Friday, June 5, 2015

Finally! A Post…and an Announcement!

It has become increasingly obvious to me, and probably more so to you, that I am not blogging often enough to make it worthwhile for anyone to follow these posts  :(  I am finding it difficult to sit down and work on a blog post when I’m having too much fun :) That doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen frequently  :) Yay!  :)

I have found it easier to just post to Facebook when something interesting/fun is going on. For that reason, I have added a “follow me” button on the upper left column of this blog. If you click on that, you will get my Facebook posts in your news feed. We will not be “friends” but anything I post regarding our travels etc. will hit your news feed. If we are already friends, you need do nothing  :)

I will still try to blog occasionally, but Facebook will become my primary means of communicating our travels. I hope you will understand and join me in our journey by clicking the “follow me” button.

Now, on to the blog post!

The month of April was filled with all things “grandchild”!

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We enjoyed our time with the kids. When they were in school or otherwise occupied, we found other things to occupy our time.

We hit a couple wineries/craft distilleries but, the big thing was the Country Music Hall of Fame. Amazing place and I’m not even a Country Music fan :)

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We spent several hours there one rainy afternoon before finding our way to Tootsies World Famous Orchid Lounge for an early dinner and a beer.

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Tootsies is a Nashville icon having hosted famous Nashville artists such as Faron Young, Patsy Cline, Kris Kristofferson, and Loretta Lynn as well as many, many others.

From the Nashville area, we headed to Defeated Creek COE in Carthage TN. This is one park we will definitely try to return to! Beautiful!

While there, we met new friends Lisa and Tony with sons Tez and Rick.

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We had a great time visiting. Tez was home temporarily, recuperating from minor surgery. He is a US Marine and we both thank him very much for his service to our country! Lisa and I had been long time Facebook friends that just met for the first time.

When we left Carthage we headed for the NC mountains. We were headed to the first ever RV-Dreams Reunion Rally in Marion, NC.

RV Dreams Reunion 2015

What a wonderful time we had!

When the rally was over, we headed to Virginia Beach, VA.

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It was a perfect spot for some down time and recuperation after the Rally.

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We got a bit more recuperation time than we wanted as it rained from the first night we were there throughout our entire stay :)

Oh well. C’est la vie! It’s all an adventure!

We are moving on to Delaware in a couple days. Another new area for us. Please join us by clicking the “follow” button on the left side of this blog.

Thanks for stopping by.Turtle

 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Red Bay, Alabama = Tiffin Stuff, Repairs, Maintenance and Mods

Red Bay, Alabama is the home of Tiffin Motorhomes and thousands of people make the trek to Red Bay each year to have work done at the factory.

Lucy is a Tiffin Allegro Bus but we don’t come to Red Bay for the  factory. Lucy is long time out of warranty. The factory will only accept appointments for warranty work. Anything else is first come, first served. We hear stories of people waiting 4-5 weeks and beyond to get into a service bay. No. We come to Red Bay because we have established a relationship with previous Tiffin employees who have started their own businesses. They know the product, will take appointments and, in our experience, are less expensive than the factory rates.

We arrived in Red Bay on Wednesday, March 25th anticipating ~ a week stay to get everything done on our list. Our list consisted of:

  • Replacing both our air conditioners/heat pumps-they were limping on their last legs :)
  • Repairing our door awning-it wouldn’t go out, just rolled around and around.
  • Replacing the wind deflector on the coach door-the old one was plastic and ripped a long time ago resulting in a whistling sound going down the road.
  • Run 2 new coax cables from our entertainment cabinet to the front passenger bay-new hookups for our portable satellite dish.
  • Install an Air Force One braking system on Lucy and the Jeep-Rick was not happy with our previous tow vehicle braking system. Safety first.
  • Replace our wet bay floor/basin-floor was previously made of a wood product that eventually rots. The replacements are using a water-proof plastic material.
  • Annual oil, filter, fluids and generator service on Lucy
  • Front TV cabinet remodel-to better fit today’s flat screen TV’s

First stop: Custom RV where Brannon Hutchinson was going to take care of the first 5 items on our list and contract the workers who would be doing the wet bay replacement.

Custom RV

We made ourselves comfortable for the night in one of the W/E spots Brannon has on-site for his customers. Thursday morning, they pulled Lucy in Bay #1 and started work.

Lucy in Bay #1

By afternoon, Air Force One and the smaller items were complete and it was time to remove the old air conditioners and install the new. Brannon ran the fork lift while his employee balanced on top of Lucy removing the units as they came up.

Brannon running forklift with AC

Then they worked together on the installation.

AC Install

Items 1-5 were complete by 7:30 PM that day with the addition of a motion detector overhead door light. The light bulb on our old light fixture was burned out so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to replace the unit with a new, efficient LED model with motion detection. It works like a champ!

door light

As it turned out, the wet bay replacement could not be done until Monday. This left Friday and the weekend free, which turned out well for us. Rick’s brother, David, passed away somewhat unexpectedly and we had to scramble to find a place for Lucy, get plane tickets and hotel reservations and get to Plattsburgh, NY quickly. David had been ill for quite some time but seemed to be getting better recently and we were all hoping for more time. It didn’t happen.

Brannon was nice enough to let us leave Lucy right at Custom RV where they would take care of the wet bay replacement while we were gone. We are very grateful. We tied up loose ends and packed our limited winter-wear on Friday, flying out of Huntsville, AL on Saturday morning. Due to the short notice, we had to take a 3 legged flight out flying from Huntsville to Charlotte to Philly to Burlington, VT where we rented a car and took the ferry across Lake Champlain to Plattsburgh, NY. It was a long day and we were pooped but the next morning was the real eye-opener!

weather

BRRR! It had been many, many years since either of us had experienced that kind of cold.  I’m afraid we have turned into wusses! :)

It was a hard weekend for everyone but it was comforting to have so much family around giving support to each other. The funeral was Monday and we flew back to Lucy on Tuesday.

Our return flight was much better. We left Burlington and flew back to Huntsville with only 1 layover,  Washington DC. We got back to Lucy about 8 PM, opened the door and heard the beep, beep of our electrical management system. At first we thought it had gone off when they unplugged her Monday to take her back into the building to work on the wet bay. That’s what we thought until we got to the control panel and stepped in a puddle of water by the refrigerator. We were beeping low battery and inverter fault. No power at all. After checking and finding no power outside either, Rick made a phone call. As it turned out, when the guys were done with the wet bay repair Monday evening, they shut everything down in the shop and accidently shut down the breaker that powered all the 50 amp sites outside in the process! We were back in business quickly and the only thing we lost were ice cubes. Our freezer was full and it held well for 24 hours. Any longer, we probably would have been in trouble. Our supplemental freezer in the closet automatically switched over to 12v power and never skipped a beat. Whew!

The next morning, we were at Bay Diesel for Lucy’s annual maintenance work. She passed with flying colors and is good for another year.

Then on to Chris Berry’s shop for the TV cabinet work. Chris also has 2-50 amp hook-ups (no water) for customers. We spent Wednesday and Thursday nights in his parking lot while he worked his magic on Lucy.

Here is what our old TV cabinet looked like. It was made for a big old clunky TV circa 2005. It was way too long and ugly just hanging there.Cabinet before

The way this coach was built, all the cockpit cabinets both front and sides were installed before the walls went in. Therefore, they were screwed to each other and from the outside. No way to remove them. Ever. Not a good thing if you want to do some remodeling. We were hoping to just have the middle cabinet replaced with a smaller unit. Impossible to do. Chris said most people just opted for a door on that cabinet with the TV mounted to the door. That way the cabinet could be used for additional storage. We did not want that. Storage up there was not important to us and we didn’t want the TV permanently affixed to a door.  I have a hard time seeing the screen when I’m sitting in my recliner due to the angle so our TV has always been on an articulating arm so we can swing it out if necessary.

This is what Chris did for us. He was able to cut the excess cabinet off the bottom.

Front TV cut down

Then he installed a cherry wood bottom plate which matches the other cabinets perfectly.

New bottom plate

A new frame around the “new” cabinet box and the TV was ready to be remounted on the arm.

Adjusting arm and plugging in

Done!

The black tabs you see on either side are called TV Grips and they securely hold the TV while traveling so it doesn’t swing out on that arm.

Done!

Arm makes it much easier to see the TV from the side chairs.

TV on arm

We are very happy with the result.

Although the TV cabinet was the only thing we had talked to Chris about doing for us, while we were there, we asked him about doing another cabinet for us on the driver’s side behind our recliners. There is only wall behind the chairs and we tucked a rattan “cube”  between them for additional storage. It was an OK solution but we wanted something a little nicer.

Chair area before

Chris agreed to build the cabinet so we pulled everything out and let him get to work.

Ready for new cabinet

Framework going in and Chris wiring an additional outlet for us on the cabinet end.

Installing cabinet frame

All ready for the doors! Chris even found a solid surface top that matched our solid surface. Apparently they still make the light color but not the darker edging that we have so we were happy he had one that had been removed from another coach.

Ready for doors

The finished product. We opted to go without door handles because the cabinet would be behind our recliners and we didn’t want anything sticking out causing problems. If we change our mind, we can add them ourselves later.

Finished!

This looks much better, don’t you think? :)

Much nicer!

After all that, we were happy to find a FHU site in downtown Red Bay RV Park. There was much laundry to do after our trip and we were looking forward to a long hot shower. Once we got all hooked up and set up, I went in to shower while Rick pondered why our hot water heater was only working on propane, not electric. It had been working fine before our trip to NY.

I got into the shower, got all lathered up, hair full of shampoo and all of a sudden, no water. Surely this was a mistake. I waited a couple minutes and when it didn’t come back on, I wrapped a towel around me and peered out the window to see Rick looking at the wet bay in horror! Water was gushing out all over! Long story short, the shower drain pipe broke when the wet bay was replaced (it’s right above it but hidden) and no one knew it was an issue until the shower was used. The guys that did the replacement stopped by after work and repaired it. It now works great. I’m just glad we didn’t leave Red Bay fast. Sometimes, it’s good to take it slow and be sure everything is right before leaving :)

Rick traced the water heater issue over the weekend and found a bad relay. The Tiffin store was closed up tight for the weekend so we hung out and had a nice Easter, Red Bay style  :)

He bought the part and installed it today. Unless something else breaks before we get out of here, we should be on the road to see the grandkids in Tennessee tomorrow.

Hope you all had a nice Easter. Thanks for hanging in with me through this long post and thanks for stopping by.  Turtle

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fun with Friends, Old and New

As the weather heated up, we knew it was only a matter of time before we’d head for the northern border of Florida and (hopefully) cooler temps. Before we left, however, we spent a little time with friends catching up.

We drove out to Pine Island one day to meet up with Neil and Nancy. They met us at a small municipal park in Matlacha (pronounced Mat-la-shay) where we wandered the little artsy town and checked out some of their shops. I refrained from buying anymore “stuff” but Nancy had to add to her BUGZ collection.

bugz

The link will give you information about these adorable butterflies and dragonflies and how the sales benefit the Zulu tribe in South Africa. A good story and a great cause.

From there, we drove into Pine Island, unloaded our bikes and road over to the Ragged Ass Saloon for lunch.

Nancy and Neil

The food was great and the company even better!

Ragged Ass Saloon

Pine Island is off the western coast of Florida and an area I’d love to spend more time exploring one day.

Later that week, we met up with Elaine and Rick, our friends from New Brunswick.

Elaine and Rick

We met at the Log Cabin in LaBelle for linner.  We hope to see Elaine and Rick again this summer when our travels will take us into the Canadian Maritimes (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island).

As we started our journey further north in Florida, we stopped in Avon Park to visit Jim and Dee. They winter in a beautiful park, Adelaide Shores, where we stayed for a couple nights. We had a great time and made more new friends in the process. In fact, we were having so much fun that I forgot to get a picture of anything those 2 days! This picture is of Happy Hour at Jim and Dee’s and I had to steal it from Dee’s Facebook page to prove we were there! :)

Happy Hour at Jim and Dee's

From left to right: Dee, Lessie, Jessica, Harry, Vi, Kevin, Rick, Gail and Ed. Thanks to Jim for taking the picture!

We made one more stop in Florida, Lake City, where we met up with Gary and Peggy. They were full-timers for several years before hanging up the keys and buying a house and 5 acres out in the country. They plan to raise some chickens and grow lots of fresh vegetables!

We had a wonderful dinner with them.

Turkey dinner!

A toast to their new home!

Toast to good friends

There is a wonderful crystal clear river close to their new home, so we took the opportunity to do a little paddling. It was my first time in our new canoe and I really liked it.

The Ishetucknee River launch area

Ichetucknee River Launch Area

The water was so clear we could see the fish swimming around us.

Crystal Clear

We had hoped to see a little wildlife and we did. We heard there was a manatee sighting but we weren’t lucky enough to see one. We saw a few birds and dozens of turtles. Everywhere we looked there were turtles sunning on the logs.

They hung out in twos

Duplex

In threes

Triplex

In large groups

Apartment Building

And in larger groups!

Turtle Condo

It was a beautiful and perfect day to hang out on the river. Before we knew it, we were at the take-out. Time went by much too quickly!

We put the canoe on our cart and added Gary and Peggy’s Sea Eagle on top of that! It worked perfectly and no one had to carry a heavy load the 1/4 mile back to the parking lot :)

The guys have it under control

That was our first time using the cart and everyone agreed it was money very well spent! Especially me :) I’m not very good carrying heavy things further than a couple feet  :)

We now bid adieu to the state of Florida this year. We have moved across the state line into Georgia (just barely) and are sitting on Lake Seminole, northwest of Tallahassee.

Lake Seminole

This is our backyard. It’s beautiful but not any cooler :) Guess we’ll have to keep moving!

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Spring Has Definitely Sprung!

This is our first winter in southern Florida and it's hard to believe that spring is here already. Our temperatures have been in the high 80’s this week. It has warmed up very quickly. Of course, we really didn't have much of a winter.  Most of our temperatures were in the 70’s but we did have a couple days in mid February where the temperatures plunged to the low 30’s at night. It then warmed up to the 60’s during the day. We called that our 2-day winter :)  If that's winter,  I'll take it!

Birthday flowers from daughter, Nicole

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I never know what to blog about when we're just living life normally. We just did everyday things while we were at Water’s Edge Motorcoach and RV Resort this winter. We managed to do a few fun things too, including spending time with friends that were in the area. I never remembered to take any pictures but we sure enjoyed the company!

Rick has had a blast fishing all winter. This is an Amberjack.

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I got a Fitbit for Christmas this year, so I spent much of my winter walking with a few bike rides thrown in for good measure:)  I love my Fitbit! It really motivates me to move more. And that’s a very good thing!

We recently spent one afternoon at the Verizon store getting new phones. It's amazing how long it takes to accomplish that and walk out the door!  We already knew what phones we wanted. It was all paperwork and activation. We were there about two and a half hours and we were the only customers in the store. I guess it would have been an all day thing if they had been busy :) We’re both happy with the end result though…nice, shiny new phones!

Another thing we had been procrastinating on was having a new will and living will and power of attorney drawn up in the state of Florida. We changed our domicile from South Dakota to Florida a year ago. Along with all the normal “change of address” notifications there remained this little legal thing that needed to be taken care of. Our original Wills were drawn up in the state of North Carolina when we lived there prior to retirement. Things have changed with us over the years and we needed to update what we had so it seemed like a good idea to start from scratch in our new home state. We now feel like we've covered all bases should anything happen to one or both of us.

I also celebrated a milestone birthday this winter.  I am now covered by Medicare.

There is something about that word that just makes me think “old”. I don’t feel old and I’m grateful to have it but I sure wish it had a younger name :) 

Last Sunday, after a 3 month stay, we packed up Lucy, the Jeep and the canoe and left our winter park,  Water’s Edge Motorcoach and RV Resort and headed to the other side of Lake Okeechobee. We arrived at Ortona COE park about an hour and a half later. My kind of travel day :) Ortona is one of our favorite Florida parks.

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We will be staying here at Ortona until the middle of March when we will start moving further north. We have plans to stop and visit friends on the way with our ultimate destination being Red Bay, Alabama. Yes, it's that time of year again where we make our annual pilgrimage to Red Bay to have Lucy’s annual maintenance done. This year, in addition to her oil and fluid changes and generator service, we have also decided to have Brannon Hutcheson of Custom RV do some preventive maintenance to hopefully ward off any potential problems in the near future. Brannon has done work for us in the past and we have always been very happy with the end result. Lucy is 10 years old this year and her air conditioning is not working as efficiently as it should. We have decided to have Brannon replace both units with new AC/ heat pump units before they decide to break down on a 100 degree day this summer. We are also replacing our current braking system between Lucy and the Jeep with a new Air Force One system. This is a more sophisticated system than the one we currently use and will give us more peace of mind. You can never be too safe. There are a few other things on our list including having our front television cabinet reworked to better fit/work with our flat screen TV. The old cabinet housed a big huge clunky TV and our new 32 inch flat screen looks silly in front of this big box. I’m anxious to see what Chris Berry can do to make this work better for us.

Once our pilgrimage is complete, we’ll have a short travel day into Tennessee. It’ll be time for a visit with the grandkids! Thanks for stopping by. Turtle