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Old 03-23-2012, 10:12 PM   #1
Junior Member
Monaco Owners Club
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 10
Vagabonds for life

Yes, we're new to the forum, but not the vagabond life. I started my vagabond life in a '69 VW Campmobile, followed by an '81 and then an '86. As I was on the plane flying to Omaha, Nebraska for my '86, I realized I purchased each one when it had reached the golden age of 18 years old. Not sure what that means.

Next, came a 25' Fleetwood Mallard bumper pull (new) towed by an under powered 1/2 Suburban (old), particularly after experiencing Colorado’s 10,000 feet above sea level passes. The answer? A 3/4 ton Suburban, of course.

Spring Break trips to Carlsbad, CA soon convinced us that Suburbans and bumper pull trailers, while fine for the weekend warrior, are less than optimal for the long haul. It occurred to me after seeing a 1994 Winnebago Warrior on a Toyota truck chassis (now for sale) that it was the perfect cross between a VW bus and a bumper pull trailer. At that time, my kids were small and my dogs were also small. In fact, the rig itself was small, a fact soon demonstrated by children reaching adolescence and the addition of a new larger, younger dog name Eddy.

All factors considered, the wonderfully perfect ’94 Micro Winnie all too soon grew all too small. Hmmm. I love the rear engine roar of the VW, but need something larger. Of course, the next logical step is a 2000 38’ Monaco Diplomat which I bought a month ago. An overcorrection from a Micro Winnie? Perhaps. But, in the end. I love it. A condo on wheels that runs down the highway better than any I’ve ever driven.

The Diplomat was my third long distance purchase (the ’81 and ’86 VW’s preceded it. When you live in Montana, you are likely to die waiting for the right rig to show up in your town, so getting used to the long distance purchase is a wise idea, at least that’s what I tell myself to justify my RV insanity). My wife, Shannon watched me solo these other adventures and asked to participate in this next one. I agreed. In the past, I have yet to get more than 30 miles from point of purchase before some type of incident. She was tired of stories and wanted to “live the dream” or nightmare, however that unfolded.

We searched long and hard for a diesel pusher within 500 miles (which by the way gets us to major cities like Spokane, Billings, Seattle and Salt Lake, in that order). After much searching and deliberation (please don’t ask how much) we found the Diplomat in Ogden, UT well priced, inspected and ready to roll. Never before did I have the luxury of buying a vehicle long distance that was so well inspected.

As for the trip to pick up the Diplomat, I’m going to skip over important details like; 1) the trip down in our VW New Beetle convertible (soon to be a toad) with two kids and two dogs (the little dogs, Eddy stayed back for training) and 2) a shady craigslist character who sold me a toad dolly with bald tires (yes, on the phone I asked “tires?” and he lied) to get to the heart of the story. You could never guess what happened next.

My kids, Callan and Grace are real troopers. To reward the 8 hour drive with parents and dogs in a VW beetle, I found an RV park at Chrystal Hot Springs, just 30 miles N. of Ogden. After a late start (more skipped story) and a stop at Walmart (food and cups) we arrived at said hot springs one hour before closing on a Saturday night. There was 2 inches of snow on the ground in the campground where we chose a huge pull through site that would hold our new condo on wheels and toad beetle. Unknown to us at this point were two things. First, 30 miles N. of Ogden on a Saturday night, the only thing to do if you are in high school is go to the hot springs. After surveying the sea of kids in the pool, we chose to “hang in the condo.” Second, not all RV parks are paved, a detail that had escaped me in my 3 ton or less RVs of the past.

So, here are the key elements of the story so far.
1. A “new to us” 13 ton motor home with toad,
2. 2 inches of snow covering the ground in an “RV park”
3. Early March in Utah.

For a Sunday morning, the driver of the largest tow truck I have ever seen was in a pretty good mood. He should be, the minimum charge for this winch job is $390. We had used all our creativity and leveling jacks for about 2 hour before his arrival to get our condo on wheels onto some wood planks salvage from a Chrystal hot springs demo project. This made his job much easier and he winched us out in about 10 minutes or less. (I figure that at over $700 per hour including travel time. Thank god for emergency roadside assistance from State Farm).

Back on the road around noon on Sunday, we knew we had only 450 miles and two new tires for the tow dolly (Walmart) between us and home. We arrived home Monday around noon because we’re also smart enough to know, middle aged people with teenagers who have had a motor home axle deep in the mud is about enough for one day.

So, here are the lessons learned:
1. Don’t be afraid to go big. It’s totally worth it.
2. Don’t assume an “RV Park” has driveways in their pull thrus.
3. Don’t “rock” your rig in the mud. That’s just a journey to the center of the Earth.
4. Get a picture of the tow dolly tires.
5. Don’t be afraid of one more night at Walmart. It beats making a challenging situation worse by driving when you are exhausted.
6. Don’t be afraid to go big. It’s still worth it.

So, after 25 years of the RV life, I stepped up to the diesel pusher in a 12 year old rig. It was only a few searches later I found IRV2 and here I am. I’m looking forward to sharing adventures and learning a lot (which I’m sure you have guessed by now, I need).

This week we start our annual Spring Break trek back to Carlsbad for sunshine and green trees. We’ll watch for mud and shady Craiglist characters having learned important lessons about each. If you see a Diplomat with a VW beetle toad, give a thumbs up to your elbows to remind us of how far down the mud can go and to wish us sunshine and tailwinds.

Vagabonds Forever!

Craig, Shannon, Callan, Grace, Rascal, Buddy and Eddy.

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Old 03-23-2012, 10:24 PM   #2
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Wow, that's quite a story! Howdy and welcome to the forum. You're going to fit right in.

Sarah (RVM69), Hubby, and Harry the RVin' Dog
.......2012 Fleetwood Bounder 33C | 2012 Jeep Wrangler

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Old 03-24-2012, 01:07 AM   #3
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Location: Clovis, CA, USA
Posts: 4,738
Some who wander are not lost.
2004 Monaco La Palma 36DBD, W22, 8.1, 7.1 MPG
2000 LEXUS RX300 FWD 22MPG 4020 LBS
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:31 AM   #4
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Location: NH
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Hi Craig, Nice story, bigger is better, I agree. We'll keep a eye out and will give you that big wave. Safe travels and welcome.
Bruce & Nancy
FMCA F280542
2004 Bounder 35E
US Navy Vet.
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Old 03-24-2012, 07:41 AM   #5
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Posts: 1,320
Hello and welcome to iRV2.
2014 Gulf Stream Conquest Lite Model 218MB
2013 Chevy Traverse LT
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:57 AM   #6
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Location: North Carolina
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Hello Craig! Welcome to IRV2, the best site arouind to get information as well as friendly advice. Safe travels.
Brenda and Frank, FTers, Zebulon, NC
Raisin our mixed hound and our cat BooBoo.
2004 37' Holiday Rambler Vacationer
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:25 AM   #7
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Monaco Owners Club
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Columbus, MS
Posts: 19,299
Hi Craig! Welcome to IRV2! It's great to have you join the bunch here! WOW! That's some adventure you had! Anyway, congrats on the Monaco! We just bought ours about a month ago and still trying to get over the shock! Good luck & God bless!
Joe & Annette

2002 Monaco Windsor 40PBT, 2013 Honda CRV AWD
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Old 03-24-2012, 10:50 AM   #8
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Location: Michigan
Posts: 5,590
Wow, that's quite a history. Welcome aboard and hope you enjoy your time here. You should make many new friends here. Be safe and Happy Motoring!!!
Steve & Sally / HiTee & Hudson Our Little Poms / Heidi & Houston Forever in our Hearts
04 NEWMAR MACA 3778 W22 / 05 PT Vert
Michigan (Summer) Florida (Winter)
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:39 PM   #9
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Location: Pensacola, Florida
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Hi Craig, welcome to the forum. Y'all enjoy the Diplomat.
Travel well, travel safe,
2006 Tiffin Phaeton - 2011 Cadillac SRX
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Old 04-19-2012, 03:43 AM   #10
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Welcome and thanks for the great narrative. As others have stated, this is a great site. I have learned much, cried some, and laughed even more.
'10 Forest River Sierra 300RL 5th & 12 Chevy Silverado 2500HD - SK3 70-72 Go Navy!
Georgie-boxer mix, Skippy-Jack russell and Ollie.
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Old 04-20-2012, 07:13 AM   #11
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Great story thanks for sharing it!
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Old 04-20-2012, 02:08 PM   #12
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Monaco Owners Club
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Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 10
If I live to be 100 my kids will never let met live that one down. :-)

Craig, Shannon, Callan and Grace (Humans)
Rascal, Buddy, Eddy (Canines)
2000 Monaco Diplomat, 2004 VW Conv Toad
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