Nacogdoches sounds like something you might get at a local Mexican food place. It would likely have cheese on it and be tasty. But it is a small town in East Texas, about the same size as Hastings and a county seat as well. It is also the home to the Stephen F Austin State University whose student population swells the total to almost 37,000. Unlike Hastings it has a Lowes big box store and many, many more restaurants. We have discovered over several visits that going out to eat, especially lunch, is a big chunk of the social fabric.
It is also the home to Foretravel which started in CM Fore’s backyard. The story goes that his son needed a high school project and since the Fores liked to travel they built their own motorhome in 1967. It was 29′ long and named the “Speedy Marie” after CM’s wife. They built more in the back yard for a while and when it looked like a business they moved into a big building on the outskirts of town. By 1974 they introduced the industry’s first diesel motorhome and were among the first to use fiberglass instead of aluminum, real hardwood cabinetry, full airbag suspension and many other features not found in any other motor homes at that time. Foretravels have always been a smaller manufacturer in this market. Their coaches are at the very high-end price point in the market. Their peak production was in about 1998 when they built almost 300 coaches. The vast majority of these were built to order. Market forces caused them to get smaller during the early 2000’s and Foretravel was sold to new owners in 2005. The new ownership moved to design and build new, bigger coaches aimed at the very highest end of the market. Today Foretravel builds 20-24 coaches a year and more that are used as mobile command centers and functions like that. Their primary competition is Newell coaches (about 30 a year) and Prevost bus conversions, all custom-built to order.
The main reason for our NAC stop was to get the front seats removed, un-upholstered, all new foam inserted, re-upholstered, cleaned and reinstalled. Motorhomes of Texas had a special on this in the October. I talked to their remodel manager and he said they would honor that price in January when we came down. And when it was all done it was even less than the original estimate and they had it done in half the time they estimated. They also did an engine oil and filters change, serviced the generator, fixed an air leak and did maintenance work on the rear brakes at the same time.
The seats turned out very well.
Motorhomes of Texas (MOT) is just up the highway from Foretravel. They have facilities on both sides of the highway. NAC has a big supporting industry built up around Foretravel. Old Town Motorcoach does service and sells some coaches. World Line Motors does all sorts of mechanical repairs. Beau Reece has a shop and does mobile repairs. Xtreme Paint and Graphics is the go-to place for fiberglass repairs and paint. And there are more in the area as well. So with all of the expertise close at hand it is no wonder that many owners make a stop in NAC part of their travel plans.
For us it is way more than just a service stop. We have been here now three times and have met many other owners and made many new friends. Several of them live in NAC. This year as we did two years ago we helped Mike and Jackie Harbordt and Don Cox make a lunch for all of the folks at MOT. Actually Don makes his really good Texas Gumbo in normal and spicy versions, gallons of it. The rest of us make salads and desserts. Susan make a common Minnesota Lime Green Jello salad with cottage cheese and pineapple. She made a really big bowl which was good because it meant leftovers for us.
Don, the Gumbo King, Jane, Jackie and Keith Risch, 35 years experience with Foretravels
Our friends Douglas and Amanda were on their way south from a 6 week Holiday visit to St Louis and they stopped in NAC for some basic service work as well. Amanda brought decorated cookie bars. There was also a chocolate fudgie brownie cake gooey yummy desert and a banana pudding cake with Nilla cookies, oh my!
All of the folks at MOT rotated in and out of their lunch room for lunch. Don’s gumbo is always a big hit and there wasn’t much left. We got to visit with folks and have some lunch too. Don and Mike do this maybe three times a year to show appreciation for all of the help and good service they get from MOT.
After we were done at MOT we went over to Foretravel’s campground where we can stay for free. Amanda and Douglas came over as well. We went to Auntie Pastas for dinner. The next day, Saturday, we went to a nearby COE park on the Sam Rayburn Reservoir for a couple of nights.
We wanted to be back in NAC Monday to meet Carol and Scott. I have known Scott for several years now through the Forum and we have come close to crossing paths twice but missed. This time they had recently purchased a 2001 42′ coach from another Forum member in Virgina and sold their 2002 36′ coach to someone in TX. So they went to get the coach in Virginia, drove it back to TX, moved from one coach to the other, finished the sale of the 2002 coach and headed to NAC to get a new satellite dish installed. Our paths finally crossed. So we got to go out for dinner with them and spend some time doing the show and tell thing.
We also met George and Steph from Virginia. They were in NAC to go to Xtreme to get new headlights installed like we did two years ago. They are another nice couple. George is just in the final steps of adding solar power to the roof of their coach, a new inverter/charger, all new charge controllers and monitors and a new set of lithium-ion batteries. This is all cutting edge technology and it was interesting to see how he had done it. Lithium batteries last a long time, hold charge for a long time and recharge quickly. They are expensive and don’t like to be hot or cold. So George has added heat to the battery bay as well as air conditioning. He has added a multi-page display that shows how the system is working using pictures to represent the components and moving arrows to show the flow of power. Very cool!
We got together with Douglas and Amanda on a couple of nights to play Quidler and Uno. Lots of fun but we always stay up too late.
After all of the visiting and work was done it was time to head to see Rudy and Carolyn in Baytown, TX near Houston. That is our next stop.
Roger and Susan