One Week Later

We are in Summerdale AL, at Rainbow Plantations Escapee Park. We have picked up mail. We have shopped. We have tried to fix the verdamta (badly spelled German) DVD player and failed causing the possibility of yet more work by a skilled technician rather than a somewhat skilled RVer who still thinks he is young and capable of fixing anything. I won’t regale you with all the details unless someone writes and begs, maybe not even then. Suffice it to say we have over the air (OTA) TV, internet TV and satellite TV when the trees are not in the way. Oh yes we also have cable from time to time when a park makes it available for no extra charge. Who needs one more source?

I must say I am grateful that our miseries are so far limited to the lack of a functioning DVD player and the usual ills of people our age. I sleep fine, just not always in bed during the usual sleeping hours. I fell asleep this after noon, you could blame the turkey and wine, sitting upright on a hassock. I might fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, so I know I am getting the prescribed 8 hours, just not contiguous and well

– where was I?

I am great at keeping Carol awake at night so she too takes advantage of the unintended nap while reading late at night.

The thanks I must give and have not done enough is to my late mother for whom family came first. She insisted we take time to get to know family wherever they were. There were times I really wanted to be with friends, but family obligations always had to be considered. So we see family, second cousins in Fairhope AL and stay very close to Ellie who is now alone, when we are in the same city. When we go to New York we gather with our Ornati cousins because that  is what we do. We also stay in touch with the closer cousins by email and phone. Carol too keeps in touch with her many cousins and is always organizing get togethers when we are near.

Thanks Mom! I know you would be overjoyed to know that we shared Thanksgiving with Joy and family

and that, when we pass through New York City on our way to Israel, we will stop over with Molly for an evening. Oh yes,Sandy and I stay in close touch too, although it is more by phone these days as neither of us seems to ever be in the same place.

More immediately I am grateful for the health and well being of our children and grandchildren.

Yes, I am thankful!

Waiting is Ended!

We don’t quite know what we will do with ourselves now that we no longer have to wait. All day I checked the UPS tracking for the last piece of the puzzle and all day it was “out for delivery”. I think the last time I checked was at 2:30 at which point I gave up on leaving as the guys go off work at 3:00. As I was relaxing in the coach, practicing patience and waiting, I heard or maybe felt a strange vibration, like some  was driving a screw into the coach wall! Peering out the door I spotted the entire work force gathered on a platform ladder with something that looked remarkably like a topper awning.

Carol noted the time as 2:51. Theron, the owner had been at the store when the UPS truck pulled up and had taken the awning off the truck and brought it to the shop. They never had a chance to scan it in. 

At 3:00 I went to the office to pay the bill and found that Mrs McKinney had gone to town without her phone. I elected to leave the insurance check and my own check for the deductible on her desk and beat it out of town. When i got to the coach it was closed up and almost ready to roll, Carol was still trying to put stuff away as I started the engine. We got mostly clear and I backed out very slowly and carefully and we set up to connect the car for the first time on a month. By 3:30 we were on the highway headed south.

We are often asked how quickly we can get underway from a standing start. I can now answer the question unequivocally; less than 30 minutes. I took us about 2 hours south in Mississippi to Columbus in a Walmart that was not warm and friendly about parking overnight. We shall see if they bother us.

As Promised . . . More Waiting

The big excitement on Saturday was a 30 minute drive to Russellville WalMart to restock the refrigerator and pantry. We spent an hour reveling in the process of shopping. This was too much excitement for one day so we returned to the coach and stowed the proceeds of the trip and resumed waiting. Carol was working on her new website, which may or may not be up depending on how you access the web. If through Verizon, not so much, we need to wait for them to flush their cache (whatever that means and it sounds worse then it is). On other providers it may already be up as you can tell if it is the new one because the top bar is a sunset image and it is different from the old one with the black header. Sunday was far more relaxed, it rained all day, the only variation being really really hard or just very hard. I may have opened the door a time or two out of sheer need to move. I did not exit into the rain.

We did watch a movie, sort of by accident, I was desperate for something besides football to make noise while we prepared dinner – okay while Carol prepared dinner. I found an old Clint Eastwood movie “Space Cowboys” how bad could that be. With judicious use of the DVR we trimmed it down from three hours to 1 and a half hours of actual movie (you ask, “do I exaggerate?” maybe but not by much). I’ll answer the first question, although we had never seen it we were predicting the plot line after the first 15 minutes. We did sit through to the end for some reason. Oh yes we are waiting.

Monday the 17th found us at the service bay entrance for McKinney at 6:50 AM so we could begin waiting early.  Here is the view out the windshield. I’ll spare you the views in the other directions.

The parts were finally shipped from Colorado today! I’ll believe it when they arrive. The actual installation shouldn’t take more than an hour or two once they are here and we won’t have to wait for bay space. I am not moving until the work is done. 
The wonderful thing about Geewhiz, or any other coach, is once we close the shades we retreat into our own world and the externalities don’t really matter so long as we are in a secure location. With that Good Night, we resume waiting in the morning.

Waiting. . .

Somehow I had this idea that we would be out of Red Bay by Wednesday, Nov 12. A couple of days to paint and a half day to install the awnings that were waiting for us in McKinney RV Service. I had no idea how long it would take to tape the coach to get the swirls and lines to match up. It was a full day and then after they put one color on they had to redo the tape for the next. We couldn’t take the coach out of the bay Monday night because it was all taped for paint and slideouts were partially extended to make it work. We stayed in it in the bay. Tuesday night we were still in the bay waiting for the clear coat to dry well enough for them to buff out some runs and drips. Finally Wednesday afternoon we made it back to our camp site after learning that the repair bay where the awnings were to be replaced wouldn’t be available until Thursday.

It should take two, maybe three hours to install the awnings, we were told. I had visions of driving south Thursday afternoon stopping at a Corp of Engineers campground about halfway to Summerdale AL. The first thing we learned  was that the rear awning topper that had come in was the wrong size! How strange after two weeks they just found that out. The next thing we learned was the top shield for the forward awning topper had gotten dented either in shipping or in the warehouse. Naturally neither of these parts were available here in Red Bay. There are plenty in the factory, but those all have coach numbers on them and are most likely different in some way from ours. After all they are building 2015 models now.

While they were installing the patio awning, the rear leg got loose and naturally scratched the new paint in a couple of places. So while waiting for the parts we have been in the paint bay again. But first we had to wait for Daniel to charge the batteries in the coach he had parked in the driveway which had died in the cold. So we waited in the driveway from 8 AM until 11 AM. Fortunately we had no place else we had to be since the parts have not come in yet, that I know of.

We are waiting for the paint to dry, I have been watching it dry, that is excitement around here. We will go back to our campsite after we top off the propane tank and the water tank and we will wait for Monday. Watch this space for more exciting waiting.

There is Nothing to do in Red Bay – NOT

After a week of daily trips to service bays at 7 AM we were planning on having Saturday and Sunday off to do some touring out of the immediate area. There is indeed very little to do in Red Bay within a few minutes of the Service Center. Then we got a call from Daniel McKinney who is doing the body repair, “can you bring it in at 9 tomorrow?” Sure, why else are we here in Red Bay if not to get on with it. Daniel assured us we did not need to hang around. When he was finished he would put it back on our site for us.

Off we went to finally do a serious day of touring. About an hour north is the four city grouping of Tuscumbia, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and just across the Tennessee River Florence. Tuscumbia has several claims to fame, the most well known is that is was the birthplace of Helen Keller. The family home where she was born and where Annie Sullivan taught her to communicate is maintained as a museum and memorial. It is clear that the Kellers were well off in a lovely 1820 house that sat on 640 acres, much reduced today but still very spacious.

We took the house tour and walked next door to the cottage her parents were living in when she was born. Her grandparents occupied the main house at that time. After the tour we wandered through Tuscumbia and came across Spring Park which is built around the water source that made the town possible. The town served as a way station on the Trail of Tears. Many Cherokee were brought by train and transferred to steam boats to continue there trail to Oklahoma.

Next we headed to Wilson Dam and Lock on the Tennessee River, part of the TVA. This lock when it was built was the largest single lift lock ever built, over 100 foot lift.

It is almost impossible to get a sense of scale without a boat in the lock, but the lower picture is the up river end of the lock and the up river lock gate is just the little metalwork area near the top of the wall, the rest is the sill!
After this stop we were hungry and we were already across the river in Florence. Using TripAdvisor and the wonderful tour brochure we settled on Odette in town. It serves food made from locally sourced produce and meats and has lovely vegetarian offerings. Carol had a cauliflower salad with black rice that was lovely. I had pastrami Rubin on sourdough rye that was heavenly and a coleslaw that was like nothing I had ever tasted. It was a vinegar slaw with pepper and a sweetness I find hard to describe. If we return to the area, we will be sure to return to this restaurant. We were not finished. We walked down the street a ways to find a new emporium consisting of a large space with three shops in it and a large cafe space to come. We were pleased to find a local farm market there where we were able to get some wonderful produce and a loaf of the bread from Odette. Happiness is!
After just a bit of wandering we jumped in the Jeep and drove a couple of miles to the only Frank Lloyd Wright House in Alabama. Built for the Rosenbaum family in 1938 in Usonian style this was only the fourth house built in this style. This is the second Usonian house we have toured. The first
was in Iowa as we were returning from Alaska crossing the country on US 20. The tour was excellent and we really enjoyed seeing this house. If you are interested in FLW structures this is a worthwhile stop if you are anywhere near the northwest corner of Alabama. 
After a stop to buy some food that we could not get at the farmers market we straggled back to Red Bay to find the coach neatly ensconced on our site awaiting some minor setup to return it to home from road vehicle.

We Have to be Someplace

We had a break after the Express Bay and didn’t have to have the coach back in a bay until Monday. This project required removing the quarter round fiberglass cap that runs the length of the roof on each side and replacing it with an aluminum cap. It is a solid day’s work for the crew in the bay and there are two of these bays side by side. If you are more interested in what we did that day you should read Carol’s Message in a Minute.

The interesting thing about being here is the reactions of people to the stress of waiting and not really knowing how long the wait will be as well as whether there will be a resolution of the issues they have come in with at the end of the wait. There are really a couple of basic reactions. Many retirees whose schedule, like ours, is relatively open, are okay with the wait and the most interesting comment seems to be, “We have to be someplace and this is someplace”. People with remnants of their type A days find the waiting a source of great vexation even though they knew it would be long before they arrived here. People with real work or family schedules aren’t here for the most part or have made other arrangements to get the work done.

We have been in prettier locations and also in much worse locations for a night or two. The nose of the coach is against a former general aviation runway, the markings are still faintly visible. Just behind us is a huge facility with 49 service bays and offices and warehouse to provide the service needs of Tiffin coach owners. Some of the bays are specialty bays with lifts or scaffolds or cranes others are general service bays.  Wanda devotes her time to scheduling the work into these bays. We check in with her every day or so to see what the next step in our progress will be.  It is amazing she can keep her cool given that there are about 120 coaches in the yard awaiting some kind of service and not everyone is pleased with the scheduling as it impacts them. Today we learned that the paint shop here at Tiffin won’t even see our paperwork until everything else is done. That means we don;t even get on the list to paint the new cap rails until Friday. This is good news because it seems we can get our body work well along without an interruption for paint. We will wait tomorrow while that work is pursued and then we will wait for the call to have the slideout room floor fixed. I do not want to be around to have Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner at the Steakhouse.

The fun is meeting many Tiffin owners and sharing our life stories. Maybe we will come out of this with some more RV friends to meet along the way.  That is the part of the life that Carol and I have enjoyed a lot. It is amazing how many people we get to know from wildly divergent backgrounds. The thing we all seem to have in common is ability to not have, or at least not be at, permanent moorings for extended periods of time. Of course the people we do not get to spend much time with are those who travel from northern homes to southern fixed locations with minimum time spent in the travel. That too is an RV lifestyle as is the avid fan of football or NASCAR who travels from event to event tailgating. The people we get on with best are the wanderers who avoid the Interstates and enjoy a slow crawl on a back road.