By Sherry Van Arsdall
CNHI News Service
ELKHART, Ind. —
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels took his final trip in RV-1 Wednesday, traveling from Indianapolis to the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart.
The governor is donating RV-1 to the Indiana State Museum, but the popular recreational vehicle will be on display temporarily at the Hall of Fame, according to B.J. Thompson, president of B.J. Thompson Associates and a member of the RV/MH Heritage Foundation.
“I brought you a little piece of Indiana history,” Gov. Daniels said to Thompson about his legendary campaign RV, a Damon motorhome made by Thor Industries, that has logged tens of thousands of miles and visited all 92 Indiana counties.
“People seem more interested in it than in me,” Daniels said chuckling. “I get asked about it everywhere I go. It’s been a marvel the last eight years how this has taken on its own personality. When I ask myself why this vehicle, it’s the way it was used and how it was conveyed — as approachable, accessible and available to the people of Indiana.”
Daniels said the vehicle conveys a message that every place mattered during his two terms as governor and that no place has been forgotten. The RV even had its own reality show, he said, referring to paid television programs during his first campaign.
There are more than 30,000 Hoosier signatures both outside and inside RV-1 that have accumulated since that first campaign for governor in 2004.
“It was a stroke of genius for letting people sign it. There’s a story behind each signature,” Daniels said. “People felt a sense of ownership when signing it. It means memories to me, priceless memories, as I look around at the signatures.”
Daniels recently added his signature in one of the only spaces left available — the dashboard.
The governor even choked up a bit as he handed the keys to Thompson and then later laughed when he described his travels with RV-1.
“We drove the wheels off of it,” he said. “It’s like it took a licking and kept on ticking. It’s not designed for quick stops and starts but it kept on making side trips and impromptu stops. It endured things no one expected it to endure. It’s had rough roads and long miles — 85,000 hard miles. No leisurely trips. If we counted stops instead of miles it would be off the charts. It’s stood up to the wear and tear.”
Daniels was asked if he’ll have a Purdue RV when he takes over as the university’s president next year, and Daniels said he’s not sure.
“This is my favorite mode of conveyance,” he said. “Along with a motorcycle.”