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Second Chance

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About Second Chance

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    Travel, photography, sailing, world cuisines, music.

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  1. Second Chance

    5th Wheel vs Travel Trailer

    I've already replied regarding the space concept, but I have experience with the (often) costly predicament of not having enough tow vehicle. When I got back into RVing after a 30 year break, I had a Chevy Tahoe. The Tahoe is built on Chevy's 1/2-ton truck chassis and has the same engine and transmission as their 1500 series trucks (5.3 liter gas and 4-speed automatic in the model year we had). We purchased a 26' travel trailer that had a GVWR around 7,400 pounds and was about 6,800 lbs. the way we loaded. With a decent WD hitch, the trailer handled OK (we still felt big trucks pass), but the 5.3 liter gas V8 struggled on grades and against headwinds. We found a new 2013 GMC 2500HD diesel still on a dealer's lot as the 2014s were coming out and got a really good deal. Talk about a tow monster! The move to the 3/4-ton suspension and the diesel motor was a night-and-day contrast with the Tahoe. We were happy campers... literally. Then, we made the decision to full-time and bought the fifth wheel. Per the CAT scales, the 2500HD had about 3,300 lbs rear axle capacity left with full fuel, me in the driver's seat, and an Andersen hitch in the bed (that's a lot for a 3/4-ton truck - but that's how it was configured). Loaded for full-timing, our 13,990 GVWR fifth wheel consistently put 3,000 - 3,100 lbs. on the pin and was within 200 - 300 lbs. of the rear axle weight rating on the truck. While still within specs, this wasn't as much of a safety margin as I like to have. There was also the constant nagging concern of "what would happen if I lost a rear tire on the truck?" We had been looking at upgrading to a 1-ton, preferably a DRW, but it was just too much money to eat the depreciation on a truck we bought new and pay the difference on a new truck. About 18 months into our full-time adventure, I had the 2500HD back at the dealer where we purchased it for service. Tony, who sold us the truck, had become a friend and liked to keep up with our travels so I went to find him to pass the time while the truck was back in the shop. Long story short, they had taken an F350 DRW diesel CC long bed in on trade and it was sitting on the lot. The Ford was one model year older than the GMC, but had 3,000 fewer miles on it (28K vs. 31K on the GMC - that's nothing for diesel trucks). Tony was concerned that it was going to take them a while to move the Ford on a GMC lot. I jokingly said, "Trade you even." He talked to the sales manager and everyone agreed! The next day we dropped a hitch in the factory puck system on the F350 and hit the road. My wife tells everyone that I'll let her buy more than four rolls of toilet paper now. You may have plans in your head now, but things change (as they did with us). There's a saying in "RV World" that goes, "Buy your last RV first." This means, avoid a string of money and depreciation-eating trades and buy what you'll be happy with in the long run first. The same goes for tow vehicles. We lucked out in trading for the F350. Had we not stumbled into that deal, we'd still be living on the edge with a truck that was barely capable of carrying the pin weight of our home on wheels. Had we started out with at least a 1-ton single rear wheel (with an extra 1,000 lbs. or so of payload), we'd probably still have the same truck and be OK with it. Rob
  2. Second Chance

    5th Wheel vs Travel Trailer

    As we sit here relaxing on a very rainy day (the remnants of Florence are passing over northern Maryland and our location at Aberdeen Proving Ground), a few thoughts come to mind. You have been given excellent advice on TTs vs. fivers, so I don't need to waste time and keystrokes on that. I'm thinking about space right now. On rainy days (or any kind of inclement weather, for that matter), comfortable seating and not feeling claustrophobic are important - at least to us. If I didn't have a place to put my Ekornes recliner, my wife didn't have a love seat she liked (I sit like a dog, she sits like a cat), and we didn't have enough space to breathe and move around, we'd go nuts. Slides help increase living space (we've not had any issues with our three slides) and enough window area goes a long way to relieving those feelings of claustrophobia. At 36', our floor plan is perfectly suited to us and our lifestyle - but may not be for everyone. In our travels we've run into people full-timing in everything from Class B vans, small Class Cs, and small travel trailers (think the fiberglass "eggs") to 42' toy-hauler fifth wheels and diesel pusher motorhomes. Everyone's tastes, needs and budget are different. The things that make the most difference are research, thought and planning. Rob
  3. Second Chance

    RV "Lawn" Chairs

    We, too, are fans of the Zero Gravity chairs. They are the most comfortable portable chairs we've ever sat in. We have two sizes: a larger one for me and a smaller one for my wife. We keep a couple of cheap camping chairs for when we need to carry them to someone else's site (the Zero Gravity chairs are heavier). Rob
  4. Second Chance

    Texas Inspection Question on Renewal

    We renew on-line rather than by mail. When renewing, we "digitally sign" a statement that the vehicle is currently out of state. Polk County mails out the sticker and registration and we stop at an inspection station the next time we enter Texas. Since there are no longer any physical inspection stickers, all this is tracked in a computer database that LEOs have access to if needed. I don't remember how the inspection fees were handled the last time we renewed. Rob
  5. Second Chance

    Tricare for Life and Medicare

    Just so nobody misunderstands, the premiums are for Part B (outpatient care). Part A (inpatient care) is premium-free. Tricare For Life will cover your prescriptions (I advise using the Express Scripts home delivery service to avoid copays). It's bargain basement compared to what non-military folks have to pay for part D and out-of-pocket expenses (Tricare For Life picks up whatever Medicare doesn't pay). If I can get it to work, here's a link to the Tricare For Life handbook: TCFL Handbook Rob
  6. Second Chance

    Proper Driver's License delima

    Yes - since Feb 2015 (second time). We're in North Carolina and will pull out tomorrow for Richmond, VA (wife's mother). After that, it's Baltimore/APG to wait for another grandbaby to be born. Rob
  7. Second Chance

    Tricare for Life and Medicare

    As far as I know, your daughter would be eligible for Tricare Select, as well - until she ages out. You might have to wait until open season in October to make the change. It may not be worth it for the short time between then and February, though. I'm Medicare/TFL now, but my wife is under 65 and has Tricare Select. It works well for us on the road - and no premiums. Rob
  8. Second Chance

    Diesel locations

    A trucker's atlas (there's probably an app version now) or any of the RV GPSs. My Garmin RV760 has a category for truck stops and you can search either nearby or along your set route. I use it all the time for that purpose. Rob
  9. Second Chance

    Tricare for Life and Medicare

    Thanks - I should have worded it that way. Rob
  10. Second Chance

    RV repair Livingston TX

    RVServiceReviews.com for Livingston West has 17 reviews with an "Excellent" rating. Rob
  11. Second Chance

    Proper Driver's License delima

    'Fraid so. Rob
  12. I'll come down on Linda's side of the fence. We're in a fiver rather than a Class A, but we are full-timers and have W/D prep and opted to do without. In three years on the road we have not regretted the choice. We like being able to put three or four large loads in commercial machines (including blankets, comforters, parkas, etc.) and be done with everything in less than two hours. We do this about every 10 days. We carry three sets of linens and towels and have enough of each season's clothing to last about two weeks. We also have more closet space without the W/D in there. Rob
  13. Second Chance

    Proper Driver's License delima

    Big5er is correct on all points. I will just add that, when I moved up to a 1-ton DRW truck that put me over the weight limits (same 14K fifth wheel), I drove the rig from Las Cruces, NM, to the Texas DMV testing location on the east side of El Paso for the test. I was never asked how I got the rig there - they just proceeded to administer the driving test and issue my license. Rob
  14. Second Chance

    Tricare for Life and Medicare

    Part B comes from Medicare - anything else is a "supplemental" policy and is a waste of money for those of us with TFL. TFL also continues your Part D (outpatient prescription drug) coverage, so you don't need to find one of those on the market, either. My Part B enrollment paperwork came in the mail about 2 months before I turned 65. It was set up to go into effect (and the premiums deducted from by Social Security payments) UNLESS I did something to stop it. The ID card section will take care of DEERS and Tricare when you go in to get your new "senior" military ID. I've had one major illness since turning 65 and haven't had to pay anything out of pocket. Don't go spending money you don't need to. Rob Edit/PS: we all have some decisions to make come this next January. The dental coverage options are changing and Tricare will also start offering vision coverage. It would be best to go to the Tricare web site and read up on it so we can make some informed decisions when the time comes. There are also some good materials on the Tricare web site to help you understand the Medicare/TFL thing.
  15. Second Chance


    Place mats when we eat at the table... but that's not very often. Since they're rarely out, we don't have to deal with them on moving days. When the grandkids are with us a large tarp wouldn't be enough! We feed them outside. Rob