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Volume 6


Whitehouse, Texas to Alaska then the Yukon & Beyond: Private Motor Coach, Inc. Completes Longest Trip and Most Miles in Company History

“Patty's Charm” – the only luxury motor coach operated by Private Motor Coach, Inc. – completed the 49-day roundtrip from Whitehouse, Texas to Alaska and the Yukon logging some 10,115 miles. This milestone marks the longest trip and most miles covered in a single trip for the young company, which will celebrate its five-year anniversary in January 2004.

“I had only one customer aboard. Her name is Mimi Cocks,” says driver and owner/operator Ed Lonsbary. 

Mimi Cocks of Levittown, New York had traveled aboard the coach before achieving the first longest trip, most mile record for Private Motor Coach, Inc. That was in 2001 when Lonsbary escorted her to Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole and other “out West” places. She booked her Alaska trip a short time later.

“Travelers can visit Alaska using any means,” says Lonsbary, “but aboard a house-on-wheels you experience the land and scenery at your own pace not just tour the territory.”

Most memorable says Lonsbary were the days boon docked along the pullouts of the Denali Highway with panoramic views of the Alaska Mountain Range and Mt. McKinley. Also, noteworthy says Lonsbary was the scenic drive along the Top of the World Highway from Tok, Alaska to Dawson Creek, Yukon.

"Along the Top of the World Highway, views of tree covered valleys and mountain ridges created a scenes of untouched paradise.  This is also one of the highways where my experience driving the coach on mountain roads made a difference.  The narrow, winding mountain roads were all in a day's work for me," says the ever-safety conscious Lonsbary.

Four years ago, Lonsbary pioneered this unique vacation concept.  Limiting the number of vacation travelers to four, Lonsbary takes people "Anywhere-Anytime" there's a road to travel in North, Central and South America.

Private Motor Coach, Inc. travel features fully escorted, private, motorhome trips via an MCI-9 40-foot bus conversion.  The luxury coach houses a queen-sized bed, kitchen, bathroom/shower, lounge area, washer/dryer, and plenty of storage areas.  The corporate headquarters is in Whitehouse, Texas.

Glaciers and Foil Packs Delight New York Traveler

            “Patty’s Charm” logged over 10,000 miles June through July for a trip taking Mimi Cocks of Levittown, New York through Alaska, Yukon and parts of western Canada.  Mimi is a fifty-something, single woman who travels, bicycles, hikes, meditates, and enjoys photography.  A previous trip on “Patty’s Charm” took Mimi round trip from Pennsylvania to Yellowstone National Park in 2001.  Now, with a second trip past, Mimi will tell you with her distinct “New York” accent that she just loves living aboard the bus for weeks at a time.

A rendezvous on June 15th in Seattle, Washington joined Mimi from her cross-country flight out of New York with “Patty’s Charm.” Private Motor Coach, Inc. owner-operator Ed Lonsbary had deadheaded from Whitehouse, Texas to Seattle with a load of Mimi’s stuff – bicycle, cold weather wear, and favorite foods – that had been shipped a month earlier. 

            During the first days of the trip, Ed drove from Seattle to Prince Rupert, British Columbia.  There he loaded “Patty’s Charm” aboard M/V Kennicott. The Kennicott is the newest vessel of the Alaska Marine Highway fleet.  She is 382 feet long, 85 feet wide with nine decks. This marine vessel crosses the Gulf of Alaska along the Inside Passage, a natural protected waterway extending from the state of Washington to Skagway, Alaska.  With “Patty’s Charm” tethered in the hull of the ferry, Ed and Mimi cruised the Inside Passage with stops in Ketchikan and later Juneau, Alaska’s capital city.

At the stopover in Juneau on June 24th, Mimi saw her first glacier and Ed’s wife Patty joined the travelling pair.  Patty had flown to Juneau four days earlier to begin her first time exploration of Alaska.   She had toured the Alaska State Museum and the Last Chance Mining Museum, visited St. Nicholas Orthodox Church and the Shrine of St. Therese, and ridden the Mount Roberts Tramway. Yet, nothing impressed her greater than the natural beauty of hiking and exploring the Mendenhall Glacier. At her recommendation, Mimi hopped a cab to experience the Mendenhall Glacier.  This popular attraction is massive with a face 100 feet tall and 1.5 miles wide. Its length of over 6 miles cuts through the Juneau mountain peaks with its dense ice.  After this short sampling of Alaska’s glacier phenomenon, Mimi returned to the Kennicott with awe and excitement.  She was ready for more Alaska scenery.

Because Southeast Alaska is not connected by a road system, the people of Alaska use the state ferry system as a vital part of their transportation.  During the two-day ferry trip from Juneau to Valdez, Mimi, Ed, and Patty watched for marine wildlife and coastal scenery from the solarium and forward observation deck.  And, they enjoyed long visits in the cocktail lounge with other tourists and Alaskan residents who could share more about life in Alaska than any visitor’s guide book.

In Valdez, the wheels of “Patty’s Charm” would begin to roll.  Off-loaded from the ferry by a massive lift, Ed resumed driving the bus a short distance to boondock along a stream and mountain pass just outside town. For a couple of days, Valdez offered hiking, bicycling, and the sights of an Alaska town – fishing boats in the harbor, shops for outdoor enthusiasts and T-shirt hunting tourists, and more.  A museum there commemorates the 1964 earthquake that left the town in ruin. Unique to Valdez, it is the terminus of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System which transports crude oil from the oil fields on Alaska’s North Slope across 800 miles of tundra, rugged mountains, and rivers.  At the Valdez Marine Terminal, crude oil is loaded into tankers for transport to refineries on the U.S. West Coast.  On the afternoon of June 28th, “Patty’s Charm” wound from Valdez to Paxson along the Richardson Highway (Alaska Route 4) to connect with the Denali Highway (Alaska Route 8) for a dusty ride. 

The Denali Highway extends 134 miles from Paxson to Cantwell, Alaska.  The first 21 miles from Paxson and the last three miles to Cantwell are paved the rest is gravel.  Surfaces ranged from good gravel to rough and rocky.  The occasional passing of car, truck or bus, stirred dust so much you could taste it.  Vehicles behind “Patty’s Charm” were quick to pass rather than follow the stirred cloud of dust. 

Unusually clear skies offered views of the Alaska Range and summits like Mt. McKinley, Mt. Sanford, Mt. Hayes, Hess Mountain and Mt. Deborah.  Large paved turnouts made it easy for Ed to stop the motor coach for photographing lake and glacier scenery or simply the quiet pleasure of seeing forever off in the distant mountains. 

            The Milepost book describes campsites along the Denali Highway as primitive, but traveling in “Patty’s Charm” could hardly be “primitive.”  The diesel-powered generator creates electricity for microwaving “Ed’s famous tuna potatoes” and stovetop cooking.  The same generator runs heat and air conditioning (We used both in Alaska). And, holding tanks on board make for a full functioning bathroom and hot showers to rinse the road dust away.  

            The closest to primitive camping came about one evening when Ed built a campfire.  Since it never really got dark (daylight lasted for 18 hours or more throughout the trip) and it wasn’t really cold that day, the fire was just for “the effect.”  And besides that Ed needed the space in the bus bay where he stored the firewood for other stuff.  So we had a fire.

The fire produced one of Mimi’s most memorable meals of the trip. When the embers were glowing, Patty foil-packed leftover beans and placed them into the fire ring to heat.  She balanced a 2’ x 2’ square of plywood used for leveling the bus onto Mimi’s lap to serve as a table.  And, then Patty plopped the hot bean pack on the makeshift table.  The steam and the spicy aroma rose out of the opened foil pack.  Mimi dug in to the beans then asked for seconds saying, “this is gourmet!”

After two days of “primitive” camping,  “Patty’s Charm” settled into the Denali RV Park.  Now, we could rely on a 30-amp power connection not the generator.  This became base camp for three-days to enjoy excursions for wildlife sightings, a dog sled demonstration, hiking and bicycling in Denali National Park. 

In Talkeetna, we camped under the cottonwood trees near the Talkeetna River.  While Mimi took a ride on the Talkeetna train to see the countryside.  Ed and Patty tested their angling skills in the river.  After several successful casts, Patty said, “Watch this” and cast out into the middle of the river, snagging a huge log!  Determined not to loose his new $7 lure, Ed stripped to his jockey briefs and waded into the icy river water.  (Someday ask Ed if the water was cold.)    He got the lure and Patty got a good laugh!  Ed wasn't laughing.  "That water is freezing!" he said with a shiver.

You could hear Ed chuckling once in a while from inside the bus, but he wasn’t laughing about retrieving the lure.  He was reading a book about Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and the early company history reminded him of his own follies in founding Private Motor Coach, Inc.   Patty, surprised that Ed’s business book could generate chuckles, found her own joy in reading several paperbacks she traded at the Valdez Library book exchange.

When the books closed, Patty and Ed visited the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum documenting the history of the town.  Talkeetna survived through the years as gold prospectors and miners, fur traders, riverboat pilots, aviation pioneers, and railroad workers sought services.  Now the town thrives as an outdoor recreation center for hunting, fishing, and recreation enthusiasts.  Also in Talkeetna, you can take a summer dog-mushing trip and fly over the summit of Mt. McKinley to land on a glacier.  Mimi did both.

By contrast, Anchorage is like any metropolitan city with shops, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment.  A Saturday open air market offered samplings of Russian cabbage rolls and other ethnic foods, crafts, jewelry and furs.  A short drive from the city is Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla, the sled dog racing capital of the world.  And, Anchorage is home to the Alaska Native Heritage Center.  The displays, exhibits, films, performances and demonstrations present the traditions of Alaska’s indigenous people.

We visited each place knowing that the natural scenery of Alaska we’d experienced far exceeded the city and museum centers.  Not to be outdone, Anchorage had a surprise in store.

            Just before midnight on the 4th of July, the booms of fireworks woke us. The sky – though not fully midnight black – became lit by the cascades of lights high on the horizon and as the lights fell in a shimmering reflection on the city buildings.  This was Alaska’s grand finalé!

Customer Trips 2003 - Mimi's trip to Alaska onboard the Alaska Marine Ferry M.V. Kennicott via The Inside Passage to Valdez, AK and on to The Yukon , Alberta and British Columbia a total of 10, 115 miles. Page 1

Customer Trips 2003 - Mimi's trip to Alaska onboard the Alaska Marine Ferry M.V. Kennicott via The Inside Passage to Valdez, AK and on to The Yukon , Alberta and British Columbia a total of 10, 115 miles. Page 2

Customer Trips 2003 - Mimi's trip to Alaska onboard the Alaska Marine Ferry M.V. Kennicott via The Inside Passage to Valdez, AK and on to The Yukon , Alberta and British Columbia a total of 10, 115 miles. Page 3

Private Motor Coach, Inc. Helps Clean-Up Whitehouse, Texas

Old Tyler Road in Whitehouse, Texas got a facelift on Saturday, April 5, 2003.  A volunteer roadway clean-up crew, sponsored by Private Motor Coach, Inc., removed dumped debris and litter from this country road. The crew worked for nearly three hours beginning at the intersection of Old Tyler Road and Highway 110 in Whitehouse and ending the clean up just beyond the crossing of Moser Road.

“People continue to dump waste along this pastoral country road,” says Private Motor Coach, Inc. President Ed Lonsbary.  “Our volunteer team collected 32 bags of litter and filled the bed of full size pick-up truck with large items.”

“Old television sets, the inside drum of a washing machine, many tires, empty plastic pails, sheets of dry wall, metal rods, pieces of house siding, a microwave, old chairs, carpet, many bottles and cans…we found just about everything!” remarked Lonsbary.

Private Motor Coach, Inc. adopted Old Tyler Road for clean-up over a year ago when the Lonsbary family participated in the 2002 Clean-up Whitehouse Day.  As needed, Lonsbary, his wife Patty and daughter Suzie Wassel gather litter along this roadside. Two signs along the road give Private Motor Coach, Inc. recognition for this community service. The April 5th clean up crew was assigned to Private Motor Coach, Inc. as part of the 2003 Clean-up Whitehouse Day activity.

Private Motor Coach, Inc. Joins Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce

“We want to become a part of the regional community leadership and be involved in local business initiatives,” explains Private Motor Coach President Ed Lonsbary when asked why he recently joined the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Lonsbary says his participation in the Tyler Chamber is long overdue.  “I moved my business from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Whitehouse, Texas in August 2001.  In Pittsburgh, my wife Patty and I were active members in the North Allegheny Chamber of Commerce.  We always found the Chamber to be advocates for small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as resources for information.  We have missed that network. We are pleased to join in membership with the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce.”

The mission of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce is to enhance the business environment, the economy, and quality of life for the Tyler area.  Private Motor Coach, Inc. is a travel company offering the unique opportunity to live aboard a luxury bus conversion – type house on wheels for vacation, business or special needs travel. Selected as Exemplary Website

"Congratulations for being selected by METRO MAGAZINE and METRO as this week's exemplary website!" says the Guest Book message retrieved from the Private Motor Coach, Inc. website.

Had it not been for this message from "The Wolfman" of Albuquerque, New Mexico this honor would have gone unnoticed.  Travels through Alaska and the Yukon disconnected Ed Lonsbary from regular email publications for several weeks during the trip so he was unaware that the recognition by this prestigious trade publication occurred in early August 2003.

Thank you to "The Wolfman" and METRO too!


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