Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Motorhomer's Day in Red Bay

If you've been a Chronicles reader for a while, you may know that we love Red Bay.  It is the home of the Tiffin Motor Home company and the mecca for Tiffin RV owners.  It is a small town with lots going on.

I realized many do not share our love for the town because it is a small town.  Years ago I responded to the notion, "There's nothing to do in Red Bay" with a post of "Nothing to Do in Red Bay?  Here's 101 Things to Do".
Not all the things listed are nearby and maybe not directly in Red Bay, but we love it here anyway.

We also love it here because we can get things fixed on our motor home.  The Roadrunner always senses when we head this direction and two days ago was no different.  We had a low air pressure gauge act up and the red light on the dash indicated an issue.  And the alarm was beeping!  So we have an appointment with Bay Diesel to get that fixed.

The issue presented itself in Oklahoma.  The red light and beeping and gauges would intermittently sound off.  Besides being a little unsettling, we wondered how serious the issue was and if there was some damage going on.  We took the Roadrunner over to the Cummins center in Oklahoma City and the tech assured us it was probably a loose wire or a controller issue and no imminent serious issue.  We continued on I-40 to Memphis, then down to Tupelo where we stopped in to see our friends at MCH Kenworth.

Their analysis matched those of the techs in Oklahoma City so we are looking forward to our appointment tomorrow at Bay Diesel.

Today we are scheduled into Custom Paint and Body to get new air horns on top of the coach.  Our current ones are pitted and rusting badly, so we are getting new aluminum ones.  Melody tracked some down for us at the Tiffin Parts Dept and Bruce or one his guys will install later this morning.

We also chipped/crack the corner piece (some call it an arrowhead) of trim on our DS front slide.  The trim piece is right above the bay door which can touch it if we are parked on an uneven site.  Most of the time I watch it carefully when I open that bay door next to the wet bay door, but a few months ago, the bay door 'touched' the corner piece and it cracked.  So Bruce will replace that and rivet it into place.  And give us an extra one in case it happens again.

Yesterday we had an appointment at Brannon's Custom RV in Vina, Al.  It was about a 20 minute drive from our campground (Red Bay RV Park at the edge of town) and Brannon and Jason went over our list.  We needed our Travl'r DirecTV satellite dish re-calibrated.  Our Winegard Rayzar Over-the-air TV antenna wasn't working, so we wanted them to check that out too.

We also had a problem with our Driver Side (DS) rope lights up near the ceiling.  A loose connection made them inoperable.  Our bathroom shower door was not closing correctly and we had a loose wire down below that we found in the bay area.  We wondered if that had anything to do with our low pressure issue.  We weren't sure but asked Brannon to check it out.

We also had a problem with the new/updated LED headlights.  We had those installed last fall but had a fail on the DS with one of the projector bulbs.  Brannon replaced that as well as the same bulb on the Passenger (PS).

Brannon is the best.  He gets the job down quickly and professionally.  He called about 10:30 said he had re-calibrated the DirecTV satellite dish and found the settings were not correct on the Razor.  He also repaired the rope light and was going to replace a couple of small braces on the inside of the shower door which was causing it to be a little uneven.

After lunch we picked up the coach at Custom RV.  Brannon confirmed the loose wire was an extra bay door wire and not related to our air pressure problem.  We left feeling great about that and the other things he fixed.  He always fixes things right and at a fair price.  We also asked about our AGM batteries.  They are about 6 1/2 years old and we wondered if they were nearing the end of their life.  Brannon said the rule thumb is 6-8 years of life for Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries and 4-6 years for regular batteries.

Yesterday after we dropped off the Roadrunner at Brannon's (at 7:00 AM), we went over to Belmont, MS, for breakfast at Sparks Restaurant.  It has the best breakfast in the area.  The ham and cheese omelet I ordered was larger than I expected so it was all I could do to eat it.  Pam had bacon and scrambled eggs and wheat toast.

Along with some coffee, we enjoyed the food and did some local people watching, The big table in the restaurant is where the daily locals come.  They had 8-10 good ole boys that obviously meet for breakfast and sit at their own table marked "SMART persons table".  ?  Not sure what that means but it is probably some private joke.  Or it means the things they talk about rise to the level of smart people.  I think they were probably solving most of the worlds issues.  It is a fun place.

Next we went over to the Tiffin Service Center.  We ran into Glenda and say hi to her.  She used to run the parts store but now does the cleaning with another lady.  Next I went back into the cabinet shop near bay 26 and said hi to Tanya.  She has been there 4-5 years and is liking the woodworking.  She and another fellow install the shades in the road runner back when she was doing that work.

We had time for the morning tour at the Tiffin Visitor Center.  Pam stayed in the car and took a little nap to help her get over her cold while I went on the tour.  I always love hearing the story and I learn something every time we walk through the many buildings on the tour.  The tour has improved over the years and is the best in the RV industry.  Bar none.  It is definitely worth the time and effort to come and see how these things are built.

After the Tiffin tour we went to the Piggly Wiggly market deli for lunch.  We had mashed potatoes, gravy and friend chicken with a small portion of cherry cobbler for dessert.  Next we went over to the Allegro Club at the Tiffin Service Center.  And we went over to the Parts store to find a few things.

Brannon finished up about 2:00 PM so we went back and picked up the Roadrunner and took it back to the campground.  Later I joined Gerri and Art for happy hour at their site where we talked with some neighbors and socialized for a bit.  Pam fixed a great dinner of fish and a baked potato with some steamed broccoli.

We watched the news and then some baseball before turning in.  It was a beautiful day in Red Bay.  We always enjoy coming here.  Not only for the people but also because we get things fixed which brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Monday, April 2, 2018

To Yuma for Dental Work in Mexico

While traveling back to Casa Grande from a Major League Baseball Spring Training game about a few days ago, I chipped a crown on my lower teeth.  Oops.  After considering the option, we decided to cut short our time at the Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort and go to Yuma.

While in Yuma we went across the border to a Sani-Dental to get my tooth fixed and to get our teeth cleaned.  And to do some shopping which we were there in Los Algodones.
We parked on the U.S. side and walked the 300 yards across the border into town.  It seemed a lot more crowded than the last time we were there which was probably five years ago.  We had no trouble finding the dental office signed in.  Then we waited in the hallway before an assistant took Pam back to get her teeth cleaned.
At this facility the doctors do the teeth cleaning.  Pam was finished before I was called to go back to see my dentist.  I got some X-rays on this machine.
Then the dentist took off the old crown and put on a temporary.  We were done a couple of hours after we arrived.  There procedure is to come the next day to check the temporary crown so we scheduled our second appointment.

Then we enjoyed our time at the Fortuna De Oro RV Resort.  We parked near friends Gerri and Art.  We hung out at happy hour and had some fun.  This resort is not quite as fancy as Palm Creek, but then neither was the price.

We went back to Mexico the next day for a quick followup to the dentist and then back to our campsite and hung out.  While there we were able to schedule a wash and wax job for the Roadrunner and got that done.  $100 was well worth it.
There was also time for some pool and some golf at the campground.  
I originally was told the visit to the dentist would take 72 hours and that my last appointment was going to be Monday.  It actually got done on my third visit on Saturday.  I was pleased with the result and I also got my teeth cleaned.  Total bill for two teeth cleanings, consultation, X-ray and a crown - $310.

Saturday after the visit to the dentist we walked around and did some more shopping.  It takes a minute to get shopping game face on.  The shop owners don't give up on the first try.  We had some lunch, talked with a couple from Montana that had been going to Yuma for a number of years and had a nice time.
Saturday was also the town's annual party for the winter visitors.  They had free food and drink and 
entertainment which was a nice gesture.

Thankfully our three trips over the border we fun and uneventful.  The lines at the border crossing office were not too long.  None lasted more than 30 minutes so it gave us a few minutes to meet some more people and hear about their Mexico experiences.
On Sunday we went to the two flea market in town and got a few things and then worked on some stuff around the coach.  The weather was nice on Monday too and there was some time for another visit to the pool.  It was a little more crowded than the other days and their was a band who played for a couple of hours.  They were pretty good and a number of people got up and danced and enjoyed themselves.

We saw our friends some more and watched a number of winter visitors at the campground depart for the journey north back home.  Some said adios and took off, one couple spent two or three hours after they hooked up and pulled out of their space.  It was just too hard from them to say goodbye.  They had such a good time, leaving was something they really didn't want to go.

We on the other hand, had to get on with it and we departed early on Tuesday morning for the trip to Albuquerque.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Staying at a Real Resort - Casa Grande AZ

We don't often stay at a real resort.  We have camped at many places through the years that have 'resort' in their name, but we have learned often times that means they charge more $$.

Our time at the Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort here in Casa Grande AZ has been really great.  It is a little pricey, but there are ways to make it less so.  We booked for a whole month for the monthly rate, and since this is our first time here, we got the 20% 'First Time Visitor' discount.  Those two items means it averages out to be less than $40/night.  Still pricey, but a lot more doable.

We are here because but we wanted to visit friends Steve and Karen.  The added bonus is that we have gotten to see some other friends as well:  Paul and Laura, Mary and Tom, John and Cathy, Ron and Marta, John and Greta, and Paul and Bobbi.  And friends Kirk and Susan are going to stay with us here for a few days.

We really like the Palm Creek.  It has a lot of things to do and it is a first class place.  It is a REAL resort.  There is so much to do here if you like sunshine and swimming, golf, pickleball, ping pong, softball, shuffleboard, tennis, walking, hanging out with friendly people -- the list goes on.

Here are some things we like about Palm Creek:
  • First impression:  Check in and name tags
The ground are beautiful.  The little creek winds through the property from one end to the other.  Palm trees line the creek, plus there are hundreds of more throughout the campground and on every street.

The RV check in area in large and accommodates rigs of all sizes.  Someone did some excellent planning here.  You pull up to the very long staging area, then get out and meet the greeters at the Check In table who tell you were registration is at Guest Services in the building.

Then it takes about 10 minutes to fill out paperwork, get a photo badge/ID, settle your bill, get all the information we could want and then a Ranger (guy in a golf cart) escorted us to our site.
  • Friendly people on our street and all over the park
It took less that 10 minutes at our campsite for neighbors to introduce themselves and invite us to a nightly happy hour.  We met four or five neighbors within an hour.  It is a welcoming sort of environment.
  • Wide lots/camp sites
The campsites are very large.  We could park two cars on our space if we wanted to, and still have room for our shady REI canopy, mat and chairs.
  • Ample washers and dryers in laundry facility  
We are a block away from a second pool and washer/dryer facility, and our mailbox.  It makes for a quick day of laundry with a lot of machines to use.
  • Beautiful Oasis

  • Great par 3 golf course
We don't often play 'Executive' Par three courses, but this is a very nice one.  It makes perfect sense for the people here.  Lots of folks play this course that probably would not venture out onto a municipal regulation 6500 yard course.  

This course is very inviting because it has big greens, every hole is a par three, many can reach every green on the first shot, and it is a walking course.  Pam and I have played it three times already.  We love being the first off the tee box early in the morning.  She hasn't played in a while, but has done well and enjoys it thoroughly.
Without the long par 4 and par 5's, she and I are pretty even when you take out the long shots.  Which means she is a good putter and chipper.  Its fun!
  • Big main swimming pool. Plus two other smaller ones

  •  Nice library and hobby facilities (jewelry making, woodworking, pool tables)

  • World class pickleball courts and facility
We arrived in Palm Creek the day the 'Duel in the Desert' Pickleball Tournament began.  This is the first time we have been exposed to a very well organized pickleball community.  The tournament was had hundreds of competitors and the 32 courts seemed to be always full of action.  We got to watch men and women's singles, men/women mixed at 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 levels.

Friend Steve and his partner Bill gave it a valiant effort, winning 7 or 8 matches but falling one match  shy of making it to the medal round.

It is fun to watch and even more fun to play.  I took a beginners class that might be the best two free teaching session I have even participated in.  There were 17 in the class with 5 instructors.  Reed, the main instructor ran down through his clipboard hitting all the important items ranging from safety, mechanics of hitting different shots, strategy, and the rules and scoring.  And there was a lot of 'hands-on' participation.  We broke up into groups of four and took the court for instruction and practice in warming up, dinking, serving and volleying.  I can see why the sport can be 
  • Grounds well manicured
  • Large property good for walking and biking
  • Lots of different activities:  lawn bowling, shuffleboard, tennis, water aerobics, 
  • UPS deliveries to campsite (e.g. Amazon)
Sometimes it is difficult to get mail at a campground.  This place makes it easy.  More than once we have had the UPS truck pull up to our campsite and drop off a package.  It is very convenient.
  •  Good eating places nearby
Dinner with a friends Karen and Steve, Paul and Laura at Barro's.  Might be the best pizza I've eaten. Certainly in the top two or three.
Those Arizona sunsets are pretty wonderful.  I love this particular one.

Palm Creek has been one of the nicest places we've been to.

There's a look at where we have been hanging out in March.  Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, March 9, 2018

RV Insurance Time Again

Each year I look forward to the time when I do some research and call RV insurance companies for a new quote.  I am regularly surprised to find that the lowest is not always the expected one.

I start with last year's list and put a call out (like on FaceBook Group or Tiffin RV Network) and then add a few companies to my list.  Last year we went with National Interstate but we received a note from them they were getting out of the business.

I use the same criteria and go over the same coverages with each agent to get the quote.  I also make sure they know I am a Full-timer as some will not cover RVers in that category.

Next, I try to talk with someone for a quote.  Most are glad to walk through the process which takes about 10-15 minutes to come up with a number.  I pay in full for the entire year to get the discount and be done with it.

One thing I found is that even though a broker may offer insurance from the same company (e.g. Progressive), the often do not come up with the same price.

Here's a look at my spreadsheet:
This is a series of snapshots of my spreadsheet.  If you'd like a copy of the actual Excel file, I'd be glad to send it to you.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!