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Stanmawyer 12-02-2013 10:58 PM

Newbie Progress Report
Time for my progress report.

Purchased the "new to us" 2006 American Heritage 45E in Lewisville, TX. in July of this year. With no prior experience which could help in our undertaking, we set out to bring the coach back to Ocean City, MD. I asked the dealer if we should purchase an auxiliary braking system for the Jeep Commander Limited we were going to tow and all the fellows there said that they never use them. So we didn't buy one. We traveled the 1600 miles back to the Maryland Eastern Shore without incident. We stopped first night at Tom Sawyer Campground in West Memphis, Arkansas. We took the Jeep into Memphis for some great Beale Street BBQ and good blues music., The second evening we stayed near the Bristol, Tennessee NASCAR track. Ate dinner at the Bristol Outback Steak House. We arrived home late on the third day.

Crossing three mountain ranges, towing the 5000 lb. Jeep we averaged 5.2 mpg. Keep in mind that we drove at or over the posted speed limits throughout the trip. (Because we have 600HP, we drove up the mountains at our cruise speeds.) Moreover, I didn't know about the Allison transmission "economy" setting at the time. I had foolishly hoped for somewhat better fuel economy, but then again every four years I hope for a competent congress...

Some observations from that trip:

The VORAD collision avoidance system is worth its weight in gold!!! If I ever buy another coach, it will have this system.

The ABS disk brakes on the coach were flawless, and stopped smoothly even with no assist from the Jeep.

Used every system on the coach except the furnace and everything performed as it should. The prior owner had fully "debugged" the coach.

The 3 speed Jake Brake is truly a brake saver.

The lights in the basement bays are really a nice touch.

The auto-locking bay doors are nice as well.

We washed the beast TWICE in 3 days. Found out that a 45 foot coach has (45x2) + (8.5x2) x 12 = 1284 sq. feet of washable surface, not counting the roof.

Found out that darling wife did not know that she needed to watch out for overhead obstructions lower than 13 feet. ( We BOTH now know.)

Had my first experiences with the dread $100 fuel purchase limit at self service pumps. This caused me to entertain uncivil thoughts about the [moderator edit] station owner, who was less than helpful, insisting that I buy my 125 gallons of fuel 25 gallons at a time. American Express called me to inquire if the bizarre purchasing pattern was actually my transaction.

Found out why Trailways and Greyhound buses go over 75 mph...because they can do it in comfort. 'Course their drivers don't pay for the fuel.

Once home, we camped locally a few weekends with our intrepid navigators...3 Westie puppies. Purchased fencing to retain our puppy inventory only to discover how clever our little Houdinis were at escaping the escape-proof enclosure we designed. Each weekend included a "round up" of the clever little buggers, and adjustments to the enclosure design. Finally, we attained Leavenworth Prison level security.

New observations: Camping (if you can call a weekend in a Heritage camping) is really great. The people you meet are even nicer than my boating acquaintances.

Auxiliary brakes are not just required by law...they are ESSENTIAL when the Obama bumper stickered Volvo pulls out in front of you without even slowing down to look for oncoming traffic. I do believe that my air horn blew him out of harm's way that day.

AGM batteries are expensive. I purchased 5 Lifeline 8Ds for $700 EACH! Another several hundred for two type 31 chassis batteries.

Made reservations to spend 5 months in Naples, Florida at the Pelican Lakes RV Resort.

Purchased the new RViBrake, with remote monitoring of the Jeep's tire pressures and the braking action. THIS IS A TRULY GREAT SYSTEM. (I wanted the SMI Air Force One, but I couldn't get it installed in time for the trip to the Shenandoah Valley and on to Florida.)

Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving, drove in heavy rain and wind to Lynchburg, Va via The Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel, Richmond and Charlottesville. For several nights, slept in the coach with the outside temps in the high teens. The furnace and heated floors worked like a charm!

Left Lynchburg on Saturday morning. Arrived Jacksonville, Fl. around dark, due to several hours of holdups caused by highway accidents. (All were on the northbound side, but the rubbernecking added more than two hours to our travel time.) Stayed in a Walmart for the first time. Nice manager and security personnel there.

Left early Sunday morning and drove to Naples. Checked in at Pelican Lakes, set up the Westie prison, and enjoyed several refreshing tequila beverages.

Total trip was 1350 miles, in all weather conditions. Drove thru 3 long tunnels without knocking the mirrors off the semi trucks passing thru. Brought the fuel economy up to 5.7 mpg. I think the "economy" setting on the tranny helped.

Overall, I really love the American Coach. The factory folks have helped me far more than I have any reason to expect. Before buying this coach, I looked at Newmar, Tiffin, Entegra, Country Coach, Travel Supreme, and Beaver. I'm sure that the top of each of their lines would've satisfied our needs, but now I'm hooked. Barring a profound change in the American Coach quality of production and quality of service, I will remain an Heritage client. (Bought my first Mercedes SL nearly 30 years ago and for the same reasons, I've stayed with them...six cars in a row.)

As the winter progresses here in sunny Naples on Florida's southwest coast, I may have more to report.

All the Best,
Captain Stan

Fate-n-Fan 12-03-2013 04:30 AM

Capt Stan, Thanks for taking the time to write this , I really enjoyed reading it... Looking forward to the next installment ...

Pepper2 12-03-2013 07:41 AM

Interesting read. Anticipate careless drivers and you will be better prepared to react. I was driving down a two lane road and saw a car waiting to pull out at the next intersection. Problem was, the driver appeared to be trying to look around me like I wasn't even there. Hit the brakes and horn at the same time. Sure enough they pulled out in front of me. No accident but scary.

Cat320 12-03-2013 09:45 AM

You might be a guy "With no prior experience which could help in our undertaking" you started off with a top of the line coach. As you probably know, new Heritages start north of $850k. The only way to reduce the big Cummins desire for fuel is to slow down.

MSHappyCampers 12-03-2013 09:51 AM

Congrats Stan! Sounds like you made the right choice in a MH! :thumb::D

greg-1 12-03-2013 01:43 PM

Nice rig stan how about some pics when u get a time !

Stanmawyer 12-03-2013 11:26 PM

Tea Rex...Thank you. Next installment in a week or so.

Pepper2...You are so right. The less we trust in the driving skills of others, the longer we live.

Greg-1... I've really got to learn how to post pics here. Just haven't taken the time. Hopefully by the next installment of my newbie adventures, I will have learned this skill.

Must fly back to Maryland this weekend to pick up the other car and drive it back to Florida.

More to follow...

All the Best,
Captain Stan (under a towering royal palm tree here in Naples)

Stanmawyer 12-04-2013 08:43 PM

Addendum 1 to Newbie report:

Rented a very nice golf cart (Club Car) for the next 5 months...boy these things are fun. This one is "street legal" here in Naples, but my courage level will not allow me to take this toy onto a road outside this resort park. There are A LOT of small white haired people around here who drive while looking THROUGH the steering wheel. Also, their left turn signal is perpetually blinking. I fear they will run over me and my little cart,

Darling wife and I made the obligatory visit to Walmart and made every attempt to stimulate the local economy. Did not see any of the famous "people of Walmart". I did look for them.

Was approached by a professional coach washing service. They washed, waxed, and detailed the 45 foot coach for $275. I was gonna do it myself, even brought my big Porter Cable buffer, but their fair price stripped me of my ambition.

Although my coach is no piglet, we are clearly the "poor relations" here. The coaches which aren't Prevosts are Newells. The passenger cars are all Porsche, Mercedes, Audi, and Bentley. They must've given new Jeep Wranglers as door prizes somewhere near here, since every site seems to have one in addition to the luxury car. I even saw a new Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe. (Costs more than a fully equipped Entegra Cornerstone. May weigh more.). Another curious least 5 of the motorcycles are the three wheel variety, with two steerable wheels in front. They are pretty, plus with the training wheels they don't fall over as easily as my kickstand required.

Although our address is Naples, we are only 5 miles from Marco Island. Marco is charming in that west coast Florida kind of way. It really is an island and is quite laid back. One of the local pubs is called Stan's Idle Hour. Since they named it after me, apparently anticipating my arrival, I intend to open an account there. Understand that any diary entries originating from there MAY be even more incoherent than this one.

Regarding the RV Resort itself: There appears to be a person of uncertain nationality assigned to each blade of grass. This place is cleaner and better groomed than the White House lawn. [moderator edit]

The coach owners here VERY active, running, cycling, golfing, etc. from early morning til late afternoon. Then begins the cocktail golf cart cruising. The carts here (except my rental) are SPECIAL. Several look like Cadillac Escalades, two or three look like Jeeps, and one is a copy of a Dusenburg Cabriolet. (Probably driven by the Rolls Royce owner...). I fully expect to see a chauffeur driven stretch golf cart limo any minute now.

Each Friday there is a BYOB Happy Hour. Heck I'm so delighted to be here, the booze seems hardly necessary. That said, I will carry a beaker of golden colored tequila to the soiree anyway, as it just ain't proper to have these as-yet-unmet friends drink alone!

After a serious illness last winter, I was left very weakened. Now I am trying to build strength and will ride my bike daily. Yesterday, 3 miles, today 5 miles. Gonna try for 7 tomorrow. OK, I know its not Tour de France grade exercise, but its a start. Brought all my tools so I can repair the bike as it wears out when I reach 100-150 miles per day. Put two new tires on the darling wife's bike in case she (foolishly) attempts to keep up with me. Did I mention that I discovered a puzzling and unique weather phenomenon? To wit: no matter which direction I ride my bike, the wind is coming FROM that direction. (Note well that I am not a petite guy, and my upper body creates a sail area similar to an America's cup racer.)

The satellite antennae I installed is working well, but I AM surprised that my DirecTV line up is different than in Maryland. I think I am missing some of the non-local channels I get at home. I also get a ton of Spanish Language programming. I can't understand a word of it, except tequila, seņorita, and amigo.

Signing off from paradise,
Your Intrepid Captain Stan

Stanmawyer 12-04-2013 09:11 PM

2 Attachment(s)
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Attachment 51327

Testing to see if I can load pictures

Newellri 12-04-2013 09:45 PM

How about the name of the park? Look very nice, how long ahead do you have to make reservations? Thanks

Stanmawyer 12-04-2013 09:53 PM

The park is Pelican Lake Motorcoach Resort, Naples, Florida. Each site is privately owned, but most owners appear to rent them out. Try this

All the Best,
Captain Stan

Bad Bolt 12-04-2013 10:55 PM

:dance: Some folks sure are livin' the dream!

If I could swing a such a rig, I doubt I'd worry about the fuel expense. Comes with the rarified air you're breathing. Looks like you sure are having fun. :thumb:

Stanmawyer 12-05-2013 07:42 AM

Bad Bolt,

That ain't no rarified air, it's tequila fumes....

All the Best

Fred1609 12-05-2013 08:27 AM

Enjoyed reading your posts....keep em coming....

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