Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Marg, Bill and Bok Tower

Sometimes I get a second chance on my blog posts.  In this case, I began this draft two years ago but never completed it.  Then, we were visiting Marg and Bill, we took a short day trip over to a popular tourist attraction, the famous (to folks in the area) Bok Tower Gardens.  Now (Dec 2018) that we are seeing Bill and Marg once again
I decided to complete one of my "draft" posts.  I've started and not completed a number of posts over the years.  So here is my take on an attraction worth seeing near Lakeland, FL:
Meaghan's parents Bill and Marg winter at the SanLan RV and Golf Resort in Lakeland FL.  We were very glad to be able to line up a few days together and see them.

The campground is a very large one and getting ready for snowbird guests to arrive.  We got a nice spot with plenty of space and a concrete patio.  All the acres and acres of grass is mowed and the whole campground is well maintained.
The second day here  I jumped at the chance to wash off some of the two weeks travel grime off the Roadrunner.
The roof also cleaned up pretty nicely.
Though we only have a few days together, Bill and I were able to squeeze in a couple of days of golf.  We both had some good holes mixed up with the ones we didn't score too well.
One day we went out by ourselves and the next day we played with his weekly men's group at another course and also enjoyed it.

We took the time to hang out together and have dinner each evening, splitting our time between eating out and having dinner at each others places. 

On Saturday we took a day trip to Bok Tower and Gardens near Lake Wales which were quite impressive.  It was a nice 40 minute drive from Lakeland through some back roads.
As we drove into the area, it looked as if it was a relatively new Visitor's Center, but the Bok Tower and Gardens have been around for a long time.  It was completed in 1929 and has been an attraction ever since.
The genius behind the beautiful place is Edward W. Bok.  His family emigrated from the Netherlands after the turn of the last century.  He eventually became a wildly successful publisher and Pulitizer-prize winning author and accumulated substantial wealth.
He loved visiting Florida from Pennsylvania and decided to purchase land which included Iron Mountain.  It is 298 feet above sea level and the highest plot of land for miles.  Bok wanted to recreate the area and make it into a world class garden and bird sanctuary.  He also commissioned Milton Medary (a Philadelphia architect) along with stone sculptor Lee Lawrie to build a 205' tower with a 60-bell carillon.
The sculptor's other work in on display all around the country.  He also worked on the Nebraska State Capitol which we visited late July, 2013.
The grounds are now almost 100 years old and have beautiful trees and vegetation.

A tribute in the gardens to a Japanese member of Bok's staff

Marg and Pam near the very tall tower.

We were there when a musician conducted a short recital on the bells housed within the carillon.

Bok died in 1930 and is buried near the base of the tower.

It was a beautiful day to see the garden and towers and we especially liked the short concert.  It was fun to share it with Marg and Bill.

Thanks for taking a look with us on the Roadrunner Chronicles.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Roadrunner Reflections: Questions and Purpose

      Weeks ago I mentioned I am finishing up our first book.  It covers 18 months of planning and preparation to get on the road and then the first seven months of our travels.  I divided it into the Process (Part 1) and The Experience (Part 2).  I wanted remember how we decided to take the leap into full-time RV and then describe all the things we dealt with in order to get on the road.  
      Finally getting to the point of being full-timers was tremendously exciting.  We describe (in Part 2) what it was like at all the different campgrounds were we stayed as "newbies" during our first seven months (May - July).
Here is an excerpt from "The Wonder of RV Living, Vol. 1 in the Roadrunner Chronicles":
 "When we were deciding if the RV lifestyle was right for us, we had quite a few discussions.  We spend time thinking out load and wondering if selling our home in Northern Virginia was the right thing to do.  It wasn't enough for us to just imagine if it would be fun.  We were trying to be smart about the decision and ask ourselves direct questions:
  • How could we afford an RV?
  • Which type of RVing should be consider?
  • Were we ready to retire?
  • What would we do with our spare time?
  • What is our purpose?
Here are some thoughts on the last question:

"Purpose. In our research and planning, we needed some solid reasons to make this dramatic change in our lifestyle.  In the previous chapter I described how we processed what to do with our free time and volunteering.  Was there more to our purpose?  
  • Volunteering - As we mentioned, early in our discovery phase learning about RVing, we found we really liked volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.  One discussion on the back porch included some thoughts along the line that maybe,  “this was our calling”. This idea was a significant change in our thinking.  The notion of helping other people was something we liked.  Truthfully, I think we end up getting as much out of building homes as the new homeowners.  We make friends, meet all kinds of new people, learn new skills and have a sense of accomplishment in putting in some hard work for a few weeks.  
  • Pursuing Freedom - This lifestyle afforded us a freedom we have never known.  Some have said, “You are always on vacation”. While that may be partially true, it has given us financial freedom, emotional freedom, and freedom to grow older together in a way we never imagined.  The experiences we have shared together have deepened our relationship and caused us to cherish every day.
  • Making Friends - We have met more friends living as full-timers than we would ever meet in Fairfax VA.  Living on the same street corner only provides so many new opportunities to get to know people.  As full-timers we have re-connected with friends and that has been wonderful.  Most of these people we would never have had the opportunity to see again, let alone be near where they live and actually get to visit them and catch up on years gone by.  We’ve met lots and lots of people from our high school and college days, people from our Air Force time and old neighbors from all over the country.  It is hard to quantify making new friends and renewing friendships but it is a real joy made possible because of this lifestyle.
  • Getting to Know Family - The benefit of getting into our motorhome and parking in town near family has been huge. We have seen more family in the last few years than we’ve seen in the last 40 years.  We’ve learned a lot about them and our heritage and have gotten to know our relatives and family better.  We’ve been able to stick around for months and months when our adult children have gone through some tough times and it has only been possible because we are in our RV. 
  • Getting Healthy - This only goes as far as each RVer commits to it.  While we intended on hiking lots of trails in lots of national parks and forests, we haven’t done as much as we thought we would.  Still, packing up and moving every few days (or weeks or months) keeps one active and does promote a healthier lifestyle. Every day we see people walking or doing aerobics and we are more inclined to go for hikes and see new places.  I can tell you there is something wonderful about traveling and yet sleeping in your own bed each night.  Setting up camp, packing up and continually downsizing (we are always getting rid of stuff we don’t need), all promote a healthy physical and mental life.  We are more active than we probably would be in our old house.  It is motivating to see folks 10 or 15 years older than us and see that they are going strong.  They are out there doing it and not sitting on the front porch watching the world go by.
  • Adventure - I have never thought of myself as an overly-adventurous type.  I don’t ride motorcycles, I declined my son’s offer (when he was in high school) to skydive, and I don’t rock climb.  But this lifestyle has afforded us a lot of adventure.  Adventure to me means going to places I have wondered about and being there first-hand to see it for myself.  I could not wait to go to Key West, and Glacier National Park and see the Grand Canyon again.  We were enthralled by the idea of parking the motorhome on a cliff on the Oregon Coast and watching the waves crashing into the rocky seashore.  We’ve done those things and a thousand more.  This has been an adventure for sure!
  • Travel - We met in the Air Force in the 1970’s and the first seven years of our married life we lived overseas in Asia, Europe and the Pacific.  We love to travel.  The RV mode of travel appealed to us. We tent-camped our whole married life and thought this might be fun.  One reason for our interest in RV living was for the travel, so that we could see more of our great country and not only "hit the highlights" (popular National Parks and well-know tourist sites) but see some of the noteworthy out of the way places."
[From our upcoming book:  
The Wonder of RV Living:  The Roadrunner Chronicles Vol. 1,  © Randy Warner with Pam Warner]

-- Watch for the book on Amazon in the coming week.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Another Tiffin Factory Tour - 2018

One of the fun things to do in Red Bay is to go on the factory tour and see the motorhomes in various stages of production.
I'm not sure how many times I have done the tour, but it never gets old for me.  I learn something every time.

It begins every day (Mon-Fri) at 9:30 AM from the Visitor's Center.
Two people take the group on the tour through different buildings and they do an excellent job.

The tour takes you past the headquarters/main office building with Bob Tiffin and his three sons work.  At the other end of the inconspicuous warehouse-looking building is the entrance to the cabinet shop.
Tiffin uses mainly alder wood or cherry wood with different stains.
When we got into the main area, we saw planers, sanders and lots of saws cutting all kinds of wood to length.  They have a state of the art air filtration system to remove the sawdust.  What struck me was size of the woodworking area.
It seemed to me that it had double in size from six months ago when we were last there.  It was pretty amazing.  It always is.
We went past the sold surface area where the counter tops, sinks and shower units are put together.
Large computer-driven cutting tools make precise pieces for subsection unit of the motorhome.  I was thinking a study in systems management would be interesting to sort out how they tag each component of the motor home and assemble it during the build process.  It is a wonder!
There are 18 stations during the motorhome build process and showers, cabinets, or drawers show up on a cart for the unit that is being built.  It all runs like a well oiled machine.
Plumbing and wiring harnesses are tagged and threaded through the frame of the motorhome before the floor is attached.  The young man I watched wasted no motions and was working vigorously pulling this piece and stuffing that piece along its prescribed route through the frame.  Another interesting phase.

A thirty foot motorhome takes about two miles of wiring.  A 44 foot motorhome takes about three miles.
 The wiring harness area is another section of the plant that seems to have doubled.  Tiffin uses the concept of continuous process improvement and are not shy about expanding areas or moving work area to more efficient places.

A few years about we saw the Tiffin-produced Powerglide chassis being built in the area where some of the solid surface work is being done.  Since then, the chassis building process has moved to a build all its own that was erected on the north end of the plant property.

The tour ends at the punch list and cleaning station where each coach is checked over before delivery.   While walking by a 2019 unit, the cargo bay doors were open.
The first one had a slide tray with an automatic switch just in case you need some help pulling out the tray.
The other thing that was new were motion-sensor lights.  If the door are open the lights come on when motion is detected.  Nice touch!

That's a brief recap of the tour of the factory.  Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!~

Monday, December 3, 2018

Java and Jazz - New Coffee Shop in Red Bay

I previously mentioned I stopped by a new coffee shop in Red Bay and wanted to give Ken and Lara shout out this morning.
I like to promote small businesses and this is another worthy one in Red Bay.  If you like good coffee,  a pleasant atmosphere and good conversation, Java and Jazz is a great place to check out.  It is located down the street from the corner of the Red Bay Hotel.  The building previously housed a Snow Cone shop.
They have a FaceBook page that gives a little history.  They have have only been open a couple of months and already are establishing some traction.  Every Tuesday they offer free coffee to Veterans and First Responders.
They have a U.S. map on the wall as you enter, and encourage folks to mark where they are from on it.  They also created a group "Tiffin Travelers" which is pretty creative.

I like this place and wish I had visited our first day instead of near the end of the week before we left.  It has wifi, and is a nice place to get some work done, or reading.  Or, if you are like me, it is a great place to meet people.  I picked a good time to meet Ken and Lara and we hit it off as they explained their journey and how they were led to Red Bay.
Ken and Lara left Wisconsin and have a place out of town past where Bay Diesel is located. They attend a local church and heard that Red Bay needed a coffee shop and one thing led to another.

I found this on their FaceBook Page:
Why not check them out and tell your friends?

That's all for now. I just wanted to give them a plug and hope you have a great week!
Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

We Can See Clearly Now

After getting some work done at Brannon's on Monday, we returned to Bruce and Melody Deaton's Campground.

We needed make an unplanned stop at Bay Diesel to get the 'ride height' checked, so we called for an appointment and got scheduled for 1:00 PM on Friday.

Meanwhile, we contacted Waylon Burroughs (Burroughs Custom Upholstery, (662)687-1748), to get upholstery repair work done on our couch.  The middle seam was giving way.  It had a temporary repair, but after talking with Waylon, we wanted to get it fixed permanently.
He came over to our campsite and removed the back of the sofa.  We also saw damage where the back the of the sofa was rubbing against the window valance.  Years ago I kept a window screen behind the couch and tore a hole in the upholstery you can see below.
Wayne returned a day later with the repairs completed.
He took the whole piece of upholstery off the back and sewed the middle seam from the inside.  He also stretched the material so the worn area from rubbing against the valance was covered.  He replaced the torn area with a new, large piece that replaced the torn section.  $200 well spent.

With that done, we had time to get propane before our after-hours windshield replacement appointment.
I always feel for the folks that have to crawl under the back door to hook up the propane and fill it.  ($71.23)

Next, our major cost item ($1,600) this trip - a new windshield.  I contacted David Hestor who does windshield repairs and replacements.  We had made arrangements to be at Bunkhouse RV ( the former McKinney RV location) at $;45 PM.  When we arrived they were finishing up another windshield replacement.

We left the Roadrunner and drove over to Sparks Restaurant in Belmont for a quick dinner and returned about 6:00 PM.  David and partner Nathan had already removed the original windshield and were cleaning out the rubber trim gasket channel thing.   Once that was done they got the new windshield (which Tiffin buys from Turkey, something I found interesting) and hoisted it into place.
They sealed it with caulking and a secondary rubber trim gasket thing they glued into place.  It is always fascinating to me how these things go together.  Its fun watching the professionals do their thing.
We were at Bruce Deaton's to get two cracks fixed that were above the top corners of both front slideouts.
We also got a touch-up paint repair kit and Austin reinforced the DS front bay door area where the hinge attaches to the door.
He secured a piece of aluminum over the old area, then painted it before attaching a new hinge.  One more pesky item checked off of the "Red Bay Repair List".

The next day we called Bay Diesel and they moved up our appointment for 1:00 PM on Thursday.  That was the last item on our list (or so we thought).  We arrived about 12:30 PM the next day and pulled into the service bay.  Aaron, the tech and I agreed the coach looked as if it was lilting to once side noticeably.  uh oh.  It was more than a ride height issue.

After checking things about he determined the DS rear ride height controller was not working and needed to replace it.  Yikes, I wondered how much that was going to be?  (not too bad - the part was $101).
It took a couple of hours to get the part replaced and then the ride height adjusted.  It works perfectly now.  The automatic leveling is on the mark and the coach doesn't lean while stationary.  ($330.42)

We always love coming to Red Bay and this visit was another great experience.
Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!