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Mike in Texas

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2006
Posts
56
Location
New Braunfels, TX
Since 1964 wife and I have enjoyed camping in all its forms and shapes, including sleeping under the stars in the deserts of Oman, tenting in Norway, touring New Zealand in a rented Class C, and touring the US in our various trailers and RVs through the years. We had a new 2000 Winnebago Rialta (a major lemon that involved a 3 year lawsuit which we won), a new 2003 Winnebago Minnie (which was the settlement in the lawsuit and turned out OK but was too small for our current needs), and very recently a new 40 foot 2006  Monaco Diplomat diesel pusher. Although not a newbie RVer, I am totally a novice at driving the big beast. Although a retired oil and gas production automation engineer and experienced with computers (Macs), networks (wired and wi-fi), alarm systems, video distribution systems, and home theater systems, am almost overwhelmed with all the systems and maintenance concerns with the Diplomat. I expect to find good answers on this forum to some of the questions that come up from time to time and in time hope to be a contributor.

I forgot to mention that I am a 66 year old retired Shell Oil computer systems engineer and spent the final 7 years of my 36 year career in assignments for Petroleum Development Oman and for Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (the NAM) and Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands. I retired in late 1998 and in early 1999 settled in the Texas Hill Country just outside New Braunfels, between Austin and San Antonio. I have recently added my name to Good Sam's Standby Sams directory so if you are in the New Braunfels, TX, area give a holler.

Mike Kramer
 

Karl

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
5,154
Location
Elkhart Lake, WI for the summer. Work at Road Amer
Hello Mike, and welcome to the RV Forum!

Thanks for posting your work history; now we know who to blame for our high fuel prices! ;D ;D ;D

Congrat's on the new Diplomat!

The biggest thing to remember about driving a 40 footer is that you have a lot of trailer hanging in back of the rear wheels. Copious use of your mirrors when driving or backing is essential. I would suggest you find a large, empty parking lot, and set up some cones or small cardboard boxes, and practice making turns and backing up. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out how quickly you become comfortable driving it.

am almost overwhelmed with all the systems and maintenance concerns with the Diplomat. I expect to find good answers on this forum to some of the questions that come up from time to time and in time hope to be a contributor.

Not unusual, and don't be hesitant to ask any questions. We all started from ground zero at one time or another, and I don't think there are too many questions or concerns that haven't already been experienced or expressed by someone here. Ask away!
 

Tom

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2005
Posts
49,015
Hi Mike and welcome. Congratulations on the new Diplomat. You've chosen a great brand and Monaco stands behind their products.
 

Mike in Texas

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2006
Posts
56
Location
New Braunfels, TX
Thanks for the welcomes. So far we have made two trips, the first a three day one from our home near New Braunfels, TX, to Kerrville, most of the driving being on Interstate 10. We stayed at a very nice new RV park called Johnson Creek RV Resort, which is set in the middle of a large pecan orchard. The second trip was a 6 day one from New Braunfels to Houston to College Station to see daughter get her MBA and back to New Braunfels, a total of about 400 miles, arriving home yesterday evening. It gave me experience towing our Chevy Tracker (which I hadn't done before), driving in Houston rush hour traffic (which I don't want to do again), driving through the Texas A&M campus at rush hour plus lots of people coming in for graduation, backing into my RV slot in the Texas A&M Penberthy RV park, and driving through a pretty strong thunder storm on the way home. No problems at all.

The big problem I have is getting the Monaco into the RV pad on our property and back out again. We live above the Guadalupe River on a heavily wooded, rocky, sloping piece of land with the house and RV pad about 600 feet from the road. Our driveway is winding and narrow and lined with trees on both sides with branches hanging over. I had an RV pad about 45 feet long built near my house for our 24 foot Winnebago Minnie. In preparation for the Monaco, I cleared the trees and mountain laurels four feet back along one side of the asphalt driveway, cut several large trees including a very large cedar at the back end of the RV pad, cleared branches and limbs to a height of 14 feet, and cleared a 45 foot by 20 foot pad for turning around. I then hired someone with a Bobcat to knock over the tree stumps, move the big limestone rocks, grade, and spread three dumptrucks of limestone rock. When I brought the Monaco home, I was able to park it with just a bit of difficulty and to get it back out again with a bit more difficulty. Most of the problem is in turning while backing up. In time it should become a bit easier. I hope. Once on the road, I have so far had no problems except for one idiot in Houston who sped up on the feeder to prevent me from changing lanes to get on the on ramp.
 

Steve CDN

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Posts
2,388
Location
Canada/U.S.A
Hello Mike and welcome to the Forum.  Congratulations on your new rig...I'll bet being a retired Shell Oil man, you must get free fuel ;D ;D
 

Mike in Texas

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2006
Posts
56
Location
New Braunfels, TX
Steve - I wish. I filled up yesterday - 78 gallons for a mere $219. We didn't get a discount while I worked for the Shell in the US so definitely would not expect one in retirement. I have however hedged my bets by getting an American Express card with a 5% refund on fuel  purchases. I did get a small discount on gas while working in the Netherlands for Royal Dutch Shell, but it was hardly noticed with the $4.50  a gallon cost then. I understand it costs around $7 a gallon there now.

I have found that the best hedge against high gas prices is to own oil-related stocks. Until a few days ago, I have been doing quite well with Valero (VLO).
 

Wendy

Site Team
Joined
May 14, 2005
Posts
12,560
Location
Colorado
Hi Mike,

Welcome to the group. What a great history of RVing....I envy you the New Zealand rental, definitely on my "To Do" list. This is a great group with a lot of good information to help out just about anyone. My Mike and I own a 2004 27' Winnebago and have had no trouble. We are very familiar with the area you live as Mike is a retired National Park Service ranger who worked for 18 months at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. We usually headed north into the hill country or east to the coast when we needed to get out of the city (which was often). Now we're doing audits of gas stations, including Shell !

I know you'll enjoy the group.

Wendy
p.s. Gas here is 2.95/gal at City Market, the cheapest place in town. Should I be excited?
 

Steve CDN

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Posts
2,388
Location
Canada/U.S.A
Mike,

Surprisingly the 5% reward discount adds up very quickly these days when fuel purchases are included. 

I was so sure that oil company ees got free gas ;D ;D ;D ;D ;) from their benevolent employers ;D ;D ;D
 

Bob Buchanan

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
Hello and welcome to the RVForum, Mike . . .

>> So far we have made two trips, the first a three day one from our home near New Braunfels, TX, to Kerrville, most of the driving being on Interstate 10. We stayed at a very nice new RV park called Johnson Creek RV Resort, which is set in the middle of a large pecan orchard.
====
Several years ago en route to Austin, I stopped at the Pomarosa RV park in Bandera. The owners, Albin and Bibi Kerekes had become friends by phone as users of my reservation software. It turned out to be a very nice several days. Albin and Bibi are accomplished geophysicists. Unfortunately, the need for geophysicists kinda dried up in Texas so they decided to invest in this older RV park. Not an upscale park -- but very well managed. They have since become happy with their decision, have built a home in Bandera, and have now permanently settled in the area.

One evening, they took me to dinner at a sea food restaurant in Kerrville that sat on the Guadalupe. I had never had Texas Cat Fish before -- so you can imagine how enjoyable that evening turned out to be.

You have settled in a beautiful area of Texas, Mike. I wish you well in your retirement. If you get to Bandera, stop and say hello to Albin and Bibi. Am sure you will enjoy their hospitality.
 
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