We are finishing up our first trip in our new Free Spirit SS, driving from the St. Louis dealership (Van City RV) to Chapel Hill. Van City has a lot of customers like us who travel in from out-of-state since the dealerships for Leisure Travel Van motorhomes are very scattered – for example, there’s only one LTV dealer for the entire southeastern U.S.* One might think that LTV needs to expand their dealership coverage to improve sales, but that’s not the bottleneck. LTV’s Manitoba factory is so backlogged with orders that they have suspended production of the Free Spirit line so that they can get caught up on their 10-month waiting list for other models.
We chose Van City RV partly because we liked working with our salesman, Dave Kohne, and partly because we could use the opportunity to get together with my family. My parents and my sister’s family live in St. Louis county, and our daughter flew in from New York City to complete the little family reunion. We still have many friends and colleagues from our years at Washington University, but unfortunately there was no time to get together with them on this trip.
At the dealership, Dan Dwyer gave us a comprehensive “orientation” to teach us about all the switches, valves, gauges, hookups, and power management that we’ll need to use for camping. The van was completely ready-to-go when we arrived – even the refrigerator was chilled and the propane tank was full. Although our camping gear was all in Chapel Hill and it was too cold to de-winterize the van, the 830-mile trip back is giving us the opportunity to become very familiar with the vehicle and its handling. Because of our unfortunate timing with winter storm Sparta, we ended up driving through snow, ice, rain, fog, and crosswinds in five states, and tomorrow will include the dramatic winding I-40 route through the Smoky Mountains. Tomorrow, I'll write up a little review of how the van drives.
*2016 update: More LTV dealerships now -- see http://www.leisurevans.com/dealers/ for the current list.