On Sunday morning, we left Joliet and Leisure Lake “Resort” (Not!), headed for Entegra in Middlebury, IN, a drive of about 150 miles. Knowing that we would be sitting in the Customer Service parking lot once we arrived there, we took our time leaving. It was an uneventful and somewhat boring drive on I-80E. It was around 3:30 pm when we finally pulled in. Ah, yes, this would be our home for the next week! Entegra has 10 fully paved, comfortably wide sites with electric hookups only (there is a separate dump station and water fill up area on campus but about a quarter mile away). When we arrived more than half of the sites were occupied. Looks like a busy week!
Traveling and living with pets on a motor home is always great fun until it’s time to have service. What to do with the kitties each day? Normally cats are easier than dogs in that you can leave them for long periods of time and they don’t have to be walked, etc. As long as they have food, water and their litter box, they can exist quite happily without their human slaves.
However, when the coach has to be in a service bay, cats are more difficult than dogs (at least ours are). Can’t leave them on board, too much noise and there’s always the risk that the techs might leave the door open. Putting them in a carrier and bringing them into a lounge area is fine for an hour or two but not an option for all day. Besides who wants to listen to their meows of complaint for hours at a time? And what to do with the litter box?
We have a folding portable Precision “play pen” that we can set up in the back of the van – this is big enough for the two of them along with their food, water and litter box. Although they do not particularly like this option (more meows of complaint), they do eventually settle down and go to sleep but we can only do this as long as it is cool outside.
Another option is to board them somewhere. Not really keen on the boarding alternative since they could end up next to other not so healthy animals, plus the kitties (and their humans) are not happy knowing they will be stuck in a cage all day. One place I called said that she could put them in a room where they could roam around but it would be with another cat, reassuring me it was a very “laid back” cat – ah, no I don’t think so! The only other option we could think of would be for all of us to stay in a pet friendly hotel. If you look at the rates some places charge for boarding pets, a hotel might not even be that much more expensive and would sure as heck be a lot more convenient.
Unfortunately on the second day of our trip, I came down with a bad cold and was feeling pretty lousy. And being the nice person I am, I shared it with Rob so he didn’t feel so great either. At this point staying at a hotel sounded very appealing to both of us despite the cost, so we unhitched the toad and headed over to Goshen and Elkhart to check out a few of the pet friendly hotels. Our first stop was at a Best Western in Goshen. Although the $79 rate wasn’t too bad and there was no pet fee, if we left the room the kitties would have to be caged since someone would clean the room everyday. I could just imagine them being caged and some stranger coming in the room and vacuuming. That would freak them out for sure. So that place was quickly crossed off the list.
In nearby Elkhart (about 30 minutes from Middlebury), the Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites were possibilities but when I called Staybridge it was fully booked. Stopping at Candlewood Suites, we learned that it was more expensive than the Best Western at $92/night plus a $75 (negotiated) pet fee for the entire stay, but most of their rentals are long term so the rooms are only cleaned once a week and they would not enter a room without our approval first so the kitties should be safe even when we weren’t there. Sold! We made a reservation to check in on Tuesday. With that problem solved, back we went to Entegra.
On Monday, we had to meet with the Entegra tech assigned to us (Mike) at 6:30 am. Although we had a long list of items we wanted fixed, most of them were small, snigly, primarily cosmetic things, nothing really major. We had provided the list to them several weeks prior to our visit so they could order any parts or replacements that were needed. After reviewing our list, Mike told us he wasn’t sure if they would be able to get everything done in a week. Oh dear, since we were taking a training class at Spartan the following week, that might be an issue.
Since many of the workers at Entegra are either Amish or Mennonites, their work day ends at 2:30 pm so each coach is returned to the RV sites in the early afternoon so the owners can stay on board for the night. We told Mike that we would not be staying on board beginning on Tuesday so he would not have to bring our coach out to us each day. They were allowed to work overtime that week so keeping the coach longer each day would give them a better chance of completing everything.
In the Entegra Customer Service lounge, we met several other very nice couples but by this time, I had a major case of laryngitis. Do you know how difficult it is to socialize when you can’t talk? Even though my darling hubby was most likely enjoying my silence, he was getting tired of asking me to repeat myself because with my whispery voice he couldn’t hear me. It was also a good opportunity for him to do all the talking!
That afternoon we went to the Rise N Roll for lunch where we joined Lisa and Mike, a fun couple from Atlanta who own a brand new top of the line Entegra Cornerstone and were also in for some minor service. When we visited the Rise N Roll last year, we succumbed to the gooey sweetness of their cinnamon caramel glazed doughnuts – we not only bought fresh ones but we also bought a dozen frozen ones. Our young Amish waitress referred to these as “Amish Crack”! And yes they are very addictive! However we’ve been to rehab, have been clean for months and this time we resisted!
One of the other fun couples at Entegra that week were Leigh and Gary from Pensacola who own an Anthem (next step up from our Aspire). Great couple! Gary invited us over to their coach because he wanted to show Rob a couple of things. We stayed for a bit, having a drink with them but then my thoughtful gift to Rob kicked in and he suddenly felt really sick so we had to leave. Although they were leaving the next day, Leigh and Gary were also attending the Spartan class so we knew we would see them again.
On Monday night, we packed up our clothes, toiletries, kitty stuff, etc. in prep for our move to Candlewood. Funny, any “luggage” or duffel bags we own were back in storage so we had to use a couple of cloth shopping bags and a few grocery bags for all of our “stuff”. It took us almost an hour to gather everything together.
On Tuesday morning just as the clock struck 6:30 am, Mike came for our coach. After chatting with him for a few minutes, we went inside to attend the owner’s breakfast of pancakes and eggs that Entegra puts on every Tuesday morning. Always fun meeting other owners and sharing information. After breakfast, there was a Q & A session with Ted Cook, one of the chief engineers. And once again, we took the factory tour – think this is the 4th time on the tour but since it is led by different people, we always learn something new. On our last tour the new factory expansion was not yet completed, but this time we got to see it in full operation. Fortunately it was cool outside so the kitties spent the morning in their play pen in the back of the van.
Later, we headed over to Elkhart to check into the Candlewood Suites. After a little nervous exploring to check out the new digs, Gizmo and Sparky settled in quite nicely as did we. The room was very nice and very clean with a small, fully stocked kitchenette (full size fridge, a microwave, full size dishwasher, electric cooktop, assorted pots, dishes, utensils, etc.) as well as the other usual amenities including free use of the laundry facilities. A comfortable place to stay although probably not many more square feet than our coach.
On Wednesday, since I still couldn’t talk and I felt worse, we headed over to a nearby CVS Minute Clinic. Initially the Nurse Practitioner, Melissa, made us kinda nervous. She put the gizmo on my finger to measure my blood oxygen levels and became very alarmed, telling me it was 83 and that she wasn’t allowed to treat anyone with a level below 95. I would need to see a regular doctor and perhaps have an x-ray for pneumonia. Gulp! But then she decided to try another finger – whew, it was at 97! Just a bad finger I guess! She also tested for strep throat but fortunately the result was negative. The end result was that I had an acute case of laryngitis. She prescribed something to help my coughing and a gargle to help soothe my throat. Within a day or two my voice slowly returned (too bad, Rob) and I started to feel better. But by now Rob had started to feel worse.
So for most of the week we didn’t do much, but each afternoon we would drive over to Entegra to see how things were progressing. On one afternoon we took a ride over to a nearby town, Shipshewana to check out some of the shops there as well as a campground recommended to us by Lisa & Mike.
Love driving through Amish country passing by all the horse and buggy’s. Don’t know why that is so fascinating but it is. We saw one buggy driving down the side of the road towing a small boat! Couldn’t grab my smartphone fast enough!
By Friday it was time to meet with Mike to review what they had done and what they had found. The good news was that they had finished everything on our list and had completed the PDI, the bad news was that:
- they had found a leak in our radiator which would need to be addressed at Spartan
- when they fixed our unlevel dinette table (it has always sloped slightly relative to the floor), they did an excellent job except they put a huge scratch in the top. An outside company (A1A) that they use for solid surface (aka Corian) fabrication, came to buff out the scratch. Well, the scratch was gone but they did a poor job blending the repair and leaving swirl marks along the edge. There were no swirl marks when we arrived and we sure weren’t leaving with them!
- they replaced our warped cooktop cover (also Corian) but Mike had drilled the holes incorrectly so there was a wide gap on one side and no gap on the other side so it would bind. Plus it hadn’t been buffed and had a matte finish which didn’t match the rest of the more glossy countertop. Huh? What’s with that? Another cooktop cover would need to be ordered, installed and buffed to match the rest of the countertop.
- the replacement for the warped laundry room door came in but it was the wrong stain shade so another set needed to be ordered.
Everything else was done to our satisfaction (or so we thought). Although, it now looked like after our Spartan visit, we would be driving back to Entegra to get these few remaining items taken care of! Not a big deal just more of a nuisance than anything else. Little did we know what was going to happen after we left.
On Saturday morning, we checked out of Candlewood, then drove back to Entegra to get the coach. With no sewer or water hookups all week, we urgently needed to do laundry (or no one would want to sit next to us at the Spartan class) so we drove a short 8 miles to take advantage of the full hookups at the Shipshewana South campground. More on that in our next post!