Monday, July 7, 2014

The migrant life draws closer

We now have a tow dolly to drag behind the RV. One of the difficulties in planning for an itinerant life style, at least one that may include stays of several weeks or months at a campground, is figuring out how you're going to do stuff like shop for groceries. Most campgrounds are not located within walking (or even easy biking) distance of a Publix. This is one reason you see a lot of RVs with cars in tow. If you're going to be parked somewhere for more than a couple days, it's a lot easier to run to the supermarket using a car than it is to go through the hassle of moving a motorhome.

We'd been looking for a used tow dolly since last fall. We'd figured out pretty quickly that a brand-new one was out of the question. As I have noted before, the S.O. and I are frugal people. More so the S.O. than myself -- I tend to see myself as relatively frugal while he's one cheap son of a bitch -- but both of us flinch in psychic pain at the thought of paying full price for anything if we can avoid it. Which means we've been spending a fair amount of time perusing Craigslist. Every so often a tow dolly in our price range (really, really cheap) would come up, but the timing was off or it was being sold by someone who lived just a little too far away. The U.P. Craigslist covers a fairly large territory; I wouldn't have been too thrilled with having to drive 280 miles to Drummond Island just to save a few bucks on anything.

I was, however, willing to drive 190 miles to Hayward, Wisconsin, yesterday. Hayward is less than 4 hours driving time away and has the added advantages of being home to both giant fiberglass fish and the original Famous Dave's. Neither of which we actually saw (although we did drive by the Grand Pines Resort on County B), but that's irrelevant. We came home with a tow dolly. Open road, here we come.

A side note: as part of the expedition to buy the tow dolly, we drove past the LCO casino operated by the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa. The parking lot was full. It was early afternoon on a gorgeous July day -- and people would rather be inside gambling than outside enjoying our much too brief northwoods summer. People are strange.


  1. One advantage of a Jeep is that it can be flat-towed by putting the transfer case into neutral and the transmission into park. But I guess if your current car is not flat-towable and you're not willing to sell it and buy a toad that can be flat-towed, a tow dolly will work pretty much the same (and with the same limitations, e.g., can't back up more than a foot or so or it'll bind).

  2. The car is front wheel drive so we're stuck with a tow dolly.

  3. Some front wheel drive cars can be flat-towed. Saturns were famous for being flat-towable, back in the day you'd see many a big RV with a Saturn being flat-towed behind it. The Good Sam Club web site had a nice list (members only) in one section.

    I don't like tow dollies because those tiny little tires on them are failure points that wear faster and blow much more often than bigger car tires. That said, if your car is only towable with one, well, you do what you can, I guess.

  4. The tow dolly we bought has 14-inch wheels with regular car tires, not the little tiny wheels that look like they belong on a kid's wagon. The S.O. checked and we actually have wheels with solid tires mounted so we've got multiple spares.

    The spare wheels are from an '87 Olds that went to the crusher in 2006. When the car got crushed, the wheels with tires mounted had to come off so we kept them all.

  5. Some front wheel drive cars with stick shift transmissions can be flat towed, but most cars with auto transmissions can't be.

    Well, they can but I won't go into how cuz it is a pain in the ass every time you do it.

  6. If my Focus had a stick shift, we could get by with just a tow bar, but it's an automatic. When I bought it 5 years ago I wasn't thinking at all about someday dragging it around behind an RV.

  7. Seems to me like I read that you can buy some kind of hubs to disengage the front axles to tow them.

  8. Anyways, I think a tow dolly is the smartest all around useful device you could have gotten, they are handy in so many ways.

    You can even build a box to put on one in case you are not taking a car on a short trip, you can fill the box with firewood or whatever.

    If BadTux had one he could carry extra stuff he can't can't get in that piece of shit Jeep. :-)


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