Post Thanksgiving Post

Following our repair at laMesa RV, we moved on across the state to St Petersburg KOA to spend the week with Carol’s brother and sister-in-law. They are significantly older than us and, unfortunately showing it. We also visited with other friends during our week long stay. We especially enjoyed lunch with Shelley and Norm who we have traveled with in our RVs over the years, going back at least to 2005. As with many RV friends that means we have been together on both coasts and many places in between. They are off the road now so we must come to them in either Block Island or near Sarasota FL. We had brunch at Bert’s home in Long Boat Key with his SO Judy. It has been a few years since we had gotten together. We go back with Bert to sometime in the ’70s when we were very active in our community in Rochester together.

Most of our time was spent with Arthur and Natalie in their apartment as they prepare for another major life change, moving to NJ to be close to their son and better health insurance than is available in Florida. This will take away our major reason for coming to Florida “on our way from Virginia to California” each year.

As I write we are back in Rainbow Plantations for the innumerable time. We are moving across the country with some speed. Tomorrow we move again with a plan of being in Livingston TX on Tuesday evening.

Just one small repair to report on. For the past 10 months or so we have been plagued with a slow draining sink in the bathroom. I have looked for help on the Tiffin Owners forum and played plumber more times than I care to think about. I have cleared the trap and unplugged the drain line more times than I can count. It seemed to have resolved itself during the summer storage until a week ago when it became very slow again. The only way I could get it to drain was to remove the stopper. Finally this morning I had about had it. I unscrewed the stopper one more time and noticed that the black liner seemed to be hanging down and obstructing the flow. I decided to compare it to an identical stopper arrangement in the bedroom vanity. THERE IS NO BLACK LINER! The inside of the stopper was loaded with an accumulation of stuff. I cleaned it out with a cuetip and the water runs down the drain freely. Another repair attributable to my mechanical aptitude and perseverance 🙂 I will admit I was just a bit slow on the uptake with this one.

A Quick Repair – Non RVers need not read.

It seems that every time we need an actual service center to make some sort of repair the process makes root canal seem like a more pleasant pastime. The actual repair of the Air Conditioner/Heat Pump seemed to be headed in that direction. After waiting three weeks to get a mobile tech on site, he waved his tools at it and pronounced it healed. Later that day, well after his departure, it resumed its failed ability to heat anything.

I gave up and decided to try my luck in Florida. A call to Lazy Days resulted in the information that they would deign to let us darken their threshold in four weeks or so since we had had the nerve to buy from someone else. I then remembered that we had been serviced at LaMesa RV in Sanford FL, only about 100 miles out of our way. I also remembered long and seemingly fruitless waits in an expensive campground 20 minutes or more away from the service center. Oh well getting parts can be like that. A call to Nathan, the Customer Service Rep who we had worked with two years ago got me a “sure, bring it in when you get here and we’ll take care of it.” This seemed like a bit of an over promise, but it was the best offer I had.

Monday morning we arrived from St Augustine area at about 10 AM and located Nathan. Within an hour the coach was in a service bay being diagnosed. Less than an hour later we had the news that the AC/HP needed to be replaced, and the work had been authorized by our extended service company (Good Sam). Nathan at first said it would take two days to get a new unit delivered, then he learned that he could get it the next day! Tuesday the new AC/HP was delivered late afternoon and we were scheduled to have the transplant done Wednesday morning at 9. By 11:30 we were driving the coach back to the campsite. By 1:30 we were driving it back to LaMesa as the condensate drain was spilling condensate over our door. They quickly found a kink in the drain tube that was hidden from view after installation and they installed a new more flexible tube which solved the problem. The condensate is dripping out the overflow at the rear of the coach away from the door and anyplace else it would cause us problems.

I am extending kudos to Nathan and the LaMesa crew in Sanford for taking care of a wandering full timer in an expeditious and friendly manner. Would hope I don’t have any more failures, but know I will and I can only hope that if I can’t get back to Sanford that I will find others as helpful.

I must add that despite many gripes about service from Good Sam Extended Service, this is at least the third repair they have provided coverage for in a year and at least one of those was self inflicted for which I expected no coverage at all.

On the Move

On Wednesday with the weather fine and the promise of rain on Thursday we headed into DC for a major walk though the Tidal Basin and down (up?) the Mall. We took the Metro to Smithsonian by the Castle and walked around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson, FDR and MLK Memorials. We continued on to the WWII Memorial which was mobbed, it was Veteran’s Day! We continued down the Mall to the National Museum of the American Indian where we had lunch with choices of “Indian” food from both American continents. We spent more time than we expected touring the museum. We returned through rush hour to the coach with sore feet and full minds. We had walked over 7 miles and really enjoyed it. Thursday was chill and rainy and we stayed around the coach and caught up with cleaning, laundry and sundry indoor activities.

Friday we drove too far, 405 miles, but we had to in order to get to Leigh and Pat’s place in Charlotte NC before dark. Well it was 7 something and certainly dark by the time we disconnected the car on the street in front of their place. We then backed the coach into the cul de sac they live on and leveled up and planned mostly to sleep  and have breakfast on board. That was how it worked out. We had an easy dinner with them in their lovely home and got to see the garden and play with Molly. Hazel did not make an appearance at all. Saturday we went into Charlotte to visit a couple of galleries and have lunch and eventually dinner. The McColl Center provides residencies for artists for up to a year and also a lovely exhibit space. Part of their obligation is to open their studios from time to time and this was one of those days. From there went to the Harvey Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. On exhibit was a photo essay from the Selma March, the work of Charlotte Catlett and a large exhibit of work by the AfriCOBRA Now group. We closed the place and went back to the house to put our feet up before going to dinner at Bistro la Bon. I had Beef Samosas with Chili Sauce and a Salmon dish that I really enjoyed. I would be glad to go back to that place.

Sunday we woke up early, said oour farewells, hitched the car to the coach and were on the road by 9. We promised ourselves a short day, but with no reason to stop earlier we made it to St Augustine, 432 miles, St Johns RV Park – Passport America 50% discount. I cannot rate it as they gave us an overflow spot with water and electric and we pulled in as the sun set. It seems nice enough, especially for our purposes. This was the second 400+ mile day we have had and we are not supposed to do this sort of thing. But tomorrow is 80 miles! and we get into La Mesa RV early to get the heat pump looked at. I’m not betting we get it fixed tomorrow, just hoping for this week!

After that is dealt with we are on to St Petersburgh to spend some time with Carol’s brother and s-i-l, We also have some friends to visit with before we begin our westward trek.

In Washington DC

After 4 weeks in Dan and Malena’s yard it was strange to get back into the campground, touring life style. We settled in to Cherry Hill Park and dashed off to see Bunny and Alan. Alan has had the very bad fortune to have a cancerous tumor on his pancreas. It was a very quiet and subdued visit although Bunny managed to entice me into enjoying some wonderful Maryland Crab Cakes brought by another friend. We smiled and made the best of the visit.

Sunday was a wonderful, family filled day. We visited my cousin Judy and her SO Ralph in DC. We were treated to a royal Sunday Brunch with lox and bagels and homemade kugel. We had not been in touch for several years and it was great to spend a couple of hours catching up and reminiscing. Ralph’s daughter is a professor of archaeology at Brown and. I am pretty sure, was involved with the Coursera course I took a few years ago “Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets”. It certainly is a small world that keeps getting smaller. We left there and drove to Alexandria to see Daisy and Steven’s new home there. Dinner was lovely, but even more lovely was the reception they gave us in their marvelous new home. We will be back to meet the baby next year!

Monday we were not quite done with family. We met cousin Bob (that’s Bob Levey, well known to most readers of the Washington Post until about 10 years ago). Lunch was a Metro ride from the campground to Bethesda and then a very short walk to a Nepalese Restaurant that Bob favors. Road traffic was horrible and the Metro spared us from the worst of it and parking was a cinch at the Metro station in College Park. We even got to use our Senior Smartrips which we picked up the last time we visited in DC. Once again the conversation flowed and we spent the time catching up with each other. It is so important to keep family together even though we are scattered across geography and life experiences.

So we were in DC, well Bethesda, a short step form the Metro and all of DC spread before us with a few hours before things started to close. We decided to take up one of Judy’s suggestions and stop by the Library of Congress to see the Reading Room, especially the ceiling. -you may infer a very long pause here- We LOVE libraries! We got there about 2:45 and were there until closing. The only books we saw were in the shelves around the Main Reading Room and the Jefferson Collection special library. I could repeat some of what the docent told us on the hour long tour, but you need to do that for yourselves. To further whet your appetite go to The building was built at the end of the 19th century and is a glorious temple to knowledge and learning. Indeed it is in the form of a temple. Every surface is decorated with wit and intelligence and beauty. I could spend many hours there, but we have tickets for the Newseum tomorrow and that is where we shall go.

The Capitol from the steps of the Library of Congress

A Quiet Week in Covesville

Actually ten days have passed since the Bar Mitzvah. We have run some errands and helped take the boys into and out of Charlottesville, it really is time for Alex to get his driver’s license but that is a subject for another time. Mostly we have been sharing family time enjoying being able to spend time with the boys and their parents when they are between tasks. Incredibly the weather has been super fine. It is November 5 and I have the coach door and a window open to enjoy the warm Fall weather. It is 67 and at noon and rising.

Last Sunday Dan, Alex and I set out for a hike on the Virginia/West Virginia border about 30 miles west of Harrisonburg VA. The day was cool and damp, the rain had passed over the area where we were going to hike and had moved across Covesville too. We took a trail to a Fire Tower. I am used to spindly metal towers with a cab on top that were scattered all over the Adirondacks when I was a camper. This turned out to quite a substantial tower built out of local rock, finished by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the 1930’s. The hike in was 1.5 miles mostly vertical. I was grateful to have my hiking sticks along.

 It is wonderful to go on a three generation hike. Alex continually stopped to watch the birds and to check out the plants as we went. He is quite the naturalist. I hope his interest does not wane.

The substantial tower, as in so many back country places has experienced a limited amount of  vandalism, in this case mostly broken windows.

Let my son Dan near a vertical rock wall and he sees a climbing challenge. Fortunately since he was free climbing he limited the height he chose to climb to.
While we were up there we enjoyed the view of the surrounding countryside, its a bit distorted as I 
turned through over 180 degrees to take it. In the distance we noticed some white objects sticking up.
They turned out to be the big dishes at the Green Bank Telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. This picture was taken through overcast using a handheld 20x lens (according to some sources about 560mm equivalent for 35 mm camera).
We returned to the car warm in the cool air and settled in for the drive back to Hungrytown Hollow. We arrived in time to relax and shower before going to dinner at Alley Light a very nice restaurant hidden away in an alley near the Main St Mall in Charlottesville. We were there to celebrate Carol’s Birthday with the boys and Dan and Malena. It was a day early as we were heading to Culpeper for dinner the next night, Carol’s actual birthday, with David and Terry. Great meal and lots of fun, we were noisy and jovial and others were aware we were having a good time.
Time flies, as usual. Tomorrow I hope the service tech will come and set our heat pump right. If not no big deal, we will just burn propane for heat when the back heat pump can’t carry the load alone. On Saturday we will move out stopping in Cherry Hill Park for a few days.