This is going to be a two-part post. Today will be the narrative. But I don’t want to keep up the suspense for too long. So I am going to go out of order in terms of my categories and post another Logistics post next week with photos and descriptions of my new Oliver Travel Trailer.
After so much drama and so many delays, I must start simply by announcing…I am now in possession of my Oliver! There were moments where it felt like it was never going to come together. But in keeping with the theme of the last several weeks, even taking possession of my Oliver came with a little drama and a delay.
Pickup Day Drama
I chose October 23, 2017, as my pickup date. Because the orientation process takes two to eight hours and because you get individualized attention during orientation, Oliver schedules just one each day Monday through Thursday. They build 10 trailers per month so orientation days get booked quickly.
I selected my delivery date weeks before I left Alaska to ensure a spot was reserved for me. It was important to choose a “good” date (see below to better understand why) since it will forever be my official launch date.
I arrived a few minutes after 10 a.m. The real drama unfolded just before my arrival, culminating minutes earlier with an ambulance taking away the guy in charge of all new owner orientations.
Yep, the guy I was supposed to spend the day with.
In preparing my trailer, he lifted his hands over his head to open the showroom door (garage door)…and collapsed. And he couldn’t get up. I won’t go into all the details because that isn’t my story to tell and I don’t want to invade his privacy. But it resulted in his being hauled away by ambulance and having surgery to repair three hernias the next day.
I hung around Oliver for a couple of hours as Plan B was formed. In the lobby, I met Fran who was having her rig serviced on her way to Florida where she’d winter over. Like me, she was a solo female full-time RVer. Her journey began six months earlier. Like me, she didn’t have much experience before becoming a full-timer.
It was nice to hear how easy she thought driving, hooking and unhooking, and living in it was. The hour I spent with her actually alleviated a lot of my fears. At least it did for the hour I spent talking to her.
Fear was back with a vengeance by the next day.
The whole event unfolded in a similar manner as everything else had in the weeks prior. It made sense to me that after all the build-up and anticipation of October 23rd that October 23rd fizzled into just another day. It was familiar and, somehow, perfectly fitting.
The good news is that, after all that came before, I wasn’t a bit rattled when I drove the hour back to my hotel to stay one more night. Except for the fact that I lost my carefully chosen launch date.
Pickup Day, Second Try
I arrived a little after 10 a.m. on October 24. Phil Andrews has been with Oliver for seven years and is now in his fourth position. Because of his experience and knowledge, he was assigned to do my orientation. I didn’t ask if mine was the first he’d ever done. If it was, it didn’t show. Much.
But he followed a checklist (as would’ve the other guy). And because he assured me several times that his entire day was dedicated to me and that we could go slow so I could take notes and I could ask a zillion newbie questions, I didn’t feel cheated. I don’t have anything to compare it to but I can wholeheartedly say Phil did Oliver and Oliver’s “orientation guy” proud.
We spent two and a half hours going over my new rig, starting on the outside and working our way to the inside. I took notes, had information overload and felt exhilarated the entire time.
I noticed that one of the small custom add-ons I’d ordered, a shower curtain rod across the inside of the bathroom door, was missing. So, after our onsite orientation, I hung around chatting with the staff while that was remedied.
Oliver encourages owners to stick close by for a day and even pays for one night in a nearby campground. There are two campgrounds to choose from: a place six miles away and a place 20 miles away. And, the new owner has to drive her new rig to the campground.
Guess which one I chose?
Fall Hollow Campground is six miles from Oliver, on the same road. I followed Phil and the Business Development Director, Brent Robinson (who helped Phil with my orientation throughout the day), to the campground. They guided me as I pulled into my assigned space.
Then orientation continued. I got to see–rather than just hear about– how to hook and unhook the rig from my van, watch the jack and stabilizers in action. They showed me how to put out the awning. We turned on my hot-water-on-demand water heater. Phil showed me how to plug into shore power and how to attach the hose for water. Brent showed me what to do if the shore power has been tripped.
Finally, Phil found a radio station on my entertainment console and they left me to the setting sun and the sounds of Bob Seeger.
The Next Day
I made the decision based on recommendations from the Oliver forum and from my own cautious nature to stick close to Oliver for more than the one day they provided. I booked an extra week, and only a few days in I knew it wasn’t enough. So I booked a second week.
Phil and Brent returned the next day to check on me and because, with the 2-hour orientation interruption while the shower rod was installed, there were a few more things to go over. Plus, after 20 hours in the rig I already had a list of questions.
The campground space they guided me to the day before is one permanently reserved for Oliver. So I needed to move to the space I reserved for the additional days.
There is something called partial hookups. I’m not sure if the “partial” is different based on the campground or if “partial” has a standard definition.
At Fall Hollow, my partial hookup site included electric (shore power) and water. I don’t need sewer because one of my upgrades was to the composting toilet (which, as an aside, I still haven’t used yet; I’m a bit intimidated by it but more on that story in another post). Partial hookups at Fall Hollow are $10 less per night than full hookups.
The guys hooked my rig to the van and helped me move to my new site.
While my lack of experience made the extra days a good choice for me, I think any new owner would benefit from extra days near where they purchase their rig. So far, I have called, stopped in, texted and emailed Oliver staff to ask questions.
And I haven’t even been here a week yet.
I simply cannot say enough good things about Oliver—the product and the people. Not once has anyone made me feel small for asking so many questions or coming to the party with zero knowledge of trailers, towing, solar, propane (I’ve never even grilled), or RVing.
Each rig is assigned a hull number that represents the number of completed rigs Oliver has built. My Oliver was the 249th one off the production line. I’m sure most owners care not one iota about their hull number, but like with my pickup date, my hull needed to be a “good” number.
I have no idea why, but I really do not like even numbers. It’s been true as long as I can remember. I cannot, for example, ever set my alarm clock for 6 a.m., it must be 6:01. The number 5, while an odd number, is a little too “neat” for me so it falls into the same category as even numbers. In other words, it’s best when numbered things in my life end in 1, 3, 7 or 9. And, if this weren’t odd enough, it’s only the last number that matters. It’s not like I have to either wake up at 5:01 or 7:01. Nope, 6:01 is fine.
I absolutely know it’s ridiculous. But it is, nevertheless, ingrained in who I am. This is actually the first time I’ve admitted my obsession publicly. Or even privately for that matter. Prior to this post, only one person knew of my aversion to even numbers.
Only one person, that is, until I summoned up the courage to call my salesperson, Anita, at Oliver and plead with her to make sure I didn’t get assigned an even numbered hull.
Like the pickup date, I will be attached to my hull number long-term. It just felt like bad luck waiting to happen if I ended up with an even numbered hull.
Starting to understand why I picked October 23rd as my delivery date? It took some work, but I have warmed to a launch date of October 24th and decided there is no bad luck in it.
I know, ridiculous.
Like I said, logic left the building when it comes to my quirkiness around numbers. And, yes, I know exactly how crazy this all sounds. But, it is what it is. And what it is, is me.
I told myself when I started this blog, I was going to be as honest and open as I could. That’s why I decided to share this particular character flaw. I do hope I didn’t overstep into the realm of TMI (too much information).
Drum Roll Please…Introducing Quill
Did you notice the name of the rig next to the door in the feature image? Early on, one of the things I identified as a fear was not coming up with a cool rig name. Or the exact right name. After much contemplation, I settled on the name Quill.
A quill is a writing instrument of yesteryear. They were used before the dip pen, the nib-tipped pen, the fountain pen and ballpoint pen. A quill was created from a bird’s feather. (Defined with the help of Wikipedia.) Quills have long-been used as a symbol for writing and writers. And it’s one I’ve always loved.
I started down this path to full-time RVing for many reasons but the primary one was the desire to crave out more time to write into my day, into my life. Since I was 20, writing has been my passion.
Like so many people with passion, it becomes easy for the passion to not be a priority. Family, friends, work, finances, exercise, good television (sadly, bad television also) and so much more vies for our time and attention. And the pull of our passion gets overrun by all those other things.
That was certainly true to me. I graduated with my writing degree and then promptly went 15 years barely writing a creative word. But I’m luckier than most, I think. One day, I decided to change my life. I decided to do something about it.
I decided to Supersize my LIFE. And Quill, in both name and body, is a perfect representation of that decision. At least, I think it is.
Would love to hear your thoughts. Remember to come back next week to see the photos and descriptions of my new home, including the upgrades and add-ons I chose.