Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sweet Potato Lasagna

We took our time this morning and left Greenville, SC around 11:00 am for the final leg of our trip to Concord, NC.  Once again, I-85 was heavy with truck traffic, but it moved along smoothly and it took us less than 2 hours to make the 110 mile trip.  Nothing much exciting to report about that except that our outside TV door came open just as we hit Charlotte, NC and their 6 lanes of traffic going one way.  I managed to find a shoulder and get off the highway enough for Gerry to go out and close the door.  It also happened as we left Tucson earlier this month.  Guess I will have to spend some time working on this problem.

We've stayed at a small Trailer/RV Park across the road from the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the past.  During the NASCAR race the park is full and it costs a bundle to stay here.  That is why we didn't mind arriving when we did, to avoid the high cost and the race fans.  We pulled into a spot we've had before and set up the MH for the next month.  That is, if they will let us stay here that long.  We shall see in the morning how it goes when we talk to the owner of the park.

Larry Jr. called as soon as we got here and invited us over for Sweet Potato Lasagna and we accepted his invitation.  I thought he was pulling our legs when he said what he was preparing.  Wrong!  He and Jane were working on the meal when we got there and we watched them prepare it.  I had my doubts, but it turned out to be very tasty and filling.  It was a nice evening and we ate out on their back porch.

Jane has a number of food allergies and they prepare a lot of plant source meals now.  They both say they feel much better and also healthier.  Now I am worried that Gerry will put me on the food regimen.  Not that I don't need to lose weight and eat healthier, but we shall see how it goes.

We had a nice welcome from Grant as we pulled in the driveway.  He was cleaning the front door windows and saw us pull up.  It was a surprise for him and he showed it.  He ran out, gave each of us a big hug and was excited to see us.  He has grown a lot since we last saw him in August of last year and is going to be a tall young man very soon.  We are going back over there on Friday to help him celebrate his birthday which was a few weeks ago, but they wanted us there to help celebrate the big event.

All in all, it turned out to be a real peach of a day.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Catch a Tiger

For some reason I woke up at 6:15 am this morning.  Now for a lot of you, that's no big deal.  But, for us it is.  I made some coffee and checked my email and computer stuff and prepared to hit the road.  

Yesterday we had trouble with our brake buddy and since we would be driving in mountains, I went out to see what the problem was.  It wouldn't fill up with air and seemed to be dead.  At first I thought it was the cigarette lighter that was bad, but I checked it out and it was fine.  So, it had to be the brake buddy and a fuse.  Not only that, but the end of the electrical plug had fallen off and was lying on the floor in the backseat.  Easy repair once I figured out what it was.

We really enjoyed the campground where we spent the night and would have loved to stay a few days longer and explore the area, but we had some social commitments to attend to in Charlotte, NC

I had mapped out a route over the mountains since it was the more direct shot at Atlanta where we had to catch I-85 north.  A local guy said it was good road for a car, but not so good for a motor home.  Right off the bat we would have a long climb on a 13% grade and then a couple more just like it.  Plus, it was narrow two lane road with no place to turn off.  Change of plans.

Marina at Campground

And then the road worsened.

It looked closer than the sign

A decision was made to avoid the bad roads and take a roundabout route that avoided the bad road and steep climbs.  We drove up to Chattanooga and then down I-75 south toward Atlanta, GA.  Did I tell you that I-75 is a heavily travelled road by trucks?   Well, it is.  We were almost in a convoy all the way down to Atlanta and the cars were playing dodge 'em in and out of the traffic.  What a re-introduction to traffic on the east coast!

We hit Atlanta just before rush hour, but traffic was very heavy and congested.  It did move fairly well and we sort of cruised through the area and finally left most of it behind.

 If you are a computer Geek, then you've heard of Tiger Direct.  They have a large outlet store east of Atlanta and I decided to stop and check it out.  It wasn't as large as I thought and would compare it to a large CompUSA Store of old.  They did have a lot of nice toys there, but I didn't really see anything I wanted to buy, except for some odds and ends.

Then it was back on the road toward South Carolina where we stopped and fueled up at $3.34/gallon.  We took on 110 gallons and I'll let you do the math.  Ouch!  Of course the last time we filled the tank, we were west of Ft. Worth, TX.  I did take on about 25 gallons to make sure I didn't run out since starting diesel engines after you run out of fuel is a real pain.

We are in a so so campground south of Greenville, SC for the night and then on into Concord, NC in the morning.  It's been a long haul since we left Tucson almost a month ago and we are looking forward to relaxing in NC for 3-4 weeks.

BTW:  We were in Alabama, Tennessee,  Georgia, Tennessee, Georgia and finally South Carolina today.  Does that count as 6 states or only 4 for the trip?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jail Break from Red Bay

We had planned on leaving Camp Red Bay early this morning, but when we went out and did the pre-departure checklist we noticed some of the rubber molding didn't look right.  I notified the service department about the concern and about an hour or so later a technician arrived.  He assured us that it was fine, but agreed to put a patch in the area.  In reality it probably wasn't needed, but any help in sealing the slides is appreciated.

Randy Warner came by to tell us good bye and we had a nice chat with him.  They were waiting for service and weren't sure when they would get the call to come to bay XX.  While we were waiting for the tech to show up, they were moved to a bay, so we didn't get a chance to tell them goodbye.

Sharon & Don also were in a bay getting their repairs finished, so we didn't see them either before we drove out of the campground.  We will see them down the road in the future, so maybe a good bye isn't needed.

It was well after noon when we made the break from the campground and I had planned on taking on some fuel, but the service station nearby only had pumps on one side and it was narrow, so we just hooked up the car and were on our way.  Just as we were exiting town this tractor trailer drove by in the opposite direction taking mh chassises to the Tiffin factory.  Maybe one of them will be under your new 2014 Tiffin motorhome.

We had to drive through Huntsville, AL and drove by the space center and got some nice photos of the missiles on display there.  They also had a space shuttle and a SR-71 Blackbird on display.  We hope to return there and check out the place more thoroughly.  

Missile poised for launch

SR-71 Blackbird

Space Shuttle

Our first stop of the day was Scottsboro, AL to check out the unclaimed baggage store there.  Due to a lot of construction along the way and a few wrong turns we didn't get there until 4:15 and then had to find the place.  Gerry went in to scope it out to see if she wanted to spend any more time there, but decided there weren't any bargains to speak of and left a few minutes before 5.

Since it was so late, we decided to call it a day and get a campsite at the Jackson County Park campground.  Jackson County Park     They have a number of sites along the side of Lake Guntersville.  It is a beautiful spot and we have a nice view of the lake.  The lake is about 50 miles long and somewhat narrow.  It reminds me of some of the Finger Lakes in New York.

 They have a restaurant, marina, swimming area, boat ramps, large grassy fields and it is quite the place for a county park.  We both commented that we'd like to come back and spend a week or so camping at the park.  Especially, if we can get site 64 again since it is so huge and is an end site with a full hookup.  

We have a long drive on Wednesday and hope to make it to Concord, NC by the end of the day.  Gerry doesn't like to drive that far, so we may make it a two day trip.  For those of you who travel all the time out west, 390 miles isn't that far, but in Eastern US with all the traffic and two lane roads, it can be quite a haul.  Driving through Atlanta isn't my favorite place to drive either, but since we are coming in from the northwest, it won't be as bad.  We can skirt around the north side and avoid a lot of traffic.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day and New Friends

We had a quiet Memorial Day celebration and thought about those who have served the US and helped keep us free all these years.  Once again, thanks to all those who served over the years.

It was an early morning for us since we were saying goodbye to Steve & Pat, as they were leaving Red Bay and traveling to Chatanooga for a few days.  We enjoyed running the roads with them and hope to see them again somewhere along the way.

Steve & Pat
Have a safe journey out there on the road guys and enjoy your time in Kentucky in your volunteer position.

On our way back from saying our goodbyes, we stopped by and said hello to Randy & Pam Warner.  I've followed his blog on and off over the past few years and was surprised to find out they were camping 40 ft from us.  We visited for a while and then went back to our unit to do some needed tasks.

Sharon & Don are also fellow bloggers and are right up the street from us.  We've been trying to meet them for lunch or dinner for the past few days and finally made plans for dinner today.  Now, Red Bay doesn't have a lot of restaurants, it was a Monday and to top it off a holiday.  Everything in town was closed except for Jack's, a fast food place that is known for its chicken.

They came by at 5:30 and picked us up and off we went to Jack's.  As advertised, the chicken was good and we enjoyed the meal.  The company was great and we sat there and talked for about 2 1/2 hours.  Time went by really fast.  Another couple who were friends of Sharon & Don  arrived just as we were finishing our dinner.  They joined in the conversation and we found out they were from Maryland and he had been a DC policeman.  Small world

Don & Sharon
 Sharon is a driving instructor for a RV driving school and it sounds like she really knew her stuff.  She traveled in her 5th wheel after her husband passed away and has traveled extensively in her RVs.  She and Don both lost their spouses and then met each other on the road.  Became friends and married a few years after meeting each other.  Don is a retired Navy veteran and it was very appropriate that we had dinner with a veteran on Memorial Day.

We joked about the obligatory photo taken at a dinner table when RVers get together.  It seems like every blog has a number of these photos and get togethers revolve around food.

They spend a part of the winter in Benson, AZ and are about 25 miles from our campsite out there.  I'm sure we will get together this fall either in Benson or somewhere along the line.  Stay safe out there guys.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Roxy Theatre, Russellville, AL

Gerry checked the mass schedule for the nearest Catholic church in Russellville (28 miles away) and decided we should make it today for the service.  They had an English mass at 11am and a Spanish mass at 2pm, we left early for the English mass.  It was a nice and small church and was almost full by the time mass started.  

When we sat down, Gerry noticed Steve & Pat, a couple here in Red Bay for service.  We've talked to them before and we all went to the Coon Dog Cemetery and Rattlesnake Saloon Cave the other night.  After mass they joined us at a local Mexican restaurant called Pollo Lo Quillo for lunch.

The restaurant had a buffet and also order from the menu.  The three of them ordered from the menu and enjoyed their meals, while I had the buffet.  It was good, but not great.  The nice thing about the restaurant was that they also had a bakery connected to it.  We stopped and bought some great pasteries for dessert and also for breakfast in the morning.

We went geocaching and picked up two caches to add to our list.  These two took us to 1249 caches found and were neat caches.  One was very high on a metal pole and I really had to stretch to reach it.  This cache was next to the Roxy Theater.

The Roxy Theater was built in 1949 and has survived since then, but in different forms.  See below for it's story.

We picked up another cache and headed back to the motorhome to drop off the pasteries and complete a few tasks.  Then it was off to visit with Steve & Pat since they are heading for Chattanooga on Monday and then on to Nashville.  We had a nice visit and swapped some tall tales and then had to take a break for dinner.   I think we will see them somewhere else down the road.  Hope so.

Another blogger that I
 follow, Randy & Pam Warner are in the park and we hope to meet up with them before we leave.  In addition, Sharon & Don are still here and hopefully we can join them for dinner.  Every time we have gone by their MH, they have been gone.  

By the time most of you read this, it will be Memorial Day and we'd like to thank all those who served the country and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve our country.  We thank you all.

Good night all.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tiffin Motorhome Factory Tour - Red Bay, AL

NOTE:  We took the tour on Friday, but there was too much to blog about then, so I am preparing it for today. 

Tiffin Motorhome gives a factory tour every morning starting at 9:30 AM, Monday thru Friday.  We have been busy the last few weeks and were unable to make the tour, but since all the work is finished, we decided to take it today.

We arrived just in time and met Brenda & Floyd who were giving the tour today.  There were four others there waiting and we watched a film about Tiffin.  Originally, the factory had been a cotton mill and storage area, but was converted in 1972 to change over to motorhome production.  The current president of Tiffin was in charge of the cotton mill and also a building supply business.  He bought some chassis from a motorhome manufacturer who went out of business.  Five motorhomes were built the first year and production has grown since then, with the line producing 12 mhs a day now, with a capacity of 18.

 The old storage building has been converted to the woodworking section of Tiffin.  They make every cabinet and wood component from scratch in this area.  It looks like a mess, but they have modern planers, sanders, computers, etc. to make it a highly efficient part of the business.

Tiffin Cabinet Factory

 More woodworking and cabinet production areas.  Many of the workers didn't wear a mask, but they have them available and are encouraged to wear them.  I know I would have the best mask on if I worked in that area due to the dust.

Tiffin Cabinet Factory

Brenda, the tour leader, is a retired high school history teacher and really knew her stuff.  She kept up a line of chatter and moved the tour along very well.
Brenda, Tour Leader

 I was especially interested in checking the diesel motorhome chassis over since mine is closed up and not viewable.  It was really interesting to see the chassis up close and personal.

Diesel Motor Home Chassis

 These are water tanks for gas powered motorhomes waiting to be installed on the assembly line.  These tanks tend to be smaller than in the large diesel units.

Fresh Water Tanks for Gas Motorhome

Floyd is explaining what the different tanks are in a motorhome,  fresh water, gray waste water and black waste tanks.
Diesel Holding Tanks
Tiffins manufactures the majority of the pieces that go into the motorhomes right there in the plant.  They have a power glide diesel chassis that is made on site, all the cabinets, walls, floors, ceilings and many other components.  They import the windshields from Turkey, and use local suppliers for a few components.  In addition, they keep the dies needed to make parts for old motorhomes, so that is great for owners of these units.  Not all manufacturers do that and it's impossible to replace old parts for those types.

Side Wall Construction

Assembly Line

Assembly Line

It is estimated that there are over 2 miles of electrical wiring in a typical motorhome.  Tiffin has fashioned large boards with pegs to arrange the wires in the proper order and length.  Then it is wrapped to keep the wires together and placed in the proper place on the chassis.
Wire Harness step

Wiring board here is in the process of being set up for a motorhome, all neatly wrapped and ready to go.

Wire Harness area

Seal Coat application

1976 Allegro Bay

1976 Allegro Bay interior

Old Gas & Diesel Pumps
Tiffin motorhome employs over 1,500 employees in three different locations in the area.  The factory has from 700-800 employees, the service center over 500 and the paint shop a couple hundred.  Then they have office and support staff like truck drivers, motor home delivery people (40) and others.  To say they are a big deal to the city of Red Bay and the surrounding area would be an understatement.

Tiffin only assembles sold motorhomes and it takes about 2 months to order, build and deliver a motorhome in case you want to get one quickly.  

That was our morning, how was yours?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Gone to the Dogs and a Cave

Well, we got the motorhome out of hock today and settled our bill with Tiffin Service Center. It actually was less than what I expected for all the work they performed on the unit this week. They had the unit for over 12 hours and had up to 4 technicans working on it at the same time. Great service and we got out of there in 10 days. Since it is the Memorial Day weekend, we decided to stay put until Tuesday since we had a planned stop along the way to Charlotte and they aren't open this weekend.

We took a tour of the Tiffin Factory today, but I will include it in the posting for Saturday.

The people at the campground are very friendly and we have met a number of couples.  Pat & Steve along with two women campers that we just met today joined us in the afternoon's escapade.

The more interesting events today other than the tour were two trips into the countryside. The first was to the Coon Dog Cemetery. That's right, a Coon Dog cemetery where only coon dogs can be buried. At first I thought it was a joke, but it is real. Here is a good writeup on the cemetery.

In a small, grassy meadow, deep in the rich, thick wilderness of Freedom Hills, Key Underwood sadly buried his faithful coondog, Troop. They had hunted together for more than 15 years. They had been close friends.

The burial spot was a popular hunting camp where coon hunters from miles around gathered to plot their hunting strategies, tell tall tales, chew tobacco and compare coon hounds. Those comparisons usually began and ended with Troop...he was the best around.

Underwood knew there was no place in the world Troop loved more than that camp. It was only fitting, he decided, that Troop spend eternity there. On that dreary Labor Day of 1937, Underwood said good-bye to his legendary coonhound. He wrapped Troop in a cotton pick sack, buried him three feet down, and marked the grave with a rock from a nearby old chimney. On the rock, with a hammer and a screwdriver he had chiseled out Troop's name and the date. A special marker was erected in his memory.

Troop, who was half redbone coonhound and half birdsong, was known through out the region as the best. He was "cold nosed," meaning he could follow cold coon tracks until they grew fresh, and he never left the trail until he had treed the coon.

Out of one hunter's devotion to his faithfull coonhound was born the "Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard," which has became a popular tourist attraction and is the only cemetery of its kind in the world.

Other hunters started doing the same when their favorite coon dogs died. Today more than 185 coon dogs from all across the United States are buried in this spot in Northwest Alabama.

"When I buried Troop, I had no intention of establishing a coon dog cemetery," says Underwood. "I merely wanted to do something special for a special coon dog."

When columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson interviewed Underwood in 1985, he told her that a woman from California wrote him wanting to know why he didn't allow other kinds of dogs to be buried at the coon dog cemetery.

"You must not know much about coon hunters and their dogs, if you think we would contaminate this burial place with poodles and lap dogs," he responded.

Some of the burial ground's headstones are crafted of wood, some of sheet metal. Others are not unlike the stones found in a "normal" cemetery.

But, of course, the names of the deceased are different and so are the epitaphs.

For example, listed among the dead are Patches, Preacher, Smoky, Bean Blossom Bomma and Night Ranger. And etched along with these names are tributes such as, "A joy to hunt with" and "He wasn't the best, but he was the best I ever had."

Hunter's Famous Amos - a hound that was named Ralston Purina's Dog of the Year in 1984, is buried here as well as several World Champion coon dogs.

To qualify for burial in this unique cemetery, where more than 185 coon dogs have been laid to rest, it has been said that three requirements must be met:
  • The owner must claim their pet is an authentic coon dog.
  • A witness must declare the deceased is a coon dog.
  • A member of the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, Inc. must be allowed to view the    coonhound and declare it as such. “

Nearby is the Rattlesnake Cave Saloon and it's quite the place, also. They have camping there and tonight it was full of horse trailers and campers. There must have been 50-70 horses in corrals and the campground was full. We didn't come for the campground and caught the Saloon Taxi down the hill to the saloon.

The drive down the hill was very steep and everyone slid forward in their deluxe seats in the back of the pickup. We all had to provide proof of our age and have our hand stamped to prove we were of drinking age. The youngest person in our group was at least 65, so it was sort of funny to be carded. 

The saloon is in a cave and is quite interesting. They are only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday and don't start serving beer until 5pm. We arrived shortly after 5 and I was quite pleased to see they had Yuengling beer on tap. It was last September that I last saw it on tap. It was great. We had a nice meal and sat around chatting and listening to the music after dinner. After a while the other 4 were ready to leave, but Gerry and I stayed about an hour longer and listened to the music and watched the dancers. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves very much and we only left since it was getting too chilly to sit in the cave.

It's hard to see, but there was a small waterfall coming out of the cave in the area behind the pickup truck bed.

We returned to the motorhome and relaxed and watched a little tv before posting the blog tonight. If you are ever in this area, then take the detour to visit these two places.

That was our day, how was yours?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tiffin - Red Bay The Work is Finished

Gerry and I were told it would be Tuesday before we got into the bay for the final work order, so we were relaxing today and just taking it easy.  Then, the phone call came at 11:05am from the service department telling us to be at Bay 18 for the work.  WHAT!  We had to finish getting ready, and then bring in the slides, jacks, etc in order to get there by 12 noon.  We lepted into overdrive and got the show on the road.  We did have to wait for the washer to finish up but made it there on time.

I pulled the MH into the bay and waited for the technicians to come back from lunch.  The first thing they did was bring in the mirrors and back the MH out of the bay and then drive it about 8 inches from some scaffolding on the wall on the drivers side.  The scaffolding on the passenger side was on wheels and pushed next to that side.  

 They managed to drive it in there without scratching the side walls and started work on it immediately.  The guy I talked with said they may not finish it today and I would have to come back in the morning.  We lucked out and they worked overtime and finished up the job a little after 4pm.  That was a relief.

We have one more task to take care of on Friday morning and we will pay up and be ready to leave.  However, since we are over 600 miles from Charlotte, NC (our next stop), and it's Memorial Day weekend and race weekend in Charlotte, we will not leave here until Monday.  It would be very difficult to find a campsite this weekend since school is out and families will occupy all the campgrounds.  

We want to make a stop at a special place on the the way there and may wait until Tuesday morning to leave since they won't be open on the holiday.  Then it will be one night on the road and arrive in Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon.  Not sure where we will stay for the first few days, but will find a full hookup site for the next month.  

We decided to go back to Swamp John's for lunch since we heard they had a nice buffet.  They sure did, with catfish being one of the selections.  We both ordered catfish, baked potato, hush puppies and a salad for lunch.  It was very tasty and we enjoyed the meal.

I needed to make a bathroom visit and told Gerry to not flirt with any of the locals.  When I returned she was chatting with a guy in the corner of the section where we were sitting.  He was a retired auto worker form Cleveland, OH and returned to his home town after 41 years away.  He was quite a character and we wound up talking politics and how the UAW supported Obama.   We almost solved all the worlds problems, but we had to return to the service center to see if the MH work was finished.

The local city park was decorated with American flags and all the US State flags flying in the breeze.  It was a beautiful sight and we tried to get some good pictures, but trees and cars made it difficult.  Gerry managed to get a couple and the ones below give you an idea how beautiful the display was.

Red Bay city park

Red Bay city park
We got back to the service bay  in time and had to wait for a while for them to finish the work.  Of course Gerry went in the Tiffin store and picked up some goodies.  

A very nice couple who left California and are South Dakota residents are also staying in the campground over the weekend since they couldn't get a reservation on their way to Kentucky.  We hope to go out to dinner with them and maybe check out the Coon Dog Graveyard and the nearby Rattlesnake Saloon.  It sounds like a fun trip to a couple of interesting places.