2010 Travels travel blog

Carpe at Elkhart (Indiana) Campground

I-80 south of Chicago
And this jam was on Sunday! Traffic is just...

Carpe on the lift
Stuart's did a wonderful job repairing our damaged jack

Image of damaged jack
The pad should be on the bottom, same as...

Image of repaired jack
Our damaged jack gets a new "foot"

Carpe at Elkhart Campgrounds
She is joined by Davila's Fleetwood Explorer

RV Museum, Elkhart, IN
Bob with early Airstream

RV Museum, Elkhart, IN
Sandi and Centennial Charlie meet again (they met last...

RV Museum, Elkhart, IN
Centennial Charlie has his own "rig"

RV Museum, Elkhart, IN
Streamlined '30s RV

RV Museum, Elkhart, IN
Mae West's "housecar"

RV Museum, Elkhart, IN
RDS in front of Studebaker pickup similar to one...

Amish Country Indiana
Tourist trap anyone???

Amish Country Indiana
An excellent family style restaurant—the fried chicken is to die...

Amish Country Indiana
Amish buggy in Middlebury, Indiana

Amish Country Indiana
A classic car show was in progress

Carpe gets some TLC
Sandi applying polish. It's a big job, literally &...

Carpe cleans up well
Best part of a polish job is admiring the...

Carpe Diem's Salon
Factory installed sofa-bed looks great, but isn't very comfy

Love seat installation
The experts at Bradd & Hall shoehorn the love seat...

Carpe Diem's Salon
New reclining love seat and end tables are great (if...

Right front corner fiberglas damage
We lost the battle with an Oregon State...

Same corner—after!
Elkhart fiberglas experts made it right again

Sun, 25 Jul: We got going early because we'd discovered a problem with one of the coach's four levelling jacks. Apparently, during our getting stuck in the mud and subsequently being winched out of the Forest City quagmire, our left rear jack's pad was torn loose. Instead of being on the bottom of the jack it was jammed along side. Since the pad and its two huge springs retract the jacks, and all jacks must be fully retracted before we can travel, we weren't sure we would be able to hit the road.

Thanks to some engineering ingenuity and physicist "mumbo jumbo" we were able to use a shovel and blocks of wood to successfully retract the jack. But no way could we wrestle the pad from alongside the jack to its place at the end of the jack. The springs were just too strong (more about this later...)

After a hurried breakfast we headed out on I-80 east. We made good time initially and enjoyed an early lunch at a rest stop west of Chicago. Sandi turned the driving chores over to Bob, who bravely headed into the western Chicago "burbs" where the traffic started to build, and build, and build... Even though it was midday on a Sunday we soon found ourselves surrounded by contrivances of every description—something we weren't used to after driving in the great midwest. Ugh to the east coast and its miserable traffic.

We fought valiantly through the Illinois Tollway ($1.90) and onto the Indiana Turnpike, one of the greatest ripoffs there is. We were extorted $11.90 for the "privilege" of driving on a horribly maintained road with multiple detours and construction zones. They should pay us for tolerating their rotten road!

We arrived at the Elkhart (Indiana) Campground about 3 P.M. (Eastern time). It is a nice campground and is the first full service facility we've been in since Rapid City. It was a refreshing changer not to worry about running out of water or monitoring our electric usage so we don't trip a 30-ampere breaker. We sure enjoyed those long, hot showers.

Mon, 26 Jul: We woke up a bit late since sunrise isn't until after six now that we're in a new time zone. At seven we called a local service facility that handles our levelling jacks. They said to bring it right over and they'll get right to it. We weren't fully dressed yet, so we hurried up to get ready and prepare the coach for travel. We got there a bit after eight and they pulled Carpe right in and raised 'er on the lift. It is always somewhat strange to see our home lifted six feet in the air.

One of the men grabbed the jack pad and, without any apparent effort, slid it to the bottom of the jack (the one we couldn't budge yesterday). They found a sheared bolt (which they drilled out) and a missing cam which needed to be ordered. They made a temporary fix and ordered the part. We'll plan to take the coach back later in the week for the final repairs.

While we had the coach out we took it to a nearby fiberglass repair shop where we got a very reasonable estimate to repair the front corner of the coach. In September 2008 we scraped a stone wall in an Oregon State Park and never got the repairs made. Winnebago wanted more than $3,000 for the repair and we just said "no"! Anyway, this estimate is very realistic and we'll take it in later in the week for that work.

After we returned Carpe to our campsite we visited an RV furniture dealer and found a perfect FlexSteel love seat that reclines and is comfortable as can be. We ordered a couch in a fabric that will complement our color scheme. Since it is built locally it'll be ready Friday. So, next Monday we'll take Carpe over to have the existing (uncomfortable) couch removed and our new couch installed. We'll have B4 and after pix of that swap out. We also bought a nice end table/magazine rack that'll fit in the extra space we gained from the change.

If you're getting the impression this is an RV-friendly place you're right. Elkhart is known as the "RV Capital" since so many RV manufacturers and suppliers are located here. Some say it is because of the exceptional craftsmanship of the local Amish workers. Elkhart is also the home of the RV Hall of Fame, which we'll be visiting later in the week. Thus far we're enjoying our stay.

Tomorrow our dear friends Carmen and Domingo Davila will arrive from Saginaw, Michigan. We've saved the space next to ours and are looking forward to a fun week visiting with them. We are truly fortunate to have such good friends...

Wed, 28 Jul: After breakfasting with the Davilas we headed out for a day of exploring the Elkhart area. The forecast called for afternoon thunderstorms so we decided that it would be an inside day. Doubly so as it was pretty warm and very, very humid.

First stop was the RV Museum and Hall of Fame. Right after entering Sandi met an old friend, Centennial Charlie, the RV industry's mascot. Last week at the Winnebago rally Charlie was in a golf cart and Sandi had her pix taken with him (see Forest City entry). Well, in the museum he has his own RV, and agreed to pose with Sandi one more time.

The museum is fascinating with RVs of every stripe and age dating back to the early part of the 20th century. It is amazing to see how far the industry has progressed in one hundred years. Many of the old RVs are pretty clunky, and the ones from the 30s are really interesting with all that art deco and streamlining.

The Hall of Fame is also interesting as it honors those folks who made the RV industry what it is today. Bob Tiffin (Tiffin Motorhoms), Hanson (Winnebago), the Petersons (Escapees), etc.

After lunch we toured the Damon factory where the Damon coaches are made. After touring Winnebago's factory last week the contrast is stark. Two manufacturers of quality coaches, each with their unique insight of how it is best done.

Just as the tour ended the skies opened with torrential rain and lightning/thunder. We headed back to our coaches. A wonderful dinner in the Davila's coach and then we're off to bed early. Tomorrow will be an early day as we have to have the coach at the jack service facility to have the lost part installed. Then off to the fiberglass repair shop to finally fix the 2008 Oregon State Park damage. We'll be "homeless" all day as Carpe is in the shop.

Fri, 30 Jul: Yesterday we took Carpe back to Stuart's to have the final repairs done on the jack. Again they were the models of efficiency and had us in and out within twenty minutes of our arrival. Pix of the "before" and "after" jack are posted, along of an image of Carpe six feet off the ground (quite a sight).

Then we and the Davilas drove to Middlebury and Shipshewana, communities in the heart of the Amish community. It was a very nice drive and we stopped in a few places that are overloaded with "drek". Fortunately we live in an RV and don't have room for any "junque".

Lunch was at Der Dutchman Essenhaus, a locally famous eatery (essen) known for their family style dinners and scrumptuous fried chicken. We arrived a bit after one in the afternoon and waited almost an hour for a table at the buffet. It was worth it, the fried chicken (and everything else) were very special. We left well stuffed.

We returned to our campground in time for happy hour. It was a lovely afternoon & evening so we lounged outside and soon were joined by Carmen and Domingo, and then Mike and Crissy, a couple from Wisconsin who were parked off our "port beam". Then some strapping young fellows came by and offered to wash the coach. We jumped at the chance to get the Forest City mud removed, so the balance of the evening was sitting in our chairs watching them work. What a life this retirement!!!

Today (Friday) Sandi got ambitious and applied polish to Carpe while she (Carpe, not necessarily Sandi) was clean. The weather cooperated as it was overcast long enough to apply the polish without direct sunlight. The work is finished now, and we're admiring our sparkling clean coach (at least until the forecast rain arrives tonite!)

Tue, 03 Aug: Two very busy days with many changes to Carpe. First thing yesterday (Monday) we drove to Bradd & Hall, RV furniture specialists. Our special ordered love seat was in and the installation got underway. First off, they had to remove the existing sofa-bed, a difficult task made easy by the experts. Then the new love seat was shoehorned through the door and bolted in place. It is wonderfully comfortable and looks great (see images).

Next we drove to Jamco Enterprises, a fiberglass repair facility. They undertook to repair some damage Carpe sustained in 2008 when an Oregon State Park stone wall jumped into the road without warning (yeah?!?) Anyway, they did a great job of repairing the boo-boo and painting.

Finally, this morning we and the Davilas drove to Decatur, Indiana to visit the Fleetwood and American Eagle factory. It was a 2½ hour tour that took us right on the factory floor and included the spacious and clean paint facility. It is really something to watch $750,000 coaches being built. Great tour that more than compensated for getting up at 5:30 to make the 100 mile drive in pouring rain (thanks for driving Domingo!)

Tomorrow we "break camp" and head for Bourbon Country...

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