Posts Tagged With: heartland

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. ūüôā

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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 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. ūüôā

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. ūüė¶

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.

Categories: Our Rig | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 126 Comments

RV Repairs in Louisiana

When you live in an RV having to have repairs done is never fun. ¬†Especially because you have to figure out where you’re going to live while your home is in the shop, and you hope and pray it won’t take too long while you run up a hotel bill.

Last October I noticed this stress crack on the side of our RV.

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Since we were going home for the holidays and planned to stay with family we decided to drop it off in Jacksonville and have it taken care of while we were not living in it during December.  Unfortunately the place we left it for 3 weeks did not do anything to fix it.  Once we moved back into it in January we knew we now had to deal with the hassle of finding some place else to have it repaired while we are also living in it again.

We tried to have it repaired in Tampa, but that service center didn’t¬†get around to it either. ¬†After talking with¬†some¬†other RV’ing friends about similar experiences we were starting to think that all RV dealers have terrible customer service when it comes to repairs.

Finally we found Dixie RV in Hammond, LA. ¬†If any of my RV’ing friends ever need something repaired, I would highly recommend Dixie RV. ¬†They were awesome! ¬†They have restored our faith in RV service centers. ūüôā ¬† From the moment we checked in, everything was handled smoothly and efficiently. ¬†I heard from my service contact regularly throughout the week to inform me of the progress. ¬†We also had some other items taken care of while we were there and they completed everything perfectly.

I also would like to say that our RV manufacturer, Heartland RV was amazing!  The rep that I worked with was so helpful with finding a place to get this taken care of.  By this time the RV was out of warranty, but he covered all the repairs anyway because we did try to get it fixed in December while it was still under warranty.  He even took care of some other things that should have been fixed in December.  I am thankful that Heartland stands behind their product and takes care of their customers.

In the meantime we had a different kind of adventure staying at Drury Inn & Suites in Baton Rouge, LA.  We had to find a pet-friendly hotel of course for Fat Cat, and Drury allows pets.  Here is Fat Cat wandering the halls.  She was so confused by all the doors!  She had no idea which room was hers.

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Besides being pet-friendly, they also happen to be the best hotel we could have chosen to stay at.  This place was awesome!  The rooms were spacious and comfortable.  They had a heated indoor/outdoor pool and a hot tub.  You could swim under the glass wall of the pool to go in or outside.

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They serve free breakfast and dinner every day, and dinner includes free beer, wine & mixed drinks too. ¬†And the dinner wasn’t just a bunch of junk food either. ¬†They had really good food each night like soups, salads, pasta & chicken. ¬†In fact, we happened to be there on my birthday and we were supposed to go out to dinner but I thought the dinner looked so good at the hotel we ended up eating there instead. ¬†We did however go out to dinner the next night and had a wonderful dinner at the Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse.

The hotel staff was the friendliest staff we have ever encountered.  Every single employee that we came in contact with was so friendly to us.  They knew us by the end of the week and would ask us how the RV repairs were coming along.  They knew we were anxious to get back on the road.

I would highly recommend Drury Inn & Suites if you ever need a hotel and one of these is in the vicinity.

By Friday our home was finally ready for us to pick up, and I could not have been happier to get back in it. ¬†Since it was late in the day Friday by the time it was ready Dixie let us camp for the night in one of their electric hookup sites. ¬†They have several of these sites which I think is another perk of Dixie’s. ¬†If you buy an RV there, you can camp there for the night to try it out and learn how everything works. ¬†This can also be convenient if anything doesn’t work (which is normal when you buy an RV). ¬†You’re already at the right place to have it fixed!

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Anyway, sometimes things need to be taken care of and even though it can be inconvenient, I am happy that things went so well for us that week.  Now we are happily back to our travels, enjoying Texas.

Categories: Fulltime RV'ing, Louisiana | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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