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Meet a Member | Family Motor Coach Association

Daniel and Susan Armstrong, Pine River, Minn.

This active couple joined FMCA for the "camaraderie, community and music." He tunes pianos and can play 13 instruments. She's a manager at a machining and fabrication shop and loves her work.


Motorhome travelers Daniel and Susan ArmstrongFMCA membership number:

F326065 (we joined in 2003)

Our current motorhome:
A 1991 Journey 35-foot split level (not a Winnebago). It is an early FRED (front-engine diesel) now powered by a newly rebuilt 1993 5.9-liter 230-horsepower Cummins TD engine, wastegated and intercooled, and an Allison four-speed transmission.

Three words that best describe our motorhome:
Comfortable, “classic,” quality

The best thing about our motorhome:
The magic wheels take us to the grandchildren in style and provide great comfort while traveling.

Other motorhomes we’ve owned:
None, but I (Daniel) had a 1962 Corvair Greenbrier that my dad and I converted to a camper van. We’ve also owned several different slide-in truck campers as well, though they weren’t technically motorhomes.

We decided to buy a motorhome because:
We were debating on a motorhome or fifth-wheel and it turned out that we could get the motorhome for a better price than buying a fifth-wheel and fixing up our truck. We’re glad we made the choice we did.

Our occupations:
Susan is quality manager for a machining and fabrication shop. She loves her work. I am retired USN, and currently repair and tune pianos and stringed instruments. I also teach motorcycle safety under the auspices of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation through Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center. We met while we were both in the Navy at Propulsion Engineering Systems School Command “A” school in Great Lakes, Illinois.

Children, grandchildren:
We have a married daughter and two grandchildren as well as a married son. Our daughter is married to an Air Force guy. Our son did one hitch in the Marines and decided that was enough and is married to a real nice girl he met while playing in the community band at the junior college in Brainerd, Minn.

We travel in our motorhome:
Approximately three months of the year. When we’re not motorhoming, we’re keeping busy with projects, our jobs and getting ready for the next trip.

Our favorite motorhoming destinations:
Everywhere. The USA is beautiful.

Our all-time favorite motorhome trip or motorhoming memory:
The Great Smoky Mountains for the views, the people, and the culture.

Our “dream” motorhome trip:
Would like to take a trip to Alaska.

Our perfect day of motorhome travel:
We would love to full-time when Susan retires.

Our worst motorhoming experience:
Our Labor Day trip to California when the injector pump was not operating properly, or our trip coming home from Duluth, Minn., when the engine blew up.

Our motorhoming pet peeve:
Electrical wiring on used motorhomes after someone else has messed with it. Another pet peeve would be when someone parks too close to the motorhome in a parking lot just to block you in, after you were courteous enough to park in the back of the lot to stay out of everyone else’s way.

The best addition or alteration we’ve made to our motorhome:
New carpet, surround sound, flat-screen TV, new flooring in the kitchen area, and a spare tire carrier.

If we could change one thing about our motorhome, it would be:
House battery location and size. It is on the list to change, by the way. (My to-do list is really long.)

Something about motorhoming that we know now but did NOT know when we started:
The dumping of black and gray water tanks. Always dump the black water first and then the gray.

When driving a motorhome, the most important thing to remember is:
Keep your attention up ahead, way down the road -- about a quarter mile if possible is good. The brake lights from up ahead will alert you to the fact you need to plan on slowing down soon.

Our advice for other motorhome owners:
Know your motorhome and keep the manuals handy. If you don’t have manuals, locate some (the Internet is good for this task; ask us how we know). Always be courteous to others on the road.

Our hobbies:
Cross-country skiing, fishing, reading, and just having fun. I love to play music and spend a great deal of time doing gigs, playing in the Heartland Symphony, and other musical groups. I love to ride my motorcycle as well. Susan loves to do leaded stained-glass work.

Favorite restaurants: Mexican food

Celebrities we admire: Charles Colson and George Beverly Shea

Something others would be surprised to know about us:
I was a boiler technician in the Navy but now tune pianos. I play 13 musical instruments. Susan was a Machinist Mate in the Navy.

If we were awarded a shopping spree at the store of our choice, the store we’d choose is:
Camping World

Favorite campground: at our U.S. national parks

When motorhomers visit our state or hometown, they should be sure to see:
Itasca State Park. The headwaters of the Mississippi reside there, flowing south out of Lake Itasca.

Items that we always keep in our motorhome’s refrigerator while traveling:
Sodas, cheese, and fruit

The best motorhoming advice we’ve ever received:
Don’t be afraid to personalize your motorhome. Make sure both of you know how to drive even if one is the preferred driver.

Our advice to new motorhomers:
Research, plan and have fun.

Behind our motorhome, we tow:
A trailer with a 1980 Suzuki GS850L motorcycle fully dressed, or a 1974 Jeep CJ6 with a tow bar, or a 1991 Shadow on dolly.

When we’re online, Web sites we like to visit:
FMCA.com, GSResources.com, Talkbass.com, Facebook, Camping World, and stained-glass sites.

A technical or travel tip we’d like to share with other motorhome owners:
Check your tires each time you stop or get a monitoring device for your tires. Also, if you’re towing something make sure everything is secure on the toad.

We joined FMCA because: camaraderie, community and music

FMCA chapters that we belong to:
Frustrated Maestros Midwest Noteables, Great Lakes Frustrated Maestros

Other comments:
If you are ever in the Brainerd Lakes area of Minnesota, you are welcome to stop by and visit. We have 30-amp electric available in two places for visiting friends.

Other FMCA members may contact use via e-mail: or

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