As usual, there was much more to be seen in Columbus, but in this instance the reason we missed several things was not only time but a sudden downpour that chased us back into our cars like a bunch of drowned rats. We weren’t prepared for so much rain. By the time we returned to our headquarters in Indianapolis weather had cleared sufficiently to allow us our last cocktail hour together as a group—a bit nostalgic after the length of time we had been traveling together.
The next morning we said and waved our final goodbyes, and we and two other couples took off for Elkhart, where we planned to stay several days. Once there after a short drive, we did indeed stay for several days, since this was the fulfillment of Steve’s wish to tour RV factories, five of them, and it was also the heart of Amish country, which we wanted to explore.
You may think factory tours sound boring but if you’re interested in learning how things are made and how they work, they’re not. These tours are also very inexpensive, usually costing nothing. A motor home chassis is a motor home chassis, true, but it’s surprising how much they differ in subtle ways from factory to factory. Similarly, other components, like wiring, are not uniformly installed the same way from factory to factory. Roofs and walls differ and employ different techniques in their manufacture and materials and methods of installation.
The interiors, though similar in many respects, also differ in many respects, as do the layouts of the “basements.” RV floor plans usually place kitchens on the passenger side and provide more storage space on the driver’s side. Gayle, however, points out that most spaces for RV parking are laid out so that the best view in that case is on the kitchen side. Therefore, she and Steve opt for kitchen on the driver’s side and larger windows on the other, though with a sacrifice of storage space. This takes full advantage of the leisure, relaxing side of RV living.
If you can afford to oversee the construction of your new motor home, one factory even allows you to autograph yours as it nears completion.
Also in Elkhart we discovered the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum, which had examples dating back as far as 1913. Imagine a Model T converted to provide sleeping quarters. Or a tented outdoor kitchen. Some of the very early versions were really innovative and practical, some providing only sleeping quarters, others with a kitchen and eating/relaxing area as well. Now it’s anything from a very small unit to one with large closets, king-size bed, two bathrooms, and a tub, and more. Different degrees of comfort for our roaming experiences over the years!
Surprisingly, most factories are quite walker friendly, with a few safety cautions.