Monday, October 22, 2007

Nappanee, Indiana


Nappanee, Indiana, is a small Amish village(about 4000 folks) located in north central Indiana, about 20 miles south of Elkhart and 30 miles southeast of South Bend. Like much of Elkhart County, the Nappanee area is rural and the main industries are recreational vehicles and farming.

When I retired in the summer of 2002 as Environmental Health Director at the Van Wert County(Ohio) Health Department, I needed another income(besides baseball umpire work) and knew or at least hoped that I would be able to find a job or jobs that I could be an independent contractor, and do something I enjoyed.....I had always wanted to travel more and work less....RV Delivery driver seemed to be a good idea. I contracted several RV manufactures and transporter companies around the area(within 200 miles), sent them my driving records and qualifications....the first to contact me back was a company out of Nappanee called Hoosier Transit. Hoosier worked hand-in-hand with Gulf Stream RV Manufacturing...Gulf Stream builds all sizes of RVs and Motor Homes, and Hoosier delivers them around the country to dealers and various large shows.

Since August 2002 I have delivered to 46 states doing the job on a part-time oldest son Sam, began driving for Hoosier full time in 2003 and has logged more miles and many more locations than I...being single he pretty much lives most of his time(except baseball umpire season)on the road delivering various Gulf Steam models.

Last week Sam was on his way to Dallas, Texas, with a 40 foot Diesel when Hoosier dispatcher Shawn called and asked him to bring another back from Texas for some sort of repair(usually cosmetic)....he was glad to take that, even though he had "eat" his $200 non-refundable airline ticket to Chicago...the return payment was much greater so he took it. Sam made his way back to Nappanee through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, where he managed to run into last week's tornado and severe thunderstorm outbreak. After contacting me near Bremen, Indiana(about 10 miles from Nappanee) we discussed the storms and which route he would take after delivering his unit.

As luck would have it, Sam got out of Nappanee in his car at about 8PM...the first of the storms had hit....the second storm would arrive about 2 hours later, and would take out Fairmount Homes, Gulf Stream's sister outfit, which is located right across the road....Gulf Stream lost several buildings and some RVs sitting in the lot....the entire east side of Nappanee received heavy damage...but thank God no one received major injuries.....the town of Nappanee will be months in the rebuilding mode....Gulf Stream will reopen tomorrow, Fairmount will be a long time in getting back to "business" is Nappanee's larges employer with 600 workers, Gulf Stream has about 125, Hoosier has another 100 drivers and employees.

With my back, I was going to hold off on going back for awhile....that decision is now made easier for me....Sam will try to get back on the road this week sometime.

Power, electric, and the roads into and out of Nappanee are still down as I type.
Video and story can be found here:
photos{A Gulf Stream, dropping off a 40 footer at Yuma, AZ.....and Sam on our way back(2000 miles in a Jeep Wrangler no less) taking the mountain route back through northern Arizona near Sho Low}


Mushy said...

Sounds kind of exciting to be out there on the road, but I'm sure you wouldn't want to be there full time.

Hope you get to feeling better soon.

Buck Pennington said...

Those big 40-footers sure are impressive inside, ain't they, Pat? Real Lotto fantasies!

BRUNO said...

Had a brother in law, who owned one of those, still does, I guess. But I never made it inside---he smelled my feet a-comin' from a mile away!

I have to ask, though---when it comes to officiating at a game, how in the hell do you keep from gettin' too "involved", and missing the calls?

If I could get THAT close to the action, I'd be like a B-B in a matchbox! They'd also probably throw me out within the first 2 minutes! And BOTH teams would help!

pat houseworth said...

The Road is great..except for Atlanta, LA, and a dozen other "cities"(including almost all of Florida in winter, when the "Blue Hairs" are holding court on the highways and byways.

Buck those are impressive, especially with the "slide outs' fully opened....but as I've said before, if you are buying for an investment...grab one that's a couple of years old, and "parked", rather than one that is used on the highways often.

Bruno...never get to involved, but like any official, you miss them, as you are trying to watch the ball carrier, especially in the lower levels, when there are only 3 or 4 of is tougher, I find myslef yelling "ouch" or "watch out", when a high inside fastball comes as some kids head.....

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Did you ever see that flick about the yuppi couple that retires and buys a mobile home and sets off to do the Easy Rider thing? They get as far as Vegas. The rest is a hilarious drama. I've always thought it would be cool to do the Route 66 thing. Chase chicks across the country in a cool sports car with a shit load of cash to blow. Now there's a plan.

pat houseworth said...

FHB: When I do RV deliveries to Las Vegas...I usually take the RV to the Gold Coast Casino/Hotel, and park in the lot for a couple of days before I deliver it to the local dealer....depending on how far I am ahead or behind. The great thing about most of the off strip Casino/Hotels, you can park right there, lose your ass, but it doesn't cost a dime to park(they know they will get you sooner or later).

On my way to Arizona or California I will stop by the Route 66 Casino outside's a decent club(not as much fun as Vegas, no free booze) with a better chance to cash in because of the no free booze policy....the lot is also free.....great way to travel across the great divide.

Anonymous said...

Those are "Commando" armored cars, aren't they? I saw some at Yaegu air base in South Korea in 1979, looked a lot like that. Somebody at the air base told me they were built by Cadillac but it might have just been some airman pulling my leg. I'm a gullible sort.

pat houseworth said...

Hell Hermit, I can't remember 39 years ago, just what the heck they were powered by....all I know was, they were hot as Hell inside, and if your were claustrophobic...they sucked.

At Nha Trang I worked Law Enforcement and only had to ride in them when on alert, and usually sat on the outside gun port....which was fine by me.

Thanks for checking in.