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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Busy Work

OUCH!!! This picture give new meaning to "dry camping".  As provided by a fellow blogger, I could not resist the temptation to include in this post.  It is my understanding the poor fellow was trying to sell his motor home and demonstrate to a potential buyer that he could launch a boat with the coach. Well, the coach slide down a wet ramp and you can see the result.  He did not get the sale.   That would be an interesting call to the insurance agent.

Busy work for me today was "stuff" at the new Phaeton while in dry dock.  This included trying to get the satellite to work and failed.  I did manage to change plumbing connections at "entertainment center" for quick connection at water and flushing connections.    While this is a simple procedure, I take great pride in any task completed.  I even managed to reconnect the fire extinguisher the fine Fire Marshall required me to demonstrate during the mandatory inspection.  Hey, it is now secure.  I did grease the car hitch as installation will be a smooth task, since my Lady Denise wanted a 42 ft. coach in a 42 ft. garage.  But no complaints here.

I continued tasks by carefully installing a "bumper pad" on the post upon which I must touch the nose of the coach in order to install in the garage.  An old work towel and duct tape did very well.  I cannot see the portion which must touch the frame of the garage so I just pull forward until the coach stops.  Thus far no body damage.  I wonder if the owner of the garage would permit me to cut a hole in the overhead door for the hitch to extend out?  PROBABLY NOT.

I am ashamed of the exterior condition of the Phaeton.  The drive from Cave City and much rain caused much spatter on the coach.  Alas, no water connection at the garage.  I will give her a bath in front of our home prior to the next adventure.  I am sure my neighbors will appreciate the hosing of the coach in our street.  For you see, I cannot get the monster in our driveway.  Maybe they will help me.

Well another blog has been authored, much to the surprise of my many readers.  Our next planned voyage is to the Wrangler Campground at Land Between the Lakes (Barkley and Kentucky) to assist our friends in the maiden voyage of their new horse trailer with living accommodations.  I know, they are uninformed for they want us to assist in their training and breaking the first things on their trailer.  We do so much want to be of help.
Happy trails,

Barry, Denise, Bailey and Bella

Friday, February 25, 2011

Land Locked

We returned from our short adventure to Mammouth Cave area last weekend and managed to install the Phaeton back into the "barn".  I did have to meet the local constabulary, sheriff deputy for an inspection to make sure I did not steal the RV in Florida and manage to sneak into Kentucky.  Also, and most insulting, I had to meet the Kentucky Fire Marshall Rep. at the barn to inspect the Phaeton.  Now, I ask you how much risk can there be associated with a 2009 RV other than normal things that can cause a fire.  Well, $60 later and much talk he gave me a great sticker to install on the Phaeton, (not happening) and said have fun.  I had to drink two ciders while he was there just to keep from slapping him.  Oh well.  Must be the stimulus plan.

Anyhow, I hate it that our Phaeton is installed in the barn for the next two weeks.  I may have to pull it out and just camp there a night or two.  I do have to find the satellite problem for I do not want to pay for another tech visit. The last visit he had all working and when we arrived in Cave City the dreaded "no LNB voltage" signal occurred.  Go figure.  So, we have all working except the HD satellite and we continue to Rough It Smoothly.

We do have plans to help our friends on their Maiden Voyage of their new horse trailer, with accommodations.  We have reservations at the Wrangler Camp in the Land Between the Lakes for a good weekend of fun and horse back riding.  We like this brand of riding. They trailer the horses, wash them, muck the stalls, feed them and install the saddles. We just have to mount and ride.  My kind of horsey fun.

The new year of camping adventure is upon us and I am trembling with anticipation.  We plan a weekend trip to Keenland Racing for dry camping in the bus parking area.  Great, we can walk to the track, play the ponies, drink adult beverages then walk back to bus and start the BBQ.   Now that is my idea of camping.

We have opened a new, benevolent account at a local bank.  Since the price of diesel fuel has rocketed near $4.00 gallon, our new ministry is in need of donations.  The mobile ministry will see that any contributions are tax deductible with an appropriate receipt provided.  We will have numerous "cans" installed at truck stops and any service facility selling diesel fuel for your contributions.  You may visit this blog site to ask which particular charity you would like the ministry to service.  We only ask that you stay in touch with our blog and follow the progress of your contributions.  Thanks in advance for your support.  If I have offended anyone with this plan, let me know and we will spend your contribution as a fuel facility of your choosing.

That said, we will be traveling the hills and dales of this great country during 2011 and will continue to entertain (bore) you with our journey.  Please feel free to join our expeditions anytime during the year.

Happy trails,

Barry & Denise with Bailey and Bella

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tunnel Vision

Another great day in the Phaeton.  We continued our string of "Great Adventures" by visiting a portion of Mammoth Cave.  Well, when in Cave City you do cave things, right. 

Back to being about 10 year old again.  Now, Mother Denise helped this recovering, knee sore sort by picking the 2 mile, 480 steps up tour.  She was a bit worried about my mobility but a helping hand and encouragement made the difference.  Besides, who wants to be left behind in the dark in a cave of 392 miles.  NOT ME. 

A leisurely morning followed by a Mexican lunch and a cave tour.  Now, that is a good Sunday.  We can recommend you visit Mammouth Cave prior to school summer break to avoid the crowds. Our tour group was about 60 while the normal size is 120.  Dress warm for the cave is about 55 degrees all year.  We did have fun watching the young boys running around in awe of the massive cave while collecting some rock samples.  I would have joined them but this "10" year old could not keep up.

Now there are portions of the cave where it pays to be a bit short.  Denise had to duck more than I and we had fun at "fat man's missery" area.  We did have a short wait while we found some lard to help a fellow traveler through a very narrow portion of the cave.   Mission accomplished, we made our way through this narrow portion.  Unlike Mr. Houchen who died in the cave in the late 1800's.  I think his ghost continues some of the tours.

We plan to continue our tours of Mamouth Cave in coming trips.  We want to encourage all to tour the longest cave system in the world.  The down home feel of Cave City and the national park makes for a great trip.  See Jeff at the Cave City RV park for a great experience and try the local restaurants.  You might not mention my name to the park ranger for I did create a stir when I tried to steal his "Smokey Bear" hat. 

Happy trails,

Barry & Denise

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Corvetts and Cave Country

We could not resist the temptation to drag the Phaeton out of the barn after the departure of all the snow.  This respite from the frozen tundra may be short but we plan to take advantage.  We departed and arrived on Friday at the Cave Country RV Park for a much needed 3 day weekend. 
View Larger Map

Now, a diesel engine is new to us but we do know they need fuel on occassion.  We stoped at the Mortons Gap Pilot leaving Madisonville only to find all diesel pumps closed.  An attendant notified us they did not have diesel fuel.  Now, we had sufficient fuel to make Cave City but many long haul trucks were turning around  without fuel.  Now,  am I the only personn who would be astounded that a "truck stop" had no diesel fuel?  We rolled into Cave City in the dark, but rested and paid a visit to the adjoining Cracker Barrell.
Fuel will wait till Monday.

Today, Saturday,we ventured to Bowling Green for the required visit to Camping World and then on to the Corvette Museum.  Now I am not nor have I ever been a car guy.  The mystic of the Corvette followed me from childhood into the door of the museum.  I recall being about 12 yrs. old, cleaning Oakdale Pool and being in awe of the red corvette parked at our fence.  The image remains clear.  Two hot chicks sitting on the seat backs talking to the "older" life guards while we scrubbed the pool.  Well you know, the last laugh.  We rinsed the pool with a fire hose and some how the hose became wild and sprayed much water into the night sky only to fall across the Vet.  12 yr olds can get wild to. 

Touring the museum makes one realize the imagination and inginuity of the american engineer.  The designers fell in love with the concept and created a dream for most of us.  My most memorable Vet is the 1953, first year Vet.  The design was simple but a revolution was born.  I knew I would never be able to afford a Vet, but later at age 16 I almost talked by Grandfather Young into a 1966 Camaro.  I believe they were about $3,600, NEW.  I failed in that attempt.  My father indicated later that if I had succeeded O. A. Young would have made me return the car when he sombered up.  Probably best I failed.

So, take the time when near Bowling Green to step back in time and visit the Corvett Museum.  The only museum in the world created for one model of vehicle.  But I hope you do not need diesel fuel as you pass the Pilot at Mortons Gap.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The story continues........

While the prior article dealt with the beginning of the shakedown cruise for the Phaeton, the rest of the story must be told.  I will for the sake of my readers be more brief than our experience.
View of service facility from entrance.

Norris did show at our coach at 7 am as promised. We were directed to Bay 8 for the express bay and service.  However, our Phaeton had other ideas.  Upon closing the slides (4) and readying to move, the rear jacks would not retract.  Now you do not move at all when the jacks are deployed.  This is a safety precaution and much appreciated.  We endeavored upon the Tiffin techs and they responded, manually raising the rear jack, laying on the frozen ground and patiently relieving us of the faulty jack.  Upon moving the Bay 8 we encountered Robie Smith, the electrician looking for our major problem loss of electrical power.  After replacing the faulty driver side wiper arm, he could not determine our electrical problem as all was working at that moment. Hence, we moved back to our camp site for another night.  We did however, receive a call that afternoon from the Jack Shop and were instructed to stage at Bay 39 at 7am. the next morning for the jack repair.

We did as instructed, of course, and waited at Bay 39 at 7 am.  I parked the coach in the bay and Denise parked my auto behind the bay door. This proved to be a bad decision.  The jack was replaced at cost of $700. and then the tech backed into my Lexus.  Busted front bumper and all.  However, to Tiffin's credit they asked me to obtain an estimate and they would cover the costs.  What a company.  No argument in the matter.

Bay 41 was our next stop for the electrical problem, not as yet solved.  Now if you do not have motorhome experience, let me enlighten you.  If you do not have 12 volt or 110 volt you are dead in the water.  You are at a loss for lighting, heat or anything requiring electricity.  Not good at below freezing in Red Bay, AL.  While we waited in the customer lounge, "pets permitted", the tech searched our coach.  Once again all was working properly.  I visited the bay enlighting Robie about the symptoms encounted with the electrical supply.  Standing nearby was a bit older man also a tech at Tiffin.  The two techs began brainstorming the problem saying things like "remember that coach we had 2 weeks ago with the bad fuze connections", etc. Now this was refreshing.  The two techs were sincerely working to find the problem.  Fortunately Robie moved the ground cable to the battery pack and all power was lost.  YEAH!  The problem was that the cable was not crimped to the connections as required. Therefore, the intermitent short.  That was corrected and all power returned.  ONCE AGAIN, TIFFIN SAID NO CHARGE, IT WAS OUR MISTAKE AT TIME OF CONSTRUCTION.

We left Tiffin and Red Bay, AL the next day with the warm and fuzzy feeling about Tiffin and their employees.  I do not think you would get this treatment and access at Monoco, Fleetwood or Winnebago. All we had to pay was the campground fee of $20/day and we were on our way.  We survived the return to Madisonville  without any problems.

Now upon our return last evening after dark, have you ever tried to put a 42.5 ft coach with hitch and large mirrors into a 44 ft. garage?  That required removal of the tow hitch and folding of the mirrors against the coach sides to finally close the garage door. I told Lady Denise this would be a concern, but no the 42.5 ft coach was a must have.  I also must admit I love the Phaeton for the quality, comfort, looks and the great drive.  So what if I cannot walk around the coach in the garage.  I can slide under to the other side or open the bay door and loose all the heat.  Not a problem.

So, the new coach is in the "barn" during another snow storm.  We plan to take the Phaeton back to Tiffin at least once per year for a check up.  The quality of the work and the friendly staff makes all the difference. The legend of the Phaeton and Tiffin family live on.

Happy Trails,

Barry & Denise

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shakedown Cruise

We departed Lazy Days on Monday and began the first cruise in the Phaeton.  Having a late start we cruised and I mean cruised, to a campground at Madison, Fl. in the panhandle area.  A very quiet Jellystone campground normally busy in summer months.  But a good stop for tired and new owners.  We even managed to activate the satelite and get some TV time.  WOW.

View Larger Map
We proceded on Tuesday with plans to stop near or above Montgomery, AL.  Alas, trouble occurred near Clanton, AL.  During a downpour we lost the drive side wiper arm. I mean the arm broke in half and was flopping along side the coach.  Now a 8 ft. wide windshield does not do well with one wiper.  We limped into a truck stop and managed to stay the evening.  Not so bad except later we lost all power to the coach. I mean no battery, inverter etc.  Now that would not be so bad but no heat was a bummer.  Also, the next morning we could not bring in the two slides we deployed the prior evening.   Patience is not my best side.  But calling to the Tiffin Factotry, our coach manufacturer in Red Bayt, AL. was a great experience.  Jerry in the service department walked me through jumping the power supply and we managed to return slides and begin our side trip to Red Bay and the factory.  We had planned to visit here later but now is the time.
Red Bay is a town of about 3,000 located adjacent to the Mississippi boarder and typical of a small rural community.  We new we were in a rural area when lunch was a great buffet with a cost of only $7.50 and everyone treated us like we lived here.  The check in at the Tiffin Plant/campground was the same.  We were quickly introduced to Cowgirl who later asked us to look at her "tush".  This was interpreted to be the rear of the coach with the Zephyr mud flap.  We are planning to do the plant tour tomorrow morning and hopefully the coach will be in a service bay tomorrow.  The express bay is for those who show up without an appointment. We plan to meet Bob Tiffin if possible. He is available to all visitors and owns the company.  Where can you visit a manufacturing plant and meet the owner.  This is one of the reasons we purchased the Phaeton. 

I must mention the experience at the Piggly Wiggley.  While purchasing vittals, I visited the deli counter and ordered some luch meet.  While waiting I notice several employees working in the area.   A young woman waited on me and was dishing up food.  The other folks were working but all the while were laughing, singing, telling stories and greating customers by first name and jokes.  This so reminded me of a church kitchen with all the women working and laughing.  Therefore, I informed the group they would be my "Piggley Wiggly Church Kitchen" in the next blog article.  Now I ask you, where does everyone know you name, ask how you are doing, kid  you about your hair, nails, etc. and make you laugh at the same time.  Try that at Wal Mart.  It was heart warming to watch these ladies, happy in their work but warm to customers and with a smile on the faces.  This has been our experience with everyone at Red Bay. 

Tomorrow, Norris is to visit our coach about 6:30 AM.  I was told at check in that he is a real redneck with a chaw of tobacco in his cheek but the guy to get us in the service bays.  I will be awaiting this man with my dog and  a hot cup of coffee.  I was also told the area sounds like an airport about 7 AM with all the diesel engines starting and coaches making way to the service bays.

We will look forward to a learning experience here at Tiffin.  Keep tuned for further developments.

Happy Trails
Denise & Barry

Arrival of the Phaeton

Stationed in Tampa at Lazy Days RV waiting for new motorhome to be readied.  We are staying in the Phaeton adjacent to the Admiral.  As is normal with any RV there are things needing attention.  We surveyed the "ship" with Buddy the tech and found a few items.  Later, we discovered other items.  Lazy Days has not hesitated to repair or replace items, but this does take time.  After all, they sold 600 units in January and we are only one. 

We are more than happy with the Phaeton.  The motorhome is everything we anticipated and more.  We will be living in this home eventually.  As much as we loved the Admiral the Phaeton has it beat.  We are temporary members of the Crown Club based on recommendations of your salesperson Susan.   Susan is great.  She is more than attentive and helpful for us.  We are parked across the drive from John Oates who is buying a motorhome.  I did not gloat, but our home is much better than his.  Size does matter. Maybe the breakup was difficult.  We are located with multi-million $ motorhomes and it is good to be the little fish in the big pond.  The Crown Club takes great care of us. We have 3 meals a day and cocktails noon and evening.  The only bar I have frequented which costs a minimum of $200,000 to enter.  No one in the bar has spent less that $200,000.  No wonder they buy our drinks. 

This is moving up to the EAST SIDE.    As Mark Twain said, "Enjoy Life, you have plenty of time to be Dead."  This has become our motto.   We are not waiting for retirement, lottery or some lucky fluke.  We are enjoying the life and making the most of this time.  We are told an ice storm is anticipated for Madisonville in the next few days. We do not intend to be a victim of the ice again.  Destin or or lower Alabama is starting to look good.  We might even stay in the Tampa area.

Well, here we are on Sunday evening still in the new coach at Lazy Days.  The issues with the coach are diminishing daily.  We have the 4th television installed and working, a part of the storm is ordered and we hope the electrical issue is solved.  That could be a story in itself.  We have met many interesting people while here and many have commented on the beauty of the Phaeton.  We have yet to drive a mile but we hope to be underway Monday.  We continue to watch the weather forecast for home as it appears an ice and winter storm may be moving into the area.  We shall see.

Happy trails,

Barry & Denise