The Southern Glamper: Meet May Belle - Our New Grand Design

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Meet May Belle - Our New Grand Design

Friday, July 26, 2019

Welcome to our new RV.  

When our family started out with a pop-up camper, our intention was to test the waters and see how much we enjoyed camping as a family.  Over time, we started thinking and talking about a possible upgrade.  And our factory tour at Grand Design last fall, it was all over.  An upgrade was going to happen.  We considered waiting, but why?  There wasn't going to be a perfect time.  So, this spring we started looking and finally pulled the trigger!  Meet May Belle.  I'm pronouncing it just like Mabel.  She's our new Grand Design, and we are in love.


Mabel is an English name meaning loveable and dear.   I think this name suits her perfectly.  I've tried to give her the same personal touches and character that I did with Peggy Sue our pop up camper.  What made this model and floor plan the perfect fit for our family?

First, if you are not familiar with Grand Design, you should be.  This is a newer RV manufacturer that is now owned by Winnebago.  The founders are not new to the RV market, and these gentlemen have taken their years of experience in the RV industry to form a new company.  The attention to details within the design, layout and overall construction is what sets them apart.  We purchased the Imagine XLS 19BWE.  It is a smaller RV, but don't let the size fool you!

Our new Grand Design!  I had to back this thing down the drive and felt like a winner!

Exterior

The exterior of our camper is lined with practical features.  There is under passage storage that offers ample storage for hoses, chairs, outdoor cooking gear and more.  There are even motion-activated lights on both sides.  The electric awning with LED lights and exterior speakers will be a lot of fun for hanging out around the table for meals as well as a campfire.

Outdoor water hookups at the back and front are excellent features.  The back connection is an outdoor shower hook up with hot and cold running water.  You may wonder why you would want this, but we plan to make some trips to the beach.  Plus, little boys like to get dirty.  We can use the outdoor shower to hose off before coming indoors as needed.

Finally, we have a walkable roof.  This is really important for regular maintenance.  We can climb up on top to wash and condition the roof as part of seasonal upkeep.

Pardon the mess!  This was prior to me organizing everything.  The hot and cold shower water connection for the outdoor shower is there on the lower right!

Specs

The Grand Design Imagine XLS 19BWE weighs in at 4,838 pounds without cargo.  There are 1,157 pounds of cargo weight allowed.  Fully loaded, you can expect near 5,995 pounds.  

Packed into this container is everything we need.  Our RV is 23 feet and 6 inches long.  We did not want to go over 25 feet long, and this layout checked our boxes.  

The 82-gallon gray water tank will come in handy if you are camping without full hookups.  The black tank holds 37 gallons and there is a 43-gallon fresh water tank.

The 19BWE also comes with a solar panel prep and back up camera prep.  If you want to add either of these features, you can add on as plug and play features.  We plan to add a backup camera and are debating the solar panels.

The convenience panel allows you to check your tanks and use.

Sleeping Quarters

We needed sleeping arrangements for all three of us to rest comfortably.  This model has double over double bunks in the back.  Since we have a growing boy that I anticipate being tall like his dad, this bunk set up gives him room to grow.  Plus there are chargers for mobile devices and reading lights on both the top and bottom bunks.  Each bunk bed is equipped with a little privacy curtain.

The living room has a queen-sized Murphy bed that comes down over the sofa.  It lowers and raises with little effort, and I can do this by myself.  My husband was opposed to a Murphy bed until we saw this model, and then he changed his tune.  Just like the bunks, there are reading lights over the bed.  They emit a warm white light or a soft blue glow to give you adjustable lighting options.  There are also electrical plugs and USB connections next to the bed for convenience.  When you push the bed back up, the bed stays made.  There is also enough room between the bed and wall for pillows to remain intact. 

The blue light from the reading lights gives a nice soft glow.

Change the lighting to a warm white with the touch of a button.


The bunks are nice and open.


Living Space

The living space has a sofa that the Murphy Bed goes over at night.  On each side of the sofa is a wardrobe for hanging clothes.  There is a third wardrobe next to the bunk beds as well.  Under the sofa are two drawers and there are cabinets next to the sofa underneath the wardrobes.

There is an entertainment center with a 32-inch television, a radio and DVD player.  The radio can connect to blue tooth devices to play music from your phone if you like.  Plus, you can select to use internal, external or both sets of speakers for listening to music.  I like this feature because we listen to music a lot of trips.  I've already been using this while organizing things.

The entertainment center has storage above and below.  It comes fully equipped with a television, DVD player and radio.

The living area is just right.

Kitchen

The kitchen slide makes the living space really feel spacious.  This was an appeal to both my husband and I.   Within the kitchen, you have a large farmhouse sink, a microwave, 3 burner stove, and oven.  We also have a fridge and freezer that is plenty big.  

Storage surrounds the kitchen area as well.  There is storage above the sink, a pantry beside the fridge, and a large drawer for pots and pans under the stove.  I like that I have storage under the sink and another thin cabinet for holding additional items.  

The slide-out kitchen increases the interior space and makes everything so roomy.


Bathroom

Unless you buy a large camper, you are not going to have a large bathroom.  But, of all the campers we looked at, this bathroom really makes good use of the space.  Not one square inch is wasted.

The residential size shower works well for my husband that is 6 foot 4 inches tall.  The skylight adds to space and light.  One thing that many RV's don't have is a porcelain toilet.  Our Grand Design has just this.  And, it makes a difference.  Ask anyone with a traditional RV toilet.

Finally, there is a vanity and storage that includes linen shelving, cabinets above and below.  It really is just the right amount of storage for our family, and I love the details.  The sliding door makes the space also work well since there isn't a door that swings open into the camper itself.

The linen storage in the bathroom is a bonus feature!

The skylight adds some height in the shower.

I like the vanity area.  There is also plenty of room to get dressed in this space with the door closed.

The shower allows for enough space without being too cramped.


Pros

It is compact and lightweight but doesn't skimp on features and use of space.  The slide really expands everything giving plenty of room to move around and not feel closed in.  The Murphy bed is a true queen and still gives you a seating area.  The Murphy Bed stays made when you close it up.  The roomy bunks give children room to grow.  Lots of storage.  Beautiful construction and design.  From the lighting and placement of electrical plugs, the layout feels like everything was thought out.

We are totally happy campers in May Belle!  


Cons

As with any RV, mattresses are not really comfy.  We are planning to replace them ASAP.  There are fewer windows due to size.  I wish that this model came with an outdoor kitchen, but that is okay.  I have an outdoor Coleman Camp Stove and will construct our own.  That may work out for the best.  And we looked at several models with a toy door to store bikes with a flip-up bunk.  I do wish we had that.  And there is no dinette, but I don't see how that would be possible given the size.

Life is better at the campsite!  We can't wait to get started.


With any RV, there are going to be some compromises that you make in purchasing any model.  It's like buying a house.  You could build a house from the ground up and find that there is something you wish you had.  That is where I get creative and figure out how to make that space work for me.  I like that challenge.  I feel like I have far fewer challenges with this RV than with other models that we looked at while shopping.

We have already been planning out the next year of trips.  I can't wait to see where our journey will take us.  I feel like we have a wide-open road ahead of us.

Until next time...

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