10 Coaches Later.....
Coach Number 10
I know. You're not going to believe it. A new "Yonderin' "
Yes, I know I've only had the RoadTrek for not quite a year. It's a long story of underestimating and frustration. The short version:
When I bought the RoadTrek you'll recall I was recovering for my cancer treatment and my hospitalization for the thyroid storm. I figured I'd never be able to travel again like Andrea and I used to do, so I bought a coach I could use around town with Molly. Having the RoadTrek meant I could take her with me on my shopping trips. Running the air conditioner or furnace would keep her comfortable, and she would have room to run around instead of being captured in a dog seat.
I also thought I might be able to make some short trips to nearby campgrounds for a weekend. As I recovered I realized I could do far more, so I planned the trip to Minnesota to vist Hill and his family.
Physically and family-wise the trip was a great success. So much so, as I remembered how I loved to travel, I realized I needed a larger coach to meet my needs.
Coachwise?? - not so much.
From the day Hill and I picked up the RoadTrek we had problems. I won't go into detail, but they were severe enough I decided to trade it.
So...I went back to the Tiffin line and it's new Class C called the Wayfarer. It's a 26 foot twin bed model with one slide out,. Small enough I can easily handle it and large enough I can live in it for weeks at a time.
Coach Number 9
Well, it finally got here! A Roadtrek SS Agile E-Trek
In honor of my dad and his big red BlueBird I've named her "yonderin.'"
Wednesday, Nov 29th Hill and I flew out to Phoenix to take delivery on a silver 2018 Roadtrek SS Agile E-trek. In our two day road trip home it handled beautifully.
Pictures will follow to show you the interior colors and layout. That will have to wait though until I’m in a place with some trees, etc. Mine is equipped with their EcoTrek 800 package which means I have no propane on board…just 800 watts of electrical power for the induction stove, microwave, a/c, heat, etc. with 370 watts of solar power to keep the batteries recharged. Equipped the way mine is I should be able to to stay ‘off-the-grid’ for 4 to 7 days. A week without having to hook up!
It also has the undercarriage air conditioner which is three times more powerful than a roof A/C, and an Alde diesel furnace. Great for Texas heat or cold. At 20 feet long, I can use it as a daily driver, and Molly can travel with me on shopping trips and around town and be very comfortable no matter what the outside temp is.
I’ll add more as I learn more about it and have an adventure or two.
Coach Number 8
A wonderful 24’ Coach House Arriva made on the Mercedes Benz Sprinter Chassis
Our experience with Coach House had been so good we started researching them again. When we looked on their site, they had just gotten a 24' ARRIVA V24TB on tradein with only 3000 miles on it. It had been extensively customized, including custom mattresses for the beds, special upholstery, and...the price was right. The factory changed out the propane stove for an induction stove top (a first for them) for me to accommodate Andrea's needs, and I had it delivered.
Our dreams were not to be. We made one trip to Fredericksburg and realized I was still too weak and she was getting worse and, after two scary incidents, needed to be near her doctors and the hospital just 15 minutes from home.
Like the owner of '84BB it took me a couple of years to give it up. I loaned it to Chris, and he used it for a season, but the time had come to sell it. I consigned it back to the factory, and a life season had come to an end.
Coach Number 7
A 32’ Tiffin Breeze. This one had a transmission retarder!!
We loved the Breeze. It was a wonderful coach to drive, and the layout was just what we wanted. Fortunately, Tiffin had realized the problem and had installed a transmission retarder in their new models. Believe me, after we traded I tried it out several times to make sure it worked. It did, and that made it our perfect coach.
Again we put many miles on the new Breeze. And we found the place we both loved. It was Everglades Isles RV Resort in Everglades City, FL. She loved to sit outside for hours watching the boats, and especially a cranky old pelican who would fly from the dock in front of our coach to the bow of the tourist boats and ride them into the harbor. We made plans to come back every "cedar fever season." Unfortunately it wasn't to be. "Life happens while you're waiting for life to happen."
We were starting on another Florida trip. By the time we finished packing the coach we were both exhausted. The next morning, as was our custom, we made the first day out a short day and stopped in Georgetown. I got down to hook up the coach....and couldn't! I was too weak. I finally struggled up from the ground and went inside. Andrea was just sitting, staring, exhausted as well. I told her what had happened and we both realized, in our compromised conditions, the coach had gotten too big for us to handle. It was time to downsize again, and....once again...only take local trips to our favorite campgrounds within 100 miles.
Coach Number 6
A 32’ Tiffin Breeze. NO BRAKES ON A LONG HILL! Traded that sucker immediately!
Tiffin had begun to make an "in-between" coach. Smaller than the Phaeton, larger than the Platinum, the 32' Breeze. What a great concept! A diesel pusher on a narrow body with two slides and a Navistar engine, renowned for its power and longevity in over-the-road truck. The interior was gorgeous. True Tiffin quality, just like the Phaeton. Finally we were "right-sized!"
The coach was wonderful. I loved to drive it (more like an SUV than a Class A) and Andrea loved the view out of the co-pilot's seat. We made a trip to Albuquerque to the Balloon Festival in it, and it pulled the mountain climbs with no problem.
The problem came when we took a trip to North Carolina, again with our friends, Tom and Charlotte. Going into our campground in the mountains we hit a five mile 7% grade. Disaster slowly unfolded. The engine did not have a jake brake or a retarder, and as we fell off the crest and started down I realized I was going to have to use all my mountain driving skills to get us safely down. Dropping it into the lowest gear and slowing to about 10 miles per hour I quickly realized the coach was going to run away. Pumping and releasing the brakes kept us at the slow speed, but as soon as I released the brake pedal, the coach picked up speed like a scared rabbit and the engine quickly reached maximum revs. We were in trouble and I knew it. A couple of times I thought about taking one of the runaway truck exits but knew it would wreck the coach. After a long, white knuckle trip down the grade, trying to stay as calm as possible so as not to scare Andrea, we finally reached the bottom and pulled into the campground. As we stepped out of the coach, smoke was boiling out from under it and we first thought it was on fire. Fortunately it was only the brake linings. Our friends, who we behind us, came down the grade in their Phaeton with just their retarder and never touched their brakes.
Needless to say, we immediately got rid of the coach. It was a death trap if we drove in Andrea's beloved East Coast mountains.
Coach Number 5
A wonderful 24’ Coach House Platinum 242XL. Traveled many a enjoyable mile on long trips when we’d only planned to use it for short ones. Seven days in a Maine rainstorm was just too much.
When Andrea and I decided to downsize, our plan was to stop taking long trips and concentrating on staying close to home. A Class B+ looked like it would be ideal. We had seen a Coach House Platinum before when we were trying to trade the Alfa, and really liked it. So we headed to Florida to see the factory to find out what they had that we might like. What we liked was a 24' Platinum with twin beds and a slide out. The slide out makes all the difference in the world!
There was just one problem...our "stay local" plan never worked. Our friends, Tom and Charlotte, who owned a Phaeton Identical to the one we traded, were still vagabonds. We'd traveled with them for years, so several more trips were in the offing, all greatly enjoyed. Andrea loved the Platinum. It was small, cozy, and she felt really safe. It was incredibly built, with a custom fiberglass shell that had custom cabinetry made specifically for each coach. When we traded it years later it still had no sqeeks!
But back to the travels. Tom and Charlotte had been to Maine a couple of times and really loved it. They wanted to go back, so.....you guessed it, we tagged along....all 2,000 plus miles...one way. We should have guessed what the future held when, on the second day out, I hit a piece of truck tire that tore out the exhaust system and knocked a hole in the co-pilot's side compartment. A local muffler shop fixed the exhaust, and Tom and I (mostly Tom) fiberglassed the hole. On to Maine!!
Maine itself is beautiful. We walked the beaches, visited our child's godfather (Ted Hanks, who carved the ducks at LL Bean) and found out neither of us liked lobster.
Then...disaster...it rained for seven days straight...in buckets! Andrea and I had lots of time to ponder whether we had downsized too much. So...then came Coach Number 6.
Coach Number 4
A 36’ Tiffin Phaeton. I loved it. Andrea tolerated it. Finally got tired of pushing 33,000# down the road.
I pulled into an RV dealer in Buda one day, and there on the lot was a beautiful 36' Tiffin Phaeton, equipped as though I had ordered it from the factory. After much dickering I finally made the trade at a price I considered reasonable. During the closing of the paperwork I corrected both the owner and the salesman a couple of times about the year model on the Alfa. They kept making it a year newer than it was. About two days after the trade I got a frantic call from the salesman. They had offered me $20,000 to much because they kept making it a year newer. I reminded him I had corrected him and the owner, so I felt no responsibility. Last I heard, before they went out of business, they still had the Alfa.
We logged many miles on the Phaeton including a wonderful trip to the West Coast. Because of where the co-pilot seat sat, Andrea was really never too comfortable riding in it. The view from her seat made her keep thinking we were either running off the road, or tailgating the vehicle in front of us.
After a while, as much as I loved the coach, I got tired of pushing her 33,000#s down the road. Andrea was beginning to want to take shorter trips nearer home instead of being gone weeks at a time, so we started looking again. Finally we found Coach House, a manufacturer in Florida, and with the discovery came two wonderful new friends who lived in Salado and had a coach exactly like we wanted. So, again after much dickering, we found ourselves in Coach Number 5.
Coach Number 3
A real, honest to goodness LEMON. Worst coach we ever owned. I don’t even have any pictures it was in the shop so much!!
When we started thinking about trading '84BB in, I started doing my research. I really liked the layout on the 36' Alpha SeeYa, so every time I saw someone in an Alpha I'd ask them how they liked it. The response was universal...this is a great, well built coach.
I looked all over Texas, but the only one I could find was in Lubbock and it was a 40 footer. Oh, well...the last I heard '84BB was owned by a rodeo cowboy in California who was living in her full time. Talked to him a lot trying to teach him how to use the electronics.
We transferred all our gear to our new Alfa and headed south for home...and the trouble began. Pulling out of the parking lot the rear compartment door sprang open and scraped the lower lip off. Back to the shop. On the road the next day. Sprang open twice more. ARRRGGH!
But that was just the beginning. We owned it about 18 months and it was in the shop for 14 of those. Even went back to the factory and they didn't fix it. I finally filed a Lemon Law suit over it. A few months later it came to court. The judge was a member of the congregation I was attending and recused himself. The next court date, with an unknown judge, was months down the road (excuse the pun) so I pulled the lawsuit and looked for a place to trade it where I wouldn't get scalped too much. Well....my luck was changing!
Coach Number Two
This is the one by which all the other coaches are measured !
This is the way she looked the day I found her...a 36’ 1984 Blue Bird Wanderlodge.
After I retired I had looked for two years (and at dozens of coaches) for just the right Blue Bird. Dad had owned them for years (was even president of the Wanderlodge Owner’s Club) and wanted me to buy a 40’, but all the ones I found were either trashed or underpowered.
‘84BB (as I named her) had everything I wanted. Her picture popped up and the next day I was standing on her owner’s doorstep in Denton. She had been meticulously cared for and obviously loved. Her owner was a big NASCAR fan and they took her to several races. But tragedy entered his life...he fell out of a deer blind and broke nearly every bone in his body. He was lucky to be alive! He didn’t want to sell her, but after looking out his kitchen window for two years realized he would never physically be able to drive her again.
There are more stories and more pictures of ‘84BB than any other coached we’ve owned, but I’ll tell only one story about her here. The rest will have to wait their turn in “53 Years - Lived to the fullest.”
84BB intimidated Andrea. The dashboard looked like the cockpit of a Boeing 747. There was a gauge for everything. I loved it! The TV was hung right in the middle of the front windshield where you could see it from the entire coach. No little LED, this baby was huge and weighed a ton. Since this was our first coach, and used at that, we decided to take it to the factory in Georgia to have it checked out as our first trip.
We were steaming down the I-10 somewhere in Lousiana (remember I-10 in the good ole days when it bounced you around like a rollercoaster?) when all of a sudden the TV dropped out of the cabinet! Andrea leapt from her seat and, pushing with all her strenght to get it back in the cabinet, started shouting (screaming??) “Stop the coach! Let me out at the airport!! I WANT TO GO HOME.”
I didn’t, and she didn’t. We got the TV re-installed and the rest of the trip was uneventful. She and ‘84BB finally came to terms with one another, but Andrea never forgave her for the TV incident.
Coach Number One
This is where it all began!
This is...the "Green Bean", a 1976 GMC, not one of my father's better plans and schemes.
Andrea and I were living in Lewisville when Dad found this coach. It seemed a great idea at the time for him to buy the coach. Andrea and I would rent it out for Cowboy games in return for the use of it. After two disastrous rentals, when the coach was returned completely trashed, taking hours to clean, we (read Andrea) finally rebelled.
We did get to keep the coach for a while, and our one trip was to the annual Annunciation (the church I was serving at the time) Camp Out at the diocesan campground on Lake Texoma. We decided rather than tent camp we would take the Green Bean. Disaster number three... we parked off to the side of the main graveled road in the camp so we wouldn’t block traffic. During the night it rained and we were certainly glad we were inside nice and dry instead of a wet tent...until the next morning. We awoke to find the ground had turned to mud and the coach was buried up to the axles! Much to the enjoyment of the entire campground, it took a John Deer tractor to pull us out of the muck.
That wasn’t lesson enough, though. We soon received a call to Ocala, Florida and “it seemed like a good idea at the time” to take it with us. Dad even bought a site at campground at Melbourne Beach from a newly formed company called “Outdoor Resorts.” The idea was we could use it every weekend (or sometimes mid-week) to get away. Problem?? When does a clergyman do the most work??? Right….weekends. When does an executive secretary do the most work??? Right...weekdays. Problem??? Right!
The second problem was a clergyman’s salary, even supplemented by an executive secretary’s salary leaves little discretionary income left over for leisure activities, especially with a repair hog. It went through tires and mufflers like Sherman through Georgia!
We finally convinced Dad we couldn’t afford his generosity and our motorhoming days ended until after I retired.
If you want to read about all of them, start at the bottom like we did!
If you click on the picture you can see all the debris left over from our fiberglassing adventure. Only a two day delay!