We left Max meadows at 8:30am and got home by 2:45pm. The traffic on I-81 moved along - of course, with all the trucks on that road it was move along or get run over. What a hot day to deal with unloading the motorhome- temps in the 90's and humidity to sap the starch out of us. But we unloaded what was necessary and will wait until tomorrow morning to get other things when it should be cooler. Tom went down to the postoffice to retrieve our mail and then we checked through picking out important stuff and tossing junk- the junk pile was by far the biggest. We will now be home for a couple of weeks.
We left Chatanooga, Tn. this morning continuing our travels toward home. We are stopped for the night at Fort Chiswell Campground in Max Meadows, Virginia. We are finally in cooler temperatures(80's not high 90's) but the humidity is still pretty high. Tomorrow we continue on and, barring no problems, will be home. Keeping it short and sweet.
Yesterday, Monday, morning we had been instructed to move the motorhome to a parking area by the mechanical bays to have the propane tank sensor repaired. A apparatus was connected with a hose to the propane tank from a distance from the motorhome. The propane was turned on and the apparatus was ignited and the gas was burned off emptying the tank. So we spent most of the day watching gas burn- what fun!! By 2pm the flame was gone. A technician removed the sensor probe made some adjustments and then replaced the probe- about a 5 minute job. A driver came to the motorhome and drove out to a local propane dealer to refill the tank.
This morning after eating breakfast Tom walked to the Service Center to see when we would be taken in to have the engine coolant leak checked out. This was the last item to be dealt. It was thought the problem was a loose clamp. About 9:30am we were given the word to move into the bay. The motorhome was put up on lifts and sure enough a the clamp was the problem. After securing the clamp coolant was added and we were finally finished having work done. By 11am our paper work was completed and we were on our way.
We drove east through Alabama to Chatanooga, Tennessee a little more than 200 miles and are in a Holiday Trav-L-Park for the night. We are glad to be heading for home and are keeping our fingers crossed that we will not need to go back to Red Bay anytime in the near future. When we left the Tiffin Campground it was filled and overflowing with people boondocking.
This morning we thought we would go to the Dismals Canyon, a privately owned park about 35 miles southeast of Red Bay. We had read that there is a trail through the canyon of mosses and ferns and the temperature there is about 15 degrees cooler than the surrounding area. But we were also warned that it can be muddy and some places there may be water ankle deep in the trail if there has been recent rain. There were lots of clouds in the sky which is not unusual for here but as we got closer to the canyon the skies opened up and the rain poured- so much for those plans. We continued driving through a town, Phil Campbell (yes that is the name of the town), that several years ago was hit by a tornado and is still ungoing reconstruction of houses and buildings. Again, today we got into the area called "the Shoals" along the Tennessee River, the cities of Florence and Muscle Shoals. We pulled into a beautiful park along the river and took a few pictures. The grounds were very wet from recent rains. Since it was near lunch time we looked for a place to eat. Most restaurants within the city of Florence were closed today. We found a road leading back to Muscle Shoals on the south bank of the Tennessee River which took us across a TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) dam. This dam had a lock system that moved boats from above the dam to below and vice versa, about a 100 foot difference. After passing over the dam we then passed a large power station that was also part of the TVA. Finally we got back to a main thoroughfare and found a Mexican reataurant that was opened and we had a great lunch. We both had shrimp dishes that were loaded with shrimp. After lunch we continued on to Red Bay where it was apparent that a drop of rain had not fallen today.
This area has been in a drought. When we arrived here 2 weeks ago everything looked brown. Then rain hit this area and now the grasses are back to being green again but the fields of corn are gone. These corn fields look like fields in the fall of the year. Small roadside produce stands sell watermelons and tomatoes but not corn. Sweet corn in the grocery stores does not look fresh and are expensive- 3or 4 ears for $1.70.
Today being Saturday meant no work on the motorhome so what to do? This northwestern area of Alabama leaves a lot to be desired when looking for things to do. Florence, Alabama is about 50 miles to the northeast of Red Bay and we had not been there so off we went. Florence is on the north side of the Tennessee River and Muscle Shoals is on the south side of the river. We saw a signs for a music festival throughout the town of Florence and then a sign for W. C. Handy home and museum. W. C. Handy, "the father of the blues" was born in Florence and always had a love for the city. He was a musician and a composer. "St. Louis Blues" is his best known composition. The home is a 2 room log cabin that is attached to the museum as it was moved from another location in the city. The music festival is not getting underway until Sunday evening.
We drove around the city and came to the Woodrow Wilson Park, one of those beautiful city parks often seen in southern towns with a central water fountain and tree lined walkways.
Around the park a car show was being held and we strolled around looking at some interesting vehicles. An old rusty Dodge pick-up caught our eye.
The owner restorer told us that has been in possession of this heap for many years, using it for target practice with his gun until he decided to restore it. He won first place in his class. Another interesting vehicle was a 1935 Chevrolet with a Phaeton body sure looks different than our Phaeton!!
Leaving Florence we headed back towards Red Bay but stopped for a late lunch at a unique place, Rattlesnake Saloon.
We had heard about this place but this was our first visit. The Saloon is only opened on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon and evenings and Sunday afternnoon. Pulling into the area designated the Rattlesnake Saloon there was nothing that looked like a saloon. Horse trailers and barns with horses were close-by. Finally spying one of the horseman I asked about the whereabouts of the saloon and he directed us toward a pickup truck that would haul us down the road to the saloon.
The pickup was equipped with benches in the bed of the truck for us to sit on and the down a steep hill we went. The saloon is built in a cave.
There is a small dining room inside the saloon but a bigger dining area is outside in the cave.
We ate in the cave. The menu is mainly sandwiches and appetizers. We had burgers which are quite large but were really good. Fries or onion rings are served with the sandwiches. I ordered onion rings and Tom ordered fries and then we shared. Desserts are also available (apple fritters and deep fried cheese cake) but we passed on that. After eating we caught the pickup taxi service back up the hill and stopped into the souvenir store. A wood stairway goes down to an upper level of the cave and we walked down there and then back to the car to return to Red Bay.
After eating breakfast Tom walked up to the Service Center to check if we would be getting in today to have the slide floor replaced. We could see there was a motorhome in that bay having their floor replaced. We were to be next and would get in today. We knew that by getting in we would be finished today and would be able to start for home and Tom would make his Monday doctor's appointment. Tom was stranded in the Service Center when the skies opened up and rain poured for about 30 minutes. We got busy emptying out the drawers and cupboards in the slide. At 10:30am the call came for us to move in Bay 1, the slide floor replacement bay, and in 15 minutes we were in place.
A crew of 4 men immediately started working. The molding trim was removed. A couch and the refrigerator was moved out of the slide into the interior of the motorhome.
The electric connects had to be disconnected.
A lift was attached around the slide, the slide unbolted from the mechanisms that move the slide in and out and then the slide is hoisted out.
After the slide was removed the motorhome with a huge hole in the side is moved to the next bay.
The slide is then laid down on padded work horses and the old floor removed.
A new floor with the rollers attached is then attached to the slide.
And the the steps are reversed putting the slide back in.
These 4 men doing the work really have a pattern and work so well as a team that it was an enjoyable afternoon. There are 4 slides on our motorhome. Three of the 4 slide floors are made by Tiffin, the 4th slide floor is not and that is the problem floor. The replacement floor is made by Tiffin. I questioned one of the men as to why this floor was outsourced and he said "that's just the way it was done".
During the process it was noticed that something was not quite right with the slide mechanism and it was found that the gears that run the side arms in and out had teeth missing and bent, so a new gear box was installed.
It was noticed that something was dripping in the rear of the motorhome and we were told that it was transmission fluid coming from a seal. At this point we knew that we would not be leaving Red Bay today. Tom called the doctor's office to reschedule his appointment and started making calls to see where we could get service for this leak next week. Tom had also been in contact with the supervisor in the mechanical area of the Service Center about what was thought to be the problem. The supervisor, Greg Dees, checked out the area on the floor where the motorhome had been for the leaking fluid and said that was not transmission fluid but coolant leaking. That was a relief. This problem could be dealt with here on Monday. The transmission fluid leaking would have needed to be handled by an authorized Allison facility since it is an Allison transmission still under warranty and the local diesel service center here in Red Bay does not meet that requirement .
Since we were staying longer to have this coolant leak checked out Tom asked that the propane tank sensor problem also be put back on the docket to be looked into. We are scheduled on Monday morning to pull over to the parking lot outside the mechanical bay area where the propane will be burned off and the problem fixed. The motorhome will at some point be pulled into the mechanical bay to have a clamp tightened that is believed to be the cause of the leaking coolant.
And we will be spending another weekend in exciting Red Bay, Alabama. This is fast becoming an unfavorable spot for us.
At 7am we were in Bay 42 getting the air filter and canister replaced, This was completed by a little past 9am. We returned to our campsite, hoping that we would get called to the bay to have our slide floor replaced but that did not happen. Tom did talk with the scheduling person, Billy, and was told that we would probably go in tomorrow (Friday) morning. So we spent the remainder of the day keeping cool, as it was another 90plus temperature day, and reading. It is very frustrating being here noy knowing just when we will get finished and be able to move on. Tom has a doctor's appointment on Monday that we made feeling certain we would be able to be home by that time but then we didn't know about this slide floor. If we are able to finish by Friday evening we could get home in time for his appointment. At the close of the service center on Thursday evening we had not received word telling us to move into the slide floor bay.
Today, Wednesday, we received a call about 10am telling us to go to the work bay (#39) to have the jacks checked. The automatic hydraulic jacks has been real sluggish retracting often needing Tom to get out a 2x4 board and assist. The left front jack was the worst. The motorhome was put on a lift, the jacks were checked and then the problem left front jack was replaced.
We then returned back to our campsite knowing we would going into the mechanical bay next whenever that was. We knew that we would not be pulled in there until after the lunch break (11:20-12noon) so we went to the local Mexican restaurant for our lunch. About 12:30pm we got a call telling us to come to Bay 42, the mechanical bay. In our travels on this trip we had a dash light to come on briefly indicating something awry again with DEF sensor and on consultation it was felt something may have been incorrectly connected that caused a problem with hot weather. We were advised to have that looked into when we came here for warranty work. So that was checked out and adjustment was made.
The air filter and canister was damaged when Tom backed into the pole in January so they needed to replaced but the end of the workday came and we were told to be in the bay at 7am tomorrow morning to have that done.
This evening the skies became dark as big black clouds moved over. Sounds of thunder rumbled around and then the rain started. Rain is predicted to continue all night and there could be up to 3 inches. Thankfully we are not having any strong winds. And the grounds around here were beginning to get dried out from the last rain. This area does need rain as the grass and fields were looking brown when we first got to this area.
Yesterday, Monday, we were back into Bay 47 at 7am with Jonathan, the tech. Our steps would not retract when we left on Friday. Another tech had stopped by to talk to Tom at the close of the work and when we started up to back out the steps were not working. Jonathan had left for the day so we just had to carefully drive to our site and wait for this morning. The sensor that causes the steps to operate had been moved with the inside step repair so it was just a matter of readjusting that sensor's location. The front slide on the passenger side was in need of being adjusted as a roller was out of place. And then Tom has been bothered with a noise in the front as he drives so we took a ride with Jonathan. He tightened up some screws in the dash hoping that was the problem at the end of the work day. Tom and I as we left the bay for the evening took the motorhome for a drive and the noise was still there. When we returned to our campsite and extended the slides out, the front slide on the passenger side that had been adjusted on this day had a piece of molding to pop off.
This morning again at 7am we were back in Bay 47 with Jonathan and the first order of business was the molding that came off yesterday. So with the help of a woodwork/cabinet tech it was reattached. The front end noise was then attended to beginning with another road test. During the ride Jonathan asked if we had any tape which he used to cover up some weep hole vents on the window which solved the problem. Back in the shop Jonathan removed the tape and inserted material to take care of the problem. We were finished in Bay 47 but we have some specialized bays we need to go to when we are scheduled.
Since we were back in our campsite about 11am we knew we would not be pulled into another bay before lunchtime. So we went out for out lunch at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store. In the rear of the store there is a small cafeteria line with a room for dining. Tom had pork chops, greens and baked sweet potato and I had an Italian seasoned chicken breast with the same sides as Tom- each dinner was $4.69 (total bill was $14.41 with drinks) and the food was pretty good. Returning back to the campground we were in a waiting period so we just chilled out. About 2pm the glass man came by and asked if we could move over to his bay to have our windshield resealed.
We were in this bay until 3:15pm and returned to our campsite with the windshield repair done. Now we wait to hear from the mechanical tech, the techs that will be dealing with a floor problem on a side and a tech to deal with the propane tank sensor that is not measuring. It doesn't look like we will be moving as early if at all tomorrow.
We decided to go to Tupelo today. There really is not too much in Tupelo, except for the Elvis birthplace that we visited in January, that is unlike any other town. We went to a shopping mall about 11am and only a few stores were open at that time- Barnes and Noble and Belk's. Gradually more stores opened and I believe by 12:30pm almost all were finally opened. We did a little shopping but more browsing about the stores. We made stops at Walmart and Sam's Club to replenish some food items and to get some greeting cards. We have learned that several members of the Traveling Americans are having health issues and wanted to send cards to them. We looked for a Mexican restaurant on the GPS. The first one on the GPS was not where it was to be or is no longer in business. So we moved on to the next one in a little town from Tupelo, Los Compadres Restaurant, and had a very nice meal. There were large clouds in the sky much of the day but storms did not brew up like yesterday.
Let me talk about some folks that we have met here in the Tiffin campground. We saw a South Dakota licensed motorhome with a name sign in the front window and the hometown was Westminster, Maryland. A few evenings later the occupants were sitting outside and we stopped to talk with them. They are Steve and Kate Spence and are now living the fulltime lifestyle after selling their home in Westminster.
Another interesting meeting was again on a walk about the campground. A woman and her granddaughter were pushing a stroller around with a little dog in the stroller. The woman said that the dog really enjoyed riding but was not allowed to walk as "other dogs walk around here and poop" and she didn't want her dog to "pick up parasites". We later noticed that there is a second dog and that the dogs are put outside in an enclosed pen with a rug covering the ground.
Such is life on the road- you find out what a small world we live in and what seems to our way of thinking to be strange behavior.
Today, Saturday, the Tiffin service center is closed so we were not bound by any schedules. So we have just took a walk this morning and then read. There is a new restaurant in Red Bay- 4th Street Grille and Steakhouse- that we tried this afternoon. Another restaurant was located at the same place this winter that we did not care for. This Grille and Steakhouse seems to be quite an improvement. We had thought about doing a couple of things that were some distance away but the early morning sunny skies were turning into skies with heavy dark clouds. So we just stayed at the campground and sure enough about 5pm the thunderstorms began. We did have a visitor this afternoon, Chris Wright (the young man that did the body work on the motorhome). He had told us when we left his place on Wednesday that he would stop around in a day or 2 to be sure his work looked alright with the rainy weather we were having while he was doing the work and since then. All is well and we are very pleased with the work.
After some rain last night there seems to be a clearing today with the sun shining once again. As we brought in the slide on the driver's side this morning in preparation for going into bay 47, the gasket that was needing to be replaced really became unfixed. So we told Jonathan, the tech, and he said he would replace it today instead of waiting until the slider floor was repaired.
Like yesterday Jonathan had to wait for supplies to be brought to him before getting started. He finished working on the steps after there was not any evidence of water in that area. A new tread was put on the bottom step. We had some molding that was loose and on inspection it was never attached properly so that was done. I made a comment about the workmanship from the factory to the techs and they responded that the factory deals in quantity and this area deals in quality. The factory puts out 13 motorhomes a day. I also reminded them that we didn't buy these RVs to spend time here but to travel. I must say that the Jonathan has been very thorough with his workmanship.
This afternoon the gasket on the slideout was replaced and then at 3:30pm we returned to the campground until Monday morning.
As scheduled we pulled into Bay 47 before 7am this morning so that the warranty work on our motorhome could begin. Our tech, Jonathan, looked over the punch list that we had assembled, ordered parts, waited for parts to be delivered and then began working. With the rain continuing the areas being addressed first are water related. The outside yellow lights above the windshield needed to be replaced as they had water in them and we were getting some drops of water inside on the dash.
The factory uses a sealant around these lights that dries out, the motion of the motorhome traveling causes the sealant to fail and then the leaks begin. In the repair facility that we are in a different sealant is used that handles the motorhome movement and supposedly will not fail as the other sealant. (One has to wonder why not use this on the initial construction in order to prevent needing to do this repair later on?)
A doorway leak in the stairwell has caused discoloration of the carpet on the sides of the stairwell, in fact, we have had mushrooms growing out of this carpeted area. The carpet has been torn away from the walls and the wood is being replaced from the step and on the sidewalls.
New carpet on the stairwell walls was installed also.
The gasket around the slide on the driver’s side was inspected and is need of being replaced and the floor needs to be replaced due to water damage.
The slide will need to be taken out in order to do that repair. These repairs will be done later as we will need to go to another bay for this work.
At 3:30pm we left the bay for today and will be returning tomorrow.
It rained all night and continued this morning. We had an appointment this morning at 9am at Bay Diesel to have the motorhome serviced. This appointment Tom had set up after getting the Tiffin appointment set up before leaving home. So again we pulled in the slides and were on our way. Tom was there a little before 9 and they immediately directed him into a service bay to begin their work. About 10:15am the work was completed at Bay Diesel. So we were now returning to Chris Wright so he could buff his repair work.
Chris finished up his work a little past 1pm and we again returned back to Tiffin campground.
We did go out for some lunch. We had been told about a couple of restaurants in a neighboring town but as luck would be both places were closed so we ended up at a Sonic’s for hot dogs. In the early evening we got a call informing us that in the morning-6:45am- we were to go to bay 47 for our appointment. The rain has continued off and on all day. At one point the skies became real dark and threatening but only rain resulted, thankfully.
Sunday we got an early start and left Biloxi a little before 8am. We knew we would be traveling 370 plus miles to Red Bay, Alabama and the Tiffin motorhome factory. Our travels were mostly on 2 lane state routes in scenic wooded areas with a few small towns. We arrived at our destination about 3pm after a brief stop in Tuscaloosa for lunch at a Wendy’s. The Tiffin Campground looked pretty well filled when we arrived but there was still room for a few more. We checked in and got an assigned site where we set up. An appointment had been scheduled some time ago for Thursday the 12th. We had a yellow engine light to come on when we were on our way to Biloxi and after Tom had consulted with someone (Nathan) at Tiffin he was told that when we got to the factory to call Nathan and he would get to the problem.
On Monday morning Tom called Nathan and he was now told that when we are pulled into the bay for our scheduled appointment that the problem would be addressed at that time. Then Tom checked to see if by any chance we would be pulled into the service area before our scheduled appointment and was told we would not be going in on Monday for sure. So then Tom called Chris Wright, a young man that does body work on motorhomes, that Tom had contacted before we left home. In January when were here Tom backed into a pole at a propane dealer and we had some damage that needed to be fixed.
We had attempted to get this repaired at home but the weather became a factor and we didn’t get that done. Chris came to the campground, estimated the cost, and then had us follow him to his residence a few miles from the Tiffin campground to start the work. We were able to stay in the motorhome as he worked. We did leave about noon to get lunch at a local restaurant and make a stop at the grocery store. About 6pm we finally were able to return to the campground but Chris was not finished so we would be returning.
Today, Tuesday, we did return to Chris’ about noontime as he had a doctor’s appointment in the morning. Again after getting the motorhome in position for him to work on it we left to go for lunch. Chris worked all afternoon with applying fiberglass,sanding and then spray painting.
Towards evening the skies really darkened and then the rain began. And the watching paint dry began. Finally at 8pm we were free to return to the Tiffin Campground for the night.