One year ago, we enjoyed a leisure two-month trip to Florida from Indiana and it was terrific. And even our trip from Florida to California wasn't too bad; it took a month. But we began to use the interstates (dirty word in my vocabulary). This last trip is the one that did us in. We left the Escapade (Lewisburg, WV) on a Friday morning and by Saturday evening we were in Russellville, Arkansas. We slept a few hours at a truck stop (ugh) and were ready to go again (see the Dream Became a Nightmare story on page 8). When we finally got to Mesa, Arizona, we felt like we had run a hard race and no one was the winner. This is no way to live.
We are luxuriating in all that we have now. This is a beautiful resort. It is big and clean, with nice wide level sites; we have good hook-ups, across from one of the big laundry satellites. Our 50 amp power is steady and wonderful. We can run both air conditioners at the same time as well as anything else we have. I get up at 4:45 each morning and love the coolness. That is when I go for my one hour walk and I delight in watching the sun rise. We have time for leisure second cups of coffee, and even take a nap occasionally.
It actually feels good to have time to get some heavy cleaning done. Ron even had our Toyota detailed and it looks pretty.
We have a telephone and are on-line (what fun!), but first we have some work to do. This newsletter has top priority, then we will start on the book, finish the cookbook, do more newsletters, and I want to learn the workings of the internet. I have signed up for water color classes and plan to join the Monday morning bike group. We will be busy but we wont be moving.
Right now we plan to devote the mornings to walks, and work. And we figure that we have a good three months work ahead of us, but that means that when all of the snowbirds have arrived by the middle of January, we can play too. It just feels good to sit still for a while, and when we start traveling in the spring, I promise we will not get near the interstates; we will take our time and follow our rule---200 miles and stay at least one week.
Our address for mail will not change but you may also use our new mail
Besides the following campgrounds we also stayed at truck stops, rest areas, and service facilities (truck and RV). As a result, our campground costs were low this month. But we don't recommend this method of reducing campground expenses.
Outdoor World---Williamsburg Resort, Williamsburg, VA., (Coast to Coast, page 440). (stayed here 7 days under the CCC system and then paid for an additional 4). This is another great CCC resort. It has everything including friendly management, great sites, 50 amp electricity, beautiful surroundings and spotless facilities. Amenities include an indoor/outdoor pool. The big attraction is that it is very close to Williamsburg. You'll like it.
Waynesboro North 340 Campground, Waynesboro, VA. (7 miles north of US 60). (1 night stay) This is a family type campground with good hook-ups at $18 a night. It was advertised as having big rig sites and the sites were roomy, but the interior roads are not big rig roads and we had to maneuver the motorhome without the car in order to navigate some of the tight turns.
The Crosseyed Cricket, Lenoir City, TN. (1 night stay) See Barb's restaurant report because it's part of the adventure. The campground is hilly and wooded, but has some long pull-throughs that are level. Hook-ups are good. It is out of the way for an overnight stop, but because of it's uniqueness I would go there again. Cost is $18 less G.S. discount.
Briscoe's RV Park, Oklahoma City, OK. (2 night stay) This is a plain urban type park, but it is immaculately maintained and has lots of long pull throughs. The scenery isn't much and a busy train track is close by, but it's a great location for visiting Oklahoma City and a real bargain. It is a Coast to Coast Good Neighbor Park so we only paid $10 a night plus a blue card. We especially liked it because it was only six miles from Jim's family (Barbs son).
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the restaurants may or may not be in business or as they were.)
Virginia, Tennessee & Oklahoma
Mexico---five locations in and around Richmond, Virginia. We ate at the one near the airport on U.S. Route 60. This family-owned restaurant is not fancy, but the food is excellent, moderately priced and the service was terrific.
Colonial Williamsburg has four pubs which serve 16th century style food. We sampled three of them. Each was unique and we rate them highly. I donut have enough room to go into a lot of detail. Trust us; they are good.
Chowning’s Tavern We had lunch and it was great. Evening is a time for games, merriment, and song with dinner, but we didn't try that.
Christiana Campbell's Tavern We had an elegant candlelight dinner in the garden. It was a large meal which included spoon bread and sweet potato muffins (the recipe is on page 10). It was a real treat and we were serenaded with folk singers.
King's Arms Tavern Our lunch here was probably the best. A speciality of theirs is Virginia peanut soup and game pie.
The Crosseyed Cricket at the camp-ground of same name in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The menu is primarily fresh caught trout (from their ponds). It is very pleasant and the fish was excellent. The only negative is that dinner was served on paper plates.
Shorty Small's, 4500 W Reno, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Large portions,
big menu, rustic, western atmosphere. Just plain good stuff in a fun place
near Bruckner Truck center if you need work done on your Cummins diesel
or Spartan chassis.
Take a break. Get a cup of coffee and let's chat.
Mary & Ron Towner have some good information on Mail Boxes Etc. "...We had used Mail Boxes Etc. for two years out of Portage, Michigan. Their service was excellent but very costly. We rented a medium box which cost $16 a month. Each time we requested mail it was a toll call. We were also charged a fee on top of our postage. This fee was indicated on the computer and was charged in relation to how far the mail went. Sometimes the fee was more than the postage. We switched a few months ago to the SKP service and it is working great. Another thing to mention is the fact that these mail services hold the mail for one month after you close the box. After that you are on your own. All mail received to that box is returned to sender if first class, otherwise thrown away..."
Rick & Cheryl Floyd have questions about phones, internet etc." One of the questions we have is how common are phone hookups in campgrounds? We are pretty addicted to the Internet and Email. Also, how easy is it to go into public libraries and use their computers to surf the web and get Email using free Email services?
Barb responds. I am printing this question knowing that many of our readers do Email while on the road. We are stationery for a while and that is a different story---not a problem to have a phone line connected to a big winter/summer retreat type park. We hear that it is nearly impossible to sit and surf the net for any length of time and not easy to download Email either. Truck stops offer the best solution with phones and jacks all over the place. But I will let the experienced ones help you out.
Steve (& Judy) Louden have a comment then a question about mail. "I am very mechanical and love to mess with the coach. I was amused with your coffee break re: the problems with your Dream.
As you said, most of the problems are small items with several different appliances. Frankly, I can't imagine a non mechanical person owning a motorcoach. There is always something that needs fixing. When you think about it, a self contained coach has all the systems of a car, truck, house, plus it is mobile. How long does it take you to receive mail?"
Barb comments. We disagree about being mechanical. It's okay if you like that kind of thing, but there is always someone like you around and then there is always the checkbook. We failed Gaylord Maxwell's full-timing aptitude test because we aren't mechanical. Wouldn't it have been sad if we missed out on this wonderful lifestyle just because we weren't handy? It has not been a problem and besides most of our troubles occur under warranty so why would you do it yourself? Re mail: We have mail go out every Friday and we have it by Monday (Tuesday at the latest) no matter where we are in the U.S. But remember that some mail may come into Livingston the day our mail is pulled to be sent to us. That mail will sit until the next Friday. So a letter could be delayed 10 days to two weeks.
Here is an Email response we just received from Tom & Marilyn Clark, fairly new full-timers who have written some great information in the Full-timers Corner of RVers On Line (address below) on getting ready for full-timing. Since they get our newsletter I Emailed them just to say "Hi." But something Marilyn wrote fit right in here so I am adding it.
"...Tom also identifies closely with Ron's lack of mechanical expertise. We admire those RVers who can fix anything. We've learned a lot about RV repair since hitting the road, but still leave the ‘real’ stuff to professionals...We visited Lazy Days in Tampa last week and were amazed at its size and organization. We dropped $100 at Camping World... Also discovered a pay phone with data jack at the refreshment patio. What a blessing."
I have always wanted to visit Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. We
had been near it so many times, yet couldn't get there. Since we were going
to be attending the Escapade in Lewisburg, West Virginia, we made a point
of visiting this very special place and we were not at all disappointed.
If you are planning to visit the area give yourself a minimum of four days and a whole week would be better. We did not see all we wanted to see.
This restored eighteenth century town was the capital of England's largest, wealthiest, and most populous colony from 1699 to 1780. Here at the house of Burgesses Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason and other Virginia leaders debated the issues of freedom and liberty for Virginians.
Although of museum quality, it really is a town. There are no high fences or gates to pass through. Anyone is free to walk up and down the streets, but in order to enter the buildings and re-live the era with characters from the colonial period you must have paid an admission and be wearing a badge. Since we were going to be in the area for four days, we purchased the Patriot's Pass ($33 each) which is really good for a whole year. This pass allows one into all areas and entitles the holder to a 25% discount on evening programs.
After a short orientation film in the Visitor Center we were off to another time. Free shuttle busses make it easy to get from one stop to another. Although the historic area is only about one mile in length, there are three streets the length of the village and at least four which run perpendicular to the main street.
As suggested the first thing we did was go to the Lumber House ticket office for a half-hour orientation walk, which gave us directions and ideas on what to see or do first. Then we choose an evening program from a list of 12 and purchased our ticket. They ranged from a lantern tour of selected trade shops to the trial of Grace Sherwood who was accused of witchcraft. We choose the witch trial, but because it is the most popular, we had to wait a few nights.
We were given a large (11 X 17) eight page program and in it were listed all the people we might meet and where we could find them. One could spend weeks at Williamsburg and always meet new people (players who act out their role in history) Our first visit was with Mr. Powell, a man of business and a friend of Mr. Wythe. We, and about 10 others visited with him in Mr. Wythe's parlor. People can come and go as they please so the conversation is always different. Mr. Powell, a rather robust man with a deep, British accent was very opinionated especially in the areas of politics. As different people came into the room, he might ask where they were from and then comment. Someone said they were from Florida, and he gasped, "...that horrible wilderness with all those ferocious alligators." Ron told him we were from the new territory of Texas and his comment was "Oh, my, where the savages are." Everyone fell into the proper "time talk" so it became very real. We could almost feel and think like colonial times.
For a different perspective, Mr. James Hubbard, argued with two visitors from Massachusetts about education. The ladies (tourists playing along) felt that education should be granted to everyone. Mr. Hubbard said, "That would be like pouring money down a hole; what a waste." They had quite a lively discussion. We could see the beginning of the differences between the north and south..
The Governor's Palace was just that. We could not believe the number of guns and swords hanging from the walls and on the ceiling. We learned about the governor and his family and visited the kitchens at the palace where wonderful foods were being prepared all the time. I asked who gets to eat all that yummy looking food and was told that it gets thrown away after a few days and is just for display.
In the courthouse, we witnessed several trials which really opened our eyes to the issues of the day. One man was brought to trial because he had not attended church for several Sundays in a row. His argument was that there was no Catholic church there for him to go to. Well, you'd have thought he stole a horse from the court's reaction. He was fined and ordered to go to the Church of England or one of the new protestant churches. The four sample trials which we were a part of showed us how controlling this new colony was.
We wandered into the shops and talked with the proprietors and learned how different trades were done. I was surprised to learn that in England as well as in Virginia silversmiths were very often women.
Besides walking the streets of history, talking with the many personalities, and watching the horse drawn carriages carry people to and fro, the highlight of our visit was the evening program, Cry Witch. It was a beautiful evening as we appro-ached the Capitol. Candlelights flickered in the windows. Every one seemed especially reverent as we waited in line to enter and as we did, the flickering lights seemed to perform an eerie dance on the wall. We were told that we would be the jury and would in fact vote her guilty or not guilty at the end of the trial.
The trial started with the traditional, "All Rise," as it was shouted from the back of the room just before the judge and others entered the room. The charges were read to Grace. She seemed innocent enough. She was a widow lady with a bit of a spirit, who got angry at a gentleman from church who was being pushy. In effect, she said that she wished he would have hard times and that is what happened. His crops failed and his wife had a miscarriage. So she was charged with witchcraft. During the trial we were reminded of the laws of the day and even if there was no proof, we had to judge her on circumstantial evidence. The final test was to see if she could say the Lord's Prayer without stuttering. If she stuttered she had to be a witch. Not only did she stutter, she fainted before finishing the prayer. There was lots of screaming and crying during the trial; oh it was a wonderful performance and the candles and their constant flickering added to the drama. We found her guilty but learned later that not all juries do. Ron voted that she was "not guilty." I couldn't because she failed the prayer test. But what a horrible test! I am glad to live in these times.
Just a short ride south of Williamsburg, at the James River is the site of the first permanent British settlement in the new world. This original site is part of the Colonial National Historical Park. We learned of all the mistakes that were made in establishing the new settlement. There is nothing left of the original settlement, but it was remarkable to be able to be where it all started. Also a part of the Colonial National Historical Park is Yorktown, the site where George Washington won the decisive battle of the American Revolution. We didn't have time to go there.
In order to complete the story of Williamsburg and the beginnings of our country, we had to include Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. What a lovely place. I have been so busy writing of what we did that I didn't mention how beautiful Virginia is. It was so green and luscious. I loved the hills and speaking of hills, that is where Monticello is. What a view! We had a wonderful tour of the house and learned what an inventor Mr. Jefferson was. His clock in the foyer is amazing and the design of his bed also impressed me. He could get out in the study side or the bedroom side.
Unfortunately I am out of room. But I did want to mention that because
we were on our way to the Escapade, we drove the Dream up to Monticello.
We had stopped at the visitor center because we could see a huge parking
lot there and asked if we could park a "big" motorhome at the house. We
were told that big tour busses go there so it would not be a problem. But
driving up a narrow, twisty road scared me a little. Ron was real cool
and acted just like a big bus driver. We had no trouble parking and after
the tour continued to head to West Virginia. We both loved our vacation
in Virginia and will go back because we never did get to Shennendoah.
Great service from Damon Corp
...The Funny Letter [vol 8 #6 pg 8] was hilarious. She could make a living writing humorous RV stories!
We went to the Damon Corporation in Elkhart, Indiana, without an appointment. They worked for four days on anything we needed. We were impressed by their willingness to please---warranty work or not---FREE! We bought a couple of things and paid for that. We were pleased to tour the plant and had fun visiting with other Damon RVers....
We're getting pretty good at taking care of gas, propane, dumping, fresh water and laundry. We do a lot of dry docking and stayed in great places free....
Gary & Carol Putnam
They just don't get it
...Had a funny thing happen while we were in Florida this spring. A couple we met in Alaska moved to Texarkana [TX]. She called our message service on a Sunday evening and said they are leaving Monday morning to visit us. Hmm, how nice! They don't know! Got a hold of them after midnight to explain that 101 Rainbow Dr is just an address. It took a bit to make them understand...
Vera & Jim Kieborz
Full-timers from La Porte, TX
Analyses of first 15 months
...What a great lifestyle. You can talk to people for minutes, hours, days or even weeks and very often the names don't get exchanged.... You can have a great time, a serious talk or a joyful one. And if you don't like a person, one of you is leaving in a few days.
The costs are about $2,000 a month for everything. The mail forwarding service does a great job. Right now, the mail comes out from Texas on a Monday and we have it on Wednesday or Thursday. The phone is a little more difficult but not insurmountable. We got rid of the cellular hone. Way too much money. .. .it costs $40 each month before you use it. We are using the Escapees message service for $12 per month. The trailer and truck systems are doing very well. The rugs take a beating in this lifestyle.... There is a definite learning curve and you tend to buy stuff that doesn't work as you would like. Everybody is helpful....
Bill & Bea Scheurweghs
Left the newsletters in the laundry
...We just got the September issue of Movin’ On and were tickled to see the letter from Jack & Jean Landgon. The newsletters they read in the Colchester, Vermont, laundry room had to be ours. We were there from June 30 to July 6. You see, as much as we hate to part with any of the newsletters, space will not allow us to keep everything. (We've been subscribing since early in ’94.) And there's no way we could just toss them. So when I cannot possibly fit another one in my file, it's time to thin out and laundry rooms seem to be where people find themselves on a regular basis and most often looking for something to read while waiting.
We'd like to join you in welcoming the Langdons to the Movin’ On family. And as luck would have it, right after leaving only as many issues as I was willing to part with, we met a couple who were full of questions regarding the full-time lifestyle. We had lots to offer and told them they would really find your book and newsletter wonderfully helpful. So we had to part with still another issue, but it went to a good cause and that's what matters most.
By the way, your response to Mack Ely’s letter regarding "all the repairs" was brief but right on. We too loved our Bounder when we had it but the diesel on a good chassis is hard to beat. The diesel is much more efficient and the heavy chassis provides immense storage both in weight and capacity....
Ruth & Larry Templin
Custom desk is beautiful and perfect
We found a very talented cabinetmaker at pleasant Mills [Indiana-near Decatur] who made [a] 6 ft long computer desk (right hand sofa removed)...Everyone said it couldn't be done, but Greg of "From Trees to These" took my loose sketch, made some design changes, took a wood sample and within 9 days delivered a beautiful computer desk which also houses my printer, 3 legal sized drawers and is the base for a full-size piano keyboard. He even had the same cabinet handles as our motorhome and the wood matches perfectly. What a guy!...
Judy & Bob Hunt
Off and traveling after surgery
...Briefly---surgery for original tumor (lymphosarcoma-cancerous fatty tumor) 4/28---5 weeks radiation with no side effects---lucky me! Then back for surgery 8/11 to see radiation results. She took out small remainder (size of a lime) which was benign---what a lovely word! Does caution that radiation tends to glue everything together making it difficult to see everything. And since there's a 50-50 chance of reoccurrence either in the same area or lungs, will be checking back with Cancer Center at Desert Hospital-Palm Springs, CA, every 3 months...(I do recommend this facility and there are lots of membership campgrounds plus nice monthly parks in the area).
So we're off and traveling....We joined Thousand Trails last March---knew we'd be wanting to stay in and around CA.... nice TT preserves near Monterey & Bay area (Morgan Hill & Hollister). Have come to Sun City to beat the 110 degrees in Palm Springs, but will return there Sunday for a week to finish with doctors and check with friends who are coming with us to South Africa October 1 to November 16. Really looking forward to the trip....
The expense update [vol 8 #6] was interesting. I've kept our expenses (also down to the ice cream cones) since 1989 when we went on the road. It amazes me that [people] will try to budget without knowing where they're spending their money.... We average about 24K annual, all inclusive. It will change year to year depending on what overseas trips/tours we take. And have taken a long look at medical expenses/insurance. Fortunately all the last go-round was covered by Medicare and I did take out a supplemental policy to pick up all other expenses running $85/mo, but in my case it's worth it. We've picked up the Escapee medical policy for Gordon....
Dena & Gordon Duncan
Editor’s note: Dena had a mastectomy in February of ‘96 and went on a tour to Russia that summer. They were self insured until recently and she had her mastectomy as an outpatient. They sell Pumpkins and Christmas trees on lots in California to make extra money for their wonderful overseas trips.
Dream of going anywhere---anytime
I enjoyed your book on full-timing so much and am now just learning all I can about this lifestyle. I hope to retire early from teaching in a couple of years and I am wondering if I can do it and how it is for single women in their 50s. I love to take my 20 foot travel trailer to the mountains of Colorado for months in the summer and dream of going anywhere I want at anytime. Could this really come true? Seems like a dream too good to be true but that is my goal.
Please send me the back issues requested and the booklet...
Mountains are unique and beautiful
...We met a man in Colorado who had just started full-timing. He had about a 34 ft motorhome and had taken it over a pass coming to Monument. It scared his wife enough that they canceled their reservations in Estes Park and changed their trip to flatter land. He made the comment, "If you've seen one mountain, you've seen them all." Bob & I thought of that statement often as we took such pretty drives up in such gorgeous mountains all over those states. Rocky Mountain National Park has three different drives and the mountains are different on each drive---the Estes park side going up, the other side going down and the old road. And the Grand Tetons are exquisite. Then there are the red mountains in Utah and Arizona....
Bob & Louise Jones
Spreading the word
Look at the return address! We are on our way...and can hardly wait. Still a lot of loose ends to tie up but we'll get there I guess!.... I was talking to a couple in my checkstand yesterday (tomorrow is my last day ) and of course I had to plug your book! So I told them you'd send them a copy of Movin’ On. They have a Pace Arrow and are getting a new Beaver---full-time....
Bonnie & Don Maus
RVing is a terrific lifestyle
We are new Escapees.... Our friends, Tom & Nan Hanna, introduced us to Escapees and Movin’ On. We agree with them that RVing is a terrific lifestyle. Although we are part-timers now, your valuable information... is helping us take steps to become full-timers. Please send a sample copy [newsletter] to another couple we befriended recently in Alaska.
Bob & Coralie Brush
Thoughts for upcoming newsletters
...Ask any readers who contact Nextel for info to say that they heard about it in Movin’ On. This isn't just blowing your horn, this is beneficial to ALL of us. If Nextel begins to hear from even a few RVers because of your article, it may well help encourage them to look into our needs, and think about how they can make the service attractive to us! Also suggest that correspondents include their e-mail address, if they have one, for publication with their letters.... you can start with us....
Pamela & Fred Handy
Note must have worked
A very big thank you for your note encouraging us not to give up on selling our mobile home. We finally had someone in that brought out the green stuff and by the end of October we will be full-timers. I/we are so excited, filled with butterflies and mixed emotions! Now we're making lists (to do) and phone calls and wondering what to do with all our stuff. Bruce says he'll keep all of his and we can get rid of all my stuff. Oh well! Anyway we are excited about starting the next phase of our lives (which may include a new RV next spring). Your note last month must have worked as well as a visit. Thanks "big time" and keep on Movin’ On....
Pat & Bruce Kronlein
RV owners are the nicest people
Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much I enjoyed your book, An Alternative Lifestyle... and that I could not put it down when I purchased it at Lazy Days in November. It is my favorite book on RVing and I loved reading of your day to day adventures.
In June we traded in our Winnebago Vectra for a 1997 American Dream which we purchased at Lazy Days. Several weeks ago when we were in Decatur taking the plant tour, I read the article they have reprinted about the two of you and your Dream. Seeing the article, reminded me that I had not ordered your newsletter which I would like to do at this time.
RV owners are just the nicest people, and I am looking forward to retiring in a few years and seeing this wonderful country and meeting more great people. Perhaps our paths may cross sometime in the future....
Sheri & James Winters
Sometimes doing this newsletter is complicated. The last newsletter was done in three states. We got the half tones done in Pennsylvania, I wrote it in Ohio and sent it to Ardsen Printing in Williamsburg, Virginia, to be printed. This is fun!
Because there will be a lot of you visiting this area during the winter, I wondered if any of you would be interested in a picnic for all the Movin’ On readers in the area? I was thinking of January or February.
We were reminded that we don't like to fly (crowded) and although our motel in Denver was nice, it isn't the same as our own house (even though it has given us a lot of problems).
We sure had fun at the Fall Escapade in Lewisburg, West Virginia. We met lots of our readers and reacquainted ourselves with several others. We got to teach Dante & Claudia, Rich & Bobbie and Ed & Ginger how to play Mexican train dominoes. We laughed and had a good ole time.
While leaving Northport, Michigan, to go to Sault Ste Marie the rear air bags would not inflate after we put the jacks up. It was a Saturday and we limped into a Meijer (like Wal Mart) parking lot in Traverse City. The Spartan hot-line directed us to a facility that would be open Monday morning. We "camped" in the parking lot. Monday morning we drove slowly (it rode like a broken down hay wagon) to Great Lakes Truck and they were very nice, but they had never seen a motorhome like ours. He diagnosed the problem after conferring with Spartan and getting FAXs with schematics etc. We needed a valve and UPS was on strike. We decided to drive back to the Lansing area (200 miles) and the Spartan factory after we were told they could put air into our system; we just couldn't put the jacks down. Got there late, camped in their parking lot, and early the next morning (Tuesday) they tried to get us going. At 2:30 p.m., they said that they couldn't fix it; it was a Fleetwood problem. We were on the road again, heading south to Decatur, Indiana (138 miles) further away from our seminar date in Mackinaw City on Thursday. We camped at the parking lot in Decatur and first thing Wednesday morning they changed the jack control box. Apparently when the jacks went up they did not send the signal that they were up so the air bags could fill. Everything worked and we were back on the road making a bee line to Sault Ste Marie (439 miles).
We flew to Denver on Thursday, leaving the motorhome in a wonderful Coast to Coast campground near Williamsburg. We were back at about 5:30 Sunday evening and anxious to be home (we hate motels). We turned the key but the door wouldn't open. There was no way we could get in. All the windows were locked. Three different guys tried to open the door. The lock appeared to work, but no one could pull the door open. We banged on it, swore at it, loved it and it wouldn't open. We unlocked one of the luggage compartments, took out a lawn chair and waited until Good Sam road service came. It wasn't the lock that was the problem; the door was sealed shut. He had to take a screwdriver wrapped in a cloth and pry it open. At 8:30 p.m., we were finally able to get in our house. Now the last nightmare (in diary form).
Saturday, Sept. 27
We were headed to Oklahoma City and due in on Sunday, Sept. 28. Stopped at a Flying J in Russellville, Arkansas, to fuel up and sleep for the night. Put the jacks down and settled in.
Sunday, Sept. 28
Started the engine to raise up the jacks and get ready to roll. The air pressure warning signal went out as usual. I did not look at the actual pressure gage though. After Ron hooked up our toad I flipped the turn signals so he could check the lights. When I stepped on the brake pedal, the low pressure warning signal came on and wouldn't stop. When I checked the gauge, it was below 90. We called Spartan's 800 number and were given two repair facilities in the area which we could call on Monday. Diamond Truck was the closest at only a block away; Cogswell motors was just a mile or two away and only looked like a regular Ford dealer.
Monday, Sept. 29
Ron went to Diamond and came back to report that they don't do Spartan warranty (just Cummins) and they really didn't know anything about the Spartan air system. Ron called Spartan again and was advised to try Cogswell. He called and immediately Leon drove up and started to fix our situation. All he could do was temporarily put air into the system; there was a fast leak at the air dryer. Thinking that he could work better at the shop, he got enough air in so it could be driven to their shop. Ron did drive it, even though the minute he started out of the driveway, the air was out of the system. At Cogswell, Leon determined that they needed an air dryer kit which would arrive the next day from Dallas. We did some laundry and ate out, but we had to be back by 6 p.m., when they locked the gate with us inside.
Tuesday, Sept. 30
At 10:30 a.m., Fed X delivered the part and immediately Leon worked on us. When he was finished air went into the system beautifully and we thought we were ready to roll. Because we had had a problem with the air and jacks once before I asked if the jacks could be put down so we could see if the air bags filled up after they were put back up. Air went out as usual when the jacks went down, but when the jacks went up, no air went into the rear air bags. Leon went to work again with the help of another mechanic and calls to Spartan and Fleetwood to help in the diagnosing. He would make calls to Spartan and Fleetwood, leave voice mail messages to be called back and sometime later he would finally get the call. At one point there was a conference call between Fleetwood, Spartan and Cogswell. After that call, Leon by-passed a front valve and air did fill up the back air bags. We were told that that procedure determined that the valve was bad and needed replacing. Leon asked if we wanted to wait for it to be sent over night or if we wanted to go somewhere else. We said we would wait and he put in a call to Spartan to send the part overnight. Twice Spartan was called and by 5 p.m., (Michigan time) had not returned the call. The part was not on its way. I was furious and called Fleetwood. I explained the situation and told them that somehow---someway I wanted that part to be sent from somewhere (perhaps some place in the west which was still open) yet that night. They called back in a little while and said that Bruckner Trucks in Oklahoma City had the part and since we were heading in that direction would we like to go there instead of having the part sent to Arkansas. We agreed to go to Bruckner. The only inconvenience would be that we couldn't put our jacks down. They agreed to call Bruckner and let them know we were coming. We drove to Oklahoma without any problems with the air system.
Wednesday, October 1
We were at Bruckner Trucks at 7:30 a.m. and the service writer took care of us immediately even though he didn't seem to know anything about us. Two hours later when no one was working on our unit, Ron asked the man how long it might be; he said that they didn't have the needed valve, but would have it overnight. I called Fleetwood immediately and they admitted that they had not called Bruckner and only assumed that the part would be here and had not actually checked it out. We stayed another day in a truck facility parking lot. The part arrived the next morning and we were on our way again by noon. This episode lasted four and one half days.
Even though all of these situations were terribly frustrating, we were always treated nicely. Everyone tried their best to get us going. And it had nothing to do with who we are; most had never heard of us. The problems came from complicated systems and no one can stock all the parts. The most frustrating aspect was trying to communicate with voice mail; the mechanics were pulling out their hair trying to get through to these companies.
So now that we are sitting still, we will be okay, right? This week
it's the refrigerator; the door is swollen and will only close when we
push it in. A new door has been ordered. They say this rarely happens anymore.
The service guy said that he hasn't seen this problem in over three years.
Why us? And the striping on the outside of the coach has bubbled and will
need to be replaced. When the door comes in we will have to drive out to
We are thankful for many things: God, family, our many friends, and this wonderful lifestyle---yes even when we have motorhome problems.
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