Sunday, September 26, 2010

Heading to Dallas

Our first night after Red Bay, we spent at a Walmart in Olive Branch, Mississippi.  Walmart welcomes RV'ers to stay overnight in their parking lots. This has created a lot of loyalty among full time RV'ers.  There were two security cars that roamed the parking lot all night and one parked in front of our motorhome.  We felt extra safe.  We headed next to Sunrise RV Park in Texarkana, Arkansas.  We could only stay one night here as they were expecting a group of campers who were taking up all the campsites.That was ok with us, as it would just put us into Dallas a little earlier.

Famous last words.  The next morning as we prepared to leave, I pushed the driver side slide button and I heard a familiar but haunting sound.  The slide wouldn't come in.  It was Sunday morning, could Coach-net come through again.  We notified the office of our problem.  They were super.  Coach-net found us a repairman, but he was in church and would come out after he had gotten some lunch. When he came out he didn't have the part and we would have to wait until the parts store opened in the morning before we could get on our way.

In the meantime, the camping group had arrived and settled in all around us.  This was a group caravaning together to a regional Family Motor Coach Association rally.  They were great folks.  Everyone had stories of their similar problems.  No one was upset that we had crashed their party. We really appreciated all their support and advise. We decided right there and then we would have to join this group.

The next morning, the repair came back with the part and we were on our way.  Thank you Sunrise RV Park and FMCA for your hospitality and understanding.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tiffin Motorhome Company Tour

On our second day in Red Bay, we took a tour of the Tiffin Motorhome Company.  Our motorhome is a Phaeton made by Tiffin, so we were excited to take a tour of the plant.
Our tour started in the Welcome Center, where we saw a video of the history of the company and met Red our tour guide. BobTiffin founded Tiffin Motorhomes in 1972, and since then the company has manufactured and sold over 50,000 motorhomes.  Tiffin has earned its reputation for having the best products and customer service in the industry.  Since day one, Tiffin has been a family business.  The company is filled with employees who have made working at Tiffin Motorhomes a family tradition.  It's a kind of loyalty that just isn't  seen very often these days.  Tiffin's motto is " Roughing it smoothly!"

This is Red, who headed up our tour. Both Bob and I were surprised at the access we had in the plant. Red walked us along the assembly line and we could even talk to the workers.  Each day Tiffin makes about 7 motorhomes.  At their peak they manufactured 12 a day and when times were hard the last few years they produced as few as 3 motorhomes.
Here are some pictures of what we saw.

 This is a shower unit ready to install.  Below are kitchen cupboards.


 A look at a completed interior.
This is one of the designers of the new Breeze motorhome.  He was down on the assembly line checking every detail.
New motorhomes ready to go.

Here is Bob by a new Phaeton.  He could have driven this away for a mere $250,000 or so.  We left with out it and were happy to return to our 2004 Phaeton.

It was a great tour and made us glad we had purchased a Tiffin.  Two days of repairs down and we are on our way. Quicker than we had thought.  Wonderful experience in Red Bay, Alabama.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why We Are in Red Bay, Alabama?

Well, as most of you know, Bob hit a pole our second day of travel and put a hole in the back side of the motorhome.  I would leave it, if it was up to me, but all the guys we met along the way agreed that Bob was right to want to get it fixed.  Men always stick together. 

We headed out from Indiana and spent Monday night at Glendale Campground in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.  From there we traveled to Point Mallard Park in Decatur, Alabama.  This was a county park, but well maintained and in the heart of the city.  We'd like to come back and spend more time there when we aren't on a timeline.

Finally, Wednesday we arrived at Red Bay, Alabama and settled into Chris Wright's garage.  We had contacted Tiffin Motorhomes to see if they would recommend some place in Goshen, Indiana, but with the poor economy in the area, several of the dealers had closed.  Tiffin recommended we come to Red Bay and work with Chris Wright, who had worked for 14 years for Tiffin and had gone out on his own the last 5 years.

Chris did a great job!  Bob was happy with the repairs and the price. Chris recommended restaurants in Red Bay that were all awesome.  Swamp John's for example a breakfast place.  It lacked a lot in atmosphere being in an old gas station, but the biscuits and omelets were to die for even though they were served on paper plates. They also have catfish on Tuesday nights. He also recommended Gill's Grill, where we had lunch one afternoon and it too was incredible.  We were offered chocolate gravy everywhere we went.  Not being from the south, we thought chocolate gravy was just brown gravy, but Chris explained to us that it was gravy made with chocolate.  We didn't try it but will next time it is offered.  Chris even gave me a recipe for biscuits when he found out that the only biscuits I knew how to make were those that came from a can.   

Here are some pictures of the motorhomes progress. 


Chris also recommended a hair salon for me.  In Dallas, Texas, my hair became light alburn, in Branson, Missouri my hair became ash blond and in Red Bay, Alabama my hair became blond with highlights. I was at the salon for 4 hours, but it was the most fun I had in weeks and also very enlightening.  Red Bay is a small company town, Tiffin, where also everyone is related to everyone and 4 hours in a beauty salon can help you to gain historically insight into many of the people and their lives.  I loved every minute and also got a great haircut and color.  Thank you again Chris.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Back to Indianapolis, Indiana an a Tour of the track

After the rally, we head toward Red Bay, Alabama and the Tiffin Motorhome Company, to get the hole in the side of our motorhome fixed, but on the way, we passed through Indianapolis.  Bob had not  been able to take a tour of the Indianapolis  Motor Speedway Track when we visited last month, so since we were in the area, he took the opportunity to take the tour.  I opted to stay at the motorhome and have some quality alone time. When you travel in a motorhome there is not much of that.
The tour started at the museum.  Bob and I had toured it last month, but this car reminded him of the racing cars of he 50's, when he was a kid and watching racing. (Champ Racing not NASCA like today.)
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is call the "Brickyard" because when it opened in the Fall of 1909, 3, 200,000 street paving bricks were laid into the sand to make the first track surface.

In October of 1961, the bricks were covered with asphalt on the main straight, leaving the 3-foot strip at the start/finish line still of bricks.  Shown above.

This is the front stretch. For those of us who don't know what the front stretch is, it is the beginning of the race.  It is also where the race ends.  In other words the start and finish line.
This is the Indianapolis Pagoda.  It is one of the most recognizable structures at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in world wide motor sports.  It was built during the massive construction project from 1998-2000 that included a 2.6-mile road course, Formula One-style pit side garages and media center.  Housed in the new Pagoda are state-of-the-art facilities for race control, safety, timing and scoring and radio broadcast booths.  Bob had a wonderful day and so did I.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quilts, Flowers and Buggies in Goshen, Indiana

The next day, we met up with Kathy and David at lunch.  Their 5th wheel was being repaired at the Montana main plant in Goshen.  They were able to stay in the coach the first night, but after the Montana repairman got working on their coach and had the front shell off, they needed to find a place to stay for one night, so..... They became our first guests in our motorhome. 
Early in the morning Bob and Kathy went birding.  When they returned we decided to go take a tour of the Indiana Amish country.  The fairground had a self driving tour, known at the Heritage Trail, through Goshen and Elkhart Indiana highlighting the Amish area.  We started out early taking the Heritage Trail that was a winding loops along rural highways, down quiet country lanes, through friendly cities and along small town main streets.  The scenic route lead us to many of the region's most popular restaurants, shops, inns and attractions.  We stopped at the Elkhart County Visitor Center to get information about the Quilt Gardens Tour.  In their offices they had some beautiful quilts.

I wished my friend Shellie could have been with us.  I appreciated these quilts but she is a very talented quilter and she would have loved these and understood what it took to make these pieces of art. The talking people, I loved. It is like me and any of my girl friends. 

We headed out of the Visitor's Center and went to the Wellfield Botanic Gardens, which was conceived as a community project in 2002.  The Elkhart Rotary Club had an idea of creating a public garden to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Rotary International. This park became a reality in the spring of 2003. Beautiful park run completely by volunteers and on donations.

We next headed towards Linton's Enchanted Garden. This was a lovely garden center that had beautiful plants and many unique gifts.  It had a Kid's Center and a Petting Zoo.

By now it was lunchtime.  We decided that there was no better place to eat then in Amish Country. So on we traveled to Middlebury, Indiana and had lunch at Das Dutchman.  We ate family style having chicken, mashed potatoes and corn plus pie for dessert. There were other things too like homemade bread, but all I can remember is the desserts.  We walked off lunch by viewing the next quilt.This is the time I wish I was a pilot.  I think an aerial view of these quilts would but remarkable. I also thought you might want a close up of the flowers.

As we were leaving, we notice that in front of the Conference Center there were buggies available for rides.  We couldn't pass up an Amish buggie ride.  We traveled through this covered bridge and stopped for a picture.

Finally we headed to the Shipshewana flea market and auction.  We were too late for the auction but enjoyed the flea market, buying Amish made pastries, jams, and cookies; leather goods, and sunglasses. It capped off a perfect day.  Friday morning we were taking off for Indianapolis but made plans to meet up with Dave and Kathy in Mission, Texas come January.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Escapee Rally 2010 Goshen Indiana

One of the first organizations that we joined when we decided to go full-time was Escapee RV Club.   They are a total support network for RV'ers.  Our address in Texas is an Escapee Park in Livingston, Texas. They forward our mail to wherever we are. They have a group of parks that offer discounts in rates to members.  Lots of other things, but if you want to know more your can click on the link above, most of you won't.  Once a year they have a rally for all their members.  We have been looking forward to going.  This year it was in Goshen, Indiana.
As you can see we were not the only ones that decided to come. The rally started Sunday evening and went until Thursday evening.  It reminded me of a teacher conference, but instead of hotels everyone stayed in their motorhomes.  Bob and I went to seminars every day from early morning 8:00 till about 4:00 and then there was entertainment each evening after dinner.  We went to RV Bootcamp, since we were new at RV'ing.  I learned a lot, probably more than I wanted to know, but definately enough to nag Bob about what he should be doing. A little knowledge can be dangerous.
There were lots of things to buy.  Bob bought an electronic management system, I bought a sweatshirt.  Bob  bought "The Solution", for cleaning the motorhome, I bought a flag that had wine glasses and cheese on it and said "Enjoy the Good Life." Bob bought fire extinguisher, and I bought mirofiber cleaning cloths. They had craft seminars all days everyday.  I was more comfortable in Boot Camp. 

Everyone was very nice and we made a lot of friends.  We also enjoyed catching up with some friends we had met in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the RV Dreams rally that we went to in April of this year before we bought our motorhome.  At an evening question and answer session, Howard and Linda Payne who head up RV Dreams, surprised all of us by showing up to be on this panel.  This group had all been full-timing for awhile and offered advise and answered questions.  Howard and Linda are right in the middle in the blue. There were about 6 other couples in the audience that were RV Dreamers. In fact, Dave and Kathy Whitter, who took us under their wing at the South Carolina rally were there.  We really enjoyed seeing everyone and we made arrangements to meet up with Dave and Kathy the next day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Family Barbeque

Friday night all Charlene and Bill children came to West Branch for a barbeque.  Of course Bill was the master chef.  His son Allen is along side of him, learning the techniques of the pro. Allen returned in June from two years in Cameroon, Africa, where he taught English with the Peace Corp.  He returned with a new dog, new puppy and a girlfriend.  Sorry Carol, I didn't get a picture.  It was a great evening!


 I will try and group these pictures by families:
Stacks:  Andrea and Eric and children Kody and Khloe.  You saw their pictures a few blogs ago, but here are a few more:
Khloe eating grapes, I think!
Eric and Khloe

 Thomas:  Valerie and JT, children Luci and Lydia:

Valerie and Lydia

Bob and Lydia

JT on the right and Eric on the left playing Corn Hole.
Every camper in Ohio had this game.  It is like horseshoes but with bean bags.
Miles: Nikki and Mike and their daughters Gracie and Melonee:
Gracie and Kody
Nikki, Mike and Melonee

Don't I have a beautifully handsome family.  It was great to see them all.  Tomorrow we leave for Goshen, Indiana and the Escapee Rally but I have enjoyed these last 10 days with good friends and best of all FAMILY.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Class of '67

When I posted on Facebook, our plans to retire and motorhome.  I mentioned that I was coming to camp with my sister in Ohio.  Well, two of my old classmates thought it would be fun to get together with some of the girls I went to high school with in the 60's. (late 60's) Linda Coleman Berthold and Cathy Wagner Pack emailed some of my classmates and made arrangements for us to meet in Kent, Ohio at Pufferbelly.  I wasn't sure who was going to be able to make it, I was just looking forward to seeing Cathy and Linda is the group.
My sister went along with me and she was the photographer, so she is not in this picture.  I am left front in teal, going around clockwise from me is Carol Berry Mayer, Jill Shuman France, Mary Helton Hudson, Cathy Wagner Pack, Cindy Cundiff Farinacci, Linda Coleman Berthold, and her friend from Atlanta.  (Sorry I didn't get her name.)  Speaking of names, when Charlene and I got to the restaurant, we said we were a party of about 6 or so and we don't know their names, only maiden names, and we aren't even sure we would recognize them since it had been a few year.  We decided to just look around, and sure enough around a corner we saw my classmates. Looking exactly as I remembered.  Maybe a little thinner:)

It was a wonderful evening!  I just can't thank Linda and Cathy enough and all the ladies that took time out of their busy lives to have dinner and a reunion with an old, (mature) friend.  Love ya all ladies.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Andrea come to visit

Charlene's children all had plans Labor Day weekend, but Tuesday Andrea, my niece and Charlene's oldest, and her two children came out to West Branch for the day. The rest of the family is  coming Friday night for a barbeque.  I think there will be about 18 in all.

 Kody is 4 years old, soon to be 5 and Khloe, born on my birthday, is just about 2 and a half years old.  Kody is a professional bike rider.  When it was bike day at his preschool, he was the only one who had a bike without training wheels. Kody also has an ATV. He and Memaw Charlene, my sister, went for bike rides all afternoon.  They went to the lake and found shells and crystals.  Andrea, Khloe, and I went to the playground and walked to the little store at the camp headquarters for ice cream.  Khole, like all girls her age got a Dora pop.  Khloe is something else.  She had a shirt on that said, "Daddy answers to me!"  I think she is going to give Andrea and Eric a run for their money.  I just loved her.  She is a strong, independent female.  That evening Bill barbequed for us all.  We had corn on the cob, hot dogs and cucumbers with tomatoes in rice vinegar.  Boy did I like the cucumbers and tomatoes.  Another new recipe that I can cook.  Not sure cut and pouring is cooking though.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fix-it Bill

My brother-in-law Bill can do just about everything.  He is having vinyl siding put on his home.  They have an older home, two stories and it had aluminum siding but was in need of a redo.  Nikki, my niece and Charlene's youngest daughter works at Alside in Hudson, Ohio.  So Bill was able to get a break on the vinyl siding and had hired a company to install it.  Bill took on the project of redoing the front porch.  Friday Bob and Bill and one of Charlene's friends Jimmy all went back to their house to do a little work on the porch before the installer came.  Charlene and I went shopping:)  There is still a Penney's Outlet near her home, so we hit that and ran a few errands.

That morning Charlene had taught me how to make White Chili Chicken in the crock pot, so when the boys were done and we had finished shopping, we all headed back to Bill and Charlene's trailer for another great meal and fire.  Charlene loves fires, so while we visited with them every night we had a fire.  Bob and I headed to bed at 10:00 p.m.  I think that they were up much later.

The next morning Bob got fix-it Bill to bring his friends, Jim and Red, who were camping at West Branch also, to come fix a few things around our motorhome.  Red is an air conditioning and refrigeration repairman.  Jimmy, like Bill can fix just about anything.  Bob is not a fix-it man, but he is very good at helping.  Bill, Jim, and Red all had tool boxes with them.  Can you imagine? On a camping trip, on a holiday weekend!  They played with the hot water tank, flushing it out and showing Bob the important parts.  They messed with the toilet, (not in the toilet) putting a new gasket into it.  They worked on the refrigerator, turning it down.  It was set too high and Red gave me a digital thermometer, so that I could check if my refrigerator and freezer were set correctly.  I guess Labor Day weekend has more meaning to us now, that we got all that free labor.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Home for the Holidays - Labor Day in Ohio

Since before we bought the motothome, we have been looking forward to visiting with my sister Charlene, her husband Bill and their family.  We left the Amish Country and headed north to meet them at West Branch in Ravenna, Ohio.  I grew up in Munroe Falls, Ohio.  Went to school at Stow High School and attend college at Kent State all just a few miles from Ravenna, which is east of Akron, Ohio, for those of you who are not familiar with northern Ohio.

Several of Charlene's friends were joining us for the holiday weekend.  Charlene and Bill had to work on Thursday, so we arrived first and set up.  They pulled in about 4:00 p.m.

Charlene had made barbeque ribs in the crock pot.  She's my sister and knows I don't cook much:)  We moved over to their trailer and had dinner.  Bill made a great fire and we sat and talked for hours.