Getting ready for a trip of this magnitude has involved months of thinking, quite a bit of research, a whole lot of gumption and some willingness to open the wallet. Especially when it comes to the rig.
Our starting realization was that our 31' Class C was great for weekends, or even a week. After all, we had an 8 week trip across the country in it years ago -- when the boys were 9 and Sarah was almost 4. But now they're 13 (and going to be 14!) and 7 (going on 14!) respectively. This was not going to work for a year. I wasn't sure it was working on that fateful camping trip.
The boys needed a space to call their own, and being an RV, a space slightly larger than a coffin would have to do. Similarly, breaking down the table every night so Sarah could now sleep somewhat uncomfortably (she's very tall for her age), wasn't going to work for a year. We needed something with bunkbeds, but was a motorhome (having access to kitchen and bathroom while underway is awesome).
Initial thoughts lead us to the Winnebago Sightseer 35J. It was a big step up from our current rig, fit the bill, and most importantly for a "value-conscious"/"investment-oriented" family like us, fit the budget. I hovered on rvtrader and kept watching for good prices. Being fairly common, there were a lot of options even without flying across the country. I was developing a strategy and was ready to head out.
And then the news on Landshark hit. Engine was in bad shape. Should be replaced. I had to get a second opinion. And the guy from whom I got the second opinion mentioned diesels. Great. All my research went out the window. And the choices were far fewer. But there was one that was interesting. A Tiffin down in LA. It was bigger and fancier than I had ever planned, but it was only a bit more expensive than the gas models. But after my experience with old Landshark and the fact that the Sightseer had the exact same engine (albeit newer and with the design flaw "fixed"), I figured it was worth a look.
A week later I was driving home the biggest RV I have ever driven -- a Tiffin Allegro 35QBA.
Step 1 of the Plan was complete.