Year 1999 – My Fleetwood Flair

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Great Adventure: Motor Home - Buy it

I have decided.  The retirement adventure will be in a motor home.  I start looking.  The big dealer in the neighborhood is Don Gamel.  You want to buy a motor home in CA? See Robert Woodworth in Morgan Hill at http://www.gamel.com.  He knows them all and will get you a good price.

But you want to look further than that. You need to go on the web:  look up the manufacturer of your favorite brand.  Look at their web sites.  Email the web sites stating that you want to buy and give them the specs.

On an $84k (cheap) motor home, Don Gamel would give me $80k.  The total after the 81/4% sales tax and $2,400 registration fee comes to $89,000.

On Bree's advice I called Beaudry's in Tucson -- they offered $78k for the same Fleetwood Flair.  WIth 5% sales tax and $1,200 registration fee, the cost is $83,100.

This is a $2k price difference?  NO --bigger than that -- almost a $6k difference.

But then I got a real shock. The bids started coming in from the web site dealers. One in Indiana -- with a good price -- I discounted as Indiana is too far away -- and I hate Indiana.  I may still have a fugitive warrant out there. 

But Earnhardt RV (Mike Simmons: http://www.earnhardtrv.com) in Mesa (across the block from my old condo) quoted me $61.5k.  I had already made an oral agreement with Beaudry's as Mike was a bit slow in response.  Beaudry had sent me plane tickets to close the deal.  I got the email at home in the morning.  I called Earnhardt from the office: was this an apples to apples price or was this an orange?   Mike said the price was for real but I had to ask for him when I came in the door.  Earnhardt wanted to be the biggest Internet Fleetwood dealer and they wanted it now.  The price was $350 over the dealer cost (before annual discounts to the dealer).

<>I called the saleman at Beaudry's to cancel the order.  He put me in touch with his manager.  The manager yelled about breach of contract and that they had already modified a unit to my specifications.  He gave me a really hard time and told me their corporate attorney would call me back in 15 minutes.  He said I owed them some horrendous amount for non-delivery and that they would charge my credit card this on the spot.  I told him that I owed him for the plane tickets and I would pay him this.

<>He would not attempt to match the Earnhardt price.  I gave up on them calling back after an hour.  During that time I called the credit card and verified that no charge at all had been made on the card.

Mike really made me a deal.  I saved $23k on the price of the motor home. $1k on the registration. $2k on the sales tax. And he told me how to save another $600 on the registration! And he is so low key that you wonder how he does it. If you want, he will tell you. There is no nicer guy in the world. He picked me up at the airport himself. When I needed service from Tucson, he volunteered to pick up the RV there, drive it to Mesa, and return it fixed. You want your daughter to marry someone like that. You want the same deal? Call Mike at 800-530-8438. But you must ask for Mike Simmons. You may get his assistant but you must ask for him. Otherwise your deal will be like any other off-the-street deal. It says this at the web site. They are serious about being a web presence in RV sales.

But my motor home will not see CA for a year. I would have to pay CA the tax and registration and a stiff penalty just for driving it across the state line. So the RV stays in AZ until I can be free of a job and have an AZ driver's license. That is ok - there are many place to see in AZ and New Mexico and Utah and Colorado this next year. I do have an address in AZ and claim residency in AZ and CA.

Did I mention the CA taxes? You think so? They have the highest state income tax you ever saw. They do not give renters credit unless you are destitute and property taxes are out of site. Not that the rate is excessive (although it is), the house prices here are 4 to 5 times what you would pay elsewhere and so are the taxes. Sales tax? Shit, the people keep voting in new taxes. It is at 81/4% here in San Jose. 1 dollar tax for every 12 dollars you spend. Yipes. But worse than that is that they tax you 2.5 cents for a pop can. They call it a redemption fee - it is a tax. How do I know? You do not get it back. In AZ you do not pay for the can and you take it to a recycle place and get money back. Same here except the state claims that they are the ones giving you your own money back. Sick logic. I toss the cans: I paid for the privilege. Worse off, they only take their stamped cans back at the recycle dealers. In AZ all they care about is that if you say it is aluminum, it better be aluminum - can, foil, bar, etc. In CA, if it is not a can, you throw it away.

Then there is the gas tax, etc. For all I know they have an intangibles tax: you know a tax on money you do not have. Let's not get into that one. In other words, the life here is great but you pay dearly for it. You pay for it in irrational house prices or rent. You pay for it again in taxes that claim to be for one thing and get spent for something else. But money is not what life is about. If you do not like it, live somewhere else. San Francisco bay is about as close to heaven as you are going to get in this lifetime.



Moved to 1-Bedroom

My money is not growing fast enough. Moved into a one-bedroom apartment. They cheated me out of part of my deposit. I hate cheap people. But I am back on the second floor. The cat enjoys the front porch and cannot run away. But there is a third consideration. In all of this I have not mentioned my girlfriend. She is a little over 30, drop-dead gorgeous, a professional person, with kids. We have been going together for 4.5 years. Love at first sight. When I went back to Phoenix, we made plans to commute once a month to the other city. She can not leave San Jose. The reasons can not be stated here -- and you do not care. But I can not stay and she can not leave. We shall part. The love of my life. Dearer to me than anyone other than my children -- and we will part come next Spring. She pretends it will not happen. But I can not change my mind. We can not marry. The relationship can grow no further. I need more. I need someone who can share all of my life. And someone I can share all of her life. And we can look up at the stars and know that we can always be together with those same stars wherever we are.


Motor Home:  Trial Run

Took my motor home out for its trial run. Blew a hydraulic leveler. No other serious things. Typical American product: lots of stupid thing wrong that a simple inspection could have caught. I put a dent in the rear right corner. I saw beautiful campgrounds (with snow patches) in eastern AZ. Route: Tucson->Tombstone->Comanche Monument->Safford->Clifton-Morenci->Show Low->Phoenix->Tucson. Absolutely unbelievable beauty: mountains, cliffs, lakes, deserts, stars. And no crowds. Mostly there were no others where we stayed. The 12' Morenci tunnel sort of scares off most motor homes. Really hated spending the day in Phoenix getting the motor home fixed. Worst part is that they do not stock parts and so I have to spend another day next month to get the new leveler and stuff installed. But Bernie in Earnhardt service is the best service writer you will ever find. And if he does not know the answer, he finds it out and learns with you. And no questions about fixing things on warrantee. I just hated the wait. Maybe I will take Mike up on his offer to pickup and deliver. But that offer is really more than anyone should ask of a salesman. You know, I could be friends with these guys. And I hate car dealers. And I have such good friends - one loaned me his car for the day so that I could shop rather than live at the dealership.


Siemens Announces Move

The company has announced layoffs and is doing them. They have announced that the campus is being sold and that we will move. A local move for the most part. Some functions move back to Boca -- but not us. The problem is sales. They feed me so I cannot slander them. I am fearful for sales. Siemens is a big name in Germany but the American marketplace is not brand-loyal: it is quality loyal and we have some perspective problems in that area. I think we shall last until January 2000. I am counting on it and will do anything for them to last that long.


Later -- You know about Later

The imperative here is to keep the money growing, work hard, find a new girlfriend.  The last is important.  I am a good guy. Nice, friendly, happy, independent, a little overweight. A good (but twisted) sense of humor. Spin a good line. I get angry when I hear women say all the good ones are gone. I am a good one and I am not gone. I am just having trouble being discovered. I need help in this: there must be someone out there who would like a romantic trip under the pines around the western US for a couple of years. Of course, some financial help would be good and we must expect to like each other more when we are done than when we started.








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Written:  2003          Updated: June 13, 2004                Back To Top