Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Who Moved My Cheese? - Rambling RV Rat’s 2020 DRV Suite Retreat from Bennett’s Camping Center, Granbury, TX

Well, it has been months in the making, but the time finally arrived for us to take delivery of our 2020 DRV Mobile Suites 40KSSB4 from Bennett’s Camping Center in Granbury, TX (

I know that many of the DRV Owners’ Group (DOG) and Suite Owners International Club (SOITC) think there are only two dealers from which anyone should EVER purchase a DRV.  But we are proof positive that if you look hard enough (you can read about our search here:  Our Quest for a DRV Mobile Suites - MissionAccomplished)  you will find there are other reputable dealers out there, like Bennett’s Camping Center in Granbury,TX.

Bennett’s has been owned/operated by the same family for nearly 50 years.  Though they do not offer DRVs exclusively like Rolling Retreats, they were one of the first dealers to join DRV’s network of dealerships in 2003.  Sales Rep Scott Rash is very down to earth, accommodating, and a true, honest, Texan gentleman.  He is a smart businessman who knows how to close a deal—no back-peddling or hidden costs, no low-balling on our trade-in value, just fair pricing with no hassles or haggling.  Mom had a few out-of-the ordinary requests.  Scott didn’t just say “no” or try to dissuade her.  He went right to his sources at the plant to inquire—and DRV met all of her requests.  And since Bennett’s is within our home/domicile state, they handled inspection and registration for us. (It’s a bit odd that brand new vehicles must be inspected in TX—even over-regulated NJ did not require inspection for a vehicle within the last 2 model years).

We ordered our 40KSSB4 in March, and although it was available for delivery in early August, Bennett’s was accepting of our travel schedule which wouldn’t put us back in Texas until mid-September.  Unlike some dealers we visited who allocated only a few hours for a pre-delivery inspection (PDI), Bennett’s said, “take all the time you need and want.”   Although Bennett’s did their own comprehensive PDI, we believe in doing our own due diligence.  So, using a compilation of various checklists, including the one utilized for our three prior new RV purchases, and looking for specific issues/problems that were noted on DOG and SOITC Facebook pages, we did our own extensive PDI.

It took us two full days, but we tested every window, slide, shade, and electronic device.  We stretched, crawled, and squatted, checking every seal, nook, cranny, and crevice.  We left no stone unturned.  However, as prior owners of two newly-constructed sticks and bricks homes and 3 previous new fifth wheels, we learned from experience not to sweat the small, trivial cosmetic items, but to focus on the important structural/mechanical issues.  We were pleased with the results of our inspection—we had only about a dozen items on our list, many of which were seal/caulk related.  (Now mind you, we are not delusional.  We KNOW that like ALL RVers, and especially as full-timers, we will experience hiccups and encounter problems down the road.  Our home-on-wheels lifestyle is characterized best by Roseanne Rosannadanna, the beloved Saturday Night Live character played by Gilda Radnor, who said, "It's always something.")

The issues we found were resolved expeditiously by Bennett's.  The hospitable Scott treated us to a nice lunch.  Bennett’s presented us with welcome gifts, including a $30 gift certificate and a goody bag that contained all the makings for delicious smores!   They provided a complimentary site within their RV Park to transition our belongings from our 2015 Keystone Montana.  Unlike our prior move from a 2011 Montana to a 2015 Montana with similar layouts, this move required extensive space analysis and total rearrangement and placement of items.  It was a long process for my parents (we arrived on Sunday evening and left on Thursday morning).  Me, I just moved my coveted cheese!   We took some time for fun as well, enjoying the camaraderie of Matt and Sherry, Escapees buddies (and DOGs) who were in the area, and folks from Amazon we haven’t seen in 3 years, Bill and Sandy.   We enjoyed several meals at Belenty’s Love, a terrific Vegan Mexican restaurant that makes all homemade, wholesome meatless entrees and delectable desserts (Belenty’s gets a 5-faux-cheese rating from this Rambling RV Rat!).

My folks with Matt and Sherry, friends from Escapees and fellow DOGs.

The BEST by-product of having worked at Amazon--the great people we met!  Bill and Sandy with Mom and Dad.

Some delicious entrees at Belenty's Love Vegan Mexican Restaurant.

The cute interior of Belenty's Love Vegan Mexican Restaurant.  The only animals you find here are paintings on the wall!

We truly are pleased with our 40KSSB4.  It offers TONS of storage, albeit most of which Mom can’t reach.  But she solved that problem by buying a 3-step Gorilla Ladder that is so lightweight, she can lift it with 2 fingers!

Yours truly on Mom's lightweight 3-step Gorilla Ladder.

Mom, who admittedly spends more time cooking than she would like (too bad we all love to eat so much), is thrilled with the kitchen layout.   Though a bit shorter in length than what we had previously, the island offers a solid work space since the sink is in the slide, not within the island.  We opted out of the dishwasher, giving us more drawers within the kitchen.  Actually, Mom would have preferred cabinets rather than drawers in the island for more convenient storage of pots/pans.  Unfortunately, this was not something we considered during the ordering process.  But my Dad is quite a handy-dandy guy, so he could fix her up with that down the road.  And after having absolutely no viewing access on one entire side of our Montana, we all adore the addition of the kitchen window in the 40KSSB4.  Sales Rep Scott says he liked the look so much, he is going to add the window to future 40KSSB4 stock orders.  Mom has been learning the nuances of a different convection oven.  She better get up to snuff fast—she’s got to start baking my Christmas cookies!  

Those who are acquainted with my Mom personally know she is a bit anal retentive/OCD.  So, the irregular placement of a single medallion in the bedroom slide head trim drove her completely CRAZY!  Unfortunately, the medallion covers a gear box, so it could not be removed.  But DRV met her odd request and made a second medallion, giving her the symmetry that is so important to her.

Mom freaked out when she saw the single medallion on the left!  It wasn't centered over the bed, nor even centered within the room. Problem solved when DRV met her request to make a second medallion!

My parents highly recommend the Sleep Number bed.   Our tabby cat, who makes herself quite comfy on it, agrees wholeheartedly.  We had one in our sticks and bricks, which we brought with us in our first full-timing fifth wheel.  But with that bed being about 12 years old, it was time to order a new Sleep Number.  Once again, Mom’s quirkiness came into play.  By ordering a Queen vs King size bed, she was able to get the bed centered within two nightstands, rather than have only one nightstand and the King bed off-center.

We opted to remove the TV in the bedroom, giving us even more storage cupboards.  And by removing the vanity slide in the bedroom, the bureau is longer, hence larger drawers.

When determining which DRV model to get, Mom considered our pets.  Hence, our utility closet, which would normally house a washer/dryer, has now become the tabby cat hut.   (Mom was willing to forego the washer/dryer because of the bad experience we had with our unvented all-in-one Splendide unit, the fact that we boondock in Quartzsite for 2 months, and that our home-base RV Park asks that we refrain from using washing units within our rigs.  Not to mention that it’s an awful lot of weight to add within a slide.)  

The hall utility closet becomes...

...Our tabby cat "hut”.

Our tabby cat was a bit perturbed by the whole move, but once Mom presented her with a new blanket, she settled in nicely.   Deciding where to put our fish tank was another point we pondered.  But once we determined location, we requested the addition of a 12-volt plug.  Our fishies are now frolicking within their new, larger aquarium!

Our tabby cat sleeping on her tabby cat blanket!

Despite our tabby cat's protests, we opted to have as much carpeting removed as possible (DRV will not remove carpeting from within the slides) and replaced with laminate flooring throughout the rig.  Mom sure was glad she asked for frosted shower doors, even though they were not on the list of options available.  We had them in our Montanas, and they are so much easier to keep clean.  She was hell-bent on getting a solid entry door with peep hole—too bad she is too vertically challenged to see out of it!  In fact, even Dad has to stand on his toes to utilize it.  So take it from this Rambling RV Rat, be sure to specify the height at which to place the peep hole if you order one.  It was something we neglected to do.

Dad had his own "wish list" and was insistent that we get the Truma water heater, electric cord reel, and tank heating pads—all things we did not have in our Montana.

In our Montanas, I would sit on one of the kitchen chairs between my parents’ recliners.  Now that they have stadium seating, I am chilling out on the couch, wrapped in the beautiful quilt bestowed upon us by our warm and generous Escapees buddies (and DOGs, too!) the Meandering Monsons.  Carol is such a talented quilter, and her gift is truly a labor of love that we cherish.

Truth be told, there is one thing about our Mobile Suites 40KSSB4 that we all absolutely despise:  the macerator toilet!  This toilet has no foot pedal.  Instead, you push a button and the water swoops in and sucks out the waste.  It seems to take multiple flushes to accomplish removal of the waste.  Right now, we are pulling our black tanks every 4-5 days.  As folks who like to boondock, this is going to present a challenge.  We normally collect and reuse our shower water to flush our toilets when boondocking.  This toilet does not accommodate this method.  When we learned this was the type of toilet installed, we asked to replace it.  But apparently, that is not an option due to the way it is plumbed.  Guess we will be using the blue boy more frequently in Quartzsite this year! 

Speaking of Quartzsite, we have upgraded our 700-pound Bennche Cowboy 250 utility vehicle that we use on the desert trails.  Originally, we were very limited on the height/weight of an off-road vehicle because we were transporting it on top of the garage of Big Boomer, our medium duty truck, using a Spitzlift mini crane (rated for 900 pounds) to elevate it.   You can read all about our UTV transportation set up here Man VS Machine: How Dad Conquered Mom's Challenge for a UTV.  Let me tell ya, we were quite a spectacle driving down the road.   If I had a nickel for every time we were asked, “How’d ya get that thing up there?”, I’d have enough money to own my own cheese factory!  However, once we determined we were purchasing a DRV, we realized we could add a Swivel Wheel.   The Swivel Wheel receivers are welded to the body of the DRV.  Therefore, it has no articulation and is not considered double towing.   The Swivel Wheel is rated at 1,200 pounds.  Hence, we are excited to now own a 2019 Polaris 570 RZR EPS, which I have aptly named Rat Patrol II.

Swivel wheel stored temporarily under tree, Big Boomer, Rat Patrol II, motorcycles (which get transported within garage of Big Boomer) and Rambling RV Rat's Suite Retreat.

So it has been 6 weeks since we returned to our leased lot, and we have been busy beavers making décor changes/modifications to Rambling RV Rat’s Suite Retreat.   We took the sleeper out of our sofa for additional storage.  Rather than use shelving paper, we purchased inexpensive linoleum that Dad cut to size for all the drawers and cupboards.  We did this in our sticks and bricks homes, and it was much neater and easy to keep clean.  Mom wasn’t thrilled that you could see right through the frosted pantry doors (and you thought I was exaggerating when I told you she was anal!)  It took several attempts, but we found using a white frosted laminate layer AND a layer of black car window tinting resolved the issue adequately.  Now, you can’t see our belongings, but can still see the light shine through the cupboard doors.  We changed out the metal mini blind on our kitchen window to a pleated accordion fabric one.  Dad made covers using laminate flooring for all our vents.  And we put Lexan on our table and desk tops to protect from scratches.  Most importantly, Dad just finished installing a new solar energy system with 3200 watts of panels and 15.2 kWh of lithium batteries at 24 volts.  We are in test mode, off the grid for the last 2 weeks.  This system can run EVERYTHING—including air conditioners.  I’ll let Dad tell you about the install in an upcoming post since all that technical stuff makes my head spin.

That rack on top of my Suite Retreat holds 3200 watts of panels!

The front basement where the main Solar Components are housed.

So, for those contemplating purchasing a DRV, the moral of this post:  There are more than two games in town.  There ARE other DRV dealers like Bennett’s Camping Center who offer exemplary service.  They may not be as big or well known, but they certainly are just as capable and worthy of your business.

We would like to thank the following organizations for all the great service and support they offer to the RVing community:

Escapees RV Club


rvillage logo

RV Dreams

Image result for rv-dreams


  1. Congrats on your beautiful new home...and 4 wheeler! With all that solar I think we’ll camp near you and run an extension cord. 😜
    Safe travels!

  2. Your solar install looks amazing! Did you install Cheap Heat too? I run my Cheap Heat from my inverter for short periods (a few hours).

  3. Really nice rig Folks. Enjoy!!!~

  4. Well Well WELL ---- It looks fantastic and can picture in my mind Ms Sue "enjoying" the challenge ----- boohahahahahaha
    Congrats Y'all - can't wait to see it in 3d
    Love youse guys

  5. Congrats on the new rig, it sounds wonderful. Cannot wait to see it this winter!

  6. What an outstanding install. Amazing work here. May I ask what the full system cost? I am interested in a similar system and would be doing all the work myself as well.

  7. Our system with total DIY was $22,000 including all components and materials. It is everything we expected it to be and has made life a lot easier on the road.