A Motorhome Story, "How We Got Started"

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September 28, 2010

Good Sam Club Member: Jim Maehl

In 1976 I had the privilege of working aboard The Motor Vessel Wild Goose owned by John Wayne.  I served as Captain aboard the vessel.  The MV Wild Goose is 136 foot vessel converted from a minesweeper into John Wayne’s private yacht.

I was planning a vacation with my family we were going to rent an older motorhome from a neighbor of ours.  A few days before our trip was to begin my neighbor informed me that there was a major mechanical problem with his motorhome.  I knew that John Wayne had a motorhome provided to him which he used mostly on location or on the back lot of the studios.  I knew that when he was not using the motorhome they would rent it out to other actors to use for the same purpose.

I gave Duke a call at his home to see if it would be possible to rent it from him at the last minute.  When John Wayne answered the phone I explained my predicament with my neighbors motorhome and asked him if he would be interested in renting is motorhome to me.  And his answer to me was, “No skipper, you cannot rent it but you are more than welcome to use it”.  I told him I was more than willing to pay for it.  And in typical John Wayne fashion he said, “Skipper, quit while you are ahead”. And of course I replied with big OK.

Duke made arrangements for me to pick the motorhome up at Burbank Studios where it was located.  I was directed to the back lot where one of his aides handed me the keys to a brand-new Apollo motorhome.  And it was beautiful!  Of course today motor homes have advanced a lot but in its day Apollo was a first-class motorhome.

After the shock wore off of seeing this motorhome I suddenly realized it was parked on a street in New York.  Liza Minnelli had been using John Wayne’s motorhome on the back lot of Burbank Studios where she had just finished making the movie New York, New York.  When I got the motorhome to my house I began prepping it for our trip.  I decided to vacuum out the bedroom only to discover that the shag carpet was full of sequins from Liza’s costumes.  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!  We had a great vacation with that motorhome and were the center of attention wherever we stopped when people found out whom it belonged to.  Needless to say I have a big mouth.

We were fortunate enough to get to use it one more time a year later.  As a result of this my wife and I have owned four motorhomes.  We finally worked our way up to a diesel pusher which we love.  Thanks Duke for getting us started!

Story submitted by Good Sam Club member:
Captain Jim & Willma Maehl


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  1. in 2008, i purchased a new Gulfstream motorhome from a dealership in Colton, CA. They were power washing it when I came to take possession. When I arrived home I noticed a large water stain on the drapes above the cabover. I contacted the dealership and was told Gulfstream would not return their e-mails or phone calls. Said I would need to do this myself, maybe I would have better luck. They would only reseal the widow. After many, many many months of phone calls and registered letters,with no success, just the run-a-round, I finally e-mailed Gulfstream saying I was 74 years old and apparently they were waiting for me to die of old age so they would not have to fix the problem. Suddenly I received a package from them, but it only contained ONE HALF of a set of drapes! I wrote the shipping dept. and FINALLY received the other half. I hardily agree with other’s comments about the terrible customer service people receive these days. One bright spot: I recently passed by the dealership that sold me the vehicle, and they were “Out of Business” Had to smile! Good news for any future customers.