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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Finally The Perfect Camper For Us - Camping World's Hymer Van One

Hymer Van One
Two long single beds - cushions in middle make it a king bed

Greg Porter is our salesman at Camping World in Midway FL. For the last couple of years we have been pestering Greg to find us the perfect camper. I think he has finally found the "One."

Lulu and I have owned many campers. We even have purchased a Road Trek at this Camping World. Lulu has even used our campers as private moving hotel rooms in NYC when she was a professor at St Johns. But most of them had flaws like - the bed is too small - the battery does not run the AC - the unit was too long or too gaudy to park at a meter in disguise. 

Finally - a strange collection of happenings has led the way for the perfect van. 

In Europe - we always loved the little campers made by Hymer. Whenever we saw one it merited a picture - and a threat to buy one and bring it home. In America we owned and loved Canadian Roadtreks because they are compact - winterized - and made solidly. Like the Reese's commercial where "you got your chocolate in my peanut butter" - Hymer bought Roadtrek. One of the first campers they released is the Hymer Van One. 

The Van One is 19.5 feet long. It is 9.5 feet high. Although it won't fit in our garage because it is too tall - I should certainly be able to parallel park it at a parking meter. It has front wheel drive - automatic transmission - 4 wheel disc brakes - and reclining seats. There are only 2 seat belts in the van - so they do not want passengers riding on the beds while moving. It is basically for two old people that want big beds and a short stroll to the toilet at night. 

It is built on the Dodge Promaster chassis with a 280 HP Pentastar engine. It is a real workhorse van. Outside it has clean lines and a black no-nonsense paint job. The windows are dark tinted and have opaque shades and screens on the inside. No one can see in - unless you want them to. 

The list of features is endless - 
- 2 long single beds that can be made into a king bed
- rear bathroom with porcelain toilet - sink - shower (can be accessed from back door)
- propane furnace with thermostat
- roof air with thermostat
- plenty of cabinets - drawers - closets
- 12 volt power - 110 volt ac power - inverter - generator
- refrigerator with freezer
- gas stove 
- microwave
- hot water heater

The most innovative feature is the underhood generator. Instead of running a separate genset with a lawnmower engine - this generator runs directly off the coach engine. You can run the roof air quietly while the coach engine idles. It is the first one I saw like that. One of my biggest pet peeves was the old gensets - where you had to maintain a separate engine - that often gets gunked up from lack of use. Everyone hates the sound of a generator droning through the night.

Of course you can run the roof air when you are plugged in at a camp site - but we seldom go to a campsite. Try plugging it in at a Walmart  :-)   This AC can run off the engine. 

The Hymer is listed anywhere from $59,000 to $72,000. It is a price much higher than the $39,000 we paid for our Honda Van last year. But as you get older - the thoughts of going to the bathroom in a Honda are not pretty. 

This camper has been a dream for Lulu and I for a long time. But now finally here it is.

If we bought it - it would be our beach house - our Disney cabin - our guest house at home - our guest house when we visit Washington - Richmond - and Tamaqua. We could tailgate in it. We could go to away games and not worry about getting gouged for hotel rooms. On the road - at sunset - we would just pull over - and spend the night wherever we are. It could be a Cracker Barrel - Walmart - or a parking meter downtown. Since we have TV service through our iPhones and computers - we would always have the entertainment - sports - movies - the news. 

This month Lulu is starting a sabbatical leave that will last until Sept of 2018. So we have the time to put it to good use. We are both healthy and have places to go. 

I thought when someone took a sabbatical - they were supposed to rest and re-charge their batteries - personally and professionally. Someone better tell Lulu about that. She is planning like there is no tomorrow. But a lot of her "rest" includes projects overseas. Last week Bahrain offered her an appointment under the Fulbright Specialist program - I had to twist her arm to turn it down. We will probably spend a month each this summer in England - France - Germany. She has a gig in Winnipeg Canada in August and is planning a Disney Cruise also in August with the kids. Did I forgot the project in Pasadena CA? 

When will we ever be able to use this Van? We also have this new Honda Odyssey van collecting dust in the garage. We just took it on a 9 day 1700 mile drive up north last week. If we sold that - we would lose a bundle on depreciation. Nobody likes a crybaby - but it took us a long time to save up this kind of money - my DNA won't just let me fritter it away. After 3 years - that $70000 camper will be worth $40000 - you can get a lot of fine hotel rooms for $30000. This camper on a good day will get 15 MPG - our Honda van just delivered 28 MPG on the big trip. With the internet - you can find some great bargains on hotel rooms. 

So - as you can see - even though we found the perfect camper - we are still at the same crossroads. Do we want to travel in a motor home - with bath and kitchen - or do we want to travel in our Honda Van and stay at fancy hotels? My friends Dick and Joan both emailed to say we could do both. And we could. But if you know how tight this Coal Cracker is - it will take a big attitude adjustment to do them both. 

It boils down to - a Camper and Walmarts - versus - a Honda Van - Hiltons - and diapers :-)   We have not tried out diapers yet - but they are looking more inviting   :-)

Lulu does not like that joke.

propane furnace and water heater
19 feet long - very plain outside - 9.5 feet tall
rear door goes into bathroom
awning and roof air - blacked out windows-
screens and blackout shades
bathroom in back - shower - sink - toilet - closet
sink - shower head - mirror - curtain
They come in silver - gold - black - maybe dark red.
Maybe a Seminole head on the side will get us free parking
Hymer - German company in Bad Waldsee -
this one made in Canada

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