Posts Tagged With: grand design

An Epic Winter in Breckenridge Part 1

It has been a long time since I posted anything here, I think it’s about time I catch up on what we’ve been up to lately. We just spent a fabulous 3 months in Breckenridge, Colorado skiing and playing in the snow. RV’ing in the snow is a novelty to us being from Florida. We weren’t quite sure what to expect and if we would be warm enough in the RV. I am happy to report that our Grand Design RV was plenty warm enough and we had the most amazing 3 months ever!

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Chris and I have skied before, but it had been 11 years since we last skied. Also, we have only ever skied in New England so skiing in Colorado was a totally new experience. The kids have never skied so they took lessons the first day. I’ll talk more about their lessons in a later post, but suffice it to say they had an excellent instructor. By the end of the season they were taking us down double-black diamond trails (if you’re not familiar with ski terminology, those are the hardest for sure!)

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We skied at 5 ski areas that were all included on our season pass (more about that later as well). After 3 months of skiing, I’m sure you can imagine I had tons of pictures to sort through. I can’t possibly fit everything into one post as that would be way too long, so I’ll try to organize this into a few smaller posts. This first post is about skiing at Breckenridge and also includes where we stayed.

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The Breckenridge ski area is huge! There are 5 peaks and so many lifts and trails, it was several visits before we had explored most of it. At first we stuck to the easier green (beginner) and blue (intermediate) trails, but eventually our kids wanted to venture onto the black (expert) trails.

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I’m glad they advanced in their skills and enjoyed it so much, but I have to admit there were times I wish they would have stuck to the greens and blues. Those black trails were quite challenging for me. I got better as the season went on, but there were times I was praying I would make it down alive! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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There were some trails called Kid’s Adventure Zones which were basically trails through the woods with fun props along the way. We loved those! I was glad we had kids with us because the sign states adults must be accompanied by a child. ๐Ÿ™‚ At Breck our favorites were the Haunted Forest and Ripperoos Forest.

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We stayed at Tiger Run RV Resort. It was a great place to call home for 3 months. It was a 10 minute drive to Breck, 15 minutes to Keystone, 25 minutes to Arapahoe Basin and about 40-50 minutes to Vail and Beaver Creek. I’ll write about those other ski areas in a later post. There were several other Fulltime Families staying at Tiger Run. In fact, we learned all about how to winter RV in the snow from a family that we had previously met at a couple of FtF rallies. That family was staying at Tiger Run also, and we had so much fun hanging out with them.

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Home Sweet Home

Fat Cat was not crazy about this snow thing. She loves to go outside, but she did NOT love it here. I think she was mad at us for staying so long in a place where she did not enjoy going outside. By late April however, most of the snow at our site had melted and she was happy to be back outside again.

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The kids loved playing outside in the snow with their friend Jacob.

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I also loved playing in the snow! The snow was so soft and there was so much of it!

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The whole bottom half of my body is buried in snow!

The RV park has a really nice indoor pool and hot tub which we enjoyed frequently.

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Not all Fulltime Families fly south for the winter!

One day we even saw a moose wandering through the campground!

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Another fun thing to do in Breckenridge is sledding at Carter Park.

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Chris being his usual silly self. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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View of the ski slopes at Breck from the sledding hill.

I can’t even describe what an incredible 3 months this was, it was a season I wish could have lasted forever. However, I don’t want to give the impression that life is always perfect like social media tends to portray. We had our share of challenges — RV’ing in the snow is not the easiest thing to do.

There are a lot of preparations necessary for RV’ing in the cold and snow. We had to put up foam board skirting along the outside of the RV to keep the underneath part of the RV from getting too cold. We had to use heated hoses and heat tape to keep the outside water and sewer hoses from freezing, but that didn’t always work which is why we sometimes had no water in the morning.

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In addition to the preparations, it seemed like our RV home was in a constant state of chaos and mess for 3 months. We were always tracking snow into the house when we came inside, and there were jackets, boots, ski pants, hats, gloves, etc. always taking up space because there is just no extra space for that kind of stuff in an RV. I am one of those people that is very organized and likes everything neat and in it’s place. The mess of those 3 months could have driven me crazy if I let it, but I had to remind myself that it was worth it, the memories we were making far outweighed any of the inconveniences!

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I’ll admit we were nervous about how we would survive spending 3 months in an RV in the cold and snow. Many times we came close to canceling and going someplace warmer. But I’ve come to realize that if we didn’t do things because of fear of the unknown, we would have missed out on some amazing experiences. This is one of those amazing experiences I’m so glad we didn’t miss out on due to fear of trying something new.

So, is there something in your life that you want to try but are letting fear hold you back? Please allow me to encourage you to give it a try. Don’t let fear prevent you from experiencing something new. It’s possible it may turn out to be a mistake, but it’s also possible it may turn out to be something amazing and incredible. You’ll never know until you give it a try. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Categories: Colorado | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fourth Nomadiversary

Today we celebrate 4 years since we left our home in Fernandina Beach, FL to travel the country in an RV. Four years ago I never imagined we would make it this long, but this lifestyle seems to agree with us so we keep going.

Most of you know this was not exactly our best year since we hit the road. The first half of the year was good, and then on July 8th everything fell apart, literally. We made it to Calais, Maine on the Canadian border where we ended up leaving the worthless Heartland RV and continuing our journey to Canada with just our truck. Eventually we made our way back down south where we purchased our new Grand Design RV.

I wasn’t sure if I would bother with a Nomadiversary video this year, but with the help of my super-talented brother-in-law, we put together a great video which tells the story of our year, the good, the bad and the ugly. I love how it turned out and I hope you do too.

Our first 3 years of travel consisted of visiting lots of national parks, this year we visited lots of friends and family as I’m sure you can see by all the people in our pictures.

Each year I put a lot of thought into the song I choose for the video. This year I chose 2 songs, 1 for each half of the year and my brother-in-law came up with some great sound effects for the scary intermission part. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In the first song (Home by Phillip Phillips), I love the phrase about not paying attention to the demons that will fill you with fear. I thought that was so appropriate as I was filled with a lot of fear and anxiety this year when our RV fell apart. I had so many worries about what we were going to do and where we were going to live. God is so good to us and He is our Provider. I hope I learned this year to rely on Him more and not to fear. The second song (There’s a Light by Todd Smith) perfectly sums up how I feel now at the end of the year. Yes, there was a light at the end of the troubles and there definitely is hope for those who believe.

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Green = 2015; Red = 2016; Blue = 2017; Purple = 2018

We had to get a new state sticker map since the old one was still stuck on the Heartland. No we did not visit all these states yet in the new RV, but we decided we did not need to start over on the sticker map.

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We are so excited to be back on the road and ready to continue traveling this beautiful country and making memories with our family! Lord willing, we are trying something different this year… instead of flying south for the winter like most RVers do (including us usually), this year we are headed west for some snow skiing.

If you would like to see our Nomadiversary videos from the first 3 years you can see them here:ย One Year Nomadiversary,ย Second Nomadiversaryย andย Third Nomadiversary.

 

 

Categories: Our Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 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’). ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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:ย 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)ย  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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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:ย Heartless Heartland RVs.

Categories: Our Rig | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 161 Comments

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