Author Archives: Heather Gebbia

About Heather Gebbia

We are a family of 4 that have decided to simplify our life, sell our home and all of our possessions to live and travel around America in an RV.

Heartland Stands by Ludicrous Lippert Report

There is a famous quote by Mark Twain that says something like “Tragedy + Time = Humor”. Now that 6 months have passed since our Heartland RV fell apart (The Day our Heartland RV Left us Homeless), we are finally able to find some humor in the whole thing, thanks to a silly inspection report we received from Heartland and Lippert (the frame manufacturer).

We found this report so ridiculous that it gave us something to laugh about in this otherwise sad situation. It doesn’t seem like Lippert was able to find a root cause for the RV frame failure, so instead they pointed out ways in which they think we didn’t maintain it very well. Considering we spent a lot of money every year having the annual maintenance and inspections performed I was surprised to hear we didn’t maintain it. It sort of seemed like they were just looking for a reason to blame us like the previous Heartland inspector did.

What do you think? Are these valid reasons for an RV to fall apart?

  • Lippert pointed out that the surface of the couch fabric was worn. Well, we do have a cat who has left scratches on it at times, and we also like to sit on it. We didn’t realize the couch is only for show and we shouldn’t sit on it. By the way, what does that have to do with the RV frame falling apart?
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Don’t let your cat sit on the couch — the RV might fall apart.

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Don’t let kids lounge around on the couch — the RV might fall apart.

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Don’t let cats or people use the couch — the RV might fall apart.

Hopefully using the couch in our new RV won’t lead to a disaster like this, but unfortunately Lippert made that frame as well! Sadly, RVers have very little choice when it comes to the frame manufacturer of RVs we purchase. Most are made by Lippert.

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Who knew using the couch could lead to this?

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  • Lippert noticed that the driver’s side fender had evidence of being taped at one time. One day while driving down the road Chris noticed the fender coming loose. Instead of taping it back on until we could have it repaired, I guess we should have let it fly off and hit the car next to us? And what does that have to do with the RV falling apart? By the way, they also mentioned there was evidence that the large hole in the wall had been taped and re-taped repeatedly. That would be because this unit has been inspected several times and every time someone needs to take pictures, the tape has to be removed. But since we didn’t want water to get inside, it was necessary to re-tape it. Not sure why I need to explain that piece of information, but I guess it’s not obvious to the folks at Lippert.
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Taping the fender led to this hole in the wall by the roof?

  • Lippert mentioned that some of the interior trim had been glued back on. I think most RVers can relate to this — trim and molding tends to come loose on travel days since they don’t build these things well enough to stay together driving down the road. What else are we supposed to do with these loose pieces besides glue them back on? Again, what does that have to do with the whole RV falling apart?
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Re-attaching the interior trim led to this crack near the roof?

  • Lippert mentioned they were unable to climb the ladder due to safety concerns. Really? Chris and I as well as other inspectors climbed the ladder to take pictures. We didn’t know we weren’t supposed to climb the ladder. Is that just there for show?
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Don’t climb the ladder — that’s just for show.

  • Lippert mentioned that we used the RV to travel back and forth across the country. Isn’t that what RVs are for… Traveling? We didn’t know this RV was intended to remain stationary. Why does it have wheels?
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Lots of RVers have these sticker maps — just don’t use this if you have a Heartland. That shows proof that you traveled in the RV and you’re not supposed to do that.

  • Lippert mentioned the RV looks worn. The pictures below were taken the last day we were at the RV before we left it in Maine. My definition of “worn” must be different from theirs because I honestly thought it still looked beautiful (except for the holes and cracks in the walls of course).
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Maybe I’m biased since this was my home, but I always thought it looked really nice.

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So, in summary if you buy a Heartland RV make sure you don’t sit on the couch, don’t travel with a cat that might scratch the couch, don’t tape or glue anything that falls off, don’t climb the ladder and don’t travel across the country. Heartland RVs are not made for that sort of thing.

Chris sent an email to the folks at Heartland to let them know just how ridiculous we found this Lippert report. We didn’t expect a reply but we did receive one from Heartland’s General Counsel. She said: “I would like to discuss with you potential resolutions to this situation. As Heartland’s general counsel, I am in a position to assist resolving this matter amicably.”

Based on that, I naively got my hopes up that finally Heartland was going to do something to rectify this. Once again I was wrong, but I shouldn’t have been surprised because this is so typical of how Heartland has treated us from the beginning. Telling us one thing only to turn around and disappoint us time and again. We were told that Heartland has decided to stand behind this Lippert report and the Heartland report that claimed we hit a tree.

You know, this all could have had a much better ending if Heartland had only cared about a customer needing help. I’ve said before how I used to speak highly of our experience with them. Early in 2018 we had discussed upgrading to a toy hauler by the end of the year, and we were seriously considering a Heartland Cyclone. However, when our Heartland Gateway fell apart and we reached out to them for help, all we got were lies and excuses. Instead of maintaining good customer relations with us and keeping us in the Heartland family, they showed us why we should never own another Heartland. They have also turned us into consumer advocates who will let others know why they should never own a Heartland.

Based on the hundreds of comments and emails I have received in response to our story, I can say for certain that we have spared others from purchasing from this heartless company. Those responses have also opened my eyes to the fact that we are not the only ones to have such a terrible experience with Heartland. Many who reached out to me mentioned how they also have had major issues such as frames cracking, and their rigs are newer than ours. Since Heartland won’t help them, why would I think they would help us?

Remember when American automobile manufacturers had to step up their game once consumers started purchasing Japanese-made vehicles because they were selling a higher quality product? Maybe it’s time someone from Japan started building RVs. Perhaps that would convince American RV manufacturers to step up and build a better quality product. We can only hope!

 

Categories: Our Rig | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

On the Road Again

We have big news! We have a new RV and we are so excited to be back on the road. First I will assure you that our new RV is definitely NOT a Heartland. After our Heartless Heartland disaster we did lots of research and listened to lots of feedback. We decided to go with Grand Design, a company that I know is not perfect because nobody is, but from what I hear they are a company that stands behind their product. So far we are very happy with our choice.

So please allow me to introduce you to our new home on wheels… umm, I don’t really have a name to call this RV. You know what? We never named our old Heartland either (at this point I think we would call the old one “the big rolling turd” — a joke from the Robin Williams’ movie ‘RV’). 😉

I think the new one needs a name; I’m open to suggestions, so please feel free to send any name ideas along. I will do another post later with a tour of our new home.

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Grand Design Momentum

After moving into our new home we headed back to our home state of Florida. We still had annual passes to Disney so we went back to our favorite campground Ft. Wilderness before the passes expired.

Then we went to a new-to-us location, the Florida Keys. Even though we lived in Florida for many years we had never been to the Keys. It was so amazing and beautiful and such a wonderful place to reconnect as a family and de-stress after all of the stress we went through with the stupid Heartland experience.

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Key West

It’s very difficult to get a campground reservation at any of the state parks in the Keys, which is why we hadn’t made it there until now. I was blessed to come across a cancellation for a week long stay at Curry Hammock State Park. Our campsite backed up to the water and it was a beautiful place to spend the week.

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Boys playing ball in the water behind our campsite

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Next we moved to Fiesta Key which is included in our Thousand Trails (Trails Collection) membership. We loved it there! The pool was fun, the onsite restaurant had delicious seafood, and the sunsets were glorious.

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Fiesta Key

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Walking to dinner at the campground.

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Cute Tiki huts for dinner.

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But those sunsets!

We thought it was so cool to see so many iguanas roaming around the campground!

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One day we even got to see 2 manatees swimming in the marina.

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One evening we went to the Sunset Grille for dinner. They have a pool at the restaurant which our kids enjoyed while waiting for our dinner.

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Sunset Grille

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Sunset over the Seven Mile Bridge from the Sunset Grille

We drove down to Key West to do some sightseeing one day.

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Seven Mile Bridge

Jake and I went snorkeling at Sombrero Reef with Spirit Snorkeling. That was lots of fun!

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We loved visiting the Keys and hope to return again someday.

But more than that we are so happy to be back on the road. After our Heartland fell apart we talked about whether we should settle down and buy another house. All 4 of us agreed that we are not ready to stop traveling. We love this lifestyle so much and we were not about to let a bad RV experience stop us from living our dream.

I will have another post to share about Heartland. Unfortunately they have been horrible and absolutely refuse to help us in any way. Since many people reading this might buy RVs I feel I have an obligation to share our experience to hopefully educate others on the dangers of buying from Heartland. In my next post I will share with you the results of Heartland and Lippert’s latest inspection report. It has actually given us a reason to find humor in this otherwise awful situation. The inspection report is so ridiculous that it’s actually funny. It’s hard to believe it was written by “experts”. I’ll share it with you soon and give you a good laugh.

Until then, we’ll be enjoying time with family for the holidays. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Categories: Florida, Our Rig | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Heartless Heartland RVs

I thought it was time to write an update on our RV resolution, or lack thereof. I think Heartland RVs should change their name to Heartless.

If you missed our interview on the RV Show USA you can watch a commercial-free version here:

After listening to that you might think that Heartland would have finally decided to step up and do the right thing. Well, you would be wrong. They absolutely refuse to do anything to help us and for that reason I think they are the most Heartless company I have ever had the misfortune of dealing with.

Since my initial post about our Heartland woes: The Day our Heartland RV Left us Homeless I was quite overwhelmed by the response and number of comments and emails I received from people expressing their support, encouragement and also their own stories of Heartland’s lack of customer service. I want to thank all of you that took the time to comment and/or share our story as well as sending emails to Heartland on our behalf. We are so appreciative of all of you!

I am sorry I was not able to respond to every comment, but I’d like to highlight some here. I was just appalled at all of the people that let me know how they have experienced similar issues with Heartland.

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Another one where Heartland wants an RV towed to Indiana which is unsafe to tow.

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Yes I posted on their Facebook page until they blocked me from posting further.

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We tried contacting Thor and received no response.

Side note: Thor owns Heartland as well as several other RV companies. My advice would be to stay away from any company owned by Thor.

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I’m seeing a trend here.

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Ditto to my last comment.

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Another who agrees that they are Heartless.

This is just a small sampling and does not even include comments from all the Facebook shares. There seems to be more than just a few unhappy Heartland Heartless customers.

Since my initial post our insurance company re-opened our claim and sent a forensic engineer to inspect the unit. He proved it was not the road but was frame failure due to a broken weld and mis-aligned slide. I can’t elaborate on that at this time in case we take legal action.

Incidentally, Heartland still blames us. Just the other day I received a letter from Trailer Life Magazine. I took some of your advice that I should send them our story. They received a response from Anthony Roberts at Heartland explaining why this is not their problem. By the way, Anthony Roberts (anthony.roberts@heartlandrvs.com) was the guy I mentioned in my first blog post who lied to us about sending an inspector from Lippert. His letter was quite long so I won’t quote the whole thing, but he did say this: “It was determined that this was related to impact damage causing the twisting of the frame. One conclusion we gave was possible the unit went off the road twisting the frame and in conjunction impacting a tree limb causing the damage to the side of the unit.

Wow! Still blaming us… sad.

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Heartland’s inspector didn’t even notice the issue that the forensic engineer discovered. Could it be because he was sent there for the sole purpose of coming up with a conclusion as to why this is not Heartland’s responsibility? All he could come up with is that we went off the road and hit a tree?

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I agree, what kind of business sense is there in letting this get so public?

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Believe me, I wish we had hit a tree! What possible motive would we have to deny that? An insurance claim would have been much simpler if we had had an actual incident on the road that caused this. We are honest people though and are not about to lie to an insurance company and claim we hit a tree when we didn’t.

But the good news is that on 9/20/2018 Heartland said they’re launching an initiative to boost quality and service. You can read all about it here: Heartland RV launches initiatives to boost quality, service. When I read that I thought “oh good, they can start by helping us, right?” Wrong!

Here is a snippet of some of the quotes from the article:

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Isn’t that nice? Heartland President Chris Hermon says he recognizes the need to be accessible to customers. I wonder why he hasn’t bothered to respond to any of my countless emails to him. If you feel like sending him a note here is his email, but don’t expect an answer: chris.hermon@heartlandrvs.com.

And Jim Fenner was quoted in the article about having an obligation to stand out and be leaders in the areas of customer service. Hmm, we haven’t noticed any of that “customer service”. His email is fennerj@heartlandrvs.com if you feel like reaching out.

They posted that article on their Facebook page and I decided to comment on it, but guess what? My comment was deleted and I was blocked from posting anymore on their page. A friend of mine who also owns a Heartland did the same thing and her comments were also deleted and she was blocked. We decided to let some friends know how we had been blocked from Heartland’s Facebook page, so several of them decided to comment on our behalf. I’m sure you see where this is headed… yup their comments were also deleted.

So if you are relying on Heartland’s Facebook page to find out if their customers are happy, you’re only getting one side of the story. Negative comments are deleted.

In addition to their article claiming quality and customer service, their website advertises this:

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Their definition of “longevity” must differ from mine because an RV that only lasts 3.5 years does not meet that standard.

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Several people commented to say we should contact Lippert since they make the frame. Below is the response we got.

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Email reply from Lippert.

We have no idea what is meant by “the course of action that is to take place”, but notice who is in the Cc: line? Our good friend Anthony Roberts is at it again!

Some have asked if we have an extended warranty. The answer is yes we do. Our dealer in Jacksonville, FL, Dick Gore’s RV World sold it to us. However, we regret purchasing that because it has been useless. They don’t cover much of anything, and especially not something like frame failure.

Thank you to everyone who offered other pieces of advice like hire a lawyer, file complaints with the attorney general, BBB, NHTSA, Trailer Life, etc. We did all of that so far except hire a lawyer. We have consulted with a couple of lawyers and are still undecided about whether or not to move forward with that. There would be a lot of time and expense involved which is probably why so many people don’t bother. That means the big companies such as this one get away with this nonsense because it’s so difficult for the little guys to fight them.

These past 3+ months have been so stressful and have really taken a toll on our family. I have had so many sleepless nights and felt sick over this for too long. There is a huge part of me that just wants to “let it go” and move on with our lives. I’m so tired of the emotional energy this is taking.

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If we choose not to pursue legal action this RV will most likely be hauled off to a junk yard in the near future. If any of you would like to go pick it up and put it on a lowboy trailer as suggested in the comments above, please feel free. While you’re at it, please take it to the Tampa RV Show in January. It would be an effective advertisement on the shoddy workmanship of Heartless RVs at one of the biggest RV shows in the country.

If we do decide to just let this go and move on, that doesn’t mean we can’t keep sharing our story. We want to warn as many people as possible against purchasing from this Heartless company or anything made by their parent company Thor. My first blog post was seen by well over 30K viewers. Please do me a favor and share this one too. Let’s get the word out to stay away from this company.

In closing, I don’t want all of my blog posts to be about this negative experience we are having with Heartland. Recently the 4 of us watched our Nomadiversary videos from our 3 years on the road and reminisced about why we live this way. We love the RV lifestyle and we love seeing this beautiful country we live in. We have had a temporary setback. This video right here shows the good stuff. This right here is why we do this, why it’s worth it and why we’re anxious to continue on with this incredible lifestyle. I also love the song If Today Was Your Last Day. I got to thinking, if today was my last day I certainly wouldn’t be wasting any more time on this Heartless company. I hope you enjoy this video of our 3rd year on the road and let it be a reminder that the RV lifestyle really is good in spite of bad companies.

Thank you for watching and listening. I hope to resume posts about our travels again very soon. 🙂

UPDATE: an update to this post can be viewed here: Heartland Stands by Ludicrous Lippert Report

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We’re Going to be on a Radio Show

This is just a quick post for anyone who is interested in updates about our RV disaster. We still have no resolution from Heartland, but we are being heard by the RV community. The RV Show USA invited us to be on their show to tell our story. RV consumers are getting pretty tired of the poor quality of RVs that are being manufactured these days and the lack of customer service. This show is calling the manufacturers out on that.

If you feel like tuning in to listen to the show, here are the details. The show airs live Wednesday night, October 10th at 8pm EST. It’s a 2 hour show and we will be on during the 2nd hour which starts around 9pm EST. It will also be recorded so you can listen at another time if you would like. To watch the show visit the RV Show USA Facebook page or the RV Show USA website  or the RV Show USA YouTube Channel.

This is a quick video promo for the show.

 

Categories: Fulltime RV'ing, Our Rig | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Prince Edward Island

We love books and I like to try to have family story time in the evenings as often as possible. Several months ago we began reading Anne of Green Gables which is based on the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. The real name of the town is Cavendish and if you visit that town you will have the pleasure of seeing many attractions all based on the book.

Naturally we went to visit the Green Gables house.

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If you are familiar with the story you might recognize the names of these walking trails around the house: Haunted Wood and Lover’s Lane.

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Haunted Wood

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They even had characters from the book dressed up in costume walking around playing their parts.

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Anne, Gilbert Blythe and Diana

We also went to visit the cute little Avonlea Village.

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Cow’s Creamery has been voted the best ice cream in Canada. Of course we had to try it out to make sure, and we all agreed it’s quite good, maybe it really is the best in Canada.

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While in PEI we stayed at a beautiful VRBO vacation rental. It was right on the water and had an amazing deck!

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We all loved hanging out on this deck and enjoying the view. Jake enjoyed some Raspberry Cordial (another treat based on Anne of Green Gables).

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That wraps up my posts about our visit to Canada.

Soon I hope to post an update on the RV situation. We’re still dealing with that 3 months later. Sigh!

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Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

A long time friend of my parents has a home on Cape Breton Island that he only uses part time. When he heard about our RV situation and having to cancel all of our campground reservations, he graciously offered us the use of his home for a few days while we visited Cape Breton with my parents. We are so grateful for his kindness and generosity!

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The highlight of our time on Cape Breton was driving along the Cabot Trail and stopping at several of the beautiful view points.

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What a gorgeous drive! If you go there be aware that it is a very long drive around the entire Cabot Trail. It took us several hours to make the complete loop. It was stunningly beautiful and definitely worth the trip, but kids tend to get a little bored on long drives like that. Don’t ask me how I know this. 😉

The next day we went to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site where we traveled back in time to the 1700s to tour the fort and reconstructed French town.

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The house where we stayed had no cellular signal at all which in a way was kind of nice. It gave us a chance to unplug in the evenings and play games. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from the distractions of smartphones and computers.

This wraps up my posts about our time in Nova Scotia. Next up I’ll write about our visit to Prince Edward Island.

 

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Learning Family History in Nova Scotia

My Dad is from Nova Scotia so we had a great opportunity to learn some family history on his side of the family while we were there.

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Dad has a very interesting history that makes me think about how if certain events hadn’t happened in his past, my sister and I wouldn’t exist and therefore neither would Jake and Jesse. It’s kind of mind boggling when you think about how past events determine what today looks like.

My grandfather was a coal miner in Springhill, Nova Scotia. He was one of the survivors of the 1958 Bump. My sister wrote a really good book about it if you are interested in the story: Song of Springhill. This is actually a 2-book set, one is the non-fiction historical account and the other is a fictionalized story.

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After surviving the bump, my grandfather (known as Dado to us grandkids) decided he was done with coal mining so he moved with my grandmother and father to Boston, MA. If he hadn’t moved to Boston my dad would not have met my mom and I wouldn’t exist. Isn’t it weird to think of stuff like that? We had a great time showing the kids the Springhill Miners Museum and the plaque honoring their great-grandfather.

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It’s a tradition whenever we’re in Springhill… someone has to sit on the Liars’ Bench

Going back a little further in history we visited the town of Pictou, the birthplace of New Scotland. We toured the museum of the Hector which is the ship that sailed from Scotland to what is now called Nova Scotia. One of my great great (not sure how many greats) grandfathers sailed over on that ship.

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Jake is pointing out one of the passengers whose last name was MacKay. At some point the family name was changed to McKay.

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While visiting this area we stayed with my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Gerald at their beach cottage.

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We had our own private bunk house!

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Fat Cat liked chasing the birds.

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The beach and sunsets were beautiful!

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My parents kissing in front of the sunset

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Skipping rocks at high tide

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We had a great time hanging out with Joyce & Gerald and relaxing at the beach. Chris misses his early morning coffee talks with Joyce and I’m missing our evening happy hours.

This last picture was not taken in Nova Scotia, but I just don’t know where else to include it. This is my cousin Janet and her husband Steve. While we were stranded in Calais, ME we drove up to visit them one evening in New Brunswick. They showed us such wonderful hospitality and gave us a much needed break from the stress we were dealing with in Maine with the RV. I was hoping to see them again while we were in Nova Scotia but it didn’t work out. I’m glad we were able to at least have this time with them.

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Nova Scotia: Peggy’s Cove

We visited so many places in Nova Scotia that I will have to split up my posts so they are not too long. We started in the town of Tantallon near Peggy’s Cove. While we were stranded in Maine with RV troubles I knew we needed to get to Canada before my parent’s planned arrival so I began searching for hotels to stay near Peggy’s Cove. I reserved a pet-friendly hotel online only to have the owner call me 30 minutes later to let me know we could not stay there with a cat. However, she was the most helpful and friendly hotel owner ever! She told me she thought we would be happier in a house than a hotel room and she told me she would find me a vacation rental home for us to stay in with a cat. The next morning, true to her word, she got me in touch with a property manager who had a VRBO home we could stay in. I was so amazed by this woman’s generous and helpful spirit! And the property manager was just like her, he was so nice and accommodating and was so excited for us to stay in this rental home that they had just finished renovating.

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Our VRBO home in Tantallon, Nova Scotia

This rental home was so cute and we loved our stay there! Considering we live in an RV this was way too much space for us. There was a 3rd bedroom that we did not even use. The property manager was so nice to us and called me a few times while we were on our way there, asking how our trip was going. He also wanted to let me know the house is ready and he left us a bowl of fresh fruit. The next day he came by and gave us lots of advice about local places to visit and he brought us a bag full of mussels twice during our stay! In addition, the property owner (not the same guy as the property manager) who makes his own wine brought me several bottles of wine during our stay. He was a true Italian and just loved Chris since he’s Italian as well. I could not believe the excellent hospitality we experienced while we were there.

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Our back yard!

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Next door was a church and cemetery. Chris thought that was creepy but I thought it was so interesting. I enjoyed walking around reading the gravestones and imagining the life stories of each person buried there.

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The reason I mention so much about how kind and generous people were to us is because it seemed we were experiencing the most unusual “above and beyond” customer service. Since we were going through a very difficult time with the loss of our RV home and the uncertainty of our future travels, I was in a very emotional state. I mean the littlest thing could set me off to crying. I felt like God was placing just the right people into our lives at just the right time to bless us and show us that He is still there and He is taking care of us. The kindness and generosity of strangers during this time just meant so much to me.

Peggy’s Cove was a place I really wanted to visit and it sure was beautiful! First we drove a little past Peggy’s Cove and parked by a trailhead on the side of the road. We followed this trail to a rocky coastline and enjoyed the views and climbing on the rocks.

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This hiking trail was so gorgeous and uncrowded. After that we drove to the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse where most of the crowds go. We were there in the evening so it wasn’t too bad.

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We met a super nice couple there who offered to take a family picture for us. They were so sweet and I wish we could have spent more time with them.

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Once my parents flew into Halifax, they stayed with my cousin Peter and his wife Cindy. They came out to see us the next day and we all visited the cute little town of Lunenburg.

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Afterward they all came back to our place and Chris made everyone a delicious dinner. We loved our time in that cute little rental cottage and so appreciated the excellent customer service we received there.

Next we moved onto my aunt and uncle’s place on the beach in Port Howe. I’ll write about that next.

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Acadia National Park

If you missed my last post about how our travels came to an end after Acadia, you can view that here: The Day our Heartland RV Left us Homeless. That happened 2 months ago and we’re still going back and forth between Heartland and insurance, trying to get some resolution. Anyway, I thought it was about time I get my blog caught up on the travels we did in Maine prior to our disaster.

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Acadia National Park was incredible! It was so nice to get back to hiking in a national park. Our east coast travels have been fun, but we sure are missing the abundance of national parks out west. Acadia was a little like being back out west, but with a New England vibe if that makes any sense.

The Mount Desert Island/Bar Harbor side of Acadia is the busiest so we tried to plan our sightseeing on weekdays and early mornings. One day we drove the main park loop road and stopped off at several viewpoints.

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This would have been impossible on a weekend since there is very limited parking. On the weekend you can ride a free shuttle around the park, but those are also very crowded.

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Thunder Hole

Thunder Hole is supposed to be really cool during high tide. Unfortunately it was low tide when we were there, but still pretty.

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We loved walking and climbing on all the rocks and checking out the little tide pools.

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On the weekend we drove to one of the quieter sides of Acadia to see the Bass Harbor Lighthouse and do a couple of hikes.

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Bass Harbor Lighthouse

After visiting the lighthouse we parked at the Ship Harbor Trail Head and began a short hike to the ocean where we walked on the rocky coast for most of the day. We hiked back on the Wonderland Trail that ends back at the road just about a quarter mile from where we parked making it a loop.

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Jake put together a pile of seaweed on a rock and then made a home for some snails. He carried that around for a good part of the afternoon and named it “Fly, Poop and Eat”. He came up with that because he flew the “snail home” around with his hands, watched them eat seaweed, and later noticed their poop on the seaweed. 🙂

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I loved these colorful rocks!

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The next day we rode the shuttle from the campground to Bar Harbor. From there we took the shuttle to Sand Beach and hiked one of our favorite hikes ever, the Beehive Trail. This trail is a challenging uphill hike, with lots of climbing up ladders and steps. It is not recommended for small children or anyone afraid of heights as it can be very steep and some narrow pathways with steep drop-offs. If you like that sort of thing though, you will love this hike!

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Climbing the side of a cliff

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I was a little nervous about crossing this thing!

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How about a family picture on the side of a cliff?

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More climbing

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The climb was worth this view!

After that hike we took the shuttle over to Jordan Pond for a hike around the pond.

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A long stretch of this hike had a wooden walkway that the kids thought was fun to walk on.

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Lots of people told us that we must have popovers at Jordan Pond House while we were there. I know it must be popular because you have to have a reservation to have tea and popovers. We didn’t have a reservation so we didn’t get to try the famous popovers — maybe next time!

In Maine there are lobster pounds everywhere and if you buy them live they are pretty cheap. Chris got a couple of lobsters for Jake and me (Chris and Jesse don’t like them). He brought home these 2 live lobsters and set them on the floor to see what Fat Cat would do. She walked in the room and walked right by them, not even noticing them at first. Suddenly she looked down and then jumped in the air as she realized they were alive. It was so funny to see her reaction, I wish I had a video.

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So, the hard part about buying live lobster is you have to cook them. I know, that seems pretty obvious, right? Well I’m not a fan of killing animals. I’m not a vegetarian or anything, but if I’m going to eat meat, I guess I prefer not having to see the animal alive first. I felt so bad having to put these things in the boiling pot of water. I did what my aunt said she does, I pet each one on the nose and thanked them for sacrificing their lives so Jake and I could eat. I know, I’m weird, but I think from now on I’ll let someone else do the cooking. That was a little traumatic for me, not to mention what it was like for the poor lobsters. At least they tasted good!

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After a couple of weeks in the Bar Harbor area, we moved to another quieter side of Acadia, Schoodic Peninsula and stayed at the Schoodic Woods Campground (the campground that will be forever etched in my memory as the last place we stayed in our beautiful home on wheels before it fell apart on us).

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Schoodic Peninsula is so beautiful and it definitely is quieter. I rode my bike along the bike trails and the park loop road. I don’t usually like riding on main roads, but this road was not busy at all. I think only about 5 cars passed me the whole time.

Hanging out at Schoodic Point in the evenings was lots of fun.

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I loved watching the waves crash against the rocks!

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We loved our time in Acadia, and had planned to return after Canada. There were a few other things we wanted to do there including watching the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain (the first to see the sunrise in the U.S.), and hiking the Bar Island Trail at Bar Harbor at low tide. Unfortunately the rest of our northeast plans had to be canceled so we will just have to put all of those things on the itinerary for another time.

Next I will write about all the things we did in Canada after we left the RV in storage.

Categories: Maine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Day our Heartland RV Left us Homeless

It has been a long time since my last post and a lot has happened since then, but quite frankly I haven’t had the heart to share this until now. Usually I’m sharing beautiful pictures of the amazing places we have been. It’s really hard to share a post like this instead. I’ll warn you — the pictures aren’t pretty.

Our living and traveling in our beloved home on wheels came to an abrupt halt last month on a lonely stretch of highway in rural Maine. We had just finished visiting Acadia National Park which I haven’t had a chance to blog about yet. I will eventually, but first…this:

We noticed another stress crack in the sidewall of the RV. If you remember we had one of these repaired back in 2016. I sent the pictures to our contact at Heartland to ask for help since he helped us find a place to have the first crack repaired a couple of years ago.

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My Heartland contact never answered me so we talked to some repair centers near us in Maine and although none of them could fix it for us, they said we should be fine to wait until we could find a repair center in Canada where we were headed next.

We left Acadia and headed towards Canada where we had planned to spend a few weeks exploring and visiting family up there. My parents were flying up to meet us in Nova Scotia.

The roads in Maine were pretty rough and bumpy and after several miles of that we stopped at a rest area. Someone pulled in after us and said that he had been behind us for several miles and he thinks something is wrong with our trailer. He said our trailer shifted to the side and the wheels didn’t look quite right. Chris looked around and noticed the wheels protruding out too far on the driver’s side and the frame looked bent.

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Frame shifted to side and wheels protruding.

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Frame shifted to side and wheels protruding.

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Bent frame.

We also noticed the crack in the sidewall had gotten worse and we had 3 new cracks on the opposite side!

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Passenger side crack.

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Passenger side crack.

Chris broke the bad news to me that we weren’t going to make it to Canada and we just needed to find the nearest campground so we could figure out what to do. We called Good Sam Roadside Assistance, but they were not able to send someone to help us. They actually told me that if we can’t tow it neither can they. Well, we couldn’t very well live at the rest area so we had no choice but to move on. So I searched on my phone and found the nearest campground in Calais, ME called Keene’s Lake Family Campground. It was about 30 miles away so we put on the hazard lights and drove slow. By the time we got to the campground the initial crack had gotten so much worse that the roof was starting to separate.

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Passenger side crack with roof separating.

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Passenger side crack gets worse each time we move it.

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I know the passenger side crack is pretty bad which is why I share the most pictures of that one, but I don’t want to ignore the other 3 cracks on the opposite side of the RV.

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Driver’s side crack #1.

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Driver’s side crack #1.

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Driver’s side crack #1 interior.

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Driver’s side crack #2.

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Driver’s side crack #3.

The campground owners were very accommodating and kind to us while we were there, letting us stay as long as we needed while we sorted things out. Once we were set up in a campsite and opened the slides we noticed further damage on the inside: the crack goes all the way through to the kid’s bedroom, paneling fell off the ceiling, a wall separating in the kid’s room as well as the floor separating in their bathroom.

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Passenger side crack interior.

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Bathroom floor and kid’s bedroom floor separating.

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Bathroom floor and kid’s bedroom floor separating.

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Bathroom floor separating exterior.

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Bathroom floor separating exterior.

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Kid’s bedroom wall separating.

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Kid’s bedroom wall separating (close-up).

Chris called our insurance provider to file a claim. They sent someone out a few days later to take pictures and inspect the unit. Unfortunately they did not cover the damage because they said the damage is due to “frame failure” which is a manufacturing defect. I guess rough and bumpy roads should not cause an RV to literally fall apart without there being a weakness somewhere in the build of the unit.

I started conversations with the manufacturer Heartland to see if they would help. Heartland only offers a 1 year warranty and our unit is 3.5 years old. Still, I had hoped that since there was such extensive damage to a relatively young RV that Heartland may step up and do the right thing. I had wrongly hoped they would agree that an RV they built should not fall apart after just 3.5 years.

My initial conversations with an employee at Heartland ended with this email:

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He said this has nothing to do with manufacturing but he thinks something was “drug down the top of the sidewall”. Well, if that was the case then our insurance provider might have covered it. Then there would have been an actual incident that caused this. However, this explanation makes no sense because it does not take into consideration all the cracks on the opposite side of the RV and the interior walls and floors separating. So we did not just go away with this explanation as I’m sure they hoped we would. After pushing them further, 2 employees at Heartland said they would send someone to inspect the unit.

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Email asking me for the unit location so a frame vendor can come to inspect it.

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Email from our selling dealer letting me know someone is coming to inspect it.

Well it turns out they lied about sending someone to inspect it because about a week later I spoke with Anthony Roberts (from 2nd email) on the phone and he told me he does not believe anything is wrong with the frame and he will not be sending anyone to inspect it.

Chris decided to contact him after that to which he replied that they would inspect the unit if we bring it to them in Indiana. Seriously?

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Email telling us to bring it to Indiana if we want it inspected.

We had previously told them the unit is unsafe to tow. We had to move the RV from a campsite to a storage area within the same campground and in doing so some of the cracks got worse and the hole in the side opened up even larger. Also one of the slides doesn’t even go in correctly anymore. Do they really want us driving this down the road??

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Slide goes in at an angle.

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Slide goes in at an angle.

Does Heartland really think it is reasonable to ask us to tow this all the way from Maine to Indiana? Do they really want that liability on their hands if we were to have a serious accident on the way?

Anyway, after informing Heartland that I would be publishing this story on social media, they finally decided to send someone to inspect it. But guess what? The inspector was a paid employee of Heartland and so I’m sure you can guess how that turned out.

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Notice that this inspection is for the “Benefit of Heartland”

Here is a picture from the inspection report basically claiming that we hit a tree.

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This totally disregards the fact that the crack was there in June long before our incident in July on the road when the unit just basically started falling apart. We did not hit a tree or anything other than maybe pot holes in the road. This sidewall crack was already there before we moved from Acadia. On that drive the crack got so much worse and the roof began to separate. The inspection report also totally disregarded the 3 cracks on the opposite side of the RV. He didn’t even mention those! Obviously that’s what happens when a manufacturer sends their own guy out to inspect a unit. Whatever it takes to swing it in their favor!

I used to give positive feedback about Heartland because we experienced great customer service through them in our first year. You may remember I blogged a couple of years ago about a previous crack we had in the sidewall and how Heartland took care of us and helped us find a place to have it repaired: RV Repairs in Louisiana. Back then I was so impressed with how Heartland took care of us when our selling dealer (Dick Gore’s RV World)  in Jacksonville did not.

I didn’t realize when I used to praise them for their great customer service that it only lasted while we were under the 1 year limited warranty. I guess they don’t care about keeping customers for life. We had been looking into upgrading our RV to a toy hauler at some point, and had considered another Heartland. Not anymore — now we will never buy another Heartland because we know from experience that they do not stand behind their product. We will also discourage anyone we know from purchasing a Heartland.

I realize that not every Heartland will fall apart the way ours has, but wouldn’t you like to know when you buy an RV that the manufacturer stands behind their product when something this extraordinary happens? Even though we are well past the 1 year warranty, if they were a company that cared at all about maintaining customers for life they would have done something to make this right. The frame should really have a longer warranty than 1 year anyway — I mean who buys an RV and doesn’t expect it to last longer than 3-4 years?

Unfortunately many RV manufacturers have a reputation of making poor quality units, but I have been researching and asking other RV friends for feedback to find out if there is any manufacturer who truly stands behind their product. I have been consistently hearing great things about Grand Design. All of my RV friends that have a Grand Design rave about their excellent customer service. Perhaps our next RV will be a Grand Design and if so, hopefully we will experience much better customer service with them than we did with Heartland.

So, that’s the story of our life for the past month or so. The good news is we were able to make it to Canada. We moved all of our stuff out of the RV and into a storage unit and then stored the RV at the campground.

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Our last night we spent in the RV. Still smiling and looking forward to seeing the grandparents in Canada.

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Fat Cat hid in a moving box to make sure we didn’t forget her. 🙂

We met up with my parents in Nova Scotia and visited several places with them while staying in VRBO rentals and with friends and relatives. It wasn’t quite the same as having our home on wheels, but we made the best of it.

After a vacation in Canada with my parents we headed back to Maine, loaded everything we own into a Uhaul trailer and headed south to regroup and start over.

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We came to Maine with our home on wheels and left with a Uhaul trailer. 😦

I will write later about our travels in Canada and also about our time in Acadia before this disaster happened.

I will end this with a reminder, please think twice before purchasing a Heartland RV. Remember, when we had trouble, they left us homeless and refuse to accept any responsibility.

UPDATE: an update to this post can be viewed here: Heartless Heartland RVs.

Categories: Our Rig | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 152 Comments

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