Our First Ride

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Lorraine took this shot as I was bringing our coach, the Castaway, up our driveway.

We live in the country. We have 7 acres. We have a long, twisty gravel road that runs about 1,000 feet. Our house is on a hill surrounded by a forest.

Getting the coach up to the house was the second most challenging part of the drive. The first most challenging part of the drive was leaving the dealership.

Of course, I decided that it would be a great idea to take my first drive with our new motorhome through the busiest highways in all of Canada: the 400 highway and the 401 highway in Toronto.

Outwardly, I believe I looked calm.

Inwardly I was terrified. For the first hour or so. Then I became captivated with the driving experience. This is one amazing coach. Wonderful feel on the road. The 450 hp Cummins diesel provides all the power necessary to climb hills. The three stage engine brake helps to slow the coach without excessive wheel braking.

Once we had cleared the Greater Toronto Area, I was able to set the cruise control and enjoy the driving experience.

I loved it.

Lorraine took a few videos to capture our first ride in our new motorhome.

Still so much to do before we head out on the road but this is a major milestone for us. We have the Castaway.

Our New Dutch Star

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Our 2016 Newmar Dutch Star 4002 had arrived to the dealer end of April. We were able to take delivery this weekend.

They say that you can only prove the delivery with photos so we have a few to share with you. First up is a shot of the interior layout of the main living area.

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Jamie was our service technician. He was very professional and very thorough. He explained all of the systems on our coach. Mind you, I had done so much reading and research that things were not quite as overwhelming as I had originally feared. Hey, I know this stuff!

Here he is installing our licence plates for the coach. We are now ready for the road.

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Our stateroom includes a king-size bed.

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The Dutch Star 4002 is a bath and a half design. This is the rear bath which includes a stacked washer/dryer, shower, and safe.

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The entrance to the rear bath as seen from the bedroom.

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Our dining area. Perfect for two although the table does extend and we have a couple of extra chairs.

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The galley includes a Whirlpool residential fridge, a Whirlpool convection microwave, a Kenyon countertop stove and a dishwasher.

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The captain’s chair. Although the initial reaction to all of the buttons and dials was a bit alarming, the driving experience of our coach was amazing.

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Here is the coach with the awnings extended.

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A couple of exterior shots as we made our way back home. This was at a service centre midway between the dealer and our house.

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I’ll share more about the first drive in the coach tomorrow.

Checklist

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We are heading out tomorrow to pick up our new coach. We will be at the Hitch House for two days. I expect that the process will be a touch overwhelming.

There will be lots of paperwork and lots of information to process. The technician will be spending quite a bit of time with us to go through the operations of the coach. We will be living in the coach for a few days before we bring our motorhome, the Castaway, home. And we have to complete a thorough inspection of the coach.

We have our own checklist thanks to Norm and Ellen over at the iRV2 forum. You can download a copy of it here.

Their checklist is very comprehensive and it will help us identify any initial delivery issues with the coach.

Lorraine and I are also planning an initial trip with the coach later this summer to shake it down and to see if there are any other issues that need to be addressed.

We are quite realistic about what to expect: there will be issues. This was true when we bought our first home. This was true when we built our first home. This will be true with our new coach.

We went with the Hitch House and Newmar because both companies have great reputations for customer service. Although it is a couple of hours drive to the Hitch House, I am hoping that we can capture all of the initial issues with the coach, review it with them beforehand and bring the coach out to get them addressed all at one time as opposed to making several trips back and forth.

We will report on our initial experiences over the next few days.

Should be fun.

Canada, Eh?

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When we returned to Canada from the Hershey RV Show in October of 2015, we came back with thousands of pages of brochures, guidebooks, and magazines. In a word, the show was a bit overwhelming. So much to think about and so much to process.

Our main objective was to decide on a new motorhome. We had already narrowed down our field of choices based on Class A Diesel Pushers. And we had already narrowed down to the following manufacturers: Newmar, Entegra, Tiffin.

Lots of research followed. I went to all of the manufacturer sites. I went to all of the major Internet forums and followed as many threads as possible on ownership experiences with these particular brands. I went through hundreds of videos on YouTube. I downloaded manuals and brochures. Over a period of a few months, I took in a lot of material about RVs.

Granted, this was not the first time we had looked at RVs. We had come very close to purchasing a Newmar Dutch Star back in 2006. It looked like this one:

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In all of our research, we kept coming back to Newmar. No company is perfect and certainly no motorhome is perfect. Newmar has built a terrific reputation in the market. Lorraine and I particularly admired Newmar’s corporate principles:

At Newmar, we believe that a motor coach is more than just a vehicle. It should be a dream come true. A passport to countless hours of fun with your family and friends. A road to a lifetime of cherished memories and new discoveries.

For over 40 years, we’ve applied our Christian principles to the creation of motor coaches that have enhanced the lifestyle of people all over the world. And we’ll continue to do that for countless generations to come. It’s why we take pride in every rivet, every weld, every mechanical function and aesthetic of design.

Part of our research was to determine how we would get to a fair deal price on a motorhome in Canada. At the Hershey RV Show, there were all sorts of deals to be made.

Depending on the coach and dealer, 25 – 30 percent off list seemed to be in the range for a new motorhome.

Being Canadian gets complicated though. You have to start from the US list price converted to Canadian dollars, a much higher amount. The Canadian currency floats which means that a deal price is subject to the volatility of the currency markets. The Canadian dollar was in a bit of a free fall during the latter part of 2015. And every penny drop in the value of the Canadian dollar added a significant amount to the overall cost of the coach. A deal might need a right of refusal based on currency volatility. And, of course, we pay taxes. Thirteen percent on the deal price. Ouch.

The Canadian dollar was trading closer to 80 cents at the time we did our deal. Many pundits were predicting a 60 cent dollar within a few months. That did not happen and the Canadian dollar today is almost at the same level as it was last October. At the time we were really concerned that we might see a steep drop in the value of the Canadian dollar. We decided that we should do a deal sooner rather than run the risk of a decline in our currency.

We wanted to buy in Canada. This is where we live and we wanted to support our Canadian businesses. Although there were some great deals to be had at the Hershey RV Show, we intended to shop Canadian.

We headed out to the Toronto Fall RV Show in October of 2015. Most of the major dealers were there and we were able to spend time talking with a few of them about their coaches. We also made several stops at dealers in and around the Toronto area. We probably logged close to a thousand kilometres of driving over those two days to look at different coaches and to get a feel for the calibre of the various dealers.

We knew when we went to the Hitch House that we had found a good dealer. It helped that Newmar also had their Canadian manager on site for our visit. We spent most of the day at the Hitch House and, shock of all shocks, we decided to put an offer down on a new Dutch Star 4002 then and there.

We were now committed to our future dream. At least from a financial perspective.

This was our production report when our order went to the factory in November:

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Here we were, in late October, making decisions about our future. The first of many decisions.

Hershey RV Show

In many ways, our journey really started at the RV Show in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was here, in September of 2015, that we began to take a really hard look at the lifestyle and whether it would be for us.

We also began to take a really hard look at RVs.

The first one we saw as we entered the show was this Entegra:

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Stunning coach. The salesperson tried to make a deal on that coach right then and there. We were not ready to buy. We wanted to get a sense of which RV and floorplan might work for us. We still had a lot more research to do before making any purchase decisions.

The Hershey show is big. Billed as the largest RV show in North America, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of RVs on display.

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We were really interested in RVs from three manufacturers: Newmar, Entegra and Tiffin. Mind you, we looked at Class A Diesel Pushers from all of the manufacturers at the show. We also looked at Super Cs and fifth wheels.

For whatever reason, the Newmar Dutch Star took hold of our imagination. We loved the 4002 floorplan.

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We walked in and out of the 4002 several times during our stay at the Hershey RV Show. The last time I walked out, Lorraine was still in the coach. Behind the wheel.

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And, nine months later, we will be bringing our new Dutch Star 4002 home.

The 2016 Show will be held in September. You can find out more information about the Hershey RV Show here.