Friday, April 30, 2010
Now before you get to feeling all sorry for me, consider that the wind outside here in the midwest was blowing about 25 miles an hour, but we had gusts up to 40. I wanted to go get the motorhome and start to wash on it, but with that wind?
And the motorscooter seemed like it would be out of the question, since I'm not really used to its size and especially its weight quite yet. So big gusts of wind didn't seem like what I wanted to do.
But after our grand daughter went home, I fired up into action and went out and mowed the lawn. And since the scooter had to come out of the garage to get the lawn tractor out, aw why not even if it is windy. And then I went South out into the country and had the full brunt of the wind. It had died down just a little.
I stopped by son Ben's house, so he could see the new motor scooter, and the grandkids came running out to see me. Grandpa!! Ya gotta love that. Of course they had to climb all over the new scooter. With the center stand down, so they wouldn't accidentally tip it over of course.
So I didn't accomplish a thing today, but the yard and a 15 mile ride. But then I guess I am retired and needn't turn in a time sheet like I used to do at the accounting firm. LOL
Thursday, April 29, 2010
So I sat and sat. At one time I was 140 people away from a window. They had 17 clerks working, and still it was taking 2 minutes per person. But ever so slowly I came to the top of the list. I was finally out about 2 PM. Not too bad considering I arrived at 10:45.
You have to take the papers to them when you have a Manufactures Statement of Origin. That is when something has never had a title before. So I couldn't renew on line or take advantage of any of their quicker options. Once I had a number I could have left, but I am always afraid that I will miss out when I get called up, and have to start all over.
In the afternoon I just went out and rode the new bike. I made the excuse to go to the old scooter shop where I purchased the Kymco, to get some oil to do an oil change.
That is up in the old part of Overland Park, about 10 miles from here. They had moved, and I didn't know it. I thought they might have gone out of business, but then thought better of it and used the blackberry to look on the internet. The first page that came up, said come see us at our new address. It was only 3 blocks away, but it may as well have been miles, when I had no idea where they went.
So now the Kymco has an oil change, and a wash job. Perhaps I will get it listed on Craigs list for the weekend. I took some current pictures.
Late tonight, I went over to Wal Mart with Loyce's Escape, looking for an oil change. I was nicely surprised to find that the late crew were not busy at all and finished me in rapid fashion. Then a quick drive thru the car wash to get rid of all that sandy mud from the Timberline Camp Ground up in Des Moines.
I wonder why I am so tired tonight? I never worked this hard when I went to the office every day!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
This often times slows our departure, but speeds us up when we arrive. We had lunch at that same Wendy's in Bethany where we got tangled up with paying on the way up. The same clerk was there, but if he recognized us, he didn't say anything.
I made double sure we were paid in full before we left the counter though, LOL.
KC is a maze of construction from the North side and thru the downtown area, but even so it seems quicker than going around 435, so we plowed right thru town. Since it was 3 PM and not later, the evening drive traffic hadn't started yet.
Once we arrived home, we loaded stuff into the house. We had never completely emptied the rig after we came back from Alabama, since we knew we were headed back out, but this afternoon we emptied it out. I was bummed at the prospect.
So tonight the rig is in storage and we are stuck at the sticks and bricks for at least two weeks or more.
I am going to Dayton, Ohio with the ham guys in the middle of May, but have no plans between now and then. Just the same old stay at home routine.
I wonder how I will keep myself entertained? But remember that new motorscooter? I need to go learn how to ride it. It is much heavier and faster, and requires skills that have yet to be learned.
Now if it will stop raining so I can go and ride, all will be well.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Anyway we went into town this morning to Francie's for lunch. Loyce had decided not to go since she said it would be all men, and that was just how it turned out. We had a nice time with the guys as each of the spots seemed to turn over for yet another guy during the two hours we were there.
Afterward we headed over to Harbor Freight for some tools that we needed for our trip to Dayton in two weeks, so we had further fellowship.
With all our plans made, I came back for Loyce at the Campground. She was ready to head out to her favorite lunch spot, Made Rite. This is a crumbly hamburger on a bun sandwich with pickle and mustard. They season the meat with onion and bullion and then cook it down to almost dry. It is an old Iowa restaurant chain that has survived since the 1930's.
We headed out to shop at all the local Des Moines haunts that Loyce likes, and the afternoon seemed to disappear. We ended up at the new Wal Mart out in the newest part of West Des Moines. This place is much nicer than most Wal Marts, and as such does not allow overnighting in the parking lot. I think it is a city ordinance, but I wouldn't want to deal with the local cops on it.
For supper, we went to Lone Star Steak House, and had a small steak. It was good, as we lost all of our Lone Stars in KC due to the economy. It wasn't very busy here either, so I am worried for their ability to continue.
So we had a nice day in the old home town, and we will pack up in the morning and head South.
Monday, April 26, 2010
The afternoon stretched into evening, and we didn't seem to want to end all our visiting. But then we hadn't seen these good folks since before we left for the Southwest last fall. So a lot of catch up was happening.
Tonight as I write this it is still raining outside here in the chilly campground outside of Waukee, Iowa. Surely it will stop this before we have to head back to KC. But that isn't in the forecast for tomorrow. They are still predicting more rain and even colder tomorrow. Spring seems more elusive here this far North, after being in Alabama for 2 weeks.
But then Mississippi had tornadoes this weekend, so perhaps it is just another change in the weather pattern. I was thankful that we had departed that area before the storms arrived. A stoke of luck and nothing else.
We are sitting here with both propane heaters going and the electric radiator as well. Perhaps it will not require all three before morning. We had removed the unvented radiant LP heater before we went to Red Bay, as we were uncertain how that might effect our warranty issues. Tonight, I am wondering if we should re install it for the summer. That sounds unnecessary, but then the cold rain is still pitter pattering on the roof too.
Tomorrow we go to lunch with my ham buddies on the Southside of the city. I can't wait. Loyce even said she might go with me. It is in a cheers type bar by the airport, which we both particularly like. I'll report on that tomorrow.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
It seems that every time we have been here it has rained, and tonight is no exception. We have a cold dreary rain coming down chilling us and the coach. We were here last October for our niece's wedding, and it rained that entire time. We left the coach on the hill in the storage area, and the grass was so wet that we could barely get it back to the main CG area.
The park is about 2 miles North of the interstate, and is completely out in the country. And to boot, we are in the very back near the fence. There are no lights anywhere. Well up by the main office where you come in, but that seems distant. For us city dwellers it seems so quiet with no other sound except the rain on the roof.
We have a full hook up site, and do not need anything in the way of outside facilities, so the back of the park is fine with us. We do have a few neighbors, but they have largely gone to bed.
It seems like yesterday, but this morning I went to the storage lot where the utility trailer is stored and took it to a car wash. Spending $3, I used the foaming brush and the whole bit. We hooked it up to the back of the motorhome and promptly left town. Loyce followed in her Escape. That's when the rain began to fall.
We did have quite an experience at noon when we stopped for a sandwich at Wendy's. While we were eating our meal, one of the employees approached us and asked it we were going to pay for our meal. I said What? And Loyce thought he must be mistaken and said it wasn't us.
But then I began to look at our tray for a receipt and didn't find one. Oooops. So thinking the counter experience thru, I began to determine that we hadn't paid. The clerk had taken our order and turned around to determine that there were no french fries. Rather than collect from me, he began to down baskets of fries in the fryer. He became engrossed with the french fry duties and ignored me as a customer.
A second clerk read the register and picked our order from the table and place it on our tray. Once the tray was ready, I picked it up and went and sat down. At the time it escaped me that I hadn't paid. Since that should have been already complete.
I finished my meal and returned to the counter and attempted to pay. By now the manager became involved and inquired why I needed to pay after the meal had been eaten. At that point the fellow that became involved with the fryer, accused the second employee of delivering his food items without closing the ticket.
At that point the second employee objected to the accusation, and about 20 folks standing in line waiting to order became involved in the confrontation. I said that it was only $8 and to ring it up. The manager asked if I really knew that I hadn't paid, and I said that I was not for sure.
So he said that the meal was on the house! Instructing the two employees to get back to work helping all these customers in line.
I went out to the MH feeling rather stupid. But then I have never seen someone that didn't collect the money when he rang up the order. And come to think of it, I have never had someone walk off and ignore me in order to go cook french fries. I still don't think we paid, but then the manager was not about to make a scene out of two fighting employees.
We told the story tonight at the family gathering, and had a good chuckle about the confusion. But I'm betting that I will not grab a tray without paying for some time to come.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I knew that I was supposed to pick up the new Suzuki Burgman maxi scooter in the morning, but that all plans would be off in the rain. Drat!
The I awoke at 5:30, and heard a loud clap of thunder! The sky opened up and it just poured. The day was a bust as far as I was concerned.
By 8:30 it began to stop raining, and by 9:00 I was out in the garage loading up the Kymco to ride over and get the new one. I wasn't trading the Kymco in, rather I just rode it over there as transportation. We went back over in the car around noon, and I rode it back home then.
So this is the new maxi scooter, called a Burgman. It seems that Suzuki made this for the German people originally, and named it after the German name for town. ie Burg. And for a townsman, burgmann. So it is the man about town, as some of the forums explain.
This is a much more serious scooter, that has 650 ccs and will go faster than I ever will. It weighs almost 600 pounds, and is water cooled. It will travel highway speeds comfortably. It can be used as an everyday commuter. Well on sunny days anyway.
While I was riding it home the sky had to open up and begin to rain. Big, large drops fell for several minutes, making me think I would be soaked before long. But then just like that it was over, and we had heavy wind for the rest of the day, without any more rain.
I had work to do, as the yard needed to be mowed, so the new bike had to sit and wait. Then the garage had to be cleaned out in order to get two motorcycles in where there was only one before.
Finally late in the afternoon, I went out and rode for 40 miles. It is new and very tight, so I took it really easy. It is also completely different feeling than the little Chinese scoot, so I have to learn to ride all over again. It weighs more than twice as much!
We decided that we would not go out camping with our sons, in a decision early this morning, but rather we are going to head up to Des Moines to see Loyce's family for a few days. So the MH sits out in front of the house tonight again. I'm sure it will have to get out of here tomorrow morning or I will hear from the law.
Now if we can keep the rain at bay........ See you from Des Moines.
Friday, April 23, 2010
I spent time scrubbing off the bugs and looking over the new paint on the front. I couldn't find any damage from the plastic chunks thrown from yesterday's disintegrating car. I know some of it struck the front end. So this stuff works.
We did get on the road by about 11:30 as we cleaned out the inside and washed out sewer tanks. We only had about 4 hours and we took our time. We stopped at Booneville, at the new Pilot. I got gas at the car pumps to avoid the 6 cent credit card surcharge in the truck lanes. We had to do the $75 limit thing a second time as we needed more than one time.
I know we get about 9 or 10 miles per gallon, but I rarely keep track of mileage. Its kind of depressing to know exactly, and you can never fill things up to exactly the same level, unless it is in the filler neck, and that makes the fuel gage go wacky in the Freightliner part of the MH.
So I just filled it up to the shut off and perhaps a gallon more. Then a big Hardee burger and curly fries fueled me up. While sitting at the Hamburger stand, I called the Suzuki dealer and reassured him that I was still on my way home and not to worry. He said it was pouring rain in KC.
And right he was, as we drove right into the rain about 20 minutes later. And of course we got all tangled up in the evening drive time in KC. We take I 470 to Lee's Summit, and then bring I 435 to Kansas. Then it is city streets to the South out here where we live.
The cars dart in front and around both sides of you as they go faster and are more maneuverable. But I just press on without giving much way to them. I know how motor homes are made, and if you hit anything it would cave in and fold up in a heartbeat. So you have to be somewhat careful.
Tonight I am sitting here contemplating the possibility of going out to see one of my son's on their weekend camp outings, but Loyce is tired and has declared that she might well just stay home.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
This campsite is a half mile North of the highway, and the noise is way off in the distance but I can still hear it if I listen intently. We are under the trees, and the satellite dish is blinking, indicating that we cannot find the bird. I haven't tried the old fashioned antenna yet.
We went up town, and found a bar and grill type of a local town restaurant, and it was fairly good for that kind of fare. I had a bud lite, since it is the first place that we could buy beer since we were in Alabama. Red Bay is in a dry county. Not a beer joint to be found!
We were up this morning with the neighbor's diesel engines as an alarm. It has been that way since we arrived. When I checked out later, the park camp host couple told me that we had 171 motor homes over night, and the park only holds 140. They all want service! I said so you want us to leave, right? Well, if your done we do!
So at 9:30 we did just that, leave, not only Red Bay, but Alabama, as the city limits is also the Mississippi state line. We drove to Memphis and arrived about noon. The traffic was crazy. At one point I had the scare of my life. An older car came along side me and the front bumper fell down on the tire at 60 mph. It sounded like a gun going off as pieces of the plastic front end flew all over the place. Right at our new paint job. Thank goodness for the Diamond Shield, as we couldn't see any damage.
I'm sure when we get all the bugs off , the has to be some damage in the new paint. So that lasted about 3 hours on the road, before getting new character marks. I was hoping for a little longer. We are just drenched in bug insides, so that will have to be cleaned up sometime soon.
We were instructed to wait 48 hours before washing, but it is sprinkling outside as I write this. So maybe mother nature will wash away some of the bugs.
It seemed to take all afternoon to come North on I 55 to St Louis, and we arrived right at 5 PM so we could partake of the evening drive time. We did find I 64 and skirted much of the hubub, once we made it about 3 miles West of I 270. It was stop and go for about 10 minutes or so, but that is good for St Louis.
I just used Google maps to tell me the overall distance and it reports 487 miles. No wonder I am a bit tired tonight!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
But spending the last day having the new Diamond Shield installed on the front of the motor home was,,,,well,,,really slow. We pulled into the service door at 10 AM and the guy wanted to know where the parts were for the wipers. Seemed as though I didn't have them all.
And then we needed a new name badge that said "Allegro Bay" since they had wrecked and tossed the old one. That required a trip to the far end of the building to get the paint guy. Then we hunted for the service ticket, and finally he got one from the parts crib.
When we got back the the door where our work was proceeding, they had all decided to go to lunch, since they start their day at 6 AM. Our installation finally started about 12:30. These folks do not work directly for Tiffin, and it shows. They do not have a supervisor that checks up on them every little bit, and the day dragged on.
I still had one more window that was in, and needed to be installed. The window was at service door 8, and the rig was in 47. But we had to wait until it was after 3 PM for the Diamond Shield people to finish. Now that's go home time, so I had to beg to get someone to stay after and put the window in. A couple of guys said OK.
It was 4:30 as I was finally in the office settling the bill. Thankfully the office staff works until later. The total bill was the price of the Diamond Shield. $895. Everything else was covered under warranty. Even the paint job where I damaged the paint myself.
One of the other customers explained to me that the 3M product that was originally on the front of the MHs was deemed to be ineffective. And since that wasn't the fault of the customers, Bob Tiffin had declared that the front paint jobs would be on him. But, they strongly recommend that once fixed, the new paint be protected with the new Diamond Shield. And since I right away agreed to do the right thing, well....
Anyway, we have had a week and a half of warranty work on everything we could think of. No questions asked! Paint work on three out of four sides, and new clear vinyl wrap on the front. I'm not sure if another company would have stood with us in this fashion.
We are staying the night again tonight, for one last time, and since the diesels will roar again at 7 in the morning, we should be on the road at a fairly good time.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
We are done in the repair bays as we did not have an appointment, so we only got 3 hours of actual repair. Waiting to get into a repair bay is now about a 5 week wait. They did get most of our stuff fixed in the three hour period that we were allowed. They call that an "Express" visit.
Our dealer had worked on a bunch of our concerns, but it seems that there are always new things. They replaced that awful LP CO detector that has beeped since we bought the rig, and it has been quiet ever since it was installed. A lot of the stuff they did had to do with fixing stuff that we managed to break. Oh, they replaced a window, and our power sun visors too.
The reason that we decided to come here and brave out the waiting, was that our windshield had popped out of the fiberglass frame on the top of the front. I did not feel that anyone other than the factory would know how to put it back into the rubber mount. Or worse they would break it trying and I would have to purchase a new glass for around $1,700. It was considered an emergency repair and they took that in right away too.
Additionally we had a broken board in the center TV. They took that to their appliance shop and had it fixed in about 2 hours. I was much relieved.
As you loyal readers know, we had issues with a trailer that got away from our control, and I used the coach to force it into the curb and keep it from rolling down a hill and into the desert. That left some scrapes near the door on the passenger side. We also had scrapes on the back, where a mail box in Arizona jumped out in back of the rig while I was backing into our site in Mesa. The campground guy directed me right over the box. But still I should have known it was happening.
But most of our time was spent re doing the front where numerous rock chips and dings had left chips in the paint. We had a sealer coating that was over the paint, but it was no where near up to the task. Somehow, the windshield guy hand carried our ticket over to the paint shop and got us in. I don't pretend to know how this all worked, and I'm not asking. There are still folks that are waiting to get in that have been here longer than us. So if they take a liking to you and you are not nasty about your problems or to the staff, that will go a long way!
Tomorrow we are having a thin plastic wrap like shield applied over the new paint on the front. It will be most of a grand to get done, but compared to all the paint work, it will be cheap. This is called Diamond Shield, and comes with a guarantee of three years as to chipping or marring of the new paint.
So if we get chips, they will pay to get the places redone. I think the insurance feature of this is probably about half of the price.
With some luck, we will then be done for now in Red Bay. Depending on the time that they finish, we will either opt to leave, or actually pay the $10 for another night, and leave on Wednesday. We have had no camping fees for our stay here so far.
Our appointment is for 10 AM, so we have a much more civilized schedule in the morning!
Monday, April 19, 2010
But that was not what attracted us. Several hundred yards up river was a much older structure that seemed to not be connected to anything. It had railroad tracks on top, and a lower deck that seemed to be wooden. It went out into the middle of the river, and just abruptly stopped.
So we drove around and found that the South end of the bridge did connect to land, but was only accessible by foot thru a park. So we parked and walked. The lower deck of the bridge is a foot bridge, that has been redecked with wooden planks and rails.
Although we didn’t walk all the way out, it goes about a half a mile and comes to an end. You can see the modern bridge to the top left. This is called Pickwick Lake, and is the result of the dammed up Tennessee River. To the East is the Wilson Dam and lock. I walked out farther and took its picture.
It was almost dusk, and I took these pictures with the cell phone, as it was the only camera I had with me.
So I had to look all this up on the internet, and found out that the bridge is called the old railroad bridge, and was the only way that this area was connected together for almost 100 years. The top deck was the railroad that included the city interurban as well as the main rail route from North to South. The lower deck was for wagons and people and later cars, until the dam was built in 1925.
The dam was started before WWI but was halted several times due to the war and economic times. Political funding also played a big part, with eventually the creation of the TVA, Tennessee Valley Authority.
I do think the interesting part is that it dates back to 1832. I had no idea that I was standing on something that old. The steel structure appears to still be basically sound, but very rusty to the eye. The railroad deck is deteriorated, but the rails are still in place. The steel structure seemed very light to handle the weight of a railroad. I looked at it and wondered what kind of a train it would support.
Well, I didn’t understand that at the time it was built, it only needed to support an 1830’s steam engine and a few cars. I’m sure that most of the supplies that went into building the towns on both sides of the river crossed this old bridge.
Before the bridge was built, there were ferries that crossed the river and they were ran by George Colbert. Today the county is named Colbert County in his honor.
This area is steeped in history from before and during the civil war. I have only scratched the surface in my short study.
Tomorrow we need to be back in front of door 20 at 7 AM, so perhaps this study of the area must come to an end for now.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
About half way from Red Bay, to Tuscumbia is a turn off called Coon Dog Cemetery Road. After 5 miles of winding wooded country road you com to the coon dog cemetery. Yes this is the real thing with only coon dogs laid to rest here.
They do not want any little yappy house dogs here as that would be disrespectful of the loyal hunting dogs that find this hunting camp deep in the Alabama woods to be their final resting place.
We wandered thru the various stones reading the inscriptions. Obviously folks really miss these dogs, since they have purchased regular marble headstones for many of them.
Having lost our beloved pet Brandy the Bichon this past summer, we understand completely.
On the way back from the cemetery, there is a popular restaurant on the corner of the two main highways where they meet. This is about 4 miles East of Red Bay.
Swamp John’s has somewhat mixed reviews, and was summed up by one review that stated it would have been nice if they had cleaned up the inside of the old gas station before they made it into a restaurant. But remember you are in rural Alabama.
They have a catering business that is run out of Semi Trailers pulled by small tractor trucks. They bring the kitchen to your facility in the form of this trailer. We followed one to a local Cooperative, so perhaps they do meetings.
The meal of choice is catfish, and comes in two piece, three piece and four piece sizes. I had a two piece with mayo slaw. The thick slice of onion on the top of the slaw was unexpected, and went un sampled. Actually the meal was OK, and the baked potato seemed normal, but how do you mess up a baked potato?
Loyce had something called a smashed potato, that had chicken and onions with green peppers and shredded cheese. It came with a special sauce that looked a lot like thousand island. She ate it all, but complained that it came with a lot of burps afterwards.
They never bothered to take the old gas pumps out. The driveway was blocked with buckets of sand so folks couldn’t actually pull up to a pump and try to buy some gas. I assume the tanks are long since empty.
I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to convince Loyce to return for a second encounter, I wonder why?
Today we went back up to Florence and ate at a Cracker Barrel. It was almost 5 PM when we got there, so we declared it as supper. But it was a big dinner type of a meal, with way too many biscuits. Tonight I am stuffed.
We are hanging around the campground as there really isn’t too much to do in Red Bay other than read, sleep and watch the tube.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
I only partially understand all that I saw today, but it overwhelms your senses. There are processes going on all around you as more workers than I could possibly watch, performed their highly skilled tasks.
Even though we were often in the way, and under foot, they were always cheerful and answered any questions that we would ask.