It was time for our annual trek to Red Bay, Alabama, home of our Tiffin Motorhome, named Tiffany after our precious tween dachshund (1982-2006). We had a few pressing things Bill wanted to get done and if the weather cooperated, we would go this winter in March, rather than May. We didn’t set any winter travel expectations – it depended on the weather. And it looked like the weather would cooperate. As with most full time RVers, we avoid snow and freezing weather. But we never thought we had to consider tornados in March!!! This post will be in three parts: 1) RV repairs/maintenance/remodeling; 2) Hiking in Tishomingo State Park; 3) Weather issues such as a tornado!
PART 1 – RV Repairs/Remodeling
This is our fourth year to visit Red Bay, home of Tiffin Motor Homes. (Click here for first post series in 2015, click here for 2016, click here for 2017.) Not everyone embraces the experience but we sure do. We love the 1950s style town, reminds us of Mayberry! Everyone is so kind and they do their best to provide excellent service, whether at the Tiffin Service Center (TSC), contract RV specialists, owners of the RV Parks or in town at a grocery store. We even feel at home at the Red Bay First Baptist Church!
We arrived here on Friday, March 2, 2018. It was 178 miles but took us nearly four hours since we stopped for gas and hit a lot of traffic going around Tuscaloosa. Our preliminary plan was to have all work done by March 9….(best laid plans, right?)
We didn’t expect the TSC to be busy and it wasn’t when we arrived. Since we were signed up for “Express Bay” we were told we only had a day wait. Express Bay is for work you want done by two technicians that takes three hours or less. Most pressing was to replace our #2 air conditioner and an issue with the jacks in the back of the RV. These two items were handled by Tuesday (looks like we are on track to finish everything up in a week). Bill went shopping in the TSC store on Monday so he could start DIY repairs/fixes. And then, in our RV park, being surrounded by Tiffany’s cousins, we had to check some out. That’s a mistake because then you see things you want to have done….
We’re committed to this full time RVing lifestyle a few more years. It seems every minute is so precious and time is flying by! One of Bill’s #1 nemesis is setting up our Direct TV satellite antenna, as pictured in our first picture above (and mentioned in our last post here if you missed it). Our in-montion satellite on top of Tiffany was wonderful. Just hit a button and it finds a signal. But then it just stopped working one day – like our #1 air conditioner in August. And like our Chassis batteries….Bill said Tiffany is eight years old and things are going to break or quit working. He does preventive maintenance to keep her purring, but things just happen! For the past few months, he has researched on RV forums and “interviewed” fellow RVers at campgrounds, trying to decide how we want to go. Long story short, and this was the last thing we wanted to do because of cost (runs between $1500-1800), was install a Winegard “Trav’ler” on our roof.There are several contractor specialists who in HIGH demand, so you want to get on their calendars. As soon as our mind was made up, we got on Nick Brewer’s calendar, March 9 after he got off work at 3:30. Phew, we just got in on time….
We really questioned the value of that much money for something
dumb like TV! We only watch it a few hours at most – but as Bill said, this is his home (man cave and you know how men need their TV) and he wants to be able to relax of an evening. We also made the huge decision to give up DirectTV. They were such a pain to deal with when it came to changing our “service” location for local stations – so we really couldn’t wait to go back to Dish, which we had for 8 years in our sticks n bricks home. Bottom line, we are now happy campers with our new satellite and with Dish – and our excellent service by Nick – who will be there (via his email) to help us if we have any problems….
Bill keeps pricing the value of Tiffany – one reason we chose the Phaeton model is because it is so popular and they do tend to hold their value better than many. With that said, he wants to keep it looking fresh and new (people still think it is new when they see his “shine”). The inside was beginning to look dated and the carpet was really pathetic looking….so after seeing new carpet in a neighbors motorhome and hearing they rave about the installer, Trevor Nichols (owner, Nichols Customs, 123 4th Ave SW, Red Bay, AL 35582) we decided it was time. This was put on our list after we saw inside a neighbor’s RV and how great the fresh new carpet looked. Again, we got on the schedule just in time, to be installed by Friday, March 9 (one week after we arrived and the date of our Trav’ler install). Trevor is a “can do” man!
Nothing goes according to plan. It took us hours of comparing carpet samples in Tiffany. We had to see how it was in the lighting in our bedroom, match our woodwork in the living areas as well as the leather seats and couch, not to mention all the fabrics. Finally, we picked it and called the carpet store to get it ordered in time to be there for Trevor. And wouldn’t you know it, that one (actually the entire company) went out of business! The new carpet business in Red Bay didn’t know it….It looked like we would just skip it but then Trevor recommended Adair Carpeting in Tupelo, Mississippi. Another customer was very happy with them. Although it was an hour trip – Trevor also said he would go pick it up at no extra cost – we were very pleased with the end product. We also had Trevor install a fitted mat when you first enter Tiffany. This job was completely done by Tuesday, March 13. Ok, so we didn’t get done by the 9th.
In the meantime, we also heard we could have our dining chairs recovered by the Tiffin interiors contractors (also on the list hyperlinked above): Lindsey & Winchester Draperies, 6815 State Line Road NE, Golden, MS 38847. This turned out to be a most pleasant experience. They were not too far from our campground and were just wonderful to work with. We picked out a fabric then took a sample with us to Adair. Their certified interior designer helped us pick out the carpet to match. If we were going to change the chairs, we had to change the valences, too. And whenever we could save some money, we did. Bill took down and apart the valences. We dropped them and the chairs off on Thursday morning. The valences were done by the afternoon, so we were able to cover our windows and our chairs were done early Friday morning. So we took our two “folding” dining chairs when we picked up the regular chairs. They were recovered within a few hours. Here are some “before” pictures. I really didn’t take good pics for “before” and “after” as none of this was really planned….until the last minute. Then we had to scramble to get everything to Lindey’s!
Here is the best before and after to show the valances:
From start to finish, we had the valances down recovered and put back up in one day and all four chairs took two days. They not only covered them, but rebuilt the cushions – and new wood on the valances!
Bill was the driving force behind the new carpet. He has a better eye for beauty – I’m pretty much a vanilla and plain Jane type of person! It was easy to get me on board with the chairs once that was happening. It took seven hours to tear out and re-install the new carpet and the entrance floor mat. We could have had a few other things done during that time frame, but decided this was enough for now. On my dream list, heat in the passenger seat with lumbar support. Bill may as well. Here’s some pictures of the carpet install:
While all this was happening, Bill’s mom was about to celebrate her 97th birthday. We were only six hours away by car. Initially, we planned to visit over the weekend of March 10, one week before her birthday. But Bill’s bother and his wife were out of town (we’d stay with them). We had dreamed we’d be in the Smokey mountains on her actual birthday. BUT, it worked out for us to drive up there and leave our Tiffany safely nestled in with many other motor homes for her actual birthday. We were so glad we were able to visit her and have an intimate birthday party. I love maps to put things into perspective! One day, we have to have time to stop by Cape Girardeau and Paducah. We hate driving these many miles and not stopping to smell the roses….
PART 2 – Hiking/Walking
Our stay in Red Bay extended from one week to 20 days! While we do enjoy our time there, we don’t want to make it a destination. BUT we sure made the best of our time there. So on our “time” off from carpet and fabric shopping, we either walked around town for five miles or went hiking!!! We discovered Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi our first time in Red Bay and loved it. For some reason, it seemed farther away then – we stayed in a different part of town – from our new location, it only was about 15-20 minutes away.
So we got in four GREAT hikes. It has it’s rocky challenges – but somehow we forgot our hiking poles each time. So we had to go slow and deliberate in many places. Each time, we went around seven miles or close to it. Here is a slide show of a few highlights from our first five mile hike there on Saturday, March 3:
Because it was a bit of a drive and we had a full agenda while here, on our “off” days, we walked around the town of Red Bay. It was a four mile round trip to walk to the Tiffin Service Center. We added another mile by walking around the town as well. We are committed to a healthy lifestyle.
Part 3 – The Weather
March started out like a lamb so Bill began to talk about going to the Smokey Mountains when we left here. We don’t want to forget our goal is for “Travel Adventures” and so far, this winter has been a bit lackluster in any “adventures.” We have only visited one new place this winter (Foscue)! Our goal is to be back in Virginia on March 29. We like to have some “margin” built into our travels for those “just in case” emergencies. We have had enough to know things happen. And so far, the weather and illnesses has eaten up some of our “margin.” It’s now getting down to the wire.
Who would have ever guessed there would be four Nor’easterners in March! Here we are in the deep south so that shouldn’t effect us, right? Long story short, one of our neighbors was from eastern Tennessee and knew we were stopping Chattanooga on the way to the Smokeys. He spoke to a friend who let him know, the weather there was horrific, we best cancel our plans. Bill didn’t give up, he said let’s wait it out….but then we were advised we were in for a storm, as in one with tornadoes! On March 19, instead of heading to Chattanooga, we were hunkered down in our Tiffany, waiting for the storms to pass….
We managed to get in a five mile walk before it was to hit. We needed another part at the store. Everyone was talking about the weather – it was due to hit Red Bay at 3:00 pm – the end of the work day is 3:30. Oh no, that would have been horrible – so everyone was praying it would be delayed – and it was until 5 pm. Everyone was home safe. Most of us stayed in our motorhomes. We brought the slides in to be “sturdier.” We began to monitor my weather app – while we cooked and ate dinner. The Tornado sirens went off twice. That is such an unnerving sound…
First it got pretty dark, lightening and thunder, then the rain and hail about the size of marbles began to punch off our roof and car. But it just didn’t look like it would hit us….We were ready to hop into our chairs and buckle in if we thought it would hit us. But we felt a calm within 30 minutes of the Tornado sirens. Then we say a rainbow – so I had to go outside to take pictures. The water really puddle up in our park but it didn’t look anything was damaged.
There was a sighting of a tornado in Red Bay but no damage. However, close by, one place we have shopped was at the Walmart in Russellville. Lots of Tiffin employees are from there. It was hit pretty badly. We were so happy there were no deaths reported.
So where are we going to go from here? Bill had to face reality, it was snowing in the Smokies. We quickly learned you don’t want to try and stay in any US Army Corps Campgrounds or State Parks in Alabama in mid to late March. It’s spring break! So we found a few vacancies in a Camping World Campground in Anniston-Oxford. What the heck, we’d give it a try….it was heading east.
Then God told Noah and his sons, “I hereby confirm my covenant with you and your descendants, and with all the animals that were on the boat with you—the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals—every living creature on earth. Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.”
Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.” Genesis 9:8-17