Our RV History

RVs We Have Loved…

1. Mallard Travel Trailer:

Our RV history goes back to 2003 when we bought our first RV, this Mallard travel trailer. At the time we had a Chevy Trailblazer and we wanted to test the RV life with a travel trailer. The trailer was a 1998 25′ Mallard tandem axle. By motorhome standards it was quite primitive, but we didn’t want to spend big bucks on a more expensive RV ’til we knew we liked RVing.

R,Dale,L tvl trlrThis is the only photo we had (’til recently) of the travel trailer, such as it is, taken at a rest area in Oregon where we spent that night. (Were we ever really that young?!) We haven’t been without a RV since!

I was not fond of all the work involved with a travel trailer. The hand cranked levelers were work, the hooking up and dropping was work. We had to stop every 100 miles to add gas. We liked the traveling, but it was not very convenient.

We pulled the trailer once to Colorado and visited the Grand Canyon as we returned home, then once to Oceanside to see the kids, and once to Oregon to visit my buddy Al. We learned quickly that RVing was for us, especially me, and I wanted something better.

Mallard 002…and then, 16 years later, my dear Wifey was sorting through some old hard copy photos and came across a couple photos of our Mallard trailer. Here’s a photo of the whole Mallard trailer. (Even so, I’m leaving the first photo in place because it’s a nice reminder that we were once so young!) 

2. Ol’ Rex:

We traded the travel trailer in on a nearly new Class A coach, a 2001 Rexhall, still in 2003. She was 31′ long and we loved her! When we bought her, she had just 4900 miles on the odometer. When we sold her to our friends Rich and Juanita in Oregon in the summer of 2012, she had reached 100,000 miles!

We enjoyed many grand adventures aboard Ol’ Rex, including my solo “Grand American Loop” which took me east to Florida, north to Maine, west to Washington, and south to home.

screenBusHere’s Ol’ Rex in 2003, our Rexhall when she was nearly new. We put almost 100,000 miles on her. Here I pose proudly with my lovely Trail Buddy and wife, Lavonne, shortly after we purchased our first motorhome!

She pulled my various boats during the years we had her. Here she sits on the ramp at Wallowa Lake near Joseph, Oregon. My old high school buddy, Al, and I had one of our best fishing adventures together during that trip back in 2011. That adventure is here.

3. Big Blue:

We then bought the 2006 Itasca Sunova that became known as Big Blue. During the three years we owned her, up to June of 2015, we put on about 25,000 miles. She was a fine Winnebago motor home, and was very comfortable.

2012-9-9 coach aOur Itasca Sunova when we first bought her…

She had a very comfortable interior. Click to enlarge the following photos (You can then scroll down a bit and click on “View full size” for a larger photo. Click again for a huge photo.):

Her stick-on graphics were getting pretty old and worn, so I decided to have her painted. I chose some green colors I thought I would like…2014-10-27d coach painted…but the finished product was just awful! Those colors turned out to be aqua, and I simply could not live with them. The new paint had to go!

So… I had her “wrapped” in vinyl, a fairly common procedure often seen on trucks and other commercial vehicles.

2014-12-23 Coach Wrapped

2015-12-23a coach power awning…and after the “vinyl wrap” she became Big Blue! The initial vinyl wrap was an awful experience because of the wrapping outfit I chose. But with a lot of extra effort and money spent elsewhere to fix their lousy work, she came out pretty nice. That mis-adventure and many photos of my frustrations are here.

Big Blue made for a very dependable and comfortable RV and we put quite a few miles on her for the time we had her. But after we bought the diesel coach, we sold her to another couple who I trust have enjoyed her as much as we did.

4. Cecil the Diesel:

The diesel itch was getting pretty severe. Although Big Blue had been an excellent coach for us, I wanted the improved air ride and greatly improved fuel efficiency of a diesel. I’d been looking for over a year when I found my dream motorhome, a 2004 Winnebago Journey 32T, about 150 miles away. I plopped down the money the day I saw her and never regretted it. She was so comfortable, so efficient, and so beautiful, too.

2016-4-10c family fun Here we pose with our Cecil the Diesel shortly after we purchased her.

2016-9-9d-rest-areaCecil the Diesel was my pride and joy during the short time we owned her. This is one of the rare photos that her actual colors reproduced correctly; for some reason digital photos did not capture her colors accurately very often. This photo was taken in Montana during one of our adventures.

She had a beautiful interior:2016-4-28ee-living-area-kitchen
2016-4-28g bath
We bought her in March of 2015, and for about three months, ’til I sold Big Blue, we were the not-so-proud owners of two motorhomes! 

She had a very serious, big-rig style instrument panel.

We put about 25,000 miles on her over the short time we had her, and drove her as far as Indiana. She was a fantastic ride. I could go almost 1000 miles between fill-ups because she had a large 90 gallon fuel tank and she used that fuel very efficiently. She rode splendidly with her air-ride suspension. And with that big diesel pushing from the rear, the ride was quiet and very pleasant. She was a beauty and I really enjoyed her!

In October of 2017 as we cruised along US50 in Kansas, heading for Graceland in Tennessee, we had a terrible accident. A fellow pulled his small van in front of us and we could not avoid a collision. He died at the scene and Cecil the Diesel was totaled. The story of that awful day is here.

2017-10-4a good bye to CecilOctober, 2017 and I kissed my beloved Cecil goodbye after the awful accident we had in Kansas. We were not at fault, and fortunately we were not hurt, but Cecil was totaled. The other driver died. What a terrible, terrible shame.

5. Big Blue II:

2019-6-17aa backing outTaken June, 2019 as we backed out of Allen and Nancy’s driveway in Greenwood Village, CO and headed to Arkansas.

I never would have purchased another coach because Cecil the Diesel was so perfect for us. But when she was totaled in that awful accident in October of 2017, we had no choice. We were very blessed to have found our next coach, a 2005 Bounder Diesel. We bought her sight unseen from Ohio, and had her delivered. She was in as good of condition, in ways perhaps a bit better, than our beloved Cecil, but a bit larger at 34 feet long.

2017-11-16a DeliveredBig Blue II arrived at our home on November 16, 2017, the day this photo was taken. My hope since the accident was to have a coach for our usual trip to our son Craig’s home in Stockton for the family Thanksgiving Day feast, then on to my sister’s place in Gridley the day after…

2018-2-17e lookin' good at Craig's…and I pose here during that Thanksgiving visit to Craig’s in Stockton.

2017-11-23d Big Blue II interiorBig Blue II came to us in wonderful condition, and longer by two feet than any of our prior coaches. Here is her very roomy living room.

2019-8-26a BlackboardHere the TV has been removed and replaced with a blackboard as I’ve done with all three coaches that had the TV in that position that made no sense. On the other coaches I relocated the TV down where it belonged. In this case, now that TVs are so yesterday, I didn’t move it lower, I just don’t have one. Now that everything is available online, we need only our hot spot and laptop computers.  

2017-11-23e Big Blue II interior2017-11-23f Big Blue II interiorHere are two views of the bedroom. She came with a very comfortable TempurPedic mattress, and after just one night aboard we were thinking seriously of buying one for our home bed, too – and eventually we did just that.

Diesel pushers almost always come with 22.5″ wheels, as do big rigs, and should have some serious wheels.

Note in the delivery photo that Big Blue II came to us with those chintzy stainless steel wheel liners while aluminum wheels were optional. They’re bright, sure, and most folks probably don’t even notice, but they simply don’t have the panache of aluminum wheels.

I missed the gorgeous Alcoa aluminum wheels that came with Cecil the Diesel. So these were added in April, 2018. I realize most folks would never notice the difference, but I certainly do!

20180414_123104Big Blue II poses with her bright, new Alcoa aluminum wheels. It seems to me that a diesel pusher just ought to have polished aluminum rims – and now she does!

While on the subject of wheels…

Note the position of the body to the wheels in the above two photos. On the left the air bags are inflated for driving, and on the right the chassis sits lower after dumping the air from the air bags. The coach rides on that pressurized air when underway which is a great improvement over riding on steel springs. That is one of the main reasons I choose to have a diesel motorhome.

2019-9-21c Big Blue's cute heinieBig Blue II with her freshly powder coated grill and fancy mirror finished mud flap. I think she has a very pretty rear end!

She is larger and heavier than Cecil, and instead of a 5.9L Cummins engine, she is powered by a 7.2L Caterpillar diesel. Consequently, we do not get the excellent fuel economy that Cecil delivered, but the interior is roomier and she handles crosswinds better due to her weight. She is a very comfortable coach, and while we miss the economy, we very much enjoy her extra room.

The Larger Big Blue II Required a Longer RV Barn…

The RV barn was originally built 31′ long and didn’t quite cover Cecil the Diesel and was way too short for the 34’8″ Big Blue. Something had to change – either a larger barn or somehow extend the one we had. Fortunately, our son, Craig, knew a fella who did just such work for him building metal spray booths at his business. We got in touch with Reuben and agreed on an extension of our short barn – a much less expensive option than a new one.

2010-4 Shade curtain
The original barn when it was new back in 2010 for our first motorhome, Ol’ Rex, to the right in this photo. It was adequate, but just barely, for the 31.5′ Rexhall.

In 2018, after purchasing the much larger 34′ Bounder, we contracted with Reuben to make it a full 40′ long:

2018-5-21 Day 1 startedThe barn in the process of being lengthened from 31′ to 40′.

2018-5-22a Second dayHere Reuben adds to the roof with metal he removed from the side. It all worked out very well because when it was built there was no other building next to it and we had to add siding to keep the afternoon sun off – but with another building there, we used the siding for the roof!

2018-5-22b Second day and doneThe proud owner of an enlarged 40′ RV barn.

2018-5-22cb fully-covered-at-lastBig Blue seemed pretty happy with all that room, too!

2 Responses to Our RV History

  1. Sandy says:

    OH Dale! I’m so happy to hear you’ve found another RV! I’m sure it has some slide outs, and is a Class A diesel. Please, more updates on your new baby!
    P.S. LOVED the name of Cecil the Diesel, but do what you need to do. :>)

  2. FishWisher says:

    Hi Sandy, and thanks for the visit. I’ve been working the past three days getting our new coach loaded and set up. Our first trip will be to family nearby for Thanksgiving as I’d hoped. Yep – it’s a diesel and equipped much like Cecil was and also has two slides. I’ll be posting more photos soon, and certainly more photos after the first trip. And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, too.


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