Monday, April 22, 2013

Sick! Pollen! Sick of Pollen!!!

UGH. What is it with this nasty yellow crud that can make so many people miserable? You would think, because it’s a rebirth of sorts, a new beginning, that it would be a good thing all around. Instead, it makes many feel like they want to die. Spring used to be my favorite time of year. Not any longer. I still enjoy seeing Spring unfold; I just try to do it inside behind closed doors and windows. Yes, I know. This, too, shall pass :) Now that we are s.l.o.w.l.y headed north, I anticipate it will pass sometime in September!!! LOL!

OK. Enough complaining. It’s hard to justify complaining when the temperature is at least comfortable. It’s still snowing in Wisconsin! It’s almost May! What’s wrong with that picture?

I am happy to report that the Red Bay Black Hole only exists in Red Bay…just as I thought. You might remember that before we left, our Fantastic Fan stopped working. We were both under the weather so did not troubleshoot it while we were there as it would have required a rooftop visit and with all the medications we were taking, that did not sound like a good idea :)

We left Red Bay last Monday and headed to Corinth Recreation Area, one of our favorite parks, in Double Springs, AL. We always love coming here and it seemed like a good place to crash for a week and try to feel better. We got all set up in site 40 and for whatever reason, Rick decides to try the Fantastic Fan. He flipped the switch and Voila! It worked perfectly. Still does a week later. Not even a hiccup. I’m telling you, it’s the Red Bay Black Hole :)

We spent the week recuperating and by Sunday, actually felt fairly normal so we headed to Tennessee. We have 6 reasons for stopping there a couple times a year…

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Thomas, Patrick, Sabrina, Lily, Carrie and Maggie :)

They live in Franklin, just south of Nashville. Previously when we visited, we had to stay on the north side of town and fight Nashville traffic to get to their house. The last time through, we found a campground in Smyrna, about 20 miles to the east, that worked much better for us.  This time however, when I called to make reservations, I was told they were booked solid until June 1st! Wow.

This put us in a bit of a bind. Every place I tried was either booked or WAY too expensive for our budget at $60-$70/day. Those were the parks closest to Opryland and we prefer to avoid that area anyhow. Eventually, I kept going further and further out and I think I found a hidden gem.

We are now in Cornersville, TN at the Texas T Campground. It’s “right” off I-65, but surprisingly, there is not a lot of traffic noise, especially when indoors. It’s clean, well maintained and everyone is friendly.

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It’s 43 miles south of the kids house, but a straight shot on I-65 with much less traffic. I think we’re going to like it here :)

The next couple of weeks will be full of grandkids and I’m sure we’ll be pooped once all is said and done :) Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Till next time, thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Life With Lucy…It’s Certainly Never Boring!

Ever have one of those days where you wish you could go back an hour? An hour where ignorance was bliss. An hour where what you don’t know can’t hurt you. An hour before you made the decision and then had to live with the end result?

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. Let me start by saying that this was not my favorite week. First off, almost as soon as we arrived home from Italy, the pollen monsters found me and attacked. The started their attack a week ago last week Tuesday in Mississippi and were relentless. I had forgotten how badly I could feel in the month of April! I doubt I’ll forget this time. Next April I’m heading somewhere else…anywhere else. Since starting this blog, almost a week ago, I have come to the conclusion that I may have also had a Spring cold on top of the allergy issue. I only say that now because Rick has gotten my allergies and as he pointed out, that’s not possible :) I am feeling better; he is not.

This year Lucy had a couple appointments in Red Bay, Alabama and allergies or not, we were on our way. We arrived at Custom RV last Monday afternoon and set up for the night. Brannon has power and water in his parking lot to accommodate his customers and it really makes it easy on us. Lucy was getting a couple of new windows in the morning. Over the years, some of our dual pane windows have lost their seal and while they still perform perfectly for insulating purposes, the cloudiness in the glass was a concern. Most of them have minimal fogging and we are going to see about having them repaired. There is a place in Florida and another in Arkansas that specializes in this. The 2 side cockpit windows, however, were the worst and the fogginess was becoming a driving hazard.P1030533

P1030534 It did not appear these would be repair candidates anyhow, so we made arrangements to have them replaced.

While we waited on the windows Tuesday morning, we asked Brannon to adjust our front passenger slide. It sloped toward the front and when it would rain, the water would run across the top of the slide and leak down the front side behind the seal. It took us quite awhile to figure out what the actual problem was, but once we did and had that slide adjusted, the problem stopped…temporarily. After awhile, it would once again drop down a little in the front and the problem would reoccur. Our “fix” for this was to always keep our awning out just enough to cover the slide. Then, if it rained, the water never got to the top of the slide and no water issues. I was excited to have that slide readjusted, again, hoping that this time it would continue to perform as it should.

Be careful what you wish for. As Brannon worked on the slide, it became obvious that it was adjusted as far as it would possibly go. When the slide was in, everything was aligned  perfectly. When it went out, it appeared to “fall” into a hole. Upon further examination, it not only appeared that way, it DID fall into a hole! Apparently, there had been a slide water issue for many years, and the subfloor became compromised, rotted and the slide roller wore a hole in the subfloor where it settled in. This was not sounding good. Lucy is 8 years old and  was 5 years old when we bought her. We knew there would be issues, but we were kind of hoping we had discovered all of them by now!

Lucy’s carpet had to be torn out so the damage could be assessed more closely.

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Worst case scenario, we’d have to go back to Tiffin and have the entire slide removed and the damaged subfloor area replaced, then the slide reinstalled.

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Luckily, the damage was confined to a small area and it was determined that we could reinforce the subfloor with an 1/8'” thick aluminum plate that would cover the damaged area and be screwed into the good area.

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The roller would then glide across this plate and should be stable and level.

Of course, this threw a monkey wrench into Brannon’s scheduled week, so we were worked on in between other appointments and after hours.  It took 4 days but after all was said and done, we *think* Lucy is now operating properly, although it will take some real life testing to be certain. Not only that, but she is sporting brand, spanking new front carpet. 

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It’s nothing special but it is new and fresh and smells good :)  The original plan was to only replace the center carpet, not the carpet on the slides. That didn’t work because our original carpet was no longer available. The original had a pattern called Turkey Tracks. We were able to get a pretty good color match with a plain, plush carpet, but I felt it wouldn’t look right to have 2 different carpets and insisted that the slides also be done. Had I known all this was going to happen, I would have picked out carpet ahead of time and included the bedroom in the replacement :) Maybe next year :)

In between all of this, we managed to keep an appointment at Bay Diesel for Lucy’s annual checkup and fluid/filter changes. Except for a cracked surge tank on the radiator that needed to be replaced, the rest of the annual maintenance was uneventful. Not to make light of the surge tank; it was certainly not a cheap item, but some things have to be expected and after the seemingly easy slide adjustment debacle, this just didn’t seem like a big deal.

We left Brannon and Custom RV around lunch time on Friday. We decided to stay in Red Bay over the weekend rather than try to get into our next park on a Friday afternoon with all the weekend warriors rushing in. We made the most of our time on Saturday with housekeeping duties. Rick washed Lucy and did all her outside windows while I cleaned inside, shampooed the bedroom carpet and washed inside windows. She looks pretty darn good, inside and out :)

I hope we didn’t make a mistake staying in Red Bay a couple extra nights. There is that thing I call the Red Bay black hole…once you’re here, all kinds of things need repair! Last night, while I was making dinner, I hit the switch for the Fantastic Fan to cool off the kitchen a bit. Nothing. Nada. It had worked earlier in the afternoon. Now nothing.

We will have to troubleshoot :) I’ll let you know what happened with that issue next time.

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Random Observations

We’ve been home for 4 days now and I still can’t get myself back to CDT. Going to bed at 9 PM is a little early…and waking up at 5 AM is ridiculous! I’m sure we’ll get there eventually :)

Our plane landed in Houston at 2:30 PM last Friday afternoon. The sun was shining and it was 73°. It felt like heaven after the previous cold, rainy days we’d had in Vietri sul Mare. Italy had been fabulous but it was nice being back home. We didn’t even spend all our money! We came home with €6,95! I meant to spend those last Euros at the airport but I guess we’ll just have to call them a souvenir. We had a 200 mile drive ahead of us to get back to Rockport but that was OK. We were looking forward to sleeping in our own bed that night :)

This post will be my last about anything Italy :) I just had some random observations rattling around in my head hat I wanted to put down on paper. I also wanted to answer some questions I’d been asked.

Observations:

  • The vast majority of Italians in the northern part of Italy are thin. The further south you go, the heavier the population. I have no idea why. It’s just an observation. There is no comparison to how overweight American’s are though. If you saw a large person, it was undoubtedly a tourist. On that note, I am happy to report that, although we ate and drank our way through that country, we did not gain any weight! Yeah!

  • Phillip Morris is alive and well in Italy! Everywhere you looked, people were smoking. There were cigarette machines on the sidewalks. There were also cigarette butts all over the sidewalks. The “enlightenment” hasn’t made it to Italy yet. Although I had read that Europeans smoked a lot, it was still surprising to see.

  • They apparently also take their birth control seriously. Along with the cigarette machines, there were condom machines on the sidewalks. That one probably isn’t a bad idea :)

  • Italians are aggressive drivers. Let me say that again. Italians are aggressive drivers! Scary. They are also aggressive walkers. They hold their ground on the sidewalks/streets and you move if necessary. It’s the same way they’ll look drivers in the eye and cross the street right in front of them, always holding their ground.

  • If you’re not very careful, you will become a victim of a pickpocket. Pick pocketing is a national past-time in Italy. Mothers teach their small children how to do it. Seriously. Rick had a small child try to get his wallet out of his back pocket. Unfortunately for the kid, his wallet wasn’t even in the country, just the indentation from wearing it in that pocket forever. He felt the little hands and whipped around to see a mother and her 2 small kids duck into the closest store. Do your research before traveling. Don’t be a target.

  • There is no bad wine in Italy. Really :)

  • The further south you get, the more expensive the wine. For the best bargains, Venice and Florence have wonderful prices.

  • There are more Gelato shops than restaurants…I think.

  • Italian women are born with 5” stiletto’s on their feet and they learn to walk on the cobblestone streets before they can crawl! Seriously, these women can give you a complex. It’s almost impossible to walk on these things in flats; they make it look like child’s play :)

The good cobblestone (large and easier to walk on) vs. the bad cobblestone. I ask you, how can anyone walk on that in stiletto’s?

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Q & A

  • Sherry (Direction of our Dreams) asked what the unemployment rate was in the rest of Italy after I mentioned Naples having a 30% rate. As of November 2012, it was 11.1% overall with young people under the age of 25 experiencing the highest level. Most young people continue to live at home with their parents.

  • Several people suggested we go to Pompeii and I must report that we did not make it. I have to blame that on Mother Nature again.

  • Bob (The Caretaker Chronicles) wanted to know if we were going to stay for Easter. Bob, we intentionally flew back to the States on Good Friday. I read about how crazy it can get there! :)

  • Several people asked me how we managed to stay in homes and apartments much of our trip, rather than hotel rooms. I can highly recommend Airbnb.com This website gives the traveler lodging alternatives and it operates world wide. It’s possible to stay in a private home, an apartment, even a room in someone’s home if you should desire. Because we were 2 couples traveling together, we could book a 2 bedroom apartment and split the cost for far less than 2 hotel rooms. My daughter Nicole was the first person to recommend them and I’m very happy she did. I know we’ll definitely look at that option again for any trip that we can’t take Lucy :)

  • Finally, this was not a question but a suggestion from Chuck (Goldenshoe RV Trip). He mentioned that he had gotten compensation from KLM for a cancelled flight that his wife Anneke had booked recently. He just politely asked for some sort of adjustment and they were very prompt in making an offer. I waited to write until we were safely home, in case we experienced the same craziness that we did flying out. (Our return was quite uneventful). Over Easter weekend, I emailed their customer service outlining our cancelled flight etc. and asking for some sort of relief. I stuck to the facts and asked nicely :) First thing Monday morning, they responded with the appropriate apologies and the promise of 2 checks to be mailed to us (one for each of us) totaling approximately 2/3 of the cost of our tickets! I was beyond happy. So, Chuck, if we ever actually meet in person, the drinks are on us! :) I probably would not have followed up if it had not been for your comment. Thank you!

I think that about wraps it up. Thanks for stopping by. Turtle