Saturday, August 28, 2010

Keeping Up The Pace

Early mornings, busy days, fun evenings, great weather, wonderful friends, how could it get better – we are enjoying and treasuring every day.  As I reported on Thursday, there was a definite chill in the air when we got up.  That didn’t last long, the sun soon warmed  us and we ended up with a beautiful day.

After line dancing class, a bunch of us (I think our count was around 14 or 16 people) visited the RV Hall of Fame and Museum located here in Elkhart.  This is a “must see” when in this area.  There are several components to it, including a display of the latest in designs for today’s RV’s, a hall displaying equipment and accessories – anything from tow bars to refrigerators; a large display of historical RV’s dating from the early 1900’s to the 1970’s; and a huge reference library.

Chuck, Kathy, Dortha and Mark on the RV Museum Tour:

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This 1931 House Car was specially built for Mae West.  Although it was not for camping, she was transported to and from movie sets in it:

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After our visit, we figured out we were all really hungry, so we split up and went in different directions, it seems everyone had different plans for the afternoon.  Dortha, Mark, Jim and I ended up over in Shipshewana at the Dutchmaid Diner.  This is a buffet-type restaurant recommended to us by John & Bridgett.  Great recommendation!  It was delicious, I would like to go over there again before we get out of this area.  Have you ever had German Chocolate Pie?  Yes, Pie!  Dortha & Mark split one piece and Jim & I split another.

Following our lunch, we decided to go back to one of the furniture places we’d tried to visit before, but was closing  early for that day just as we got there.  This is the Lambright RV Retail Outlet, not far outside Shipshewana.  We did find a chair Jim likes very much, but we’re not sure yet if we will get it.  We’ve sent an e-mail to the manufacturer of the Euro-recliner he has now, to see if the bottom ring can be replaced.  Stay tuned for the outcome on that.

We got back to the campground in time for happy hour and a Mexican-style potluck dinner with our group. 

Friday morning was the last line dancing class.  I went early for the advanced beginner session and found I was totally lost with the new steps, oh well, it was still great fun!  After class, Jim & I took off and had lunch, then I went for a pedicure at a local salon. while Jim waited in the car with a good book.  We needed to stop at the store on the way home to pick up hot dogs for the evening’s hot-dog grill.  We got back in time for a large happy hour, attended by a great group of people, probably close to 40 or so.  It was held under the big tent that’s been set up for the rally next week.

A little before noon today we finally got going towards Michigan to check out the Round Barn Winery.  Actually, we ended up at one of their tasting rooms, after which we tried a restaurant recommended by one of the winery staff members. I thought that was another good choice!  We made our way to a small beach along Lake Michigan for a quick look and short walk before coming back to the campground.

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Dortha gets her feet wet every time she finds water!

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This evening’s activities included the usual happy hour, but since the Dallas Cowboys had a pre-season football game on TV, we came on home from that a little early. 

Tomorrow is our last day to get things done before the rally, I have a feeling it will be busy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pre-Rally Fun Continues

We’ve established somewhat of a routine with our group, which has continued to grow and now consists of 7 couples: Kathy & Chuck, Karen & Donnie, Arlene & Kevin, Donna & Keith, Lynette & Greg (Mac), Dortha & Mark, and Jim & myself.   We don’t do everything together, but we’ve been gathering in the evening for happy hour and some sort of dinner.  One evening everyone brought their own choice of meat to grill along with something for the salad bar.

Oh yes, Jim found time to throw together one of his cherry chocolate cakes in the Dutch Oven:

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The next night we just offered a potato bar, everyone brought their own potato and a topping for the potato.  That night we invited more folks who are here for the Gypsy Journal Rally, as well as Molly & Bob.  Dee & Jim came along, they are staying over in Goshen at the fairgrounds for a few days.

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I’ve taken up line dancing this week.  Carol & Marlene , who are also here for the rally, are teaching an informal class before the rally starts next week, and Dortha started last week.  She seemed to enjoy it, so I decided to try it.  I’m glad I did, I’m having a good time!  Arlene and Karen have been coming along too, and there are a few other women as well.  None of the men have joined us – yet!  Line dancing classes can be found at a lot of campgrounds across the country, so I’m hoping I’ll have the opportunity to keep taking it even after we’ve moved on.  I know there’ll be a class at the Escapade.

I’ve also been walking nearly every morning, although yesterday I took the morning off to bathe both dogs and groom Mr. Bo Jangles.  I just had them groomed in Red Bay, but they already needed some trimming, so I took advantage of the cool, calm morning to get it done.  I’ve been trying a couple of new training tricks with the dogs recently.  Mr. Bo Jangles has always been a “puller” when we walk, and has some aggressive tendencies when we encounter other dogs.  I tried a Halti lead before but didn’t have a lot of success.  Recently I met someone else who uses one and decided to make another attempt.  This time it’s working pretty well! 

The lead goes loosely over his nose to a ring under his chin and a strap fastens at the back of his head.  The leash is attached to the ring under his chin.  Dogs don’t like to have their heads turned, so when he pulls or tries to lunge, his head is turned towards me, and he stops.  The loop that goes over his nose is loose enough for him to eat, drink, bark, pant, etc., it only tightens up and turns his head if he pulls:

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Jasmine is a barker, once she starts barking, she likes to keep it up.  I’ve tried many of the usual methods, a water spray bottle, can of rocks, shot of canned air, etc., to no avail.  The same woman who uses the Halti lead told me to try a lime – one of those little plastic bottles of lime juice that looks like a lime.  Another success – we’re making good progress with that one, too.

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We’ve been out exploring and shopping every day, but have stayed away from any more Amish restaurants – so far!  Monday afternoon we visited one of several RV surplus-type warehouses in this area, Arrow Distributing.  It consists of three huge warehouses with just about anything that goes on or in any type of RV.  The prices are a little discounted from what we’d find at Wal-Mart or Camping World.  Dortha found a nice new patio rug, and we picked up 4 jack pads that are supposed to be very heavy duty to keep from breaking.  I also found the cleaner I use (Thetford Aqua Clean) and some picnic table cloth holders. 

On Tuesday we went to the Shipshewana Flea Market.  Other than Amish baked goods and lots of produce, this market was very much like the markets we’ve been to in Mesa and Yuma Arizona.  Lots of cheap junk.

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Yesterday, we found a few furniture places to browse through.  The bottom ring on Jim’s chair has broken, so we are looking around to see what we might find to replace that chair. 

Today we woke up to a chill in the air!  In fact, I noticed the temperature was about half what it was some days in Red Bay – from 104* to 52* is a huge drop for me.  I’d really like to split the difference – I think I’ll have to put the blanket back on the bed soon.

More adventures to come!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I can already tell that keeping up with reporting our daily activities here is going to be a huge challenge.  There is always someone around to visit with, something going on or somewhere to go.  If none of that applies, there is cooking and cleaning, walking the dogs and all the other regular, routine stuff that we do.   Challenge or not, I’ll try to keep up!

Before I get into a recount of the past couple of days, I should take the time to explain a bit about the events we are here to attend.  I know many of our readers are not RV’ers and may be confused about my references to the Gypsy Journal Rally or the Escapees Escapade.  Feel free to skip this part if you already know all about these events!  Nick Russell is a full-timer and journalist who publishes a newspaper called “The Gypsy Journal” which contains stories about places all over the country and lots of other information about this lifestyle.  He and his wife, Terry, present a rally a couple of times a year.  The rally consists of a wealth of informative seminars on all sorts of subjects related to life on the road.  Fire safety, safe driving, electrical and plumbing systems are a few of the featured topics, as are geocaching and genealogy, two popular road hobbies.  There are also vendors in attendance who sell all sorts of travel and RV related products.  Then there are the social events.  Some are “official” and part of the rally schedule, but many gatherings are impromptu get-togethers.  The Escapees is a large RV Club that provides many services to it’s 100,000+ members.  The Escapade is a gigantic rally, much like the Gypsy Journal Rally only on a bigger scale!  It will be held at the fairgrounds in near-by Goshen, about a week after the Gypsy Journal Rally ends.  Several of us will just stay here for that week and move over to Goshen when the Escapade begins.

Yesterday we were up early, and even though it was raining lightly I got out for a 30 minute walk.  When I got back, I tried out another of my new exercise DVD’s.  After that was completed, it was time to find out what the plan for the day might be. Mark suggested taking a drive on the Heritage Trail.  He and Dortha had already driven the first half, but not the 2nd half.  The Heritage Trail is a CD-guided tour that consists of 2 CD’s that can be obtained free at the Elkhart Visitor’s Center.  It is a narrated, tour of the area that takes you about 45 miles around several small towns.  The narration includes a wealth of information about the history and the current culture of not only the Amish, but the industry, crafts and farming that are part of life here.

Our first stop was at a local market known as The Bag Factory.  At one time it was a factory that made feed bags.  Now it is a market with several shops featuring the work of local artists.  I was fascinated by the quilt shop there and spent quite a bit of time admiring the hand-quilted beauties for sale there.  The owners design the quilts and the work is actually contracted out to quilters all over the country.  The quilt tops are pieced by machine, but all the quilting is all done by hand. The prices certainly reflected the complexity of the amazing work.  Photography was not allowed, however, so no pictures of the quilts, but but this is the shop, “Quilt Designs”:

Ellie 006Speaking of quilts, during the summer, along the Heritage Trail there is a Quilt Garden feature, with flower beds located in many stopping points along the trail that have been planted in quilt patterns.  There was one here at the Bag Factory:

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My second enchantment at this location was a model railroad display.  Two fellows (brothers, perhaps) have put this together, and there are model trains of several different gauges.  I was totally fascinated as I was transported back to my childhood, as my Dad was a model railroad buff and from the time I can remember until not long before he passed away in 1997, he always had a model railroad set up.  He (almost always) only had steam engines, and always worked with the narrow gauge tracks.  He built rail cars, and all the buildings he needed for his towns along the way.  In one of his sets, he built a saloon that he called “Goldie’s Place”, and most evenings after dinner he would announce that he was going to Goldies for the evening.  Even though this particular display included different sizes and types of trains, it really reminded me of my Dad’s work.  I got left behind while I was immersed in memories:

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I finally tore myself away and we continued on the tour.  We stopped in the small town of Nappanee at the Amish Acres, a complex that includes a theater, farm, several little shops, a restaurant and a wine tasting room.  We had a delicious lunch followed by a bit of wine tasting before continuing on the tour, where we stopped in the little town of Wakarusa and found another Quilt Garden:

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The tour brought us back to Elkhart in time to gather at Donna and Keith’s for happy hour.  Donna brought out a big plate of her famous brownies that she’d promised to make for Mark for his birthday.  Well, she also promised Bob she’d make some for him too, so she made a call to Bob and Molly to make sure they would come over in time to actually get a brownie.  They were going fast!  We all sat around for snacks and happy hour visiting for quite a while before our energy gave out and we came in.

Today I got out and walked early and then did some house cleaning.  Jim announced that he was going to grill at home today, so we planned a joint venture meal with Donna and Dortha both contributing parts of the meal.  Arlene & Kevin and Mac & Lynette arrived early in the afternoon.  They got all set up and we continued visiting with everyone wandering back and forth among rigs.  We’re all parked next to each other in the same row. 

After dinner, the women moved over to the shaded area by Dortha & Mark’s coach, and the guys stayed by our Castle.

Here we have Dortha, Donna, Arlene and Lynette:

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And here are Jim, Keith, Mark and Mac:

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Yes, it’s already been a fun, full schedule – and every day we’ll have more going on.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

To The Interstate And Beyond

Even in our 4th year of full-timing, we still get excited about travel days and usually don’t sleep all that well the night before. I guess after our time in Red Bay and the anticipation of getting to see many friends, we were doubly excited. Both of us were wide awake sometime around 4 a.m. Thursday morning. As a result, we were on the road by 6:30 (yes, that was a.m.).

We decided to take Highway 24 East out of Red Bay and go directly to I-65 instead of weaving our way north and east across the smaller highways. It meant a few more miles overall, but much more of it on the interstate. So, about 8:00 we went through Decatur, Alabama and turned on to I-65 North:

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Very soon we zoomed by this rocket near Huntsville, Alabama. No, we weren’t traveling quite as fast as the rocket might, but we were moving right along.

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Onward through beautiful Tennessee, and yes, Jenny, we waved!

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Then onward to Kentucky, where we waved at Louisville for Linda and Howard:

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Across the Ohio River into our final destination state for this day:

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We didn’t have a specific plan as to where we would stop for the day. I know we were both contemplating going the entire 600 miles to Elkhart, but we finally decided to get through Indianapolis and find a place to unwind and rest. Our stopover was the Honey Bear Hollow Campground just outside the small town of Peru, about 60 miles north of Indianapolis. It’s located off the main highway on a very narrow farm road.

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Our 30 amp spot, nestled in the trees provided no satellite reception, or phone or internet access either. Now that is what we consider to be roughing it! We can do nicely without many amenities like electricity, water, or sewer hook-ups, but no access to the outside world is kinda hard on us! But it was a beautiful little campground with a very friendly and helpful owner, so we could do this for one night.

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We solved one of the problems by getting our our new “Carryout” portable dish. It was a snap to set up, and picked up the satellite signal quickly. Jim was sitting down in his chair in front of the working TV in time for the football game!

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Why did we pick this campground? Our first inclination was to park at a Walmart, but when I called ahead, the manager said there is an ordinance against overnight parking in their lot, so we next considered the Flying J, where there are parking spaces for overnight. After we talked about it, the decision was to find a campground where we might have a chance for peace and quiet. Since we were only a few miles away by this time, I checked only the website and this was the best looking option in the area we wanted to stop. We both slept like logs and got up early enough to be back on the road towards Elkhart by a little after 7:30 yesterday morning. We had a very short distance to cover, less than 90 miles, so we arrived at the Elkhart Campground before 10:00 a.m.

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We were soon checked in and parked in our site next to Dortha and Mark. There were lots of hugs and laughter as we visited while we were getting set up. Jasmine was beside herself when she saw Mark, they’ve always been good buddies.

Dortha tried to talk me into postponing my cleaning and setting up to go with her to the line dancing class, but I promised I’d go next week, and she went off to the class. Mark and Jim went to see what new things they could find at Walmart, so I had the time to do some cleaning and arranging the Castle. After the past 3 weeks of having our home all dis-arranged with boxes sitting everywhere, it felt great to get things put back in place and at least the start of a good cleaning.

Once all of that was done, Dortha and the guys were back. We sat outside for awhile, just relaxing and visiting. Donna and Keith had arrived by this time, parked 2 sites over from us. Dortha, Mark, Jim and I decided to go get a quick lunch. After lunch we returned to our lawn chairs for more catching up.

Soon, it was time for happy hour and we joined a group of new friends who are here for the Gypsy Journal Rally. After happy hour, several of us went to a local Mexican Restaurant for dinner, after which we returned to the campground for more visiting. While we were gathered outside Donna and Keith’s coach, Molly and Bob noticed their jeep coming down the road, covered with TP! Seems Bob left the keys with a “friend” while we went to dinner!

Molly and Bob are staying over in Goshen right now, getting ready for the Escapees Escapade which we’ll attend starting Sept. 10. They are the “Directors in Training” for this Escapade, next year they will be the directors, so they are learning the job.

Here are a few of the women , Kathy, Dortha, Donna, Molly and me all standing in front of Molly and Bob’s decorated car:

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It’s been a great start to our new adventures!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Home, Sweet Home!

Finally, after almost three weeks, our number came up.  We got the word on Monday evening to report to Bay 6 at 7:00 Tues. morning.  The long, hot days we’ve experienced waiting, waiting, waiting suddenly seemed insignificant.  We happily went to bed early and got up a smidge before dark-thirty Tuesday morning, made our final packing preparations, including digging out an overnight bag in case we got sent to a motel for a night (we did).  We reported as directed to Bay 6 and found – another motor home in there!  Not to worry, we were told, they would be out of there promptly, and they were.  We met with the techs and went over our list.  The lead tech told us that he really did not think they would have our coach ready to stay in that night and we should be prepared to stay at least one night in a motel.  *Gulp*.  Ok, we can do this. 

We left the guys to their work and went off in search of adventure.  We’ve “seen it, done it, got the t-shirt” for most of the sights around here, including the Coon Dog Cemetery (yes, it’s a real cemetery for real Coon Dogs), the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Helen Keller’s birthplace, Swamp John’s, Tishomingo State Park, and various dams and lakes in the area.  So we just made a quick run over to Florence to the PetCo store to pick up a new type of walking lead for Jasmine.  On the way back, I caught this interesting road picture:

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By the time we got back, we found the guys already had the slide off, including the floor.  Here’s what the Castle looked like without the slide:

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And the slide:

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The new floor was ready to install:

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With the threat of rain in the forecast, our tech told us at this point that they did not want our coach to be outside at all, and to go ahead and find out about getting a motel room for the night.  He sent us to the office to get it set up.  Well, when Jim went to the office, he discovered another casualty of the recession – Tiffin no longer pays for customers’ stay at a motel.  So we got the name of a good motel in Russellville and headed off to get checked in and get the dogs settled.

We stayed at the Best Western in Russellville, about 25 miles from Red Bay.  One of their conditions for letting the dogs stay was that we could not leave the dogs alone in the room.  With the heat index still pretty high, we just decided that one of us would stay with the dogs in the room, and the other would go fetch food and snacks for the night.  Jim was appointed the “hunter-gatherer” and I stayed behind with the “kids”.  He brought back snacks and a delicious pizza which was so filling we never did get to the snacks!  We just hung out and rested.

This morning brought another early morning wake up for us.  We had a quick breakfast at the motel and got ready to get back to Red Bay to check on the progress of the Castle.  We did make a quick stop to pick up some goodies for the techs to share.  I would have baked something for them if I’d had an oven available and the weather had been more cooperative, but they appreciated the thought, anyway.

By the time we arrived at Bay #6, this is what the progress looked like:

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The floor was in, the new carpet on and the slide was back in place.  We also got a new gasket seal around the slide and new metal trim support piece across the top of the slide.  The carpet is a very close match to the rest of the carpet in the coach (there isn’t much, some under the sofa, driver and passenger seats and the bedroom). 

They guys were almost finished, just had a few items to complete, so we went to the customer lounge area and waited around.  Finally, just after lunch, we got escorted, along with our paperwork, to the accounting office to settle up.  I won’t go into full detail, but we ended paying about 10% of the total for all the work that was done.  Some of the items were at our request and not covered at all under any warranty.  But most of it was either a rework of a previous warranty fix or something that should not have happened, like the slide floor breaking. 

Another change to Tiffin policy is that they now charge $10 a night for the campground for all coaches that past the original 12 month warranty period, even if part or all of the work is done under warranty.  We ended up paying less than $700 for both the work and the campground.

We got the Castle filled with propane and fuel and got back to our site for the last night here just before the skies opened up and we were totally drenched!  Things have settled down now, and we are happy campers, getting prepared for an early departure tomorrow morning.  We’re expecting to arrive in Elkhart, Indiana on Friday to begin the fun week before the Gypsy Journal Rally begins!

Let the fun continue!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It’s Thursday, and We’re Still Here

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I wanted to be warm this summer…..yes, I am warm.  Please understand, I am not complaining about the heat!  I wanted to be in a climate where I could get up in the morning, throw on a pair of flip flops,  shorts and a T-shirt and take the dogs for a walk without worrying about socks, shoes, sweaters, jackets, etc.  I have my wish.  I was looking at pictures from last summer at this time and I see I was wearing jeans, socks, hiking shoes, turtleneck sweaters, and a jacket.  I figure there will plenty of time this winter for those clothes. Meantime, I am enjoying the warm weather!

We’re making our way up the list here at Camp Red Bay.  It looks like we will be in a repair bay early next week, hopefully on Monday. 

Meanwhile, we spend our days doing the usual…a little sightseeing, cleaning, laundry, walking dogs, cooking or going out to eat, exercising, and so forth. Today I made a batch of “Sloppy Joes”, using a recipe I basically made up as I went along.  Sometimes, those turn out to be our best meals, sometimes, not so much.  This time, it worked out just perfectly!  As much as I’d like to eat at home every day, that is not practical, given our desire to be “out and about” at least part of the time.

We are also contemplating our route north to Elkhart, Indiana, where we will catch up with many of our friends who are also attending Nick Russell’s Gypsy Journal Rally and the Escapee Escapade right after that. When we start planning a route, we look at  several sources, including Microsoft Streets & Trips, Google Earth, and to determine the best routes for us and where there are viable overnight stops along the way.  We also might consult the online Trailer Life Campground Directory, Passport America, Escapees Campground listing, for National Parks or Corps of Engineer Parks, and sometimes state directories online.  We also take note of where friends stay and what they say about a particular RV park.  Some of our favorite parks have been discovered that way.

We’ve been researching  a portable satellite dish for those times we want to stay in parks where there is not a “clear view of the southern sky”.  We found that Brannon, of Custom RV near Red Bay, had a portable dish in stock.  It’s the Winegard Carryout MP1 manual dish pictured here.  We now have that little dish and all the necessary connections and cables to use it just about anywhere.

Oh, yes, and  have you noticed  - it’s football season again.  I’ve basically waved “good-bye” to Jim for the duration, I’ll have him back sometime in February.  Since I’ll have plenty of time to myself during the games, I dug out my electronic keyboard and have started “plinking” around on it, just for fun.

We’re still enjoying life every day!

Monday, August 9, 2010

One Week Ends, Another Begins

Not always, but many times, we really don’t notice the days of the week.  However, here at “Camp Red Bay”, it’s impossible to miss the end of a week, the week-end, and the beginning of the next week.

Fridays are happy days – the bank next door is busy with people depositing their weekly pay checks.  Folks are in a good mood.  And starting at 3:00 in the afternoon (when all work here at Tiffin is finished),  there is an exodus.  People whose work has been completed are out of here.  We suspect some people just get out of town for the weekend, too.

Come Saturday, and it’s quiet around here – until later in the morning when he rest of the people who are on their way out, either with their work completed or just for the week-end, crank up their engine and head out.

Sunday is even quieter,  at least until late morning when the next group of people start arriving to get a space in the campground.  By late Sunday evening, the campground is once again filled up.

Monday morning brings the usual parade – those who are already assigned to their repair bay have their diesels cranked up and warming by about 6:45 in the morning, ready to head over to their bay.   The new folks are getting their paperwork turned in and are waiting for the visit from Norris, the gentleman who visits each rig and determines whether we’ll be waiting for a “regular” bay, or assigned to an express bay.  The electronics guys are starting their rounds to see people who have some sort of radio or TV issue going on.  And so it goes at Camp Red Bay.

On Saturday, Jim decided to go ahead and make salsa.  He got started with all the “slicing and dicing” while I went in search of some different varieties of peppers, and maybe a breakfast sandwich.  I didn’t do very well with either of my assignments.  I found jalapenos, which we already had, and that’s pretty much all there is to be found in Red Bay.  And, Jack’s, one of the fast food restaurants available here, was jam-packed with a line out to the street.  So I came back home and we “made do” with what we had on hand for breakfast and salsa.

Not to worry, though, we came up with a batch of really good, hot salsa!  Jim even added a red circle to the lids of the 21 pints he canned, indicating this is a hot batch!  So, for our friends (Dortha) who have chips ready, hang on, we’ll be there with salsa as soon as we can!

We decided to get out and take a drive Saturday afternoon, so off we went to Tishomingo State Park across the state line in Mississippi:

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The most interesting sight today was this fellow:

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But we enjoyed the Pioneer Cabin:

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And the Swinging Bridge:

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When we left the State Park, we decided to drive a little of the Natchez Trace Parkway:

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After that, we came back home and relaxed.

Yesterday, we stayed home and did a little laundry and Castle cleaning.  Jim was pretty antsy all day – it seems that it is time for the Professional Football season to get underway – wasn’t it just a couple of months ago we watched the Super Bowl?  Anyway, he didn’t want to get too far away from the TV in case he got stranded or something and had to miss the first Cowboy’s Pre-season game.  All was well, though, and he got to watch the first kick-off of the season.  I think I was trimming my hair at the time, oh well.

This morning, we checked in with Jimmy Oliver, the fellow who is now in charge of scheduling here at the Tiffin Service Center.  We’re now up to #19 on the list of rigs waiting for a service bay.  Translated, it will likely be at least the end of this week or the beginning of next week before we get in.  But, there’s always a possibility that something will happen to move that time frame, so we don’t dare get too far away without checking with Jimmy.  Once we got that information, we decided to make a run to Fulton, MS to the Wal-Mart there, just in case they might have something different than the Russellville Wal-Mart.  We used the navigation app on the Droid, we call her “Mapzilla”.  She was in a strange mood this morning and decided to lead us on a wild goose chase instead of directly to the Wal-Mart.  Sometimes I think she might be related to “Matilda”, Doug and JoAnn’s Navigation instrument.  Strange sense of humor, these navigation tools!  Instead of directing us to Wal-Mart, Mapzilla took us  on the back roads to the ritzy neighborhood in Fulton, not anywhere close to where we wanted to be.  Jim had a few choice words about Mapzilla, so I turned her off to keep her from getting her feelings hurt – never know where she might take us just to get back at us.

We found the Wal-Mart, found a few items we thought would enhance our pantry and headed back home.   We got a good rain storm this afternoon, no hail, not enough wind to bother us, just a lot of rain.  While it rained, I fixed us some pork chops, potatoes and veggies for a nice, home-cooked meal.

As I was visiting with our neighbors later on this afternoon, I discovered they are also headed to the Gypsy Journal Rally and Escapade,  as we are when we get sprung from Camp Red Bay.  They are good friends with Nick and Terry of the Gypsy Journal – another “small world” realization!   It will be fun to get to see them again in a different setting.

Stay tuned for more Red Bay Adventures!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday’s Red Bay Notes

Yesterday marked the end of our first week here at “Camp Red Bay”.  So far we’ve had our toilet replaced, bedroom TV sound fixed, front TV mounting screws checked,  jacks calibrated, a cabinet installed in the bedroom under the TV and a shelf installed in the cupboards above the passenger side slide out.  We’ve also emptied all the cupboards on the driver-side slide out and packed all the contents in preparation for having that slide out floor replaced.

On Wednesday, we took a drive over to Bay Springs Lake on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway in Mississippi:

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We checked out the Piney Grove Corps of Engineers campground and found a couple of sites that we would both fit into and most likely get a satellite signal.  There were quite a few sites we’d fit into, but most of them are very shaded – nice, but probably wouldn’t get a satellite signal with our roof-top dome.  Just another reason we periodically consider getting a portable dish.  I don’t know if we’ll ever stay there, but we enjoyed the outing and like to know there are options in the neighborhood!  On the way back home, we stopped in Dennis, Mississippi at Rita’s Family Restaurant for lunch.  The selection was limited, but the food was good, and both of us had lunch for $12. 

Then in the evening, Chris Berry arrived to install our cupboard and shelf.  I haven’t taken a picture of the shelf, but here’s the cupboard in the bedroom:

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Yesterday we made a quick trip over to Russellville and Florence.  Red Bay is located in Franklin County, Alabama, which is a dry county.  Jim wanted to replenish his beer supply, and I wanted to see if I could find some local Alabama wine, so we stopped at the B&B Package store located just over the Colbert County line.  Jim found the beer he wanted, but they didn’t have the Muscadine Wine I was looking for.

We continued on to Florence to visit Radio Shack.   The problem with the sound on our bedroom TV was a little electronic card where the headphone jacks plug in.  When the jacks are plugged in, they are supposed to turn the sound off on the TV and vice versa.  I guess because of too many times being plugged in and unplugged, the connection to turn the sound back on was broken.  I like to watch TV in bed after Jim has gone sleep, so I’ve been using the headphone jack most nights.  The techs  who replaced the card suggested we find an alternative like wireless headphones, so we’ve been doing some research into that option.  We found a possible solution in “TV Ears” at Radio Shack.  These are much lighter weight than the bulky headphones I found for the typical wireless set up, and they plug right into the satellite receiver instead of the TV.  They are also considerably less expensive than wireless headphones.  The sound on the TV can be up or turned down, and the TV Ears still work the same.  I tried them out last night, and I think they are going to work just fine for us.  Hopefully that will solve the sound issue!  The TV Ears are on the credenza next to the cupboard in the picture above.

Jim is preparing to make a batch of salsa this weekend.  He dug out all his canning jars and big pot, and got everything washed and ready today.  He’s shopped for fresh peppers, onions and tomatoes.  I think tomorrow is salsa day!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Days Roll By in Red Bay

Grand Teton Aug 09 Jim 053 Today’s picture was taken just about 1 year ago in Grand Teton National Park, I thought it might help some of us feel a little cooler!  Our heat index here today got pretty close to 110*.  A thunderstorm late this afternoon brought the humidity up while decreasing the temperature a bit, pretty much of a trade-off.

Several of our friends have commented to us that  they’re not sure they would want a Tiffin product because we seem to spend a lot of time here getting factory service.  It’s true we’ve been here several times, and that we’ve had a couple of major items to be corrected on our 2008 Phaeton motor home.  This time, we’ve found out we had a slide-out seal leak that resulted in water damage to the floor of our front driver’s-side slide out room.  The floor is broken and now must be replaced.  We’re currently waiting our turn in a service bay to have the new floor installed, which will take about a day, once we get into a bay.  We’re grateful we have a factory service facility to come to!  Many RV manufacturers are out of business now, and those folks must find service elsewhere.  Many of the items we’ve come here for are very minor and could have been fixed by either mobile repair trucks or dealers across the country.  We prefer to come to Red Bay because we know we’ll get the best service here.  We also get to meet other Tiffin owners, compare notes, make new friends and enjoy the small town atmosphere here.  We don’t claim that our motor home is the best-built or the highest quality available – we just don’t have unlimited funds to “buy the best”, but we are still very happy with our Castle. We know that Tiffin will stand behind their products, as they are in this case.

While we’re waiting, I’ve been doing some cleaning and packing, since we’ll need to have everything moved out of the cupboards on the slide out that will have the floor replaced.  They’ll take the whole slide off to replace the floor.  We’re also getting shelves installed in the cupboards on the other slide, so all of that stuff will have to come out of those cupboards too.

Since our last visit, Weight Watchers has established a meeting here, so I attended that meeting yesterday evening.  I really prefer morning meetings, but since this one is right here in town on Mondays, I’ll go!

Today, the dogs got to go to a groomer.  I usually groom them myself outside on a table, but with this heat, I decided to spend the bucks and take them to someone nearby.  She did a good job and, unlike the last “outsider”, didn’t criticize my grooming skills.

We drove up to Florence, Alabama (about 45 miles) on Saturday to do some shopping at Sam’s and Walmart.  The eating out choices here aren’t all that good for staying within my Weight Watchers “points” allowance.  After all the parties we attended in Amarillo, I need to watch what I’m doing!  So we’ve been eating at home the last couple of days.

Hopefully, we will get into a repair bay before long and can get the Castle rolling again!