Saturday, January 29, 2011

Okatibbee Water Park, Meridian MS


Well, we managed to escape Red Bay on Thursday with little additional damage done to our pocketbook Smile  The windshield drapes arrived Tuesday and Chris Berry delivered and installed our end tables on Wednesday. That meant we were least for this visit. We'll probably be back sometime in the future. I would not hesitate to recommend any of the people we had dealings with while we were there!

Thursday morning, we pulled out and drove about 200 miles south to Okatibbee Water Park in Meridian MS. This is a Mississippi State Park that also takes Passport America. What a deal! We really like the park. It's geared more for smaller rigs, but there are a few sites that can handle a big rig. It takes a little maneuvering but doable. The first site we wiggled our way into had a problem at the power pedestal, so we had to move to another. It was just as well, as that site had hardly no cell signal at all. The new site was in the next loop, on the water and cell signal improved by several bars. Because we use a cellular air card and router for our internet, we were quite happy with the new site and increase in signal.

This is a really nice park and "our cup of tea". Nicely wooded without being totally covered, lots of space between sites, full hook ups with 50 amp service and being on the water is a plus for us.

Our site at Okatibbee

Front view at OkatibbeeView behind us at Okatibbee

Yesterday (Friday) kept us busy. While I made a Walmart run, Rick took care of some of his outdoor projects. Then we took off together for the afternoon. The Jeep was due for an oil change and there was a furniture store in Meridian that we wanted to check out. We were still looking for a couple La-Z-Boys and we finally got lucky. We found a size that would work in a color that we liked and they just happened to have 2 in stock Smile Best of all, they'll deliver, right to our site here in the campground, this morning Smile How cool is that?

Later on, while Rick was grilling brats for dinner, I walked closer to the water to try to get a shot of the sunset. I'm not very good at it yet, but I intend to practice a lot all over the country Smile You'll just have to humor me here, cuz I'm going to keep posting them Smile

Okatibbee Meridian MS

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Red Bay Stuff

After posting the blog on Sunday morning and having a nice breakfast/brunch, we went for a walk looking for a place to watch the Packer/Bear game. It was being shown on FOX and we could not get that channel in our coach. No luck to be found. Red Bay is in a dry county so there wasn't even a sports bar around Sad smileWe got in a nice 4 mile walk in the process,  but I was relegated to watching the game play by play on! I was grateful for the walk but really, really would have loved to "see" the actual game. Congratulations to the Packers!  May your streak continue for at least one more game Smile. !

Monday started very early as we had to be at Bruce Deaton's Paint Shop at 6:00 AM. Naturally, because we had to be up so early, neither of us slept well. We're always afraid we'll oversleep so we end up not sleeping much at all :)  We had a recommendation, from the folks in the office, for breakfast at  Swamp Johns. From what I understand, Swamp Johns used to be an old filling station. The owner, for whatever reason, started doing a fish fry one night a week. I'm not sure how you go from gas sales to fish sales, but it was a hit. Eventually, it became a daily thing, with expanded menu and the filling station business became the restaurant business. It eventually branched out with about 5 locations in this area but the original, still in the filling station building, is about 4 miles outside of Red Bay. It's a no frills kind of place, but they open at 5:30 AM for breakfast and we both had very good omelet's.

As much as we tried, we couldn't make breakfast last longer than 7:00 AM, so we took a drive out in the country to kill some time. We ended up at the Tiffin plant around 9:00 AM to take the factory tour at 9:30 AM. The factory tour is offered once a day and it is aptly named. We were right down on the factory floor amidst all the workers and all the building going on. We were even told that if there was anything we were interested in seeing more of, we could come back and just walk in, no need for another tour. I would think there would be a liability issue with the public wandering in the work area, but no one seemed concerned. We saw motorhomes in various stages of completion and all the materials used in them. At the end, we were able to go into a new 40'  2011 Bus. It was beautiful but, in all honesty, I like our 2005 model better. The floor plan wasn't much different, but all the finishes were much more opulent. It just seemed cold, not homey at all. Beautiful, but just too glitzy for my taste. Naturally, Rick was very pleased that I liked the older, paid for model the best Smile

It's hard being "homeless" while your coach is in the paint shop. We could have stayed in it, but the paint fumes were just way too strong. After the tour, we ended up parking the Jeep in the paint shop parking lot and reading/napping until the coach was done about 1:30 PM. Once back in our slot at the campground, we plugged in and I turned on the heat pumps to take the chill off. Hmmm, they didn't come on. Rick checked and noticed we were still running off the inverter, not the power pedestal. So, he got out his trusty volt-ohm meter and checked the pedestal. No power. The campground sent someone out to reset the breaker...plugged in again...breaker tripped again. Smoke/sizzle coming from the power cord reel. Oops. One of the service managers just happened to be in the office, so he had Rick bring it into an open service bay. They ran diagnostics and our power cord reel had shorted out. :(  Naturally, that necessitated replacing the entire thing. Ouch! Within an hour, though, we were back in business. It was about 4:30 PM by the time we finally got re-situated and I decided it must be happy hour somewhere!  Smile It had been a long and expensive day.

If things had to break, I guess this was the best place for them to do that. We had done our research before buying a used coach and knew that we would face repairs and that things wear out. The coach is 6 years old and had not been through the rigors of full time living until we purchased it. In the 3 months we've lived in it, all the systems have had a good work out. Now was the time to repair/replace any that did not hold up. In our minds, we still came out way, way ahead buying used vs. new.

We had a 7:00 AM appointment in bay 34 this morning to have our slides checked out, adjusted and repaired if necessary. We didn't need to vacate for this appointment, so I am currently sitting on the coach typing this and waiting on the results. The final outcome of this appointment is not yet known but,  whatever it ends up being, I don't think we will be surprised Smile 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Red Bay, Coach Mods, Elvis

We arrived in Red Bay, AL on Wednesday afternoon and parked our motorhome at Custom RV where we had an appointment for the following day. Custom RV is owned by Brannon Hutchinson. They have a couple electric/water hookups right there for their customers, which is really nice. Once we were all leveled and set up, we took a short tour of Red Bay (it was actually bigger than I thought it would be), got something to eat and went back to the coach.

That evening, we had a visit from Chris Berry, woodworker extraordinaire, to take measurements and remove our TV "box" in the bedroom. Chris was to rework the box and turn our flat screen into a new door for the cabinet.

Rick going over our list with BrannonThe next morning started early, but it was 8:00 AM by the time we were all set, in the service bay and work started. First on the list was replacing our Norcold RV refrigerator with a residential refrigerator. They removed a window in the living area, then used a forklift to remove the sofa in front of it. Once the old refrigerator was removed from it's space, the fork lift took it the rest of the way. The new Whirlpool was delivered the same way. Apparently, this is a very popular upgrade as evidenced by the "Norcold cemetery" in Brannon's garage. We are very happy with the result. That may be an understatement. I am thrilled with my new fridge Smile

1-Starting to remove the sleeper sofa2-Sofa placed on forklift3-Out with the old4-Norcold Cemetery5-In with the new6-Installation complete7-Inside fridge side8-Freezer side

Along with the refrigerator, they vented our microwave/convection oven to the outside, installed a ceiling fan in the bedroom, added 2 additional electric outlets for me, replaced our outside porch light, ran some auxilliary brake wire and tied it into the dash and a few other things. They worked until almost 8:00 PM. The attention to detail and the all-around professional workmanship of Brannon and his crew was wonderful. We would highly recommend them!

The same can be said for Chris Berry and his beautiful woodworking skills. He delivered our TV and cabinet that evening and we are very pleased. Chris Berry installing new cabinetThe TV itself is framed and made into the door. The door is on a piano hinge and the space inside is now wonderful storage. We have the DVD player on the bottom and our wireless printer on the shelf. Nicely contained and out of the way.



Because it was so late when they finished up, and because it was snowing and sleeting, we spent a second night at Brannon's rather than drive in that mess. Yes, the Red Bay weather is just as frightful as it is in the rest of the country! Smile

Friday was our appointment with Bruce Deaton of Custom Paint and Body. Because the micro/convection vent required a hole cut in the side of the coach and then a vent and vent cover installed, all that had to be painted to match. We also asked him to do a few touch up spots for us where there were scratches on the slide edges and chipped paint on the edges of a couple of the bay doors. He did the sanding and priming on Friday. We have to return at 6:00 AM Monday morning for the paint job. Yes, I said 6:00 AM!!!! Bruce works from 6:00 to 2:00 Monday through Friday and says he loves it. He gets off early enough to still have a life with his family.

We checked into "Camp Red Bay", the Tiffin Service RV  Park on Friday afternoon. We'll remain here until our painting is done and a couple other things taken care of. I ordered new windshield drapes from the Tiffin Store when we arrived. They are made by a seamstress right here in Red Bay and should be ready Tuesday or Wednesday. I've also asked Chris to make me a couple little end tables. By the time we leave here, we'll have spent a little money, but it's becoming "our" coach.

Saturday we went on a search for Lazy Boys. When Brannon's crew removed our sofa to get the refrigerators in and out, we told them not to put it back in. We don't like the 2 sofa's. One is plenty. What we really want is a couple comfortable recliners. We ended up in Fulton, MS and Tupelo, MS (Red Bay is right on the AL/MS state line) but could not find what we wanted in stock. Ordering would require a 4-6 week wait and we anticipate leaving in a few days. We'll continue to look as we head south. If we have to order, we'll make arrangements to have the chairs delivered to Nashville where we can pick them up when we head north in March.

After a short stop at Wal-mart for a few supplies, we headed back to Red Bay. Before leaving the city limits of Tupelo, however, we happened upon Elvis Presley's childhood home. It was getting late so we just stopped long enough to take a picture of the house and marker, but the compound is now huge. Elvis BirthplaceElvis MarkerThere's a large museum with walking trails around the grounds, even a

lake. I wonder how many other little houses were swallowed up to make room for this site. The tiny little house didn't appear to be any bigger than our motor home. With a nice fresh coat of white paint, it probably was in much better shape today than it was when Elvis was born.

Once home, we ate dinner and watched a little TV. I'm not sure what we'll do today, but I imagine we'll find something :)  I hear there’s a couple of good football games going on Smile

Monday, January 17, 2011

Movin’ On

There was rain forecast for this afternoon, MLK day, so we decided it was time to move on. We thought if we left in the morning, we could make it part way to Birmingham,  Alabama before running into the rain. Although the precipitation was coming from that direction, we felt it in our best interest to leave this park in Macon because it’s an open field and we were afraid of getting stuck if there was too much rain. Our next planned location was paved so we felt safer considering the forecast was calling for 2 days of the wet stuff.

After our morning coffee and a light breakfast, we readied the coach for traveling, me inside, Rick outside.  We pulled out at 10:15 AM. The only part of this trip we were a little nervous about was going around Atlanta but we timed it for morning and with it being a holiday, we figured we’d be fine. Well, that was the plan. And we were fine, but our navigator (which I have to fess up is my job) had a senior moment and we missed our exit to take the Loop around Atlanta because we were in the wrong lane. Instead, we ended up downtown Atlanta to get onto I-20 West.  Well, it’s certainly a good thing it was a holiday because I have no idea how many more cars we could have fit on that road during a regular weekday! We took one very short bathroom break at the rest area just over the Alabama state line and a diesel fuel stop about 20 miles out from our destination. We pulled into Hoover RV Park around 2:15 PM making the trip 5 rainless hours :)  We gained an hour moving into the Central Time Zone at the state line. 

We parked, leveled and put out the slides. Oops! The bedroom passenger slide made noise, but didn’t move. Oh boy. Well, let’s put out the other 3 and we’ll check on this one. If it’s not something simple, we’ll leave it in and have it checked at Red Bay. While I was writing a check for the site fee (this park is on the honor system-you take an envelope, fill in your info and enclose cash or check) and walking it over to the lockbox, Rick was crawling around “diagnosing” our slide problem. It ended up being a sheared pin. He even had a few spares and while I held the flashlight, he had us all repaired in about 10 minutes! It’s amazing the things you learn to do, and quickly, when you have to :) I’m just grateful he’s a quick study. We had that happen once before (different slide) and he learned what our RVer neighbors helped him do. I’d have had to call someone out and pay them lots of money to do that :)

I must say I totally understand those who like to stay at least 2 days before traveling again. I’m one of them. I just need some down time to recoup and regroup. I may do nothing but a load of laundry and read blogs, but it’s restful. We’ll be here for 2 days (see, I told you :) ) before leaving for our final destination of Red Bay, AL.

This entire trip was planned to get to Red Bay. Once we take care of business there, we are heading directly south where we will “try” to warm up :)  Red Bay is the home of Tiffin Motorhomes. It is also known as Camp Red Bay by the many customers Tiffin has that bring their coaches to the factory for work. We don’t have any major issues to take care of, but we do have a list of “wants”  we’d like to have done to our coach. We have an appointment with Custom RV (an independent business, not associated with, but specializing in, Tiffin) on Thursday, January 20th, so our plan is to arrive late afternoon on Wednesday.

One of our planned projects is replacing our Norcold refrigerator with a residential refrigerator. I’ll try to get pictures :)

Until then, be safe and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ocmulgee National Monument and a Senior Drink

IMGP1775The past week in SC was cold, snowy, wet and icy but by Thursday, things had cleared enough for us to pull out. Although the campground was still plenty icy, the roads were clear and we left Lugoff, SC around 10:30 AM.

We had an uneventful drive to Macon, GA. The first half of the trip was on I-20 and it was nice smooth sailing. As we entered Georgia, big electronic signs warned us: “Severe icing on all Atlanta streets. Avoid travel to Atlanta”. Good thing we weren’t going to Atlanta Smile Our destination was about 80 miles south of there. We took US 44 South to 22 and wound our way into Macon. Our destination was the Al Sihah Shrine RV Park.  The link will take you to the PA page as the Al Sihah page has dropped the RV park information but it is still there and operational. Dropping the info on their site could be the reason we are only 1 of 2 total RV’s in the entire place! This place is HUGE! There are 145 sites but they are laid out along the perimeter of the park with grass in the middle. It’s really nothing more than open fields but they have water and 50 amp hookups and are a Passport America park so the price was right for a few day stopover. We prefer a more picturesque park with trees but for some, the openness of this park might be preferable for satellite TV etc. We arrived here about 3:00 PM.

After setting up, we decided to treat ourselves to KFC for dinner. We don’t buy fried chicken often, so it’s a real treat. We placed our order and were told our side selection wasn’t ready and it would be about 5 minutes. That’s fine. We were in no hurry. With that, the nice gentleman ringing us up asked if we would like a senior drink while we waited. IMGP1776Neither of us knew what he meant by that so he pulled out 2 cups and said “we like to take care of our seniors. The drinks are on us” Smile I think Rick was taken aback a bit, someone actually calling him a senior, but he took the drink anyhow. Smile He was always at work when I’d be sure to go to the grocery store on Senior Discount Day for my extra 5%! I told him he’d get used to it Smile

Friday dawned sunny but cold at 16°. Brrr! By late morning, though, it had warmed to about 40° so we decided to go see the Ocmulgee National Monument. Fascinating place. They preserve and display archeological artifacts dating back 12,000 years. It’s a part of the National Park System. IMGP1788A thousand years ago, the Ocmulgee mound complex was one of the largest Mississippian ceremonial centers in the SE. Like most cities, this one expanded and contracted through the years. Despite centuries of use, the one square mile complex still reflects the characteristic layout of an organized Mississippian ceremonial and political center.


IMGP17771000+ year old pottery found mostly in one piece.


The Earth Lodge

This structure burned and collapsed about 1000 years ago and was reconstructed in the 1930’s. It is 42 feet in diameter and the largest of 8 earth lodges discovered on the Macon Plateau. It was probably used for ceremonies and meetings.

It was a nice way to spend part of the afternoon and the grounds were large so it gave me a chance to get in a good walk, something that was impossible on the skating rink in SC!

We will be here until Monday so I’m sure we can find something else to get into. Until then, thanks for stopping by.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our Stay in South Carolina Has Been Extended

This was supposed to be just a stopping off place for a couple of days, but it appears we’ll be here a bit longer than that. This is what I saw out the window of our coach this morning.

IMGP1774 IMGP1773

I don’t know what’s up with all the snow in the South this year, but it’s the most snowfalls I’ve ever seen and I’ve lived in the South for 30 years. This is supposed to turn to freezing rain around lunch time and continue for several hours. I think it’s a good day to curl up with a book :)

Yesterday, while the air was just “crisp” and blustery, we took a short ride into nearby Camden to see what we could find. Camden is the oldest inland town in South Carolina and the site of two Revolutionary War battles, the Battle of Camden in 1780 and the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill in 1781.

IMGP1770 IMGP1769

Unfortunately, the historical site is not open every day during the winter. The grounds were still accessible, but none of the buildings were open. We wandered around looking at the various markers but the wind was whipping so hard it made it difficult so we didn’t stay long.

IMGP1772 IMGP1771 (Small)

After a quick stop at Walmart, we headed home to wait on the Packer/Eagles game. Go Pack! :)

It’s doubtful we’ll get in any more exploring while we’re here, but as long as we have heat and food, we’ll stay cozy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

…And We Are Off!

It seems rather surreal that this day has actually arrived. After planning for 4½ years, we are finally “on the road”. It even sounds funny to say that, but I think I’ll get used to it Smile

We started prepping by flying to Sioux Falls SD Tuesday afternoon. We arrived there around 9:00 PM, checked into our hotel and tried to get some sleep. Wednesday morning, we got up, showered, packed and drove to the Minnehaha County Administration building in downtown Sioux Falls. This was truly one stop shopping. We went to the second floor and got our SD drivers licenses, down to the first floor to register to vote and then across the hall to transfer the title on the Jeep. In less than an hour, we walked out  with drivers license in hand as well as license plates. Easy peasy. We had previously registered the coach by mail through our mail forwarding service but this was actually easier than filling out all those forms!

From there we went to Perkins to have a late breakfast/brunch. Perkins always seems to have good, hot, fresh food and this was no exception. From there, we returned our rental car and waited at the airport for our return flight. We were quite early and thought about trying to get on an earlier flight but they wanted to charge us too much to do that. We’re retired now, so we didn’t need to be in a hurry, right? We left at the appointed time and didn’t miss out on anything by not taking the earlier flight Smile 

Thursday and Friday were prep days getting the coach ready to roll. After sitting in one place for a couple months or so, we had a lot to do. Rick took care of the outside work and I did the inside. When we purchased and  drove the coach home from Arkansas in September, we didn’t have any “stuff” with us. We had flown there and only had a suitcase and the few groceries I bought there. Not much to secure and the trip was uneventful as far as anything flying through the air Smile 

Surprisingly, we both slept quite well last night. We got up this morning, had our coffee, some breakfast, showered and did our last minute prep. Rick had to air up one of the back tires that had lost air while sitting. Then we said good bye to the neighbors and took off. It was 11:30. I’m still not sure how it took us that long, but we just took our time and tried to make sure we didn’t forget anything. Success! The only thing that went flying was the salt and pepper shakers that I had mistakenly left on the table. Other than a little salt, no problems.

We drove as far as Lugoff SC which was about 160 miles total trip. We are at the Camden RV Park, a very plain Jane park but our site is level and flat, a pull-through with full hookups. It is certainly fine for a couple day stay while we see what’s interesting in the area. Unfortunately, the weather forecast is predicting snow and freezing rain starting tomorrow evening so we may be here even longer. We are headed toward Macon GA but their forecast is similar so it wouldn’t matter which area we were in. Looks like we’ll be putting up with some nasty weather one way or another. Oh well, we have plenty of time, we’re retired. Smile