Full Time Blogs - August 2006

August 14, 2006

Our apologies to family, friends and fellow RVer's for being so tardy in performing our usual daily web log updates. The truth is that we've been very busy with both personal business and working to establish a base of operations for our RV and other travels. Frequent visitors to the website will notice some changes as we make the transition from this being a pure "full timer" website, to one that is more oriented towards frequent RV travel, with the occasional breaks from the road thrown in for good measure.

Having said that, we're looking forward to departing on our next RV trip, which will take place later this month. Our destination will be the Monaco factory in Elkhart, Indiana, birthplace of our Monaco Knight. While there we plan to have some warranty work performed on the coach, as well as to schedule some time to visit both the Monaco and Roadmaster (chassis) factories.

We have an appointment scheduled with Monaco for the warranty work, but we're not exactly sure what to expect in the way of service from them when we get there. We've been compiling a list of items to be repaired and this will be our first factory warranty service with any RV. We're hoping for the best but rest assured that we will report the results of our visit right here on this website. We've read many stories about factory warranty service from a variety of RV manufacturers with some being good and some being bad. We promise not to sugarcoat what we find at Monaco.

During our last few months our motor home travels have been limited to having the coach serviced at a Cummins "Coach Care" facility in El Paso, TX (64 miles east), and using the motor home as a pickup truck to transport some bulky items for the new house. There is only so much that will fit in the Mini, so the motor home has been pressed into service several times as a somewhat expensive and ill-suited pickup truck. Items carried have included a large rug, a framed print and some 2x4s and plywood from the local home center. It always feels so good to get in the motor home and get it rolling, even if the trip is just a few miles down the road and back.

Our service at the El Paso Coach Care Center was great except for having to negotiate the usual cross-town El Paso traffic. The service included an oil and filter change, fuel filter change and chassis lubrication. The service wasn't due quite yet, but I always like to schedule maintenance before it's due, especially the first service that I feel is critical in removing residual manufacturing debris from the engine and transmission. The El Paso Coach Care Center has a comfortable lounge for RVer's to relax in while they wait for their service to be performed. There are Coach Cares located around the country and we would recommend them at this point.

Coach Care Service Centers: (http://www.funroads.com/service/coachcare.jhtml)

August 15, 2006

For years we've lugged around a large (and very heavy) wooden box containing hundreds, maybe thousands, of unsorted family photos. Most of the photos are directly related to our family, but we also have some ancient pics of people we don't recognize. Some might call it an unsorted family archive. There are snaps of the kids when they were little, shots of us at the holiday table, complete with steaming turkey, and the inevitable posed family stills with some wise guy (why you looking at me??) forming their fingers into a "V" giving some unsuspecting person rabbit ears. Every family has these pre-digital photographs stuck away somewhere and they seldom get a second glance.

But not around here. After years of procrastinating on both of our parts, Margo recently started in sorting the pics into groups and artfully arranging them into photo albums. In our case this is no small job. The entire dining room and part of the living room have been given over to photo sorting and arranging. When Margo sets her mind on something she works hard until the task is complete and this photo-sorting job is no different. We just got back from buying more albums and I think she can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. I thank her for her monumental effort from the bottom of my heart because if it were up to me, we would be lugging that old box around forever. Thank goodness for digital camera technology and CD burners!

August 16, 2006

Like most avid RVer's we've been eagerly awaiting the DVD release of the motion picture "RV" staring Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels and Cheryl Hines. It hit our local video store yesterday and we were one of the first folks into the store to rent it. We had heard quite a bit about the picture, both good and bad, and I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed it. Our impression was that it was a little over the top, but it was still a fun watch and there were plenty of hilarious mishaps that any beginning RVer could identify with.

I won't bore you with the details, but the movie involves a family highway road trip in a rented motor home. Robin Williams plays the father who had promised his family a Hawaiian vacation, but because of some problems at work, needs to change plans to a trip to Colorado. What better way to get there than in an RV?!! Forget the fact that none of the family members want to go and that no one in the family has ever been in an RV. If you haven't seen the picture yet, expect the usual sight gags and some "potty" humor, but it's good fun especially for the RVer's among us.

For us, a favorite element of the movie was the 1947 Flexible bus RV conversion driven by Jeff Daniels and family. These coaches (two identical buses were used in the picture) appear to be beautifully restored to a high standard and make us wonder why any RV park would ever reject them because of their age and pedigree. Many RV parks have an age limit on the RV's that they admit to their parks, usually around 10 years, and bus conversions are sometimes forbidden. These two coaches are ex-commercial buses and could easily be rejected by many parks. One bus had worked for Greyhound, the other for Trailways. Anyway, these are two great looking coaches and to us, beat the heck out of most new high-end RV's.

Although the movie made us laugh, it also reminded us of how much we miss the freedom of the RV lifestyle. It's a good thing that we'll be getting back out on the road soon. August 23rd to be exact.

August 23, 2006

Fast-forward a few days and it's now time to hit the road for the Monaco Warranty Service Center in Elkhart, Indiana.

We left Las Cruces shortly after 9:00 am this morning with today's driving goal being Tucumcari, New Mexico. Both our GPS and common sense suggested that we take I-25 north to Albuquerque, then head east on I-40 to Tucumcari. After checking the road atlas, we decided to defy the GPS and take highway 70 east to Alamogordo, where we picked up highway 54 north to I-40. This route appeared to knock off about a hundred miles, but looked to be a slower alternative to staying with the suggested interstate. With nothing but time on our hands, we decided that we'd rather save the hundred miles worth of fuel and take the slower route.

One benefit to taking the highways 70/54 route was that it passes through some spectacular high desert country, including White Sands National Monument, White Sands Missile Test Center and a mysterious looking (on the map) place called "White Sands Space Harbor". Remember that this area really isn't all that far from Roswell, NM, home of flying saucers and space aliens! Too bad we wouldn't be going through at night, no telling what we might see in the night sky.

We didn't have time to stop at the White Sands area, but we could see the pure white sand in the distance. Southern New Mexico has seen record amounts of rainfall this summer, which has turned the desert an uncharacteristic green. The entire desert including the distant mountains are a dark green instead of the usual drab grays and browns. Our trip through the area was wonderful and we recommend taking this route if you happen to be in the area. It's wonderful to see the desert looking so green and beautiful.

All too soon our drive north up highway 54 came to an end and we intersected I-40 at Santa Rosa, NM. A short distance later found us pulling into the Tucumcari KOA. Total mileage for today was 318 miles. The KOA at Tucumcari is a nice little park that has an inviting looking pool and a small restaurant to boot.

After settling into our space, we unhooked the Mini and took a run into town to scrounge up some dinner. The main drag of town is a remaining chunk of the old Route 66 complete with vintage motels. We love the old 40's and 50's style motels and it was fun checking them out.

Restaurant choices were somewhat limited though and we ended up dining at a Denny's not far from the RV park. Once seated at a booth in the Denny's, we couldn't help but notice the party seated behind us, two middle-aged couples traveling together. When we arrived they were involved in quite loud and animated conversation about a variety of subjects, everyone seeming to be trying to talk at the same time. They had ordered and were waiting for their food to arrive at the table. A few minutes later the server arrived with their food and all you could hear was the sound of silverware clinking and people chewing. All conversation ceased for at least 5 minutes. Funny what effect the introduction of food can have on a table full of hungry travelers.

Our evening consisted of sitting out by the RV relaxing with a beverage. We saw lots of little bunnies hopping along and even saw a large tarantula stroll by. It was a pleasant evening and we were delighted to be back out on the road.

August 24, 2006

We got up early and lounged around the RV until about 9:00 am, when we broke camp and headed back out onto I-40 headed east, our goal for today, Oklahoma City. The drive was an easy 358 highway miles, which found us hooked up at the Rockwell RV Park just shy of downtown. Rockwell RV Park is a nice enough little park that offers a continental breakfast in the morning. They promise fresh muffins and hot coffee as well as a newspaper to start off the day. We'll have to check it out tomorrow.

Today's travels saw us leaving New Mexico and passing through the panhandle of Texas before entering Oklahoma. The weather was bright and sunny with high temps. in the low 100's. Traffic was light on I-40 and it was a pleasant day on the road.

August 25, 2006

This morning we set the alarm clock to get up early so that we could catch the practice for the Turkish Grand Prix live from Istanbul on Speed Channel. Formula One race weekends will always find us gathered around the TV watching the practice sessions (Friday), qualifying sessions (Saturday) and the actual Grand Prix races themselves (Sunday). We knew we would have plenty of time to watch the practice this morning plus have our coffee and breakfast before we would need to get out on the road by our customary 9:00 am.

But wait! There was still the matter of the free continental breakfast offered by the RV park. The question was should we have an early breakfast in the RV while watching the F1 practice or do we wait until 7:30 am, which was the advertised time that we would find the fresh muffins and steaming hot coffee waiting for us up at the office? Most RVer's will tell you that continental breakfasts are somewhat rare in the world of RVing, so we decided to have both. After the F1 practice (and breakfast), we grabbed a muffin and coffee for the road up at the office. This is a neat little park (Rockwell RV Park in Oklahoma, City). They also provide a morning paper and complimentary wireless Internet to the park guests. Well done Rockwell, thanks for breakfast! After our two breakfasts, we pointed our coach towards St Louis, which is located roughly 495 miles to the east.

Before we left Las Cruces I told Margo that we would find rain in Missouri because we always do. Sure enough, right on schedule at the Oklahoma/Missouri border the rain started and it lasted almost until we arrived here at the "Pin Oak Creek RV Park" at Villa Ridge, Missouri (www.pinoakcreekrvpark.com 1-888-474-6625). We can't remember the number of times we've traveled through Missouri, but it's been many. Every time except one it's been raining. The rain makes for a pretty green state, but it sure makes driving a chore. Today's rain was what I'd call a "nuisance" rain, the type that makes the road wet, but doesn't do much else. OH well, we expected it.

We've stayed at Pin Oak Creek RV Park several times before and we always enjoy it. The managers are nice folks and the park is quiet. The centerpiece for the park is a cute little fishing pond, which is nice to walk around in the early evening. Sparkie loves it because we usually let him off of his leash when we get to the far side of the pond. We seldom see anybody over there and it has acres of grass and trees, which he loves. We're very careful about leash laws and RV park rules, but we try to give him a chance to have fun and run free when we can. We always put him back on his leash well before we get back to where there are people. This evening's walk was no different. He got his run and we enjoyed watching him frolic in the grass.

Today's drive was close to 500 miles, so after our walk we returned to the RV and enjoyed our dinner followed by a little TV. We'll need to set the alarm early again tomorrow so that we can catch the Turkish Grand Prix qualifying. It will start at 6:00 am St Louis time, which will give us plenty of time to eat and enjoy our motor sports before setting off for our next destination, which will be Indianapolis.

August 26, 2006

This morning we woke up to more Missouri rain. In fact there was a major thunder and lightning show going on complete with heavy rain showers. Bright flashes of lightning showing through the motor home windshield woke us up before the alarm clock had a chance to. This state can produce some serious storm conditions and usually does.

We rolled out of bed, watched our race qualifying, had breakfast then headed east with wipers and headlights on. Our destination for today was to be the KOA RV park located at Greenfield, Indiana. This park is located just a few miles east of downtown Indianapolis, thus it can be found in a directory as the "Indy KOA". We've stayed at this park several times in the past and we always enjoy our stay. They offer free WiFi and there are plenty of spaces available that have good sightlines for a satellite dish. The park is owned by a young family and they've done a lot to make the park a nice place to stay. It has a rural feel with ponies in a corral and kids love it.

The Indy KOA is located right off of Highway 70 and very close to the Mt. Comfort Airport, which just happened to be having their annual air show. Unfortunately we got into town too late to visit the show today and we'll be leaving too early to attend tomorrow, but the Mt. Comfort air show is one of the best that we've ever been to. It's just big enough to have major air show performers (U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds), but small enough to not seem crowded. It's wonderful.

A while back we bought a Garmin GPS for our travels. We love gadgets and there is no more entertaining gadget for highway travel than a GPS. Ours has both visual and voice commands, which we find fascinating. Ever since we've owned this particular GPS unit the voice has been that of an American woman. She has no obvious racial or geographical accent to her voice, which we thought was fine. Margo just happened to mention that we could program the voice of ours to be completely different. It can be male, female, or can talk in different languages or accents. We chose to put it in "Aussie" mode. Now we have an Australian lady telling us when and where to turn. It's great. I visited Australia aboard the USS Enterprise and the Australian people treated me great. To this day I love the Aussie's and I'll do anything for them. It's a pleasure to have our newest family member, "Mathilda", guide us in our travels.

August 27, 2006

Today was a fun day. We only had 156 miles to go from Indianapolis up to the Monaco Factory at Elkhart, and we chose to take Highway 31 for most of that distance. Highway 31 goes through classic Indiana farm country and is very pretty if you like Midwest corn fields. We do like them so we maintained a slow, fuel-saving pace as we enjoyed the quick trip up to the birthplace of our Monaco Knight. Knowing that our travel day would be a short one, we decided to enjoy a leisurely morning in Indy before leaving for Elkhart. We had our coffee while watching the race, then got ourselves together for the trip north.

As I had pointed out earlier, this is our first visit to an RV factory for service. We honestly didn't know what to expect before arriving here today. What we found upon arriving was the huge Roadmaster chassis factory guarding the entrance to the sprawling Monaco factory complex behind it. Roadmaster is the proprietary chassis builder for Monaco, which became even more obvious when we noticed the many bare motor home chassis parked out behind the plant. Each chassis has a somewhat familiar look about it. Sort of like our coach without the body!

We pulled up in front of the Monaco plant looking for the complimentary factory RV park we had been told about. We were told via email and on the company website that the park would be available for us to use so that we would have a hassle free service write up tomorrow morning. Before we could do much searching a security guard showed up in a pickup truck to guide us over to the RV park. He told us that there were quite a few spaces left and that we could take our pick of the remaining spaces. The "park" turned out to be a large concrete parking area located behind the Roadmaster plant. Each space has a 50 amp electrical hookup and a water faucet. There is a community dump station located over to the side of a small building that turned out to be a self-service laundry room. This RV parking may not be the Cadillac of RV parks, but it's serviceable and it's free. To be honest, we thought it was great. We selected an end space with a view of both the Roadmaster and Monaco facilities. We did hear one woman grumbling about the "view" out of her coach, but to us it was a different and exciting place to hook up. We were in the midst of a great RV manufacturing plant and even though it was closed for the weekend, we could still feel the energy of the weekday manufacturing process. We plan to schedule plant tours at both Monaco and Roadmaster and can't wait to visit each.

What surprised us was the numbers of coaches parked waiting for service. By our estimate there were around 40 coaches (Monaco, Holiday Rambler's, Beaver's, etc.) waiting for their turn in the factory service bays. Being a weekend afternoon we expected more of a festive atmosphere among the motor home owners at the park, but people seemed pretty subdued for the most part. If this had been a boat yard (and we've been in many), there might have been an impromptu potluck. Grills, food and drinks might have become the order of the day as people with the same make of vessel got together to trade stories and experiences. Not so with the RV crowd, but maybe it's because people weren't happy at having to be there in the first place.

The few people that we did talk to had been there before and were generally very satisfied with the Monaco service department. Guess we'll find out for ourselves when we meet with our service advisor first thing tomorrow morning.

August 28, 2006

The service department at Monaco starts at 6:30 am and knocks off at 3:30 pm. Customers need to sign their coaches in by 6:45 am, which makes for an early morning. We set the clock to get up in time for breakfast then went over to the office to get signed in and make sure they knew we were there. Once signed in we were told to wait at the coach and a service advisor would be by to write up and discuss our service issues. We didn't have to wait long until a man pulled up in a golf cart and introduced himself as our advisor. He alreeady had a list of our concerns and within minutes we were done and in the car headed down to Indianapolis. Since the coach will be in the shop for a few days, we decided to use that time to visit family and do a little sightseeing.

Instead of jumping on the highway and driving straight to Indy, we decided to make a few side trips to some small towns along the way. Our first stop was the small farming community of Mentone, IN. We wanted to see the cemetery at Mentone as I have many family members buried there. I had been wanting to stop and pay my respects for several years and this was a good time to do it.

We pulled into the cemetry grounds while it was still quite early. The grass was still wet from a mixture of recent rainfall and dew as we walked from gravesite to gravesite trying to find the names of family members on our list. At one point Margo went one way and I went the other trying to find people. This isn't a large cemetery, but trying to find all of the family names on the headstones was a little like looking for a needle in a haystack. We finally found all of them except my grandfather Kizer. We weren't sure if he was in this particular cemetery and didn't see his name anywhere. We've found out since that we was indeed there but I guess we missed him. We'll look harder next time.

From the town of Mentone we drove a few miles south to the town of Akron, IN. I had wanted to see the farmhouse that my grandmother Kizer lived in, as I used to spend time there in the summers of my youth. We found the house and it's a mess. The once cute two-story brick farmhouse is now a run down wreck of a place and it made me sad to see it that way.

One thing we noticed throughout our tour of the northern Indiana farm country was the road sign warning of slow moving Amish buggies. We didn't see any buggies, but it was interesting to see that type of road sign.

Soon we were back in Indianapolis and searching for a motel. Our plan is to stay here until Thursday the 31st. We'll be heading back up to Monaco and hopefully our coach will be ready for us to pick up at that time.

August 29, 2006

Since we lived in Indianapolis for a year and a half, there isn't too much that we haven't seen around here. We started the day with breakfast at a local restaurant then headed over to take a look at our old house. We bought it new and really liked the place so we always check it out and hope that the new owners are taking good care of it. It looked nice when we drove by this morning. In fact it looked like we could still be living there as the landscaping and condition of the place were almost exactly the way we left them. That's good. It's a great little house and deserves good treatment.

Next on our list of places to visit today was the Amtrak maintenance facility at Beech Grove, Indiana. Beech Grove is only a few miles from downtown Indy and is the main maintenance facility for our nation's passenger railroad. We always enjoy seeing what's going on there in terms of how many employee cars are in the parking lot and how much rail equipment is in for service. We love riding Amtrak and a visit to Beech Grove usually gives us a feel for the overall health of the company. The employee lot was nearly full and we noticed quite a bit of equipment sitting around. A new train shed in the locomotive area had been erected since our last visit.

From Beech Grove we drove over to the famous Indianapolis Speedway to check out the track and the speedway museum. We've been there many times in the past for the U.S. Grand Prix and to visit the museum, but we always enjoy return visits to see what's new. Today we went to the museum and noticed that there were some new additions and exhibits we hadn't seen before. My favorite was a recreation of a Gasoline Alley garage from the past. It's a great exhibit and, using a little imagination, it's not hard to visualize it being the real thing.

After leaving the track we headed over to the rest home where my dad lives. We found him sitting in his wheelchair looking out the window when we got there. He didn't know we were coming so it was quite a surprise for him when he looked up and saw us standing there. We had a nice visit with him with the talk turning to the "old days" as it usually does. It's always hard to see him in the home, but he seems happy enough and the staff loves him. The folks who work in homes for the elderly deserve a pat on the back for what they do. They are very special people and we appreciate their efforts.

Evening was spent with my sister Linda and her partner Suzannah at their home close to downtown Indianapolis. We ordered out for pizza and shared a few glasses of wine around the dinner table. We always enjoy getting together with them and catching up on what's new. Finally it was time to say good night and head back to the hotel.

August 30, 2006

Today we returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, not to visit the museum, but rather to take a spin on the famous two and one-half mile racing oval as part of a cross-country tour called "Mini Takes The States", involving a group of Minis making a cross-country trip. The core group left Monterey, CA headed for Lime Rock, CT, but other Mini owners have been encouraged to join the group for all or part of the event. Part of their adventure is a pre-arranged stop for a lap of the speedway. Once we heard about the chance to drive a lap on the famed Indy speedway, it didn't take much encouragement to get us out there.

The drive around the racetrack was to start at around 5:30 pm, but we got there early, a little after 2:00 pm. We weren't exactly sure where we were to meet the other Mini owners, so we headed toward the main entrance to the speedway, which is located on 16th street. We hoped that if we drove into the speedway complex in the direction of the museum, we might see someone who could direct us. About that time I happened to glance in the rearview mirror and saw that a whole group of Minis were following us. I wanted to yell out to them that we didn't know where we were going and not to follow us, but there was no way to do it so we just motored on hoping that we'd get to the proper place somehow.

We turned off of 16th with Minis in tow and drove under the racetrack towards the museum where we were met by some raceway officials who saw us coming and immediately directed us to the tour check-in area over by the RV parking lot. To the others we must have looked like we knew exactly where we were going much to our relief.

Once at the check-in area we got into line behind another Mini so that we could fill out our waivers and pay our $10 to take the drive on the speedway. The folks that checked us in are members of the local Indianapolis Mini Club who volunteered their time to help out with the event. Our thanks to them for being so well organized and nice to us "outsiders".

Once we were registered more speedway workers directed us over to a long line of Minis, which were in line staged to go out onto the track. Since we had a few hours to kill, we decided to walk around and chat with the other Mini owners and check out their cars. Like any automotive event there are always cars that stand out and this one was no different. We've been to a lot of car club events in our day, but Mini owners have to be some of the nicest people we've ever met at an event. Everyone was friendly and excited about getting to drive on the racetrack and it showed.

Sports Illustrated Magazine had set up a pavilion with food and drinks for everyone, which was just great. We grabbed a plate of snacks and a drink then took a seat where we could watch other Mini owners having a good time. The Sports Illustrated area was hosted in the shadow of the famous Indianapolis Speedway "Pagoda". The atmosphere and feel of being at that track with all of it's racing history is something that I can't put into words except to say that it's special in a way that only gear heads will understand. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the volunteers and staff of the speedway as well as Mini USA and the Indianapolis Mini Club. You folks are all awesome and we owe you big time. Thank you!

My sister Linda was going to get off of work a little early so that she could join us on the track with her own Mini convertible. We expected her to show up right as the registration ended, but we knew that she'd make it. Once done with our snacks, we walked back out to the staging area in time to see her pulling in. We met up with her just in time to attend the drivers meeting.

The drivers meeting was in the Sports Illustrated pavilion and was set up to give credit to those people who had worked so hard to get this event off the ground and to tell us drivers to behave ourselves out on the track. They told us that we needed to keep our speeds down to 30-35 mph. The idea was that we didn't want to behave in such a way that we might not be invited back again in the future. Yeah, right! As soon as we hit the track everyone around us nailed it and it was a drag race up to about 55 mph, with some folks sawing back and forth "heating" up their tires like F1 cars. Eventually we all slowed down to the requested speeds, but it was impossible to not want to put your foot in it. Personally I wanted to be able to brag to folks that I had gone "full throttle" down the back straight at Indy and now I can tell them that. I just won't mention that it was in first and second gear only!

After that initial burst of enthusiasm we circled the track like little ladies and gentlemen with the occasional two second full-throttle burst just for fun. We'll never forget driving between the stands, the sight of the Start/Finish bricks passing under us, the sight of our car passing over the amazing Formula One starting grid or the feel of the banking at each corner of the raceway. This was special.

After our track experience we had agreed to meet Linda at her home near downtown Indy then we'd head out to dinner. We got there just ahead of her, arriving with huge smiles on our face. A few minutes later she arrived with the same childish grin pasted on her face! The next 30 minutes or so was us all talking at the same time about how fantastic it was to make a lap at Indy. No doubt, each of us was glowing. The glow lasted through dinner at a local downtown pub and on into the evening. What a day.

August 31, 2006

After enjoying an amazing visit at Indy, we finally found ourselves heading back up towards Elkhart to pick up or coach from its service visit at the Monaco Service Center. This being the eve of the three day Labor Day weekend, we had our fingers crossed that the work on our unit would be completed.

Upon arriving at Monaco we pulled up in front of the customer service lounge and went in to check with our service advisor, Tom, to see what progress had been made on the repairs. To our relief he said that the work had just been completed "20 minutes ago", and that as soon as he had a chance to go over everything with us, we would be free to hit the road. Great, the last thing we wanted to do was spend the three day weekend sitting around waiting for unfinished work at an RV factory. Since Tom was quite busy we arranged to meet with him in the morning for our post-service discussions.

Since it was still early in the day, we decided to schedule a tour at the nearby Roadmaster chassis factory. This particular assembly plant is where our coach started life and we thought it would be fun to see this area before moving on to the actual Monaco assembly plant, located 8 miles to the south.

We showed up at the Roadmaster plant about 10 minutes before the 2:00 pm tour was to start, and we were surprised to find out that we were the only ones who showed up for this afternoon's tour. The result is that we had our tour guide, Ron, all to ourselves. Ron turned out to be a veteran at the plant and knew every square inch of the place as well as every process that takes place there. He is also an expert on motor coaches and diesel engines and our instincts told us that we needed to pay close attention to what he had to tell us. He turned out to be a very patient and attentive listener and was able to answer all of our questions with authority.

As the tour progressed we noticed that the workers were knocking off for the day. Workstations were being shut down for the night and clean up of individual areas were in progress to ready the plant for tomorrow's work schedule. On the one hand it's fun to see the plant workers doing their jobs, but it's also kind of neat to be in the plant after it's been shut down for the day and everything is quiet. Since this was the last tour of the day and we were the only two people in it, Ron took the time to point out just about everything we would need to know about our coach using an identical, nearly completed chassis as a training aid.

The three of us stood at that brand new chassis on the end of the production line while Ron showed us the location of all major service items as well as giving us time to soak up the location of each individual item, because once the RV body is in place, most of these items go into hiding and become almost impossible to see. To be honest, I could have spent the night there just checking things out and enjoying the plant atmosphere. It's too bad that photos are prohibited in the production areas, because I would have loved some pics of that chassis for our scrapbook as well as for our maintenance book. But we do understand the need for plant security.

Later after the chassis plant tour I wandered over to the Monaco parts department, which is open to the public, to see if there were any goodies to be had over there. I picked up a great little miniature Monaco motor home (1:64 scale) and a nice Monaco ball cap. The little miniature motor home is a Monaco "Windsor" model and has a roof that lifts off, revealing a well detailed interior. I just love this little coach and even though it isn't a model of our particular unit, it's still fun to own and to look at. The word has it that Monaco has discontinued these neat little coaches, so if you want one I'd suggest that you check out their website and get one on order. You don't need to own a Monaco to like these things. I'd have bought one no matter what brand it was.

Tonight will be our last night as guests of Monaco. Tomorrow morning we'll get together with our service advisor, then we'll be back out on the road and the coach will be doing what it was designed to do. At this point we can only hope that the warranty work has been completed properly.