So here we were stuck at the Spartan “Resort” for the weekend. What to do all weekend?
Well, it started off with some fun! Late Friday after our dump station run, Mike & Lisa came over to ask us if we would like to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary with them by joining them for dinner. A most definite yes! Charlotte doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of restaurants so they chose to experience a romantic, fine dining experience (well, not really romantic and not really fine dining but it was the only gig in town) at Applebee’s. Enjoyable dinner. After we got back, they invited us over to have a glass of wine on their beautiful new Cornerstone coach. Great evening, great people!
On Saturday morning, before we did anything, we wanted to say goodbye to the couples who were leaving that day. Gary & Leigh, Tim & Roger, Corey & Tammi (actually Tammi had left on Wednesday to pack/close on their house – they were beginning their journey as full timers) had left Friday afternoon. Mike and Lisa headed out early Saturday before we woke up, but we hoped we might see them back at Entegra. Only Stew & Diane and Melissa & Bruce remained but were leaving on Saturday so before we left for breakfast we walked over to say goodbye to them. Jill was still in the hospital so we weren’t sure about Mark’s plans. What a super group of people – a lot of friendships were formed that week! Hopefully our paths will cross again!
After the farewells were said, we headed to downtown Charlotte to have breakfast at the Eaton Place Restaurant. We had been here during our visit the previous year so we knew they had a pretty good breakfast with reasonable prices! We weren’t disappointed.
We didn’t do much after that, at least nothing exciting that I can remember, probably explored the area some more and worked on blog posts.
The next day (Sunday) based on a recommendation from one of our classmates we decided to go to the Gilmore Car Museum, located about 50 minutes away, in Hickory Corners, MI. It was a beautiful day, perfect for a scenic drive through the countryside. After passing through the very small (I mean really, really small) town of Hickory Corners, and several corn and livestock farms, it was a total surprise arriving at the museum with its huge campus and beautiful modern main building. Wow! Entrance to the Museum is $12 per person, seniors 62 & over pay $11. Well worth it!
Set on a 90 acre campus, the Museum houses a collection of more than 300 vintage cars and motorcycles dating back to the 1890’s, vintage structures including a 1930’s service station, historic barns, a functioning 1941 Blue Moon diner, the set from the Disney movie Gnome-Mobile and a massive collection of car mascots aka hood ornaments (an exhibit that has been featured on Antiques Roadshow). Didn’t realize how huge this place was and that we would need the entire day to explore! On this particular day, they were giving driving lessons in a Model T car! So cool seeing them drive around the campus – signs were everywhere telling us to beware of student drivers!
It wasn’t real busy there so in the Hot Rod collection of the museum, we had an opportunity to talk to the curator which was quite interesting. He was able to tell us the history of many of the cars on display. Apparently, the owners of the cars will loan the cars to the museum for up to a 2 year period of time. To get the owners to agree to that timetable, they allow the owners to take the cars to do a show or just to drive it if they desire. I wonder if the cars of today will ever end up in a museum?
With tired feet and growling tummies, we finally decided to stop at the George & Sally’s Blue Moon diner for a bite to eat. In 2004, this diner was moved from Meriden, CT to the museum and was restored. Their menu includes soups and sandwiches, blue plate specials and Chicago style hot dogs which is what we both had. Hit the spot!
It was a lovely, very interesting day. Even though we are not car buffs, it was fun looking at them all. I really enjoyed looking at all the car mascots – there were so many of them in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of them were so big or elaborate, it was hard to imagine them on the hood of a car!
We finally left and drove back to our coach where we spent the rest of the day relaxing and looking forward to the another exciting week ahead (NOT).
To view the photos that we took at Gilmore (be forewarned, there are a lot), click here.
Monday dawned. No routine this week, no continental breakfast, no delicious lunch, no classroom or classmates. We decided once again, to keep the kids with us. In fact, Greg told us we were welcome to occupy one of the conference rooms located next to the training room so they would have the run of the room. Sounded good in theory but when we let Gizmo out of the carrier, he totally freaked out, running around like a little fuzzy maniac. Hmmm, maybe not such a good idea, maybe they would feel more secure back in the play pen. Thankfully it was still cool outside. Over the next few days, we spent our time parked at a table in the customer lounge working on emails and blog posts.
I forgot (with so much to write about how could I possibly forget something) to mention in the previous post that they had done a wheel alignment and had also adjusted the ride height. When they did that, suddenly our intermittent air leak became a constant air leak escaping from one of the leveling valves. The leveling valve was replaced but that wasn’t the problem. The good news was that on Monday AM when the engineer returned from a few days off, they were finally able to identify the issue – we had a defective “ping” tank. Lucky us! This tank is supposed to have two chambers but ours didn’t. Huh? How on earth did that happen? Good for them that they found the problem, but bad for them that this ever passed their quality control inspection in the first place. So on Monday that tank was replaced…leak fixed!
And more good news, the leak in the new radiator was just a clamping issue. Ah, yes, things were looking up! It looked like we might actually be able to leave Spartan and head to Entegra where we had a new appointment for Thursday.
Expecting that the Meritor issue was not going to be solved to our satisfaction, Rob and I spent time over the weekend, talking about it and figuring out our strategy. But thankfully all that effort was wasted! On Monday, we learned that Meritor had suddenly agreed to replace the $7000 gear. Hmmm, is that an admission that they knew they had installed the truck gear by mistake? Guess we’ll never know. The bad news was that it would take several weeks to get a new gear. But fortunately for us, Spartan found a “quiet” gear on a chassis on the production line. Since that was supposed to be delivered somewhere by August 1st, they had to check with Meritor to make sure that they could get a replacement gear before then. It took another day to get all that figured out, but yes they could! Woo hoo! A new gear would be installed before we left.
While we waited, we met several other people who came and went in the service lounge, mostly Newmar or Tiffin owners. On Tuesday, the 24th, we went out to lunch to a local restaurant, The Gavel, with Frank and Karen from Ohio. Super nice couple with a wonderful dog named Zoe from Ohio. Delicious lunch – if you are ever in town, give it a try. Zoe loved everyone and would make each person play tug of war. What a strong dog! Rob and Zoe were so overzealous playing with each other, they beheaded Zoe’s stuffed duck. We also got a free medical screening – apparently Zoe can sniff out certain serious conditions and will get agitated if she senses them. Fortunately we both passed. Wow!
By Wednesday at noon, our coach was ready and we could be on our way! Finally, what a long and exhausting 10 days!
It should be noted that while it seemed like we may have had a lot of problems with our coach during this visit, we were here exactly for the purpose of weeding out any remaining issues and that we did! All by the way, which were addressed and eventually resolved. Furthermore, none of these problems were directly attributable to the coach builder, Entegra. All were either OEM supplier issues or supplier-to-the-supplier issues (Spartan, Equalizer, Meritor, etc.). So contrary to what you might think, this recent experience has actually given us much more of an understanding of our coach, more knowledge regarding the interplay between all of its thousands of components (and their manufacturers) and more confidence than ever in the integrity of our home on wheels.
Next stop back to Entegra, stay tuned!