September 20th. Finally. So excited. After months and months of waiting, it was time for us to depart, heading for National Indoor RV Center (NIRVC) in Atlanta to pick up our new 2017 Entegra Aspire 44B and to also transfer our 2013 Aspire to her new owners (via a private sale). Everything was in place – insurance quotes had been obtained, registration options had been analyzed and financial decisions had been made.
We had been over and over our lists a dozen times determining what we needed to bring with us to pass on to the buyers of our 2013 and what we would need on our new coach, all this requiring numerous trips back and forth to our storage unit. Bring the original decorative pillows and bedspread (we had put these in storage immediately after we bought the coach in 2013). Check. Bring the original entry door and rear bath rug (also put in storage). Check. Bring the title for the coach. Check. Bring additional tools that Rob would need to de-install items that were extras and weren’t going with the coach. Check. Some things he could do before we left but a lot of it would have to wait until we arrived at the dealership.
Despite all the planning when it was time to leave that Tuesday morning, we were still wondering – did we forget anything? Too late if we did, no time to turn back as we needed to get to Atlanta by Friday, the 23rd. Maybe we were just a little fuzzy headed – we both woke up with bad colds the day before. What perfect timing! But we were on the fast track, nothing was going to slow us down.
Three quick overnight stops would comprise our Journey. Stops included Twin Grove RV Park in Pine Grove, PA where we have stayed several times before (see our review), Lee Hi Campground (review coming) in Lexington, VA which was an interesting experience, basically a truck stop with a campground overlooking the huge truck parking lot. Try falling asleep to the hum of the engines, reefers and generators of hundreds of trucks parked nearby – luckily Entegras are very well insulated and the noise was not too bothersome. Our last stop was Cherokee Campground (review coming) in Blacksburg, SC.
Except for a near miss accident because of some bozo in the left lane who at the last second shot across in front of us to take an exit ramp, it was an uneventful journey. Thank goodness hubby has good reflexes, it was “pedal to the metal” as they say (but in reverse of the normal meaning)! Sure got my heart pounding! Not only was it a near miss for us but also for another car that was on the exit ramp, otherwise this post would have been about an entirely different subject matter. All we could think of at the time was the story we heard at the Entegra Springfest last April. Another Entegra owner on his way to trade in his coach had a front tire blowout, lost control and hit a pickup in the breakdown lane (fortunately no one was in it) which spun into the travel lanes and exploded. Then his coach careened off the side of the road, hitting a few trees before it came to a stop. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt but his unit was totaled.
Now you might be wondering why did we decide to buy a new coach. After all, there was nothing really wrong with our 2013 Aspire RBQ. And it had taken us over three years to work out all of the bugs and customize everything to our tastes, so why start all over? Tough question. Visions of owning a new coach began back in April when we attended the Entegra Springfest in Elkhart. Hard to resist temptation when surrounded by sparkling new coaches but resist we did, well, at least at that moment. But our resistance quickly faded, within a month of arriving in RI the temptation got the best of us. Was it the fact that we would gain an additional 2′ in length (43′ vs. 45′) and much more storage space with the Aspire 44B model? Or was it because it was all electric (woo hoo, propane cooktop replaced by induction) so we would gain the basement storage space where the propane tank used to live? Or did the new chassis features on the Aspire, like Independent Front Suspension (IFS) and the increase in the front axle weight rating, spark us into action (maybe for Rob but certainly not for me)? Or was it the new 2 year warranty (ours had expired on the 2013 Aspire)? Or could it be that we just needed a change of floor plan? So it wasn’t any one factor but a combination of things that led us down this path.
Some people might think that buying an RV is a simple matter, but trust me it isn’t, especially for full timers. Unlike our first Entegra purchase when we still had a house where we could store the majority of our stuff, the logistics of this purchase/sale were much more challenging. Now if we had traded our 2013 for the 2017, things would have been much easier. Close on the new coach, park the two coaches side by side and transfer everything from one coach to the other. Still a lot of work but pretty straightforward.
But we didn’t – we sold our old coach privately, and even though NIRVC was facilitating the sale, it quickly became much more logistically challenging. It would have been even more complicated if we sold our old coach in RI, but fortunately our buyers were from AL and were meeting us in Atlanta at NIRVC. Since the old coach had to be sold before we could close on the new one, there would be a few days in between and we had to figure out what would we do with all our possessions. Where would we stay during that interim period when we were truly “homeless”? What would we do with the food that was in the refrigerator and the freezer until the new coach was ours? And what about our fur babies? How could we make this less stressful for them? So much to think about!
Well, after much pondering and hours of discussion, somehow everything fell into place. It was a lot of plan making, a lot of hard work and totally exhausting but well worth it in the end. For those of you who think moving from one little ole RV to another must be easy, read on…..
- After spending a lot of time stuck in traffic snarls as we neared the Atlanta area, we arrived at NIRVC in Lilburn, GA early afternoon on the Friday, the 23rd. One thing we learned quickly, the traffic in and around Atlanta is awful despite seven lane highways. We were a bit surprised at how small the dealership lot was. New coaches (mostly Entegras and Newmars) as well as coaches in for service were crammed into the very small parking lot behind the building. We knew that space and electrical hookups were at a premium but never imagined how much of an issue it truly was here. But not for long, they were moving to a new facility in Lawrenceville in the near future and because of that, they had lost their lease for a parking lot next door. All day long we watched the staff shift and juggle these huge behemoths like some giant Rubik’s Cube. How they did it without damaging something is beyond me!
- Once we arrived and our coach was parked safely in the NIRVC lot we had conversations with Todd Springs, the General Manager and several other people to get an idea of the plan of action for the week. Eventually that same day we packed up the kitties and some of our necessities and made our way to the pet friendly Candlewood Suites in Duluth, about a 30 minute drive from the dealership and the kitties happily settled in.
- We chose the Candlewood Suites in part because it had a full size refrigerator. An accomplishment over the weekend would be to empty the refrigerator on the coach moving our perishables and frozen goods to the hotel.
- As part of the sale of our 2013 we had arranged for an interior cleaning and exterior detailing for the buyers. The techs would also remove the Air Force One tow vehicle braking system from the coach so it could be installed on our new coach. Because all this was scheduled to begin on Monday, everything absolutely had to be removed from our coach by Sunday night.
- On Saturday, the 24th, with a supply of U-Haul and Home Depot boxes in hand, we returned to the coach and started packing, packing and packing some more. Yep, there was a lot of packing. Jeesh, why do we have so much stuff I pondered all day long! While I was conquering that task, Rob was busy de-installing things. What a long day!
- On Sunday, the 25th, we picked up a 15′ U-Haul truck and drove it to the dealership where we parked the truck next to the coach. NIRVC is closed on Sundays so we had the outside lot all to ourselves. It took us from about 9:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. that night to finish packing and moving everything into the truck. What a job! Once finished we moved the U-Haul out of the way, parking it on the side of their building where it would sit until the new coach was ours.
Despite being exhausted, all of this went relatively well. However, in the midst of all this chaos we became a little concerned because our new coach hadn’t arrived from Indiana yet and nobody could tell us where it was. As you can imagine our imaginations ran a bit wild. Had it been in an accident? Was there some major problem with it? Well, no need for all that worry – the good news was that everything was fine, just
some delay on the Entegra side lining up a delivery driver. Our new coach arrived on Monday afternoon.
Our buyers, Donna and Olen from AL, arrived on Monday and were thrilled with
our their new coach. They closed on Tuesday and we sadly watched it being driven off. Only sad because we have so many good memories of the time we have spent in the beast as full timers. But that sadness only lasted about 5 minutes, quickly replaced by the excitement of the new coach.
On Tuesday, our salesperson, Angie and Brett Davis, the owner, arrived from the Texas NIRVC facility. Brett took us, as well as a few other customers, out to lunch at Three Blind Mice, a very nice restaurant not too far from the dealership. Both of us had the Monte Cristo sandwich served with house-made raspberry dipping sauce and bacon & sour cream potato salad. Several people raved about the Shrimp & Grits with slow cooked grits, mushrooms and bacon with a white wine and garlic cream sauce ($15) so we went back the next day. Everyone was correct in their assessment. It was very rich but totally yummy. Rob had the sliced Pork Loin with roasted apple mashed potatoes, batter fried green beans, and a pork sawmill gravy ($13). Highly recommend a stop here.
Once it was prepped, cleaned and detailed, we closed on our new coach on Friday afternoon, the 30th. After signing all the financial paperwork, we went on board for our PDI (post delivery inspection) walk through with Mike, one of the techs. Even though we knew a lot of the intricacies of an Entegra coach, there were a lot of new technology and other differences to absorb. So it still took about 3 hours to go through everything. Information overload (for me anyway)!
That night we were invited to a company employee dinner at the Wahoo Grill in Decatur. Good thing, we were a little tired of picking up dinner at Wendy’s every night! As a reward Brett takes his employees out to dinner if they make their sales quota for the month. Such a fun get together! Super group of people, wonderful restaurant and a delicious buffet that included tomato-basil bruschetta and calamari for appetizers, Mediterranean pasta, Charleston shrimp & grits, parmesan encrusted chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli. For dessert, butterscotch pot de creme and double chocolate brownies. Beer and wine were also served. Wow! Great evening. Thanks again Brett!
The next morning (Saturday) we did everything we did the previous weekend, but in reverse. Unloading everything from the truck and moving it on board. Moving from one coach floor plan to another can be a little challenging figuring out where to put everything, but we somehow we managed.
On Sunday we returned the truck to the nearby U-Haul facility, then returned to the dealership to continue putting everything away on the new coach. Since we had a few minor issues that needed attention, we decided to keep the hotel room another night and checked out Tuesday morning, October 4th.
While staying at the hotel, we had one interesting excursion – a visit to the Nam Dae Mun Farmer’s Market. No this definitely was not our idea of a Farmer’s Market! Instead it was a huge store similar in size to a wholesale club. On their website, the origin of the name is explained “Namdaemun is the ‘Great Southern Gate’ and the first National Treasure of South Korea. It is one of the historical pagoda-style Eight Gates positioned in the Fortress Wall surrounding the city of Seoul. Adjacent to this gate was a 24-hour Namdaemun market which provided food to all travelers”.
This small chain of seven Georgia stores professes to be similar to that original market serving the area as “a gateway to international food”. Boy is it! In the produce department there were all sorts of exotic fruits and veggies (mangosteen, malanga edo, Indian bittermelon, young coconuts, weird types of mushrooms and anything else you could imagine). General grocery included not only what you normally find in a market but also a myriad of international items, salts and spices and other unusual gourmet items. In the meat department was the usual stuff, or so I thought until I saw packages of duck feet, beef knees, goat liver, cow tongues, goat burnt feet and even kangaroo. Huh? Don’t think I would know what to do with any of that! Want a live tilapia? Yep, there they were swimming happily (well maybe not) in a tank in the seafood department. Or how about picking out some live crabs crawling around in crates or raw lobster claws or bins containing all different types and sizes of shrimp. Then there was a very long counter filled with every type of fish you could think of (bass, tuna, whiting, mackerel, king fish, sand bream, grouper, etc.). If you needed anything to cook in or to serve all these delicacies, then just step on over to their housewares section. Jeesh! The place was totally overwhelming! Believe it or not, we walked out of there without spending any money.
One of the perks of buying from NIRVC is they provide on site accommodation and encourage you to live aboard for a few days. They don’t want any new buyers driving away without spending some time in the coach and making sure everything is working properly. Since space is at such a premium at the dealership at the moment, they provide a complimentary two night stay at the nearby Stone Mountain Campground. So once our Tyron Tire Safety Bands (subject of another post) had been installed and some of our initial issues had been fixed, off we went to Stone Mountain. We had a great time there, even extending our stay for an additional night, but more about that in a separate post. At this point all the hard work and details of buying and selling were done and it was time to begin enjoying our new home.