In the beginning

How we got involved with Cruise America

In the late 1980’s, my wife and I, with our 2 children, decided to try an RV Vacation.  We rented a 27” Class C from a local garage and spent a wonderful week in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.  The trip from New Jersey was great! My 10 yr old son and his 6 yr old sister played games and colored on the dinette while my wife made sandwiches and kept me refreshed as we made our way down the New Jersey Turnpike to I-95.  8 hours and only 2 rest stops! I should have paid attention, I would have bought an RV years ago just for the convenience. The week in Virginia was great. We went to Busch Gardens, Virginia Beach, several museums and made friends at the campground.  The kids loved it and my wife & I had a really nice time. Almost 30 years later and we all still talk about the Virginia trip.  

We are now empty nesters and semi-retired.  I travel for work and had the notion that an RV might be a fun way to mix business with pleasure. Terri (my lovely wife and partner in crime) and I played with the idea for a year or so.  The thing that held us back was the cost of a new RV and the uncertainty of purchasing a used rig. I also had a few specific requirements that pretty much ruled out most of the RV’s on the market, both new & used.  For instance, I didn’t want slide-outs. I wanted to be able to park the rig , set the parking brake and go to sleep. I didn’t want the hassle of slides. The ability to climb into bed without stretching the room was important to me.  Then there was the maintenance issues of slides. A generator was another requirement. Dry camping (no hookups) was something I felt was going to be a part of the experience. I wanted to be self sufficient. I also wanted a real bed, a shower and a real toilet.  Porcelain please!  

I scoured the websites., Camping World, you name it.  Nobody had what I wanted, new or used. Then I found Cruise America.  The 28A was exactly the RV I was looking for. A full bedroom, shower and bathroom.  A well appointed kitchen, roomy dinette and a real couch! Throw in the overhead space above the cab and I was hooked.  Did I mention no slides? And a generator is standard? OMG!! This was the one. I refined my research and went looking for a used 28A.  No luck… I looked everywhere. I found a new one from Thor but there was no way I could afford something like that. And then I found it.  Cruise America retails their retired rental units.

Terri and I talked about it for a while.  A 3 year old rig with high miles verses a 13 year old rig with low miles.  Pay me now or pay me later comes to mind. I tend to have more confidence in a well maintained high mileage newer unit as opposed to an older, more sedentary unit.  Low miles isn’t always better. We decided to test the waters and rent one. A 2 week test drive. I wanted to be sure this was going to be a good fit for us. We planned a 2 week trip for late August.  There is a local Cruise America Rental Location and I will Highly recommend them. XYZ Rentals in Kenvil, New Jersey. The owners name is Marty and he is the best. Highly recommended!. We rented a 28A from him and it was a great experience.  

We picked up the RV and took it home to pack up for the trip.  So much storage room! We over packed for sure. Left the house and stopped at the local grocery store to stock up and we were on our way.  If you ignore the fact that you are in a 30 Foot Motorhome, driving it is as easy as driving a Minivan. Just be aware of the additional real estate behind you.  Seriously, it’s easy when you get used to it.  

Our first stop was Salem Massachusetts.  Winter Island Park is a MUST DO. We spent Labor Day Weekend there, right on the bay.  It was fantastic and the topic of a seperate post 🙂 From there, we went off grid and drove up to New Hampshire.  We spent a few days at my brother in-laws place. We parked near the barn. No hookups, no electric. We were self-contained and it worked out perfectly.  I needed to run the generator to make coffee in the morning, but that was it. Quite comfortable. We left there and headed up to Bar Harbor, Maine. We had reservations at a KOA on the ocean.  I must say, KOA isn’t cheap. This place was awesome. You get what you pay for. We were met by a friendly and helpful group of people. We were escorted to our site, the picnic table was moved and the site set for our convenience.  We asked for firewood when we checked in and it was delivered to our site. But wait, it gets better! Let me tell you about the Lobster Dude!! Fresh cooked Lobster Dinners at the campsite. Unreal. We didn’t want to leave. And there was a free shuttle, courtesy of LLBean, to Bar Harbor.  We had a great time. Can’t wait to go back. We left there on Thursday and stopped at another KOA on the New Hampshire border. Just an overniter, but nice. Then we headed home. I dropped the RV off Saturday Morning. That’s when we got serious.

It was an awesome vacation.  Exactly what we had hoped for.  The RV was perfect. Plenty of room and fully self contained.  We contacted Cruise America and started looking. This was going to happen.


After a wonderful Christmas celebration with our children and their significant others, Terri & I have hit the road. Our maiden voyage in the Land Yacht. Our first stop was at the grocery store to pick up some basics. Then it was over to our friendly neighborhood mechanic. I checked the oil and stuff, but tire pressure is a concern. This thing is 30 ft long and has Dual Rear Wheels.

The front pressures are supposed to be 75 psi and the rears 80! I wasn’t comfortable messing with it and I know its extremely important. So I went to a professional. Unfortunately he was on his lunch break and couldn’t help me for another 45 minutes. Craziness!! I left there and went somewhere else. The mechanic came outside, crawled under my rig, adjusted the pressures and said have a safe trip. He wasn’t going to charge me!! OMG. This guy is awesome. I will give him a fantastic Google Review! I also gave him 20 bucks for lunch. Our trip certainly started on a good note 🙂

One of my next investments is going to be an RV specific Navigation System. I hear Garmin makes a nice one. I have been using WAZE for a long time and it has always been an excellent system. Unfortunately, there are no settings for an RV or truck. I’m 12.6 feet tall and found out today that there are bridges that are only 11″. No worries, though it did take us forever to get out of New Jersey.

We finally made our way to Rt 81 in PA. It was getting late and Terri was tired. Lilly was squirming a bit as well, so I checked the RV Parkee app and found a place about an hour away in West Virginia. Falling Waters, West Virginia. A great campground owned by the Leatherman Family. We arrived late, but from all indications, a nice place. Our site is right next to a babbling brook 🙂 I’m sure breakfast will be magnificent. I’ll be sure to post some pics tomorrow.

Winter Island Park

Salem, Massachusetts

Waterfront Camping at Winter Island Park – Salem Massachusetts

Our first stop on the “Test Drive” vacation. We rented a 28A from Cruise America. Note the graphics :). We were a rolling billboard, but we didn’t mind. It was a fantastic trip. Winter Island park is a retired Coast Guard Rescue Station. Donated to the town of Salem, it was refurbished and now serves as a campground and boat launch. The facilities were awesome. We had a great spot right next to the boat ramp. Water & electric, no sewer though. There is an off site dump station and campers get a free coupon to use it. The restrooms and showers were very well maintained and there was also a well stocked camp store. Ideally located on the outskirts of town, it is served by a local trolley system. Running on a regular schedule, the trolley is pet friendly and the ticket gets you unlimited on-off access over the entire route. Running from Winter Island Park, it makes several stops throughout historic Salem before looping back to the park. We used it to explore Salem and had a wonderful day. The highlight of our stay though had to be the POP-UP Drive-In Movie! They set up a huge screen on the side of the old Seaplane Hanger. Jurassic Park was the movie and wow did they do a great job. The sound system was fantastic and the pre-movie activities were absolutely hysterical. There was a Dinosaur Race before the movie started and several food trucks were on site featuring some really delicious local fare. I apologize in advance for the lack of photos. I’ll be correcting that in the future, adding video as well. For our first stop, Winter Island certainly set the bar pretty high!! I’ve linked their brochure at the bottom of this post. I highly recommend Winter Island Park. We plan on returning next summer for sure.

Reality Strikes

We bought one!!

After a few weeks of looking, we bit the bullet.  Terri selected the unit and we sent them a deposit.  It was refundable (aren’t they all?) but I was nervous.  We set the date, rented a car and just went for it. You should have seen the car lol.  It was a one-way rental with Enterprise. A Nissan Altima and it was packed to the gills!  I couldn’t recline my seat. We loaded it with enough camping supplies to last a month. The best part was Cruise America covered the rental!  We also got credit for our Maine trip!! Things are looking up 🙂

We picked up the check from our credit union on Monday morning and headed to Virginia.  The Cruise America retail location is in Manassas Va. The plan was to drive to Virginia, pick up the RV, spend a few days locally, sort of a shake down cruise, and then head home.  We arrived at the dealership around 3 pm and met with Rich, our salesman. He went over the RV with us. A word of advice, have a checklist. Rich was a great guy, really helpful. However, there were a few things that needed to be addressed.  The basics were covered, for sure. The Cruise America ReCon people do a great job. My concerns were addressed and we were on our way in good time.  

First stop was a gas station.  I was a bit miffed we didn’t get a full tank of gas.  I mean, heck, I paid full price, why mess with me? That’s the car salesman in me talking though.  I understand. Still… So we filled up. A word to the wise. Keep your tank full. I make it a point to arrive with a full tank.  The generator runs off the fuel tank and shuts down when you reach ¼ tank. Not a good feeling. We dropped off the rental, Enterprise is awesome!  Then we headed off to Pohick Bay State Park. Such a beautiful State Park. Right on the Potomac River, Pohick Bay was a great find. It was possibly the nicest park we have ever been in.  The cost was minimal and the facilities were beyond great. We spent a few days getting to know the RV. I must say, having rented the identical unit before, there was nothing new about this one, other than we could call it our own.  

We packed up, dumped our tanks (another post indeed) and headed home.  A non eventful drive, Terri drove for a few hours on the highway. A great trip for sure.  I pulled into our driveway. It was a nice feeling knowing we didn’t have to clean and return the rig in the morning!  Welcome to the world of RV ownership 🙂

We will be documenting our experiences with this retired Cruise America Rig.  If you have any questions or if we can help in any way. Please don’t hesitate to hit us up!!

Until then, Happy Motoring 🙂