The Journey Is Better Than the Destination

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“You think that the goal is to be over there, and we say the goal is the journey over there; the goal is the fun you have along the way on your way to over there. —Abraham ”

I had just read that quote in an email newsletter I get. It hit me like a sledgehammer. We as human beings always want excitement and change and something to look forward to. We often forget to just hover in the now and marvel at it.

Knowing that something has to happen (our house must sell) before we take off on our journey, it is difficult to wait. I know there is something very sweet and yet anxious in the feelings you experience when you are at a major rope to grab so you can swing across the river. Did you ever experience swinging on a rope as a kid? There’s that sweet, sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you something good is coming. That’s the feeling I have right now.

It is not so simple to leave Alaska in an RV as you would think. Many truckers do it. We have a freightliner chassis. It should be a simple trip to take. We’ve managed the Alaska Highway in a Dodge Durango. The new government regulations for buying a house requires the paperwork take about 2 months now. So, if we got an offer on our house today or tomorrow, we’d be leaving Alaska at the end of September.

That is about the best time to leave, before the leaving gets a little scary. Now- as the time creeps away – we know that our travel plans may have to change a little.There’s ways to insulate the hot water heater and the water lines, and the batteries (to a certain extent but they need ventilation). Or there’s a place called Tote Ocean.  They will ship your RV to Tacoma, Washington for about $3,400 for one our size. The prices vary A LOT for different sized RVs.You can check yours out on the website.

Some RVers drive up here, tour around Alaska, then they fly back home while Tote Ocean Trailer ships their RV to Washington.

They fly there and pick up their rig. You can see their sailing schedules. Takes about 2 days to get your rig.

http://www.totemocean.com/

And then we have two more vehicles. So, we are going to figure out a way to ship only one vehicle. Make one a dinghy vehicle, ship one truck and pull the dinghy vehicle behind the RV.  There are also some special tire chains you can put on to avoid getting the fiberglass beaten up. And you pour a mix of water and RV antifreeze down the toilet when you want to flush.

It’s well-insulated. We tested that in Denali National Park when it dipped to 10 degrees one night in May.

If you’ve ever seen the Alaska Highway in January, you know what I am talking about. RV batteries freeze in – 50 degree temperatures. Lines freeze. So, if we have to wait for an offer on our house much longer, we can expect to get it winterized, then dewinterized on the “other side.” The deep freeze in Alaska and the Yukon/BC areas is about the middle to the end of October. I’ve seen it snow slightly on September 26th.

We’ve been talking to the Freightliner people about some things we can do in order to drive it out of here in the middle of Nov or Dec or Jan or Feb: Put a special kind of tire chain on the tires.

If you’re ever in need of Freightliner or truck work done, these guys are fantastic. If you’re ever in Anchorage and need work done – Trailercraft.

Directions:

Driving into Anchorage on the New Seward Highway, take the Dowling exit as you’re going south. Make just a short turn (1/4 of way) around circle so that you’re going straight ahead. You’ll end up on the frontage road in front of the highway. You’ll see the Trailercraft Freightliner signs on the road just after you get onto the frontage road.

Ok, now back to the dreaming thing again:

When you’re waiting for something to happen, you recognize this sweet place you end up a lot. If you like to make your dreams really come true. It has worked for me many many times already. You imagine. In full detail. You see yourself in your mind’s eye. You’re going on that dream vacation or you’re getting other things you’ve dreamed of. And play it again and again in your head. It is like a movie you play again and again of your life as you would love it to be.

And these feelings start rushing into your life at strange times. You know the feeling. When you’ve been visualizing your life really strongly. These feelings have a sound to them. A kind of whooshing sound inside your head when you feel this really strong feeling of everything coming together perfectly as you have dreamed of them. This method has always worked for me. You dream it so vividly, your brain starts to think it is real. And it starts to happen. And you marvel at the way it unfolds.

I look forward to writing on this blog to say that this..that and the other happened and our house is sold, and we’re finally leaving Alaska.

It took us 8 months to dream Alaska into a reality, so it will probably take a few more to get all of this working perfectly. It is like watching gears perfectly fitting together as you watch it happen in front of your eyes.

Will report more soon.

Lynne

Wish we were taking off in the one in the background

How To Have a Really Great Camping Experience in An RV (even if you’re renting one)

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I wrote this several years ago for beginning campers.

We had an Alaska blog for about 4 years, and hackers trashed it several times.

This was another really popular article about RV camping from our blog that got wiped out during the crash. Here it is again for your viewing pleasure. 🙂

Step 1

Cabinets tend to fly open, making the contents inside dangerous projectile missiles.

Solution: Buy one of those packages of all different sizes of bungie cords. Hook a bungie from one cabinet knob to another. Tight enough to keep things in, but not so tight you mess up the alignment of your cabinet doors.

Step 2

Pets become projectile missiles if they’re allowed to run loose in an RV while you’re driving. They get under your gas pedal, fall all over the place, or just basically scare the crap out of you.

Solution: One word: KENNEL. If they cry, cover the kennel with a sheet or blanket so they can’t see you. Eventually they’ll get the idea. Kennel two of them together if they get along, so they can comfort one another.

Step 3

Cargo doors will sometimes unlatch and fly open while driving, leaving you with a lot less “stuff” when you get to your destination.

Solution: Latch and lock all doors AFTER you drop your RV off the leveling jacks (if you have them)

Step 4

Items inside cabinets tend to clang and tinkle and literally drive you batty while you’re driving.

Solution: We put a paper towel between plates, remove the glass dish from the microwave and wrap in a kitchen towel, and wrap cups with paper towels. When we get to our destination, we use the paper towels for cleanups.

Step 5 We see a lot of RVs driving down the road with the vents on top flapping and flying, and cargo bay doors unlatched.

Solution: Have two people do a “walkaround” before leaving. We learned this from watching pilots in the military do the walkaround for their aircraft, and it really does work. What one person misses, the other one always catches. This can prevent you from having to pay thousands of dollars in costly repairs.

Step 6 Checking and filling up tires on an RV can be very tough on your hands.

Solution: Before you leave the showroom with your new RV, make SURE they put extenders on your tire valves so you can reach the inner duelies. There’s nothing like being stuck in Denali National Park with a low tire and having to struggle to fill up an inner tire.

Step 7 Running your RV generator can sometimes cost you a lot with gas prices the way they are.

Solution: Turn off your generator if you’re just using your TV or radio or heating system or air conditioning if your RV has an inverter that lets those things run off the cabin batteries. Every once in awhile, do a check of your cabin batteries. If they need a charge, run the generator for a little while until they’re charged up again.

If you don’t have an RV with an inverter, a small Honda or Yamaha generator gets about 15 hours of use from one gallon of gas. This is what campground hosts in Alaska use, and it saves them a bundle of money.

Hint: We turn ours on just to make coffee or cook in the microwave. Otherwise, it stays off most of the time. If you sleep with a CPAP machine, buy a DC to AC converter that is designed for sensitive electronics (like cameras) and hook that into the DC outlets in your RV.

Step 8 Carrying things from the house to the RV is a BIG hassle.

Solution: When you can, try to buy two of each thing (like antacids or shampoo or things like that). That way, it’s already there.

Hint: We use those canvas bags you get at the grocery store to carry things back and forth. They hold a lot, and no plastic bags that tear.

Step 9 We tended to pack too much stuff when we first became RVers.

Solution: Think of everything in terms of days. How many days will we be gone. How much underwear or socks does that equal? How many meals? (always pack an extra meal or two in case something goes wrong with a meal you planned). Thinking of camping in terms of compartmentalized days helps a WHOLE LOT.

Step 10 Some stuff like pet supplies get forgotten.

Solution: Keep a small, extra bag of pet food and a bowl in the RV for those times you forgot their food or containers.

Step 11 The weather is a constant surprise.

Solution: Bring all types of clothing (especially if you’re camping in Alaska or someplace in the mountains). We camp in 20 degree weather at night, pouring rain, sleet and snow in May. You never know what you’re going to run up against. Bring lots of extra blankets, too.

Step 12 Keep getting eaten by mosquitos.

Solution: Avon Skin-so-Soft shower gel (original scent) in the shower, and the spray when you get out. Also wash your hair with the shower gel so they don’t bite your head. We also take Super B complex vitamins (from Walmart) and wear a B2 vitamin mosquito patch made by Agraco. It comes in a yellow package of 2 patches and does not contain Deet. These patches last 36 hours, and you put them on 2 hours before going outside. More info: AgraCo.com or 1-800-337-4169.

Hint: If you’re vacationing in Alaska and need some Avon, visit the Saturday (and Sunday) market in downtown Anchorage. The Avon lady is always at her booth.

Step 13 Washing dishes will sometimes use up a lot of the fresh water in your RV.

Solution: If you’re just going away for the weekend, put dirty dishes in a garbage bag and stuff under the RV in one of the cargo bay doors. Throw in the dishwasher when you get home. Use recycled paper plates (paper from paper and not trees). If you’re going to be on a long vacation, save up your dishes until you get to a campground and wash them in the water hose or someplace you’re allowed.

I used to marvel at people who were dumping their septic because they would have always have a sink full of dirty dishes. Now I understand why!

Step 14 Don’t sit in your RV for the whole trip, refusing to socialize with the rest of the campers around you.

Solution: Best conversation opener: “Where ya from?” RV campers LOVE to tell you where they came from – in great detail! RV campgrounds are for socializing and relaxing, not being a hermit!

Step 15 Don’t leave any food outside in bear-infested campgrounds.

Solution: There are hundreds of variations of bear-safe containers available at your local sportsman’s store.

Step 16 Keep a close eye on your gray water contents. If you let it get too full, it will fill up your shower with yucky water. Gray water is the water you’ve drained down your kitchen sink or bathroom sink or shower. Make it a habit to always push the buttons to check to see if your gray water is getting to the 2/3rds mark. We once had to drive to a dumping station (there aren’t many in Alaska) with a shower full of water, hoping it didn’t leak out onto the floor!

Step 17 Dump your black water (toilet water) only after it gets fairly full (2/3rds or more). It’s best to have it jostle around on your way home so that things like toilet paper don’t get stuck to the sides. That way, everything empties out when you empty the septic just before going home.

Step 18 Be sure to wear those nylon or other type of disposable gloves when emptying the septic. This is important, even if your system is like ours and is completely self-contained. Wash your hands afterwards and use some of that disinfectant for your hands, like Purel.

Step 19 Be courteous at the septic dump sites you go to. Many of them are offered free by gas stations. Throw away your disposable gloves after using in a receptacle instead of throwing them on the ground. Use the water hose always supplied to wash up around the area you just used. No one likes to look at other people’s yucky mess after they’ve dumped their septic.

Step 20 When it is getting close to the end of the season, empty your septic, then take a garden hose and run fresh water into your toilet or attach one to the flush valve if one is supplied with your RV. Pour a couple of drops of Palmolive or Dawn dishwashing soap down the toilet while flushing. (not too much, or it will foam up) Leave it really clean like this while it sits over the winter, or you will have a septic whose indicators don’t work correctly when Spring comes for the next season.

Step 21 Empty your black and gray water just before going home after every trip. Leaving it in there for a couple of weeks before you go again is not a good habit to get into. When you go to dump it, the smell will knock you over! I’ve been next to other RVs while they were dumping that do this, and I swear someone died in there!

Step 22 Keep your refrigerator on while driving and your propane tank on. We weren’t sure about this when we first started camping, but if you have a long ways to go before you camp, you don’t want your food to spoil. Most RVs now have a double circuit that switches automatically. When power is removed from the fridge, the propane kicks in to keep your food cold.

Step 23 When you start getting a couple of nights in the 40s, it is time to take your RV in to get it winterized by the dealer or other authorized RV repair shop. They flush out the lines and put RV antifreeze in the lines to keep them from cracking. Just before taking it to get it winterized, make sure you did Step 20 above. Once you get your RV back home to park for the winter, make sure you turn off the cabin batteries. (most RVs have a battery bypass switch for this)One winter, our dealer had our RV for a few months to fix some items, and one of their techs left the batteries on in Dec and Jan. They literally blew up inside the battery compartment and threw acid EVERYWHERE. They spent a long time cleaning up the compartment.

Automatic Icemakers and a CPAP Solution

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We had not used our RV enough to really understand all the systems, as I mentioned before, because of our Lemon Law hassles.

RVers know you learn something new just about every single day about this marvelous machine that protects you, keeps you warm, and takes you on magic carpet rides. We discovered something about our automatic icemaker that is not a well-known fact.

Here it is….wait for it….

Automatic icemakers don’t work unless you are hooked up to electric or somehow have your refrigerator on AC, NOT propane.

Huh. I never knew that. Our new RV service center is so patient with me. I value them so much.

Another thing I discovered that is a great CPAP solution for those of you who have to use one:

We tried several solutions, and this one is by far the best. I just happened to have to replace the TV in the bedroom with a lighter flat screen because it had become obselete in the digital changeover while the RV was out of service and because the TV that was in there made this horrible scraping noise when you opened the cabinet. Reason: the dummies who designed it put a pretty heavy television in there that was too heavy for the cabinet.

Anyway, while designing a new mount on the shelf for the digital, flat screen I was able to install a heavy-duty extension cord and bus bar in there. You see, your televisions and microwave are usually connected to your inverter so you can operate them on cabin batteries.

How convenient to be able to get to that outlet that the television was connected to. It also makes a great place to hook up your laptop or a reading lamp if you don’t like the ones in your RV.

We also plugged in some of those ultrasonic pests repellers to keep mice and bugs off our rig while it is parked on our land. The critters in our yard are amazingly active and numerous in the short, summer months here. I actually had mice follow us from our old house to our new one, on a bundle of lumber. This happened two years ago, just after I made this video:

Just thought these latest things learned would be of some help to you.

Have a fun day RVing!

Lynne

This is the first video we made after we got delivery of our machine:

Find Out Before You Get There And Our Alaska Adventures

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Have you ever gotten to an RV park you found in Trailer Directory or the Milepost or other directory, and it was a huge disappointment? Don’t you WISH someone had warned you ahead of time?

A really fantastic website I found out about in the Motorhome Association magazine told me where I could look before we get there. Being warned really helps. Create a free account, and you can add your own. The information you learn from it is so useful! I love this website. I know you will too.

Here’s the website:

http://rvparkreviews.com/

Also, if you’re interested in seeing some of our Alaska adventures, we’ve been making films of them since 2006. Here’s where you can find those:

http://www.youtube.com/Alaskablogvideos

Here’s one of my favorites:

Part 5 – Dry Runs and Facebook Connections

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Hello everyone,

Today is a good day to talk about dry runs. I will also talk about some great Facebook connections you can take advantage of, as well as a very interesting RV blog I think you’ll love.

I was thinking a lot about a family that decides to go full-time but has never gone camping before they decide to do it. I was thinking about the past 4 years of RVing as vacations and how much we have learned in that time. That time has been so critical to the future.

We finally got to take our RV out after fixing almost everything the dealer left broken. Our trip for a 3 day weekend was the first of several dry runs we plan to take this summer before we start full-timing permanently.

Why are we waiting before setting out on the road permanently? We started selling our house in May of this year, and the market in Alaska is a little slower and more competitive than usual. It has normally been a seller’s market in the past, (we’ve bought and sold houses here 3 different times before this) so it is taking a little bit longer than we expected.

However, this has turned out to be an advantage in many ways. It has given me a lot of time to really “discover” everything that our RV is about, and it has allowed me to plan things a lot better.

I think it is best for a family to try some dry runs so you can get used to everything. An RV is a complex machine, way more complex than we imagined before we bought our first one. We spent about a month reading the manuals before going out our first time because there was still snow on the ground. It is a good thing we had some time to study them.

There are several important systems you will want to understand. The most important ones in your dry runs are the hot water heater (you will probably have one like ours that heats up either with electric or propane). The best way to use your hot water heater is to heat it up just about 10 minutes before you decide to take a shower. Some RV parks frown on you keeping your water hot all the time, while others don’t mind because they charge a lot per day for renting a camping spot with full service. Nevertheless, your hot water heater will last a lot longer if you only turn it on when you need it.

Another system you will want to understand really well is your refrigerator. To avoid putting undue stress on it, I would suggest you only turn it on the night before or the morning of the day you’re planning to leave.

The septic system is another system you will want to learn a lot about. We always empty our septic on the way home from a camping trip, but we were told by a man we met in Tok, Alaska that the best way to use your septic is to keep it closed even when you are at a full service campground. Then, you empty it just before you leave. He said he also likes to drive it around and get it sloshed around good before emptying. This gets all the toilet paper and such “unstuck” from the sides of the tank. One thing you don’t want to do is to go on a camping trip, come back and think you’ll dump it before you go on your next trip. I’ve stood at septic dump sites next to RVs whose owners obviously do this. The smell is so bad, I cannot hardly stand it! To keep your system from getting dried up toilet paper and other unmentionables stuck to the sides, empty it when it is almost full and always flush it.

How to empty your septic: (put on vinyl or rubber gloves before you start)

Hook up your hose to the opening where the septic comes out. Make sure you snap it into place well before opening the valves. If you unscrew the cap to the gate and get a leak before you open the valves, make sure the valves are completely closed before continuing. Our RV, while we were struggling with the dealer to get everything fixed, had an annoying problem of dripping yucky septic drool on your hands after you open the cap and before you pull to open the gate valves. YUCK. We finally got that fixed after a year of complaining about it. It usually means the gate is faulty or the seal is bad.

To empty your septic with the least amount of hassles, open the black gate valve first, then open the grey water gate valve. Black water is your toilet, and grey water is your shower, sinks, etc..Opening the grey valve second allows it to flush any solids out of your drain hose as it is emptying.

Another part of this system that is important is the flushing out of your septic tank. You will want to do this every single time you empty your tanks. I’ve also had some luck with just a few drops of dish soap (not a lot or it will foam up too much) and about a 1/2 cup of vinegar added to your tanks while they are in use. I also use the little packets you drop into your toilet to keep the smell down, but I’m not particular about what kind I use. I usually just use whatever is sold by my RV service center, and not what I can buy at Walmart. The price is a little bit more, but the quality is much higher.

Ok, so back to flushing your septic tank. Our system control panel has a place where you can hook up a garden hose to a connection to flush the septic. The other end, you connect to the water hose connection you usually find at a dump site. IMPORTANT: do not turn on the water until you make sure you have a drain hose connected to your septic and the valves are open. The best way to make sure of this is to hook the flush hose up at the same time you hook the drain hose. Then, just leave the water turned off until after you have emptied both tanks. Then, slowly turn on the water to your flush hose and have someone inside close the toilet lid just to make sure. The flush hose you use for this purpose should be labeled and never used to make a city water connection when you are at a RV campsite. This hose usually doesn’t need to be more than about 15 feet long at the most.

If you don’t have a flush connection on your septic flushing control panel, you can still do this by having a longer garden hose (about 25 feet long) connected to the water connection at the dump site. Run that garden hose through the bathroom window and hand it to someone helping you inside. Have them point the hose down into the toilet and signal to you to start turning the water on slowly. Run this for a good 5 minutes or more. Have whoever is outside touch the drain hose to make sure they feel cold water running through. They can also carefully lift the drain hose out of the hole in the ground to make sure flushing water is coming out of it.

Wash your hands and use a disinfectant like Purel on your hands afterwards.

You will also want to know how your electrical system works. If you are connected to an outlet, such as at home or at a campsite, you will have full power (usually 20 amp or 30 amp or 50 amp) throughout your RV. Your outlets should all operate just like a house, and all your appliances will operate correctly.

If you are at a place where there is no connection to electrical power, you may want to use either a portable Honda generator (or other brand) and connect your electrical cord to it, or you may want to start your generator. You can usually start your generator from inside your RV or go under the hood where it is located (usually in the front of your RV if it is a diesel pusher) and start it with the start button there. The advantage to starting it at the generator itself is to watch the indicator to make sure everything is operating properly. The generator will have blinking lights or a steady light, depending on if everything is ok or not.

You can also do what is called “boondocking,” where you are not connected to anything electrical and are running off your cabin batteries. You would enable your inverter, if you want to operate your TV and microwave and heating system and things like that. The outlets will not usually be hooked up when you operate this way, however. Kind of a pain, but if you have 12 volt connections for things you want to plug in, such as your Iphone or GPS, you can just use your 12 volt connections in the cabin.

You will also want to operate your water system to make sure it is working properly. Make sure you clean the water connections at a campsite or at your home before hooking up a water hose. We have a dedicated short water hose that we only use to do this. That way, it is always a clean connection and not something someone else has contaminated. These are sold pretty much everywhere, and they are usually a 15 foot white hose and designated for an RV water system. We then hook up whatever other hose we have that goes from our outside water connection to that hose. Or hook it up to a campsite connection, but only after cleaning the outside connection with a spray bottle containing water and a small amount of bleach or a safe disinfectant.

Ok, so those are the systems you will want to become really familiar with on short trips before you set off on a permanent vacation.

Some other great tips I recently read are on this blog. They talk about a pre-flight check before you hit the road. Very good information:

http://wheelingit.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/pre-flight-check-what-to-do-before-you-hit-the-road/

Recently on our trip to check out the RV after it had been sitting through the lemon law lawsuit we were embedded in for 2 years, we found the refrigerator would only operate on propane and not on electric. We had never had any problems with the fridge before, so this was something important to know before we set out on the road as fulltimers. It was good to go and test it all.

We also found out the television in the back was not digital and had been sitting through that whole digital conversion, so out it comes and in goes a digital one. This wasn’t the only reason (we don’t get satellite in our RVs up here in Alaska, so the antenna is often one of the few ways to watch TV) but the design had been so bad on that TV that is was way too heavy for the shelf it sits in and often comes flying open during driving. So, a lighter television (small flat screen) is a smarter option.

Ok, so let’s talk about Facebook connections really quickly. I’ve found some really awesome sites on Facebook for the avid RVer that you might enjoy being a part of. Usually, once you have a facebook account, you can visit these sites and click on either the “Become A Fan” or “Like”  button. Once you do that, your facebook feed will always let you know about new posts from these sites. Here are the two I really love:

http://www.facebook.com/TheGoodSamClub

http://www.facebook.com/MotorHomeMagazine

Oh, and here’s one more very cool blog from the gorving website:

http://www.gorving.org/blog

Mr. Herzog is a writer who takes his family every year all summer to see the U.S. And the results are very very interesting.

Ok. Well, I’ll be back soon with more stuff, and I hope you enjoyed this post. Have a great, RVing day.

Camping ROCKS!

I feel at peace when I am RVing. How about you?

Dan after a weekend of camping - so happy!

Driving the Seward Highway, Alaska

Cooper Creek South Campground, Alaska

How We Lost Our Lemon Law Lawsuit and How Our Experience Could Help You

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We lost because of several important reasons. (but we don’t see it as a loss now because we’ve since gotten every single writeup fixed after working at it for about a month)
(this is very complex and long, but it could save you on your next brand new rig)
1. The Alaska Lemon Law is VERY specific. You must write the manufacturer and the dealer a letter stating specifically the following:
That you demand a refund
That there are the following nonconformities: (things that are broken)
…etc
That you demand your money back within 10 days of the letter

What we didn’t do:
We did not write the dealer because we had already asked them 4 times to give us our money back.
Because our rig was in their shop for the winter to get things fixed and we did not want them to sabotage it or have it impounded and we knew the manufacturer was working with them to get it fixed.
We had already written the manufacturer an email previously that said we wanted our money back and the manufacturer had a conversation with the dealer to tell them we wanted our money back.
You must write both letters within 60 days of your first year’s warranty expiring.
They have 30 days to get all nonconformities fixed.
They must have made at least 3 attempts to repair the nonconformities we complained about in the letter.

2. The lawyer on their side got about 8 mechanics and the service manager to lie about the attempts they made to repair the rig. They lied about our complaints dating back 3 years that we had been smelling septic that long. (they didn’t start writing the complaints about the shower leaking and the septic smell until the last year before we wrote the letter)
They had not wanted to work on the septic or the shower so they never wrote these complaints on the workorders.

3. We did not receive any work orders until just before we wrote the letter, so we never saw what our workorders actually said. We had to piece these together for court which was very complicated and took months. Their workorders were not accurate. We only got to see workorders after our lawyer asked for discovery documents. The workorders were an absolute mess! It was hard to figure out which of the hundreds of writeups were completed and which weren’t.

4. After we wrote the letter, we asked for permission to go on the lot and get our personal effects out of the rig. They said we could. Reason: we wanted to get our stuff out – we were afraid they would have it impounded and we would lose all our camping gear. Their lawyer lied in court and said we abandoned it. We called that fall to ask how repairs were going and to ask where our rig was because we had not seen it on their lot for about a month. They sounded nervous and said they were waiting on parts. I asked if I needed to report it stolen. They really acted nervous then.

Their lawyer made me look like a liar in court because I never got to explain why we went and got our stuff. (when you are testifying, you explain your side, then they try to defend their side and they can say whatever they want about you). Their lawyer said we abused it and neglected it, and we were in closing arguments so I never got to explain.

You can see by the way it looks that we never abused it or neglected it.

5. We had bought a Leprechaun from them before, and we had loved it and their service manager had taken very good care of us. He left, and the owner hired a “friend” as a service manager who basically put them out of business with his lousy management skills. The service manager lied on the stand about us saying we were really happy with the way they handled our service, and he said I never told him about the septic smell and the leaking shower until right at the very end of it all. (I could not defend this very well afterwards because they never gave us any workorders. A lot of the writeups we told them about over the phone or even in person never got written down. We had trusted them because of our previous experience. I will always get a signed workorder after repairs from now on, believe me. No trust anymore!)

6. We had witnesses that had worked there who overheard the service manager call us whiners and pains in the ass and that the septic smell was all in our heads. (they later found the gray water valve pipe was completely broken off and that the septic’s vent valve had never been installed at the factory)

7. The dealership was out of business halfway through the court case, so we had to drop them from the suit. But the manufacturer still used all their liars on the stand. Not sure what the motivation was there for them to testify, but it had something to do with Anchorage being a small town and them trying to protect their professional reputations. However, the only good mechanic they had quit the business altogether and went to the North Slope to work in the oilfields. Luckily, we found out during his deposition that he had been the one to finally fix the shower leaks and the septic smell. We had never known if it was ever fixed or not before that. He was the only one we trust to tell the truth.

8. I said, during my testimony that I had told my husband that the one thing we were not going to do was lie, if we were going to pursue this. We told the truth through the whole thing. I have a very good memory, so I was able to piece together every single incident.

9. During his closing arguments (so that I could not defend myself with rebuttal testimony), their lawyer tried to make us look stupid first by saying we wrote up a couple of items like Sirius Satellite radio doesn’t work and the 6 CD changer isn’t working (we don’t get sirius satellite in Alaska because there are no towers in Alaska and the rig never had a 6 CD changer in it though these were two things our salesman said it had).
The lawyer for the manufacturer also tried to make it seem like our witnesses were disgruntled employees. We could tell he was worried about these witnesses because they had worked for the dealer until they were laid off and had overheard all the remarks about us made by the service manager and his “cronies.” They also knew that the dealership refused to do much of the work because the manufacturer was not going to reimburse them if the work was repeat work Everyone else was eventually laid off anyway, so it didn’t really hold water.

These two witnesses were some of the most honest and best service writers you would ever want to meet. So because the lawyer did it in closing arguments, no one could rebut what he said. He tried to make me look like I was the only one who thought the rig was a Lemon, though the service manager had referred to it as a Lemon around the shop and then testified he didn’t believe in the Lemon Law and that there is no such thing as a Lemon. The lawyer in his closing arguments also made it look like the hundreds of writeups on our rig was normal for an RV this size. (our Leprechaun had maybe had only a dozen cosmetic issues in its first year).

10. We had paid $2,700 for a 7 year extended warranty, but the dealership told us that our warranty was up after a year. (the rig had 2300 miles on it when we bought it because it had to be driven Washington state and the salesman said he would extend our warranty because of the mileage.) We never got that extension, and we never received the extended warranty we paid for.

11. Coachmen Industries sold their Coachmen RV division to Forest River just after we filed suit. They put 18 million dollars into a warranty fund to cover warranty claims on RVs that had been sold to customers before they sold the RV division to Forest River. In their Proxy (the document that explains the sale), Coachmen Industries said they were responsible for the units they sold before they sold Coachmen RV. They did not put enough money into the warranty fund to cover claims for people who bought extended warranties because that fund was being depleted by a million bucks a month and will run out this December. What did Coachmen do with the other 70 million bucks? They filtered it through Coachmen Industries to pay off debts and fund their housing division.
Not only is this deceptive, but bad business.
We could not find anyone from the original Coachmen RV industry who would testify to the Proxy so we could not admit it as evidence.

These are just a few reasons why we lost. And I believe the jury was tired of the whole thing by the time it was over because they only deliberated about an hour. They probably just wanted it all to be over, too.

What I recommend to anyone buying a new RV:

1. Don’t take delivery on an RV that already has problems. We had a huge crack across the windshield and a bunch of other problems, and it just went downhill from there. Everytime we said we wanted our Leprechaun back and our money back during the walkaround, they kept saying they would give us free winterization and free oil changes and so on. We trusted them because of our previous experience with our Leprechaun.
DON’T TRUST ANYONE. Get everything in writing, because you may have to go to court someday to prove it.

2. Test drive your rig. They would not allow us to do that, but we trusted them. Ours had hydraulic fluid spewing out of the engine on the way home and a Check Engine, Oil overtemp, and Digital readout Check Engine indicator on the way home. (home is only 15 minutes away).

3. GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING THAT THE SALESMAN SAYS.

4. If you are going to buy a new RV, buy it in a state that has a Lemon Law that covers RVs.

5. Get an extended warranty through Goodsam, instead of your dealership. The manufacturer could go out of business and take your extended warranty with them.

6. If you are thinking of filing a Lemon Law Lawsuit, make sure you know the law in your state and satisfy the notification requirements TO THE LETTER. In your notice letter that demands a refund, LIST EVERY NONCONFORMITY, not just the ones they have tried to fix several times.

FINAL NOTE ABOUT OUR CASE: One of the jurors intentionally followed our lawyer into the elevator after the verdict was read. He wanted our lawyer to let us know that the whole jury was with us the whole way. They felt like we should have been reimbursed, but because they did not make the connection that the manufacturer is ultimately responsible for the actions of its dealers, they could not vote in our favor.

It’s too bad our lawyer did not make sure they understood that the manufacturer is ultimately responsible for the kind of service you receive from a dealer. The jurors thought it was the dealer’s fault and not the manufacturer. This was a technical error, but my husband was not well enough to go through another trial. So we agreed not to pursue another trial or appeal in exchange for not having to pay their attorney’s fees ($26,000 freaking dollars…give me a break). It was worth it not to have to pay that.

Make sure your lawyer makes it very clear during trial that the manufacturer IS responsible for the work their dealers do. The buck stops with them always.

Ok, I warned you this was long and drawn out. Will I ever sue anyone ever again? No, probably never.

Is our rig perfect? No. Apparently when they had it in their shop that last time, someone took it for a joyride and put an extra 1,000 miles on it and an extra 100 hours on the generator. They also spilled something all over our brand, new pillowtop mattress and left a big, red stain on it. It was filthy when we got it back, with someone else’s urine all over the toilet. (we had given it to them clean when we took it in). Also, our signature sportscoach mudflap that went all the way across the back was missing and the clamps were bent really bad, as if someone had taken it down a rough road and tore it off. Cost to replace it from the company in Indiana that originally designed it: $500.00. We decided to go with some Freightliner mudflaps installed by our local Freightliner dealer, since the chassis is a Freightliner. So, it now has mudflaps behind the dualies and looks fine. They only cost $11.00 apiece and a little bit of labor to install.
The underside of the chassis looked like someone had driven on some very muddy and rough roads, so we had a technician at our Freightliner service dept inspect and lube and test the engine and chassis just to be safe, as we did not know what the dealer did to it.

The dealer blew up our batteries two winters in a row, (they kept leaving the batteries on all winter through -20 temperatures) and this last time they put the wrong batteries in there. So I just spent about 3 days cleaning and painting the battery trays and installing new batteries for the cabin.

We found out, after we took our first trip in it, that the refrigerator does not cool on AC but only propane. So it will have to go to the shop to fix that.
Note: After taking it in to service this, we found out someone had unplugged our fridge behind a service panel. We know this was intentional because we had never had problems with the fridge and it is nowhere near any of the work they had done.

Other than that, it looks like they fixed everything else.

7. Learn your rig, inside and out. Get a good manual and read the manuals for the rig again and again. Check out every single inch of your own RV. Don’t let other people be the only ones who know how to fix it. Learn how to winterize and dewinterize it yourself. Keep all electronics and such clean and perform as much of your own preventive maintenance as you can.

8. Salesmen are liars. Mechanics can be liars. Lawyers will do anything to win. (including lying themselves and encouraging their clients to lie)

Don’t let other people walk all over you, like we did. I am not being negative. Just stating the facts for us. Maybe it could help someone else.

Sorry this was so long! Told you it was going to be complex!!!!

Have a great RVing kinda day….

xoxo

Do You Think Your RV Or Car Might Be a Lemon?

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I wrote this journal entry in early 2009 after learning a LOT about the Lemon Law from personal experience. Hope it keeps you safe.

Here are some links that might be of interest to you. (they all open up another window so you can come right back here and keep reading)

Thinking about buying a vehicle and wondering which ones fail more? This graph will shock you.
Check out Mercedes and BMW!!! (holy crap, is what I thought)
Take a close look at this graph:

http://www.normantaylor.com/images/lemon-law-graph-1.jpg

This lawyer, Norman Taylor, has a Lemon Law book online. Educate yourself before you buy your next vehicle:
READ THIS BOOK BEFORE YOU BUY YOUR NEXT VEHICLE.

http://www.normantaylor.com/lemon-law-book”
He also has an excellent blog here:

http://www.normantaylor.com/blog/

Buyer be VERY aware! This article is written from experience. I cannot give you the full details of my own experience, but I did feel like it was important to tell you where we went wrong so you don’t make the same mistake.

These are things we never really thought about because we trusted our dealership. We are in a unique situation here in Alaska because we have very few dealerships and very little competition. If you live in the lower 48, it is worth it to travel to another state if you just can’t get the information you need.

First and foremost we learned: DO NOT TAKE DELIVERY IF YOU SEE OBVIOUS DEFECTS WITH IT. That was the most important lesson we learned. Just because the dealer had been great about repairing our previous vehicle doesn’t mean squat. Technicians quit, new ones are hired, and new service managers take over. Don’t take the chance they’ll do what they promise. Just don’t. Ask for your trade-in back and cancel the sale until they get everything fixed. If they try to muscle you into taking it anyway because they “might sell it to someone else,” don’t bite that hook. Demand your money back and/or your trade-in. Don’t sign the sales paperwork. DON’T sign the sales paperwork until you have done a thorough test drive and walk-around check. If you did still take delivery of your vehicle, it doesn’t mean you won’t have a Lemon Law case. It just helps you in the beginning before you ever take delivery. The dealer and manufacturer still have an obligation to you to make your vehicle conform to warranty items in the first year.

In order to protect yourself, think in turns of delivery. Where did the car or RV come from? The factory, of course. In the factory, during and after it was assembled, it had a factory checklist of some kind. Those who were inspecting it noted things that were not working correctly or did not look right. A quality inspector then initialed next to those things found. In that checklist, there were notations about whether the broken items would be fixed on the spot or fixed at the dealership.

Let’s say that some items were supposed to be fixed at the dealership. You now have both a transportation document that indicates if anything was damaged in transit, and you also have a dealership invoice.

After that, you have a service document that tells you what things were supposed to be fixed at the dealership before you decided to buy it.

With me so far? We never saw ANY of these documents before we bought the vehicle we’ve been stuck with. If we had seen them? We would have NEVER bought it.

Let’s just say that you buy the vehicle and it starts breaking. And it keeps breaking, and it is out of service more than it is in service. The Lemon Law is there to protect you.

Did you know that you can demand your money back, in the month after your warranty runs out?

While you own the vehicle, keep track of invoices and dates the vehicle went into the shop and came out of the shop. Keep a list of your own of how many times something has been attempted to be repaired. Is it more than 3 times in the first year? You are entitled, under the Lemon Law, to get either your money back or another unit to replace yours.

The Law protects you. Demand your money back or a replacement unit, stating that your unit has nonconformities. Ask a lawyer the best way to do this. He/she will probably send it by certified return-receipt mail. If they ignore you, see a lawyer who specializes in Consumer Protection Cases. Not sure where to find one? We just called several law firms in the area to find out who specializes in these types of cases. The lawyer you see will tell you whether or not your vehicle is a lemon and has a chance in court. Very few vehicles do qualify as a lemon, but yours could if it can’t be sold on the market as it is, has had one or more repairs that have been attempted at least 3 times, and you are just getting nowhere with the service department.

Hopefully, the companies you are suing will settle before you go to court, or they could decide to sit down at an arbitration table and discuss alternatives to litigation. But if you have kept exact documentation, and you have proof the unit is defective and has been attempted to be fixed 3 separate times, you could be entitled to 3 times the price of the item, plus attorney’s fees, if you win the case. The results are for a jury to decide. Every case is different. Whatever you do, if you are in a Lemon Law lawsuit, DO NOT SELL the vehicle or let it get repossessed by the bank. You’ve just lost your case, if you do this. Case after case has been lost this way.

Don’t let the manufacturer’s lawyers or the dealer’s lawyers bully you. They might try to settle with you by offering a ridiculous settlement, but if you can have a tough skin and live through it all – their obligation under the Law is to reimburse you what you paid for the vehicle. Period. And they will try to make you feel you don’t have a case, especially during deposition. But don’t let them win. They’re used to bullying plaintiffs. Ignore them and let your lawyer do his/her job.

You will also want to keep track of people’s names where you tried to get your vehicle repaired because they will probably have to testify in court.

The unit also has to be in such a condition that it is not marketable. In other words, you could never sell it because of all the problems it has.

Another thing you must know if you are considering buying a used vehicle:

The Lemon Law does not apply to used vehicles, at least not in the same way. There are some rights you have as a consumer, so ask a Consumer Protection attorney to help you. And Car Fax services don’t tell the whole story of a vehicle. If the vehicle was involved in an accident that was not reported, you’ll never know it.

There’s also something Mr. Taylor talks about on his website in which manufacturers who have to buy back Lemon Law vehicles try to resell them without full disclosure.

Best bet if you can afford it: Buy new. I know there are a lot of people out there who say buy used a couple of years old because then all the kinks are worked out. You might also consider buying used if your next door neighbor or best friend has a vehicle for sale, and you know a lot about the vehicle. But one of the worst cars I ever owned was a car I bought from a guy I served with in the military who was going overseas. He sold me the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever owned. He never put oil in it, so its cylinder heads collapsed shortly after he sold it to me.

We also bought a car from a dealer for our daughter. Car Fax told us nothing about this car being a previous rental car. It was also a junk car. We found out too late. The dealer preyed on our need to help her get credit and a car so she could drive to work.

Do research on the State Lemon Law in your state. Many of them are very much alike from state to state, but some states don’t recognize the Lemon Law for RVs. So, buy your RV in a state that does. Even if you did already buy a lemon in a state that does not have state lemon laws, you can still sue under the FEDERAL lemon law. Here’s a list of states concerning the Lemon Law for RVs:


http://www.ohiolemonlaw.com/rvll-site/rvll-state_laws.html

Here’s a book you can buy on the Lemon Law as well: (you can get one from Amazon as cheap as 3 bucks)




Click on Book to Order A Copy

Know your rights. You could be getting screwed because you are naive, like we were.

Don’t let someone do this to you. You deserve to get a good product when you pay for it. You can return defective products when you buy them in a store. Why not get your money back or get a replacement for a crappy car or RV or 4- wheeler or whatever? It’s the law. Called the Fair Trade Law. Look it up.

You can also write a letter of complaint to your state’s attorney general. The dealership and the manufacturer could be fined for every act of deception. Read up on the Fair Trade Act in your state and the Lemon Law Statute. Want to research your state’s Lemon Law statutes and Fair Trade Act? Visit your local courthouse. Ask to see the laws or ask where you can view them. It is your right to get what you pay for. Don’t let fear or uncertainty keep you from fighting for your rights.

Go even further. File a complaint with the Fair Trade Commission here:


https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

They don’t work on your behalf to resolve complaints, but they do keep track of companies breaking the law and use the information to prosecute.

And on the other side of the fence, if you’re a car or RV salesman and would like to sell a vehicle by having an edge over other dealerships, have this information available to the buyer.

Whether it is a new or used vehicle you are selling, give them all the information about the vehicle from the time it was in the factory until now. That would impress ANYONE!

Hope this helps you.

Lynne

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