The Quest for the Next Travel Trailer

Our first road trip with our new 2021Toyota Highlander is in the books. We left on Monday morning and returned late Wednesday afternoon. Nothing like knocking off 950 miles in a whirlwind. Plus, we drove in downpours and in busy  interstate traffic, both good tests with a new vehicle.  The Highlander averaged 26 miles per gallon of regular gasoline. How refreshing!

The primary goal of the trip was to see three different trailer brands and a specific model for each brand. Admittedly, this is a big shift from our years with our 26 foot  Nash trailer and big Ford F-250/F-350 pickup trucks. Our brains have shifted gears to embracing a trailer that would be lighter weight, shorter, and offer fewer amenities. Having tent camped for four decades, anything that’s off the ground is good. Plus having an enclosed hard-sided space away from curious critters is a bonus. Most showers and toilets suffice, especially avoiding trudging across a campground to visit the toilet in the middle of the night!

We determined the brands and models after researching and following Facebook and Instagram owners groups and viewing dozens of YouTube videos. The search filters: towing capability by a V-6 Toyota Highlander, a dinette area that could be either two twin beds or a king size bed, a wet bathroom (the shower and toilet share the same space), a simple kitchen, three tanks (water, grey water, sewer), solar power capability, air conditioning, and furnace.

Having been on the selling side just five weeks ago, we know that there’s a strong demand in RVs. It’s challenging to find specific models to view, especially living in rural southeastern Washington. We searched for dealers near us that would provide us the best scenario for seeing all three models. It’s close to impossible to find one dealer that carries more than one of the brands we were exploring. Ultimately, we ended up in Portland, Oregon for one model. Then in Arlington and Everett, Washington, (both north of the Seattle area) for the other two models. We made all three visits in one day on Tuesday, which meant driving from Portland to north of  Seattle in the mix.

First stop: Lazydays RV in Portland where we visited a 2021 Xtreme Outdoors Little Guy Mini Max. We liked having a window in the front over the kitchen area. It had a fun vintage appearance. Drawbacks included 6 feet interior height for Steve who is 6 feet 2 inches. The ceiling was even lower in the middle of the trailer where the air conditioner was roughly 2 inches from the ceiling. Even my head touched the ceiling of the bathroom. We may likely need to sit on the toilet to shower. Lastly, the teardrop shape gave more height challenges for Steve the further back he walked. Therefore, as cute as the Mini Max was, it’s too small.

2021 Little Guy Mini Max by Xtreme Outdoors

Second stop: We drove 225 miles from Lazydays RV to Open Road RV in Arlington, Washington. We toured a 2022 Rockwood Geo-Pro 15TB. (Forest River has Rockwood Geo-Pro and Flagstaff E-Pro, which are the same except for the exterior decal package and interior decor). Steve walked the interior length with ample head space. The cathedral ceiling is naturally higher in the middle. The dinette’s seat cushions are a little bit deeper. This means that if we keep the seats as is and use them as twin beds, they’ll be a bit wider than the Little Guy Mini Max. The king bed created when both twins are put together, means a wider king bed. There’s more drawers and cupboards. The storage space beneath the dinette is bigger than the Mini Max. The wet bathroom is taller and has additional storage. There’s an attached power awning. Overall there’s more space even in just 15 feet of length.
2022 Rockwood Geo-Pro 15TB

Third stop: From Open Road RV we drove 25 miles to Everett, where at Maple Grove RV we toured a pre-owned 2018 Airstream Basecamp 16.  From videos that we watched, we liked the many windows that the Basecamp offered. We also like the aeronautical look of the Basecamp. We could even order a separate attachment that creates a screened side room. As soon as Steve tried out the dinette as a bed, it became obvious that the space would be too small due to the pronounced curve of the Basecamp’s sides.
2018 Airstream Basecamp 16

WE HAVE A WINNER. Given our visits. We’re going with a Geo-Pro 15TB or E-Pro 15TB. At this point, it will depend on what we’re able to order. Pre-owned units are difficult to locate. Just as with our former 2018 Nash 26N by Northwood Manufacturing, we prefer ordering new so that we have a 12-month warranty.

Stay tuned! We’re preparing to be Happy Campers again!

“Happily Retired at the Speed of Sanity”

Diane & Steve

Featuring a New Photo on Header

Since we have made our way to a new chapter at, it’s time to change the photo in our header to reflect our home base.  Here is the photo that we’re now using:

The Palouse Hills from Steptoe Butte, Whitman County, Washington

I made this photo at the top of Steptoe Butte on July 1, 2020, which was Steve’s birthday last year. We packed a lunch that included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drove to the parking lot at the top of the butte. We sat in the truck and soaked up these magnificent views. It was a VERY windy day and chilly for mid-summer. The clouds were brooding as one can see in the photo. The mountains in the distance are the beginning of the Rocky Mountains of Idaho. These are located in the Clearwater National Forest. A popular one for us is Moscow Mountain, which is a 25 minute drive from our home in Pullman.

The Palouse (pronounced Pa-Loos) Hills Region of the Northwest encompasses parts of Southeastern Washington, North Central Idaho, and Northeastern Oregon. Beneath the rolling hills that one sees is basalt rock . The area is known for its agriculture, which includes wheat, barley, chickpeas, and other legumes.  The soil is of loess (pronounce lus like the “u” in luck).

In our short experience of just a year of residing here,  each season on the Palouse provides a unique patchwork quilt appearance. In spring we have brilliant greens of new crops growing and yellows from blooming rapeseed. By summer, we move into a variety of greens depending on the crop variety and the blonde of winter wheat ready to be harvested. By late summer harvest is in full swing (although this year, the drought and excessive heat brought harvest earlier), so the patchwork has many tans, gold, and browns. Over winter, textures seem to take precedence with stubble and pronounced parallel lines of crop furrows left from harvest providing interest as well as occasional snow blanketing the hills and valleys. Of course, clouds and wildfire smoke can make for a moodier looking landscape.

We have been blessed with living in the Midwest, along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, and now embracing the Palouse Region of the Inland Northwest.

May you have beauty wherever you live or hang your hat!

“Happily Retired at the Speed of Sanity”

Diane and Steve


Part 2: Cha-cha-cha-changes

More “Cha-cha-cha-changes”! Let’s talk about the truck in this post. While the RV dealer in Lewiston offered a good price within the NADA value range, the timing was off. We didn’t have a second car, making it awkward to sell without a trade-in. 

One thing we did know was that our 2016 Ford F-350 a.k.a. “AZ IF the Truck” was filthy and not how we would like to present it for sale or trade-in. Three days after we sold the trailer, Steve had set out all the supplies to clean the exterior of the truck. This 2016 Ford F-350 never saw an automatic car wash due to its size. Steve had committed to a process that worked. Last Tuesday, we went to the manual car wash in Pullman and spent two hours cleaning the exterior and vacuuming the carpet. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, we spent nine hours of added detailing: waxing, spot cleaning a few spots on the carpet, treating the leather upholstery, and cleaning the truck bed, wheels, and tires. 

Our 2016 Ford F-350 a.k.a. AZ IF is beyond filthy. Time for a bath.
Looking good, AZ IF the Truck!
The truck has a nearly spotless interior.
Steve tackles some pine sap on the moon roof.
The SnugTop is windows and screen are cleaned and the Rhino liner looks great.
The truck has a nearly spotless interior.
Looking sharp!
It’s a good looking truck after detailing is done.

Determining Selling and Buying Strategy

Like we did with the trailer, we went to NADA and for vehicles, CarFax, to determine the value range for the truck. Pre-owned heavy duty trucks are in high demand due to low supply. Thankfully, this would work to our advantage. Plus, for a truck that was nearly six years old, it had 57,400 miles, making it a nice selling feature. Having a King Ranch model with a higher SnugTop topper and Rhino Linings bed liner added more selling attributes.

Ford F-350 Super Duty, Lariat, King Ranch
SnugTop topper. We ordered this for our first truck, Bessie. Thankfully, it fit on this truck too.
The truck came with Rhino Linings bed liner.
We will have 57,400 by the time we sell the truck.

On the buyer side of the scenario, we researched towing capacity on various sizes of SUVs. We also wanted the SUV to have a towing package instead of adding it later. We’ve followed Auto Trader and searched dealer websites for SUVs. The local dealerships are Toyota, Ford/Lincoln, Chevy/GMC, and Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep. We’ve had Jess Ford in Pullman service the truck on several occasions as well as our first truck when we were visiting Jeremy and Michelle in 2018. Because we’ve been acquainted with Toyota the longest, we first went to Toyota of Pullman to test drive a new Highlander. Next we went to Jess Ford to drive a pre-owned Explorer. They had no new ones available. Admittedly, both dealers were quite low on inventory; and, we knew that inventory challenges were everywhere. As we weighed our options, we decided to negotiate on a trade-in with Toyota. We were pleased with the resulting price that reflected the NADA range for a trade-in.

On Friday, August 27, we bid the truck farewell and drove away in a 2021 Toyota Highlander that had just 10 miles on the odometer. We are pleased to own Toyota again. The Highlander is our 11th Toyota over a 41-year time span. (Our first was a 1974 Toyota Corolla that we bought in 1977. Our most recent was a 2016 Toyota Rav4, purchased in 2013). Once home, we reorganized the garage so it fits into the garage. We’ve not had a vehicle in a garage since our first home in Denver. 

Fare Thee Well, AZ IF the Truck! In November 2019, it was “AZ IF” we were meant to have you. (Plus the Colorado plates were AZ IF. It seemed fitting.)
Our brand new 2021 Toyota Highlander XLE with 10 miles on the odometer.
First stop after purchasing the Highlander is the Sunshine Road trail access parking lot.
With some moving of things around in the garage, the Highlander has a spot in the garage.


Needless to say, it’s been a head-spinning three weeks following three months of a pace that practically gave us whiplash between looking for our next home to rent, needing to leave the condo on short notice due to mold, taking refuge in the trailer, road tripping to visit family and friends, moving into the townhouse, selling the trailer, and trading in the truck! 

All in all, we are beyond grateful that we had a trusty Ford F-350 that really was a workhorse and towed the Nash 26N without effort up mountain passes. This truck was our second one and purchased when we were stranded in Richfield, Utah. It’s given us nearly 20,000 miles since then. The timing worked out wonderfully for it to become an important part of our full-time RVing and our primary vehicle after those adventures. Now we will enjoy an SUV, riding lower to the ground, and finding it much easier to get in and out of it.

NOTE: The frequency of posts to will likely slow. I really wanted to get our experiences this summer “journaled” onto our blog.

We’re “Living Retirement Life at the Speed of Sanity” taking walks around Pullman, sipping coffee in coffee shop courtyards, and binging on TV series.


Diane & Steve