It is less than one month into a Canadian winter. And what do we get from Naples Motorcoach Resort and Boat Club?
A warm, effortless level of hospitality greets you at Naples Motorcoach Resort & Boat Club. Our inviting waterfront property sets the standard for treating guests to endless activities, incredible nearby sights, and an unmatched level of service and attention. Rediscover this unique luxury resort in Naples, Florida and indulge in a truly special getaway.
Yes, we do wish we were there.
Instead we are here (this accident turned my 2-hour drive home on Saturday into 7 hours).
KOA announced their 2017 campground of the year: West Glacier, Montana. It does look very attractive and one to add to our list of sites to visit.
“There’s very little I can say that will do justice to the quality of the improvements made to the West Glacier KOA Holiday,” said KOA President and CEO Pat Hittmeier. “Out of all of the very deserving KOA locations in North America that have undergone amazing transformations recently, we believe the West Glacier KOA Holiday is a great selection for KOA’s Campground of the Year.”
The West Glacier website is here.
It looks like 2017 is going to be a good year for the American economy:
Elkhart County is the capital of the recreational-vehicle (RV) industry, with 65 percent of all RVs made in the county, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. And right now, the recreational vehicle industry is doing very, very well. “We’re going gangbusters,” Wes Bogan, marketing director of RV company Thor Motor Coach, told me on a tour of the factory where the vehicles are assembled. The RV industry predicts that 2017 will be a banner year, with manufacturers shipping a record 438,000 units, up 4.4 percent from 2016… RV sales turn out to be a pretty good predictor too: When RV sales are doing well, the economy follows; when RV sales tank, the economy is soon to tank too.
Once upon a time, the national book tour ranked among the major pleasures of authorship, giving reclusive scribes a brief illusion of importance. In city after city, the author was driven by the publisher’s rep to lunches and studio visits with local media figures as well as book signings at major bookstores. Indeed, Marjorie and I met when she interviewed me on a book tour in 1993. But local bookstores and media outlets have withered, and publishers have become lean, mean and parsimonious. Every year over one million books are published in the United States alone, and the average non-fiction book sells fewer than 250 copies a year. Only superstars now get book tours.
We almost bought an Entegra Coach. This one actually:
It was the first one that we saw at the 2015 RV Show in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Loved it. For a number of reasons, though, we went with the Castaway, a Newmar Dutch Star. We do not regret our decision.
So, what does the Entegra coach have to do with Thor Industries?
Thor holds an extensive set of RV subsidiaries including Airstream, Dutchmen, Heartland, Keystone, and Thor.
Earlier this year, Thor acquired Jayco and its subsidiaries which included Jayco, Starcraft, Highland Ridge and, yes, Entegra.
So, how did the stock market react to the acquisition? The chart below tells that story:
I am an active investor but I do not trade in the RV industry. A bit too volatile for my tastes. Obviously the stock market really liked the Thor acquisition deal. Very impressive stock performance.
Entegra owners? Well, let’s just say that they seem a little concerned about some of the changes taking place as a result of the acquisition.
Thor seems to be doing very well so far as they announced at the end of November record results for their fiscal 2017 first quarter. Sales up by 66%, net income up by 56%, diluted EPS up 55% and their backlogs more than doubled over their fiscal 2016 first quarter.
Thor believes that 2017 will be one of the strongest years for wholesale shipments for the industry since the 1970s.
Photo source: Morelo Motorhomes
Having lived and traveled in Europe, I admit that I would be a bit apprehensive about taking a large motorhome out on the narrow roads and highways in that part of the world. That said, there are a number of fine motorhome builders in Europe including Morelo. The Empire Liner, pictured above, is a beautiful coach. Aside from the obvious nod to a commercial bus design, I love the way the mirrors are positioned on the coach.
Here are a few interior shots from their website.
You can learn more about the Empire Liner here.
One of the projects that I have planned for our coach in 2017 is a makeover of the audio video cabinets front and rear.
The front cabinet, located over the driver’s seat, is in dire need of a professional installation, due mostly to poor cable management and poor equipment mounting.
In that space we have the factory issued Sony STR-DH550 AV receiver, two HDMI switches, a Winegard satellite antenna controller unit, an Apple TV, a Bell satellite receiver, a cheap Sony Blu-ray player, a Logitech Harmony IR controller and a couple of cooling fans.
Everything is stacked, some of it loose, and when the coach hits a bump, a lot of equipment moves around.
The rear cabinet, located in the bedroom, is not as bad. It holds an Apple wireless router, a cheap Sony Blu-ray player and, if our son is with us, an Xbox One.
My plan for the front cabinet is to clear out the cabinet, simplify the cable management — audio, video and electrical — and mount everything on a rack. Preferably a rack that I can swing out to gain easy access to the rear of the equipment stack. I also want to maximize cooling in that part of the coach as the interior of the cabinet gets really hot especially during warm, sunny days. I will upgrade the AV receiver as well as the Blu-ray player and the HDMI switches.
The rear cabinet is a lot easier to work on and I have a bit more space for some additional media equipment. I will add shelving in that cabinet as I don’t plan to make as many changes to the equipment in that space.
I replaced the factory issued subwoofer — the cheap Sony unit sounded awful and it was not helped by being placed inside a kitchen cabinet — and I also want to revisit the factory in-ceiling speakers. I would like to put satellites up with better placement for surround sound in our listening area.
This will be one of the first projects I will be working on once we take the coach out of storage in April.
This would not be my first pick for a motorhome. The Action Mobil Global XRS 7200 — is it really a coach? — can price out at close to a million dollars. Given some of the campsites we’ve been to in Canada, I could see where a motorhome like this one might come in handy. It looks like it could easily handle almost any rough terrain.
The exterior design reminds me of a military machine.