Columbia Missouri and Trip to Camping World

Work took me to Columbia Missouri.  This is the home of the University of Missouri and a stopping point halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City off Interstate 70.  I’m a member of our departments Crisis Negotiator Team and the state team competition was held in Columbia. We have several newer members on our team so we decided to observe the competition rather than competing.  I arrived tired and stayed tired after working a full day, making the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Kansas City then getting up early as the competition started at 7:00 am.

Columbia Map (800x262)

We still managed to get together for diner at a local downtown Columbia restaurant called Flat Branch Pub and Brewing.  Our daughter graduated from MOZZOU and that’s how I knew about this restaurant. I suppose Columbia would be worth the stop on your way to our state capital in Jefferson City, located about 30 minutes south. Something I’ve never been able to take the time to do is ride the Katy Bike Trail.  Boonville is a small historic town just outside Columbia. Boonville is along the Katy Trail and worth a visit.  The trail itself runs along the bluffs of the Missouri River using old rail lines and then shoots off across country.  It starts somewhere around St. Louis.  Boonville has historical meaning as this is where the real shooting started during the civil war in Missouri. It is a fact that Missouri was the third most fought over state during the war in terms of battles. Only Virginia and Tennessee had more fights than Missouri within their borders.The Missouri Compromise, followed by the deal being broken in the Kansas Nebraska Act, was the fuse that finally lit off warfare around Missouri and Kansas well before states left the union.

There are some old houses in Boonville you can tour and a casino in case you’re not into bike riding or just walking around small towns.

The highlight of my trip turned out to be the hour I spent at Camping World.  I was ready to leave for home, tired as heck. I just can’t pass by an RV dealership that I’ve not visited. The night before I searched Camping World’s website and found two trailers I wanted to tour. I was able to work my way through many of the 2016 Montana’s and the Heartland Big Country.  I’ll post something about both later. This was my first time to evaluate the Big Country so I may post that separately. I should add I found a lot of minor quality issues with the Montana that were in plain view, so I took some photos. More on that later as well.

10 thoughts on “Columbia Missouri and Trip to Camping World

  1. I’d be interested in reading what you found about the Montana. I considered them at first until I read about Keystone issues. Many people seem to like them. Upon further personal investigation, they don’t have the quality build I’m looking for.
    I stepped into some high end 5th wheel last week, and it wreaked so bad of something chemical, it was burning our eyes instantly. We had to step out. The salesman muttered something about being new, Montana is worse, and it happens with the heat. Funny, none of the other campers had that issue. Wait? What about Montana? He said they have a lot of formaldehyde in their products, but refused to say more. He didn’t want to bad-mouth them since so many people do like their Montanas.


  2. We toured the Vanleigh Vilano at the last show and did not find an issue with smell or burning eyes. But that was in an air conditioned building. Hope you caught my post on the Vanleigh.

    And here is the full write-up on the Vilano.

    I know Cedar Creek brags about being formaldehyde free. I’m not very well researched in the formaldehyde issues so can’t be much help. I do know, from experience designing office space in buildings, there can be an issue along with other off-gassing, such as from carpet and furniture, that causes sick building syndrome. We used to “air out the building” for a few days.

    I’m working on a post about my recent tour of the Montana. It lost a few points on my chart. After I get the post on the Heartland Big Country done, I’ll follow up on the Montana. The short version is the dealership I visited had a dozen Montanas on their lot. I noticed dents in refrigerators, saw dust on furniture, damaged trim, weather striping hanging off and believe it or not, a few screws rolling around the floor. I’m not sure yet, but perhaps they are cranking out Montanas fast due to demand. If I see these “minor” issues again then I’ll know for sure. Should have the blog post done in a week or so.

    Thanks for commenting. I sure can use the input and I’m going to pay more attention for formaldehyde issues.


    • I have been seriously considering the Augusta Ambition. They are priced well and look like sturdy full time construction, as well as 4 season. I try to keep in mind what most people are saying: Don’t pay MSRP. Expect about 20% off in negotiations. That’s puts them in our price range of around $80K.


      • We are planning to someday take a factory tour at Augusta RV. The Ambition is high on our list as well. But we are not buying for a couple of years. I’d be interesting in what stock trailers you end up considering as an option compared to the Ambition (if there is one). Also what truck you may be thinking of pulling it with. If you don’t follow the RV Dreams blog, Howard wrote about “what he would buy today.” His suggestion was buy a well built one and haul it around having the upgrades done. There had been several forum posts about the Ambition, Howard had some old figures for the cargo capacity but later corrected himself. He also just met with Augusta in Indiana. I’m glad we have a couple years to keep looking because there is a lot going on in the market. Good luck.

        I’d also heard the 20% thing. It has been interesting when I go to RV shows and do the math it looks like the trailers at the show are marked down about 20%. Some say start the negotiations at 30%. But I also noticed at the shows some of the trailers are leaving off important things such as dual pane windows, good tires and pins.


      • I have considered the Cedar Creek, Excel, Grand Design, DRV Mobile Suites, Landmark 365, Big Horn, Big Country, Open Range 3x. Of course I really wanted a New Horizon, but that’s beyond our means and would require a larger truck, more than we wanted. My second choice was a NuWa Hitchhiker. It’s still in the running. One of the little annoyances I’ve noticed is a pullout desk being over the fireplace on some models of 5th wheels – can’t remember which ones. I can’t imagine what my legs would feel like in front of the fireplace running, and blocking the TV screen from others as well. I’m looking for efficiency of use of space in a 5th wheel. Much of what I’ve seen isn’t using ideas of space and layouts as well as I’d like. Less space in living room and more in the bedroom please. After looking at the Cedar Creek, I thought it had a lot of eye appeal, and lots of fluff. It just didn’t seem like it had the stamina or structure I was looking for. The Open Range was a bit too big for the road and too little bedroom space, but I liked how it was built. Probably ok if you plan on parking it for a while. I’m not completely impressed with the DRV layouts, but mostly it’s priced too high for us. The Heartland brands seemed decent built with a good reputation amongst their customers, but again, that bedroom space puts the bed right up against the slide out. More foot space for enter/exiting bed and a place to put water or phone. I like the Grand Design Solitude, but still don’t have a lot of information yet.

        I got the RV Consumer Group Ratings Guide. It’s a good go-to ebook to help in a comparative study. It’s not the end all be all, but gives a good starting point.

        I did read that article just 2 days ago. Basically, he states almost the same 5ers I had assessed and considered based on price and build quality. I also had planned to look for or add in those extras in the rig that he mentioned, when I can. It just made sense to have the extras if you plan on making it home. I really don’t want to just buy the first one that glitters at me, then be sorry later when I have to live with the flaws or repairs, or headache of the manufacturer not honoring their product. He mentioned the Jayco Pinnacle, but I wouldn’t consider that one. Maybe the Jayco Designer. Still looking at that one. Maybe Jayco is improving their quality with the Designer line??? What I am noticing is that quality control in the industry is severely lacking. Too many stories of people having stupid things to repair or fix within the first week. Like that is the norm to expect. Why? How do they let these rigs off the lot without a thorough walk-through? I think I would hire an inspector before signing any papers. But I think that’s just plain sloppy and careless. Anyway, the few 5ers I’ve seen that have quality, reliability, and stamina seem to be quite expensive, or out of business. My house is 2500 sq ft, better built and not even half the cost of the better 5th wheels. It doesn’t make any sense. Why can’t we get both quality and affordability? That’s just a hard combination to come by, so you have to ask yourself when seeing things you may have to compromise on: Is this a deal breaker? Can I improve it or get around it? What will it cost? How much will it put me out? Etc. I’m sure you know the mental scenario. You wrote a blog about it.

        Sometimes the compromises and choices make me want to just throw my hands up and just buy a good used cheap 5th wheel and fix it up myself. If we didn’t have a long term contract job coming up, and being sick of living out of flea-bag motels out in the middle of nowhere, while also being sick of the city I live in, I would take my time. (This town has grown so much that it stresses me to drive anywhere. Population has tripled since 1995. It’s the same reason I left Los Angeles 30 years ago. My home situation and job situation seem to be forcing the issue of me doing this within this year. Besides, it’s been too much going back and forth every few weeks to deal with keeping up on a house, my 23 & 22 yr old sons sort of taking care of it and the dog, and be on the road most of the time. Maybe a house is in the future. Just not right now.

        Excuse me for getting a bit off subject, and lengthy.

        We are planning on pulling our 5th wheel with a Ford F350 Dually diesel 2×4. The tow capacity for a 2×4 is better than 4×4. We won’t be doing any off-road so 2×4 is plenty. My fiance is looking into the tweeks for the truck (better mileage, stout shocks, front guard, etc.). I told him that Ram 3500 dually has a 30K tow capacity, almost 9,000 lbs more than Ford. But he’s a Ford man. Ram is also louder when driving, or so it appears. I will have to test drive a Ram in person to be absolutely sure one way or the other, then convince him. hehe. I’m used to driving a truck so I don’t think a dually is going to be that much of an adjustment. Also, the truck has a dual purpose for us. It’s not just to pull the rig, but he needs a truck for his job. Some of the places he works at are in the boondocks and he has to haul heavy equipment to job sites.

        By the way, the carrying capacity of the Ambition is 4,000lbs.

        Good sharing with you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Laurie,

        Thanks again for the detailed comments. I’m a Ford man also, thought I’d never say that. Have owned two trucks in the past ten years and both are still going strong. A person I trust is leaning me towards the F350 dually for a 19,500 pound trailer and below. I’ve done a little research and the F350 can handle more pin weight (cargo capacity) than the F450 because the F450 weighs a 1,000 pounds more than the F350 as the F450 has heavier brakes, suspension and more. We are going with a 4×4 because I figure the resale will be better.

        I keep looking at the better built used models although we don’t want to get one to used. Wish there were more stock trailers in 2016 that might make for a good used trailer considering those that have 8,000 pound axles, H rated tires, disc brakes, are not over 19,500 pound loaded and more. Karen and I are planning to travel for six years and want to only buy one trailer. Others are suggesting get a lower end used trailer and trade it out once we know what we want. Suppose that is an option as well. Hope we both get lucky and find a good deal at the time we are ready to buy. For sure don’t want to get a trailer that’s no comfortable and ruin our chances for success on the road. I’m willing to gamble a little more money on the hopes we enjoy it on the road and avoid the depreciation hit for trading out a trailer before six years. I’ve been watching and the good used high-end models, four years old, are still costing a lot. Also can’t believe what they get for a trailer and still are able to produce units with flaws in them.

        I’ve noticed by following blogs and reading forums some people start with a shorter unit, travel a lot, then trade out to something more comfortable with a residential fridge. Suppose their travel plans change over time.

        Don’t forget to check out the Carriage by Crossroads! Not sure what they price out at with best upgrades.

        Really appreciate your feedback.



      • Thanks for heads up about Carriage. Will look into it. My guy looked into 2015 Ford f350 diesel dually towing: 31000lbs standard. Dodge has to have upgrades to get 30,000lb tow.
        I don’t agree with people to get a lesser trailer then trade up later. I can research and think it out to know what I want and need now. It’s not brain surgery. It’s just a matter of taking the time to do your homework. Ask yourself questions during your normal day, imagine how you’d do it in your rig. Research all components, read what others say from a big pool.
        Whether it’s a house or rv, it’s going to depreciate when you breakdown all the costs. Most likely you’re not getting all your money back. Ex: My $75k house, with early paid off loan, still costed me $150k+ before repairs needed, just to live in it. Thats a low number because I didnt add water and electric bills. What will it sell for? $85k. If I like my rv, and it’s well made, while keeping it in good repair, I could care less about it’s monetary value, IF I should want to trade it later. It’s valuable to me because it’s my home. I’m not looking for an investment. I’m looking for my new home. I want to be unburdened from society’s ideas, extra work to keep up on broken cheap things, and less free time to live. On the flip side, if you buy what you don’t know or understand or think about how things could pan out, then I guess you should worry about trade in value. But, I see you’really on the same page as me: Just make a good choice the first time.


  3. we still haven’t traveled properly through Missouri so will have to some day… It was great getting to know you and your bride, hope to see you two again someday on the road!


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