Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gary and Jo's!

We left Plantation in Alabama, and drove all the way to cousin Gary's. We had clear skies this day, but it had rained as hard at Gary's as it did in Alabama. They received eight inches of rain! We were afraid we were not going to be able to set Phaeton Place in his yard, but did get that accomplished. There were areas that were a little mushy and still little ponds of water, but we dodged most of that and were able to find a spot where we didn't sink in.

We spent three days here and we had a really enjoyable time. The first night we were there, Jo announced that she was having a pizza party for some cousins that were in town and many family members were invited. I thought that sounded like fun and I wasn't disappointed. Most of them live close by except for the one and they all were happy to see each other. Other relatives popped in and we got to visit with the extended family a bit. That is always fun.

The next day we all went down to Baton Rouge and to the Cabela's store. We all like going there and it was a lot of fun. Afterwards, we had lunch at the Quaker Steak and Lube, which is right next to the Cabela's store. Gary and Jo had never been to one, so we got to introduce them to it! On the way home we did some other shopping too.

Jo had a couple of commitments this week as it was a festival week for her church, so she baked a couple cakes. While she was busy with that, we hung around with Gary. One day, Jo took me to her crochet class at the Pride library and we had a blast there. There were some very interesting ladies crocheting some very beautiful work. Wish I was that talented. One lady, upon hearing I was from Goshen, Indiana, originally, was all excited. She has traced her family genealogy back to there and there are some Amish in her family. Imagine that. So we talked a bit.

Gary, Terry, and I made our annual pilgrimage to the farm ponds in search of Wally Gator. He didn't disappoint, although he was in a different pond that we had ever seen him in. Gary says he travels from one pond to the other, but they have never seen him when he was moving. . . he is already moved by the time they find out. He is an interesting animal. Gary drives the golf cart over to the pond and calls "Wally Gator!" He need only call once or twice and you can usually hear a splash. . . then here he comes. . . moving across the top of the water to where Gary is, cutting a wake and he moves. This day he came right up out of the water on the bank and patiently waited while Gary tossed him some chicken scraps. He looks to be about 7 feet long now. He is definitely a juvenile, but I certainly wouldn't want to tangle with him and neither would Gary. We stay in the golf cart and Gary stands back far enough to be able to jump in the cart and to safety.

Gary and Jo have added to their animal menagerie. They have eight chickens, including two roosters, a little goat, and a miniature burro named Duncan. He is quite the clown and when he "brays" it is loud. I watched him do it and he makes the sound from deep in his gut and his sides expand as he makes his noise. It is comical, but he was such a dear. We loved scratching his ears, and he loved it too.

Before long it was time to leave Gary and Jo's and head for Houston where Terry had a doctor's appointment scheduled for November 2. Hoping to catch up with cousin Jim as well.

Till next time. . .


Monday, October 26, 2015

Traveling from Florida to Louisiana

We left Brandon's on Friday, October 23, and drove to just east of Tallahassee. We spent the night in a little camp that was . . . adequate. We had to drive down a dirt road for about a quarter mile and we got the truck and the back of the motorhome, including the bicycles, covered in very fine dust. It was really just like talcum powder and we sure did hate to have that mess.

I took a little walk around looking at the different amenities. There were a few, they were old and not very well kept, but we were only spending the night, so no matter. But as I was walking back to our rig, I was looking down and spotted a snake. . .  A SNAKE! Oops. He was about four feet long and at first I thought it must be dead, because it was all stretched out and didn't move. But his head was up off the ground, so I guess that means he's alive, eh? The neighbor was out, so I walked over and told him. I knew the snake wasn't poisonous, and I don't want to kill them. . . I just don't want them near me. The guy came over and looked at it and told me it was an oak snake. I had never heard that, but when I looked it up, I found out he was right. This snake looked just like the picture. They get their name from the camouflage they have. They climb up oak trees and lay on the branches and are barely detectable. The neighbor did try grabbing its tail in an effort to toss it away from his camp, but he only succeeded in making it mad. He didn't try anything else because he didn't want to get bitten. He said even though they aren't poisonous, they can still bite (no fangs) and the wounds can easily get infected from the bacteria in the snake's mouth. So the snake slithered off and we all went back to our camps. Whew, what excitement!

The next day we drove across the panhandle and stopped at Summerdale, Alabama, at the Escapees Camp, Rainbow Plantation. This has always been a favorite stop of ours, but that ended with this stay. They have changed their policy on transient campers and they no longer honor a first in/first out plan which always guaranteed travelers could find a safe haven for the night. They are taking reservations now and the office staff does not really want to delve too far into the computer pages to find a 50 amp hookup. We were told there were none left, but I got on their site, which had just been updated and found several sites we would take. We finally scored a site we wanted and were able to stay for three days. There was a lot more that happened with this process I won't go into here, but suffice to say, I think we have stayed our last at Rainbow Plantation. I don't like staying in "trailer parks" where people are allowed to add decks and platforms and yard barns to a campsite. If people want to do that, why not just buy a place? We spent a day and a half looking at other campgrounds in the area and found several that will work for us and at about the same price.

While we were there, Hurricane Patricia hit the Pacific coast of Mexico and remnants of it blew through the gulf and over to the panhandle and the area where we were. We got about six inches of rain in a day and a half. We spent most of that time hunkered down in the motorhome with the girls. It rained so hard but we wanted to be ready to take the dogs out if there was a lull. It was a soggy mess, though.

We were ready to leave when the time came and headed out toward Louisiana and Gary and Jo's.

Till next time. . .


Friday, October 23, 2015

Florida Time!

We drove for three days, some longer days than normal for us, but we wanted to get to Florida and spend some time with Brandon. He had a couple days off while Megan was gone to a Plexus seminar, so we got to spend some rare time with him on a weekday. He wanted to attend an event on Saturday, so we got to babysit. That was soooo easy. They don't even have to sneak out of the house. They just tell Brynlee bye and that Grandma and Grandpa are staying with her while Daddy goes away for a bit and she's fine with that. I find that pretty remarkable for a two-year old!

I got to go to a swim lesson for Brynlee, but they wouldn't let me take pictures. She enjoyed the water and got to play with Megan in the pool. She's certainly not afraid of the water. I know Megan and Brandon want her to learn enough to save herself at this stage if she were to fall in the pool.

We had really good weather while we were there. It was sunny and temperatures were mild. But there was some wind for several days. No hurricanes or anything, but we went out to the beach one day to look at the surf and it was really wild. It was a little hard to even stand up. There were small craft warnings and, of course, no swimming or surfing. The waves were really big.

We camped at Wickham Park again. They have really made improvements in this park and we have come back to it after several years' hiatus. There were gypsies living in it years ago and they just took over the comfort stations and had derelict rigs and hardly ever followed the rules. It's been cleaned up a lot since then and we are enjoying camping there once again. The sites are so spacious it makes for a comfortable stay. This time they were in the process of putting up the Christmas lights and just about every night when we arrived back after dark, another section would be lit. They do that at night and then go around changing and adding bulbs. It's a lot easier to see them at night.

An extra special treat was seeing two eagles in the park. They were on light poles and were quite a ways from me, but I was able to snap a couple decent pix with my Sony. They were beautiful birds and I got to see one take off and soar around.

We babysat again for Brynlee while Brandon and Megan went out to eat. It was so much fun to be able to play with her and listen to her. She talks a lot and I was able to understand a lot of what she says, but not everything. But if I tell her I don't understand her, she doesn't get mad. She just goes on to something else. LOL

As usual, our time there ended way too soon and we found ourselves headed out of Florida toward cousin Gary and Jo's in Zachary, Louisiana.

Till next time. . .


Thursday, October 15, 2015

More Pix

I found a couple more pictures from our visit to Virginia.

Aenea is enrolled in dance class and she is such a special little angel. Here she is in her dance clothes.

One day we went with Aenea and Jocelyn and visited a couple orchards to get apples. We were able to snap a picture of us with Aenea.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kids, kids, and more kids!

It's hard to find time to blog when we are visiting the kids and grandkids in Charlottesville.

We are so busy with them during the day and then come evening, we tend to crash. Plus we do have the dogs as well, so they must be attended to and walked. I always try to spend time with them if we have left them alone for a bit. But they do very well and never get into anything. They are very patient with us and we love them dearly.

We spent the week taking in the grandkids routine. They each are in gymnastics and swimming classes and Aenea is also in a dance class. Both of them concentrate very hard and listen to the instructors. I had to laugh at Ronan's gymnastics class because he was about the only one listening intently to the teacher. The other kids were bouncing off the walls, doing what the teacher said NOT to do and running all over the room instead of listening. My grandkids are the best!

Aenea really likes her dance class. She didn't talk at all during her class, but she tried everything the
teacher taught her and when she got home, she was repeating things the teacher said and did little movements she had been taught. She is such a sweetie. I am thankful they are both such good listeners.

She is quite the artist. She loves to paint, so Jocelyn and Tom encourage her by keeping an easel up all the time. It sits in the kitchen and Aenea paints whenever she wants. She paints a lot. She is a creative little gal and I love to watch her intently concentrating on selected her next color.

Ronan likes to play on the PlayStation3. I think he and his friend Jack mostly play MineCraft. I never have found the interest in video games. I play some solitaire and sudoku. To each his own. While they are busy playing videogames, Pepper McPoodlepants is checking out the front yard. I think Jocelyn had gone out to the car and she is looking for her.

Terry and Tom worked on finishing up the door on Ronan's cabinet in his room. They have rearranged his room and added some storage items from IKEA. It looks very nice and there appears to be space for everything. 

Two nights they all came out to the motorhome and sat around the campfire. One night Ronan brought his friend Jack. I was surprised we didn't have mosquitoes. It was a bit nippy, though, and we all had to put on jackets. We had nice fires and had fun roasting marshmallows. These are special times for sure.

We even went to the park a couple times. There was one birthday party and the kids got to whack a pinata. Fortunately they had filled it mostly with little trinkets and not too much candy, so that was good.

We met two men at the campground who were touring the U.S. on motorcycles. They were from Germany and both spoke very good English. This was not their first trip here and they were enjoying the territory they were seeing this time.

I hate leaving the family, but it was time to move on to Florida. Since we had been broken down for 5 days, we had to drive straight to Brandon's, so we had one very long day of driving and two shorter ones. It wasn't bad, and I'm glad we had the extra time built into the schedule to do this.

Till next time. . .


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

On down the road. . .

Can't believe we finally made it out of Gallipolis, Ohio. That's not a bad stop, so if you are ever traveling up 35 through Ohio, the camp is located at the fairgrounds. It is $20 for full hookup. The sites technically are not pull through, but if there aren't many in camp, you can drive through the back site into yours. We were also able to keep our toad behind us the entire time. There are over 100 campsites and there were just six of us there. All are FHU sites. There is a bathhouse which would be acceptable if it were ever cleaned. There used to always be a dozen campers when we would stop here, but not anymore. They did say that when the Bob Evans festival starts next week, just down the road, that they will be busy.

Now a word about the Campground Manager. There is and there isn't. Depends on what you expect in a campground manager. One would think they would take your money and give you a site. In an ideal world, that's what happens. The last time we were here, there were no cars at the manager's run down trailer and nothing to indicate it was open. We left. I later emailed the fairgrounds and they were mortified that we and another camper who had pulled in left because no manager was on site and NO rigs were in the camp. He assured me they were open all year and he would look into it.

So "Edna" was there when we arrived. We paid for one night, then parked. If you read my Facebook you know that we experienced a breakdown and could not move for several days. Each time I went to renew, there was a sign on the door to pick a site and someone would come to collect. I know that person would not be "Edna" because she can't really get around very well. One time when I went to renew, a young man whom I had seen there before went up to the door with what looked to be some food and he knocked on the door. Edna yelled from inside, "Go away, leave me alone." The young man talked with her and she opened the door, invited me in and wrote me a receipt, very cordially.

So, if you are ever there, my advice is to park and try later to pay or wait for someone to come around. If she's there and accepting visitors, no problem. And she was always very nice, never nasty. I'm not sure what her story is, but she is dealing with what appears to be an invalid family member as well.

I am glad to report that we have finally left the camp there and Phaeton Place is up and running. Very well in fact. There is so much that conspired to keep us there and to get us running. Too much to talk about. But we did get a mobile mechanic out who checked all the wiring front to back. He tested the voltage and for grounds. Tightened stuff down, etc. When he got to the front, he found a bad end on the main cable running power from the back to the front. It was on the firewall. He removed the wire and put a new end on it and crimped it good. Still, she wouldn't start, so he recommended a tow. A bit tricky because the jacks were down. Terry continued to ponder the dilemma. We stayed the weekend and Monday morning he started calling Tiffin again and waiting on call backs. He spent time on the phone with Chris Morrow at Bay Diesel going over the fuse block with him. Finally in the afternoon a chassis tech called back. He confirmed what Terry now concluded. The main problem we had was with the bad connection on the main power source coming from the back and terminating on the firewall. That's fixed. The second item was a fuse missing from the fuse block. If there was never a fuse there, why did it need one now? Turns out in digging around in the area under the dash, Terry found "the" green 30 amp fuse about 12 inches away from where it was supposed to be plugged in. How does a fuse that requires pliers to pull out jump out of it's socket? Strange but true. We're thinking that with all the service we have had this summer, perhaps someone in checking the fuses didn't get it plugged back in completely and when Terry popped off the cover, it got caught "just right" and flipped out. So we didn't know that there had ever been one there when in reality it had been there all the time. Fuse was still good, put it back in and all is well.

Tiffin, in reviewing everything Terry told them, felt confident that the major problem was the connection on the firewall stud and then secondary to that, the fuse missing which controls all the ignition, etc.

So we took off this morning, altered our route to not run down Sandstone Mountain, my arch nemesis, a 5 mile 7% grade with two 90 degree curves. Instead we drove south down I-77 into Virginia. There are some grades there almost as steep as on 64, but there are breaks in them and the drive was very nice with no scary moments on the descents. We arrived at our campground about 12:30, set up and had lunch. We had a great drive, beautiful scenery and Phaeton Place had nary a hiccup on the drive. She performed like the champ she is and we believe all those problems we had are behind us.

Our campground has hills all around it and there are cattle and sheep grazing on the hillside. The weather was warm this afternoon and has now cooled down. Beautiful weather. The campground was less than 50% filled when we got here, but has nearly filled up now with rigs continuing to come in after dark.

Tomorrow we get into Charlottesville and get to spend a week with the kids and grandkids. Can't wait!

Whoo hoo!

Till next time. . .


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Beautiful day

Yes, it's a beautiful day here in southeastern Ohio. The rain has moved out taking the really cold temps with it. Today promises to be sunny and much warmer than the last two days. And . . . . here we sit. . .for the fourth day in a row.

Phaeton Place is sick. Over the past week, we have had three occurrences of temporarily losing power. . . I'm talking like 1/2 - 1 second in duration. While the engine and all systems are running, the dash module will flash, then go out, taking everything including the engine with it. Then the ABS light flashes on, then off, then everything comes back on including the engine. Always have to restart the radio. Gremlins for sure. It happens when she is running. The first time we were idling, about to pull out of the campsite in Warsaw. We drove on to New Castle, Indiana, with no other problems. But upon leaving NC and heading to Ohio, we had it happen twice on the road. . . always when we were running, but slowing, not out on the highway. When we pulled into our campsite in Gallipolis, Ohio, I turned her off as per usual and went in to register for one night. When we got back out, Terry turned the key and she was totally dead. . . . dead. . . dead. . . dead. Terry went out to the back and turned the battery disconnect on/off several times. We got her started back up and pulled into a campsite.

No idea what the problem is and as is always the case, once she's running again, no one is able to do much troubleshooting. If she's not acting up, there's nothing to check. But I'm thinking now that as we are poised to start the run through the West Virginia mountains, I am not ready to tackle the 7%, 5 mile downhill grade with two 90 degree turns with an engine that shuts off intermittently. Call me chicken. . . but that's the way it is.

The next morning we were getting ready to leave and she was up and running. We were checking the lights and when we got to the headlights, as I turned them on, everything including the engine shuts down completely. She would not restart. Me thinks. . . I am NOT supposed to go down that mountain. . . PERIOD! Terry starts troublshooting and calling Freightliner, Tiffin, etc., anyone who could offer help. He did all kinds of troubleshooting with techs on one end of the phone and him on the other trying to narrow down the problem. One thing we have discovered is that Tiffin (and all motorhome manufacturers) will re-route electronics from their original location on the chassis in order to accommodate what they want to accomplish. So Freightliner wonders why wires are here, there, or not here or not there when they think that is where they should be. We have had one diesel mechanic out here who has checked all the electronics and replaced a cable end on the firewall that was suspect. He has power through from the batteries to the ignition, but turning the ignition gets you nothing. However, using the auxiliary start button, we can start the engine. So the ignition switch is good. He has recommended a tow. Which we would do, but alas. . . the jacks are down. Can't tow with the jacks down and can't get them up without starting the engine. Oh, yeah, there is a manual way of lifting them, but unforunately, where we are, we are setting very low to the ground which would prohibit getting anything underneath to aid in raising the jacks.

So when the mechanic left, Terry starts working his magic again. Remember, he has talked with EVERYONE and tries to methodically sort through all the scenarios that could happen. He finally gets the engine to restart by plugging in an ignition fuse into the spot labeled as such. It works! Turning on the lights the engine stays lit! The problem????? There has NEVER IN TEN YEARS BEEN A FUSE IN THAT SPOT! Which means that Tiffin has rerouted the ignition system to be powered elsewhere. Will keeping a fuse in that location work? For how long? Will something else happen going down the road? We need answers. It does appear we will be able to get the jacks up. . . .keeping our fingers crossed. Probably still looking at a tow.

Yesterday we visited another heavy equipment dealer in Jackson, Ohio, who works on RV's. He was recommended by the mechanic who came out. So we went there even though they were supposed to be closed on Saturday. Turns out they were open and Terry had a nice chat with the service guy. He talked about the modifications that manufacturers do and that he did have a guy who was very good with the motorhomes. And he said, you won't have to get towed up here. His "homework" for Terry was to talk with Tiffin first thing on Monday and get as much info as he can on those modifications for the ignition system and then he will send his guy out to us to help. I must say that the two places we have worked with here have been very helpful, very nice, and very willing to do what they can to steer us in the right direction.

So. . . we sit. At least we have full hookups at this campground. . . for $20/night. Whoo hoo!. All coach systems are working, so I am doing laundry, crocheting, etc. May get out the sewing machine today. Tomorrow Terry will call Tiffin and try to get some help, then touch back with Osborne's if we need more help.

All our fall appointments are done. . . we are being delayed getting to the kids, but they will be there when we can roll. Bummer, but we are safe and working through this as we can.

On a positive note, we had some visitors in the field down below the campground last evening. . .

If you're in the area, stop in and we'll chat!

Till next time. . .