Monday, February 27, 2012

Tiffin #1 in 2011

We are here in Red Bay for some repairs and we took the factory tour.  Red Davis, the long time tour guide is moved to the unofficial greeter and ambassador at the Visitor Center.  The tour has changed somewhat and expanded to include the cabinet shop and chassis areas.  (More on another post with pictures).

After the tour, I went over to the company offices and asked about the sales numbers for last year.  There I found the staff to be friendly and helpful in spite of what looked like a busy day.  In a few minutes, I was able to obtain the following information that I wanted to share with you.

According to the independent source: "December 2011 Statical Surveys" The number one retail seller of Class A Motorhomes for 2011 was Tiffin Motorhomes.  The top 8 manufacturers were:

  1. Tiffin - 2388
  2. Winnebago - 2282
  3. Thor - 1949
  4. Fleetwood - 1463
  5. Forest River - 930
  6. Monaco - 735
  7. Coachman - 607
  8. Newmar - 596
Tiffin also captured the top 4 Spots in Diesel Sales
  1. Phaeton - 644
  2. Allegro Bus - 365
  3. Allegro Breeze - 311
  4. Allegro Red - 296
  5. Discovery - 254
I love numbers and statistics about RVing when I find the and wanted to offer them to you FYI.  

Thanks for taking a look at the Roadrunner Chronicles today!  Until next time...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Florida Days and Some Roadrunner Damage

Since we left Key West a few weeks ago we have spent time in Fort Meyers/Naples and have moved on to the SpaceCoast - eastern side of Florida.  We spent a little over a week at Patrick AFB.

Two days after we arrived, they had a FamCamp chicken and pork BBQ lunch for all the campers.
They really put on a spread and it was a nice gesture.  The campers and campground staff are all very friendly and helpful.

We also got to play a round of golf on base and see an old work buddy that I knew in the Air Force years ago when we lived in Hawaii.
Another highlight was having lunch with Howard and Linda Payne ( who were staying up near Cocoa Beach.

The campground at Patrick AFB is on a cove and we watched the sun go down one evening.
Then we saw schools of dolphins playing around.  I tried to get a shot of them jumping in and out of the water but could never time it right.
We also got to see friends from Albuquerque who now live in the Orlando area and went to church with them and had lunch at their place on Sunday.  It was great to see them and catch up.

The big event at our time at Patrick was moving from the overflow area in the campground to a site with electricity.  I pulled up along side a roped off area, then backed up a little and turned it too wide.  My right front end swung out and I hit one of the 'little 4" x 4" posts that was holding up the rope.  It was only about two feet off the ground.  I knew it was there but could not tell exactly how close I was to it.  Even though I was going slowly, before I knew it I had knocked it over.  It was wedged along the passenger side in front of the stairs.  When I figured out what was going on I stopped and got out.  The damage had been done and it was not pretty.

Now we are in the process of getting an estimate and deciding if we can get it fixed here or if we want to go back to Red Bay.  We found a shop but he is not real sure how to work around the 3M 'clear coat' (Diamond Shield - like finish).  He can repair the fiberglass OK but it gets tricky when you mess with the plastic coating.  If you peel it back it could lift off the paint under it in an area that is not damaged.  So we will see.

It doesn't look too bad but the estimate came it at almost $2600.  On our deductible with Allied Insurance it would cost me 800.  That seemed a little high to me.  I think we can drive it the 700 miles back to Red Bay and get it fixed for a about the same price as the deductible.  

We should know which way we are going to go on this sometime today and will have an update on the next edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.

Thanks for joining us today!  Hope you are having a good week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thomas Edison Home in Ft Myers

Pam and I were married 32 years ago in Ft Walton Beach, FL and visited the Thomas Edison Museum in Ft Meyers while on our honeymoon.  A few days ago we got the chance to see it again.

I highly recommend it.  The foundation that took over the Edison Museum and Estate has done an excellent job.  The Edison home is near downtown Ft Meyers, has plenty of parking and the tours are all self guided using a hand-held listening device.  It is very easy.
The tour of the grounds begins outside by the huge banyon tree conspicuously marked #1.  There, you punch in '1' to the recorder/listening device and hear the recording about the banyon tree.  The estate has 20 listening spots with a recording about the history and significance of the location.

We toured the grounds which covers over 20 acres.  It includes Thomas Edison's Winter Home (Seminole Lodge), the Henry Ford Home nearby (the Mangoes), the museum and laboratory.

Thomas Edison first visited the area in 1885 and bought the land for his vacation home which is right on the Caloosahatchee River.  He laid out the plans for the estate and had lumber shipped in to build the house.
The home has a beautiful covered porch that encircles it.
Edison tested a lot of trees and plants looking for a rubber plant that would thrive in the Florida climate.  So the grounds have lots of shade and balmy breezes…
Edison's good friend Henry Ford bought adjoining property in 1916.  The bungalow style house was know as 'The Mangoes'.
Both homes were well decorated and quite impressive for that time period.  The foundation has done a great job in keeping them well maintained.   Visitors can peer inside from all sides and see the furniture and furnishings of the era.

Back in the museum and the laboratory, there are lots of interesting inventions and history on display.
One of the displays included toasters, two spigot coffee pot, iron a light/heater and lots more.  It is mind boggling to know that Thomas Edison had a 65 consecutive year string of at least one registered patent.  He holds a world record 1093 patents.  It is told that the phonograph was his favorite invention.

Toward the end of our time, we went through the museum and the rubber laboratory.
Edison was good friends with Henry Ford and later with Harvey Firestone.  Edison knew that rubber for tires and the growing automobile industry was almost entirely imported.  He could see how costly rubber was and searched for a plant that could be grown domestically.  Edison, Ford and Firestone each donated $25,000 in 1927 to support Edison's rubber research laboratory.  Unfortunately, he was never able to find a cost-effective latex producing plant to do the job.

The rubber laboratory was one of those things I remember most from our first visit to the the estate while on our honeymoon in 1979.  I also remember learning that Edison often stretched out on a laboratory table for a few hours of sleep.

Edison, Ford, Firestone, John Burroughs and others set off as a group on recreational camping trips (in their Ford cars and trucks) beginning in 1914 through the Florida Everglades.  Their group continued camping together for years and was known as the 'Vagabonds'. But we will save more on that for another day.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  As always, we appreciate the fact that you take the time to take a look and see what we have to say.  Until next time...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What I like about Key West

There are a lot of reasons that make Key West one of our favorite places in our almost 3-year full-time adventure:
  1. The warm weather/sun.  It is usually warm down here in the winter time but this year it has been above average.
  2. The water.  Love having the RV parked 20 feet the water (Gulf of Mexico side) most of the last six weeks.  
  3. Interesting town with a lot of history.  We learned a lot about Key West in the early days and about famous people who have been associated with Key West.  Jimmy Buffet, Robert Frost, Thomas Edison, Zachary Taylor, Ernest Hemingway, Harry Truman...
  4. Hemingway House.  This was one of my all-time favorite tours of a residence.  I lover the upstairs outside balcony with the balmy breezes.
  5. Truman Little White House.  Pretty cool to see where some important decision were made in his presidency.  Reminded me a little of the Gen Eisenhower home in Gettysburg.
  6. Bike riding.  Never been anywhere with more local and rental bikes.  Lots of bike paths and the roads are scooter and bike friendly.  Loved taking the 13.0 mile loop around the island in the early morning.
  7. Boondocking at Sigsbee U.S. Navy Campground (Military).  Over 200 spaces for boon dockers and 88 full hook ups which we rotate into for two weeks.  
  8. Sunsets.  Lots of them here.  And sunrises too.
  9. Sunset Celebration.  Every night seems like there is something going on at Mallory Square.
  10. Mallory Square.  Talk about a great place to people watch!
  11. Harbour Walk.  Great place to meander in the early evening.  Can't beat the 1/2 price on drinks and appetizers which are a meal in themselves.
  12. Boca Chica Marina and Beach - Key West Naval Air Station.  The base has more activity than one would expect.  We liked the waterfront/marina.  Can't beach watching F-18's and F-5's and other aircraft coming in for landings.
  13. The Keys.  Nice drive to see some sights.  Key West is a bit isolated but we had plenty of day trips along the keys.
  14. Small town atmosphere.  Key West has only about 25,000.  No Wal-Mart and only two Starbucks that I could find.
  15. Walking.  Lots of things to walk around and see.  One can walk the whole downtown area and see lots of shops and people.
  16. Restaurants/Cafes.  Breakfasts and Happy Hour (4-6 PM) are very reasonable.  Dinner and the rest is a little more but not too bad.  
  17. Cuban sandwiches, stone crab, mahi-mahi and shrimp, Cuban coffee...
  18. Gardens, parks and museums.  More of them here than one would expect.
  19. Habitat for Humanity (Key West and Lower Keys).  We got to spend a couple of Saturdays working on a house with their Brush with Kindness group and it was a lot of fun.
  20. Roosters.  See previous post.
  21. Flea Market.  The flea market at Big Pine is worth going to.  Only about 30 miles up the Keys and not near Key Deer reserve and No-Name Bar which has great pizza.
  22. Friends.  We have gotten together with some great friends here old and new:  Marge and Bill (full-timers whom we met the first few days here); Jim and Betty (Habitat for Humanity friends from our time last summer in South Dakota); and Kirk and Susan (good friends who flew in from Oklahoma City and spent 4 days with us)
That is all today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  We move on toward Fort Meyers Tuesday morning.  Thanks VERY much for joining us!  Until next time...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Roadrunner Financials - January 2012

Roadrunner Recap
This was our first visit to Key West.  We arrived in December and stayed through January so we had a good

The only campground we had for the month was:
  • Sigsbee Naval Station Campground, Key West FL
Here is an interactive map of the area:

Here is a snapshot of Expenses for January:

Good News Areas We Are Under Budget
We saved significant dollars this month on RV Maintenance, Campgrounds and in Diesel Fuel.

Biggest Expenses
In Key West, the internet/wifi at the campground is mostly weak or non-existent so we depended on our own Verizon JetPack.

Large One Time Cost Items
We bought a pack of printer cartridges this month that was over $70.  We also splurged at the flea market in Big Pines and spent $56.

Monthly Average
January was a good month with us getting a couple hundred dollars under budget and reducing the monthly average by almost $300.

I have often said this is more of a tracking tool and an estimate than a budget -- this month's spending proves it.  That's what our spending looked like for the month.  Thanks for taking a peek.  Hopefully they provide help or entertainment of some sort...  If you'd like a free copy of the spreadsheet I use, drop me a note and I will be glad to send it along.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Key West Roosters

One of the interesting things of Key West is that there are lots of roosters and chickens running around the island.  It is part of the history and culture and quite unique.  They seem to mind there own business and go where ever they want.  And they all over the city.

Apparently these chickens have been on the island over 150 years.  And their numbers grew in the 1950's when the Cuban population in Key West was at its highest.  Among other things, the roosters were bred for cockfighting but that was outlawed in the 1970's.

The chickens now roam the island freely and are good for a double take or a picture...
On the fence

 Plus a hen and her chicks

More chicks


Under the house

Here are some in the bushes

Look at those colors!

Three in the bush..

Roosters are one of the many colorful attractions here in Key West.  We have been here over six weeks and have another week to go before it will be time to move on. 

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...