Lessons Learned

LessonsLearned

After we returned from our first major trip with our motorcoach, we thought about some of the lessons that we learned.

Lesson 1: Be Prepared

Our coach was only a few months old. We were taking her on her first long trip. And we had some problems. Not so much in the planning of the trip, although that part is very important. This is a vehicle that usually likes to travel in one direction: forward. Making sure we had our waypoints well established, particularly for refuelling, was essential.

I had programmed the trip using Garmin’s BaseCamp. I made sure that we had easy access to food and fuel for a trip which spanned almost 3,000 kilometres. Big rigs like ours need big spaces. In addition to our RV specific GPS, the Garmin RV 760 LMT, we carried the Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas. We also carry the Big Rigs Best Bets Campground Directory. The latter includes a list of easy access fueling stations across North America.

Roadside assistance is an essential service. With the engine and tire trouble that we experienced on our first trip, we were thankful that we had spent the money on Coach-Net. The service paid for itself on our first major trip.

Lesson 2: Carry Extensions

Our final stopover before heading home was at the Port Huron KOA. Our sewage hose barely reached and our black tank rinse hose did not reach. We did not bring any extensions. We do have 50-foot power reels for electricity and potable water and a 50-foot reach is more than enough for those services. I thought 25-feet would be enough for sewage and black tank rinse. Not so. We need to bring extensions for our other services.

Lesson 3: Perform Circle Checks

Always, always perform circle checks. If I had not performed a circle check, I would not have caught the sidewall bulge in our front tire. A front tire blowout, particularly at high speed, is going to ruin a good day.

A circle check is a comprehensive inspection of the motorcoach both before and after any trip. I had written a very detailed post about our inspection checklist here. It does seem like a lot of work but it really does not take that much time. When operating a rig that is about 40,000 pounds, the 20 minutes or so that it takes to check the coach before a trip is well worth the effort. Safety first.

Lesson 4: Birds of a Feather

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Petoskey and it was due, in part, to two things: a quiet, peaceful setting and couples at a similar place in life. Don’t get me wrong. We love kids and families with children. That said, we really stand out when we pull our motorcoach into a crowded, chaotic RV park filled with trailers and 5th wheels. The sites are tight with very little privacy. We often wind up shading many of the windows on our coach.

Not at Petoskey. Even though the sites were not overly generous, the overall look and feel was expansive. There were numerous Class A motorcoaches and wonderful couples similar in age and experience. Very easy to meet people and to make new friends.

It is worth our time to seek out these types of experiences whenever we can. We are confident that this will be easy to do once we are snowbirds and going south to places in Florida and Arizona. We have yet to find anything here in Canada. Lots of Provincial Parks and private campgrounds. And most of them fall into the crowded, chaotic category.

Lesson 5: Lifestyle

This was a tough one. Lorraine and I are both very anxious to start our retirement and to get out there with our coach. Getting a small taste of what lies ahead was wonderful. We also found it really, really hard to leave and to go back to what currently passes as our “normal lives”.

There is a time and a place for raising families and careers. We are finding ourselves more than ready to move on to retirement and to travelling in our coach while we are still healthy and still relatively young.

Lesson 6: Take It Easy

Letting go of all the stresses and worries of modern life takes a bit of effort. Having a few mechanical issues actually forced us to be flexible. We extended our stay by two days. And you know what? That was just fine. Everything worked out.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney

Bay View Michigan

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We spent several hours walking through Bay View, Michigan. Bay View is adjacent to Petoskey and includes over 400 cottages — if you can call the building pictured above a cottage — 30 community owned buildings, and a number of other facilities like a post office, park and a sail house.

From the Bay View Association website:

The Bay View Association of The United Methodist Church, a Chautauqua on Lake Michigan, is a National Historic Landmark community founded in 1875. It is situated on 337 beautiful, terraced acres in the northwest portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Bay View is home to more than 30 public buildings, nearly 450 cottages and two inns. Every summer we offer superb music, worship, lectures and seminars, all open to the public.

The community is a seasonal community which closes from November through April. All residences must be vacated during that time. There are hundreds of Victorian style cottages, with many of the owners representing third and fourth generation of families. The camp is listed as a National Historic Landmark district as one of the best-preserved examples of the Methodist Camp Meeting movement.

To own a cottage you must become a member of the Bay View Association. And membership is restricted to Christians only.

A beautiful place to walk. Here are a number of shots from our visit.

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Petoskey, Michigan

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Petoskey is a small town with a population of roughly 6,000 people. Like most U.S. towns, it appears a bit larger from a Canadian perspective due, in part, to the layout of the town as well as the look and feel of the town. In this case, lots of wonderful Victorian buildings like this one.

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The downtown shopping district offers numerous boutique retailers, not a chain store to be found, and a variety of interesting restaurants. Shops like Grandpa Shorter’s and Trapper’s Cabin offer unique gifts and Petoskey stones.

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One of the taller structures in the downtown area is Stafford’s Perry Hotel. Built in 1899, it is open year round and operates as a full service hotel. When Lorraine and I walked around the building, we noticed an outdoor eating area called the Rose Garden Veranda which looked very nice. As a side note, I doubt that the hotel had cellular antennas in 1899. I noticed a number of folks playing Pokemon Go around the hotel. I don’t think that existed back in 1899 either.

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The highlight of the downtown district? Wright Cycle Co. Alas, I did not see any bikes in the shop.

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There is a small park in the heart of this downtown area which offers a pleasant place to sit and enjoy the surroundings.

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A delightful way to spend an afternoon in Petoskey. There are, of course, big box stores a bit farther afield from the downtown area. Convenient for groceries and such however lacking in character when compared to Petoskey’s downtown.