The summer of 2009 we did not do any camping due to various reasons, but one thing became apparent that year. Two adults, two kiddos, a large dog, and all the gear to support a baby and a toddler made the Rockwood 1640 feel a bit small and cramped. The final determination to upgrade was when we began potty training our daughter. Kristin decided, and I heartily agreed, that going to the bath house every 30 minutes during the day and at random times in the night was just not our idea of a great time. So in March of 2010 we decided to upgrade our pop-up.
Initially we had been hoping to someday upgrade to a hybrid travel trailer, but at the time they just were too heavy for our 2008 Toyota Sienna. We began shopping for trailers with the following criteria: under 3500 pounds (loaded), internal bathroom, and enough room for our expanding family.
Rig 2: 2008 Toyota Sienna and 2009 Flagstaff 246D
At the time the Flagstaff 246D was the largest non-high wall pop-up camper on the market. It came with lots of bells and whistles that we never knew we needed, like a refrigerator, hot water heater, slide out u-shaped dinette, queen bed, and a screened in awning room. We brought it home and moved all of the camping gear from the Rockwood to the Flagstaff and barely filled two cabinets! This was also our first experience selling a camper (see this post for more on that), which we did very quickly!
Early in 2010 we took the Flagstaff out on our shake down camping trip. We went with friends and family to Cook Forest State Park, Pa.
This first outing revealed several things:
- Although the Sienna could technically tow the Flagstaff, it was pushing the limits, so we removed the middle captains chairs in the van and later added suspension air bags.
- Nonstop rain over a three-day camping trip made us appreciate the screen room as it doubled the camper size, which of course felt small when everyone packs in.
- Regardless of the size of a pop-up you will still wake up feeling damp.
- Opened up, the Flagstaff was 25 feet long–far too long for the heater to heat the entire camper in May. Thankfully we had transferred the little space heater from the old camper. Both heaters working together did a decent job keeping the camper warm on cold nights.
Rig 2 tow vehicle upgrade
In the fall of 2010 shortly after I had made several upgrades to the Sienna (a rack for the canoe, suspension air bags, tinted windows, etc) it began to have serious powertrain issues. Long story short, we decided to replace the van. By then we had recently add a third child to the mix, and we knew that the Sienna was at its limits towing the Flagstaff, so we began looking for a full-size tow vehicle. We really wanted a Suburban or Expedition but the sticker price was just too much for our budget. I convinced Kristin to look at full-size vans. After comparing the two options available on the Ford and Chevy/GMC models, the added safety features on the Chevy/GMC drew this Ford man away from his brand loyalty. Kristin reluctantly gave in and went to test drive the GMC, convinced she would never be able to drive such a behemoth. We ended up purchasing a GMC Savanna 2500 with a tow rating of 8,500+ pounds–thinking at the time we would never need to tow that much.