Friday, June 3, 2016

UPDATE: Still at Lone Star RV Center in Harker Heights in TX

Howdy ya’ll!  Mary has been thinking that it was about time to post an update on our situation and as we started getting text messages asking what was going on…..we decided to bite the bullet and try to come up with SOMETHING of possible interest to post about, especially following the news that a truckload of soldiers were lost to flooding waters in Ft. Hood (about 5 miles from our location). Bill figures that everyone should know that neither of us is a soldier and thus not be concerned about us, but just the same we wanted everyone to know that we are OK and dry where we are. Also for those that have expressed a concern about our writing in the third  person it is just a writing style as our posts are not about either one of us, but as to both of us collectively.

To be honest, we haven’t gone far or done much since the last post.  The insurance company of the woman who hit us (Texas Farmers) is paying for 100% of the repairs to the coach which was a >$15,000 cost, so our biggest expense is not financial, just that we are bored to tears and cannot wait to get going again.  The crash took out 4 basement doors, the exhaust system and possibly did some damage to a wheel and tire.  Not sure if there is any other damage.  The bad news is that the doors had to be made to order and the rest of the bad news is that though they have arrived, the work to replace them has been slow to get done. Bill clarifies here that actually 4 doors did arrive but only 3 were for the Driver side where we were hit, whereas the fourth door was for the Passenger side, where we were NOT hit, and they are not interchangeable.  Luckily the fourth in question may be able to be repaired instead of replaced. We'll see how long it will take THOR to re-order that door and get it here in time to replace and paint it while we are still here dealing with all  the other issues. You jay ask yourself "How can this have happened?" Good question. We can only assume that given our experience with their manufacturing, the are simply unaware that the Driver side door will not fit the Passenger side (as it opens in a different direction) which seems par for all the other issues with this coach. In any case it will still take some time to finish the work needed, as currently absolutely no work is actually being done to our coach.

It took TWO trips to Temple Highway Patrol Office to obtain a complete copy of the accident report.  No one was there when we went on a Friday (during office hours) so we had to go back on Monday.  It should have been a simple activity, but as with many things involving government, especially in Texas we have found out, it turned into a nightmare.  The lady that works there was a real B* (totally rude and uncooperative). She gave us a really good idea about what one can expect from the Texas Dept. of Public Safety, which contrasts to the Trooper that filled out the ‘Crash Report’. However that said another Trooper who was only 5 miles away had originally been called, but he did not want to take the dispatch, so Trooper Steve Royal responded to the dispatch from 20 miles away. We suspect that the first one was busy taking a nap. Bottom line, my advice to you is to NEVER get in an accident in Texas.   

We did go for a short hike last week, but the park was too close in to town and there were too many people around to see much in the way of wildlife.  We saw a turtle and a couple of fish.  We both took some pictures, because it was pretty, but not what we really wanted in terms of “excitement.”   There was a short suspension bridge; Bill really enjoys hiking behind Mary. Possibly he just likes the view from back there, or possibly it is in case we do encounter some wild life, she would be the first upon it (LOL).

We also went to the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge (about an hour away) on Memorial Day Weekend, 05-28-2016. Unfortunately, by the time we got to it and due to all the holiday activity again there was not much wildlife to see. We did see a few deer, several birds, buzzards and some sort of a bigger than normal lizard. We wonder how many of you can spot the Mountain Lion and the Eastern Diamondback Rattler in the photos? We can’t wait to get back on the road and go exploring the REAL West. However, the weather has been pretty uncooperative.  We’re never sure if it is going to rain or not and one sure can’t depend on the weather forecasts.  The good news in that regard is that though we have had a lot of rain, tornadoes and flooding water has managed to stay away from us, but we have endured just enough weather to keep us from getting out and exploring the area. 

With so little to do due to bad weather and waiting for repairs we spend a lot of time around the RV and thus we keep finding more and more issues with this coach.  It seems that whenever one fixes one problem another becomes an issue. The most intriguing and unexplainable has been an electrical interference issue we have found exists.  At first the living area TV picture (on roof antenna) would freeze when the lights in the bulkhead across from it were turned on.  Then we noticed that the LED lights on the Driver side wall flicker when the water is turned on and the water pump on, but not when the pump is off.  Oh, and Mary also occasionally gets static shocked when touching the refrigerator handles, though we have no carpet and always wears rubber shoes. So, for some reason the LED lights are causing some interference with the electrical system in the coach and the water pump system is causing a disturbance in the electrical lighting.  This may be similar to what happened when we were having issues with getting the Explorer ready to tow. The LED taillights caused feedback, which caused the turn signals and brake lights not to work properly, proper resistors solved the problem.

After all this, the motor home manufacturer (THOR) had the poor timing to send us a customer satisfaction survey.  The last question in the survey asked if there were any unresolved issues with the coach.  That question generated a 7-page letter to the President, Vice President of Sales and the Director of Costumer Service, listing all our issues with this coach.  Within a week the matter was assigned to a Thor representative who called us this morning and spent over an hour on the phone going over all our issues. He said he will call back tomorrow or Monday to see what can be done to resolve things amicably, but short of them helping us to get out of THIS coach and into a THOR Tuscany (diesel), we are pretty much determined to see if we can trade out of it for a NON-THOR (probably Fleetwood Discovery) diesel pusher so we can ‘climb every mountain’ with no worries of more things breaking down. We have had over 20 issues, some of which didn’t even make the list to Thor, and only half of them have been resolved.  In fairness though, some of the unresolved issues have come to light in the last few days, and they haven’t had an opportunity to correct them.  They will (hopefully) be fixed before we leave here, at least enough to trade this coach in if we can swing it… IF we ever leave the parking lot at Lone Star RV Center.   

Lone Star RV has been great to us however. Whether it is because Bill is a Texas Aggie (Texas A&M Alumni) or because he is a 10-year military veteran, or just because the owner is a retired colonel with a heart of gold, we don’t know. Regardless the reason they have all been super with us. The owner even invited us to his house for a 1-1/2” Texas Ribeye dinner and brought us a large cut of self-smoked Brisket.  They are all retired military veterans who do this work to stay busy, but they are all good at what they do too; so this being one of the very few (and only Thor authorized) good RV repair facilities they stay real busy.  However, today 06-02-2016, it being our first month anniversary since arriving at Lone Star RV Center, we went to HEB (like a Publix) and got them an 8-lb half chocolate and half white cake and decorated it with "First Month Anniversary at Lone Star RV" and added a card that said "Let's not make it two," as a gentle reminder that we are ready to leave NOW. They are all very friendly and appreciated our gesture.

We are also in the process of revising the next phase of our trip.  The time we have spent here has really wreaked havoc on our initial travel plans.  By the time we leave it will be too hot in Arizona to do the things we were scheduled to do there, so we’ll be going further north and into the mountains, basically reversing our original plan, thus coming back on the southern route. 

That is it for now from roughingitgently… the continuing saga of having selected the wrong coach with a THOR motor home, even if it is at the top of their gasoline lineup. Hopefully anyone considering it will choose wiser than we did, learning from our mistakes. IF Thor helps us out to trade out of this 'Lemon', we are willing to stick with another Thor, but neither another Challenger or another gasoline-powered coach. We would go for a diesel, like the Tuscany (which are hopefully better built). Otherwise, it won’t be worth the risk, remembering the adage, “Fool us once, shame on you; fool us twice, shame on us.” 

See some photos of our Balcones Canyonlands Wildlife Refuge visit:

Arriving at Balcones Canyonlands Natural Wildlife Refuge

Can you spot the deer?

Pretty wildflowers

The rustic nature on a part of the hiking trail

Taking a break and enjoying the overlook view of the hill country

Can you spot the rattle snake in the grass?

View of highway in the distance from a perch on the hiking trail.
The view was gorgeous but unfortunately it was a hazy day.

Another view from an overlook with the Colorado River in background

Can you spot the wild cat in the photo?

This lizard was about 10 in. long, but then they say all is extra BIG in Texas.

There has been so much flooding in Texas that most roads
where flooding occurs often after heavy rains, there is one
of these letting drivers know how deep the water level is.
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