Hello all,

Since this forum was a big help in our research as to which trailer to buy, I'd first like to say thank you all for all the great info and content in the categories.  We bought a used 2016 177 in early January in Minnesota, from Elk River RV.  Great dealer, very helpful to us, probably thought we were out of our minds.  This is our first trailer, first camper, first RV period.  We sold our condo in Florida last fall, drove through Sioux Falls SD and became residents there, and started researching RVs.  My wife stopped to look at this used 177, and the next day we bought it.  It is not the SE model, but the gray-silver with red highlights.  We were going to pull it with a Ford Flex, but made a very good decision to trade pick-ups for a 2016 F150 XLT V8 with trailer tow.  With this truck, we barely know the trailer is behind us.

We then took the trailer to our cabin near Crosslake MN and plugged it in so we could clean it and stock it, and also tested the furnace.  We were stuck in MN for most of January for some family stuff, and finally made it out on March 3rd.  I'll never forget that it was 21 below zero, and I couldn't get the electrical cord stuffed back in the hole.  It was too stiff.  Did the best I could, and pulled out of the driveway.  We made it to Ottawa KS that night, but it was still 9 below zero.  Two days later we made it to Las Cruces NM and set up for the first time, at Sunny Acres Campground.  They are great folks there.  Ended up staying more than a week, worked out to be a perfect shake down cruise.  Everything in the 177 worked perfectly.  We had the chance to use the furnace and the A/C both.

Next stop was for a few nights at McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Phoenix, and was our first attempt at dry camping.  Again, worked to perfection.  Then to Quartzite for real boondocking at Plomosa Road.  Perfect.  Parker Strip for St. Patrick's Day.  Awesome, and dry camping again because everything was full.  Lake Havasu for a few nights, met up with friends from MN and had a great time.  Two weeks at Lake Mead at Boulder Beach.  One night in 29 Palms in the casino parking lot and then two weeks at Desert Hot Springs, CA.  This is not the time of year to be at Desert Hot Springs, but a family event required this location.  It is pretty windy and hot.   Now planning to be back in SD and MN for Mother's Day, via Park City UT, Casper WY, Black Hills, Sioux Falls if everything goes according to plan.

Looking for any advice where to park near Sioux Falls, boondocking preferred.  Also, Hudson WI.

One other note quick.  I'm working full time, and I can be fully functional with just decent internet and enough juice to keep two laptops and a phone running.  Half this trip has been without shore power.  For the first couple days, I sat in the truck and started the engine to charge my batteries when they dropped too low.  That felt kind of dumb, so we ordered a Renogy Phoenix solar generator with an extra 100W suitcase panel.  That was enough for me, but not enough to charge the camper battery at the same time.  We ordered a 2nd 100W solar suitcase panel with alligator clips, and then I ordered the parts so I could modify the panels and connect 200W in series to the camper battery when needed.  Really works great.  My only concern was a couple mornings at Lake Mead that started out cloudy, but the sun came out just in time.  Regarding campground WiFi, don't.  The signal strength is not the problem.  A WiFi booster will be a complete waste of money in those situations.  It is a problem of bandwidth, not signal.  None of these places have set up a big enough pipe connecting the campground to the local ISP.  I've done ok with Verizon cell phone hotspots, including many video conference calls each day.  I did order a WeBoost Drive 4G-X, and I "think" it is useful, but jury is still out on that one.  Also, our plan puts a governor on me at about the third week mark because I've used 15GB at that point.  Then I have to use my wife's phone as my hotspot for the last week of the plan month.

So here we are at two months since pulling out of the driveway, husband and wife in a 177, having a great time touring the SW.  Wish we could stay out longer, but this was only supposed to be a two week test run.  Kids and grandkids need some attention back in MN.


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Alabama Jim
Looking great on the road.  Glad you are enjoying the travels.  We have traveled the roads you are on and enjoyed it very much.  We have been to Sioux Falls and it is very pretty.  I am sorry to say we did not camp there so can't say where to stay.  May God bless you and give you many fun and safe trips.
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Awesome write up. Thanks
Safe travels! 
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Impressive shake down trip. I'm jealous, my semi-retirement job limits me to about 10 days in a row to use our 177se.
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Sounds like a great trip.
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This was very helpful, thank you. It sounds like you are back up “here” for some time, now. Welcome home. I’d be interested in hearing more about adding solar. We just bought a tiny 150, and are seeking lots of information. We have no experience, and kinda fear we’re over our heads. 
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We have a 177se and mostly stay in US Forest service campgrounds, which means no hook up and lots of shade.  On our first trip, it became clear that the factory battery was inadequate, so we replaced it with a Trojan 89 Ah AGM battery and two solar panels.  With that we were able to spend six days in the woods with ample battery power.

Mikes has posted a detailed explanation of his installation of solar on his 177se, which was very helpful.  We purchased the panels as a DIY kit from an RV supplier in Eugene, OR (we are in the Portland area).  It was more expensive than buying parts separately, but the hand holding of having all needed parts with detailed instructions was worth it for this amateur.
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Thanks for sharing your story and solar info. We're presently using our for 3-4 day weekend jaunts - great to hear details of traveling for longer periods, which we plan to do. BTW - Trailer looks fantastic with your truck, too!
~ Linda & Bill
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