Saturday, July 30, 2022

Back in the groove

Piney Grove Campground, New Site, MS – July 28 through July 31, 2022

7-24 to 7-31-2022

After three days of mechanized chaos enduring the cacophony of air compressors thumping, compressed air hissing, rotary sanders imitating the sound of dentist drills, and polishing machines whirring away we have finally escaped to the quiet sounds of nature.

We spent those three days at Appalachian Foothills Service Center in Winfield, Alabama. Miss Mosey is now 10 years old and a general freshening up was her present. As part of her Spa Week she received new bedroom and bathroom windows, new slide toppers, new clearance lights, had a few scratches removed, front cap and rear cap and side rails repainted, grilles repainted, engine hatch repainted and the area around the bathroom window repainted. Finally the last vestiges of the “Red Bay Disaster” are gone and we can put all evidence of that disappointing experience behind us.

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We made a quick stop in Red Bay Alabama where Miss Mosey was built to pick up a few items at the Campground Parts Store. EJ found a new grille for the gas stove and I picked up a few miscellaneous spare to parts to have on hand.

  

 

New Stove Grille

Misc Parts from Red Bay Store

Our final stop for the day was Piney Grove Campground which is a Corp Of Engineers park arriving at about 2:30PM. EJ provided hand signals and directions to get me successfully backed into our site, #99.

Piney Grove Rec Area Sign

 

But when she plugged Miss Mosey into the 50 amp outlet the energy management system displayed an error code and wouldn’t connect to the park’s power.

This is definitely NOT good. It’s 93 degrees out and the “feels like” temp is 103. We NEED electricity! We fired up the generator to get the air conditioners going to keep Miss Mosey cool while we pondered the problem.

One option was to request a different site. But we liked this site. It had a path to the lake and a breeze coming off the water. Nope, don’t wanna move. Then EJ asked “what if we just hooked up to the 30 amp receptacle?”. That initiated a brain fart on my part wondering if we could utilize the 30 to 50 amp Y adapter.

The 30 to 50 amp Y adapter.is a device that takes two 30 amp inputs and combines them into a 50 amp output. It looks like this.

30 to 50 amp y adapter

For this to work, the correct leg of the 50 amp receptacle had to work and the 30 amp plug had to be functional. I just happened to have a 50 to 30 amp adapter which we plugged into the 50 amp receptacle and the other into the device shown above. Then we plugged the other 3 prong plug into the 30 amp receptacle on the pedestal and crossed our fingers. Wow! Nothing blew up! Next I used the multi-meter to test the 50  amp end of the adapter and by golly, everything checked out. We then plugged in Miss Mosey and the EMS said OK, I can handle this. We were back in business.

We went ahead and turned in a ticket at the front gate and they said someone would be out the next morning to check it out.

So Friday morning I woke up at 6:30AM for two reasons.First our furry co-traveler, Gabby, decided to let me know her food bowl was empty by dancing on my stomach (never a good idea when one must use the bathroom upon arising) and by batting at things on my nightstand and knocking them to the floor. The second reason was I wanted to be up early in case the park electrician was one of those folks that liked to get their work done before it got too hot and like to start the work day at 7AM.

Sure enough he showed up just about the time I started on my second coffee. Within 30 minutes he had discovered and repaired/replaced a bad 50 amp breaker, a loose connection and a missing ground wire.

Whew! Now we can hook up the proper way and keep the air conditioners running. Did I mention it is HOT? Now that the projects, schedules and minor hiccups have been handled it is finally time to slow down for a few days.

Our campsite, #99 (did I mention that already?) is on a finger of Big Springs Lake near the community of New Site, Alabama. While the lake is part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway, we cannot see the main channel from our location. So no barge and tug viewing for us.

So here it is Friday, July 29 and we are watching the sun sparkling off the ripples of the lake, the breeze gently caressing the cat-tails at the water’s edge and listening to the leaves rustling in the trees above us. Thankful for our health and good fortune, we are indeed, very blessed.

Site 99

Obligatory cat picture follows.

Gabby Upside Down

 

 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

What Happened to 2021?

FnEJ’s Hideaway – Branford, FL 1-30-2022

We kinda fell off the grid in 2021, surrounding ourselves with a few close friends, and basically operating under a veil of secrecy because we didn’t know what we were doing half the time. We kept saying we knew what we wanted to do and then we would do something different. But we knew one thing we had to do was to simplify no matter what torturous path it would take to get there.

After handling the dispersal of Dad Putnam’s estate, EJ and I vowed to each other that we would not put anyone else through a similar exercise in the event of our demise. So after wrapping up Dad’s affairs in 2020 (after almost three years in west Texas), we headed back to Orange Park, FL. to spend 2020 Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends which didn’t happen because the events were canceled due to covid fears.

But we did get to spend New Years in our motorhome, Miss Mosey, parked at a friend’s house on Seymore Point in NE Florida celebrating with like minded friends.

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After New Years we returned to where our townhome was (this is called foreshadowing) to begin eliminating the clutter we had accumulated in 43 years of being together. We call this the “purge”. It was disheartening to see how much stuff we had squirreled away and never used.

But first a sidetrack. We had discussed that since we didn’t really like to spend the 9 hottest months of the year in Florida, we only needed an address for legal purposes. We don’t really need a house to take care of as we are quite content to live in Miss Mosey. So we spent a major portion of this year looking at properties in Florida. As our realtor friend says “Buyers are Liars”. And we fit that description to a tee. We started of saying we wanted 10 acres at least, no neighbors and the ability to see the horizon. We ended up buying a quarter acre, surrounded by homes with about 70 feet of waterfront. And it was a jungle. We took it from this…

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To this…

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And as you can see it had a storage building. We changed the shed from this…

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To this…

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Not the Taj Mahal, but clean, dry, serviceable and air conditioned. It would do for a base camp.

While all this was going on, EJ had cataract surgery on both eyes which put her out of commission for about 3 months. In the mean time I continued to chip away at the property, repairing fences, battling vines and generally trying to keep the jungle at bay. In the meantime we continued trying to decide what to do with the property. Finally we decided this really wasn’t what we wanted and sold the property in September.

We continued to chip away at the “purge” without any real urgency when all of a sudden October was almost here and we had commitments to honor. EJ wanted to freshen her big rig driving skills so she found a class in Ocala, FL. After 2 full days of driving instruction, she was ready to hit the road.

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After the class we drove the motorhome to Kansas to meet up with Frank’s brother and sister to honor Dad’s request to have his ashes spread over Ivy Cemetery and the farm he grew up on, both close to Admire, Ks. He also asked that Mom’s ashes be spread with his in the cemetery.

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After that, EJ and I wandered around in Kansas and Oklahoma enjoying the vistas and quiet solitude while discussing the next steps in our future.

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And we had fun doing sightseeing too.

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Lest you think it was all fun and games, chores and projects still needed to get done. Our washing machine died and needed to be fixed. It took me a month to work up the courage to tackle that project. With the encouragement of an RVing friend we finally took the plunge and got it done.

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While all this is going on we still had to decide, stay on the road now, or head back and finish what we started. We received an invitation to take part in Thanksgiving with our extended family and longtime friends back in Bostwick, Fl. That was the “kick in the butt” we needed to get started on the next phase of our lives.

After the Thanksgiving holidays we contacted our realtor friend and arranged to put our townhome on the market. We now began to scramble to finish the purge. On December 3 the “For Sale” sign went up. The next day we had multiple offers.

In the midst of all this, we had something else percolating in the background. For the last year we had been looking for a “real” homebase, some place to park and protect Miss Mosey when we were in Florida. Of course it was during this frenzied “purging” time that a property which interested us came on the market. We drove down to Branford, Fl, looked at it and made an offer on the spot. Nine days later it was ours. Our own little 2 acre RV site out in the country.

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Back to reality, we had agreed to a December 30 closing date for the townhome and now panic really set in. We only had days to empty the house. Fortunately the buyers bank stepped in and delayed the closing to January 5th . Believe us, we needed every minute to finish up.

We camped out in Miss Mosey in front of the townhome while we finished the “purge”. This allowed us to get early starts on cleaning up and getting out.

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The house we worked so hard on fit our needs is now pretty much empty.

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For folks that are wondering what in the heck were we thinking, it’s like this. We loved our house and had we been able to move it somewhere else we would have. But the place we lived, Orange Park, was no longer the quaint country town it was when we moved here. We could see the signs that the population demographics were changing, the friendly people we used to do business with were disappearing and it was getting way too busy. Traffic, the constant noise, and the crowds all outweighed the convenience of the location. We wanted peacefulness along with a slower pace and Orange Park no longer offered that.

Now that most of our belongings have been sold, given away or donated, this is what the remaining 43 years of accumulation stuffed in a 10x10 storage locker looks like…

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And of course the year hasn’t gone by without some stray cats adopting us. (Warning! Multiple obligatory cat pics follow).

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If you have made it this far, there is another cat story, but it’s a sad one. Miss Maggie crossed over the Rainbow bridge this year (2021). She had been part of our merry little tribe since September of 2016. We adopted her from a shelter in Priest River, ID. She captured EJ’s heart as she was an elder kitty, considered to be unadoptable because of her age and health issues. But EJ and I decided to give her the best life she could have for the rest of her days. We really didn’t expect her to survive 6 months, but she surprised us and lived over 5 more years. She was the best lap kitty ever according to EJ.

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She is free of pain now and we loved her dearly.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Red Bay Disaster

Red Bay, Alabama - December 16 to 19, 2020

A long awaited visit to Red Bay was finally approaching. In November of 2019, while in Texas, we began making Red Bay appointments get some needed maintenance done on Miss Mosey, our 2012 Tiffin Phaeton. But then life happened and we ended up staying in Texas for most of the year. Fortunately, the Red Bay folks were very understanding and told us to call back after things were sorted out. So in early December 2020, I was making the trip solo while EJ stayed in Orange Park, FL. Sitting around for almost 2 weeks while people worked on her RV didn’t sound like fun to her.

Our experience with Red Bay vendors has always been excellent. Over the years we have done business with Trevor Nichols, Bay Diesel, Making Sawdust, MS RV Solutions and the Tiffin Service Center. Every one of those was a positive experience that I would repeat in a heartbeat.

Never having had a negative encounter with a Red Bay business and based on the recommendation of one of the above vendors, we took our beloved Miss Mosey to Banner RV Paint and Auto. I had researched Banner and found that while they were not the most popular paint shop, they had gotten several favorable reviews. I found no bad reviews for them.

I apologize for the lengthy blog, but I must tell the story of my disastrous experience at Banner RV Paint and Auto.

I arrived at Banner RV Paint and Auto just after noon on December 15 after having spent a day and a half at MS RV Solutions having new slides seals installed and the carpet replaced. Daniel and Carl are fun to work with and do top notch work.

I came a half day early thinking the owner of Banner RV Paint and Auto, Justin Allison, might want me to park inside the paint shop since rain was predicted that night and I figured he would want Miss Mosey nice and dry before he started to work on her. But, he said “No, I’ll just blow it off”. That set off a few warning flags in my mind, but he’s the “expert” I figured he knew what he was doing, and after all, he was recommended by someone whose opinion I respected. The second warning flag I got, was that I was the only customer there. All the other places I had been to were swamped, but this was the “slow” season for Red Bay.

The next morning, December 16, Wednesday, I pulled into the bay and yes, Miss Mosey was wet and muddy from having spent the night outside in the rain. He  said it would be better if I left during the day because if I stayed he would want to talk to me and get distracted from his work. Hmmm, none of the other vendors had that problem. The next red flag that went up was that he was alone. This was a one man operation..

To his credit, Justin did call around and found me a rental car. He even took me to McKinney’s in Red Bay to pick it up. Of course while he was doing this, no one was working on Miss Mosey.

So I killed several hours at the Mason Jar in Red Bay eating lunch, drinking coffee and surfing the ‘net on my tablet. I returned about 3:30pm since that was the time most of the Red Bay vendors quit for the day. Justin wasn’t around when I got there, but at least some progress had been made on Miss Mosey.

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Thursday I was up at 6am having spent the night in Miss Mosey inside the shop.. Made breakfast and got ready for the day as I assumed that Justin would start at 7am as all the other Red Bay vendors seemed to. Finally at 9am, I decided to drive by his house to see if he was going to work on Miss Mosey today. As I was driving down the road, I saw him in his pickup coming towards me. We stopped and he said he had been out getting supplies. OK, I’ll give him a pass for that.

So I disappear for the day at his request. When I come back around 3:30pm he is not there, again. He shows up about 5 saying he had to go pick up his boy. OK, Tuesday night, Wednesday night and now Thursday night and I’m not seeing a whole lot of progress. By now he realizes he has bitten off more than he can chew and brings in someone to help him. The helper is named Steve. Justin says they will have to work late to get me out on Friday. They quit at 7pm. Well at least the window frames got painted.

Now Justin is a nice guy and he will talk your ears off. Old timers in the area like to come by and schmooze with him for hours on end. I also found out his “real” business is running log trucks. Painting RVs is just a sideline. Wish I had know all this this ahead of time. By this time I’m in too deep as there are Miss Mosey parts scattered around the shop and out in back. I’m stuck. I keep hoping it will get better.

Now it’s Friday. Justin shows up at 7am to turn on the heat and disappears. About 9am he returns and say they can’t finish it today, but they will work late into the night to get me out on Saturday. Today the engine hatch, front cap, and side rails get painted. Steve gets to take me back to McKinney’s in Red Bay so I can return the rental car. They quit about 7pm, again.

On Saturday, things get started about 9am again. Now they are working on patching some screw holes around the bathroom window. About noon, Justin informs me that they are quitting at 2PM whether they are done or not. I offer to stay through Sunday, but he says “No, we’re done at 2pm.” “Oh, and because we are pressed for time we can’t use the slow drying clearcoat, which is better, we’ll have to use the fast drying stuff which is almost as good”. By this time I am getting pretty upset. I mentioned the engine hatch, which had been repainted, looked like Fido’s ass. He said don’t worry, he would buff that out. If he buffed it out, I couldn’t see any difference, it still looked like crap.

So at 2pm, Saturday, they wrapped it up and started pulling off tape and paper. I couldn’t get up on the roof at the time, but after seeing the mistakes that were evident from the ground I was madder than a pissed off hornet.

I drove off and stopped at the Downtown RV Park in Red Bay to investigate what was making the flapping noise coming from up on the roof. I pulled out my ladder and climbed up top to find more left over tape and paper. I also found this.

Over spray on the roof. Justin did not even attempt to fix this.

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And…

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Then I discovered that he only painted the front cap, and not the rear cap like I had asked him to do also. Of course that may have been a blessing since I won’t have to pay to have that fixed again too.

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Further inspection revealed that the paint job to repair the front cap was not the quality I would expect a professional to strive for. There were runs in several places. He had to have seen this and just hoped that maybe I wouldn’t notice.

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He did not remove the running lights. That means he painted over the caulk which is going to be a problem when I replace the ones that have moisture in them. When I remove the lights I will have to remove the caulk also meaning that may screw up the paint even further.

The engine hatch cover had stress cracks in it and Justin gave me the impression that he would do a fiberglass repair to eliminate the cracks. Turns out all he did was paint over the cracks with no repair what so ever. And the paint job looks like someone threw dirt on it as it was drying. There are bumps and dimples all over it. The white stuff is the reflection from the clouds.

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On the big air inlet above the engine hatch, there were a number of places where the paint had chipped away and the white primer was showing through. This was Justin’s repair…

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I had also asked him to repaint the louvers on the rear of the coach as they were looking a little tired and dull. It looks like all he did was get out the rattle can (spray can) and spray over what ever was already on the louvers. Dirt, warts and all. And you can even see a hint of red over spray on the black. Not sure how he accomplished that.

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And to wrap up the engine hatch, on the lower edge there was not enough clearcoat applied so the finish is dull.

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But, apparently it all got applied on the opposite side where we have more runs in the paint.

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The final area they worked on was the bathroom window. There were four screw holes that used to have snaps for a solar fabric window cover. We no longer use the window cover as we installed a window awning instead. But I wanted the snaps removed and the resulting holes repaired. I should have left the snaps and just let it quit bothering me. Instead we got a paint and fiberglass repair that appears to be the work of a 3 year old.

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The one thing I thought he did ok on was the window frames. But he even managed to screw that up. Yup, overspray on the freshly painted window frame.

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I must say as I was leaving after I told him how unhappy I was, he did offer me a free wax job if I ever came back. He also gave me an empty bottle of polishing compound and some rags and said I could just buff it all and it would be as good as new. I thought I was paying for it to look as good as new?

I hate to trash any business, but I hope this serves as a warning for anyone considering using Banner RV Paint and Auto in Golden, MS for any work on their beloved Tiffins. Don’t do it!

Obligatory cat photo follows. This little guy, I named him RB, adopted me while I was staying at the Downtown RV Park in Red Bay. Story was he was a mouser and was employed by a nearby business. He was starved for attention.

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