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It takes some training and experience to safely drive this big motor-home down the road. I’ve driven smaller gas engine rigs thousands of miles in the past, but it’s not quite the same. One full timer I met a few days ago, who has been across the country many times, said he still doesn’t even listen to the radio when he’s driving. He feels a responsibility for his own and others’ safety. I tend to agree. 

DSCN1878MONACO DIPLOMAT. We chose a 41 foot Monaco Diplomat Motor-home. “Start to finish,” after taking into account our Jeep tow vehicle, that’s almost 60 feet long! Before making our selection we debated long and hard about the overall length we should choose. Smaller rigs can fit into more campground spaces than the larger coaches…many parks have length limitations. On the other hand, we are planning to be gone such a long time that we ultimately opted for a bigger rig with more space for us and our treasures during the trip.

SMART COACH FEATURES: The Diplomat is a “smart coach.” It’s a motor-home that networks a variety of devices inside and outside the RV to provide us with enhanced comfort and safety features such as specific light levels, HVAC set points, and slideout configurations. If our electrical needs exceed the available shore power, nothing “blows.” Rather, the coach determines which appliances being used are “most important,” keeps them operative and then rotates others until more power becomes available. When outside temperatures drop to about 35 degrees, the engine compartment and plumbing heater activates automatically. These “smart coach” features are big upgrades from our previous RV’s. They make life on the road much easier. Our floor-plan includes one sofa and a large recliner, rather than the typical two sofa layout. This allows room for two credenzas, so we each have a credenza-desktop for using our computers.  Similarly, we chose a table and chairs for dining, rather than the booth arrangement alternative, since it takes up more room than we were willing to sacrifice just for dining.


Part of the cabinet pulls out so I have more counter space when I need it.

IN-DASH ENGINE MONITORING SYSTEM: Further to the “smart coach” features of our Diplomat, we are equipped with an in-dash Aladdin Monitoring System. The Aladdin system consists of many modules connected in a network that collect holding tank, power, and temperature data. These values are presented on the motorcoach’s televisions, and a small screen at the dash on the back-up monitor. Viewing is menu-driven by controlling a small joystick controller. Being able to check and monitor all these functions from the comfort of the driver’s seat is really convenient and time-saving. UPDATE: As cool as they are, the Aladdin Monitoring Systems are no longer supported and no replacement parts are available. However, Silverleaf Electronics has developed a replacement system that relies on the previously installed Aladdin wiring system. Accordingly this replacement system is easy to install and provides for the same monitoring provided by the no-longer-available Aladdin.

INTERIOR: We opted for a tile floor rather than carpet, except in the bedroom. Our past RV experience taught us that carpet gets dirty in a hurry. For me, that just doesn’t work!  Tile can be swept and vacuumed easily to keep it clean. We put traditional-style area rugs on the tile to add warmth and character to the surroundings. Overall, the interior has a lodge-like wood and rug appearance, rather than the appearance of the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Works for me! We don’t have a white poodle with a bow in her hair as a travel companion, either. Come on, it’s camping!


ENTERTAINMENT CENTER: Each of our TV’s has a separate box, so different programs can be watched at the same time. We have a roof-mounted satellite dish that’s fully automatic and ordinarily gets us very good reception. Direct TV allows for a change of “service address” whenever requested so we always have local channels. When a tree or inclement weather gets in the way, DVD players are located with each TV. High Definition TV and Blu-ray DVD make viewing just like at home. An in-dash stereo has iPod, Sirius, USB, hard drive modes, 24 hour weather and sports surround sound all the way to the bedroom. Add-on under dash speakers provide for crystal clear listening while driving.

We've made our interior look very cozy!

We’ve made our interior look very cozy!

CUMMINS 400 DIESEL: Our rig is powered by a 400 horsepower Cummins rear-end diesel engine. It is so powerful that we could probably tow a Bradley tank rather than our Jeep and not even feel the difference! It’s a very quiet ride. An Onan generator accommodates us when we don’t have shore power. It can be used even when we’re underway, so running one or both house air conditioners or heaters keeps us comfortable while traveling regardless of the outside temperature.

3 SLIDES BETTER THAN 4: We have two slides on the passenger side and one slide, almost the entire length of the coach, on the driver’s side. There are awnings over all the windows as well as the entire patio area. A shade screen can be attached to the large awning on hot days or whenever we want a little extra privacy.  We have an outside shower and space for an outside TV if we want it. We use an Autonet wireless internet wi-fi system which has turned out to be a very good and reliable way to have internet access all the time. When an RV park has a hotspot, we can even enhance it with our Wi-Fi Ranger accessory. We sometimes tether with our smartphones. Finally, I’ve got a Verizon Jetpack Mifi unit. I love it! It’s smaller than a pack of cigarettes and gives me internet access pretty much wherever I want it.

EXTERIOR: The Diplomat is a beautiful coach but the full body factory paint job wasn’t quite jazzy enough for us. We had some custom red stripes painted on both sides and on the back, just to distinguish our home on wheels from any other Monaco Diplomats we encounter on the road.


I love this chair! Florence gave it to me for my birthday.


Our bedroom is large enough that we don’t feel “squished” like we did in our old motor-home.

GALLEY AMENITIES: As you guys know, I’m a real “wanna be chef,” so just accepting the standard RV kitchen wasn’t going to work for me. So, we had a Samsung combination traditional-convection-microwave oven installed.  And on the kitchen counter we installed a two burner induction stove top with an additional standard electric burner. So now I have three cooking choices: gas, induction and also standard electric. Pretty cool! Actually, hot!


The Jeep is certainly a part of “Our Rig.” Here’s the deal: It’s uncomfortable getting in and out. It’s tight inside. However, we’re way happy we have it! Being able to go off road and getting up close to the action is worth it!


I had a second hitch welded to the frame, then installed a flagpole receiver to it.


Our flag makes a statement at night. It’s lighted by a flood light attached to the flagpole.




OLD GLORY: And finally, I’ve always been big on displaying the American flag when we’re camping. Given the length of our Journey, I decided to find a way to do so easily, without the hassle of a “Flag Buddy” and the need to get a ladder to climb the coach ladder to insert the flagpole. The mechanism I’ve rigged for this display tops all my previous efforts. It’s a real show-stopping head-turner after dark, and no matter where we’re camped it’s easy for us to find our way home at night.  The pole is tall and it collapses to just six feet for easy storage in our basement. The flag is illuminated by a light-sensitive floodlight permanently attached to the pole. I welded a tube-like pole receiver to a second tow hitch which is installed to the frame at the back of the coach. Raising the colors is as easy as can be: I just attach the flag to the pole, extend the pole and place it in the receiver. No longer do I need to get a ladder to climb the RV ladder to insert the flagpole in the “Flag Buddy” system I used in the past. My flag is 4 x 6 feet and since it’s lighted, it can legally fly 24/7 unless it’s raining. It’s easy to retire the colors in a stiff breeze as well: again no ladders required.  God Bless America!

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We stop sometimes at Cabela’s for the night when we’re traveling and don’t need much more than a place to park for about 8 hours while we get some sleep. Cabela’s supplies a safe, clean and secure lot and RV’ers are welcomed with open arms. The store is open late and there’s a restaurant on site. When you can find a Cabela’s, forget Walmart or a Truck-stop.