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Southeast (Gulf Coast), Texas, United States

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Heading Home via Sherman, MS


On Friday morning, I got the final item fixed (the fuel leak), and took the Bus back to my campground site to get it ready for the trip back home to Victoria, TX. I cleaned the floors and carpets from the dust and dirt from both the campground and the shop, and I washed the rugs. To keep Patsy happy when I finally got home, I even did some dusting. I cleaned the tanks and filled with fresh water.

I then took a shower and put some clothes on to wash. As the clothes were washing, I layed down and watched TV................ a couple of hours later, I woke up!!! The pills that I was taking for my back pain from the pinched sciatic nerve were still making me drowsy even though I quit taking them on Thursday night. I was trying to get myself conditioned for the 800 mile drive back home.

I called Mark at Sherman RV in Sherman, MS, and he told me that he had a spot for me at the dealer with a 50amp power hookup. I finalized my bill with Tiffin, checked out of the campground, and drove the 50 or so miles to Sherman. It went well, but it was not as easy as I thought without Patsy in the co-pilot seat letting me know if traffic was clear..... especially when approaching angeled intersections, and helping me watch for road signs.

When I got to Sherman, Mark and Sue were working hard to find a place for everything that they took out of the U-haul truck in the motorhome. We decided to drive into Tupelo and have dinner. We ended up at the Cancun Restaurant, a mexican food restaurant that they had gone to with Connie and Manuel a few weeks earlier. It was pretty good. By the time we got back to the dealer, my back was killing me, so I took a muscle relaxer and a pain pill, and hit the sack. Here's our setup at Sherman. The rig in the middle is a used unit that they were working on:

Saturday morning, Mark and Sue used my CRV to take the U-haul truck back, while I slept off the effects of the pills. I watched Mark do a few things to his motorhome, like install the "Rod and Marsha" covers on his Fantastic Vents, and install mud dauber screens over his heater vents. The first of the next two photos shows Mark installing one of the covers, and the second shows him admiring the piece of tile flooring that Sue had uncovered while putting stuff away. She was doing a great job, since she had no help!!!

Sue was washing some clothes and making sure the washer/dryer was working OK. The dealer told Mark, just like they told me last year, to just dump the wash water in the ditch. I noticed that Mark was using the "Patent-Pending Esparza Low Life drain system"! Here's a picture, just for our buddy, Manuel:

While in Tupelo on Friday, we had purchased a 'printer server' to install in my Bus so that I could use the wireless router to send stuff to my printer without hard wiring! Mark attempted to install it, but he could not get it to work correctly, and we were short on time. I had decided to start me journey home on Saturday afternoon, and he was expecting his cousin to pick he and Sue up for a Gumbo supper........... I think it was being late for the Gumbo that put the most stress on Mark!! All's OK.......... we are meeting up again in December for the Christmas rally of the Gulf Coast RV Club (http://gulfcoastrvclub.org/).
I got on the road at about 2:00pm, and after being on the road for 7 hours, including a two hour nap in an interstate rest area on I-55 in Mississippi, I made it to the MS/LA border before shutting down for the night in a Walmart parking lot.
Sunday driving went well. I was off the pills for over 36 hours, and I made it the last 500 miles by 7:30pm when I arrived home. I even stopped at Papasito's in Houston for a well deserved shot of good mexican food........... after being out of Texas for 2 months.

My next post will be detailed pictures of the WIFI system in the Bus.

Repairs & Upgrades at Red Bay


On Monday, 03Nov, my appointment at Red Bay for warranty repairs began. I was assigned to Bay 13 with Sammy and Bryan, and I had to be there at 7:00am. When they raised the door, I was there with my list of about 25 items, some fairly big, some just nuisances, and a few upgrades. It turned out that Sammy and Bryan were the same technicians that our friends, Connie and Manuel Esparza had been assigned to about 4 weeks earlier. They did a real good job for me.

They got most of my warranty items completed, but on two items, the parts were not in stock. Those parts are set up to be shipped to me to either do myself or get done at Tiffin's expense at a local shop. While there, I also had some upgrades done.

First of all, Patsy was not satisfied with her stove vent because the air was filtered and then discharged into the interior of the motorhome. We had Sammy and Bryan put an outside vent on the Bus, and it turned out to be a very nice installation. Sammy is a very good technician and craftsman, and he won't do sloppy work. Here are close-up shots of the outside vent unpainted, then painted, and then a side shot of the Bus with the vent position........ right above Mark's head at the top:

Another upgrade was the addition of better venting of the DVD cabinet. Sammy added the same vent on the bottom of the cabinet as Tiffin is installing on the '09 models:

Another upgrade that I have been working on is getting easier internet capability in the Bus. So far, I either stole from whoever had an unsecured system, or drove to a local motel that had it and parked in the lot. On a very few occasions, we had decent WIFI in campgrounds.

I had read a lot of good stuff about Verizon Wireless, and have been monitoring a couple of people who have been testing it. Early in our trip, we met up with Mark and Sue Didelot at Tom Sawyer's Campground in West Memphis, AR, and he had already subscribed to Verizon. He had also bought a wireless router and had set up his RV to have wireless internet. With Mark's help, I ordered the same equipment, and had it shipped to the campground that we were headed to in Washington DC. When we arrived, the package was waiting, and I immediately called Mark, and he walked me through the setup to get WIFI set up in my Bus. It has been really nice. Now that I am home, I still need to finish up the installation by putting the router in a side compartment. For now, it has been laying on the dash!!

Mark had also purchased a cellular antenna for his new motorhome and had it installed during manufacturing. The antenna should boost the cell reception in some of the remote areas that we tend to find ourselves in. When I got to Red Bay, they had the same antenna in the camp store, and I bought one for the Bus. During a slow time, Sammy installed it on the roof of the Bus. Here's the result (antenna on the roof and cable coming into the DVD cabinet):

I didn't take many photos of the warranty work, but I did get a shot of the Bus back up in the air to get a fuel tank fitting leak repaired. It only took about 10 minutes, but it is impressive to me to see the 16 tons of Bus up in the air:

By Thursday morning, all of the work had been completed, except the above tightening of the fuel leak, which was scheduled for early Friday morning. So, I drove over to Sherman to check out how Mark and Sue Didelot were doing on picking up their brand new Phaeton motorhome. Mark and Sue had previously had a 5th wheel trailer, and managed to sell it the week before coming to Sherman. Since they are fulltiming, they had to unload everything in the trailer into a U-Haul truck and drive it to pick up the motorhome. When I got there, they weren't hard to find:

I had a good time visiting with Mark and Sue and watching their excitement looking over their new motorhome. I also had a nice visit with Karen, the saleslady that sold both Mark and us our rigs and and Benny, the Service Manager at Sherman RV. To see more of Mark and Sue's new rig, see their blog at:
Thursday night we met a cousin of Marks at a local catfish restaurant (all you can eat!!!), and had a nice night out. I then returned to Red Bay.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Camp "Red Bay"

After taking Patsy to Memphis to meet up with Deanne, I returned back to the Allegro campground in Red Bay, and spent my first night "on the runway". The campground was full with all of the snowbirds stopping on their way down South to get some work done. There were about 30 rigs parked on the runway waiting for a full hookup site.

On Wednesday morning, I went to the factory to find the Phaeton that my buddy, Mark didelot, is having built. Mark and Sue had been here, but needed to return to Lake Charles for some doctor's appointments. It was not at the factory, so I drove over the paint factory in Belmont, MS....... about 8 miles away. I found it at the end of the paint line, where they inspect it for flaws, and fix them. Since Mark has already posted a picture on his blog............ I will now add these!!

Later in the afternoon, I got the phone call from the campground office that they had a site for me, and I proceeded to put the slides in and raise the leveling jacks. The driver's side front jack did not come up. I had been having a small pain in my back for about a week, and after washing the bugs off the front of the Bus on Wednesday morning, my back hurt so much that I could not bend down to get on the ground to look at the jack. One of my neighbors did, and he could push it up, but we had no way to keep it up. I went to the office and told them to give the site to somebody else, which they did, but they also set up with the service people to come by first thing in the morning to see what they could do.

At about 8:00pm, Wednesday, I was laying in the Bus watching TV, and I started thinking about the last time that I had a back problem. It was about 7 or 8 years ago, and it was sciatic nerve problem, and on the second morning, I could not get out of bed!!! I started getting concerned that the next morning would be a repeat, and I am here alone. I looked for a hospital in the Red Bay area on the internet, and found one here in Red Bay. I got into the car, and drove myself to the emergency room. It was the fastest service I had ever seen in a hospital emergency room, and I was out of there in about 45 minutes. They doctor agreed that it was the sciatic nerve, and prescribed some muscle relaxers and pian pills. The next morning, and until now, it still hurts like hell, but I can get up!!!

I had a service appointment to get the annual service on the engine and chassis at a garage about 2 miles from the campground, so I was glad when the technicians showed up at 7:30am on Thursday to work on the jack. All they did was to push it up, and then put a self-tapping screw through the leg to hold it up. The leveling system is still inoperable, and I get a constant alram when the key is on, but I cna move it.

I was able to drive to the garage, but I had to listen to the "jacks down" warning alarm all the way. At the garage, they completed the annual service........... except for the engine oil & filter change and the chassis lubrication, which I did at home in Victoria. They changed fuel filters, cleaned the radiator, check for metal in the differential, and checked the 'ride-height'. They put the Bus up on a rack............ it was neat to see that much weight in the air!!

I drove back to the campground, and on the way, the office called to tell me that I had another site. I got #36, right in the middle of the campground. When I got back, I parked the unit, put the slides out, and dumped the tanks. The park is full.......... and there are constantly a lot of people on the runway.

On Friday morning, I drove over to the Belmont Paint factory to check on the progress of Mark's Phaeton. It had not arrived back from the final finish area of the production line yet, but I was able to take care of another issue for Mark with the tile people.

I spent the remainder of Friday resting my back, and working on my computer.