Why a 5th Wheel?

 •  Updated 07/13/17

So, you’re shopping for RV’s and wondering why people choose one type of rig over another? Here’s why we choose a 5th-wheel trailer rather than a Class A “bus” or Class C motorhome.

Note that any unit with sleeping, eating, and bathroom facilities is considered an “RV” so this article uses the terms fifth-wheel and RV interchangeably.

A Confusing Market

The RV market has consists of powered RVs and towable RV’s of all shapes, sizes and price-points. Every unit has benefits and disadvantages. Finding the right RV is a puzzle that you need to work out for yourself based on:

  • Your budget
  • The makeup of the family living in the RV
  • How you intend to travel
  • Your comfort driving or towing different things

Our Intended Use

Our (initial) constraints were:

  • A one-year trip around the USA
  • A family of four with a teen and pre-teen
  • Not moving every day
  • Driving days consisting of 4 hours or less on the road
  • A budget of roughly $30K
  • Comfortable driving or towing just about anything

Our RV Requirements

We developed a rough set of requirements that would make an RV ideal:

  • 30’ long or less to be as nimble as possible
  • Permanent beds for everyone (that don’t have to be made up/down every night) - so “bunkhouse” models
  • Separate bedroom for the kids and the parents.
  • A slide-out in the living area
  • A place for me to setup a desktop computer for work

Starting the Shopping Process

I grew up taking long vacations in Class A motorhomes.  MsBoyink had camped often in a pop-up. I decided no matter what RV types we were familiar with we would start with a clean slate and see what options existed. 

Dealer Visit

Our first step was to visit a large local RV dealer, outline our constraints and requirements, and see what they thought.

The dealer immediately steered us towards the longer, higher-end 5th wheel trailers. They toured us through some that were really nice - with 1.5 baths, dedicated kids rooms, and slide-outs popping out everywhere.

Sticker Shock

What scared us was the price points. These were expensive 5th wheels. With a rig in $30 - $50K range and a $15 - $25K truck to tow it with and it was more than we wanted to spend. 

We kind of gave up on 5th wheels.

Bumper Pulls

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We went back to looking at bumper-pull travel trailers. Dollar for dollar these are the best deal in the RV market - both new and used. 

I found that used Chevy Suburbans - gas or diesel - were affordable.  Add a used travel trailer and I could see getting us on the road for the low $20K range total. 

Class A Option

Driving a classic “Motorhome” had a sentimental “cool-factor” to it. Even though we were leaning towards a towable we still toured some Class A’s.

We quickly ruled them out:

  • The price points were higher. We could buy a truck and trailer for just what the Class A would cost.
  • The bunkhouse versions had the bunks on the side of the coach near the back. If everyone was in bed your toes would just about be touching. It wasn’t enough separation for us.
  • We’d also need a car to tow behind (“toad”) to day-trip and explore in. This would mean we’d have two drivetrains to maintain.
  • If there was an issue with the drivetrain of the RV we’d lose our “house” to a service shop.
  • Finding a shop to work on the mechanicals of the RV would be harder than a standard pickup truck with a towable RV.

Class C Option

We also thought about a Class C motorhome.  While new bunkhouse versions are available they are as expensive as a Class A bunkhouse.

We thought about a used one with a rear full bedroom. I could take out the queen bed and make bunks for the kids and also fit a desk in that space. MsBoyink and I would sleep in the bunk over the driver’s area. 

Even with a reconfigured floorplan a Class C would have many of the the same disadvantages of a Class A (need a second car, higher maintenance costs, etc).

Back to Towables

We came back to towable RVs.  We spent the winter months watching eBay auctions and Craigslist.  We watched some sites selling repossessed units.

The search stagnated for about 6-8 weeks. Once spring hit the wanderlust started to kick in and we restarted the search. 

We still hadn’t decided between a bumper-pull or a 5th wheel. We realized that after our initial exploration of the high-end 5th wheels we hadn’t been in any of the “mid-end” rigs.

We spent a full Saturday on the local dealer lots. After touring a couple of dozen trailers we decided the 5th Wheels suited us better.

Fifth Wheel Benefits

  • They are taller - with more headroom for us taller folks in the living area
  • They overlap the truck while in motion -  so a 30’ trailer only extends past the truck 25’-26’. This makes a shorter combination overall
  • Due to the front being “upstairs” they feel like they have more discreet living and bedroom areas
  • Many people told us they were easier to hitch and unhitch and tow better (less susceptible to wind and sway)
  • They are easier to maneuver and park due to the way they attach to the truck
  • They can be pulled with a crew cab truck - so we travel in a safer environment than an RV manufactured mostly of furring strips and paneling (if you’ve ever seen an RV that’s been in an accident or flipped you know what I’m talking about)
  • They allow for a choice of gas or diesel tow vehicles (diesel motorhomes are big $$)
  • They allow a 4WD tow rig - for maneuvering in wet/muddy conditions. 4WD would also enable mild four-wheeling or back-country exploration once the trailer was unhooked.

We found a 5th-wheel floorplan that fit us and met our basic requirements - 2 bunks, single slide-outs and around 30’ long. 

Now the decision was whether we should buy a new or used. 

Buy New, Discounted for Cosmetic Damage?

The dealers had new units with light damage from a recent hail storm - but we found door latches coming off, missing spots in the cabinet veneer, the fresh water tank loose in the frame rails and the lower siding was thin and susceptible to damage. 


Buy Used to Save Money?

We found 2-3 used trailers to look at within driving distance. They were not well maintained, dirty and with undisclosed damage.

I didn’t want to spend the time and money these trailers would require in repairs and updates to make them livable.

Buy New?

Back to new units.

We found a mid-end new 5th wheel on a dealer lot that had the floorplan we wanted. We headed up to view it - pretty sure we were going to commit (we were tired of shopping at this point).

On the way to the dealer we saw a used trailer for sale sitting next to the highway. We identified it as a bunkhouse model and a bit upscale with aluminum wheels and fiberglass sides.

We circled back, noted how clean it was, and called the owner.  We made arrangements to view it then continued on to view the new trailer. 

We sat in the new one, liked it, got a rough price on it, and headed back to the used one.

Buy Used?

Once inside the used unit we found it had the same floorplan as the new one we had just visited.

The inside was clean and it had many extras. 

The owner came down on his price, and threw in the hitch (a $900 value).  Our first RV purchase years ago taught us to be cautious, so we told the seller we’d sleep on it then call him in the morning.

Making the Deal

Just as we wrapped up our conversation with the owner and walked out to our car, another couple stopped and was going through the trailer.  We got in the car, looked at each other and asked ourselves what we were waiting for (it was the exact floorplan we wanted, very clean and well-kept, and thousands of dollars less than the new ones).

And - I’ll admit - the other couple looking at it made me nervous that if we waited we’d miss out. That had already happened to us earlier in the week. 

We got back out and told the owner we’d buy it. 

A handshake sealed the deal and a couple of days later our fifth-wheel trailer was in our driveway.

Read more about our first fifth-wheel RV.

What We Did Right

We did things mostly right.


We toured a lot of RV’s. We took notes while going through them. I used the audio recorder on my phone and recorded trailer model numbers and my impressions. I joked that by the time we bought a trailer I knew as much or more about them than most of the salespeople.

Went Small

If you are buying your first RV it’s easy to think you need big. Salespeople that hear you want to live in it for a length of time will tell you so. Don’t listen to them - they just want a big commission.

While we bought a trailer based on being in it for a year we ended up in it for 2.5 years. We were totally comfortable in it.

Small means nimble. Easier to park. Easier to tow. Cheaper to buy and tow.

Trailer Before Truck

We bought the fifth-wheel first. This meant we knew exactly the requirements we had for a tow vehicle. Too often families have a vehicle and either have to try and fit a “home” to that or end up with a too-heavy trailer for their truck.

Remained Flexible

The Fifth Wheel we bought didn’t meet all of our requirements. I didn’t get a dedicated place to work. I settled for a laptop and a comfy chair and we made it work.

Learn our secrets to a fast, stress-free fifth wheel setup! Get our 11 page eBook How To Setup Your Fifth Wheel in 20 Minutes (or less)! free for subscribing to our newsletter:

What We Did Wrong

We also did a few things wrong with our initial purchase.

No Inspection

In our hurry to not let this unit slip away we forgot to think about getting it inspected first. What I could see on the unit was so clean I assumed it was all in great shape.

An inspection would have turned up a roof section delaminating under the rubber. We ended up paying almost half of our initial purchase price to get the unit re-roofed several months into our trip.

If we added that repair cost to the purchase price we could have bought the new fifth wheel we were looking at.

Didn’t Check the Holding Tanks

This was gross. The trailer came with “pre-stocked” holding tanks. One of our first trips was to a local dump station to get rid of the previous owner’s “evidence”. 

We later needed a repair to get the toilet and tanks flowing again as the previous owner’s improper flushing methods led to a blockage.


Our specific unit had issues but overall the fifth-wheel design has worked well for us:

  • Fifth-wheels are easy to hitch and unhitch.
  • Fifth wheels pull well with little sway from passing semis.
  • The interior ceiling height and and split-level floorplan of a fifth-wheel make it feel very “homey”.
  • Fifth-wheels have lots of storage which familes will need.

More Fifth Wheel Stuff

We liked the fifth-wheel so much that when it came time to replace the “one-year trailer” we bought another one. You can also read about the truck we tow our fifth wheel with and get some great Fifth Wheel Towing Tips.

Goodbye 5th Wheel, Hello Campervan!

Things change.

I wrote this article mostly in 2010 while we were shopping for an RV that would support a family of 4 on a USA roadtrip adventure. At the time our kids were 12 and 13.

We had a great 6+ years traveling as a family in the two different 5th wheels we owned.

But kids grow.

They become adults.

And adults find their own way.

With the oldest out and the youngest one in the process we decided the fifth wheel was too big for just the two of us. We sold it and bought a Class B / Campervan. What’s that process like? Read our vanlife posts here.

Still Confused?

If you are wanting more direction on finding the right RV, we’ve gotcha covered. Check out this Find the Right RV eCourse.

35 Comments Why a 5th Wheel?

  1. Picture of MikeMikeSeptember 19, 2010

    We were having the same difficulty selecting our set up. We’re hitting the road as soon as our home sells. We are 5, my wife Vesna and three boys, 8, 5 and 2.

    We decided on a 30’ travel trailer. Its max weight is about 7k# and can be towed by a full size suv, which will save on needing a larger tow vehicle.

    We looked at used but could not get over the smell and unclean feeling so we’re going new. Glad you found that unit - looks great!

  2. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkSeptember 20, 2010

    Hey Mike -

    Thanks for the comment - looks like you guys are starting off on a similar adventure.

    We had pretty much given up on used before buying this rig as well - we were literally driving to the dealer with intent of finalizing a decision on a new trailer when we ran across this one.  We sure came across some junk people were asking a pretty penny for.

    I don’t think this one ever got used much - all we had to do was wipe down the interior and run a carpet cleaner through it.

    I saw a link to a Michigan RV dealer on your blog - do you live in Michigan?

  3. Picture of MikeMikeSeptember 20, 2010

    No - we’re in Waterloo Ontario (1 hr from Toronto). Yeah - there are some gems out there. Folks who used a trailer for a few weekends here and there but some of them look like a frat house the morning after. No thanks!

    I think you have confused our blog with anther’s. We don’t have any advertising on ours…maybe we should!

    Following your blog now, keep it up! Maybe we’ll meet on the road!

  4. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkSeptember 20, 2010

    Oh, sorry.  It wasn’t an ad but rather a link to a trailer you really liked - in the “The Trailer We Have Decided On (so far!) →” post.  The dealer that had the trailer has a Michigan address showing in the upper right.

    We’re hoping to pull out this week - probably Friday.  We’ll be heading over to NY and going through the Niagara region so definitely closer to your part of the world!

  5. Picture of MikeMikeSeptember 20, 2010


    My wife and I just read your post on why you are doing this (you had her in tears)- our reasons exactly, namely:

    -the house is an anchor
    -we CAN do it (and work/earn on the road)
    -it’s now or never for the kids

    My prediction is that our generation (X) will be hit by disappointment after disappointment as we are splashed around for the next 20+ years in the wake of the baby boomers hitting retirement and beyond - from depressed home prices and stock markets to skyrocketing taxes to pay for health care and crumbling infrastructure suffering from years of ‘deferred maintenance’.

    Part of our trip is a message that we’re not going to pay that bill. We won’t be chained to a geographic location, forced to paying forever increasing property/sales taxes to pay for excesses of a previous generation. Nor will we allow a school system that caters to mediocrity educate our kids. I have no problem paying my fair share but what’s being asked of the generations following the boomers is too great a price.

    Sorry for the rant, please feel free to move it to another spot, there are just so many reasons to create and execute the journey we (and you) are planning.


  6. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkSeptember 20, 2010

    No problem - I don’t have commenting turned on there anyway.

    There are a ton of reasons besides just what I had posted there - and the “one year” timeframe is just a number to us.  We didn’t feel comfortable jumping in totally just yet, but are open to coming back after a year and selling the house to become full-timers.  Or ditching everything and going to Europe..;)

    I assume you’ve come across FamiliesOnTheRoad.com?  I’ve got a shared RSS feed from many of the blogs posted there that might make some interesting reading.

  7. Picture of John KnottsJohn KnottsSeptember 28, 2010

    Not sure which way you’re headed, but I have all kinds of connections in the Pittsburgh area (my hometown), if you need anything.

    Glad you’re enjoying the adventure… we’re talking about when we can do the same ;-)

  8. Picture of LarryLarrySeptember 29, 2010

    When we go camping (usually for 2-3 weeks at a time, mostly midwest and east coast) we obviously end up at many different grocery stores.  I think we now have a “______ grocery store card” from nearly every store chain in the country!  Just go up to the service counter and ask for one.  You give them your info and they give you a card.  No big deal - except for the prices!  They usually have a credit card sized card along with a few of the keychain sized ones.  Just use the small ones, put them on a keychain and see how many you can collect!

  9. Picture of EuanEuanSeptember 29, 2010

    Good luck! Am looking forward to reading about your travels.

  10. Picture of Ryan BattlesRyan BattlesSeptember 29, 2010

    I am really growing to hate Cosi.  We bought a membership, but even with a membership, you have to pay for parking every visit.  Add that to the fact that they closed Monday and Tuesday, and I wonder why I even bought the membership in the first place.

    There are a lot of nice communities around Columbus, however, so we usually end up heading to some sort of festival or community activity these days.

  11. Picture of CarlCarlSeptember 29, 2010

    Sorry you trip to Columbus hasn’t been too exciting. I’ve lived here my entire life and can tell you there are many things that make it a great city. Hope things start looking up, today’s weather is amazing.

    Looking forward to tonights meetup.

  12. Picture of AlexAlexSeptember 30, 2010

    Go Mike! Good Luck to you!

  13. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkSeptember 30, 2010

    Thanks guys!

  14. Picture of salguodsalguodSeptember 30, 2010

    That pic of Storybird with the sign is heartbreaking.  Sounds like you are taking it all in stride, which bodes well for your trip.

    For what it’s worth, Meijer doesn’t do that.  But, as Larry said, you’re likely to encounter many a Kroger and other stores that do on your journey, probably worth getting a card.  One thing is you can tell the cashier that you’re from out of town and they will likely have a card they can swipe to get you the discount.

  15. Picture of Mark TisdaleMark TisdaleOctober 01, 2010

    I’ve used the same Kroger card for nearly a decade.  I’ve moved three times since I got it and I’m not even sure I used my own address when I got it originally (I used to fill out those forms with bogus info. so that I didn’t get junk mail).  It’s just a little shopper loyalty card.  Either fill it out with the home address before your adventure or of the campground you’re in now.  I honestly don’t think they’re checking.

  16. Picture of Margie LundyMargie LundyOctober 01, 2010

    Fun! A vacation when you first hit the road is wonderful, well, would have been.  And we so agree on the helpful camp hosts. Allen and I have a system, and you don’t mess with the system! :)

  17. Picture of John KnottsJohn KnottsOctober 01, 2010

    Oh yea, the working on travel day… that alone has made some of our trips miserable.  We don’t do that anymore.

  18. Picture of SeanSeanOctober 01, 2010

    I’m a little late here, but hope you have a great year.

  19. Picture of Michelle OverbeekMichelle OverbeekOctober 02, 2010

    Beautiful picture!

  20. Picture of Grandpa AGrandpa AOctober 02, 2010

    You were tired.  I don’t believe you backtracked to Michigan to see the Lake Huron “coast” but you sure did discover a colorful Lake Erie.  There are great Walleye in there you know.  May your routine find a new pattern that is comfortable and satisfying.

  21. Picture of salguodsalguodOctober 02, 2010

    I’ve learned that buying a trailer that someone hasn’t used in a while can save you money, but will have a number of issues that you will discover as you camp.  A regularly used trailer from folks who are upgrading is likely to be ready to camp with no major issues.  Same may go for buying used from a dealer, you never know what you’re going to get.

    On locks, somewhere I saw a company that makes padlocks that they can common key with your GM vehicle so you have one key.  Of course, that doesn’t help with all the trailer compartments.  I can’t find the right combination of keywords now to bring it up on Google, though.

  22. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkOctober 02, 2010

    Yea -it’s Lake Erie.  You’d think the city name would have been a clue..;)  I knew it was wrong moments after posting but getting everything turned back on and hooked up to make the change was too much..;)

  23. Picture of Mike LeonardMike LeonardOctober 02, 2010

    Hey Mike - great list. Thanks for posting it. In our de-cluttering, I came ======> <======== this close to selling my compressor. Did not think I would ever use it again but obviously I will have a ton of use for it on the road! All those tires!

  24. Picture of Cherie @TechnomadiaCherie @TechnomadiaOctober 05, 2010

    Welcome to the road :)  Trust you will all find your stride and balance.  The first few weeks (or even couple months) are a pretty major adjustment.  You will learn so much, define your systems and find what your family’s style and pace of travel is.

  25. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 05, 2010

    Thanks guys.

    @Mike - I put a 12v compressor on the truck.  It’s mounted under the hood so doesn’t take cargo room in the trailer.

    @Cherie - thanks.  I figured we were on the lee side of a learning curve so am just trying to persist.  In spite of the poor weather we’re holding steady, still out seeing the sights in the drizzle.

  26. Picture of JoelJoelOctober 06, 2010

    Time to head south and west.  Go east in the spring.  Keep the posts coming.  They’re fun to check each day.

  27. Picture of EmmanuelEmmanuelOctober 06, 2010

    Tell us: do you plan your journey far in advance or do you choose your final destination of the day given the weather, the temperature, kids’ assignments or something else?

    Another quick question: what expressionengine add-ons are you using to manage your google map data and inputs?

    Thanks and good luck!

  28. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkOctober 06, 2010

    @Joel - we have a boy wanting to see Cooperstown before we turn south, otherwise we would have already.

    @Emmanuel - We’ve only been out a week and half so don’t really have a system yet, but so far being as last minute as possible feels best. We paid in advance for two nights in Erie and should have gone night by night as there was no financial advantage to pre-payment. 

    Currently we are in a spot where, if the weather cooperates, we’ll extend our stay as the park is quite nice and the scenery pretty.

    Some sample EE templates for this site can be found on Train-ee and an overview of the EE build can be found on Boyink.com.

  29. Picture of Phil L.Phil L.October 07, 2010

    Quick question: After looking at your 5th wheel’s pics and videos, it doesn’t appear obvious that the bunks can’t be accessed when the slide is in. I presume the slide blocks the door. Is this correct? Not being able to use the bunks while “turtled” seems like a big disadvantage. Any possibility of a modification that would allow bunk access?

    Thanks for the blog - I’m enjoying following your adventure!

  30. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 07, 2010

    No, unfortunately the slide has to go out half-way in order to allow the kids into their bunks.  Some of the newer models have outer doors into the bunks that would enable this better.

    For us this made for a puzzle because it was also raining (and cold).  I’m not sure the slide seals when half-way out, and I didn’t want to have to dry the roof off before pulling it in in the morning.

    So - Data and I slept in the front bed, Storybird slept in the upper hallway, and MsBoyink took the small loveseat.  It wasn’t a great night.

    We’ll be looking for a church lot next time, and hope it’s not raining so I can let the slide out enough to get the kids into their own beds.

  31. Picture of SueSueOctober 07, 2010

    What a beautiful picture - they have some nice color there already.

  32. Picture of LarryLarryOctober 08, 2010

    Just curious,
    When people boondock at our local Wal-Mart, if they have a slide out, it out.  Did this W-M not allow you to put out the slide?  In fact, I don’t ever remember any W-M where the folks with slides didn’t have them out.

    I pass our W-M on the way to work in the morning, and last week there must have been a group of 3 traveling together.  They even parked their trailers in a circle, had the awnings and slides out, like they were planning on spending a few days there.  Course, they were gone that evening when I went home… :)

  33. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 08, 2010

    It wasn’t that we couldn’t put the slide out, I just didn’t want to.  It was raining, and when you go to bring the slide in after being in the rain you have to mop up the roof of it otherwise it has water laying on it.  That water can then run off inside the trailer, making a mess.  I don’t have a ladder with me, so far I’ve been able to do this by parking the truck next to the trailer and standing on the bed side, or dragging the next site’s picnic table over and putting a stool on it.  At the WalMart I had nothing to work with…

    We want to get an awning put on over the slide, which would resolve this issue as well as adding some extra protection from rain, prevent leaves / acornn / twigs / bird doo from getting on the slide roof.

  34. Picture of salguodsalguodOctober 08, 2010

    Looks like a beautiful spot, reminds me of the Hocking Hills area of SE Ohio, especially old Man’s Cave. 

    It looks just close enough to Columbus to make in a day, although a long one.  Something to keep in mind for a future trip perhaps.

  35. Picture of BrentBrentOctober 08, 2010

    Love that first photo!

  36. Picture of PaulaPaulaOctober 08, 2010

    What a gorgeous spot! Love the photos. And am glad to hear you had sunshine and a good day…you guys deserved it after all the rain and downer experiences along the way. I’m enjoying following along in spirit.

  37. Picture of MeredithMeredithOctober 09, 2010

    I’m so glad you guys enjoyed your stay in my area, complete with a Mennonite experience!

  38. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 10, 2010

    @Doug - totally worth the drive.  There are a few state parks in the area as well so might be better idea to bring the camper and stay a couple days.  Just do it a few weeks earlier as things are shutting down this time of year.  There are other gorges/falls in the area as well, we didn’t want to overload on them so left some unexplored for the future.

    @Paula - we’ve had a few really nice days now and it’s making for a world of difference mentally.

    @Meredith - It is a beautiful area.  I imagine it gets a bit crazy in the summertime & around the Holidays.

  39. Picture of Steven GrantSteven GrantOctober 12, 2010

    Wow - sounds like there’s loads going on there.

    As we prepare to move to the US and moving out of the comfort zone, I can empathise with what’s going on. I too feel drained at the end of each day at the moment and I actually feel better for it.

    I suppose you’ve almost got the life of a submariner at the moment.

    Will continue to pray for your travels.

    May the Lord bless you all.

  40. Picture of Renee FoggRenee FoggOctober 12, 2010

    Hello Boyink Family-

    We are leaving soon too - have a million things to do but thought I would check out your adventure. Colors look fabulous in NY. They are beautiful here as well and temps in the 70’s and sunny. Fabulous fall.

    Blessings as you continue your adventures!

  41. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 12, 2010

    Thanks Renee!  Godspeed on your trip as well.

  42. Picture of John KnottsJohn KnottsOctober 12, 2010

    We haven’t ever done a two week stretch, but have experienced much of the same in our travel trailer (aside from the puberty part of course).  We too will continue to pray for your travels.  And as you mentioned, in the end, I’m sure you all will be much closer as a family.  Bravo, and keep up the good work.

    BTW, I think we’re honing in more on what our “pipe dream” is.  Hopefully we’ll see you all out on the road someday!


  43. Picture of John KnottsJohn KnottsOctober 12, 2010

    Oh, and that photo… looks like a great campground.  Soak in those fall colors while they last!

  44. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 12, 2010

    @Steven - I think we’re better off than a submariner…lots of time outside lately.  The fresh air is part of being so tired I think.

    @ John - Awesome.  And not surprising given your penchant for long road trips..;)

  45. Picture of John KnottsJohn KnottsOctober 12, 2010

    Heh, heh.  Speaking of… we have another (of what has turned into a twice yearly) Oregon - Pennsylvania - Oregon road trip planned for next month.  Just put on new rubber… you never know what you’re going to hit so late in the year ;-)

  46. Picture of Warren wWarren wOctober 12, 2010

    Hi Mike wow what a great website I sure give you alot of credit. Hey when were you guys in Niagra? That was our 1st stop, we left on Wed the 29th and were in Niagra on Thurs and Fri. and left for Vermont on Sat about noon. How much did we miss you? Warren

  47. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkOctober 13, 2010

    Hey Warren- we were at Niagara on the 4th. I’ll bet you guys drove past us while we were in Erie.

  48. Picture of Larry LeakeLarry LeakeOctober 17, 2010

    What a beautiful spot - in my ignorance, i thought Watkins Glen was just a race course - now I want to go there! Thanks for sharing your family’s adventure.

  49. Picture of Phil L.Phil L.October 19, 2010

    I love the “bobbers in tree branch” photo: Color and composition are on the money. Plus, it reminds me that a surprising amount of gear in my tackle box comes from “rescued” items left behind by others…

  50. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 19, 2010

    Thanks Phil!  That tree had at least 3 other clumps of tackle..;)

  51. Picture of PaulaPaulaOctober 20, 2010

    Wow! I didn’t know this was a phenomenon somewhere. My son and I discovered a “ringing rock” in our backyard a couple weeks ago while out searching for “cool rocks.” I’ll have to share this with him and look into it a bit more. Thanks for sharing!

  52. Picture of MikeworxMikeworxOctober 21, 2010

    Some crazy history there. I’ve always felt disconnected when visiting sites where great/tragic things happened. Almost like it never really happened. Perhaps a sign of our digital times. Looking forward to our adventure.

  53. Picture of DonnaDonnaOctober 21, 2010

    Appreciated reading your account. I was at Gettysburg as a young child, and remember little. My sister and I, however, stopped at the Chickamauga & Chattanooga Military Park some years ago in autumn, around the same time of year as those famous battles. We’d both recently read “Co. Aytch,” so we searched for the monument of the 1st Tennessee (author Sam Watkins’ regiment). We found it among some peaceful wood, and re-read Sam’s account aloud.

    Here’s an excerpt:
    A soldier’s life is not a pleasant one. It is always, at best, one of privations and hardships. The emotions of patriotism and pleasure hardly counterbalance the toil and suffering that he has to undergo in order to enjoy his patriotism and pleasure. Dying on the field of battle and glory is about the easiest duty a soldier has to undergo. It is the living, marching, fighting, shooting soldier that has the hardships of war to carry. When a brave soldier is killed he is at rest. The living soldier knows not at what moment he, too, may be called on to lay down his life on the altar of his country. The dead are heroes, the living are but men compelled to do the drudgery and suffer the privations incident to the thing called “glorious war.”

  54. Picture of MikeworxMikeworxOctober 21, 2010

    Just read a chapter of Co. Aytch. Stirring account. I must admit I do not know much American history (I’m Canadian). War is nasty business.

    “Reader mine, did you live in that stormy period? In the year of our Lord
    eighteen hundred and sixty-one, do you remember those stirring times?”

    Great history lesson in Gettysburg.

  55. Picture of Sue SalSue SalOctober 22, 2010

    Thank you for sharing - what a great learning experience.  Terrible but yet good.  Holding your family in my prayers - please give Crissa a hug from me.
    Love you all,
    Sue (and Larry)

  56. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 22, 2010

    Thanks for the comments folks.  Sue - good to hear from you.  We’re hoping to meet up with the other traveling Manna folks this coming week.

  57. Picture of Margie LundyMargie LundyOctober 22, 2010

    These are iPhone pics? They’re great! We’ve spent a LOT of time in WV (mainly on the rivers) but haven’t been here. Yet! Thanks for sharing. I love when curious stops turn out great!

  58. Picture of Jeff GJeff GOctober 22, 2010

    I love that town.  Northern Virginia is beautiful this time of year… once you get outside of the suburbs of DC.

  59. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 22, 2010

    Yep - all iPhone 4 pics with some quick processing. Thanks for the comment!

  60. Picture of Shelby T.Shelby T.October 24, 2010

    Sounds like you had a good time in Gettysburg. I have been there too and found it moving what the soldiers did for us to live as freely as we do today. They had to go through so much compared to our typically simple/easy lives today. Continue having good travels. God bless you.

  61. Picture of Shelby T.Shelby T.October 24, 2010

    Those are amazing pics. I imagine that it’s the most beautiful this time of year. I am actually a little jealous:). I guess the unexpected side trip turned out pretty well after all.

  62. Picture of John KnottsJohn KnottsOctober 25, 2010

    Stops like these are the reason we always drive cross-country instead of hopping in a plane ;-)

  63. Picture of RickRickOctober 25, 2010

    The pictures are spectacular.  Someone in the family (or maybe everyone) has a good eye. 
    Wondering if you’ve finally dried out from your rinse-cycle start?

  64. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 25, 2010

    Thanks Rick - most pictures are mine (unless I’m in the shot of course..;).

    We’ve enjoyed a fair number of nice days now.  Getting some warm nights here in VA which is nice too - haven’t had to run the heat at night.  Just so much easier (fewer clothes, less laundry, things stay cleaner, can eat outside) when not rainy and cold…;)

  65. Picture of Don AllenDon AllenOctober 26, 2010

    Excellent story. These are the types of memories you guys are going to remember the most after all is said and done.

  66. Picture of Beth TarnowBeth TarnowOctober 26, 2010

    Great story!!  and a beautiful picture to go along with it!  I’m off to make dinner and will pray for you all and your travels!  Blessings from the Tarnows

  67. Picture of PaulaPaulaOctober 26, 2010

    Beautiful shots, Mike!

  68. Picture of Benjamin CarlsonBenjamin CarlsonOctober 27, 2010

    Beautiful! The shots of the fall colors over the hills with the lake down there remind me a lot of Brockway Mountain in the Keweenaw Peninsula in the UP: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thorstenator/2148032564/

  69. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkOctober 29, 2010

    Thanks Ben!

  70. Picture of michellemichelleOctober 31, 2010

    If you are ever back in MI again Fort Custer has the BEST trails for mountain biking. Intense, but very “doable” and FUN!

  71. Picture of michellemichelleOctober 31, 2010

    Uh…not sure how Ms Boyink will like them though ;)

  72. Picture of MsBoyinkMsBoyinkOctober 31, 2010

    Uh…MsBoyink won’t be joining the boys on the true mountain bike trails. I did ride on one trail on our first day here, and that was enough for this old body. ;)

  73. Picture of Jeff GJeff GOctober 31, 2010

    Mike which trail system did you ride?  The Mountain Bike trails or Lakeview?  Both are a blast.  Will you all be around next Friday?  I will be in town.

  74. Picture of SeanSeanNovember 01, 2010


    Thos are some awesome pictures. I really like the black and white ones. What kind of camera/lens are you using? How much post processing are you doing? Glad to see you guys enjoying your year trekking around the country.

  75. Picture of LaniLaniNovember 01, 2010

    Glad you enjoyed Maymont! It’s one of my favorite places in Richmond. Safe travels!

  76. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkNovember 01, 2010

    Hey Jeff- we did the Lakeview trails but I wasn’t always sure where we were at. The Maps and trail markings could be improved.

    My class runs through Friday and we’ll be in the area until the 9th. We’ll figure out a time to grab a beer.


  77. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkNovember 01, 2010

    Sean- these are all from a Nikon D40. Post-processing is all irfanview where all I do is bump the saturation, contrast and sharpness. I dont have a lot of patience for editing images so spend maybe 20-30 seconds each.

    Lani-thanks again for the recommedation.

  78. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkNovember 01, 2010

    Oh-forgot. Most posts on the site also have the odd IPhone 4 pic and I also have a Canon p&s along as well. The canon isn’t getting used much however.

  79. Picture of Joan ReichardJoan ReichardNovember 03, 2010

    Good for you! There’s nothing like traveling to learn about life, people, cultures, geography, history, etc. As a former homeschool teacher (daughters are almost 27 and almost 29), I heartily endorse what you’ve chosen to do. Education definitely does not consist of only book learning. Character building includes work (chores without pay, being responsible), service to others (being self-denying),and learning about interpersonal relationships (includes learning etiquette, self-control, being thoughtful).

  80. Picture of MikeworxMikeworxNovember 06, 2010

    There really is “no place like home”! I can’t believe how inconsiderate people can be (both the hotel and the Tahoe driver). Glad you got out.

  81. Picture of BrentBrentNovember 06, 2010

    Doesn’t sound like it was much fun but it does make for a good story at least :D

  82. Picture of PatrickPatrickNovember 06, 2010

    He could have at least parked straight when he was deciding to block you in.
    It baffles me how people think sometimes.

  83. Picture of salguodsalguodNovember 06, 2010

    We stayed at a motel 6 years ago with a tub like that.  It was rather entertaining.  I wasn’t surprised for a dirt cheap Motel 6, but I would have expected more from a Ramada.

    Gotta wonder what the Tahoe guy was thinking.  Pretty good work getting it out.

  84. Picture of Phil L.Phil L.November 06, 2010

    Impressive job getting the trailer out of a tight spot! I’ve seen several situations where some creativity and careful driving have gotten trailers in and out of spots you wouldn’t have expected.

  85. Picture of Jeff GJeff GNovember 06, 2010

    Mike I am sorry about the hotel.  It was good to see you and you did good getting out of that spot.

  86. Picture of GregGregNovember 10, 2010

    First time to your website, love the design and layout.  My wife and I are about to hit the road and have come to very similar conclusions regarding rig setup (5th wheel and truck).  Any regrets regarding that decision?  We’re from Canada (just outside Toronto) did you get a 5th wheel that was winterized?  Curious, I’m not sure if it should be a priority in our 5th wheel decision making.

  87. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkNovember 10, 2010

    Hi Greg-

    We still like the truck/5th setup. It’s a nice combo for a family.

    We didnt buy a “winterized” rig because we had planned on staying in warm temps. We’ve had a few cool nights where additional insulation would be nice.

    We do have an enclosed underbelly and tank heaters though.

  88. Picture of MsBoyinkMsBoyinkNovember 14, 2010

    I just want to publicly thank my parents for housing us for three nights, washing our laundry while we were running errands in Holland, feeding us delicious, home-cooked meals and staying up late to visit.

  89. Picture of Mattaponi MammyMattaponi MammyNovember 18, 2010

    We’re camped right across from you at First Landing SP. Sorry you decided not to stay at Pocahontas. It’s a wonderful park and not that far to drive into Richmond for stuff. Hope we get to meet you. We’ll be here until Sat. Sounds like a wonderful adventure.

  90. Picture of Mattaponi MammyMattaponi MammyNovember 18, 2010

    Oh…..glad you did get to stay at Pocahontas. VA State parks are great. If you’re headed south, I would also recommend State Parks in South Carolina (Huntington Beach is a favorite near Myrtle Beach), Hunting Island near Savannah, Ga. If you are looking for a place near Atlanta, GA, Stone Mountain and past Atlanta headed to Chatanooga, Tn, I recommend Red Top Mt. Florida? Hard to get in this time of year, but Bahia Honda is awesome.

  91. Picture of salguodsalguodNovember 18, 2010

    You sure you didn’t have a Malibu?  It’s about the same size as the Fusion, the Impala is a bigger car more in line with a Taurus.  Still FWD, but pretty large.  I’d consider the Impala a true full size car (I had one as a loaner when the Mazda was in the shop - hated it), but the rental companies typically apply names one size bigger to cars.

    Anyway, glad you had a good whirlwind trip home.

  92. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkNovember 19, 2010

    No, it was an Impala.  I’d consider the older, RWD V8 Impalas a full-size car, but not the current one.

  93. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkNovember 19, 2010

    Hey - good to hear from you.  We’re also here until Saturday, and should be around today as well.

  94. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkNovember 19, 2010

    Thanks…we will be in the Atlanta area just after the new year. Between now and then down through the Carolinas and southern GA.

  95. Picture of LarryLarryNovember 20, 2010

    What a great area of the country to be in!  We really loved that part of the east coast.  If you want to see another REALLY nice beach, with wild horses running on the beach and in the campground area, and its not too far from where you are at right now, go up to Assateague Island National Seashore http://www.assateagueisland.com/  Should be about a 3 hour drive north along the coast.
    If you don’t go there on this leg of your journey, hopefully you can stop there some other time.  It really is an awesome place to visit, very protected and with the wild horses on the beach, very cool.

  96. Picture of LarryLarryNovember 20, 2010

    Oh, I forgot, we did the Fort Henry Lighthouse too.  We pulled our camper into there and we all got out of the Jeep, they did the same check under the hood and with the mirror under the vehicle.  I asked if they wanted to look inside our 21 foot camper - they were not interested!  Really couldn’t figure that one out either!

    Storybird and my wife would really get along, they both love to read and I have to pry my wife off the beach when there are shells to find!

  97. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkNovember 20, 2010

    3 hours *north* ? Not happening…:)

    We read about the wild horses but they just don’t fit into this trip. We head south from here to the Outer Banks.

    I figure the Navy folks have a list of things to inspect and anything off the list would be extra work and disobeying orders.

  98. Picture of LarryLarryNovember 20, 2010

    OK, then on the Banks, are you planning on going to Okracoke Island? Just another one of this countries natural beautiful spots.  Not much to do there, not really much to see either, just peace and quiet.  Bring your own provisions.  I think there is a small convenience store there, a couple hotels and a couple bars.  Just a place to really “get away from it all.”

    On the way there, a stop at Kill Devil Hills is worth a stop.  See and walk the path where the first Wright Brothers flyer took its first flight.  Then on to Cape Hatteras to see the lighthouse.  CLIMB IT!  Its an awesome view!

    Highway 12 along the coast is a really pretty drive with lots of picture opps.

    God I want to go back!  Have fun!

  99. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkNovember 20, 2010

    Yep-we think our National Park pass gets us into the Wright Bros stuff.  Hope so. We will be camping in Avon so a daytrips over to Ocracoke & the lighthouse are definitely in the plans.

  100. Picture of Laura CamachoLaura CamachoNovember 23, 2010

    Thanks for your missive, Storybird! I hope you and Data will write your own updates frequently; I like hearing about the trip from the kids’ perspectives.

    It sounds like you are having fun and I’m glad there are other kids whose parents are adventuring with them like yours are with you. Are you enjoying yourself? I remember that you were a little apprehensive about leaving home. Even if it gets rough sometimes, you are making some amazing memories that you will always look back on so fondly. I bet when you grow up and have your own kids, you’ll want to do the same thing with them. ;)

    Your family inspires me! When my girls are older, Leslie and I really want to travel around with them, too.


  101. Picture of ChristenChristenNovember 23, 2010


    Thank you for sharing your adventures!  I enjoyed reading about your experiences and can’t wait to see more posts from you!

  102. Picture of Dane and HannahDane and HannahNovember 25, 2010

    Thats really cool storybird. Here I am! So where are you going to have Thanksgiving? We miss you so much. I loved it when we played man-hunt at First Landing. I hope you find more friends on the way!


    That is so cool Storybird! You are a GREAT writer! I’m not baking cookies right now, but yesterday I did bake cupcakes for Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving by the way! Levi and his family are coming over to our house for Thanksgiving. It was alot of fun playing man-hunt. And, now that I think of it, so was karoke! Alley is great. Hope you have a great trip and befriend some more kids!


  103. Picture of StorybirdStorybirdNovember 25, 2010

    Thank you for commenting on my post. In response to Dane: We don’t have plans for thanksgiving, but we might go to the theater and watch a movie. I miss you too, and I do hope I make more friends on the way!
    In response to Hannah: Thank you! I like to write, I enjoy writing, and I do it a lot. Cupcakes are yummy. Did you decorate the cupcakes with frosting? I hope you have a lot of fun with Levi and his family today. Say hello (woof) to Alley for me. I miss you too! Goodbye!

  104. Picture of Jeff GJeff GNovember 25, 2010

    Wow those Dolphins were close to the beach.  They must have been pushing food up into the shallows to eat it.

  105. Picture of amber northcuttamber northcuttNovember 25, 2010

    Thanks for the story Storybird. It was really good and I enjoyed reading it especially since I don’t read this too often. I miss you and your family a lot. I’ll see you at Christmas time.


  106. Picture of amber northcuttamber northcuttNovember 25, 2010

    Those pictures were beautiful and it is really amazing that you could see dolphins that close along with getting such good pictures. All of the places that you have been so far are really cool. Wish that I could be with you!


  107. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkNovember 26, 2010

    Hey Amber -

    I’m sure we could find room for you - so long as you don’t mind sleeping in a storage compartment somewhere..;)  Thanks for checking in!

  108. Picture of RickRickNovember 30, 2010

    The seafood looks amazing.  That’s one of the things I miss the most from my trips to the East coast.