A Love Affair with HaRVey

June 2024
Written By: 
Paul Grimshaw
Photographs by: 
Paul Grimshaw

Contributing Editor Paul Grimshaw muses on his brief RV ownership

Parked at Boyd’s Campground on Stock Island, adjacent to Key West, Fla., HaRVey basks in the January Florida sunshine. (Inset) Grimshaw poses at the wheel, ready for adventure.

I’ve been an avid camper since I was a kid. As a young child reading comic books by flashlight and sleeping in a tent in the middle of the woods was my idea of heaven on Earth. As a teen the Boy Scouts furthered my outdoor interests and even into adulthood, I’ve maintained my love of travel and the outdoors, but have cooled a bit on the wilderness backpacking/camping experiences. I do love crickets, but come on…

Some 30 years ago I rented an RV (recreational vehicle) and traveled, like a hermit crab, with my house on my back. All the comforts of home driven to wherever the wind blew, Cousin Eddie style. Again, in 2017, I rented an RV for the Great Solar Eclipse that crossed the continental U.S. I packed my mom and a few friends into a large motorhome and traveled to the Upstate of SC the day before the eclipse to make certain we would be smack dab in the middle of totality. We were, and it was worth every penny. I rented again in New England in the Fall of 2021 to enjoy some autumnal splendor and to visit extended family. With yet another problem-free RV trip under my belt, I was no longer an RV novice and thought I might be ready for the next step.

As a working musician with travel always on my mind I decided in the Fall 2022 to enter the world of RV ownership. I searched for months looking at beat up 25-year-old RVs, gasping at the prices of new RVs, and hearing the horror stories of RV owners talking about astronomical repair bills, but I persevered, and purchased a slightly used Class C 2018 Thor Freedom Elite in December 2022, which I immediately named “HaRVey.” In preparing for my first working musician’s road trip to Key West, Florida, in January 2023, HaRVey would be home away from home for three weeks of newly wedded bliss.

HaRVey, a 24-foot Class C motorhome, is technically able to sleep six, but Grimshaw says it was “perfect” for two.

For the uninitiated, RVs come in a variety of shapes and sizes but are generally classified Class A (the largest land yacht, bus-sized motorhomes), Class B (the smallest motorhomes, often no larger than an oversized van), and Class C, (something in between). There are also travel trailers that must be towed, and they too come in a variety of sizes from the two-man tiny sleeping quarters style to giant-sized trailers as big or bigger than many Class A motorhomes; these all require powerful pickup trucks to haul them. I had decided I didn’t want to tow anything, but I also didn’t want or need a Class A. I liked the idea of a Class B, but to my surprise found that they were more expensive than their bigger Class C cousins, and much more claustrophobic. I looked at a few luxury Class B RVs that were more spacious, had full-sized beds, slide outs (a mechanical expanding room designed to be extended once camp is set up), but were priced at $175,000 and up. Not in my budget.

Then came HaRVey. I had all but given up after another day of searching, with a planned January road trip looming. As I was walking off the lot of a local RV dealership with a desperate salesperson following me, I spotted him.

“What’s up with this one?” I asked. “Did we check this out earlier?” “Dunno, it just came in,” answered the salesperson, a glimmer of hope in her voice.

Turns out HaRVey was a trade-in from earlier in the day and after a test drive and some haggling, we made it work. I had been trying to find a new enough RV that I wasn’t buying someone else’s problems, but, since I was financing, had to have a payment I thought I could handle. HaRVey fit the bill perfectly. Like new (just 18,000 miles), with a queen-sized bed (in a slide-out), a full sized (more or less) bathroom/shower, full kitchen, lots of storage, a double bed over the cab and a perceived ease-of use because of its size, I had become an RV owner. I bought an expensive and extensive after-market bumper-to-bumper warranty, covering virtually everything, including the tires, and was able to qualify for a 20-year loan, making the payments around $600 per month. I had hoped to supplement my income (and help make the RV payments) by renting out HaRVey through two websites (RVshare and Outdoorsy) that receive a commission for putting renters and owners together. The only caveat was that I would not let renters drive HaRVey. The rental program I set up was designed for those coming to the Grand Strand area looking to stay in a designated RV park, like either of our two oceanfront State Parks or at any of the dozen or so RV parks between Wilmington, N.C., and Georgetown. I had a lot of inquiries but only a handful of rentals, not enough to significantly lower my cost of ownership.

On legendary Route 1,  approaching Key West, Florida, on HaRVey’s last trip.

In 2023 I took only three trips with HaRVey including my first to Key West in January, then to the mountains of North Carolina and later to Watauga Lake, TN, in the mid-summer. A planned late summer trip to the Northeast was scuttled by Canadian wildfire smoke and an estimated $2000 gasoline bill there and back. With my monthly bank payment ($600), insurance ($60), storage ($50) and Horry Country property tax and SC registration ($125-per mo. averaged out) I realized I was spending around $10,000 annually, and that was before I put a drop of gas in the tank at around 9-11 MPG. Though I loved owning and pampering my beloved HaRVey, and delighted in the experiences and people I met along the way, I came to the sad conclusion that at this point in my life, I really couldn’t justify the expense. Just 13 months after my initial purchase, I put him up for sale, only a slew of pics and videos to remember him by.

I still have RV trips planned for 2024 and beyond, but until I retire or win the lottery, rentals make more sense for me. I loved HaRVey, and always will, and am glad to say he is in good hands, sold to a lovely local retired woman with travel and adventure on her mind. My hope and expectation is that HaRVey will provide her with the same sense of freedom I enjoyed, and will satisfy her yearning for exploration as she makes her own journey across the U.S. So with one final request of HaRVey, I asked him to keep her safe, and God speed.

Interested in renting an RV yourself? Check out www.outdoorsy.com and www.RVshare.com. Check out some of my adventures with HaRVey on Instagram, @Travelswpaul