Our 2017 Travels Reviewed and What’s Ahead for 2018?


We are starting 2018 on the same route as we did in 2017! It’s “Trip One” to start our warm winter travels! Fredericksburg, Virginia to Dillon, SC to Jacksonville, Florida.

It’s that time of the year, so Happy New Year! We enjoy reading a snapshot of others’ year end blogs so hope others enjoy ours as well. And writing ours helps us keep our travels in perspective. We are still enjoying our lifestyle in spite of the challenges we’ve had this year. But that’s why it’s even more important to look back.

First, it helped us to look at what we wrote last year (click here if you missed it).WOW, our start this is is the same as last year. Once again, we started the New Year fleeing freezing cold temperatures in Virginia. We forgot how bad it was last year when we tried to close our slides to leave Fredericksburg. The slide toppers were frozen with a sheet of ice! This year, we had the slides pulled in for over two weeks to stay warm which we have never had to do before. The winter storm Benji arrived ahead of any other storms we’ve fled from in these four years of traveling. Continue Reading

Installing Slide Toppers – By Yourself (almost)


Cougar

October 11, 2014, Midland, Georgia

Bill realized the value of slide toppers when we had our Extra Lite 5th wheel. It seemed no matter where we “parked” it, the three slides were covered with leaves and/or other debris. He is a keen observer. He’d see what other people had on their RVs and what tools they used. One thing we quickly learned as new RV owners and avid travelers, you have to clean off your slide tops before you bring them in. Otherwise, you bring that debris into your RV and/or jam up the processes as they come in. We asked for an estimate to have them installed on our 5th wheel – the price was way too high. So Bill just bought a light-weight leaf blower someone else used as well as a 5′ lightweight ladder to climb up to blow the slide tops off before I brought them in. You’ll see the ladder he used to get up there in a later picture as he still uses it. Continue Reading

Making hard decisions….


TheTumbleLees

Our reward at the end of the day at check in.

After our two posts on “living the dream” (here and here if you missed them) we came to a crossroads! We want to share not only all the mountain tops, but the valleys we experience.  As we mentioned in our last post, we were heading to Wilmington, NC, the elusive Wilmington we should say.

One reason we want to visit, is to see if this could be our future home when we get off the road. But the elusive part is because we haven’t been able to find a place to stay in our motor home. We’ve actually been looking for at least three years – and it has just never been in our travel path. Granted, there is a KOA there, but Bill has a thing against KOA. It’s sad, one manager could spoil it for all others.  We never could strike a deal with the one near our daughter ($1,200/month is a bit too much to just “park”) when we said we will be here four to five months a year. The one in Wilmington wanted to charge us $800/month whereas the other RV parks, which are near or on the beach, only wanted to charge us $500/month. We do prefer the lower prices! Continue Reading

2017 Summer Travels: Maintenance at Red Bay to Disaster in Kentucky


Our route from Amity Campground, Lanett, Alabama on the Georgia border, to Red Bay, Alabama. Just about 250 miles, taking less than five hours drive time.

We are a bit behind because of our two recent Memorial Day posts (one I meant to post from 2015 and then the one from this year). Coupled with the fact we have been on the GO all summer! So let’s catch up and review our travels so far.

On May 12, we left Amity Campground on the border of Georgia and Alabama, then drove to Red Bay, Alabama, home of Tiffin Motor Homes for some DIY (do it yourself or rather “Do It Bill”) projects. We stayed there for a week. The drive there was about as perfect as it gets for us, but yet, we hated driving through the entire State of Alabama and not stopping to enjoy its beauty! We really don’t like to drive this far and miss this much.  This is our preferred maximum travel day. Continue Reading

2017 Summer Travels: Spartanburg, Cowpens and Generator Repair


Travel started in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Then to Dan Nicholas Park in North Carolina, to Cummins Atlantic, Spartanburg, South Carolina

Our trip from Dan Nichols County Park to our next stop was only 127 miles, about a two 1/2 hour drive for us since we also stopped for diesel fuel. We wanted to arrive early as our mission for this stop (Thursday, May 4, 2017) was for our generator be repaired.  We were headed to Freightliner in Gaffney, SC, but thankfully, my call ahead sent us down the road to Spartanburg.  They don’t seem to fix “broken” generators at Freightliner, only service them. What a miracle Atlantic Cummins, who does, was close by.

We traveled close to this area a few years ago. We spent a day with Bill’s cousin and her husband, who live near Charlotte, NC. We didn’t write a full blog post about our time there, but what a grand time they showed us by taking us to the Billy Graham museum and property.  Continue Reading

Tiffin Service Center, Red Bay, Alabama


My Map This Year

This map from RVillage of the campgrounds/resorts we have checked into so far, 2016. To see our travel map live to zero in on each location, click here.

We’ve looked forward to returning to the quaint little town of Red Bay, Alabama. It is the home of Tiffin Motor Homes, and claimed by Tammy Wynette.  It is on the border of Mississippi and close to Tennessee. We really enjoyed our time here last year.  If you missed our posts, click here.

This year, we only had a short list of things we needed repaired  at the Tiffin Service Center (TSC). We also had a list of things to buy from the Tiffin Parts Store (they sell to us at wholesale prices). Of course, we only had a few things to go over with Bay Diesel and A/C, Inc. concerning the engine, generator and how the RV steers and bottoms out when going over railroad tracks, on concrete roads and bridges. We hoped all this would only take a week or less. And how great, it only took three four days for all the service, but since it was the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend, we were more or less stuck in Red Bay an extra three days. And then the fourth day happened, more on that later. Continue Reading

Oh my my my….


We had planned on writing a fun and exciting blog about our safe and relatively uneventful trip from Virginia to Florida. Sort of like our blogging friend, Ingrid’s post. But, “oh my my my,” to quote our favorite detective, Lt. Joe Kenda!


It was just one of those journeys. We were fleeing the cold of Virginia, heading south to Florida to start our winter wanderings. Our destination was 858 miles (1380.82 kilometers), or a little over 13 hours if you drove the speed limit and made no stops. We decided to stop overnight at two campgrounds on the way. While we needed to get to Florida to help my mom, we were also in a hurry to get to warmer weather.


But we will not travel foolishly and we always hope take little time enjoy the journey. First stop was Florence, South Carolina, which is a tad farther than we prefer at about 337 miles (542.349 km). The second stop was in St. Mary’s, Georgia, approximately 263 miles (423.257 km) and our final leg to Avon Park, Florida at just over 260 miles (418.429 km). As most full-time RVers will say, we prefer to only go 150-250 miles a day. Periodically, we make an exception. And every morning, we do have prayer time and ask for travel mercies on our journey (along with a few other requests)! So here is how the trip went:

Monday, January 4 We are starting 2016 with our RV odometer at 24,633 and our car at 38,837. (As an aside, we bought both in May 2015. Both are used. The RV reading was 21,958 and our car was 23,000. So in seven months, it’s easy to see we’ve about gone 2,675 miles in the RV and 15,837 in the car, which included a trip to Illinois and back to Sebring without the RV.)

Remembering we only bought the RV seven months ago, not driving it or tearing it down six weeks meant we were a bit rusty.  Thankfully, on January 1, when we did drove it to a truck shop not to far away to figure out why one tire was going flat. It was a valve stem issue. They also checked the air pressure on all tires, inflating them evenly at 110 pounds and confirmed all looked fine. In fact, every time we have it in for service, we ask for opinions on them since they were five years old. We also decided to get weighed on the CAT scales. We actually weighed less than the original owner, who only used it for recreation. These scales don’t weigh each axle, so that is something we hope to do in the future at one of the rally’s where it is offered.

This “dry” run to the tire store helped our confidence on starting the journey and tearing down camp. Now we just had to remember how to hook the car up. Note: it was very cold at 34 degrees as we were hooking it up. We realized we were leaving just in time as it had been a mild winter up until this week and was to get down to 16 that night. We just had weather in the low 70s.

Long story short, while Bill was behind the RV, I had the car pulled into position to connect it. I was waiting for him to tell me to pull closer or back up a bit. But not realizing I was on a slight decline, I had gone ahead and put the car in neutral while in the passenger’s seat. Can you guess what happened next? The car began to roll into Bill! Poor guy thinks I am driving it into him (my my my)…and then he sees me jump out from the passenger’s seat to the driver’s seat to put the brakes on! Not a good start to our journey. Was this a sign of things to come?

We arrived at the Swamp Fox Campground in Florence, SC in about five hours and 40 minutes! Hardly any traffic, so an uneventful trip so far.  The weather was much colder than we had hoped for, but we were ready. We now have a heater hose attached to our water hose in freezing weather and we took other precautions for a possible freeze.  We didn’t unhook the car, which is a real time saver.  We were both exhausted and it was just too muddy and cold out to take a walk. That is never good for me, Debbie. I need my daily walks!

Tuesday, January 5 The next morning, as we broke down camp, we started the car to warm up for at least 5 minutes as the directions say.  And off we went. We are really praising God as we moved down the road as the traffic was minimal both days. And what a surprise, it was still so cold! And sadly, we had agreed to accept a 30 amp site as we didn’t think it would be so cold. That means we have to watch running too many things at the same time, like an electric heater, Keurig and toaster!

Since we stayed two nights, Bill unhooked the car at the office check-in area. And guess what, the car battery was dead! Not to name names, but  the person who started the car said he had trouble turning it off. It’s a keyless start ignition….AND we always turn everything OFF whenever we stop it, radio, heater/ac, whatever. Once he got it charged up (which turned out to not be an easy task as there was no 110 power close by for his battery charger), the wipers and radio were both on! Strange…

So we begin setting up. We needed to run an electric heater as we began carefully preparing dinner. We then ate and took  a walk! Soon after coming back inside, the circuit blew. We thought we misjudged the amperage. We began using more caution as we proceeded to move around inside.  Then the circuit blew again. Bill went outside only to learn the entire camp was dark. There was a campground wide problem, but we all were told it would be fixed within the hour. Brrrr, it was so cold and we were grateful we could run our generator. And in an hour, all power was restored and off to sleep we went.

Wednesday, January 6 Our day off from traveling. Bill lived in Jacksonville, Florida before we were married. He loved Florida, after relocating from Pennsylvania for the warm weather. He has many fond memories there, so whenever we get the chance to stop there, we do. So our plan was to go have lunch at the Metro Diner, visited by Guy  Fieri. Bill saw that show and knew he had to try it. We visited it soon after. We had to go back….well, he had to go back. We are not foodies but I am less than he is….and he is on the hunt for the world’s best hamburger. He didn’t try one the last time there, so this time, he did. His opinion?  He said if only the bun had been grilled, otherwise, one of the best ever.

Sadly, the weather was not conducive for a walk on the beach at Little Talbot Island. We have walked on it when it was cold and when it was windy. We just weren’t in the mood to do it again on this day. So we searched for a place inland, with no success. We did know we could get a decent walk in around the campground, so we returned home and took a good walk. We just ran out of daylight! So this was a relatively mild day with a great meal out. And there was time to hook the car up, so it would be ready for the morning.

Thursday, January 7 The weather wasn’t bad, so we managed to start off without incident. We ran the car and were careful to warm it up, put it in neutral and turn it off properly. Traffic was not bad again. Since we had driven to Jacksonville the day before, we knew the better route to take to avoid construction. We hate traveling exclusively on interstates, but to make time, we had to on this journey south. We have traveled on I-4, around Orlando, many times. We knew we had to be on it in midday to avoid any type of “rush hour.” We did pretty well, but the road construction seemed extra annoying this time. The road was so torn up with “detours” around patch work. And going 60 mph while not getting blown off the highway by the big rig trucks who manage to go much faster!

They day was still very overcast but we were starting to feel warmer. We had worn our winter coats at the last rest stop. We made it off I-4 and onto US Highway 27/98 for the last leg of the journey. The sun actually started to burn off the clouds. We are actually “cruising,” just enjoying how smooth the actual driving was going. No real traffic issues!  I’m on social media and posted this picture, saying how great the trip was going:

And then it happened:  BANG! Bill hollers, “what happened?” Then, “I can hardly keep the RV on the road!” And I’m praying out loud, ‘Lord, help us!” My ears are ringing, it sounded like a shotgun went off right at my head.  Oh my my my….

Blow out!

Our tire….Blow out!

Bill was driving 60 mph on this north/south rural highway which is heavily traveled by tractor trailers. But they seem to come in groups. We were approaching an overpass and by now we realize a tire blew. I am so serious, we need divine intervention as Bill is hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life.  There is nowhere to safely to pull off the road – if he could even pull off and the fear of stopping right over a blind spot is terrifying.  But over the overpass we go and he’s still on the road. And miraculously, there is a turn lane!

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Let us count the miracles this day: This happened on an open stretch of road. The traffic seemed to clear off the road for us. Bill kept the rig on the road. We didn’t fall off the overpass. We weren’t on I-4 or I-95 for that matter! A professional driver on his day off saw us and came to offer assistance. He checked our rig over and said we only needed a new tire. We should be good to go – at least to our destination which was about 20 miles away. The damage was minor. The weather was beautiful!

I had read Genesis chapters 22-24 on this morning. One story really stuck with me, about Abraham when the Lord told him he would have to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The Lord was really just testing him to see if he would obey him completely. When the Lord stopped him at the last minute and provided a ram, “Abraham bowed down and worshiped the Lord.” And this scenario was repeated. Every time the Lord answered his prayers, Abraham bowed down and worshiped the Lord. That was about all we could do….

For tips on how to handle a blowout, check out this site which has links to a few videos:

http://www.safe-t-plus.com/tire-blowouts-myths-truths/

PS  Our car looked fine after the incident. The next morning when we came out to get in it, the windshield was cracked!

Anyone else every live through a blowout? I actually had one in a van.  That was an interesting story, but later….