Frontenac State Park
St Croix Bluffs Regional Park
After a couple years of research, thinking, dreaming and looking, we found a coach we wanted. In California.
What we wanted changed over time. We (I) looked at a lot of different motor coaches, mostly specs, how they were built, what kind of structures they had, what kind of engines, transmissions and other equipment they had. We started out thinking something maybe 30 ft would work. What we wanted was enough space to be comfortable, enough maneuverability to get to the places we wanted to go, enough power to not be the slowest one going up the grades and something that had the level of quality that we were used to in our current Home2.
That lead us to Newell Coaches, Prevost bus conversions, Country Coach and Foretravel Coaches. We had a budget, age range and milage range in mind. Newell coaches and Prevost conversions were way outside of those ranges. We had looked Country Coaches and while they were nice they didn’t really blow us away.
So we started looking more closely at Foretravels. They made a 34′ coach that we liked. They had three model levels, the U270, the U295 and the U320’s. The coach body, structure and suspension are the same in all three models. Engines, transmissions, heating systems, generators, plumbing fixtures, kitchen appliances and interior trim changed as model numbers increased.
The 34′ coaches we only available in the U270 models. These were 300-350 HP Cummins diesels.
We debated about whether we wanted a slide out or not. They added significant cost to the new coaches and some extra weight and more complex systems. They add more room and many argued they dded to resale value and the ease of resle.
33 years and another 70,000 miles. Many more adventures.
19,000 miles across the Western US and Canada. More to come.
So anyway, Ed and I had a lot of fun building our own campers. That led us to starting R&E Vans in 1975. Our goal was to build very nice campers. Along the way we built about 700 vehicles. A lot of those were 70’s party vans. We also built ambulances, a mobile training classroom and lots of campers.
We built on the ideas from our early campers and produced the Model 5. Pretty snazzy name, don’t you think? We really neaded a good marketing type person. These were featured in national magazine reviews. We sold them as far away as Alaska, well one anyway.
Home2 started in 1978 as a Class B Ford Van Camper, the one pictured above. Our shakedown trip was from Minnesota to New Brunswick, Canada and then down through New England and then back along the South sides of the Great Lakes.
As we did for many years we traveled with our dog, Xenia, a 65 lb Malamute. We called her the feed-it alarm system. If we left her in the camper alone she would sit in the driver’s seat waiting for us to return. She was rather imposing, rarely barked and was never tested. On her leash taking us for a walk, she was the friendliest dog you could imagine. If the other end of her leash was hooked to the camper at the side door, it represented a defensive zone that she protected for all she was worth.
That trip gave us all sorts of ideas on changes to make to add more light, more functional utility and what tools and equipment we needed to have in the camper all the time. We went from two to five sun roofs, added bug screens, found a cooking set of pots and pans that nested nicely, bought dishes, kitchen utensils and silverware for dedicated use. We got sheets, pillows and blankets to leave in the camper. With everything set we were able to leave for a weekend, a week or longer with just loading clothes and food.
Times change. We wanted to keep traveling but maybe with a bit more room. An actual bedroom and bathroom would be nice, we thought. So that leads us to the next step of the story, right after this…
Susan and I have had a long relationship with motor travel. We met winter camping. She rode up with me in my 1973 Jeep CJ5. She liked my jokes. A couple years later in the mid 70’s when we were both working at a Boy Scout camp, I was smitten. As she likes to say She was patient and persistent, I was slow to the table. Off we went in my home made 1974 Dodge van camper to International Falls, MN. There was love in the air. There still is.
We went on many short trips and one long trip in that camper down to Big Bend National Park. Never got there. It was snowing all the way to Kansas City and forecasts were for worse further south. So we headed East to the Great Smokies. Never got there. The weather was even worse. So we headed South towards nowhere in particular. This remains our favorite travel mode. We go where we are pointed. We ended up at Dauphin Island near Mobile, AL for a whole day and then it was time to head home. 3500 miles in a week. Never again. I have looked all over for a picture of that green van but alas the days of digital pictures were many years in the future.
Building that camper with my friend Ed Schulze (he built one too) led to more adventures that I will tell you about right after this …