Abundant floor plans, colors, and options are available in choosing a park model, although some styles seem geared more to certain landscapes. I love the log cabin look, but it wouldn’t be my choice here in the Southwestern desert. Style choices are very personal. The particular model I have is quite airy and open, and I have few complaints after a year and a half.
This park model has skylights in both the bathroom and kitchen. Although I haven’t lived through a summer with them, I enjoy all the light, which makes the unit appear even bigger. Friends who remain at North Ranch for the summer say they cover their skylights against the Arizona sun during the hottest days.
One thing I wish designers and manufacturers of park models (and RVs) would do is make the closets one or two inches deeper. I find that sliding the mirrored bedroom doors open and shut eventually frazzles the fabric on hanging clothes.
Apparently it is not considered necessary to have an upright vacuum cleaner and that is a good thing because there is no place for one. However, I applaud the builder for giving enough space under the bathroom counter for a large wastebasket and a dirty clothes basket.
Check for Fit
My unit has a bathtub/shower combination. I consider myself an average-sized (short) adult, although if I go through one more Christmas season with good neighbors bringing goodies I may not be, but neither the bathtub nor shower leaves any extra room. If my 6-foot, 3-inch, 230-pound late partner were using it, I think elbow bruising would be a definite possibility. Certainly as with an RV, you need to sit and/or stand in the bathroom facilities prior to purchase to see how well you fit.
Living in RVs for the past 20 years has left its mark. I have not yet filled my park model storage spaces. Most of the shelves are adjustable. Although not everyone who buys a park model is a former or continuing RVer, I find the cupboards with glass shelves and fancy fronts pretty useless, and the shelves are not nearly as stable as they need to be for knickknacks. I have had both the glass shelves and what I put on them fall on my head. Luckily the glass didn’t break and my skull only revealed previous cracks. I don’t have a cache of fine china or whatever you put on those shelves anyway. They would not have lasted through a trip to Prudhoe Bay! I know, however, that many people do have these treasures.
Within the perimeters of North Ranch and county rules, I had a 12-foot-by-16-foot Arizona room added to the park model last May. This addition makes the whole unit into a miniature house. I can fit and sit approximately 20 adults in the park model living room and Arizona room at one time, unless someone insists on breathing. The park model sliding door and two tall windows were removed and reinstalled in the sunroom’s east-facing wall. The empty window hole, partially filled in and elevated, created space for a party-time pass-through into the park model wall.
One 4-foot-by-4-foot window is next to the front door, and three 4-foot-by-5-foot sideways-sliding windows face the north. I will probably question the wisdom of this when the heat pours through about May. By then, I should have window coverings against the afternoon heat.
A tall closet is next to the door that opens to the small front deck (for that upright vacuum). The park model back door also comes onto this covered deck with steps leading down to the driveway. The builders made a jog around a tree that I tied out of the way until it grows tall enough to miss the roof.
Both decks, built with low-maintenance composition decking, are great and I highly recommend this flooring. The sliding doors open onto the covered 8-foot-by-12-foot back deck that overlooks the high desert and the mountains beyond. I feel I’ve returned to my childhood and am living in a tree because the deck backs up to Saguaro Park and a huge mesquite tree.
This deck is my favorite haunt for talking with bunnies, watching coyotes, and listening to the multitudinous birds that frequent a saguaro that is more than 400 years old. It is also nice for just plain enjoying the morning sun or the shade created by the Arizona room during hot afternoons. Gravel crunchers walking the path for their daily exercise stop to pass the time of day, and sometimes I just enjoy the solitude of being on the edge of the desert. (Don’t tell anyone I wasn’t working).
Custom builder Rich Peschel also put down my carpeting to match the park model and I have managed to fill the room with rather eclectic furniture either given to me or bought at yard sales. It is a challenging, creative way to decorate without putting much money into it.
From the first poured-cement holding the supports, to Rich’s wife washing all the windows and vacuuming the floor when they were finished, the cost was $21,410. This also included painting the shed to match the house.
The finished room was a huge thrill for me but the thrill for the builders was picking up the rolled carpeting that had lain in the garden for a couple of days and disturbing a hissing rattlesnake. The poor thing was so upset it committed suicide.
Rich is not only an excellent builder but he has also taught his crew of two sons, a son-in-law, and another builder, to be conscientious, efficient, and creative. His son Eli, with two separated layers of building material, created a Southwestern stucco village that fills the entire peak of my north wall and I love it. Eventually, I will finish it off with dowel peg beams, stick ladders, bells and people. The village has a rope light running behind it so it doubles as a night-light and it is certainly an attractive eye catcher.
I find myself just sitting and looking at my perfect miniature house and enjoying it immensely. (That doesn’t mean I won’t be ready for RVing to a place of green trees and blue waters come spring!)
Autographed copies of Revised RVing Alaska and Canada ($16.95); Adventures with the Silver Gypsy ($14.95); Full-Time RVing: How to Make it Happen $14.95); In Pursuit of a Dream ($8), and Freedom Unlimited, The Fun and Facts of Full-timing ($9) are available through author Sharlene Minshall, Box 1040, Congress, AZ 85332-1040, www.full-time-rver.com or Amazon.com. Postage and handling are $4 for one book and $1 for each additional book.
Try the RV LIFE Pro Bundle FREE for 7 days