This unusual motor coach gives “home away from home” a new meaning.
By K. Stephen Busick, F45180
When you own a company that builds fine log homes, you must have skilled craftsmen in your employ. And if you also own a motor coach, it makes perfect sense to have those craftsmen customize it in a like manner. During my visit to Distinct Discovery Homes Inc., in Greenville, Michigan, owner Mike Sokol, F317253, told me that he wanted to “create the ambience of an elegant cabin” in his motorhome. He certainly has achieved that goal.
Dubbed the “Cabin Cruiser,” Mike’s 1985 Itasca truly is a “converted coach.” He spent three months updating this 34-footer into the work of art that it is today. Mechanical features were renovated, as was the coach body. When Mike told me that he had installed stainless-steel screws in the taillight assemblies, I was sure that I was in for a treat inside “” and I certainly was. I was impressed by the quality of materials in the interior, not to mention the impeccable workmanship. After touring his motorhome, I can see why Mike is branching out into the coach conversion business with a new company called D.D.H. Coachworks.
Distinct Discovery Homes specializes in building customized log or timber frame homes from the ground up, personalizing each to customer specifications. With the creation of D.D.H. Coachworks, motorhomers who like the cabin home concept can work with the company’s artisans to add “personality” to their home on wheels, whether through a few minor alterations or via more extensive renovations inside and out.
I’m not sure which I noticed first upon entering the Cabin Cruiser “” the beautifully finished hickory floor or the Corian-topped dinette supported by a white cedar post. The atmosphere was immediately established, and when I turned around and spied the ventless gas fireplace nestled between two swivel leather rockers, it seemed a very natural addition. Upon closer examination of the fireplace, I found that the stones in the surround had been specially cut to make room for the igniter. The fire added an element of warmth, cheer, and coziness to a dreary, foggy, late autumn day.
Mike pointed out that the stone was not the only thing that had to be specially cut for the Cabin Cruiser. Because the coach has curved sides, all cabinet material had to be scribed and cut to fit, a task that Mike and his employees are very familiar with, because of the custom-built nature of their business.
Bead-board wainscoting adds a classic touch to the interior and serves as a counterpoint to the 3/8-inch-thick aromatic cedar ceiling. This same cedar is repeated in the faces of the cabinets with their doweled maple stiles.
The kitchen includes a dramatic solid brass double sink with a practical and beautiful Kohler extension faucet. The custom-installed hickory trim on the refrigerator echoes the hickory flooring.
The brass theme in the kitchen continues in the bath, where the vanity is outfitted with a hammered solid brass sink crafted in Argentina.
Throughout the coach the ambience of an elegant cabin is enhanced by many stylistic touches. The light between the rear twin beds sports a fish image, as does every wooden tieback used to secure the lined curtains, which are made of Ralph Lauren fabric. Pictures of wildlife and the outdoors, along with flags and other patriotic mementos, grace the interior walls of the coach.
Handstitched leather straps, which match the leather on the cockpit seats, couch, dinette, and swivel chairs, hold the pocket doors open.
Of course, an elegant cabin needs modern entertainment. A satellite dish sits atop the coach exterior, and inside, one of two flat-screen TVs hangs above the fireplace. This one swivels to accommodate those sitting at the dinette or on the leather couch immediately behind the driver’s seat. The second television is situated in the rear bedroom. The coach also has XM satellite radio in the walnut-trimmed dash and a 500-watt surround-sound system. If anyone should need further entertainment, two PlayStation 2 systems are on board as well.
Every home, especially one that can sleep seven, will get dirty and need cleaning. To simplify this job in the Cabin Cruiser, Mike has installed a central vacuum system.
And to ensure adequate electrical power at all times, the Cabin Cruiser has 12 gel-cell batteries connected to a 4,200-watt inverter and an auto-start system on the generator.
A coach this different on the inside shouldn’t look like every other motorhome on the road, and it doesn’t. Full-length murals of a stylized American flag grace both sides of the exterior. The patio awning fabric sports the image of a waving American flag, so that Old Glory appears when it is unfurled.
Closer examination of the coach’s exterior reveals the autographs of some of the people who have spent time in the Cabin Cruiser. These include country music stars such as George Jones, Merle Haggard, and, not surprisingly, Lee Greenwood, the singer of “God Bless the U.S.A.” When the Cabin Cruiser is parked, Mike can use a key fob to illuminate red, white, and blue neon lights under the coach.
Finally, no self-respecting cabin could be considered complete without a mounted head of that never-seen-alive-but-often-seen-stuffed legendary denizen of the deepest woods and picture postcards: the “jackalope.” The Cabin Cruiser is no exception. Perhaps this jackalope is enjoying the fireplace after spending all the days of its life hidden from us. Or, perhaps it is simply enjoying that “ambience of an elegant cabin” that Mike told me he wanted to create, and did.
D.D.H. Coachworks, 8091 W. Peck Road, Greenville, MI 48838; (616) 225-0006, cell: (231) 206-5739; fax: (616) 225-0069; www.ddhcoachworks.com