daily blog.  So, hop on board and ride along and read along as we break in a brand new set of tires in our trusty Navion.

The Day Before

Terry and I are big walkers.  And living in the heart of downtown Denver we have lots of fascinating routes into different neighborhoods, the central business district, and our most regular routine, along the banks of the Platte River up and around Mile High Stadium.  Depending on our route it’s usually a one-hour, four mile brisk walk.

Mile-High StadiumIn Colorado, Mile High Stadium might as well be designated as a church, because a lot of praying happens there on Sundays.  And, being a Denver native and life-long Bronco fan, I’m about to make an interesting connection to this photo and our trip tomorrow (well at least it is to me).  You see, from 1972-1975 the Broncos pre-season training camp was at the campus of Cal-Poly which just so happens to be in. . . .Pomona.  So in a couple of days, I’ll finally be able to put a “face to a name,” geographically speaking.

Day One

Living in the west it seems like the closest adventures are always at least 500 miles away (in this case it’s 1,000 miles).  So today is a transit day. Of all the routes out of Denver, I-70 west is far and away the most scenic.

About twenty miles west of Green River, Utah I-70 bisects an uplift of canyon country.  There’s a scenic pull out and, typical of many western highway overlooks, you often find one or more native Americans displaying jewelry.  Shopping wasn’t part of the plan of the day, but a little appreciation for the sandstone charms of Utah was.

Dragon Canyon UT

Dragon Canyon UT (3)Dragon Canyon UT (2)Dragon Canyon UT (1)Cedar City, Utah was our little-over-halfway destination and as dusk turned to dark we rolled into our campsite for the evening: the local Home Depot. Like Wal-Mart, Home Depot does allow overnight camping at some stores (ask for permission).  This one is adjacent to Wal-Mart, but with a much quieter and leveler parking lot.  It’s a country club in comparison to some of the truck stops we’ve stayed at where the semis sidle up to both sides of our rig only three feet away.  Truck stops are safe for overnighting, but not for light sleepers.

While we have satellite television (Dish) tonight we opted to start the recent PBS series on The Roosevelts.  We’ve got an Apple TV hooked up to one of our screens and stream directly from an iPad.

Day Two

Today was a shorter drive day with the highlight of driving south in I-15 from St. George, Utah though the Virgin River canyon and on past Las Vegas.  As we approached the California border there were three sprawling solar energy plants.  Unlike photovoltaic cells, these shimmering fields of mirror-like reflectors point to a high tower where the reflected solar rays heat up molten salt which, in turn, heats water into steam to power electrical turbines.  And at the foothills of the sun-scoured mountains in the Mojave desert, sunshine seems to be the only commodity with seemingly endless availability.

After replenishing the Navion’s diesel tank in the small desert town of Baker, and before pulling back onto the highway, I punched in the name of our destination into our in-dash Kenwood GPS/entertainment system.  I really like the Kenwood’s features and specifically their use of Garmin’s GPS software. When we bought our Navion in 2012 in-dash GPS wasn’t a factory option, so we added the Kenwood and put a matching unit into our Honda Fit thereby not having to learn two different systems.  Once the route is programmed I look forward to hearing the nonjudgmental tones of “Garmin Girl.”  Beyond erasing the stress of trying to read a map and divine the right lane to exit in, Garmin Girl has also restored marital tranquility in the cockpit.  Actually, this afternoon Garmin Girl had to ride shotgun as Terry was in the back of the rig, Macbook on her lap and iPhone in her hand, doing research on some products for one of her clients.

The closer we got to the greater Los Angeles area, the wider the lanes, the thicker the traffic and, the quicker the tempo of driving became.  But, fear not, for my Navion and my Garmin Girl, they comfort me.  And lo that I travel in narrowed cone zoned lanes, I fear no evil as my Navion’s svelte width provides a little extra breathing space.

Garmin Girl, as usual, delivered us to the front office of the East Shore RV park with nary an incident or backtrack.  The park is owned by Los Angeles County and sits high atop a hillside with impressive views of a reservoir and general aviation airport that put you nearly at eye level with the flight approach.  The park is well groomed and has several hundred sites.  Prior to the busy weekend of the RV show we scored a couple of nights in a premium site, but will have to descend to the lower camping area two days later (lovely, but not as scenic).

East Shore RV Park

East Shore RV Park (2)Day Three

Well, that day happened.  We left for the RV Show at the Fairplex around 9:30 and just walked back in the door of the Navion eleven hours later.  I’m not sure your reading patience or my sagging energy levels could sustain a full account of our day.  So I’ll give us both a break by lightly touching on some of our highlights and observations.

Yes, true to its billing this is a HUGE RV show.  There are some smaller peripheral vendors in an indoor barn-like structure but the real deal is out on the display grounds where row after row of motorhomes and towables are packed side by side.  The main manufacturers all have a presence.  While this is a trade show where manufacturers show off their latest and greatest, this isn’t a “look, but don’t touch affair.”  Every product you walk, sit or lay down in is up for sale and the local dealers will be happy to seal a deal and put your name on a sold sign.

Winnebago at PomonaI learned something quite interesting about the way the show works.  Manufacturers send new units to the show that their local dealers will try to sell.  The local dealers commit to buying any unsold units at the end of the show.  When I first heard this from a salesperson my reaction was, “yeah, this sounds like a bunch of hype to motivate me as a buyer.”  However, I was able to triangulate that it’s true.  What this means is that the local dealers are keen not to have inventory hanging around so, more often than not, those great “Show Special” prices, really are good prices.

Winnebago at Pomona (1)What hit me about this show, compared to the regional version we’ve attended in Denver is the range of models and prices.  Usually at regional RV shows there’s just a smattering of high end coaches and lots of more affordable towable products.  Here in Pomona there was a mind-numbing selection of coaches in the $150,000 to $400,000+ range.  Terry and I must have walked through several dozen A’s, B’s, C’s and towables from micro-mini’s to cavernous fifth-wheelers.

Winnebago at Pomona (2)Our day slowly started to wind down with a volley of texts for a meet up about ten minutes away where three big garage doors in the back of an unassuming one level office building were open to reveal a very good craft brew pub inside.  No food trucks today, but a wide variety of craft beers to sample and swill.  Around the community table were about a dozen folks who were all there to meet Jason and Nikki Wynn who, for the last five years have carved out one of the most entertaining and high quality blogs on the Internet.  We’ve known the Wynns for a couple of years and have managed to find a few intersections in our travel plans to meet up.  After beers came sushi at a highly Yelped restaurant about fifteen minutes away.  Jason and Nikki brought along another couple, Raven and Chris who, like the Wynns are in their 30’s and just about ready to take the full-time plunge.  Of course road tales and discussions on solar panels were interspersed with comments on floorplans, fabrics, and construction quality.

There was still another fifteen minutes of parking lot chat as we left the restaurant and Jason saved me the step of having Garmin Girl point me  to the RV park as he and Nikki led the way back in their Smart Car. Tomorrow, we’ll do it all again.

Day Four

Our morning began with a move.  When we booked a site at the East Shore RV Park we were able to secure a location with a mountain vista — for two days.  The site had been reserved by someone else for the weekend, so the plan would be that we would have to descend to the lower loop area which, while not as impressive and a little more tightly packed, was still reasonably attractive. It wasn’t a big deal to move as two years and months of road travel have reduced the departure and arrival routine to around five minutes.  And, to our credit, we’ve been very diligent in stowing and securing items so, for a long time now, we haven’t heard a surprising “thunk” as something falls to the floor with the first bump or turn.

TowablesWe returned to the sprawling LA County fairgrounds, and paid the daily $10 park fee.  Had we driven the Navion instead of our Honda Fit, parking for an RV is free.  Why the difference?  It’s to encourage buyers to bring their trade-in.  And if you’re shelling out four, five or six figures, pocketing a little sandwich money won’t hurt.

The better part of my day was spent tagging along with various Winnebago corporate employees as they assessed competitors products.  Of course, the competition was certainly traipsing through Winnebago’s models too.  Over time I’ve come to learn that the RV industry is a fairly compact business sector. There are many long-term relationships among competing manufacturers and dealers and, though competitive, relationships are consistently cordial and friendly.

Now, let me push aside the glass of Winnebago flavored Kool-Aid and speak strictly as an informed consumer.  When you talk with customers, RV sales people, and representatives from other manufacturers, there’s a consistent recognition that Winnebago builds a solid, durable product.  Oh sure, there’s plenty of opportunity to point out faults, dislikes, and perceived shortcomings, but you still come back to a consistent sense of respect for the company and it’s products.

Yesterday Terry and I looked at dozens of products and floorplans.  We admired, rated, compared and criticized, just like all the other people we’d follow in and out of the units.  But today, along with a Winnebago product manager and product planner, revisiting some of the same rigs was like seeing the same world anew with x-ray glasses.  To be sure, there were some products that met the mark in being high quality competitors, but there were also quite a few that fell far short in design and construction quality.

Towables (1)That stark difference was driven home by a revelatory tour late in the day with one of Winnebago Towables regional sales reps, Jennifer Mink.  It’s hard to believe that Jennifer has only been selling towable products to dealers for six years as her depth and breadth of product knowledge is truly impressive.  Our tour started with one of Winnebago Towables mid-priced units.  Jennifer took me through the unit literally from bottom to top pointing out various construction details.  We then walked over to a competitor’s product and repeated the same bottom to top review.  The differences were astonishing.The Winnebago product was about 15% more, but the difference in manufacturing quality far exceeded the spongy floored, sloppily trimmed unit we were standing in.  It wasn’t even close.

Today’s experience reminded me that it’s easy to be seduced by finishes, electronics and gadgets, but lasting value and preservation of investment are driven by quality.  Sometimes that’s hard to see, but it’s worth digging deeper before you write a big check.

Day Five

Winnebago tent at PomonaIn car centric Los Angeles County, sidewalks and bike paths seem like an alien concept, or so at least it seemed in our route today where we chose, for exercise, to walk the four miles from our RV park to day three of the California RV show (eight miles total). Being a Saturday there certainly was a visible uptick in attendance.  We wandered around poking our heads into various motorhomes and declared victory after lunch.

Our plan was to walk the four miles back to the Navion, shower and then head off for a movie.  On average we see 50-60 movies a year in the theaters and now that we’re in October this is the time the studios start releasing their “serious” movies.  We saw “Fury” with Brad Pitt and Shia LaBoeuf.  This movie certainly qualified for serious as it’s a fictional tale of a US tank crew fighting their way across Germany during the waning months of World War II.  It is neither a glorification or indictment of war.  Tense and harrowing, it’s a surprising meditation on the nature of humanity, sense of duty, and the cognitive dissonance that the requirements of war force upon the combatants.  Pitt is in fine form with every other supporting actor and actress equalling his intensity in a spare, but well written screenplay.

Ten minutes from the theater we arrived at the Laughing Elephant Thai restaurant to share beers, curry, noodles, laughs and RV critiques with our nomadic RV buddies Nikki and Jason.  Earlier in the day they were presenters at the RV show and packed the room for their presentation on wild camping sharing their experience on solar power, water conservation and composting toilets.  If you’re an RV executive you’d be pleased to hear that there were a lot of younger folks in the audience.  That bodes well for future buyers — if you have the right products.

Back end of TravatoSo how would I sum up the California RV show in Pomona?  From what I observed, the industry looks to be fully back on it’s feet and foot traffic and sales in the Winnebago and Itasca areas were definitely positive.  The greatest value in attending a show this size is to be able to compare so many brands and floorplans in one place.  I would absolutely recommend either attending the Hershey or Pomona shows if you’re in the RV market.

Kids in front of BraveNow, that being said, let me be very frank in my criticism of the industry in general.  These kinds of shows aren’t much more than a giant parking lot sale.  This is a business model that has served the manufacturers well over the years.  I just think that for a financial transaction that can approach or significantly exceed the cost of a traditional home, that the buyer experience could be better.  I met some really impressive and super high integrity salespeople (not only selling Winnebago products, but for other companies too).  But I also encountered some who I wouldn’t want to buy a cup of coffee from.  I had the luxury to view products through the eyes of manufacturing experts, but for most buyers it’s bewildering to sift through the hype to get to the real truth of understanding the advantages, drawbacks and implications of brand and feature choices.

Setting the manufacturers aside, I think the industry organizers could do a lot more to improve the attendee experience, but first they need to reset their thinking about their audience.  From the graphics and signage, to the peripheral services booths and seminars, the industry needs to stop dumbing down content and underestimating the sophistication of their market.  A little more class and a little more aspiration will go a long way in bringing new RV buyers into the market and keeping the current ones coming back.

Day Six

Before decamping to our new home tonight in Anaheim we took a short morning walk through the East Shore RV Park.  A couple of spots away from us was another Navion and hooked behind it was a trailer for a big BMW motorcycle and atop it were a couple of kayaks.  It made me smile and, of course, curious.  In attending a couple of Skinnie Winnie rallies we’ve found that, Navion and View owners are an adventurous lot.

Jack and Ann BarnesJack and Ann Barnes are from Vermont.  Jack was the network administrator for a school district and now in retirement they bought their Navion and spend, by their estimation, seventy-five percent of their time on the road.  They’ve been visiting National Parks and Presidential Libraries.  They love their 2013 J model and it’s compact size may be preparing them for their next residence. . .a boat.

I always assume the worst when it comes to Southern California freeway traffic, but our half-hour trip to the Anaheim Resort RV Park was easy with not a slow-n-go in sight.  This is an older RV park with one great amenity – it’s a mile (less than a 20 minute walk) from Disneyland and the California Adventure parks. It’s clean and well maintained.

Anaheim RV ParkOur site sits under the shade of a large solar panel canopy which offers some pleasant shade, however that pretty much eliminates the use of our satellite.  And tonight, good TV reception is critical.  Our Denver Broncos are the featured game playing the San Francisco Forty-Niners back home in Mile-Hi stadium.  With satellite off the table, the next step was plugging into the park cable system.  The signal quality was okay, but all in standard definition.  So, as a final option, I turned on the over-the-air antenna – crystal clear HD.  When we first bought the Navion and added a satellite dish I felt that would be all we’d need.  However, we’ve learned that it’s great to have three options available.

Tonight, as we would at home, we’ll be having dinner in front of the TV watching the game.  To round out the dinner menu we made a quick grocery store run for some fresh produce and a few other items.  This short field trip led to our first encounter with one of the new Walmart grocery stores.  It’s compact, probably around 15,000 to 20,000 square feet.  As a comparison, most new grocery stores are 40-50,000 square feet.  A Walmart super center weighs in at 200,000 square feet.  Both Terry and I were pleased to find this smaller store well stocked.  While there weren’t as many choices in product categories (like 3 types of salsa), what was available was of good quality.  A weak spot we’ve found with Walmart is the quality of their fresh produce.  The selection and quality at this particular store were very decent.  What really pleased me was that the location of the store is in a lower income area, many of which are often referred to as “food deserts.”  It was nice to see good quality produce and competitive pricing in a community that, outside of a much larger (and very nice looking) Hispanic supermarket, could finally have some choice.

Day Seven

CA Kids with WoodyIt took us only 20 minutes to walk from the Anaheim RV Resort to the entrance of the Disneyland and California Adventure parks.  We arrived a little before 11 AM and planned to make a full day of it — which we most certainly did.

CA Hollywood TowerI’ll write more extensively about our experience in an upcoming article, but suffice it to say, we had a very good time.  Our off-season — go on a Monday — strategy proved to be highly successful as our wait times for most of the big attractions were 10-15 minutes.  Even our longest wait time of 30 minutes probably would have been double that if the park had been been fuller.  The Disney corporation continues to deliver a premium experience from clean streets and restrooms to staff friendliness.

CA Healthy MealWe appreciated the improved quality of in-park dining choices.  Sure we had to have an ice cream cone, but felt that was an acceptable allowance because of a healthy and tasty greek salad we had earlier listening to a great swing band, “The Sons of Ellis Island.”  We also opted for dinner at one of their nice restaurants (Carthay Circle) where a couple of cocktails and glasses of wine, along with salad and entrees came in at about $200 for the two of us.  Quality, service, and price compared equally to national chains like Capitol Grille and The Palm.  And while we enjoyed our meal (actually being a bit surprised that it was better than expected), it certainly didn’t match the creativity and savoriness of many of our favorite top foodie restaurants at home.

CA Mickey Ferris Night

CA World of Color NightThe weather was exceptionally cooperative with high overcast and mild temperatures throughout the day.  As evening rolled in, and the lights came on, the park took on that warm fairytale like glow we all remember from our childhood.  And a pretty sunset didn’t hurt either.  The final crescendo arrived with a fountain and light show (Wonderful World of Color) that only Disney could pull off.  It was a wowzer.  Video projection on water — who knew!

Day Eight

Disneyland (9)Today we visited Disneyland, a destination we’ve returned to several times over the decades.  This entry will be very short because today’s adventure is now a full-fledged story with photos that you can read by clicking here.

Day Nine

The sub-head of the day is: “A study in contrasts.”  This morning we nosed out onto I-5 in Anaheim after the worst of the rush hour.  However, on an LA freeway it’s hard to tell when there isn’t a rush hour.  It took awhile, but we chugged north through the center of the city to a much more relaxing traffic flow in about an hour and a half.

Our driving goal was simple.  We’d take a 250 mile scenic route north along the backside of the Sierra’s and then jog east to spend the night in Death Valley.  Contrast #1 was going from the question of how do these dense hyper-cities manage to be sustainable?  To looking at millions of arid acres where the density must be about 2 people for every ten square miles.  California is big and America is big.  And if you don’t need either water or power, there’s plenty of room for you in the Mojave desert.

Death Valley (1)East of Lone Pine we climbed to nearly 5,000 feet and then started a narrow, twisting descent.  Sure, any Class A could navigate the shoulder-less and occasionally guardrail-less highway, but not as stress free as in our Skinny Winnie Navion.  We stopped at a pull out to admire the view and valley below.  I thought we were looking at Death Valley.  We weren’t.  And after a nearly 4,000 foot downshifting descent, I realized that we were still about 1,500 feet above sea level in the Panamint valley.

Death ValleyWe looked ahead to a mountain range to the east where the road was directly headed.  And that’s where we went.  Straight up, and up, and up all the way back to nearly 5,000 feet.   And then down, and down, and down for over twenty miles at long six percent grades into Death Valley.

A few miles north of our destination at a National Park campground (more like parking lot) we watched the GPS count down the elevation.  Terry kept snapping pictures of the display with her iPhone and the lowest reading was -230 feet below sea level!  Damn.  We’re talking some fast water boiling here!  This was contrast #2.  Our faithful Navion has been over the highest paved roads in the US (over 12,000 feet) and now is sleeping at the lowest point.  Check out our cab view where we’re parked and look closely at the reading on our dash GPS.  And then enjoy our evening sunset.

Death Valley (2)

Death Valley (3)

Day Ten

Before turning in last night I stood outside the Navion and looked up at a Milky Way that was thick with stars.  I had expected to see this galactic canopy high above the deep desert valley.  What I hadn’t expected was the unmistakeable glow of Las Vegas nearly one hundred miles to the east. The nighttime temperatures were receding into the upper 60’s and it would be good sleeping weather.

DV and UtahThe next morning, as we were pulling in our slide and raising the jacks, a couple of coyotes sauntered through the campground on morning scavenger patrol.  While in a starkly scenic location, the Texas Springs campground really wasn’t anything more than a rocky parking lot striped with spaces.

DV and Utah (1)As we headed east towards Las Vegas we pulled off for arguably the park’s most scenic views at Zabriskie Point.  For many years the surrounding hillsides were mined for various minerals, most famously, “20 Mule Team Borax.”  The scenic overlook is named for Christian Zabriskie who served for many years as the president of the Pacific Coast Borax Company until his retirement in 1933.

DV and Utah (3)

DV and Utah (4)After a couple of hours on the road it was time for a fill-up.  We pulled into a gas station at Cactus Springs, Nevada (you can’t make this stuff up) just as our odometer was turning 40,001.  As I was filling the Navion I saw a parade of six cars that had been clearly covered with black and white photo camouflage.  This is often done when car manufacturers are testing new models.  However, the subterfuge was pretty flimsy.  First off, in the center of the grill was a big covered circle — just like our Mercedes Sprinter.  Then, the masked cars were followed into the station by a couple of regular Mercedes SUVs.  The test cars looked like a sports performance model similar to the BMW X6 with a high clearance, large wheels, and roof that swept rakishly to the rear.  At the pump next to me a tall blonde man with a clearly European t-shirt emerged to fill the car with gas.  As we exchanged a momentary Mercedes greeting I had to smile listening to his German accent.  While I thought it would be a little forward to snap a few pictures, the test driver did allow that I might see this model at our dealer in a year or so.  As we drove down the highway I smiled at the thought that the god of all things Mercedes sent this posse of Germans to Cactus Springs at that very moment to celebrate the Navion’s 40th.

DV and Utah (5)

DV and Utah (6)The day was coming to an end and about a half hour before the Broncos-Chargers game we rolled into a nice little KOA in Beaver, Utah where we’ve stayed before.  This gave us enough time for pulling into a satellite friendly site and getting a dinner of brisket, acorn squash, and fresh salad on the table in time for kick-off.  The amazing October orange sunset proved to be a harbinger of a convincing win by our home team.

Day Eleven (our final one)

This morning in the campground I spotted an Itasca Reyo with a distinctively different tow vehicle.  Talk about classic!  It really needs to be clipped onto the new Brave for a complete time warp effect.

Palisade (7)Our plan was to return across the extremely scenic I-70 route through Utah and arrive at the town of Palisade for a 4 PM spirits tasting, stay the night in the area and then head back to Denver in the morning.

Now prepare yourself, there’s going to be a quiz.  Look at this picture below.  How do you think that pear got into the bottle (it’s pear gin)?  Stay tuned for the answer.

Palisade (1)Palisade is just a little east of Grand Junction, right off of I-70, along the Colorado River and at the western mouth of DeBeque Canyon.  Because of it’s altitude, fertile soil and temperate climate, the Palisade area is Colorado’s fruit basket.  It’s best known for it’s peaches, but also produces apples, pears, and (over the past couple decades) some fairly decent wines.  About an hour south there are also fields of the well known regional Olathe sweet corn.

With all these local fruits, grains and corn it isn’t too surprising that another good use for them would be alcoholic production.  And, for the last nine years, a small craft distillery, Peach Street Distillers, has done just that.

Palisade (6)We arrived an hour early and decided to kill time and fill our stomachs for a little prophylactic alcohol absorption by walking about a hundred yards past the distillery to the Palisade Brewing Company.  They had some pretty tempting ales on tap, but we needed to pace ourselves and ordered up some delicious homemade chili and deeply smoked and slightly sugary chicken wings.

Palisade (3)Boy, were we glad we did as our distillery samplings were to range from 50 to 180 proof!

In about an hour, our host, Josh Nestler (a native of Grand Junction), gave us the top to bottom tour of the distillery which is about as home-made and Rube Goldberg as they come.  After visiting Makers Mark about a year ago, we’ve seen some pretty powerful and slick marketing.  Watching Josh demonstrate dipping a gin bottle into a bucket of wax for final sealing before the label was applied was a lot more low-tech than the Makers Mark automated assembly line.  As fruit flies quietly buzzed around we saw the pear mash (looks like baby food), the imported German distillery apparatus, and the humidified cask garage where the bourbon, brandy and gin were all being aged.

Palisade (2)Josh presented us with a comprehensive flight of all the distillery’s products, including a coffee/caramel liquor that, unfortunately, they only offer at their bar.  We enjoyed the peach brandies, and were pleasantly surprised at the quality and finish of their bourbon.  However, it was their Antelope Gin, with a slight citrusy flavor that wound up in our shopping bag.

And, because you’ve been patient with me to get to this point, I’m happy to reveal how they get a full sized pear into a bottle.  None of us could answer correctly and the answer is simple and astonishing:  in the spring, they go out into the pear orchard and slip an empty bottle over a pear bud.  The pear grows to full maturity over the summer inside the bottle.  It’s a secret location because they don’t want to attract too much attention.  Who’d of thunk!

Starting our tasting tour on a full stomach and being very reasonable about not over-tasting, we concluded the tour without even the hint of a buzz.  We looked at the sun on the mesa from the front door of the distillery and considered our evening camping options.  We were still a couple of hundred miles and four hours away from Denver.

PalisadeI think for many, that would have seemed like a jump to be made the next day.  But when you really get to know a place it’s funny how, for some reason, familiarity decreases the distance.  Sure we would get home around 10 PM.  And sure, for over half the trip we’d be driving in the dark, but that stretch of I-70 is so familiar to us that it just didn’t seem like a big deal.  Plus we had the third game of the World Series on Sirius to listen to while we drove.

As we dropped off the foothills and saw the lights of metro Denver, the Kansas City Royals picked up their second win of the series.  This pleased my native KC co-pilot no end, plus the reward of a long shower and the Tempur-Pedic all made the accelerated homecoming well worth it.

This may be our last trip in our first Navion as a new one has been ordered.  When we bought it two years ago, many of our RV friends said, “you’ll want something bigger the next time.”  And there’s no doubt that the siren call of multiple slide outs, a walk around bed, and washer and dryer haven’t sung sweet songs to us.  Still, we kept coming back to the nimbleness, efficiency and superlative handling of the Navion.  So maybe our third one may be bigger, but we’re tens of thousands of miles and a few years of new adventures away from making a switch.  But one thing’s for certain. . .we’re tenderfoots no more.


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  1. Roger Posted on 11.28.2014

    Thoroughly enjoyed your article. We’re still shopping as for our retirement RV. Planning to hit the road in ’16. Really appreciate the details you provided. It’s very helpful for a newbie like me to read about what it’s really like out there with a Sprinter based RV. Thanks!

  2. John Capone Posted on 11.27.2014

    Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for sharing your travels with us.
    We recently bought a 2015 Itasca 24j and just love the layout. We went from a 37 ft 5th wheel to this unit. My only real issue is that a fully coupled good sewer hose will not fit into the space designed for it. This means we have to carry it underneath in storage which does not make a lot of sense to me. The place in back will only hold the hose with one fitting on it, which means you have to fit the end connector that fits into the drain every time you use it. Do you have any good ideas on this??
    Thanks for your help.
    John Capone

    1. Don Cohen Posted on 11.30.2014

      There have been quite a few postings in the Yahoo View/Navion forum on this topic. A few owners have developed solutions along the lines of affixing a sewer pipe and cap horizontally on the back underside of the View/Navion to slide a dump tube in. I went a different route and bought a Polychute hose. http://www.polychute.com The only downside to the Polychute is that it stores in a rather large plastic bin. Yes, it does take up more space, but this is absolutely, without question the best hose on the market — and it should be as it costs $160 dollars! Yup, that’s a lot of dough for what my father used to call the “enema tube.” However, I think it’s worth every penny. It has clear tubes at each end so you can visually monitor flow, a great on/off valve at the dump station end, adjustable rubber collar for a tight fit, and (most importantly) the coils around the hose are on the outside which means that waste flows smoothly through the interior of the hose. Because of the large (but excellent) design of the dump valve head, you can only store the tube in the supplied bin or (for some owners I’ve talked to) a more flexible vinyl or plastic sack. After using a Polychute for two years I think it’s a very reasonable trade-off in cargo size for the ease of use. It makes an unpleasant task much easier.


  3. Ed Posted on 11.27.2014

    We are relatively new to the rv world. We bought a new Winnebago View this year and have traveled through Oregon and spent several nights in Washington State parks, as well.

    My question is about towing a dinghy vehicle. Currently we don’t tow a vehicle, but have plans for more extensive travel in the future and think we need one. My research does not indicate that a Honda Fit is a recommended towable vehicle.

    I’m interested in knowing more about your hitch, that appears to allow you to carry bicycles and tow the Fit. I also would appreciate knowing if there are any special requirements, i.e. maximum towing distance, ignition switch bypass, etc. in towing your Fit.

    Thanks for any information or reference you or others are willing to provide.

    1. Don Cohen Posted on 11.30.2014

      In checking out the new 2015 Fit I was sort of disappointed to see that Honda has put an automatic CVT transmission into the new model. Unfortunately, CVTs are not towable. If you go with the manual transmission it is towable. We have a manual 2012 and don’t mind shifting. However, though it’s fun driving a stick, there are times where we’d prefer the ease of an automatic (we use our Fit a lot as our small “city” car when we’re home).

      You can read a very in-depth article on our experience that will answer all your questions on my personal web site: http://tiretreks.com/RVLife/Towing/


  4. Richard Devine Posted on 11.27.2014

    Wow! A down-to-earth article that I’ll want to read again. I’ll be looking
    into the Honda Fit as a toad for my Itasca Sunova 33C.

  5. Dan Posted on 11.16.2014

    Another enjoyable tale of your RV travels. Especially the parts about the Pomona show.
    We really like our 2006 View, but it will be interesting to hear about your new one.