A Three Rail Shot

That’s Macon, GA to Rochester, NY by way of Savannah, GA and Charlottesville, VA. Yes Savannah is out of the way altogether, but as I explained that is where the good guys of Dick Gore RV do their thing and so we went there. If you then line up a direct route to Charlottesville, you will pass through a lot of “there ain’t no way to get there” places. We went up I 95 to Florence where we turned more northerly on 52 and then, wonder of wonders we were on US 1, a portion we had not laid tire on yet. We passed by Darlington Race Track and knew we were in serious NASCAR country. Shortly before that I started the usual search for a campground to spend the night.

Having had 6 days of dry camping in Perry we really wanted the comfort of a water and electric. I found the only campground on our route, the Frontgate RV at Rockingham Speedway. I called ahead to make sure there was room and to verify the directions because the book was not really clear. Phyllis greeted us like a long lost friend and eventually said she would await our arrival even though we were going to arrive an hour after her normal office hours. She described the location as “across the highway from the NASCAR track.” What do I know? When we got there, on one side of US 1 is this mammoth stadium surrounded by grass. On the other side is a grass field with a small cluster of buildings. We had already taken a detour into a campground that was not expeting us as was not suitable for us, turning around required my guidance on foot and was accomplished with inches to spare. There was no sign of a campground, literally no sign and no RVs glistening white in the setting sun. There was a small American car poised, apparently, in the grass. Carol slowed and we passed the driveway as we rolled. The car gave chase and met us as we turned into the next driveway. A picture is worth many words.

Aone at Front Gate RV

We stayed alone until the next morning as they started preparing to run trials with three dragsters on the quarter mile strip just over the berm from us.

We left at our usual time, between 9 and 9:30 and set out for Malena and Dan’s house. The route was made up of several roads that look like a straight run on the map. By lunch time we were settled in their driveway after a minor contretemps with a fence. Most damage was to the fence with my ego coming in a strong second. The piece of garden I have been using to complete my turn in the cold of winter had turned into mud. The front wheel slid into it and I went sideways into the fence, taking out a couple of boards and the remains of my ego. The fence is mendable, the marks on the coach are on the same panel the hit and run driver messed up so Gee 2 is no worse off and I will slowly recover the belief that I can place the motorhome anyplace I want to with in a couple of inches. Our visit lasted from Wednesday afternoon until our departure on Sunday morning we attended a school assembly and helped prepare a new garden. I walked up and down the hills that are called the road and driveway and Dan and I took a wonderful hike up Humpback Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

When we first arrived I called Bill Freedman, a classmate of ours from 23 school and Monroe High. He came over on Wednesday night and we had a grand time reminiscing. I hope on another visit we will get to meet his family. We told him the story of meeting the Robbs in Austin Texas and Bill was fascinated, he asked us to tell Ed that we had met him. Saturday night we went out with the Robbs and as soon as I mentioned Bill Freedman, Ed first asked if there was anyone we didn’t know and then he told us of his relationship to Bill. Charlottesville really is a small place and 3 degrees of separation might better describe it. We went out to dinner with the Robbs and we went to Staunton in hopes of avoiding contact with the public since Ed is very well recognized on C’ville. We almost made it, there was a party at a table near us and several of the participants were retired State Troopers who knew Ed.

Sunday morning found us mounted up and ready to roll to our fixed base in Rochester. An uneventful trip was broken in Painted Post, at the new Super WalMart, where we spent one last night on the road before driving into Rochester. The food is in the house, the clothes are in the washer and the outside of Gee 2 glistens with the wash I gave it.

This is the end of the Winter ‘05 blog. Spring is here and our next major trip will be in August, if gas prices don’t go over $3.00 and gallon.

Two Cheers and Two Boo’s

Monday the 28th of March, I opened my eyes and looked at the top of the refrigerator from where I lay in bed. It looked wrong. The light pattern indicating operating mode showed that it was operating on propane. In my sleep dazed mind, I processed this information and wondered why. The obvious answer surfaced, we did not have 120 volt AC current available. The rain and the storms could have had that result. A quick look out the window told me that this was not throughout the campground, the power lights showed on most pedestals in my viewing area. There was nothing to do but check out our own pedestal and power source. Problem! There was adequate power to the outlet on the pedestal. I could get 120 volt AC from the generator, but not from the shore power cord. I checked the various fuse boxes and circuit breakers to assure myself that we had not simply tripped a breaker, no such luck.

Time to call Fleetwood, they don’t even open their Customer Relations line until 6 AM Pacific Time, it was 7:30 AM EST. At 8 I called Brandon Shepard at Meyers and discussed trouble shooting alternatives, but he had nothing new to offer. By 9:15 the Customer Relations folks had not responded to my voicemail so I called them again. Theresa answered ON THE MOTORHOME LINE and walked me through the trouble shooting guide to the same result. She agreed to help locate a Fleetwood Service Center and eventually directed us to Tall Paul’s Campers in Macon. First Boo! Tall Paul’s Campers only handles trailers, trailers that do not have 110 volt circuits. They only work on 12 Volt. Theresa had told these people that I was pulling a trailer with a 12 volt problem, she did this with me on hold waiting to be conferenced in for directions.

A cheer! Johnny B and his buddy completed the diagnosis, located the Transfer Switch and pointed out the burned smell emanating from the area. They had no parts and no training to complete the repair. While Johnny was reviewing options and waiting for a call from Fleetwood that never came, the other guy went up on the roof with me and put sealer on two small rips in the caulking that had let some water into the coach the day before. They suggested that I contact Newcastle RV in Bryan, GA as they ought to have the ability to make the fairly simple swap of transfer switch for a new one. A call to Newcastle resulted in the second BOO.

Their response was that they were booked until May and with prodding they agreed that they would work on the coach for their Emergency Rate of $97.50 and hour as opposed to the warranty rate of $79.50 that they would get from Fleetwood. I told them that I was less than pleased by their lack of willingness to service RVers in trouble on the road. This will be posted on RV.net and sent as a letter to the RV magazines. No dealer that refuses to make room in its service schedule for away from home RVers should have any business from any RV buyers. Aavoid Newcastle RV in Bryan, GA and send them a message.

Johnny B was not done. He had worked at Dick Gore RV in Savannah and knew the overall service manager, Ron Bolen. I called Ron, explained my problem and he said “bring it in, we will either fix it or set you up so you can draw power overnight and complete the repair in the morning.” A great big cheer for Dick Gore RV and Ron Bolen. We pulled in 3 and a half hours later (it is 180 miles) and after I explained to Kresta, the Warranty manager, what Ron had said, she had John Smith reschedule his work load and get right to our problem. Within minutes he had found the burned wire which resulted from a badly execute crimp at the factory and which had taken out the transfer switch. The switch it turns out is manufactured by World Friends Company (WFCO) a Chinese firm. They are first being used on the ‘04s. The part is being shipped overnight from California for installation today. No parts depot has this part in stock, it is coming from Fleetwood and it was too late to ship from Pennsylvania, but still time to ship from California, go figure!

The people at Dick Gore RV have been very helpful and pleasant. The experience is of course trying for us and we have been working very hard at maintaining our sense of humor. After all we did get back to Savannah, GA in a most unexpected way. We ended up at Whispering Pines Campground which we stayed at here on our very first extended trip in the summer of 2001. Going through the journal as we drove here I remembered that we had gone to dinner at The Bistro Savannah back then and had liked it so much we went there twice in our three nights in town. That is where we had dinner last night and it exceeded our expectations. I am so glad that we “let the smoke out” of that switch so we could have this experience.

We pulled into Dick gores at 10:45 AM as planned and they immediately pulled us into the service area and John came on board with the new part. By 11:45 we were on the road with everything working just fine. Big thanks to Kresta, John, Alan and all the people at Dick Gores RV for taking good care of total strangers in need of emergency service far from home. They are good folks, and I will shop in there stores in Savannah and Florida when I am near and have a need (or a want).

I am posting this from the comfort of Malena and Dan’s living room. I have some fun stories to tell about our trip here in my next posting.