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  1. I just finished reading an article in the New York Times travel section.  Titled: To Reduce Travel Stress, Plan Less, the article by Geoffrey Morrison highlights the advantages of making travel decisions on the run, as you travel.  While it is based on travel by plane or automobile, stays in hotels or hostels, and meals in restaurants, many of the concepts are applicable to RV travel.  In fact, in our travels, this has been our normal mode of travel. 

    I know that some people have to have every RV park reserved for an entire trip.  Activities are planned before leaving home.  We seldom plan more than a destination and that is in general terms.  As we travel we make decisions on where to stay each evening based on our location and the possible places to stay that are ahead.  This usually happens about 3 or 4:00 p.m.  If we're looking for a rest area or Walmart, we start looking for possible places within our desired travel distance.  If it is an RV park that we want for the night, we'll call ahead to ensure a space is available. 

    Traveling this way allows us to consider things like traffic, weather and our endurance in each day's travel.  Traffic delay?  No problem, we will travel less distance that day and stay some place within range before sunset.  Bad weather ahead, we may stop and stay near our current location.  Even if the weather is unavoidable, I'd rather be parked than on the road during a dangerous storm.  If continuing to travel longer than usual will keep us ahead of a storm, we can stretch our travel for the day.  With no reservations, we can alter our travel to fit conditions without worry about having to be a certain place at a certain time.

    As we travel, we are always looking for places of interest.  Without a set schedule, we are able to spend a spontaneous moment or a day exploring a park, festival, visitors center or museum.  In Wyoming there are many roadside historical or cultural sites.  Each one is an opportunity to learn more about the state, it's history and people.  I mention specifically Wyoming because almost all of these sites we've seen are RV friendly, well marked large pull outs with easy exit and re-entry to the highway.  They make excellent lunch stops as well.  They are perfect for relaxed travel.

    In the spring of 2016, we made a stop in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  We imagined spending two nights and once assured of our arrival we reserved a site for two nights.  Once there we started exploring Hot Springs National Park.  After the first day, we added two more nights to our stay.  There were more things to see and do than we had anticipated.  We ended up reserving the full spa treatment at the Buckstaff Bathhouse, the one remaining original bathhouse in the park.  Louise and I both had the full treatment then went to The Pancake House for breakfast!  Well worth staying an extra day or two. 

    In 2004, we left Texas with plans to travel the Lewis and Clark Trail.  It was the 200th anniversary of their trip going westward.  We made our way north and east to Louisville, Kentucky traveling another of our favorite routes, the Natchez Trace.  At one of our stops we happened on the grave marker for Meriwether Lewis.  We hadn't planned on finding grave sites for Lewis or Clark but ended up making that part of the trip.  Anyway, that delayed our trip by a few hours, no problem, no reservations.  It turns Clark's grave was in a cemetery we passed frequently when we lived in the St. Louis, Missouri area. 

    We made that entire trip with few if any reservations.  Each day Louise read an entry from Lewis' journal so we would appreciate the travel challenges faced by the expedition.  We found many of the visitors centers and historic sites had RV parking and when necessary we could spend a night in a park to tour a museum.  The relaxed nature of our travel made the trip a delight, one of the highlights of our 18 years of RV travel.

    We did have one serious interruption in the trip.  Louise's mother's health had taken a turn for the worst.  Her doctor told her she could no longer drive.  This was the end of her stay in Lake Havasu, Arizona.  We left Missouri, spent three weeks helping sell many of her belongings, and drove her to Arvada, Colorado where she would take up occupancy with her youngest daughter and her family.  Following that two week delay, we headed north to the nearest portion of the trail in Western South Dakota.  We spent several days in an RV park in Custer, SD then picked up Lewis and Clark in Pierre, SD.  On the return to the midwest we would visit several of the sites we had missed including The Sargent Floyd Monument in Sioux City, Iowa.  Sargent Floyd was the only casualty of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  His death is thought to be a result of a ruptured appendix. 

    We were able to take on the unplanned event without worrying about reservations or staying to a schedule.  Today we are at my daughter's home with no set date for departure and we are discussing where we will go as we head east to visit relatives.  We'll work it out as we go.

    Do we ever make reservations?  Yes!  Some events attract a crowd, some events are scheduled for only a certain time.  The FMCA Conventions are reservation events for us.  We attend a pre-rally before the convention and that also is a reservation situation.  In 2003, we attended the celebration of 100 years of flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  We had reservations in an RV park as soon as we had secured tickets for the event. 

    Many people made long range plans and reserved a location for viewing the total eclipse last year.  We chose to locate in northeast Colorado, near but not on the path of totality.  As day of the eclipse approached we changed our plans several times based on the weather forecast.  Two days before the eclipse we left our campsite in Colorado headed for Idaho.  The day before the eclipse we woke up in the parking lot of Little America on I-80 in western Wyoming.  The weather looked as good or better in Wyoming so we picked the general location where we would be for the eclipse.  On the way to Riverton, Wyoming Louise called the Wind River RV Park.  They had a cancellation, we got a site with full hook-ups for the eclipse.  It turned out perfect, we saw the complete eclipse. 

    Que sera sera, what will be will be. 

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  2. gramps
    Latest Entry

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    For anyone here who has suffered the loss of a furry friend. I know how you feel, all too well. 

    The Loss

     

     

  3. Riding in the Wilderness -Sonoita Arizona – ATV tour visiting the Empire Ranch
     
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    Martha and I decided to do an ATV Tour out of Sonoita, Arizona. We opted to take a cross country 4 hour tour which took us through the vast Empire Ranch. It was a lot a lot of fun. Our tour guides were Apache ATV Tours and their website can be found here: http://www.apacheatvtours.com/

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    The Empire Ranch is located on East Empire Ranch Road, three miles east of the intersection with State Highway 83 (between mile markers 39 and 40). It is 36 miles southeast of Tucson and 31 miles north of the Mexican border. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, the nomination included only the main building of original ranch headquarters which was 160 acres in Pima County Arizona.

    empire-ranch.jpg?w=595&h=428 The Empire Ranch House and facilities circa 1900 (Source Wikipedia)
     

    The Empire Ranch represents one of the most successful, long-lived, cattle ranching enterprises in the Southwest and has been in operation for over 140 years. The ranch is located in the ecologically rich Cienega Valley in Southeast Arizona, Ranch owners made full use of and, husbanded well, all of its natural resources – grass, water and soils – in support of their livestock business.

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    The landscape retains a remarkable degree of integrity both of its natural resources and its built structures and features. Those ecological and historic values were recently recognized by Congress when the landscape was designated as the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in 2000. Now administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the Empire Ranch landscape still functions as a working cattle ranch and its headquarters are being stabilized and preserved. (source Wikipedia)

    vaqueros.jpg?w=723 Vaquero’s mounted and ready work on the Empire Ranch (source Wikipedia)

    The Empire Ranch was originally established in the 1860’s as a homestead ranch of 160 acres with a flat topped four-room adobe ranch house and adjoining adobe-walled corral. In 1876 the ranch was owned by Edward Nye Fish, a Tucson businessman, when it was acquired for $2,000 by Walter L. Vail, a native of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and Plainfield, New Jersey, and Herbert Hislop, an Englishman. John Harvey, an Englishman from Bermuda, joined the partnership a few months later.

    ranch-and-cattle-pen.jpg?w=723 Circa 1890’s

    The economic and financial success of the Empire Ranch was dependent upon the ingenuity and determination of two ranching families – Walter L Vail and relatives and, later, Frank Boice and his descendants. Walter Vail expanded the original homestead through a series of strategic acquisitions of land parcels and water rights and effectively secured control of several hundred thousand acres to support over 40,000 head of cattle. Possession and control of these valuable lands and water sources allowed the Vail family to protect the ecological integrity of their most important natural resources – soil and grass – when other ranchers regularly overused and ultimately damaged theirs. Like other entrepreneurs of the time, they invested in other resources and land uses. The discovery of silver at the Total Wreck Mine provided additional financial support for the Vails’ cattle empire.

    This lead to the growth of the ranch to an eventually the ranch grew to 115,200 acres, or 180 Sections which made the ranch 180 sq. miles. Today it still remains large by any standard at 46,000 acres owned and operated by the BLM. It is open to recreational activities of all kinds.

    img_20190105_103357-20190105.jpg?w=723 Ready to depart on the tour
      00000img_00000_burst20190105112420308_co Scenery that just won’t dissapoint 00000img_00000_burst20190105112527986_co00000img_00000_burst20190105113123522_co

    Ranch resides amidst rolling grasslands at the transition between the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. The Valley is surrounded by the Santa Rita, Huachuca, Whetstone, Mustang and Empire Mountains. The Santa Rita’s are in the background.

    img_20190105_101321-20190105.jpg?w=723img_20190105_102248-20190105.jpg?w=723img_20190105_102612-20190105.jpg?w=723img_20190105_102727-20190105-1.jpg?w=723img_20190105_120907-20190105.jpg?w=723img_20190105_142731-20190105.jpg?w=723 That ain’t a cow! p1050222-20190105.jpg?w=723p1050228-20190105.jpg?w=723p1050242-20190105.jpg?w=723p1050245-20190105.jpg?w=723 Lunch break under giant, old cottonwoods p1050260-20190105.jpg?w=723p1050265-20190105.jpg?w=723p1050267-20190105.jpg?w=723 More, “not cows” Antelope
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    Going Underground in Bisbee Arizona

    bisby1.jpg?w=723 Bisbee – Circa 1916

    Bisbee was founded as a copper, gold, and silver mining town in 1880, and named in honor of Judge DeWitt Bisbee, one of the financial backers of the adjacent Copper Queen Mine. In 1929, the county seat was moved from Tombstone to Bisbee, where it remains.

    Greed was major motivator in town. As a result the Bisbee Deportation took place. The workers lived and worked in deplorable conditions and also small wages. Therefore the workers went on strike and as a result the deportation took place to prevent profit losses.

    The deportation was the the illegal kidnapping and deportation of about 1,300 striking mine workers, their supporters, and citizen bystanders by 2,000 members of a deputized posse, who arrested these people beginning on July 12, 1917. The action was orchestrated by Phelps Dodge, the major mining company in the area, which provided lists of workers and others who were to be arrested in Bisbee, Arizona, to the Cochise County sheriff, Harry C. Wheeler.

    These workers were arrested and held at a local baseball park before being loaded onto cattle cars and deported 200 miles (320 km) to Tres Hermanas in New Mexico. The 16-hour journey was through desert without food and with little water. Once unloaded, the deportees, most without money or transportation, were warned sternly against returning to Bisbee.

    bisby-deportation.jpg?w=723 Workers awaiting their cattle car deportation Source -Wikipedia bisby-deporation-1-1.jpg?w=723 Workers being held at the local ball park. Note the armed guards. Source – Wikipedia 20181220_131255-XL.jpg Copper Queen Mine

    Martha and I visited Bisbee and took a tour of the Copper Queen Mine, a hard rock mine in Bisbee that is played out and is now a tourist attraction.

    Outfitted in hard hat, miner’s headlamp, thousands of Bisbee visitors ride into the Queen Mine Tour each year—heading underground and back in time. Tour guides, retired Phelps Dodge employees, lead the groups 1,500 feet into the mine and recount mining days, techniques, dangers and drama. Adding a personal touch, the miner-turned-tour guides help visitors experience what it was like to work underground. Tours depart each day, seven days a week, from the Queen Mine Tour Building, located immediately south of Old Bisbee’s business district, off the U.S. 80 interchange.

    The town is an interesting place though we didn’t see as much of it as we wanted. Instead we did the mine tour and then went to a local micro-brewery.

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    After donning our safety equipment we were ushered onto the mine train. This is the original train that ferried workers underground and back to the surface. It’s very narrow and you sit facing forward while straddling a seat somewhat like sitting on a horse saddle.

    20181220_135815-XL.jpg   20181220_140413-XL.jpg20181220_140027-XL.jpg Tour Guide and previous Phelps Dodge mine worker making sure everyone is ok with going underground. At this point we are about 1000″ into the mine tunnel. 20181220_140327-XL.jpg Getting ready to dis-embarked the train for a visit to a former work area 20181220_140410-XL.jpg The group making its way to a stop in the mine for a little orientation to the mining lifestyle 20181220_140529-XL.jpg Quartz deposits in the mine wall 20181220_140535-XL.jpg Typical work area within the mine. The bracing and scaffold in the background is typical of the type of reinforcement used inside the mine to shore up the weight above after blasting and clearing the tailing’s from the tunnel or openings  20181220_142950-XL.jpg Mine supervisors peddle cart. Supervisors used these to get around within the mine. This saved time. Miners would hide these to frustrate the supervisors. 20181220_143001-XL.jpg20181220_143735-XL.jpg Examples of hard rock drills used in the mine to drill blasting holes. The holes were then loaded with dynamite. 20181220_144002-XL.jpg After the holes were drilled they were loaded with dynamite with a blasting cap inserted and then a fuse which ran outside the drill hole. The fuses were cut to length depending on which holes had to be blown first. The center most holes were blown first to clear space for the rock debris to fall into and then the blasting continued (all in rapid succession from center to the outermost drilled holes). This allowed the debris to be cleared by mine workers without rock getting jammed up inside the diameter of the blast. 20181220_144414-XL.jpg20181220_145019-XL.jpg Mine shaft elevator. This was formed using the same shoring/scaffolding shown above, The elevators were used to ferry men and equipment to and from the surface. They also provided room for fresh air to come into the mine.

    Mining in Bisbee wasn’t limited to hard rock mining. It also included strip mining and where possible hydraulic mining.

    P1050215-XL.jpg This gigantic hole is the “Lavender Pit” The pit is an open pit mine that was mined by blasting through the rock and then using machinery to remove the tailing’s and bring them to the top for processing. P1050216-XL.jpg

    After the mining tours we made our way to the “Old Bisbee Brewery” This spot is a local’s favorite and turned out to have great beer.

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    I can recommend the mine tour and the Brewery. It was very interesting to learn the techniques used to extract the ores. The Copper Queen produced some the most pure copper ore ever found it averaged 25% in purity.

  4. Bosun

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    We had a big time camping at the Navy Station at Mayport, Fl.  Plenty of ships pass by our campsite, most often a dredge operating in the channel and car carriers.  A tour of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a navy ship were highlights of our stay.  A foggy start to an offshore fishing trip went well as we caught quite a number of fish.  If you qualify, a stay at this military campground should be considered.  The campground is well run, clean and close to the beach and St. John’s river entrance to Jacksonville, Fl.  We hope to get a chance to return soon.

    Our next adventure will be from our home in South Carolina to San Antonio, Texas to watch our granddaughter show her pigs at the Livestock show and Rodeo in February. 

    Stay tuned, 

    Patrick

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  5. smuch

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    smuch
    Latest Entry

    We went camping at El Mirage Dry Lake, it was windy. 

  6.  

    As we enter our sixth year of retirement and RV'ing it was time for a review of life.

    It is always good to look backwards in time to review how plans, goals and reality match up.  We continue to evolve in our RV lifestyle.  My advise to anyone just entering or planning on RV'ing is to be flexible and open to change.  Our original plans when we first began in 2013 have grown, evolved and today our lives look much different than our first plan.

    We began with a 13 year old motorhome because we had no idea if the vagabond life style would suit us.  We knew that Mexico would be part of our plan, but we were not sure we would love being in a third world country.  We had no plans to travel internationally, but we have now visited 19 countries.  The financial advantage of RV living for us was that it opened up possibilities we had never considered.  We can park the RV and suspend almost all our costs while we try different things in life.

    Life in Mexico is working great for us.  The financial savings each year finance our travels the rest of the year.  For us it is impossible to spend an American retirement while living in Mazatlan.  Each month we have "left over" money.

    After seeing how our first five years have gone it was time to up our commitment to RV'ing.  So we purchased a new-to-us diesel motorhome and a four wheel drive Honda CRV.  These vehicles should take us through the next many years until we hang up our traveling shoes. 

    I went back to what I had written 12 months ago to see how our plans have worked out.  We seem to be on track.

    Here's what I was thinking last year:

     

    Thursday, October 19, 2017

    Why Did We Change Motorhomes?

     
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    Our new-to-us Holiday Rambler Endeavor 40 PDT - 3 Slides
    330 HP Cummins Diesel with an Allison Transmission
    So the question to answer today is, "Why did we buy another motorhome?"  Was it "RV envy"?  Did we need a bigger motorhome?  Was the LaPalma giving us problems?  Was it just time for a change after owning the gasser for 6 years?  Was I tired of owning a sea foam green RV?  Was it because my brother-in-law bought a 40' diesel pusher?  Was it because I had done all the improvements that I could do to the LaPalma?

    There was no one answer to why I wanted to change.  I thought that it was time to own a big boy coach.  Here's how my thought process worked.
     
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    Our faithful old Monaco LaPalma 34 SBD
    It sold a couple days after we traded it in on the Endeavor.
    Six years ago we bought the Monaco LaPalma 34' SBD with two slides and a Ford V-10 gas engine.  It had 48,000 miles on it.  This year we passed 78,000 miles.  That's 5,000 mile per year during the time we owned it.  It was a great RV and we spent close to $16,000.00 repairing, improving and maintaining it during those 6 years. The depreciation on the motorhome during that time was another $16,000.00.

    Our cost of ownership was $32,000.00.  That comes down to $444.44 per month over those 6 years.

    Now 32 grand sounds like a lot of money but compared to owning the home on Raft Island it's a bargain.  My property taxes and insurance on that house were higher than my monthly cost of owning and maintaining an RV.

    The LaPalma was a starter RV for us.  We didn't know if our dreams of traveling and being vagabonds was really something we would like and want to do for many years.  As we start our fifth Winter we are nearing the midway point of our 10 year plan.  We still love our traveling lifestyle.

    A question I asked myself was, "Is the LaPalma going to last another 5-6 years and would we still be happy with it after 100,000 miles?  Was it time to start over with another low mileage motorhome?

    The new-to-us Endeavor has 28,400 miles on it and it should be our last RV up until we are too old to travel this way.  I didn't want to get down the road 2 or 3 years and be faced with the decision whether it was worth changing RV's for the last few years of our travels.  I don't want the RV dictating that it is time to retire from our planned 10 year goal.
     
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    The most important feature is my 'old man recliner'.

    So for me it was a long range plan to get an RV that would get us through those coming years.

    We loved owning the LaPalma.  It was a part of our successful plan.  Hopefully the Endeavor will take us into our 70's when it will be time to hang up our traveling shoes.

    Life is good

     Russ & Terri Ranger

    Travel since July 2013

    5 months - Winters in sunny Mazatlan, Mexico

    6 months - Wandering the USA in our Holiday Rambler Endeavor 40' PDT Motorhome

    1 month - International Travel -19 countries, so far

    http://grandbanksruss.blogspot.com

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    So this summer I got underway from my Tennessee home and headed to parts high and west. It gets pretty muggy and warm in Tennessee in the summer as you might know!! In preparation for this, I made sure my Good Sam card and towing service were up to date and checked the FMCA and good Sam, Pilot / Flyin J & Love’s cards were connected up to these accounts for fuel discounts. All armed, off I went on my 6200 mile sojourn.

     

    I drive a 1995 38 ft Beaver Emerald Marquis. I tow a 2016 GMC Canyon. The Beaver has a 365 HP Cat and likes diesel!! Here is what I found; All of the Love’s, Pilot/Flying J’s as well as most TA centers located on the interstates were charging up to $0.40 / gallon more that the surrounding areas! Additionally, they would often advertise a cash price of say $3.25 and a CC or Debit card price of $3.45!  or 6% more. (my Visa card charges the merchant 1.5%!) So not only are you gonna pay more than fueling stations located a bit off the freeway, but better carry large sums of greenbacks too!! So the fuel discounts are a come-on and gain you nothing.

     

    Here is what I did. In my journey this summer, I purchased fuel only once from a Loves, not a red-cent to the others. When I’d get to about a half of a tank or so, I’d take the interstate alternate route into a city or town. As soon as you are out of site of the freeway – viola – diesel prices ranged from $2.94 to $3.19 / gal!! the highest I paid for fuel was the $3.25 once. So this is way better that the fuel “discounts” they purport.  My savings for this trip were about $360.00!

     

    Other than that, and having to replace my generator starter during the trip, I had a great time.

     

    R/ DH

  7. It has been almost a year since we visited the Florida Keys.  We stayed at Bluewater RV resort in Saddlebunch key – about 14 miles to the north of Key West.  A truly epic vacation adventure.   Six weeks after we left, hurricane Irma hit.  We watched the updates from the park on Facebook as the hurricane moved in.  Then silence… I would check daily to see if there were any updates on the staff and the park we grew to love.  Finally, after what seemed forever, there were words and pictures.  My heart sank… The damage to the park and the Florida Keys was devastating.  No other way to describe it. 

    As we started planning our summer trip for ’18, the overwhelming destination vote was Bluewater Key… Checking on the park from time to time during the winter, I was amazed the staff had the facility up and running.  What better way to help the Keys recover than go down and spend some dollars.  On the trip down, the damage was still evident (especially on Big Pine Key), but we were all amazed at how far the recovery had come.

    Pulling in the park our hearts lifted – it was just how we remembered, even better.  I have to admit, I worried that going to the same spot it would somehow not live up to the expectation.  Thankfully, that was not the case.  Once again, we had a great time – different experiences and adventures all their own - connecting with some really good folks during our stay.

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    The entry door opens perpendicular to the body of the motorhome and can not bend back toward the motorhome. When the wind or breeze comes by, it moves the door back and forth. I am concerned the air will bend the hinges on the door. What can I use to keep any damage from the wind/breeze? The body of the motorhome is "smooth", nothing sticking out to attach a rod or bungee cord. How would I attach a rod to the body of the motorhome? Some kind of hook?

  8. So we live in 

    Southern Illinois, looking for that small out of the way camping spot, maybe just 4 to 5 hour trip get a way. June or July this summer. Quiet setting. Some where you have been that you would like to share?  Thanks, Mel & Dayna

  9. We figured out that this year was our 26th time presenting seminars at the FMCA national conventions. Back in 2004 we were there presenting seminars for Coach Connect, a company who installed WiFi in RV parks. After they went out of business we were invited back to FMCA on our own and Geeks on Tour was born in 2006. See this blog post for more history.

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    This year, the convention was held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, Georgia. Here was our seminar line up this year:

    1. Technology for Travelers
    2. Smartphones: What does this button do?
    3. Google Photos: What to do with all those photos?
    4. Smartphone Photography
    5. Create your online travelogue
    6. See descriptions of all our seminars on this web page.
    We got off to a bad start waking up at 6am to a freezing 29 degrees. We had always needed to be at our table by 7am on the first day to take registrations. We were there by 6:45 only to find the building wouldn't open till 8 ... grrrr, I mean brrrrr.
    We survived that and gave our first seminar to nearly 400 people. We had to squeeze our normal 90 minutes of material into a new 60 minute format ... I talked fast! But we got some great feedback.
    FMCA has always been limited to motorhomes, but they just recently opened up membership to trailers as well. I had a brilliant idea to convince my friend Alex, to join FMCA with her Casita trailer and come with us to the rally and help out at our table.
    To my surprise, she said yes! And, she was  great help. We stayed at her place near Gainesville the night before and then followed each other up the road to Perry the next day.
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    Alex with her Casita and our Roadtrek on the way to Perry.
     
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    Alex helping out at our table

     It was a very busy week, and lots of fun seeing old friends and making new ones. Sometimes it's both old and new! One woman attended several of our classes and she came up to me more than once saying, "How do I know you?" "You look SO familiar." We couldn't come up with anything, but on the last day, she gave it another try and asked, did you go to high school at Nova?
    OMG - Yes, I sure did. And so did she. Nancy was the captain of our drill team, the Titanaires, and I was co-captain - way back in 1970. Will wonders never cease? She now lives in Georgia and enjoys traveling by RV - and learning more about using her smartphone!

    FMCA makes it a small world!

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    So now it's spring 2017 and we're set to go on our 1st real trip in our new coach. 

    Our first tour, we set sights on heading north from our domicile in Southwest Louisiana, beginning in May 2017 to some key waypoints we've always wanted to see & visit. These include travels northward up through Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts before turning back southward through Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, the Virginias and Carolinas, through Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi before returning home to Louisiana. What starts out as a 4-month trip spanning close to 8,000 miles.

    And we're off.

    Fully loaded and stocked up for our trip with both the Garia and our Jeep Grand Cherokee in tow we head out by traveling slightly west to Houston, TX where we overnight for a couple of days (May 27-28) to visit and dine out with some family members and friends who live there, then we're off to Lewisville, TX, (on May 29th, and home of our Newmar Dealer, NIRVC to get a few minor warranty items done for 2 days) before setting our sights (Nav System) through Arkansas onward to Tennessee. Shortly thereafter we arrive on June 4th in Nashville where via the KOA we've docked at, we get out about visiting various Music City venues, take in the Grand Ole Opry (which for us was somewhat a disappointment) and of course, try some of Nashville's fine dining establishments. Departing on the 9th, we then moved onto Anchor Down, a beautiful terraced RV resort located on Douglas Lake not far from the local attractions of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg as well as the Smokie Moutain National Park where we spent the next 7-nights taking in the sights, exploring the Park and simply relaxing. We also met some new neighboring RV friends from N. Carolina and spent a day out on the Lake with them in a rented pontoon boat (there are marinas close by Anchor Down that rent boats, jet skis, and the likes for enjoying beautiful Douglas Lake and its Dam).

    The Kentucky Horse Farms

    It's now day 20 of our tour and we're off from Dandridge to Lexington, KY and we arrive at the Kentucky Horse Park (RV park). A somewhat "simple" RV park which principally serves to cater to the needs of folks participating in events there, we found it to be mostly grassy sites and a bit challenging to back our big rig into but we made it successfully and spent the next 2 days visiting both the Horse Park itself as well as many of the surrounding farms. A nice and simple stop for us.

    The Indy 500

    Next up on our schedule of stops was Indianapolis where we had set plans to visit the Indy 500 Race Park but due to what had become inclement weather conditions, we aborted (as we experienced severe heavy rain storms and high winds while traversing the roads to Indy and during the 2 days our our travel through Kentucky. We both agreeing that "getting out" in the weather that was forecasted for the present and oncoming days would not be the experience we wanted - agreeing the we'll be back in that part of the Country another day, another time and can return to Indy to see the park and possibly even take in a race or at least, some trials.

    Nappanee IN - Home of Newmar Corp.

    Having taken dealer delivery of our new Coach, we added Nappanee into our tour schedule in order to participate in their "factory tour" and arrived there on June 19th, now Day 24. We docked at Newmar's factory overfill lot as Camp Newmar was packed. The next day we signed up and took the tour which was interesting to say the least and somewhat amazing at how their production line works. As well, it might not have been foresight but we had developed a few issues that manifested themselves during the early phase of our trip and took being in Nappanee as an opportunity to have them addressed. (we actually had made a service appointment earlier on ahead of the start of our trip to include having our 1st house and chassis service performed). We ended up being in Nappanee for close to 3-days longer than we had planned but used the time (while Newmar was servicing our coach) to drive about and sight see the area known as the "Heritage Trail" which included visits to Elkhart, and the surrounding towns of Goshen, Shipshewana, Middlebury, Wakarusa and Bristol all the while driving through the Amish farming communities. This included a Jazz Concert event we attended on the streets of Elkhart which made for a wonderful Saturday afternoon outing.

    Rock & Roll

    Next up on our travel plans was a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Having previously made site reservations at a KOA nearby, our delay in Nappanee once again brought cause to abort the visit owning to other locations ahead where we could not alter other pre-existing reservations (no space available). This, Cleveland, became another one to be visited at a later date.

    Why Jackson, Ohio of all places?

    During the early onset of our tour we had (by chance, i.e. Facebook) learned that a dear old friend of both Lydia whom we'd not seen in close to 25 years had recently relocated to Jackson (for a new job) and so having our schedule kind of messed up at those moments, altered our trip by turning SE through Columbus to Jackson where we ended up spending 4 enjoyable days visiting with him and docked in a very small yet cozy state park. The visit was worth it as we had a great time just sitting outside the coach entertaining ourselves and our friend. Its' now day 37, July 1 and our plans have changed considerably. Niagara Falls has too fallen from our list and become another "future" venue for a later date but we're back on track with our earlier plans/reservations and heading to DC for the 4th of July.

    Cherry Hill Park 

    July 2nd, after "boon-docking overnight in a WalMart in Morgantown WV on the way, we arrive in College Park MD (close to DC) at Cherry Hill Park RV Resort. From here, we can easily get into DC to visit. We also get online and manage to scorer up some front row concert tickets for the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Canned Tuna and the Wood Brother at Wolf Park and outdoor amphitheater in Vienna VA which turned out to be a great show. The next few days we primarily spent visiting DC and included being on the National Mall during the 4th of July fireworks event as well as taking in the monuments by means of a pedicab night tour which was very memorable. We highly recommend the night tours as seeing them under their special lighting is quite amazing in comparison to daytime visits.

    Lydia has to Go!

    After spending 10 nights at Cherry Hill and having already had a previously scheduled Dr.'s appointment in Houston to which she had to maintain, Lydia boarded a flight to Houston from Baltimore and left us (me and our miniature Schnauzer "Nike") to our own devices for a few days. 

    Next Stop; Williamsburg VA.

    With Lydia gone, Nike and I load up and drive out, onward to Williamsburg VA. Plans being to visit the Colonial Villages (towns) of Williamsburg and Jamestown. Arriving, Nike and I find ourselves destined to fit into a very small, simple RV part that we were likely too large to fit into but managed after the staff moved a few vehicles to assist with my backing into the spot they had for us. The next two days I spent time exploring the area (some places with Nike and others while leaving him in the coach) and found it to be a charming place but somewhat less than expected likely due to the absence of Lydia. She would have drug me through countless small shops and likely the huge outlet malls they have there. Overall, it was fun but not what i personally had expected. In any case, Nike and I made the best of it without here for a few days, then once again, pulled up 'stakes" and headed southward.

    Hilton Head Island 

    Next up on our tour list was HHI where Nike I and I arrived on July 15th we were reunited with Lydia who flew into nearby Savannah, GA. Docked at the Hilton Head Harbor Marina and RV report (vs. the HHI Motor-Coach Resort further into town), we used it as a platform for visiting both HH and Savannah over the course of the next 12 days. I will state here though beautiful, the daily traffic into and off the Island was horrendous and we spent a lot of time just sitting on the roads, waiting for traffic to move on way or the other.

    We're about to start heading home. Day 61, we depart HHI for Lawrenceville, GA which was just a stopover on our way to Foley, AL at NIRVC's newest location north of Atlanta to get the coach washed & detailed. We spent 2 nights there and departed on July 28th to Foley.

    Bella Terra RV Resort

    Foley, Al is approx. 6 miles north of Orange Beach, Al and the beachfront of the Gulf of Mexico. Pulling into Bella Terra, we quickly knew it was going to be a relaxing stay and once checked in and dock at our site, we were met with a spacious lot facing it's man made lake and fountain. Here we stayed for another 12 nights to include enjoying the company of another pair of great friends (one of which being my former work colleague) who reside in Mobile.  Too much food and fun, the margaritas were great as too the omelets at brunch. 

    The Big Easy

    Next up and the final stop ahead of our return home was to be the New Orleans French Quarter and Warehouse district but once again, leave it to "mother nature" to forego such plans. As it so happened, we soon learned (while still in Foley) that NOLA was once again experiencing flooding due to some dense and heavy rains that had been ongoing for a few days. So, needless to say, we cancelled our planned stay there and returned home, 8,400 miles later on day 76 of our first tour.

    All In.

    We had a meaningful and memorable experience on our first tour in our new motor coach and such that we were convinced of "finding the roads that await us" will continue to bring forth new adventures, fun and excitement.

    Next Up.

    Newmar's International Rally - Sedalia MO to be followed by the Albuquerque Intl. Balloon Fiesta.

     

    Nashville KOA

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    During a stopover in Mocksville, NC for factory installation of Magne Shades

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    The Kentucky Horse Park - RV Park, Lexington.

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    Local Art in Elkhart as well as the surrounding towns on the Heritage Trail

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    Elkhart

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    A fine little boutique style diner.

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    Cherry Hill Park - College Park, Maryland

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    On the National Mall, Washington, DC July 4th 2017

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    Hot Tuna, belting it out at Wolf Park in Vienna, VA

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    Night Touring the Monuments via Non-Partisan Pedicab.

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    Gettysburg

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    Hilton Head Marina and RV Resort.

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    Bella Terra Motorcoach Resort, Foley, AL

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    As our RV aged and so did we, it got harder to hear each other as we traveled down the road. On this day’s end when we pulled in the engine was very loud.  Roger decided it was the manifold.  It was 4 o’clock on a Friday and we need a mechanic to access the problem.  

    We found Sauder’s  here in Sydney, Nebraska.  Chris Sauder, the owner’s son, came out and told us it was a blow gasket on the passenger side.  He could not get us in until Tuesday and then parts would need to be ordered.  

    Roger needed to get to Reno (1,100 miles) as his brother was dying.  Therefore, Roger went to Reno in the car and I stayed with the dog and cat to get the RV fixed.  

    On Monday Chris called for the vin. number and ordered parts, on Tuesday I was across the street at 8:30.  RV was tore down and ready to put back together  by 1:30. I spent the night behind the business plunged into their electric. 

    On Wednesday they ran into trouble do to a bolt being broken off.  The job was not completed until 4:30.  Both the shop and the machine donated time for part of the working on this bolt.

    During these 2 days Chris came often to the waiting room to bring me up to date on the job, offered me use of a car, and watch my dog while I walked next door for a sandwich.

    I can’t say enough good things about these people.  And if that wasn’t enough the place I stayed was Cabela’s campground at their corporate office.  They were so nice and ended up giving us 2 free nights.

    So if you are in the area these two business while treat you right.

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    jhofeditz
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    Has anyone had any experience with Mid Florida Diesel in Bartow Florida?

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    I own a 2013 Monaco Knight.  Sometimes the smart wheel works and sometimes it doesn't.  This is with all controls.  I will attempt to turn on the cruise control with no luck.  Same with the engine brake.  I will drive numerous miles and it will start working.  I have replaced the clock spring and smart wheel controller.  Anyone have the same problem.

     

    Thank you

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    wmsam@sccoast.net
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    With the possibility of the vote allowing other units into the Association along with the health insurance state lines being erased how would the members feel about looking at health care being included in the benefit options for all members?  The average age of our members will drop significantly allowing the possibility of a very large group with a younger age average.  So many younger RVer's  are self insured and work self employed, as I have, or for small companies that may not offer insurance.  Just a thought.

  10. eddy

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    eddyjtri
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    what are some 4wheels down braking by members over the years. pros and cons  thank you

  11. Diane and I have a saying that started after our grand boys came along. We used it on them (and they would use it back if necessary) if one of them or I (Diane has complaints but never whines about anything) mumbled and groused about something. “Whining is not attractive” Matters Of The Heart Blog Post

    20170809204510(1).jpg

  12. Service ?

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    Since retiring my wife and I decided we wanted to get out and see some of this amazing country -- so we decided we would consider RV'ing.

    I joined all the associations, read all about coaches: Manufacturers, Size of coach, Horsepower, equipment, reliability - even which Tow vehicle we would pull...... I did the research!    We visited dealers around the country, looked at coaches, test-drove a bunch and settled on a new American Coach - Eagle 45A. Our first venture into 'the freedom-of-the-road'.

    We paid the money took delivery and really enjoyed the first few weeks..... that was until I encountered the only aspect I hadn't researched..... service (or lack of)!   

    As with all vehicles of this complexity, there were some things that needed attention - many relatively minor and just needed adjusting - a couple very significant and making the Eagle unroadworthy .... specifically loose windshield that could be moved with simply pressure of the thumb and when using the windshield washer - the water came down inside the coach and ran down the back of the TV - due to the fact that the feeder-hoses had not been connected.

    So, I tried to get the items fixed.... wow, was I in for a surprise!

    My wife and I live South of Denver in Colorado.... we contacted the authorized service center closest to us.... they said it was a 4 week wait for service... so I booked the coach in... during the wait period they called me and said their bays were not big enough for a 45 ft !   I then spent 3 looking for alternative service centers... after communications with American Coach we were left with Lazydays in Loveland, CO....

    They quoted SIX weeks before they could book it in - no choice, right - so book it in I did.  I gave the rep on the phone a list of the work required, she told me it would take three weeks to do the work.... three weeks!   But, no choice, right? 

    When the appointed day arrived, i delivered the coach to Lazydays and went through the list of work with the service rep that booked in the coach.  I confirmed I would pick it up in 3 weeks - all was set, all was agreed, all was good..... not!

    After three weeks I contacted Lazydays to find out they had not, in their words, "completed as much of the work as they would have liked"..... Actually - to be accurate - they had completed exactly NONE of the work!  Not one item - Nothing!

    They invited me to take the coach, and book it back in when the parts arrived from American Coach.... They could not, or would not, give me a date when that might be.

    I explained that with a loose windshield and no ability to clean the windshield while driving, I didn't think the coach was roadworthy - they agreed but followed up with "nothing we can do, the manufacturer hasn't approved the warranty work and we don't have the parts!"

    So, a little frustrated with American Coach for being so unresponsive - I called A/C customer service..... Lazydays had not even contacted the manufacturer!

    The rep from A/C said she would call Lazydays to see if she could help... she did, they said they could get the windshield and washer fixed.... but it would take another week, seriously?

    So, the point of this post?

    Is this normal for this industry?

    Do you/we really put up with being lied to and intentionally mislead?

    Dont the manufacturers realize that their authorized repair centers reflect badly on them?           If I were asked by a friend if they should buy a motorhome, I would say "NO - not unless you want to be frustrated, lied to and wonder why you paid so much money for a vehicle you cant enjoy due to the appalling service provided!"

  13. StanH

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    has there been anyone towing an electric vehicle?

  14. BRAD K

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    ANY ADVICE REGARDING TIRE CHOICES FOR OUR ALLEGRO BUS, MICHELIN GOODYEAR AND TOYO ALL HAVE A GOOD TIRE BUT THE TOYO HAS THE BEST PRICE BY A LONG SHOT.  EVEN WITH THE MICHELIN FMCA DISCOUNT 8 ZXA2'S WERE OVER 6 GRAND. LEANING TOWARD TOYO'S. HAS ANYONE TRIED THEM?

  15. It's been awhile since our last post, a lot has happened.

    We left PA on 13SEP17, as planned. Our first stop was Twin Lakes RV center in Lagrange IN. Had a few minor things checked out and serviced. Then it was a short hop down the road to Dan's Hitch in Elkhart to have our Roadmaster Brakemaster installed on our 2016 Nissan Frontier. I bought it in Chandler at the convention and then learned about the M&G system. I would much rather have had it installed but Roadmaster was going to charge me $200 to ship and restock the Brakemaster so I figured since I had it, I would keep it. Had no idea it would take them 6 hours to put the thing on. They did a good job but the guy at the desk, Ryan, should not be dealing with the customers at all. SOB is rude and obnoxious. Would I use them again? Heck no.

    Then we did a night at Walmart in Gary IN and on to Des Moines, IA. I wanted to stop there because I am still being jerked around by Remco on the disconnect I bought for the truck. Went to a real good shop called Westside Mechanics owned by Bill Bryant. Great guy and a great tech. Really knows his stuff. Took a look at the disconnect and said the remedy is for them to build me a new drive shaft. Remco didn't want to hear that. The issue is still not fixed and I will elaborate on a future post.

    We then stopped at the Amana Colonies and met up with a fellow youtuber. After a few days it was on to Sioux Falls, SD for our residency. For those of you wondering about the title of this post, here is the reason for it. We go into Sioux Falls on Friday the 22nd and checked in to Yogi Bear's Jellystone campground. This place is like the Chuckie Cheese of campgrounds and just as expensive. We hooked up and settled in for the night. Got up Sat morning and did our usual morning ritual and took the dogs for their walk. On our way back to the coach Penny (the white one) lost control of her back legs and laid down. I was able to get her up on over to the grass while Sweetie Pie went and got the truck. We made a few calls and after describing her symptoms, was told the animal ER was the place to go. So we took her down to the ER and got her checked in. Long story short, she had a tumor on her heart that ruptured, filling her heart with blood. Doc could have drained it but it would have just filled up again. I could see she wasn't getting any better and was actually getting worse. The options were few and none really any good. Then reality set in and I realized I was about to have to say good bye to an old friend. We get very attached to our dogs and she was only 10. This came as a total shock. I could see she was laboring just to breath so I set down on the floor with her while the Doc did her thing. I've had to do this 3 times now and it never gets any easier. I always stay with them till the end because I don't want them with strangers at the end. I want to be the last person they see before they go. So, I said my goodbyes, told her what a good dog she was and told her I would see her again at the bridge. Did I cry? You bet I did, like a freakin' baby. My eyes are misty as I write this. So, now we still have Jack and he is just now settling in to being the only dog. Penny was 10 and Jack is 8. She was always there and now she's not. For a few days he would look for her. He'd go to the back of the truck expecting her to jump out. When I would walk him, he'd stop at the corn field and watch for her. We've always had 2 dogs and now it is like we are out of balance. We will get another dog but not sure when. When the time is right, the good Lord will show us which one he wants us to have. It's always been that way. Saying good bye is never easy.

    For those of you coming to SD for your residency, there are a few things Dakota Post neglected to tell us. We were told once we get there to make an apt with a certain employee and she would help us with what we needed. To be honest, she wasn't much help at all. When I went for my driver's license, I was asked if I wanted the word "Veteran" put on my license. What I wasn't told was that you need to have something that says you were Honorably discharged. Even though I was, even though I had my DD214 and even though I was 100% disabled (which I'm pretty sure you have to be Honorably discharged to get), I couldn't get it. I told the dude, no big deal. I don't really care if it says it or not. So, if you want "Veteran" on your license, you will have to prove you Have an Honorable discharge.

    Then it was on to DMV to get our tags. No problem on the truck but to get tags for the coach, we had to show the UVW (unladen vehicle weight). Nobody told us about that but since it was listed on our PA title (which we had because the coach was paid for in full), we thought we were good. Nope, they wouldn't accept it. When I asked why, I was told that "anybody could have put that on there". Not sure about SD but back in PA, we don't write up our own titles. That comes from an office know as the "DMV". I thought that was where I was, same office, different state. I have a real hard time trying to deal with that level of stupidity so I just quoted Arnold and said, "I'll be back".

    I called Thor to try and get something with the listed UVW on it. The first lady I talked to found it and was going to email it to me. Great. Never got the email. So I had to call in again and the next guy I talked to said he couldn't find anything on it. Pretty much just too lazy to dig very far. I called a third time and talked with a guy who not only found it but emailed me a screenshot of it. I went back to the DMV and showed them the screenshot and was surprised when they said, "Yeh, we can accept that". They wouldn't take it off of an official PA DMV title but they would take it off of an email somebody sent me. So, lesson #2, you will need something showing the UVW if you want to get tags for your coach.

    Now, for lesson #3. We could have rolled out of here then but since we want to get our gun permits, we have to be residents of the same county for 30 days. What DP neglected to tell us is that you can't apply until after the 30 days and it can take up to a week before you get it. Not sure why that is but after 30 days we wanted to roll south but now we have to wait another week. Being in South Dakota around Nov 1st is pushing it a little too close for us but we have no choice.

    This was a long one so for those of you that hung in here for it, I do apologize. I'll try to keep them shorter from now on. Stay tuned and stay sharp.Penny.thumb.JPG.e4a91d00b7c05d278833314821588fe6.JPG

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    Rfvbates@gmail.com
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    Looking for places to spend winter in Texas...Any ideas Please

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