Our second day in Elkhart, we decided to see the RVMH Museum. I think every one of our friends had visited the museum and although I had heard mixed reviews it definitely was something I wanted to do. The MH in RVMH by the way actually stands for manufactured housing not motor home, which was the first of many surprises, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This place is best described in pictures though so let me walk you through it.
First off it is a really beautiful and large campus located on a large piece of property in Northern Elkhart. If you are just passing by, they do have a huge parking lot and allow overnight stays, although there are no hook-ups of any kind. We arrived bright and early when they opened and paid $12 each to enter. The cost seems to be the biggest complaint, and I agree it is on the high side, but I personally felt it was totally worth it at the end. If you don’t want to pay the $12, you can stop and take a picture with the elk outside and then visit the huge gift shop, which had lots of cool RVer items..many of which I had never seen before.
The building is currently divided into 4 major areas but they definitely have room to expand. Upstairs there is a big RVer library that has manuals, magazines, and other books about RVing. We walked upstairs first, at the suggestion of the very nice woman who was working in the gift shop, mainly to see a birds eye view of the gallery.
We walked back down and were faced with three large rooms. We started on the left (as we faced them) and went into the exhibitors hall. The exhibitors hall is exactly what you would think with booths provided by numerous vendors. It’s definitely worth a look though because a few of the vendors have provided historical artifacts and we found that part enjoyable. It felt a little like an RV show, without the people, and although I didn’t begrudge the museum the opportunity to have additional sponsorship, I did think wonder how these sponsorships impacted entrance fees.
There were lots of stories, like the one above throughout the museum. Initially RVing was a hobby and many of the standard features we have today started with as inventions that solved a problem by an enthusiast. The whole history truly shows American ingenuity at it’s best and we both found it fascinating.
Next up was the Founders Room, and that is really what people come to see. There are tons of old RV’s crammed into this section and it was extremely well done. We have been to RV museums before..including an excellent one in Amarillo, Texas and although I really liked it. Each description card had really good information and I read every one. What fascinated me the most were all the examples of “firsts.” As you know from reading my blog titles I am a big fan of “first” and seeing how things we take for granted got started was really cool. My only complaint was this section was jam packed and a little cramped. They have lots of unused space in other areas of the building and in my opinion they should expand this area and make it even better. Anyways, here are some of my favorites, but by no means are these all the RVs we saw.
My second favorite was this 1937 Hunt Housecar which was designed by cinematographer Roy Hunt to use on movie shoots. We probably owe quite a bit in function and design to the movie industry as they have used these vehicles since the beginning when filming on locations.
Finally we toured the last section which was the Go RVing Hall. This section again was pretty sparse and the materials were largely provided by vendors but they did have an excellent model of the RV Manufacture process which I found fascinating. I really didn’t know the order they used when they created an RV and it was neat to see the overview. Plus they had a few new models on display and we walked through a very nice Jayco and checked it out.
After we finished with the museum we did walk outside and see the manufactured home on display. Lee was curious and I’ll have to admit when we walked inside the double unit we were pretty blown away. First of all, their was so much room (in comparison to our RV) and there were some very nice features. Lee actually talked about how he could live in one of these eventually which really surprised me. We talk about getting a piece of land and eventually putting a house on it someday, but I always pictured building a small home. A manufactured home might be a better solution, especially since we plan on finding a place kind of out by ourselves and are not really interested in one of the senior living communities.
After we saw the home, I was starving and we tried a local diner called Stacks Pancake House which the gift shop employee recommended. What a terrific little restaurant. For $7.99 I got an excellent club sandwich, soup, chips, and a drink. The service was great, the place was clean and I give it my highest recommendation.
So that’s all of the posts on Elkhart, Indiana. It was a jam packed two days with a Mor-Ryde installation, buying RV Furniture, seeing friends, and of course the museum. We are on our way to Columbus to see our families, then a quick trip to the Carolinas to see my daughter and sister, and finally will arrive at Amazon in Campbellsville, KY October 30th. I am committed to keeping up with the blogs as best I can…although I often find myself writing these posts at 4am, and because Lee and I are going to be in two separate states for awhile, it’s going to be doubly hard to get these out in a timely manner. We are making it a priority though, and ask for your patience as we wind through the next couple of weeks.
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