After our whirlwind tour of Universal, we were ready for some downtime. Time to enjoy the serene lushness of our site at Riverbend Motorcoach Resort in Labelle, FL where we planned to spend the remaining few weeks of November and the month of December. After that our site will be in the rental pool from January through the end of March. We have one tenant for Jan and another for Feb & Mar.
We thought it would be a direct drive from Orlando to Labelle but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. Alas, our relaxation would be delayed by a day as another one of our front air conditioning unit (we have three) crapped out so a visit to an RV service shop had to be added to our itinerary. In June 2019, our rear AC unit failed and also had to be replaced.
An appointment was scheduled by Rob at Southwest Florida RV (SWFL RV), conveniently located in Alva (about 6 miles from Riverbend) for 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning, November 18th.
Rather than facing a very early morning 3+ hour drive from Orlando to SWFL RV during rush hour, we were able to reserve a site at Ortona South COE (Army Corps of Engineers) campground (see our review) which would only be a 30 minute drive to SWFL RV. No problem, we love Ortona South, it is one of our favorite COE parks, so we were really looking forward to our $12 overnight stay there.
Luckily SWFL RV had our particular AC unit in stock and we thought it would be a quick in-out visit. Nope, that didn’t happen. Everything was complicated because we were no longer under the Entegra 2 year warranty so out came our paperwork for our extended warranty. The AC could not be installed until the service center was given approval for the installation by Wholesale Warranties. Finally after six hours waiting for approval we left, knowing that we would have to return for the actual replacement to happen in a few days. That approval came within the next couple of days, so three days later we made the journey back again but SWFL RV is only 6 miles from Riverbend.
The AC install went quickly but prior to our arrival at Riverbend, Rob noticed a coolant leak so he asked the technician, Scott, to check it out. It turned out to be the transmission cooler. Oh, oh, it needed to be replaced, requiring yet another claim and a replacement part to be ordered. We were once again in a waiting game, figuring our next step would be to return when the part arrived, but alas, that wasn’t how it played out. On December 13th, we had to bring the coach in for an inspection of the part, mandated by Wholesale Warranties, to determine if the repair was even required. Once approval was received, on December 16th, we were back again for that repair.
Since the transmission cooler repair would take five hours, rather than our having to hang out in a rather cramped waiting room and having Sparky traumatized, we locked him in our coach house at Riverbend, dropped the coach off and returned to hang out on the site with him until the coach was finished and available for pick up. Well, let me clarify – I hung out, entertaining Sparky while Rob scrubbed the tire marks and other dirt off our painted concrete pad.
Back and forth, back and forth and back and forth some more…boy was that getting tiresome! But finally all of our repairs were done! Even though the repair center was just a few miles away, it’s always such a pain packing everything up and moving the coach in these types of situations. Despite that, however, it was a good experience dealing with SWFL RV, everyone there was very knowledgeable, very professional, technically qualified, seemed honest and super friendly. During the busy winter season, it is usually very difficult to get a service appointment anywhere but even though SWFL appeared very busy, they were able to fit us in quickly when needed. If you are ever staying in the area and need service, we highly recommend them.
On the other hand we are not at all thrilled with our Wholesale Warranty extended service contract. They do pay out, but are very slow to approve and very difficult to communicate with. They were so hard to work with SWFL RV declined to accept direct payment from them, so we had to pay and then wait for a check back. Bottom line avoid Wholesale Warranties, especially if the administrator is Strategic Administrators of Fort Worth, TX. SWFL RV told us Good Sam and Cornerstone extended service contracts were the easiest to work with.
But, wait, we still couldn’t settle in quite yet….Rob had noticed a slight bulge in one of our four remaining Goodyear tires (on the drive axle) which was understandably of concern. We had the other four tires (steers and the tags) replaced with Michelin’s in October 2018 because of an alignment issue, part of which was covered by warranty. After finding a commercial Goodyear shop in the area (McGee Tire Services in Ft. Myers), we decided to bring the coach there to have the tire checked by the experts. Certainly not looking forward to the purchase of one or two (or even four) new tires at over $900 each, but since it could be a major safety issue, we would do whatever we needed to do to correct the situation. Imagine our surprise when we were told that it was just an overlap of the seams when the tire was manufactured so no replacement necessary but to keep an eye on it. Rob says he has never noticed the bulge before so we are still a bit concerned and you can bet it will receive constant vigilance. In any case our credit card certainly appreciated that good news, at least for now. The four drive axle tires (the remaining Goodyear’s) will be five years old next summer and we will probably replace them then. We have been very unsatisfied with the ride, odd wear issues, overall lack of consistent quality and tendency for blowouts with the Goodyear brand. Not to mention the substantial discount available thru the FMCA tire program no longer applies to Goodyear and new Michelin’s will be much less costly.
Between the multiple trips for repairs, it was easy for us to settle into our little piece of paradise at Riverbend. How can you not relax when surrounded by lush greenery, blooming flowers and the sound of gushing water from the fountain splashing in Grand Lake? How could we not enjoy relaxing outdoors in the nearly perfect dry and comfortable weather we had in November (not so much in December – Fort Myers had the seventh wettest December on record). Throw in an alligator lazily floating in our lake and the scene became even more tropical!
Have to say that our landscaping looked awesome, especially after several visits during our stay from New Look Landscaping who performed their regular monthly maintenance, planted new oyster plants to replace a few shrubs that had died and spruced up the beds with new mulch.
And, of course, there was a lot of socializing with old friends and new. Great seeing Bobbie and John, our next door neighbors and Gerry and Gay from Michigan who invited us to a small get together at their lot.
Socializing with the skeeters wasn’t our favorite thing to do while sitting outside enjoying an evening cocktail just before dusk by our fire pit. But it is Florida after all…..
We made our usual rounds of the local restaurants including Alva Diner for breakfast several times and a take out dinner of broasted chicken and the Log Cabin for breakfast and a lunch of meatloaf. It was our first time at the Quart House Restaurant in Labelle where we enjoyed a tasty lunch.
We miss seeing our good friends, Chris and Bob during the summer at the East Greenwich Yacht Club. Fortunately for them (not so fortunate for us) since they clipped their snowbird wings and permanently moved to North Fort Myers, we are limited to one or two visits a year when we are in the area. Over lunch at the Boat House Tiki Bar & Grill in Fort Myers, we had a very enjoyable visit, catching up on all the news.
Fellow Entegra owners, Mark and Cherilyn, drove from their spot at Adelaide Shores in Avon Park, to spend the day with us. A grand tour of the resort and a late lunch of ribs, baked beans, corn bread, cole slaw and cherry cheese pie made for a great visit. At the recent Hershey RV show, they upgraded from their 2017 Entegra Aspire just like ours to a 2020 Entegra Anthem. Fun hearing all about it but I told Rob to not even think about it!
It was our first time getting together with Mark and Sue for lunch at Buckingham Farms in Fort Myers. Mark had been corresponding with Rob via email because he had questions about towing a Honda Odyssey. Since they were staying nearby in Fort Myers, it was the perfect opportunity for the four of us to finally meet. Guess it was obvious that we enjoyed each others company – we arrived there at 11:00 a.m. and didn’t leave the restaurant until 4:00 p.m. and that was only after the staff told us they were locking the gate! Several days later they came to Riverbend for the grand golf cart tour, followed by dinner at the Quart House in Labelle. Fun folks, hope to catch up with them again on the road somewhere.
If you have followed our posts or know Rob, you know that he is not one to sit still so besides all of the back and forth for repairs and socializing, he managed to focus on one of the projects he had been planning for quite some time now. One complaint we have always had with our 2017 Aspire is that the main bathroom did not have a medicine cabinet, only the vanity with a big huge mirror above it. While the look is quite elegant and the large unbroken expanse of mirror a big plus, what a dilemma trying to organize and store everything in the few drawers and cabinets under the vanity.
Our 2013 had a medicine cabinet but not the 2017. You can’t help but wonder if any of the engineers for any of the RV manufacturers ever live in an RV! Guess enough people must have complained because the later models now have a tri-door mirrored medicine cabinet which is highly functional but decidedly not as pretty.
Rob came up with a plan to add two side cabinets on either side of the mirror, that would maintain the original look yet add storage space for those small items typically stored in the bathroom. He ordered the necessary prefinished doors from Entegra and some additional prefinished face frame material from Chase Manufacturing (maker of the cabinets for Entegra). Since Chase doesn’t ship, we picked up the materials when we were last in Indiana (October 2018) and have been carrying them around since then. With all of the boat projects, Rob had not found the time to implement his plan. Further details will be provided in a separate post describing all the steps. As usual, my hubby did a totally awesome job (is there anything he can’t do?) – the two cabinets are not only functional but look like they have always been there.
We had put our lot at Riverbend up for sale over a year ago but there have not been any bites on it. However, during the relatively short period of our stay, our realtor had shown it to several people, some who even came back multiple times to measure things. Hmmm, would someone finally make us an offer?
Before we knew it the holidays were over and it was time for us to leave. Where we headed next? Some familiar places, stay tuned!