Life is Cruel, Life is Wonderful

Cruel first: Yesterday we drove to the nearest WalMart in Fulton MS. While there I went looking for the beer section having only one bottle left in the refrigerator. There was no apparent beer or wine section. I asked a helpful Walmart employee who informed me we were in a dry county, but they were voting that very day to declare the city wet. Lot of good that would do me. Ah well, tomorrow is another day. It turns out that about half of Alabama is also dry, who knew? Of course Franklin County where Red Bay is located is dry. No beer today. The next county north is wet so I guess we go to Muscle Shoals in the next day or so to restock. At least we are not in Mississippi where it is illegal to bring alcoholic beverages into most dry counties! Prohibition continues!

Wonderful: This morning I got tired of waiting for a return phone call from Daniel McKinney at McKinney Body and Paint. I drove over to the shop to speak with him and he and a sidekick followed me back to the coach where they spoke in an accent I had a hard time understanding, deep south with a mouthful of mush. After a bit of a palaver Daniel said to bring it over on Monday morning at 8. I said “sure presuming we did not have to go to the service bay” for our 3 hours of glory, er express service.

We were thinking about lunch and Carol was preparing to bake a loaf of bread when her phone rang. They wanted us in service bay 9, NOW! We looked at each other for 15 seconds and said of course. 15 minutes later I shut the engine down in the service bay. I think that was a record for an unplanned departure from a camp site. For the tsunami on the CA coast we had an hours warning. They started work at 1 PM, unfortunately they close at 3 so we will get to go back in tomorrow at 7 AM. They called over a cabinet maker to do a minor repair on the counter top extension. Meanwhile they ordered a replacement shower door and a a replacement inflatable mattress section for the bed. They also lubricated the leveling jacks. At 3 PM the shower door was installed but not quite complete. The bladder for the mattress that was delivered was shopworn and stained, not usable and Tiffin no longer uses that brand. Choices, Tempur-pedic Mattress or Sleep Number. I guess we will go with the Sleep Number, but they couldn’t install it in the time remaining so one more night on the original SovaQuest knock off. So back we go at 7 AM for the last hour of our Three Hours in Express Bay.

Given all this by 8 AM tomorrow we will have completed all the work we planned on when we set Red Bay as our destination. We have been sort of promised that in the next week we will get the recall work done AND the self inflicted body work.  If I had to guess we will not be leaving before the 15th, but you never know.

Red Bay Alabama

I seem to be titling my posts with place names for some reason. Maybe I’m just getting lazy or lacking in creativity. Or maybe it is because these are not places you would find on most peoples bucket list.  We are set up in site 65 with a view of the service bays to our rear and a seemingly endless array of Tiffin motorhomes in every other direction. We are all waiting for service. While we were waiting to get in here we were camping across the street at McKinney RV Sales and Service and the first thing we experienced was a visit from an inspection crew checking to see if we needed service for any of the “big three” service recalls. Indeed we do. The cap rails need to be replaced. These are the curved rails that make up the edge of the roof for the length of the coach on either side. They are fiberglass. They will be replaced with aluminum. The other one is even more frightening. The floor of the living room slide out behind the driver was made of plywood and it is delaminating. To replace that they will remove the slide out box lay it on its side and remove and replace the floor then replace the box in the coach. They say this all takes about a half day! They have a lot of practice doing it. I would guess it will take us longer to unload and restow the cabinets since everything must be empty for the job.

We have a schedule for 3 hours in the Express bay with two technicians to take care of the minor stuff that brought us here and I have a check in hand from Progressive Insurance for the body damage we caused by brushing against the cliff at highway speeds.

The only awning on this side that we can save is the one extended over the bedroom window. The main awning is missing its left hand support among other damage and the topper awnings are pretty battered. The panel you can see in front of the Jeep will be replaced and the rest is just paint. they say it is maybe three day’s work once they get started and the parts have been ordered.
We are finding things to do in the area. There is nothing much less than an hour drive. We looked for a synagogue and found the nearest to be Huntsville AL about 2 1/2 hours east. We did drive to Dismals Canyon and spend a couple of hours hiking in the canyon. It is a gorgeous location hidden away near Phil Campbell AL (that really is a town). Here are a couple of pictures to provide an idea:

Carol has not been drinking, maybe the bridge has 
The original entrance to the canyon

There are other places to visit and I am sure we will have time to get to most of them. Watch for

more excitement from the northwest corner of Alabama.


Confusing; in Rochester the beach area on Lake Ontario is spelled Charlotte, emphasis on the last syllable. That is how I have always pronounced it. Now we are in Charlotte NC, emphasis on the first syllable. How am I supposed to remember which is which? This should be my worst problem.

We drove down here (assuming you hold the map with North up, we drove “down” the page) on Saturday and setup camp at Carowinds Wilderness Resort. I guess lots of kids of all ages running around makes it a wilderness, it sure felt wild when we arrived on a warm Saturday afternoon. The adjacent amusement park adds to the wild feeling, otherwise it is a nice enough campground with paved pull through spots with functioning utilities, not even too pricey, a surprise given the location.

Our plan was to see Leigh and Pat Rainwater who moved here a couple of months ago and to see their new home, and visit with Hazel (but you would have had to follow her travels from Austin on Facebook to get the point). She has yet to make an appearance for us, other than the typical cat lump under the bedspread in the guest room. As we were traveling here we realized that David Lovenheim’s daughter, Greta and her husband Earl also live nearby. We made contact, email is great, and arranged to have them join us for dinner at 5 Church, conveniently located at the corner of 5th and Church. But I get ahead of myself.

Saturday we had cocktails at Vestry Place, the Rainwater’s home and then dinner at Ilios Noce  followed by desert and . . . back at Vestry. Sunday, after lolling around the coach for the morning we set off for down/uptown Charlotte (they have this thing about whether it is Downtown or Uptown because it is on a ridge) where our first stop was at Levine Museum of the New South. The “new” is post civil war. It is quite a journey from a crossroads community of 5,000 to the major banking center of today. After the museum we strolled to the Betchler Museum of Modern Art where we had tickets for a performance of British music from Purcell to Britten to go with their exhibit of British Art. From there we went to the dinner described above and had a wonderful time with Greta and Earl as well as Leigh and Pat.

Monday was a lazy day and we went to the Rainwater’s for a light dinner,salad by Leigh and soup by Carol and then home to get on the road to Red Bay. I worked over the route more than usual since the straightforward route goes through Atlanta and is lots of Interstates. We ended up taking a mountain road that I had been warned against. My failure to heed the warning will cost some time and money as a rock wall encroached on the roadway at one point and even with Carol keeping the the left wheels near the center line we made contact to the tune of some grinding noises, removing parts of our awnings and some paint. We are unscathed and the coach can be made whole, so it is merely another experience for us to laugh about when we look back.  As I write we are in Murphy NC along US 64 with about 5 hours of driving ahead of us tomorrow to get to Red Bay (or as Tiffin Owners Forum members call it “Camp Red Bay” immediately shortened to CRB). I must say the route was absolutely gorgeous. The mountains are magnificent and the Fall colors are at absolute peak in this area. Many of  the local campgrounds are full so our plan to stay at WalMart was a good idea.


Couldn’t help myself! After the last post – Neither Here nor There – this just seemed inevitable even if it doesn’t really mean anything, unless it does.

We have actually done pretty much what I said we would in the previous post. Our trip to NOTL was about as straight forward as it gets. The Whirlpool Street Bridge was closed so we had to use the Rainbow Bridge and wait about 30 minutes to get through customs, no Nexus there. We had plenty of time for lunch at Epicurean in the heart of town, this is our favorite lunch spot in the town and has been there many years. We shopped a bit and then went  to the Courthouse to see A Charity that Began at Home by Hankin. It was wonderfully well done and provided plenty of the expected laughs. Just think about a British country home filled with people invited not because you want to invite them but because nobody else will invite them. It is not a happy prospect except for the audience, my sides ached as we left.

Dinner at Zee after checking in at the Old Bank House. Both rate high marks for service and comfort. The restaurant is very well located and the service was impeccable as was the food. After dinner we enjoyed the modern version of GB Shaw’s Philanderer. The B&B is bigger than we used to like with something like 9 rooms, but everyone was friendly and interesting. We walked down to the lake shore before breakfast and found this scene. The two gentlemen in

costume were actors with the man flying the drone with camera as they were preparing a marketing video for the town’s anniversary coming up next year. Carol and I were both taken with the apparent anachronism in our face. This was shot with the camera on my tablet as that was all I had with me for the walk.

We needed to get back to Rochester by 12:15 for an appointment, but it was not to happen. I could not figure out how to get to the Nexus lanes on the Lewiston Bridge and we spent a miserable hour or more waiting for our turn at the border booth. The appointment got rescheduled. How was I to know that the Nexus lanes were in the lane marked commercial trucks only? I’ll know the next time.

Yom Kippur occupied Saturday and Sunday we actually stayed home and in the evening we watched Chef, a movie we had heard about and we took the time to see it on TWCable On Demand. We don’t have our Roku here, I left it on the coach. We really enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to most anyone.

Enough with the hour by hour and minute by minute. We have been fussing with doing things that need to be done in Rochester before we depart on Monday not to return until late May or early June. Also we need to put in place the last minute details for going to Israel with all eleven of us departing December 22. Everyone now has a current passport and I have all the numbers except for Josh’s. The tickets are paid for, the trip will have been paid for on my birthday and the travel insurance is in place. Just need to get all of us to JFK by 8 PM on the 22nd and those plans are all made as well.

For those interested in our actual road plans just in case we might cross paths here are the known way points. Rochester to Charlottesville by car on Monday Oct 13. Charlottesville to Charlotte NC on Oct 18. Time in Charlotte is at least through morning of the 20th. This is subject to extension. Next stop is Red Bay AL (if you don’t know don’t ask) with plan to arrive Thursday or Friday. Duration there is unknown as it depends on how fast we can get Tiffin and other vendors to attend to our service needs. From Red Bay we head for Rainbows End in Livingston TX with plan to arrive December 15. Upon return from Israel we will pick up the coach and depart on January 15. The next way point is Escapade (a national gathering of Escapee members) March 8 to 13 in Tucson. That’s it for now. I have no idea when or how we will eventually get to LA and that is because I refuse to look that far ahead, today.