A bit of a heads up, this is a verbose post.
After being stuck in Gary Indiana for 4 days, and getting the rebuilt fan drive gear box installed, we were understandably eager to get on the road. It was late in the day ( 5:30pm ), but we wanted to get at least a few hours down the road.
While I was wrapping up the gear box install, Lehnanne called ahead to Interstate RV Park in Davenport, Iowa to ensure we would fit, and they had a spot for us. Lehnanne confirmed multiple times our size, length, etc… all met with affirmations that there would be no problem.
Due to our eagerness to get down the road, we would be breaking one of our rules — never pull into a new park after dark.
We arrived at about 9:25pm, ready to plug in, hook up and get some sleep. The park map left for us outside the office showed that we needed to pull all the way around the park office, across the road we just pulled in on, and to a pull-through site.
This, is when things went down hill. As I approached the first of 3 left curves, hugging the outside, I could see that the limbs of the tree on the outside corner were quite low. I heard them tweak our antennas, but nothing more substantial. Unfortunately, this was not to be the worst of it.
The next curve was a little more narrow on approach, and it too had encroaching tree limbs on the outside of the curve – but also, another tree on the inside edge of the curve. I aimed as best I could, keeping the coach out of the far tree, but knowing the inside edge was not going to be a miss. Honestly, even in daylight, there’s not much I could have done. The only other option would have been an extremely tricky back-out, with likely damage on the way out. Forward, was the certain to leave us with scratches, but we were in it and committed, nothing to do but keep going.
Left curve number 3 approached. It really felt like each curve added yet another horror. This, was no exception. Outside tree, inside tree, and now… an inside shrub that had well out grown its intended perch. Still, I made use of every inch I could squeeze in to the outside of the curve, but further damage could not be avoided.
Last curve under our belt, we hoped to be home free. While no further damage would come to us that night, the site layout was extremely tight, almost not long enough for us, and so close together, to use another reviewers comment — “our neighbor could have poured our coffee for us.” In addition, the water spigot for our site was out of order, so I had to stretch the hose under the coach to the front neighbor’s water spigot. Alas, we could try to get some sleep.
The next morning, I assessed the damage. We had scrapes and scuffs down the side of the coach, starting on the front slide, continuing through the mid-bath wall, and onto the rear slide and the rear bath wall, all the way to the rear cap. That’s not all… remember the shrub on the inside of curve 3? It contributed scrapes down the side of the car hauler.
After making my way to the office, I started talking with one of the two persons behind the counter, identified myself and that I was there to settle up for my one night’s stay. As they started shuffling paperwork, I made a request. I simply asked that they did not tell those with large rigs that the park could accommodate them. The first person at the counter started apologizing about the size of the site, that we were scheduled for a longer site, but that an earlier arrival mistakenly took that one, so we got the left overs. I thanked them for the explanation, but that my concern was more with the trees that were in desperate need of a trim. I continued that our coach, and car hauler had extensive scratches from them, and that others could avoid the damage by simply being told they could not be accommodated until the trees were properly trimmed.
This all seemed to get the attention of the second person behind the counter — I suspect, the owner’s wife but she did not identify herself. Up until this point, she had been busy with what looked like balancing the books, counting funds for deposit or the like. It was now though, that I was accused of simply being a bad driver. I advised her I’d been driving large RV’s full time for 14 years, that this was the first damage received, and that it only occurred due to the poor condition of the tree trimming. I continued to assure her that I’d used all available space to minimize the damage to the coach. After she made a few other cracks at my expense, she asked if I knew how hard it was to get a tree trimmer in the mid-west. She then admitted that it had been almost 18 months since they’d had someone trim up the trees.
I asked if she would accompany me back to the site ( only a few hundred feet away ) to inspect the damage. She made some excuse, some place to be, too busy, etc.. but offered up the first person I’d spoken with. It turned out, this first person was who Lehnanne spoke with to make the reservation the night before. When we arrived on the driver’s side of the coach, the office assistant was dumbfounded. They kept repeating “Oh my god… Oh my god!” over and over as I showed them the extent of the damage. They said “I don’t know how you are so calm. This is terrible.”
I told them that I had operated a nuclear reactor on a fast attack submarine, that I remain calm under pressure, and that getting upset in these situations doesn’t help. I let them know that I was quite frustrated with the situation, and that I would rather have been told ‘No, we cannot accommodate you at this time’ than to have had this occur. The office assistant said they were now afraid to take reservations for the park, that they didn’t want this to happen to anyone else. They said they would try to get the owner to contact me, but that I shouldn’t expect the owner to reach out. I thanked them for their time and they headed back to the office.
I started making preparations for our departure and after a few minutes, another person approached and started introducing himself – the park owner. I explained the situation and started showing him the damage to the coach and car hauler. He asked a few questions here or there, seemingly trying to catch me up somehow. As we rounded the front of the coach ( opposite of where we began ), he said “Well, I see what’s going on here…”
“You were doing pretty good until you said the car hauler scratches were done here. There’s no way that could have occurred here, those scratches are way too low.”
I said “look, I have nothing without my integrity. There’s no reason for me to lie about this, there’s no benefit. I already don’t expect you to do the right thing. I never expect people to do the right thing, and I’ve been proven correct in this regard many times. Further, I have cameras that recorded video of the whole drive through the park showing what happened.” I then offered to walk through the park with him and show him where the damage occurred, to which he agreed.
He was dismissive at first, then the reality started to set in. As we concluded the walk through, another guest was out dawdling around his 5th wheel. He piped up as we walked by… “Did the trees get you, too?” I said yes and looked at the owner as we walked on.
The owner said he would turn the matter over to the insurance company. He also said that he would… “well, murder the trees and bush because we can’t have this happening to others’ RVs.”
After we got to Las Vegas, I got estimates for the damage and started calling Interstate RV Park… it took almost 4 weeks of calling to finally get a call back from their insurance company. It wasn’t until I told the person answering the phone that this was a legal matter with thousands of dollars in damage (then I was hung up on) that I finally got a call back ( later that same day. )
The insurance representative was extremely helpful. She said she was waiting on pictures of the path I had to take through the park from the park owner. I advised her I had pictures of all of that, but understood if she needed it from the park directly. She was surprised that I had photos. I said well, I actually have video showing the drive through that caused the damage. She was beside herself — “no one ever has pictures, let alone video!” All in, I sent 50 photos, 3 videos (with annotations of key events) and 3 screenshots of other reviews stating they too had received damage and reported it to the office (to be met with similar accusatory responses) – in just the prior 6 months. So, this was certainly not a surprise to the office manager / owner – contrary to how their reactions to me would lead one to believe.
I submitted all this data over the weekend. Within 30 minutes of the insurance office opening on Monday morning, they replied via email accepting liability and asked for the repair estimates.
Unfortunately, the car hauler finish is anodized aluminum — meaning, you can’t sand it, you can’t paint it, you can’t buff it. The only real option was to cover it. We were able to get it tended to before leaving Las Vegas in October. Thanks very much to the team at The Specialists Detail Studio for getting us in and taken care of. They did an amazing job! (and I feel bad that I don’t have any post-vinyl photos to show off)
We’re on the schedule to get the coach taken care of in March.
A few notes:
- I did not link to the RV park, intentionally. They don’t deserve the traffic which a link would generate.
- I did my best not to reveal anything about the office helper that took our reservation / first saw the damage to the coach. That person was genuinely nice and did all they could to be helpful.