Last night we returned from a long weekend trip to Asheville where we stayed at our favorite spot in the Smokys, Mama Gertie’s. It’s close enough to be a pleasant, fairly short drive though some persistent rain followed us most of the way. That’s fine, Qubie handled it just dandy especially with my recently-installed Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer.
I’d had a Blue Ox Trucenter steering stabilizer installed before I ever took delivery of the coach (long-time followers may remember I reinstalled it after determining that the dealer hadn’t installed it quite right). It started making what I can only describe as a “moaning” sound when turning in one direction which made me fear it was failing. Some folks claimed they heard Blue Ox was discontinuing the product so I figured I’d get out of that ballgame and install a competing product, the Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer. There are two main differences between these products:
The install was quite straightforward, though it took several attempts to get the unit “centered” where it would track straight down the road. I’m close enough now that it’s not annoying.
I think the centering force is an improvement over the TruCenter. There’s very little play in the steering and a feeling of, yes, stability when driving. I feel like I trust it more than the TruCenter.
Regardless, we made it to Mama Gertie’s easily and set up on our mountaintop site and just relaxed for the rest of the evening Friday. What a lovely place! That’s the view from Qubie in the image at the top of the post.
Saturday we had a pretty free day and we were interested in doing some sightseeing. Initially Cat wanted to do Mount Mitchell but I thought the weather would be less-than-ideal and suggested an alternate: Catawba Falls. Only a 20 minute drive from Mama Gertie’s we figured even if it was underwhelming we wouldn’t spend the day getting to and from. What an incredible place! Our gamble so totally paid off.
The parking area was pretty packed but the turnover was decent and we found a spot. There’s a restroom at the trailhead — the typical trailhead type of restroom with the toilet over what amounts to an open septic tank, so far from pleasant but serviceable — and a bit of signage and then a heavily treed, shaded path on a pretty steady ascent up to the falls. I think it’d be a lovely place to trail run for training, especially with the falls at the top to cool off before bombing down the trail on descent. I didn’t measure it but the signage indicated it was about a 3 mile round trip hike.
I simply loved the falls. I stood in knee-deep, cool mountain water and just stared for a long time taking it in. Cat and Julia did similarly. It was so naturally lovely. Next time I’d bring a change of clothes and take a nice dip in the pool at the base. Refreshing!
Way back when all this started the original motivating factor for getting Qubie was attending more races. As such it’s always nice to use her for that purpose and this trip was one of those. The Asheville Spartan Race is usually a pretty good one, with varied terrain and some decent hills to work with.
I stole some of Cat’s joy because I thought it was a bad idea to have them attend. I worried about parking — the area had gotten significant rain over the preceding week to where they sent out a special email warning of the conditions — and I worried about the festival area being a mudpit. I wasn’t necessarily wrong about either of them as many people had to have their cars pulled out of the mud and the festival area… well… tell me what you think.
That’s the entrance to the festival area, which was impossible to traverse without going through ankle-deep mud.
So, the girls dropped me off, I ran the race, then they picked me up after. I guess the next time I will just try to let go of my worries and let them have their fun. Julia had galoshes, Cat had her “water shoes” which I imagine would have been fine. Subie is AWD, so I guess we’d have been fine. I just always have anxiety for them during these things… don’t want them bored or miserable or whatever. I need to let it go.
Regardless, I had what turned out to be a great race outcome-wise. This was my 15th Spartan Race and best finish ever: I finished in 3rd place in my age group (out of around 140) in the open division and in the top 3% overall. Sweet! Did absolutely abysmal on the obstacles but my running made up for it.
Cat figured I’d be too tired to do anything after the race Sunday so I imagine she was surprised when I suggested we see Mount Mitchell. An hour north of Mama Gertie’s — as the crow flies it’s only about 14 miles away, go figure — Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi in the continental US. Getting to it involves driving along about 20 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway which was beautiful. Scenic vistas, curvy roads, impressive tunnels. We really enjoyed the drive as much as the destination.
Mount Mitchell itself was such an amazing contrast in scenery. From the pines that dominate the lower areas, to the evergreens and almost elven forest at the top it was mind-boggling how different it was. We’d love to explore more sometime and take some of the nature trails.
Back at Mama Gertie’s Cat and I both noticed an RV parked nearby. There were several Tiffins around — 3 Allegro Buses, a couple of Phaetons and even an Open Road — but one RV caught our eye as kind of unique.
We’re still rolling through the options in our minds for how we pursue this lifestyle in the future and one of the things that Cat mentioned during the trip up was “I don’t really want or need more space, why doesn’t someone make a premium diesel RV with all the features that entails but on a smaller scale?” And not something like the Allegro Breeze which we originally saw and dismissed due to the headroom and tiny bedroom. One kind of Qubie-ish, but diesel and all the bells and whistles.
So we’re walking through the RV park and this RV kind of jumps out distinctively. It sure looks less long than Qubie. It’s definitely a diesel and newish. What is that? It’s the Newmar New Aire. A full blown, full-height diesel pusher with all the fixins including independent front suspension and air ride, but with floorplans that only extend to 33 feet long (Qubie is 36 feet long by comparison). Interesting! Cat loved how compact it appeared from the outside and I agree. I think there was a bit of concern with the feel of the interior since it would be smaller than Qubie in several ways… yes, there’s the obvious 3 feet length difference but the slides, while opposing, are less deep so the interior would be narrower.
We don’t hate the interiors at least how they’re depicted, but one thing was really offputting while watching someone’s walkthrough: the wiring is atrocious. Tiffin is far from perfect, but there is nothing in Qubie that looks anything as bad as this.
That’s just one example, but the walkthrough has many, many more. I look at this and I see a maintenance nightmare. So we both pretty much dropped that idea entirely. It went from an exciting possibility to a hard no in about 5 minutes. Try harder Newmar.
One of our fellow Tiffin bloggers posted a very entertaining and informative “musings” post that had one thing in particular that was interesting to us. Winnebago has a new line, the Horizon, that features a vast departure from the traditional class A design aesthetic at least within the standard, non-custom realms. It’s a far more conventional design like a high-end Eurospa. Cat and I both find it compelling. While neither of us really consider buying a Winnebago, we do hope this design aesthetic catches on and exerts some market pressure so that other manufacturers — I’m looking squarely at you, Tiffin — consider adding their own lines with a similar concept.
We’ve still been looking at many options and coming up short. One thing that we’ve realized is that if we’re looking at the typical RV design, we really haven’t found anything that any of the manufacturers are making that we like even as much as Qubie. The newer Open Roads are still mostly okay but with a bit more “bling” on the facias than Qubie (and we like Qubie’s more simplified look better), but the Phaetons have even more visual whizbang that just… doesn’t appeal to us. Same with the other makes, they always start blinging things up.
I’d be very interested to see the manufacturers take a hard look at the Horizon. I hope Winnebago sees success with it as it should make the appeal more noticeable. Tiffin, I believe, tried to make some headway along these lines with a move to a less-woodwork, more-pleather slide fascia in the 2019 Allegro Bus but it was like a half-measure with the rest of the design. Backlash from many viewpoints was rapid and vigorous and those fascias didn’t make it to production. Maybe the Allegro Bus isn’t the place for a move to contemporary, maybe a new line is. Or even a specific floorplan of an existing line. What I really hope is that Tiffin doesn’t see the backlash as “people don’t want contemporary design”. That’s inaccurate. People don’t want half-ass contemporary design. I think they’d be open to a more coherent, thought-out contemporary design. Whole-ass it, in other words.
So what does our future hold? Right now, really looks like Qubie. Which is actually quite fine. She did great on this trip. Maybe we’ll pursue additional ride improvements like the Liquid Springs CLASS system, especially when they offer front and back systems. It’s an investment, but it’s nowhere near the level of investment a new diesel RV would be. Guess we’ll keep thinking.
Hey, thanks for the link. From what I’ve seen so far, people are really liking the Horizon, and when we talk to other RVers, everyone seems to recognize that more beige and more swirls and more bling are not what people really want. Like you, I hope the Horizon does well and other manufacturers take note. And I agree, a whole new line
fully committed to this more modern design aesthetic, would probably do really well. Let’s hope….
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