After 10 days of camping in our new Arcadia Fifth Wheel we're slowly getting used to a new style of RV living that involves more room, new things to learn, and some pleasant surprises.
Eventually, we'll have a full walkthrough/review of the unit but with so many of our followers asking questions we thought we'd do a quick update report on our experience to date.
We've never owned or camped in a Fifth Wheel before, let alone towed one. But here we are in the middle of a two-week stay at Addison Oaks County Park in Leonard, MI, slowly acclimatizing ourselves in our new RV, that Jennifer has dubbed “the Palace.”
All of our other RVs have been Class B and Class C motorhomes.
If you want to cut to the chase and see the video report, click the player below.
Our Arcadia Fifth Wheel is very different than what we've previously had
We're reading the Owners Manual a lot these days!
As we advise those who ask us, we feel it's important to ease into life in a new RV so that's why we're doing the two-week stay in a campground. It's like being a little mini-vacation out here, with no stress and lots of time to try out all the features, shop for the things we need, and tinker with things. We're even going to celebrate Mother's Day out here with the family.
So for us in this 32.5-foot-long 5th Wheel – The Arcadia 3250 RL (Rear Lounge), the first week has been spent getting used to the layout, equipping it, organizing it and…. enjoying it immensely.
As Jennifer was checking out at a store the other day with items for the Arcadia, the clerk asked her “are you finishing a new homer?”
She laughed and explained that we were indeed doing that.
There's so much more room in this unit than we're used to.
Jennifer explains in the video her challenges…organizing a large cupboard over the sink in the galley… finding some window coverings… what accessories she needs… etc.
But that part has been really fun for us.
Mike's biggest challenges: Leveling, Hooking and Unhooking
Actually, these aren't so much challenging but downright intimidating. At first. We both took a hands-on class on driving a 5th wheel arranged by Keystone RV Company (we'll have a future video in it). But hooking and unhooking was the part of Fifth Wheel ownership I was most anxious about.
I watched a gazillion YouTube videos. I had the folks at Keystone and my service team at Camping World (where we bought the Arcadia) demonstrate the process several times. And I did it myself under their supervision. And I've done it twice on my own.
I'm still a bit intimidated but I think I have that process down.
Leveling has also been a challenge. Our Arcadia, like many other Fifth Wheel Brands, is equipped with the Lippert Ground Control 3.0 automatic electric leveling system that levels and stabilizes your RV with the simple push of a button. It also comes with auto-hitch memory function that stores the RV's position when you unhook from the tow vehicle — allowing it to automatically return to that position when you're ready to hitch back up again
I've found it to be a terrific system when the Arcadia is parked on relatively level ground in the first place. But in the location where I now am, I must have picked an unlevel spot to unhitch and/or punched the wrong buttons on the control pad because I had to use a manual control function to level the unit.
As with hitching and unhitching, I'm going to have to go through the leveling process a few more times until I am comfortable with it.
Backing Up: We're working on it
We simply haven't had the Arcadia long enough for me to comment on this. At the driving school, I did get some experience and found it not as frustrating as I feared.
But I deliberately chose a drive-through site for the location where we now are and we had for a few nights in western Michigan.
Backing up, I'm sure, will come. I plan to do some practice in an empty parking lot.
Towing has been a breeze
Our 2021 Ford F-250 Lariat 4×4 diesel has easily pulled the Arcadia down the road. It handles very well and is very comfortable. Really, it would be easy to forget it's even back there; that's how smoothly it tows.
Granted, because of the length of the truck and the 5th Wheel, we can't pull into fast-food parking lots or Starbuck take-out lines. And at rest areas, we have to park on the trucker's side.
Check the video out to see how useable it is at a rest area to make lunch or take a nap, even with the slides in.
And I have been pleasantly surprised by the mileage. Even when towing, I'm getting 13.9 mpg. Our Class C Leisure Travel Vans Wonder got just 12.5 mpg.
What has not been so pleasant is the cost of diesel. My last fillup was at $5.19 a gallon. And that took me to 3/4 of a tank. The gas station pump stopped a $100. They have a limit set that was clearly based on pre-inflationary prices.
What Mike has been doing
For starters, I set up our Starlink Internet service. Just this past week, Starlink enabled a service – for $25 above the normal $110-a month fee – that allows the portable use of the system. This is perfect for RVers like us. I'm using Starlink as I write this and am getting fabulous speeds.
I mounted the dishy antenna on a telescoping 16-foot flag pole I attached to the rear ladder.
It will take me just a couple of minutes to bring it down from the ladder and repack it. To save you asking, I will do a future video on how I set it up. Just give me a few weeks as we have lots of videos yet to do about this new addition to our RV lives.
Extra power: The Jackery 1000 watt solar generator
Our Arcadia does not come with a generator. We have 600 watts of solar on the roof and 300 watts of Dragonfly lithium batteries on board.
But as a backup to that – especially when we are boondocking – we have added the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 system consisting of a portable 1,000-watt power station and two 100-watt portable solar panels that will charge the power station in just 8 hours.
It's not enough to run the air conditioner but should the lithium batteries become depleted, the Jackery would provide enough power to run just about everything else on the RV until the Arcadia's solar replenished the Dragonfly batteries.
You can see the setup in the video.
Our first week's experience with our Arcadia Fifth Wheel
“The Palace” is a very appropriate nickname.
For starters, we plan to use it as a home base for our Tennessee property and perhaps the Michigan property we also hope to get.
But we also plan to travel with it.
One of the biggest surprises has been how nice it is not to have to unhook and break camp when we want to explore an area, go shopping, or out to dinner.
Now we have our truck for those outings and our campsite all ready for our return.
We also love the extra room and comfort.
Look for more videos and stories to come as we get to know more about this style of travel.
New ebook from Mike and Jennifer Wendland – the Natchez Trace
The Natchez Trace Parkway will capture your imagination, soothe your jangled travel nerves, open your mind and inspire you with the history that unfolded along its 444 miles.
Each of the 7 Days of the ebook has:
- Suggested Mileposts to explore
- Places to Eat in each area of the 7 sections
- Campground descriptions and links
- Links to all the special places and information
- Links to videos that show more in detail
- and a lot of highlighted information for each section
PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a printed, hard copy guide.
Whether you want to follow the footsteps of explorers, discover natural beauty, or visit historic sites, the Trace has something to grab your attention and leave you eager to see what’s at the next milepost.
You can see why this is one of our favorite US routes to explore. We’ve traveled it a half dozen times!