It’s hard to believe it’s been three months since the Tampa RV SuperShow. Images of it still dance around my head like it was yesterday. My travel buddy and I went down a couple days early. Since an Oliver Travel Trailer was on my list of the Final Four future home options, it seemed smart to go check them out in person since they are not sold at dealerships. From Tampa, we rented a car and headed to Tennessee for an Oliver Travel Trailer factory tour.

The idea of driving 12 hours, taking a two-hour factory tour, driving back 12 hours may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. And it’s funny because I’ve never much cared for driving. Friends who take a drive to relax, I find hard to understand. When I think about fulltime RV living, it certainly isn’t the driving that pops into my mind as the fun part. In fact, I actively don’t look forward to the moving place to place. I look forward to being places.

And yet, driving 24 hours in less than the span of three days was something I wholly looked forward to. I didn’t have one ounce of dread. The open road was exciting to me. But maybe that was more about the destination than the journey.

I am a happy camper. Or hope to be in the near future.

We arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to the Oliver office on Monday morning. It wasn’t what I was expecting. You know those tin sheds so many people have in their back yards for lawn equipment? It looked like a big version of a backyard storage shed. I wasn’t worried though because they’d told me their manufacturing facility is a few blocks from the office.

Inside the storage shed was a tiny reception area where we signed the tour book. An office was off to the side. But the majority of the building is the “showroom” which also held two salespeople’s desks.  I spent a few minutes with Anita but was itching to get into the showroom’s only trailer, a Legacy II. Lucky for me, it was the same trailer I was considering.  It is 23.5 feet. Their other one is 18.5 feet and the two only have a $3,500 price difference.

Now I know it’s a sales tactic (something I would see again and again at the Tampa RV SuperShow), but still it kind of took my breath away when I stepped into the rig. I stepped into a brochure. Literally, in this case.  It was the same trailer as shown in their brochure.

From the Oliver brochure. Standing at the entry, looking down the aisle to the 2 single beds with nightstand between.

After Anita gave us the tour and walked through different options, I asked if she would leave us alone. I wanted to sit, to absorb the energy of the rig, to see if I could imagine my whole life between these four walls. I poked around. Opened every drawer and cabinet. Stepped into the wet bath. Opened the refrigerator. Tested the fit of the overhead compartments.

For those of you who have been reading the blog for a while, you know I’m probably one of the most organized people you will ever meet. (Case in point: at last summer’s garage sale I had one man say to me that he’d been garage sale guy for decades and had never seen a garage sale as organized as mine with signs for kitchen ware, the holiday table…you get the idea. I wasn’t trying to have an organized garage sale. It’s just how my mind makes sense of the world.)

I have done the research. I’ve been on the websites. I’ve read forums, joined owners clubs, etc. I felt like I knew so much about the Oliver that I didn’t need Anita. I could’ve given myself the tour.

The Oliver kitchen with its microwave oven with refrigerator below. Next to the sink is a two-burner stove. But no oven.

So imagine my surprise—shock really—when I realized the Oliver has no oven. Seriously, all those hours reading the specifications and staring at the photos, how was it possible it never registered that the Oliver doesn’t come with an oven?  I had to sit and take a moment.

There isn’t an option for one.  I asked if the microwave could be switched out with a convection oven, a popular choice among RVers. But Anita said that a convection oven requires a lot of ventilation. The location of the microwave doesn’t allow enough space.

Bottom line: if I want an Oliver, I forgo an oven. This might be easy for some people but not me.  I have two firmly established food staples: roasted vegetables and microwave popcorn. Not to be confused by all this health, I should’ve said the food staples I prepare. I equally consider potato chips and takeout pizza to be food staples. But going with the Oliver means no more roasted vegetables.

Okay, so to be fair and so you don’t think not having an oven is as tragic as it was at first glance, let me share two other things. First, in my desire to live off the grid, I have on my list of items to purchase, a sun oven. Yep, I can roast vegetables using only the warmth of the sun. The rig wouldn’t fill with heat from an oven.  So that’s a bonus.

And, second, there is this magic device (RVers all swear by it) called Instant Pot. It is a multi-use pressure cooker. I find it hard to wrap my head around but if the stories are to be believed, you can cook just about anything in this magic cooking pot.

So after I thought it all the way through, I felt a bit less sorry for myself.

The most frequently requested upgrade for the 2017 trailers has been the composting toilet. It was a new option Oliver added in 2017. They did so because of how often they were asked about the option. Maybe the same will happen with convection ovens.

As my friend and I sat on at the dining table, the second surprising thing that happened was my thoughts regarding the bed.  From the beginning, a decent sized bed has been on my “must have” list.  The biggest reason was comfort but the other reason is that I share a bed with an 80-pound dog and a 13-pound cat.

From the back of the Oliver looking to the mirrored bathroom door and entry way.

But I loved the look of the trailer that I sat in with its two single beds. The longer I sat there, the more reasons I came up with to seriously consider the two single beds option.

  1. Aesthetically, having the aisle run from the entry to the back of the trailer makes it look and feel more spacious.
  2. The beds would be easier to make. The only way to make the King bed in a trailer where the bed butts three walls is by crawling on it.
  3. There is added storage with the nightstand between the two single beds. (This may not be a true benefit as you could use under the bed as storage for the King bed option.)
  4. Sleeping space for a guest that doesn’t involve someone sleeping on the floor or outside in a tent.

The lesson learned, for sure, was “touring” an RV via the internet is NOT the same as putting your foot on the stair and stepping into one.  Apples and oranges, my friends. Apple and oranges.

One of the questions on my list was to ask about the warranty. Many warranties are “null and void” if the buyer is a fulltimer. Yep, right off the lot if you are going to live in your RV, nothing is covered. Oliver has a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. In other words, their 2-year warranty is good for two years. Period.

Like so many posts before, I have only said about half of what I wanted to say on the subject. So what does that mean? It means you’ll have to join me next month for the Logistics post where I’ll travel the couple blocks to the warehouse where the Oliver Trailers are custom-built for each buyer.