I've never found this difficult in rural areas, where gas stations are designed to meet the needs of farmers and others who frequently tow work equipment. Truck stops and travel centers also usually have plenty of room.
I avoid convenience store outlets, most are now laid out to bring fueling customers inside to buy something else that might be profitable, as there is not much margin out at the pumps.
When traveling I fuel up when necessary before getting into dense urban areas (this includes the residential suburbs) so that I can get to the other side without stopping. Not only are most of the gas stations built on the convenience store model with little room to move around, people will park at the pumps for several minutes to take care of their business inside, and streets also tend to be clogged. For me, this is a general rule even when I'm driving just my van or sub-compact car.
For a lot of my cooking, especially stuff that stinks or spatters, I've been using the small Coleman two-burner stove I bought for tent camping forty years ago. Converted from liquid fuel to LPG, the burners become seriously oversized, output almost like a large gas grill or LPG fryer.
I think the concern about cooking smells, moisture, in the small RV space is why outdoor kitchens are becoming popular again. In the early days of RVing, outside and around back was the most common location for a built-in stove, icebox, kitchen sink.
Fourth generation E-series did not get a glove box until 2008 cab update. My 2003 has a compartment with a door as part of the console, but no lock. My 2013 has a glove box just large enough for the E-series owner's manual and a small phone, if I want to put the phone there to charge it from the USB port.
It is only 15 miles to the nearest campground, 100 to the furthest we frequently use. Even going out for a week once a month, ten months a year, about 1000-2000 miles a year. That's for us active campers who don't have to work.
Families who use RVs for vacation road trips, might have one two-week vacation a year. Most often that's a few hundred to a couple thousand miles. To cover more miles than that, one would be driving more than four hours a day for the whole vacation, that doesn't leave much time for camping and other family fun stuff.
Retired, I can do a 3-4 week trip. For me those have been 2000-5000 mile round trips, one or two on the years we did them (but we also liked to do overseas travel and cruises 2-5 weeks). From the middle of the U.S. most of the places we used as road trip destinations have been less than 2000 miles away, not like being on one of the coasts or stuck up in a corner of the nation.
Snowbirders? Most are in fivers or larger A's, but some use C's for winter trips to warmer places. One round trip a year. My cousin's trip, southern Michigan to South Florida, is about 1200 miles. My snowbird trips to a warm part of Texas (Houston, Galveston or San Antonio) have not been much more than 500 miles each way.
My motorhome travel has added up to 35,000 miles in 10 years.
How many miles a year have you been pulling your fivers?
Yes, cost of motorhome ownership is high, fixed costs often push lightly-used RV per-night costs well over $100, can be well over $1000 for a million dollar coach. It is almost always cheaper for me to stay in motels when I travel, but the RV isn't about trying to save money on travel.
I think I see a lot of barrel distortion in that photo, making it difficult to draw any conclusions about what is level. That's pretty typical for the low-cost zoom lenses in digital cameras, to go from severe barrel distortion at one end of the zoom to severe pincushion distortion at the other. Some manufacturers try to correct this in post-processing of the digital image, looks like your camera does not.
With this much distortion, I think it would be pretty difficult to say much about what is level based on pixel coordinates. Don't pick just two points, follow the edge of the building roof all the way across. I think the change in Y coordinates as you go across is going to show you the roof as bow-shaped, opening downwards. Any two points, even if the camera is level, Y is going to depend on where you are on the distorted curve.
My experience with both cities, at the time you will be reaching them the best route would be to stay on I-10.
In San Antonio, Loop 1604 is not freeway from I-10 to I-10, only part of the way around the north side, and I-410 loop mixes you in with a lot more on-off traffic (and aggressive behavior of drivers going only one or two exits but still cutting in and out to use the fast lanes). Speeds may be slightly slower going through the center of the city, but the driving is easier.
In Houston, Beltway 8 is a lot of extra distance, but if I were to take it, I would take it around the south side, which has less local traffic. Loop 610 can get badly backed up at the interchanges going out to suburbs once the rush hour starts (as early as 3 PM) but earlier in the day it is more like San Antonio, just dealing with extra interchanges and aggressive local driving.
My last time through, I left my daughter's home in SA at 9 AM after the rush, breezed through Houston on I-10 a little after noon, not stopping until I was past the metro area, beyond Wallisville.
If you need fuel stops or rest stops, make those in small towns or at rural truck stops, because on-offs are not easy in the Houston metro area, there is much more congestion on the exit roads than there is on the freeway itself. In the RV, the closest I will stop to Houston is at Brookshire, usually prefer Columbus; once you get to Katy there is no longer much room for large vehicles to move around on local streets until you are at least 20 miles out from center on the East side.
I don't think any dealer is going to let you look at his accounts, so it is unlikely you'll know his profit to be in a position to decide what you think is fair.
Margin on a particular unit? People here say you might buy at 25-30% of a suggested list price, but you still have no idea what the dealer must pay for even a new unit, because they get different deals themselves from the factory, with volume discounts, seasonal incentives, sales incentives, special purchases. Then there are costs to cover like financing overhead, rent, utilities, insurance, taxes, employee salaries, commissions for sales staff and sales management.
You can make an offer you think is fair, and if the dealer thinks it is fair, he'll accept it.
I've taken 50 from east of Dodge City to Grand Junction. I don't know about on into Wichita (which is a big city, for Kansas). I do know traffic on US-54/400 gets dense from about Andover west to the International Airport. In Wichita, there is a section of that 54/400 where the speed limit drops sharply while it still looks like freeway, a trap that catches my Wichita daughter from time to time.
While I live along US-60, I don't use 60 to get to Wichita. Much of the section of 60 you would travel from US-77 is scenic highway through the Osage Nation, it is not necessarily good RV road, being rough in many places and having no shoulders along most of it, without even much grass verge between pavement and the quite deep drainage ditches.
US-60 does not look so bad right out of Ponca City, but it gets worse as you get into the hilly country east of Pawhuska. US-60 also sometimes gets clogged with slow moving oversize loads. Just now they are hauling wind generator parts to build wind farms outside Pawhuska, but I've also gotten stuck behind drilling rigs and other large pieces of oilfield service equipment.
Kansas has built much better two-lane roads than Oklahoma, and takes care of them. I usually travel US-77 down to US-166, using 166 to get east to where my need to go south finally puts me onto an Oklahoma highway, US-75 in my case for my trips to and from Wichita. US-75 actually is not too bad from Kansas to Tulsa, having been upgraded to four-lane divided in the 1990s, but it gets slow going through Dewey-Bartlesville because the developers have had forty years to build a whole new town on what used to be the Bartlesville bypass.
To get to Wagoner from Wichita, I would take I-35 down (or US-77 down from Augusta) to US-412 (Cimarron Turnpike) taking that all the way across to Tulsa, then out US-51 (Broken Arrow Expressway - Muskogee Turnpike) into Wagoner.
I know some people like to avoid the toll roads, but some of the routes that look like good alternatives (like US-60 from Ponca City across to US-69 down to Wagoner) are really bad alternatives either from road condition or the kind of traffic they carry.
If you really don't want to pay tolls, or go through Tulsa, you could take US-166 all the way to Chetopa, then US-59/OK-2 down to Vinita, where you can pick up US-69 south to Wagoner. Coffeyville will slow you down on 166, for about the same distance as Bartlesville slows US-75, but not as many traffic lights. US-69 has some four-lane sections, but even those have been pretty well beat up by the heavy truck traffic.
Along US-50, great places to visit include the Colorado National Monument, Gunnison (like a little Durango), Black Canyon National Park, the Curecanti National Recreation Area, Royal Gorge, and Bent's Fort NHP. US-50 basically follows the valley of the Gunnison River from Grand Junction to Monarch Pass, then the Arkansas valley into Kansas on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains.
A little off the route we've discussed, I like to stop at the Henry Candy Factory in Dexter, Kansas. This family business is descended from the confectioner who created the O-Henry candy bar, and they are open every day, making candy on weekdays. You find Dexter by turning left off US-77 onto K-15/US-160, then following K-15 where 160 splits off.
I've stayed there, managed to get a full-hookup site at the Hickory Hill campground (now $28/night) on a summer holiday weekend by getting to that particular campground loop just as it was being vacated. Hickory Hill is approached from the west on Alameda Avenue from Norman.
Even in the loops with the most "improved" RV sites (concrete pads, FHU, 50-amp) there will be many smaller RV sites, so that a site big enough for your A might take some searching and waiting.
Other CGs with RV pads include Little Axe, approached from the east by 156th street off of I-40 (or from OK-9), Rose Rock Hill and Turkey Pass on the south side, accessed from OK-9 out of Norman.
All of the RV campgrounds are in sight of the water, but to be right on the water you would have to be in a tent area without designated campsites. These are flood control reservoirs with variable levels, and in the state parks they don't put RV sites where they will be under water at flood levels.
AFAIK, there are still no campsite reservations at this state park.
Cell phone companies base their tax rates on your billing address generally, not on your phone number. Unless you've somehow not changed your billing address, you're paying Florida taxes and fees already, and switching to a new Florida based phone won't affect that. (Florida has cell phone taxes that are among the highest.)
The only way I know of to avoid them (or, more precisely, avoid dealing with them directly, as doubtless you're still paying them somehow under the covers) is to use a prepaid cell phone service like Tracfone, Net 10, Straight Talk, etc. The only extra tax you have to pay explicitly with them is any ordinary sales tax on the purchase of minutes.
In Oklahoma, the state collects an add-on 911 service charge whenever I buy Tracfone minutes. The other taxes (and universal service charge) are no doubt buried in the basic cost, collected from Tracfone by the service provider who has to pay them to the respective governments.
It can probably be as small as the shortest chassis you can find to fit a house. We have self-contained 13-foot towables in a six and a half by ten foot box, which is a lot smaller than what's behind the cab of our smallest chassis-cab trucks here.
OEM front carpet (XLT trim) in last series of passenger vans extends to 5 inches behind the seat base, where it slightly overlaps the middle carpet. So it possibly could be too short, rather than too long, for cutaway cab.
I don't have an E-series cargo, to check out rubber mats.
I think most C manufacturers order E-series with the motorhome prep package, so they can trim with materials matching those in the house. They would buy the cab carpeting from a third-party aftermarket supplier, if they don't have their own shop to do the work of molding and cutting carpets.
E-series front carpet is fairly simply curved, just a couple humps over the wheel housings. OEM carpet, that shape is molded into the rubber backing and attached insulation.
Keep watching RV trader, many dealers list there. I watch for Traverses, some days there might be two or three in the whole country, sometimes none, sometimes a half dozen or more.
Not many were made. For several years, the whole B market was not much more than a few thousand units a year.
Another option is to connect with a used vehicle dealer (there are conversion van specialists on many metro areas) tell him what you want, they can find the units when they are still wholesale, pick up at auction for an assured customer. These, and some categories of travel trailers, as well as specialized motorcoaches, fall into that part of the market where most dealers don't buy them for stock. Kind of like classic cars.
If you want new, Sportmobile can build you something much like the Traverse, but no longer on the E150, since the van is no longer built. Unless you bring your own van. They can build it on a higher payload van too.
Most of the hotspots are free, but free hotspots are not usually "protected" by a password, which serves also as an encryption key. Note, however, everybody at the site is using the same key.
I do on-the-road business through mobile wireless from the phone company. All traffic is encrypted between your phone/modem/hotspot device and the tower. What works for me is AT&T, which also gets me use of AT&T's paid wifi network, I get signed in using my own key even where the hotspot is "open" and free of charge.
You can get mobile + public hotspots also from T-mobile, you can get mobile from Verizon and Sprint. You can buy Sprint mobile wireless from Virgin for as little as $35 a month. StraightTalk, $42.50. Cricket, $45. AT&T $65. Verizon $100. All those are 2.5 GB to 3 GB data, unlimited talk and text.
I'm not sure whether anyone is still offering "data only" plans at low prices (Virgin once had a $30/month wifi hotspot), my data-only devices are all sharing with my phones, $10 a month each to be part of the shared data plan. You can go tablet-only for as low as $20 (2 GB) but the cheapest thing to connect a computer to the Internet is going to be in the $50-60 range for 3 GB to 5 GB data.
VPN service is going to be a cost on top of your Internet connection, which might be free. Not many "free" connections support VPN, although I've seen VPN service in hotels where the cost is buried in the room charge (like "free" HBO, "free" breakfast and "free" soap and shampoo).
My opinion about VPN, I don't think it is needed when I am using the mobile phone network as my connection, no more than I need it connecting hardwire through cable or DSL. That's based on my experience, my business. If I were doing other things, and concerned about the networks I was connecting too, then maybe VPN, and encryption/login codes that change every so many seconds. Used to do a lot of that when I was working internationally.
Custom miniblinds are usually made to mount inside the window opening, a precise fit. They can be ordered to precisely fit the inside of the valence.
If you have something that screws into a wall, it must be an off-the-shelf product to cover the window opening, rather than fit it? Yes, that will be a mounting problem.
Roller shades are also custom fit, it was something they used to do right at the store when we still bought them at the hardware or the five and dime. I've not shopped shades or blinds at Walmart, I go to a home decorator outlet.
The valance box Winnebago installs will serve for mounting. That is its function with the OEM blinds, they mount into the top of the box. Small ones with just the factory clip, longer ones into the clip and a couple of extra wood screws driven through the top of the blind into the top of the valance.
Most mini-blinds mount into clips that screw up into the top of a window opening or the sides. The clips have screw holes for both mountings, I've installed then both ways in my houses.
If you want roller shades or drapes, the mounting hardware will likely have to screw into the ends of the box.
Metal or plastic miniblinds work pretty well in towable RVs, but people who put them in motorhomes are sometimes bothered by the noise they make while they travel. Drapes are quite enough, roller shades behave pretty well when rolled up.
Bugs will be a problem only if you make them a problem. I think most residents learn to live with them.
I lived in central Florida for two years, pest control at the base sprayed the perimeter of the house monthly, but we still had ants and roaches coming in.
Learned to turn on a light with my eyes closed, give them time to scurry out of the way before I would see them. At the office, same thing, keep my eyes closed when opening a desk drawer, give the roaches time to hide.
Larger roaches (palmetto bugs locally) were somewhat useful. If I left out dirty dishes from an evening snack, they'd be licked clean by morning.
On the screened patio, having 2-3 anole lizards around took care of whatever liked to crawl on the screen or ceiling.
Overall, Florida bugs were less annoying than scorpions, fire ants, and fiddleback spiders we have to deal with on the southern plains.
The information should be inside the door of each truck. You can look at the sticker before you buy. You can order a truck and know when you order just what the carrying capacity will be.
Maximum cargo will vary quite a bit. It is essentially the difference between GVWR (a rating for maximum weight loaded) and empty weight.
Tire and wheel choices, suspension options determine the GVWR of the truck. This can vary somewhat in 3/4 ton models, more in 1-ton because of choice of dual vs single rear wheels, and much more in "1/2 ton." "1/2 ton" no longer has much meaning. High GVWR options for 150/1500 series trucks take them beyond where 250/2500 were twenty years ago. 1/2 ton once meant no heavier than 6000 pounds, but that number grew as EPA changed the CAFE rules defining what size truck is a passenger vehicle and what is a commercial vehicle, so now you find "1/2 ton" trucks with 8600 pound GVWR option, into the middle of what used to be Class 2 or "3/4 ton."
On the other side, cab size, trim levels, optional equipment can make for big variations in empty weight. A really large cab loaded with luxury can use up more than 1000 pounds of a pickup's GVWR, compared to a regular cab work truck with a plain bench seat and minimal electronics.
What you will get in a 250/2500 that you may not in a 150/1500 of similar cargo capacity is a drivetrain (engine, transmission, axles, cooling system) rated to be used at close to full capacity most of the time. Because this category is not included in the passenger vehicle CAFE, these trucks don't have to be engineered to run at low output during the CAFE test cycle, with higher power settings available relatively briefly either at high RPM, or in the case of turbocharged engines, at higher boost.
At a truck dealership (not just a car dealership selling pickups) there will be a knowledgeable fleet sales manager or fleet sales specialist who can help you order a truck to maximize capacity (it will look a lot like a work truck) or find one in regional inventory. A lot of sales people will not look beyond their own stock, especially if they are mostly selling only family passenger trucks.
I was a little vague on the question, we are needing to tow a small truck; i.e. Nissan Frontier or small Toyota. Does anyone have experience with any of the small trucks and whether or not an automatic transmission can be safely towed?
In small trucks:
Four-wheel drive Colorado, because it has neutral on the transfer case, and it is the right transfer case. The previous S-10/S-15 had a transfer case that could not deal with flat towing.
Manual transmission Frontier, 2WD or 4WD. The transmission makes it towable.
Manual transmission Ford Ranger and Mazda B, from 1993 to end of production, 2WD or 4WD. The transmission makes it towable.
Toyota says the manual transmission Tacoma is not towable, I know people who do so anyway.
Some model years of Dodge Dakota, if the 4x4 transfer case had a neutral position, Dodge said it was towable. Dakota also used a transfer case that did not have a neutral, it was an option in some trim lines.
For one or two years, Ford offered a neutral tow kit for some models of the Ranger with 4x4 and automatic. Not all drive train combinations, and not the same kit offered for the Explorer. Ford no longer offers this kit, which might have manipulated the locking hubs as well as the transfer case.
Other compact pickups the last 10-15 years, the transfer case, even if had a selectable neutral position, did not necessarily make an automatic transmission truck towable. For any given 4x4, you should to talk to an expert on transfer cases and hubs. Lately, with Chrysler brand engineering across Jeep and Dodge SUVs, you need to be sure of just how the 4x4 system works on a particular Jeep.
The best vehicle to tow is the one that best fits your needs when you are not towing it. That will be a type of vehicle, not a brand or particular model. If you must drive a Lexus, Cadillac, Porsche or BMW, you might be in trouble on towing.
It is convenient if you can find a vehicle of the type you need that is towable with little or no modification, and is not too heavy for your motorhome. That is more of a struggle for vehicle types, for example if you must be able to seat 7, 8 or more people. Twelve passenger vans e.g. weigh about 6000 pounds empty and need modification for towing.
I towed a Ford Ranger. It was a second car, my wife's car was an Accord and it took car of all our general transportation needs, while the small truck saw service getting me around town carrying the stuff I needed for maintenance of rental properties.
When my wife died, I gave her Accord to one of my daughters, got rid of the truck, and bought a Honda Fit to be my daily driver and towable vehicle. With one less person to seat, it still could carry the either of my daughters with spouse and children, and the usual collection of people and luggage on airport runs. An alternative for me would have been a manual transmission Versa or Fiesta.
Subcompacts like the Fit or Versa are too small for many people, though a subcompact MPV will carry as many people as compact cars and small SUVs, seating is tighter for five people and there is not luggage space for that many.
Next up are compacts, sedans like Cobalt, Corolla, Civic, Sentra and MPVs like CRV, Element, Matrix/Vibe. CRV is a real popular tow because through 2014 it needed only a baseplate and lights, and was for many people the smallest thing they wanted to drive, while being the heaviest thing their motorhome could tow (many are stuck at about 3500 pounds_.
Some mid-size cars work, particularly GM sedans in the Malibu class with 4-speed automatic. These weigh about the same as the lighter of compact SUVs. SUVs built on Malibu-size cars, like Equinox, Vue, Terrain and Escape are roomier than the sedans but also heavier, so you need to be thinking whether your motorhome is OK to tow 5000 pounds, or are you limited to 3500.
If your motorhome can tow 10,000 pounds, and you need eight seats, you can tow a Yukon XL or Suburban, with proper equipment. If you need to haul a couple of motorcycles, your tow could be a long-bed 3/4 ton or one-ton truck.
If what you want to do with your towed vehicle is explore 4x4 trails, then the most likely candidate is a Wrangler, though some of Jeeps SUVs can be equipped for varying levels of off-roading.
The most difficult situation is when you are limited to about 3500 pounds on the tow and you regularly carry more than four or five people. Possible solutions include the manual transmission version of the Mazda 5/MPV, the first generation Honda Odyssey (the little MPV Honda still sells in Europe and Asia), and Suzuki's Grand Vitara XL7, which is getting hard to find. One iteration of the Saturn Vue was based on the Grand Vitara, but I don't think it had a seven seat option. The last Vue was an Equinox, and had at most five seats.