Vegas — Baby
Traveling to Las Vegas along the Colorado River was just what we needed. We just arrived in Vegas after spending the week in Laughlin/Bullhead City. Not much to see there. The big view was the casinos in Laughlin. It was very windy — most of the time. We did go to Oatman and London Bridge. On a drive north of Laughlin we found a nice campground called Katherine Landing a short distance to the north at the south end of Mojave Lake inside the very south end of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Next time we are staying in the area, Katherine Landing will be our campground.
Oatman, Nevada is an old mining town, east of the Colorado River, now converted to tourism, I’m sure that they have a rule that everything must appear to be at least one hundred years old. The mines in the area were hard rock mines, meaning that some very tough people using picks, shovels, and dynamite, dug shafts directly into the rock to extract the gold (and lots of extra rock). Donkeys were used to haul the carts into and out of the mines, filled full of rocks. The donkeys are still there. (actually the offspring of the donkeys, several generations removed) The donkeys have the run of the place. Donkey “tracks” litter the streets in Oatman and the donkeys are friendly enough to the tourists, assuming the tourist seems to have something for the donkeys to eat.
Tami was standing at the door to a candy shop, near a couple of donkeys and as a woman exited the candy shop, with the skills showing that this wasn’t the first time, the donkey snatched the paper bag from the unsuspecting woman’s hand in one deft move. After a little shriek, the woman said, “what am I supposed to do?” Tami replied, “get some more candy”.
How this all began
Back to the story of how we started this journey, it all began when we (me), being disappointed with the size of conversion vans and still having time to kill, after driving halfway across San Diego metro area, wandered into a new RV. I’m not sure the type, let alone the brand of RV, or even the size, but what I do remember was the living room had slides. I am pretty sure that the living room had opposing slides. Instead of the eight-foot-wide RV, this RV was about 13 feet wide. There was room to pass each other as we walked through the coach. It may not have been a Class A- RV, commonly called a coach, but it did have opposing slides. This had enough room to actually live in.
The ability to actually move around was the exact opposite of my father’s trailer, and my vision, now ruined by the reality of a conversion van. We discussed it (not excitedly at all) on the way home. One of the statements that I remember was that “if we were ever to buy an RV we were going to use it.” The worst thing I could think of was being the owner of something that aged and depreciated and at the same time had an infinite cost because it wasn’t used. Talk about a gift that keeps on costing.
What I considered a minimum usage was at least three months a year. I didn’t have any math to back it up, and it was just a guess, but my feeling on the subject was that if we only took one month of vacation per year, then renting a hotel room would be less expensive than owning an RV.
How much does an RV cost?
To me, this was a math question, purchase price plus cost of ownership, minus sale price, divided by total days used. It works like this $50,000 total purchase price, plus the basic cost of ownership, let us say $1,000 per year, for five years. This is the total investment, subtract from this number, the price you sell your RV when you are done with it. Just for the example let us say the sale price was $25,000 then the total cost of ownership was $30,000 over five years or $6,000 per year. To this number add the cost of parking it while camping, using an extremely low number of $20 per night you can get the operating cost. If you used the RV for 90 days per year then operating cost would be $1,800 per year added to the $6,000 per year resulting in $7800 per year total cost, thus 90 days a year would equal $90 per night. Since $90 per night doesn’t get much in terms of hotel quality and given envelope-quality math, a lower price RV would be possible to break even at 90 days per year versus cheap hotels.
RV or Hotel?
One factor, in favor of an RV, is that I can take the RV to places that don’t have any hotels, let alone cheap hotels.
To drive the equation in your favor, way into your favor, you could sell your house, eliminate carry cost on the house, and live in your RV every day of the year. Given the same assumptions as above, your cost per day would now be less than $37 per day. The big savings would be the money you wouldn’t be spending on your house. For us, that would be an additional $75+ per day in savings, just because we were not supporting an RV habit and a house.
I want to emphasize that none of the numbers above apply to us except roughly the last one and completely ignores the possibility that homeownership may profitable due to the fact that home prices generally go up. (RV values always go down with age) These calculations are truly back-of-the-envelope quality of very limited value. The worst thing you can do with an RV is buy it and not use it — that is a financial disaster. If however, you use the RV the story changes, if you have fun using it as we do then it isn’t the worst decision we have ever made.
In Las Vegas, we are staying at Nellis Air Force Base RV park to the north-east of the city. It is nice. We stayed at the same campground last summer when traveling home from the solar eclipse trip. We had wanted to stay at the same “RV resort” on the way home from the solar eclipse trip, but during the two weeks we were at there, the RV resort doubled the price and staying at the Air Force Base was way less than half. Prices at the RV resort in March were much more than we wanted to pay. They had a big sale in August but were in prime season in March. Seems that not many people want to camp in August in Las Vegas, go figure.
Here is a link to the google map for the area.
Link to our route San Diego to Las Vegas.
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