Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Shakedown: Sunnyside Campground Cultus Lake

Sunnyside Campground Cultus Lake BC

The date has been set. Our spot has been reserved. The destination for our very first RV trip, the "Shakedown" trip, will be a campground within walking distance of the Cultus Lake Waterslides. A tip that I've read in every RV book and website is to take a short 2-3 day trip in the RV at the beginning of the season before you head off for a long trip. That way you can make sure that everything is working and deal with any issues close to home before you hit the road. The is commonly called the shakedown trip. Having never been RVing before, I feel that we still have a long journey before we get to that point with our new travel trailer. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 Tango 289BH Travel Trailer

We jumped through another hoop today and the financing has been approved for our new 2009 Tango Travel Trailer. We're another step closer to parking this behemoth on our driveway.

Overall, we must have looked at over 25 different RVs over this past month. This particular Tango happened to be the very first one we saw when we started this journey. On that first day, it was shown to us as a high-end trailer with high-quality materials throughout. But the $33000+ CAD list price was a lot of money.

The sales person showed us different trailers and configurations (even used ones) until we reached an entry-level double-bunk model with slides that was very reasonably priced. We left the lot that day with a handful of brochures and our heads about to explode.

We went to other RV dealers and looked at many more models and realized that there were certain things we liked and didn't like....

Click below to read more.

Some things just seemed to be standard issue so we didn't concern ourselves with items like a refrigerator, microwave, stove, oven, air conditioning, shower/toilet, awning, stereo/DVD player, and dinette.

  • Queen bed for us
  • bunk beds for the kids
  • sofa bed
  • comfortable shower and toilet
  • lots of well organized storage areas
  • must feel open and spacious with or without a slide

Didn't Likes
  • 70's era decor
  • old-fashioned looking aluminum sides
  • cheap looking material and finishing
  • having to use the dinette as a sleeping area

Of course, everything that we wanted also had to come under our maximum towing capacity of 7800 lbs.

We even got to look inside some legendary Airstream trailers. Those were truly beautiful with modern airy interiors and thoughtful designs. Unfortunately, even the smallest of Airstream trailers were reaching our towing limit. Oh, yeah, they also listed at over $70,000!

Tango brand trailers are built by Pacific Coachworks in Riverside, California. The quality of materials and construction and the abundance of storage areas as well as the large bunk area really drew us back to the Tango. Also, we decided that we didn't want a slide because it would add additional weight to the trailer and we wanted to be as compact as you could possibly be in a 30' trailer.

So at the Coquitlam Center, when we saw that the Tango had been further reduced in price and after seeing all the other trailers at a higher cost even though the materials were inferior and the decor was beyond retro (venturing into grand-motherly), it was easy to take the step towards ownership. The Tango trailer also comes with exterior speakers and a power awning.

Here are a few pictures of the interior taken from Pacific Coachworks' web site.

Main living area showing the kitchen, dinette, and sofa:


Close-up of the sofa with the bedroom behind:


Queen bed:


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Miserable Failure

Well, once again there was a pathetic voter turnout in the May 12 BC provincial election and the referendum for proportional representation failed miserably.

Talking to some colleagues afterwards, I found out they voted "No" because they didn't completely understand what it was about. Kinda sad, really.

I don't see voter turnout in BC improving any time soon or in the distant future because without proportional representation, my vote in this riding is pointless.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A New Addition to Stargazer's Garage: Tango RV!

This has been an exciting weekend for us because we just added a new member to our (virtual) garage: a 2009 Tango Travel Trailer. (Being 30-feet long, it doesn't fit in our real garage.) While the idea of getting into RVing has been with me a long time, taking it seriously and acting upon it didn't start happening until about a month ago.

Since we had missed the spring RV shows, we stopped at our local RV dealership a few Saturdays ago for a look and we got a very informative and educational tour of different types of travel trailers. Our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali is the most tow-capable vehicle we've owned, and I wanted to see what a 7800 lb. trailer looked like. The sales person spent a lot of time showing us the entire spectrum of RVs from modern upscale to affordable entry-level. We learned about GVWR and towing limits, as well as about slides (not the ones we're used to that you find at playgrounds!), outdoor showers, and saw that there were almost infinite variety of floor plans available. The trick was to find something that suited our large family of 5 children with room to grow and still keep within the limits of our Denali's towing capacity.

The next weekend, we went out to the Langley By-pass to check out another RV place. While no salesperson was available to show us around, armed with the knowlege we gained the week before we were able to take a peek into some different trailers with different floor plans and make comparisons with what we liked and didn't like. We even got to explore the massive Class-A tour-bus-syle RVs and dream a little.

In that particular area of Langley, there is a cluster of RV dealers side-by-side and across from each other so in between dropping off and picking up our kids at various birthday parties we went back and visited 3 more RV places looking at even more trailers. While every single trailer we looked had the same basic features like a queen bed, dinette, kitchen, sofa bed, bathroom and bunks, each one also had unique way of arranging everything within the 26' to 32' lengths that we looked at. We even saw one with a triple-bunk. I thought it was quite coffin-like myself, but I imagine the kids would have loved something like that!

By the time this weekend came, I was almost RV'd out. I thought we would just leave it for awhile and think about tow limits and cargo capacities and sleeping arrangements... But Saturday morning after picking up one of our girls from a birthday party a Koko's in Port Moody, we drove by Coquitlam Center and saw they had an event with mulitple dealers displaying, cars, motorcycles, boats, and RVs. We just had to stop.

So now you can see the result. It's the end of the weekend and we spent our Sunday afternoon borrowing books about RVing for beginners and idiots like ourselves and taking measurements of every overhead cabinet trying to plan how we would be filling up and personalizing our very own portable hotel room.

I'll explain why we chose this Tango 289BH Travel Trailer by Pacific Coach Works over all the others in my next post. Having never ever pulled a trailer, let alone something this big, it's going to be quite an adventure this summer as we learn about the world of RV vacationing. There definitely will not be any "staycation" for us this summer because we're going to try to hit the road as often as we can while my wife and I both have this summer off. But before we go anywhere, I'm going to have to learn how to get this rig on the road without running over any small animals, shrubs, or light posts. I'll definitely keep track of my progress online. Wish me luck!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Photosynth: Torin Black Jack Low-profile Floor Jack

I was at a professional development work session today and someone showed us a video clip demonstrating some very cool technology called Photosynth. It's built with the technology of Seadragon and has the ability to create a model of reality built from the photo memories of the collective whole--very Borg-like! The individual members of the collective benefit by creating something more complex and rich than would have been very difficult if not impossible to do by themselves. One example shown was using photos found on Flickr to create the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Here's my simple attempt at making a synth of a floor jack I bought at Costco for R32Argent:

Click below to check out the TED video and see the demo yourself:

Jaw-dropping Photosynth Demo

Sunday, May 10, 2009

VW R32: O.Z. Crono HT Installed

I purchased some 5-spoke O.Z. Crono HT wheels for my summer tires a short while back. This weekend I finally installed them.

Click below the fold for pictures.

First, for easier comparison, this first picture is with the stock Aristos:

Now, the last two pictures are with the O.Z. wheels:

Me likey! I think the O.Z. wheels make the R look cleaner and a little more aggressive than the Aristos.

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