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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Twenty Thousand Dollar Ouch.

My eyes lit up.  There is was on my dealers lot, the perfect next motorhome.  Marti and I had decided to trade up to a Class A motorhome, our Four Winds Class C was a lot of fun, but due to an upcoming transfer for me from Washington DC to Buffalo NY, the Four Winds had to go.

I had 19 years of service in the Coast Guard and I was going to retire at twenty.  With that one year left, I got orders I couldn't turn down, the Coast Guard owned me for the next 365 days.

So we decided I would have to go to Buffalo as a Geographical Bachelor, one who lives and works away from his home.  I had to do the year, then I'd retire.  The plan was for me to live in our motorhome.

Then the realization hit us, Buffalo is cold and it gets snow, LOTS of it.  The lake effect kind which they measure in FEET!  Every time it snows.  The Four Winds was a great RV, but it couldn't take that kind of a winter.

We had admired the Winnebago Adventurers, and had often said we'd like to have one someday.  That someday had arrived.  The Adventurer would hold up to a Buffalo winter.  Off we went to the dealer to look, actually we shopped several.  It was now November 2002 and my transfer to Buffalo would take place the following summer.

We were pretty sure that a 33 foot Adventurer would be what we would like, so we looked at several and all were on a Ford chassis.  We had decided that, based on our research, we wanted a Workhorse chassis.  Of course nobody had one.

Then my local dealer called me and said they had just received an Adventurer in on a Workhorse chassis.  Off we went, only to be disappointed that it was a 35 foot model, bigger than we wanted and would cost $5000 more.  Bummer.

It was perfect in so many ways, good colors, dark wood cabinets, and of course the Workhorse chassis.  But I told the salesman I had to pass.  He said for me to wait, he needed to talk to the manager.  Okay.

A few minutes later, he returned and said they'd sell me the 35 foot Adventurer for the same price as the 33 foot model.  UN-Bummer!  We closed the deal.

Marti and I got the new RV home and packed it up for our first shakedown cruise, to visit our daughter and son-in-law in Charleston, SC where he was stationed in the Navy.

It was a great trip, the new motorhome was wonderful, the extra space a bonus and everything worked right.  After getting home from our first 1000 mile jaunt, the only thing needing attention was the round plate behind the handle in the shower was missing, it was left off during construction and you could see all the plumbing behind the shower wall.

A call to the dealer and they ordered the part and told me they'd notify me as soon as it was in.  It came in quickly and I made an appointment to get it installed.

It was a very dark night on December 17th, 2002 when I left to drive the Adventurer to the dealer, my son Corey left just ahead of me to bring me home after dropping it off.  About three miles down the road, I made a left turn onto the road the dealer was on, it was a turn I'll never forget.

As I almost completed the turn, out of the corner of my eye I saw a car flying towards  me, then BAM!  It hit me in the right side, just under the passenger seat.  The motorhome rocked to the left causing all the cabinets and drawers on the right side to fling open and spill their contents.  A split second later, before I even had a chance to hit the brake, the car spun around and crashed backwards into me again just behind the rear wheel.

With that impact, the motorhome rocked right and all the left hand cabinets dumped their contents.  I stopped with in a few yards, I wasn't going very fast and got out.  The car was a total loss and the side of my brand new motorhome was mangled!  The only good thing was that there were no injuries.

The lady driving the car had just gassed up and driven off from a gas station down the street and didn't put her headlights on.  I also saw on the front seat a flip type cell phone that was open.  Bad combination.

After all the paperwork and police reports were done, I was able to drive my motorhome the rest of the way to the dealer but the steering wheel was off center.  A complete look at the damage was that the car hit me just behind the front wheel, but clipped the wheel itself bending the tire rod, the wheel liner and the rim.  The front compartment where the water heater resided was completely crushed in, along with the water heater.  The tail end of the car hit just behind the rear wheel, something dinged the wheel liner and dented it, along with the fiberglass fender.  Fortunately all the damage was below the floor line and missed all the slide mechanisms.  The paint had some chips in it from the broken glass of the car's rear window.

All in all, I was pretty sick.  My 2003 motorhome was cracked up and it was still 2002.  The worst part was that we had reservations for Disney World's Fort Wilderness the second week of January 2003.  There went that trip.

The insurance company looked at the damage and the estimate was $20,000.  My dealer went out of his way and got the parts ordered and despite the Christmas holiday shutdowns had the whole side repaired, complete down to even the new wheel liners finished and ready for our Disney trip with the exception of the paint on the new parts.  I was able to take the motorhome to Disney with those parts still in primer, and when I came back, the motorhome went into the paint shop for the final touches.

My dealer did a great job, the only thing that you could tell where there were repairs was a very slight color shade difference, but you had to  look hard for it.  We were pleased.

We enjoyed the Adventurer for four more years and then traded up to the Journey.  I now am extra careful making left turns in the dark.  The funny part of the whole story is before I was scheduled to transfer, my Buffalo orders were canceled and I got a new tour and was able to stay living at home.  Go figure. :c) 

Thanks for visiting and please feel free to leave a comment.


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