Tuesday, March 31
And we’re off! The sun is shining, the hills are alive with
the sound of music spring greenery, and Bertha almost flies down the highway after the wheel alignment and shock replacement. Gee, it feels nice to be on the road again.
It’s hard to keep to 60 mph today, the speed I like to travel at when towing no matter how high the speed limit gets. The first reason why I do this is I’m driving on older tires right now, and the chance of a blowout increases at faster speeds. The second reason is it’s better for gas mileage.
People ask me all the time what mpg I get towing, and I can tell them that on highways I get 15-16 mpg whether I’m towing or not: when I’m not towing I’ll drive 70-75 mph and gas usage ends up being about the same.
Today there’s only about five and a half hours of driving to do, a pretty light day for me. We leave at 9:15 am and at 1 pm stop at Cameron Park in Waco, TX on the recommendation of a friend.
It’s a pretty park! It’s along the banks of the Brazos river and has 20 winding miles of hiking through woods and along a limestone bluff.
Julie and I start out on the easy rated riverside walk, but quickly lose ourselves among the twisting trails.
We end up at a little park where the Bosque river meets the Brazos and enjoy a sandwich under the picnic shelter. Birds sing in the trees, flowers sway in the breeze, it’s very picturesque.
Then it’s back into the truck and off to tonight’s stop: a Walmart in Corsicana, only an hour and a half away. It’s only 15 minutes away from tomorrow’s destination: The Casita factory!
Wednesday, April 1
At 8 am sharp we pull into Cas’ birthplace. Never have I seen so many Casitas in one place! Their all more shiny than Cas, and little things here and there are different, but by and large it’s amazing how little these trailers have changed over time. I guess when you make something this sturdy, there’s little room for improvement. It’s okay Cas, your gel coat may not be shiny anymore, but you have more character than these newbies!
When I get to the service counter, the mechanic’s face falls as he explains the news. They’re behind schedule and short staffed and aren’t sure they can get the water heater replaced by the end of the day today. With Julie as moral support I’m kind but firm when I reply: “This is my home, and we’re traveling with a cat. We’re not going to get a hotel. I called you over a month ago to set this appointment up as early as possible this morning to avoid just this problem, as I explained to you then.” He goes and talks to his superior, then comes back. “We’ll have it done by the end of the day.”
With that settled, I get to poke my head inside the other Casita models, many for the first time.
All Casitas are made to order, so there are no “models” so to say. Every single trailer here belongs to someone and is waiting to get picked up or delivered. There are three in their showroom that are open for people to peek into, all 17 foot Deluxes like Cas: A Spirit (what Cas is), a Liberty (what RVSue has), and an Independence, the newest model that’s only been around for a couple years.
I’m curious to see the Independence.
It looks a lot like a Liberty at first glance. The kitchen is split on the left and right sides of the trailer in the middle with all of the seating and bed space in the back.
The Liberty has a full-size bed in the back that can become a large dinette like my Spirit, but in front of that is a smaller dinette that can be put down to make a king size bed.
On the Independence, the bench dinette seats go from the kitchen all the way to the back of the trailer, and are wider with a much narrower isle – it’s two twin size beds that can be made into one king size bed!
If I’d been planning to travel with Julie permanently this might have been the best floorplan, but Julie is just a temporary roommate so I hold by my original decision: the Spirit was and continues to be the right choice for me.
Not available to walk-through are Casita’s Freedom and Patriot models. The very first Casita I got to see inside was a Freedom, all those years ago at Hunting Island. It’s a lot like the Spirit, but instead of the small dinette on the left side of the trailer, it has two captains chairs that swivel with the table between them. They’re more comfortable than the dinette seat cushions I imagine, but you lose the storage space under the seats and can’t convert it into a smaller bed, so Julie wouldn’t have had anywhere to sleep.
The Patriot is Casita’s 13′ model, it has the split kitchen in the middle, and the full-size bed in back without the extra seating. I got to peek inside one of those in Kanab last summer on my way out to Zion National Park, and it was adorable. As I mentioned briefly last summer, I’m contemplating downsizing in the future, and would really like the chance to look closer inside a Patriot, but there’s still a lot of time. If I trade in for a smaller RV it’s still quite a ways off.
While sitting in the waiting area, a couple comes into the showroom and starts asking each other questions about Casitas before the salesperson can get to them. I feel like walking over and answering their questions because I know the answers to a lot of them, but I imagine the staff would probably frown on that. Plus I wouldn’t want to give them misinformation, some things are different from my ’99 model.
At 3:30 pm Cas emerges from the maintenance dock with a shiny new water heater! It’s the same general model as the one I had (made by Suburban), but it’s the electric + propane version which I wanted (the old one was propane only, and you had to light the pilot light by hand from the outside which was hard in rainy or windy weather).
The maintenance guy walks me through exactly how it works and I test it right there in the parking lot. Hello hot water! For the curious, the damage came to $908 total for the water heater, new electric switch and other parts, and 4 hours of labor. Yes, I know I probably could have gotten it cheaper elsewhere but I don’t care: by getting it done here I know it was done right by people who are intimately familiar with how Casitas are set up and I got to see the place they were made. It’s a win in my book!
After another few hours of driving, Julie and I stop at a tiny Walmart in Atoka, OK. I didn’t know Walmarts still existed in this size. It’s next door to a Love’s travel center so there’s some semi traffic all night, but I still sleep well.
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