If you have our kind of luck, things like this happen.
So, after speaking with someone at Tiffin this past Wednesday, it was agreed that this Friday (today), would be the best time to head over to Red Bay to go through a customer Final QC check. This is where the future owners can run through their coach for the better part of a day, and list those things we think need to be addresed by Tiffin before the coach leaves Red Bay for the dealer next week. Originally, it was supposed to be done on Monday the 12th, but the coach had been ahead a day in the production schedule, so it was thought that if we delayed our trip until then the coach might have already been shipped off to the dealer.
Sounds like a plan, right?
Plans don't always play out the way people plan them, do they?
As of last night (Thursday), our Open Road 36LA was sitting snug on the Yellow Brick Road at Tiffin's main plant. The Yellow Brick Road is where finished Tiffin coaches wait for final checks, and where visitors can walk through them to see what features and options they like. So at 8:00 sharp, when Tiffin officially opens, we saunter into the guard station and tell the folks there that we're here to do our customer final QC check on our one-of-a-kind painted coach. “You can't miss it”, we said. “Lots of blue on the top, and no black on it at all.” So the guard dutifully packs us into the extended-length golf cart for transport to the Yellow Brick Road, and off we go, anticipation written all over our faces.
Curving around the front, there are no blue coaches. Coming around to the center aisle, there are a couple of coaches with blue on them, but none are the custom color we had ordered. Nor were they Open Road gas coaches. Puzzled, we head back to security to figure out what had happened to our new baby.
First, we give them our ORDER number. They tell us they have no record of a coach with that number. They call the Belmont paint plant, and can't even get anyone at the front gate to answer their call. After almost 40 minutes waiting for a call back, they speak to someone at Belmont, who hasn't seen a blue coach come through their gate. Finally, they ask us for our unit's SERIAL number, which ends in a specific 4-digit number. Come to find out, even though our order number is plastered on the front of the coach, it's the serial number they track in security.
And our new home was found to have left Red Bay at 6:30 Friday morning for Belmont, but they still can't find the unit in Belmont. After giving the security guard our name and number to call us if they find it, we decide to head over to Belmont to see if we can spot our future home. Think we see it in a bay where they're taking the paper and tape off of the roof, but aren't sure, and don't know why that kind of large-scale painting would be needed at this stage of the game. Found out later it was probably another new owner who had ordered their coach with our color scheme that they liked so much.
But where was our 36LA?
Since it was Friday, we decided to hang around Belmont and do the Tiffin paint factory tour (again) in hopes of finding our unit somewhere in the 18 bays Tiffin uses to paint their coaches. Gearing up with neon yellow vests, headsets and goggles, we follow our tour guides Jeanette and Richard up the driveway towards the main plant. As we're passing a structure on the left used to install Diamond Shield on the front of each coach (used to keep rocks from chipping the paint), Ol' Eagle Eyes Barbara goes,
“Dave! Look in there. It that ours?”
Quickly separating myself from the tour (OK, I ran over to it), there's a blue, gray and white 36LA with our order number proudly displayed on the windshield! We've found our baby!
The tour immediately takes a detour into the building to admire the colors. Some folks are even taking pictures of our coach (kinda odd, but apparently they liked the colors as much as we do), even as I am scampering around to get better angles to shoot. After a few minutes, Jeanette herds the tour away from the building, leaving Richard with Barbara and me to get a closer look at our future home. Richard says, “Go ahead, take a look inside. Take your time. We don't want these other folks thinking they can just open doors and walk inside coaches being painted”. It was dark, with no power in the coach, but nothing ever looked better to us.
After detaching ourselves from the inside, we drool over the outside once again. Richard tells us, “You've found what you came looking for. If you folks just want to head back home it's OK.”
So we did.
We didn't get to spend all day long in it, and the pictures are a bit dark due to being taken in an unlighted building, but we think we have ourselves a winner here in the looks department. We hope you all think it's as beautiful as we do. In about 2 week's time, it will finally be ours, and we'll get some better pictures then.
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're planning the ultimate retirement experience - travel the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, play golf and stop at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.