Well, we did it! We now own a 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB! These little trailers are extremely popular and quite the challenge to locate them. RV manufacturers of most any brand and type of RV across the country are working frantically to meet the demand. Of course, we anticipated this when we sold our 2018 Nash so quickly back in late August.
A few days after we returned from our late September road trip to scout out potential trailer brands, we began creating a spreadsheet for RV dealers who carried Forest River’s Flagstaff E-Pro 15TB or Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB. (15 indicates the interior length of 15’ and TB means Twin Beds). Both of these are essentially the same trailer except for the exterior decals and interior decor. The primary filters for this research were distance from home, prices, and approximate delivery date of the unit from the factory.
Geographically speaking, we decided that we would consider Colorado, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. As we applied the filters, it appeared that the larger dealers and those in the Seattle area may end up with the higher prices. We sat down with the spreadsheet and what jumped out at us was D&D RV Center in Helena, Montana. Why? This is where we purchased our 2018 Nash 26N by Northwood Manufacturing in April 2018. We already know the quality of their service department. They gave us a thorough tour of all systems of the Nash before we could even leave with it. Additionally, their website indicated that they had a 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB on order. There was nothing about “Sale Pending”, which would mean that someone had already ordered. This meant that it was up for grabs and looking for a buyer!
On Friday, October 8, Steve called D&D to inquire about the Geo Pro on order. D&D didn’t have a buyer yet. Within 15 minutes, Steve told them that we would like it, thus a sale pending situation was established! They would notify us when our 2022 Rockwood Geo Pro 15TB arrived from the manufacturer in Indiana. They had no idea when that would be. According to a Geo Pro 15TB Facebook group, some people were waiting several months for their unit to arrive from the manufacturer.
In the meantime, we tried to wrap our brains around 79 square feet of interior living space versus the 250 square feet that we enjoyed in our Nash 26N! Folks, this is a really big deal. The game we’re playing is trying to recall the days of tent camping (just four short years ago). We had the two-person tent, our Toyota RAV 4, and during the last year of tent camping we added a Coleman screened gazebo that was larger than the tent. The RAV 4 hauled everything. Now we shift our brains to this small trailer hauling much of everything. The Highlander will still need to carry some items due to the lack of storage in the Geo Pro. For instance, the zero-gravity recliners and folding Zamp solar panel that is stored in a special suitcase. Bicycling, hiking, and swimming gear will likely join those large items in the Highlander.
Just five days after calling D&D, Steve received a call from them on October 13 that the trailer had been delivered and would be ready for pickup the following week. Unfortunately, our schedule was such that we had to wait until October 26. This gave us time to continue sifting through our stash of trailer accessories and purchase some essentials in order to hit the ground running.
Keeping an eye on the ten-day forecast and knowing that we’d have several mountain passes during our trip, Steve purchased two pairs of snow chains for the Highlander. We had clothing, kitchen items, bathroom items, bedding, camp chairs, and some food all packed into the Highlander. It was a very stark reminder that we no longer had a massive pickup with a topper enclosing the pickup bed. From just behind the front seats to the tailgate, we were loaded. Thankfully Steve is a packing whiz!
We left on Monday, October 25, and drove to Helena. The drive on I-90 and U.S. 12 was gorgeous! Once in Helena, it was nice to have a night in a hotel for a good night’s rest. Plus we ordered for pickup from a favorite of ours, MacKenzie River Pizza. Between splitting a small pizza and a delicious salad, we were all set for the night. There’s nothing quite like watching a movie while eating in bed.
On the 26th we had a noon appointment at D&D. After breakfast that morning, we found a trail at Nob Hill to hike, which was refreshing and provided beautiful views. We knew that once we had the trailer, there’d be no time for a walk or hike.
At D&D, we were completely finished by 2pm. Completing the sales transaction and resulting paperwork, touring the trailer (really much less involved than the Nash), purchasing several essentials using the $100 store credit at D&D, and hitching up. Before we left the parking lot, we called our State Farm Insurance agent’s office to provide the details on the trailer and make sure it was covered. Unfortunately, Good Sam Club’s Roadside Assistance was experiencing technical difficulties so we had to delay contacting them until Wednesday.
Our first stop was Walmart before heading off to camp. For the week prior to this trip, Diane had a growing list for a Walmart stop. Because we’ve purchased a trailer in Helena before, we knew that the Walmart was conveniently a few blocks from the RV dealer. Parked safely in the back of their big parking lot, we went into the store to grab what we’d need for several meals and anything necessary for the trailer.
Drawing on our full-time RV experiences, we knew that between late September and late October, many campgrounds have closed until the traditional camping season next year. Because we needed to have access to electric, water, and sewer in order to adequately test out the new systems on the trailer, Diane checked to see what KOA campgrounds within an hour of Helena might still be open. When we bought our Nash in April 2018, we stayed at the Canyon Ferry Lake KOA between Helena and Townsend, Montana. Thankfully they are open year-round and if the temperatures held, we would have a water hookup.
Off we went to the Canyon Ferry Lake KOA. Diane reserved for one night. Although high wind advisories were forecasted overnight and into the next day. That night the wind buffeted our little trailer, rocking us to and fro. With no foresight on our part, it just so happened that the nose of the trailer was pointed into the direction of the wind. Thus, we really were spared worse wind gusts.
The 27th arrived and we double checked the wind forecast and sure enough, it was going to be relentless the rest of the day and into the night. As KOA wasn’t busy, we were able to extend our stay by a day. This was a perfect situation as Diane’s sister, Laurie, drove up from Bozeman for a visit and to see our tiny trailer. We saw Tom and her back in June when we were in Denver on a trip and they just happened to be traveling between Montana and New Mexico. While both visits were short, they certainly were sweet.
As it turned out, It’s a good thing that we stayed a second night. Evidently, Diane dropped her trailer key either in the Walmart parking lot or inside the store. Plus, the new 15 foot sewer hose was too long to fit into the hose storage beneath the trailer. Whew! Steve discovered this before using the hose! After Laurie left to visit friends in Helena, we soon followed and headed back to Helena too. Thankfully, a kind individual found the key and we retrieved it at Walmart’s Lost and Found. Fortunately, D&D had a Rhino Flex brand 15 foot sewer hose that really compresses nicely into the hose storage tube. To end the day, Our Creator provided a magnificent sunset to soak up.
On the 28th, we became more acquainted with breaking up camp and hitching up this little Geo Pro to our Highlander. While we consider ourselves seasoned RVers, when working with new equipment, not everything goes as planned. We shook our heads as we rolled out at noon! In order to go to our destination of Missoula, we returned to Helena. Stomachs feeling hangry and the fuel tank nearing ½ full made for a timely pause for fuel, lunch, and coffee before hitting the road towards Missoula. Once our appetite was satisfied, hot coffee was tucked into the cup holders, and the gas tank topped off, Diane drove us on U.S. 12 West.
We drove this route from I-90 to Helena on Monday so we were familiar with it. It follows the Little Bigfoot River and affords such beauty between the canyons, valleys, ranches, river, and BNSF railroad tracks. The autumn colors were probably 75% spent, yet there were swaths of golds and russets. The most remarkable aspect of the drive from Helena to where U.S. 12 intersects with Interstate 90 near Deer Lodge was MacDonald Pass. The average percent grade was 8% and a long eight mile stretch to the summit of the pass. Diane had the Highlander at 52 mph with 5200 rpm for a brief period, where the transmission shifted up and down from 4200 to 5200 rpm. After having first a Ford F-250 and then a F-350, both turbo diesel engines with the Nash, towing the Geo Pro with the Highlander was tested. With the Highlander, we can enjoy 26 miles per gallon without towing. We soon dropped to 10.5 miles per gallon the three days of towing the trailer on this trip. Thankfully we take regular gasoline rather than diesel.
In Missoula, we stayed at the Missoula KOA. It reminded us much of the KOA in Salt Lake City since we were within walking distance to stores and restaurants. Many KOA’s are located near major roads and railroad tracks. This one lived up to the rumble of trains. As they’d experienced colder overnight temperatures, we didn’t have a water hookup. We filled our fresh water tank back at the Canyon Ferry Lake KOA, so we were all set.
On the 29th, we were up and on our way to Pullman. This would be our longest day of driving. We had two ascents and descents, Lookout Pass on the Montana and Idaho border and Fourth of July Pass in Idaho. The grades were more manageable than U.S. 12 at MacDonald Pass. This was still a good test because now on the interstate, the traffic tends to be heavier, speeds are higher. As it turned out, we had heavy rain, resulting in standing water, and risk of hydroplaning in many spots. Steve drove the passes in order to get a feel for towing. He really gripped the steering wheel at times. We’d been keeping tabs on the weather forecast and knew that rain was forecasted. Even more importantly, was noting the upcoming temperature overnight lows, which could easily have snow on the passes instead of rain. Friday was our window of opportunity to get home without concern of snow.
With daylight hours diminishing this time of year and especially more evident at our latitude, we were relieved to gain an hour coming from Mountain Time to Pacific Time. Happily we can report that with very little effort, our new trailer at 16’4” exterior length fits readily on one half of the driveway at our townhouse. Because it’s not as wide as the Nash, we can easily pull the Highlander onto the other half of the driveway and into the garage.
The past five days have been a flurry of activity. The trailer interior has been thoroughly cleaned. To continue tackling the off-gassing odor, an air purifier ran for three days and we ran the furnace and fan. We’ve sifted through the many items from the Nash to attempt to reuse as much as we can. For what we need, we shop locally when we can and then order on-line those items that we cannot find.
On Monday Diane arranged for RV storage and Steve moved the trailer to its spot. The next few days we’ll season the outdoor griddle that came with the trailer. We’ll move the trailer back to the driveway early next week to get it loaded up and fresh water tank filled. Our goal is to head out to camp two or three days next week, weather permitting. It will be good to get even more acquainted with our little Geo Pro and appreciate a much smaller space.
Because there was much to commit to “paper” for this 12mph.com journal/blog post, we will delay sharing the name of our new little trailer until our next post. Hopefully it will be penned in just a few days.
“Happily Retired at the Speed of Sanity”
Take care everyone!
Diane & Steve