Celebrations, Hiking and Issues

On my mom’s birthday, when she turned 90, she was there for her first grandchild by her only grand daughter. She has four grand children, seven great grand children and her first great-great grandchild is due in a few months.

So much to write about, so little time! Yes, not enough time to keep our blog updated. We just blinked and three months have flown by. Our last post ended with a teaser of the birthdays we celebrated in August while in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We also had two anniversaries to celebrate. And then our oldest grandson started kindergarten and that was a reason to celebrate. And then he learned how to ride his bike without training wheels! And then there were the issues….Where to start? With the best of the best!

We had three celebrations on one date!  Let’s start off with a bang! We had a joint birthday party for my mom and our oldest grandson. She turned 95 and he turned 5. What a gift for her, her only granddaughter to give her a great grandson on her birthday, her 90th as pictured!

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Alabama in our 2018 Winter Travels – Part Three of Four

Red Bay RV Park, 820 4th St., SW, Red Bay, AL 35582, Site # 4.

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!

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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)


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….


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 (in a car, not a motor home 😁). 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 the six weeks we were in Virginia meant we were a bit rusty.  Thankfully, on January 1, we had a “shake down” trip. We had to drive it to “The Tire Shop” at a Flying J Travel Center in Ruther Glen, VA. It was not too far away and we had 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 the tires 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, Bill was behind the RV waiting for me to pull the car up. I drove as close to him as he directed me – for the tow arms to reach the car. I was waiting for him to tell me to pull closer or back up a bit. It looked like it was ready for him to hook it up. So I jumped into the passenger seat to do something. But not realizing I was on a slight decline, I put the car in neutral (that’s how we get it ready to “flat tow.” 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:


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….

Getting Hitched: “Flat Tow” our “Dinghy” or TOAD

Happy campers!

Our motorhome and toad, fully hitched.

For those who were following our journey last May and June, you will know this is a big deal for us. If you do not know what we are talking about in this title, it all has to do with driving a motorhome and towing an automobile behind it.

Our home is 40′ and is on wheels. When we park in a new location, we need a vehicle (referred to as a dinghy or toad) to drive around in, such as to the store, to church, to go sightseeing, etc. We bought our motorhome in May and until we came to Myrtle Beach in October, we couldn’t find anyone to hitch us up! So I’ve followed Bill while he drove the motorhome for about 2,200 miles:  from Cocoa, Florida; to Troy, Alabama; to Red Bay, Alabama; to Jasper, Tennessee; to Bristol, Tennessee; to Waynesboro, Virginia; to Milford, Virginia; to Florence, North Carolina; to our current destination, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. That means we put 2,200 unnecessary miles on our car.

I was upset when I saw this ugly bar on the front of our new (used) car!

I was upset when I saw this ugly bar on the front of our new (used) car!

There are several ways to tow a vehicle: Trailer Tow (i.e. put a car in a utility trailer), Dolly Tow (two front tires on a dolly while back wheels spin) and Flat Tow (our choice to have all four wheels down).  There are many professional and good quality articles on this subject.  Trust us, we’ve read them all and watched many YouTube videos on “how to.” We did our research. We knew what we were getting into…but until we actually did it, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. (Understand?) So we hope by sharing our experiences, it might help someone else. We hope you’ll laugh with us, now that it’s over. During the process, a few tears were shed. 😂

We also watched a number of videos which helped us learn more about towing. We also have talked to so many people about their hitches and how they like how they are towing their vehicle. But no one shared a story with us like what happened to us. One thing we have learned in this RVing lifestyle is that everyone has a story of something crazy happening to them. This is one of our crazy stories.

First, just to let you know how the name “toad” came about:  Tow-ed = toad.  And dinghy is affectionally what little boats are called. So it’s a play on words.

The hitch is on the back of our motorhome.

The hitch is on the back of our motorhome. It’s a Falcon by Roadmaster. It came with our motorhome.

Once we knew we were buying a motorhome, we formed an opinion, we would “flat tow.”  That means we would have an (ugly) tow bar on the front of the car, attached to a hitch on the back of the RV.  By flat towing, we probably would have to make modifications to our car.  But the downside to a dolly or trailer, is that you have to “store” them and possibly have to hoist around, park and stash when you are on a campsite. Not every campsite has the room for them. But somehow, everyone makes it work. Bill has a back issue, so we just decided we couldn’t handle having to hoist either around. Yes, Bill does the heavy lifting in our family. Plus, I have a few back/neck issues, too.

Hooking the hitch to the tow bar.

We did test drive a few jeeps (probably one of the most popular Toads) a few months earlier when we first thought about changing from a truck and 5th wheel RV to the motorhome. We loved the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It was everything we needed and more. Spacious (we wanted to carry four adults and two children), comfortable and more than anything, easy to flat tow. BUT, we later learned, they don’t get the best gas mileage and for long trips (which we’ve done three times since owning it), and it’s really not “luxury” comfortable. With our back issues (and aging bodies), we need a comfortable ride. So we compromised.  The vehicle we bought, a crossover SUV and car, Cadillac SRX, will only fit four adults and one child. Or three adults and two children. But we first eliminated all the other flat towable vehicles before we even thought about the SRX. There is a yearly on-line publication that says which cars are flat towable. The slogan for our motorhome is “Roughing it smoothly.” And that fits us with our little Cadillac!

We stayed in Myrtle Beach for a full month, not only to enjoy a month at the beach but to get our car and RV “hitched.” Parts have to be ordered but we learned, no one wants to hook up a used “hitch.” Except Camping World. And Myrtle Beach was our first location since buying our motorhome that had one. We also needed to have our washing machine replaced, which they did.  We were very happy with that install, so thought the hitch would also go smoothly.

Well, we were a bit concerned when it took twice as long to rig the car up to tow. We had “face plates” installed, modification to the bumper and grill, installation of a bracket for the “invisi-brake,” made connections for the air brakes,  installed a wiring harness, and probably a few more things I don’t know about (or understand).  In the end, it took a day and a half on the car and 1/2 day on the RV.  So all in all, we spent four days of our 35 days in Myrtle Beach in the waiting room at Camping World, which includes the washing machine install and then to fix that which didn’t work properly on our car. And that is what this post is about. Something had to go wrong, right? Or this would be boring – although it probably is unless you want flat tow one day.

We have learned a lot from other full-timers, but especially one young couple. They not only live in an RV full-time, traveling all over the US and Canada, they are also working professionals. In fact, they inspired us to give ourselves a catchy nickname: The TumbleLees. They are Jason and Nicky Wynn or “Gone with the Wynns!”  Here is their video to learn from my (Jason’s) mistakes, and “How to Properly Connect and RV Tow Car.” We watched these several times, when we started our education on what we were going to do and then while we were getting our hitch set up.

So we now have the set up we’ve wanted. We’re educated. Bill is confident in his ability to hook the toad up. I’m learning and watching….and praying all goes well!  When it took them so long to rig the car, we both had a few misgivings. But Camping World guarantees their work.

Hitched and on the way out of the campground!

Hitched and on the way out of the campground!

We do try to travel without pressures and for this to be adventure travel, right? Well, not all adventures are fun. It was time to leave and our daughter has made a lot of preparations for us to come visit. She has our grandson counting down the days (he’s learned to count to 10! Smart guy). And we are ready to go.

So once we are all hitched and rigged to go, we tested the lights. Humm, the blinkers are not working. But the lights are on. Then we tested the brake, brake lights not on. And there is a beeping noise in the RV.  We called Camping World and they said to bring it on in. So off we go.

We arrive and Bill is exhausted from the 10 minute, five-mile drive. He doesn’t say anything to me, but he is wondering if our 360 diesel engine can tow.  😖 Upon arrival, we looked at the car and see smoke pouring out of the front tires (brake area).  YIKES! We begin to panic. Bill says get me a cup of water, it looked like a fire could start. I grabbed our cups of water, then he throws the water on the wheels like it was a campfire.  It hardly affects the smoke, so I ran back and got a pitcher of water.  Slowly, the smoke stopped.  Our Service Writer then tells us to unhook the car so they drive our RV into a bay.

Wouldn’t you know, it won’t unhook!  (We have since learned, that is a common problem. You just need a drift pin and a hammer to knock out the pins.) The hitch seemed frozen and the brakes appeared to be  gone, pedal to the floor. We are thinking worst case scenario. I posted a plea for prayers on FaceBook. This can’t be happening!

We were prayed up, praying daily for the Lord’s protection – oh, I’m sure that is what happened…HE did protect us! What if the blinkers worked ok and we just thought the beeping sound was how it is supposed to be? What if we just went on the nearly 200-mile drive we planned to travel? That would have been a disaster. So in reality, disaster was averted.

Camping World was very busy, every bay tied up when we arrived. But the Shop Foreman took our job to get ‘er done. It turned out that the air brake flow was one way. When the RV brakes were on, the car brakes were off. And when the RV brakes were off, the car brakes were on. It took about 5 hours to diagnose it and repair it.  Fortunately, the car brakes were fine, just overheated, and we are now on the road to our daughter’s home. She’s a bit sad as her maternity leave is ending and she wanted to hang out with us a few days before she returns to work. It’s so great to be loved and your only child wants to spend time with you!

So in the end, what lesson did we learn? Expect the unexpected! And what does the Bible say about planning? We have to have faith, we may have been spared something worse. It just wasn’t our time to leave Myrtle Beach.

You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail. Proverbs 19:21

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Sunset after we settled back into the campground, on this Veterans Day! Loved seeing the flag flying.

Final Week with Tiffin Motorhome Service in Red Bay


Our site, # 18, between our new friends!

We’ve sure enjoyed our time in Red Bay, Alabama. We’ve had others tell us there isn’t much to do here, but it depends on what your definition is of fun!

We will agree there isn’t much in the way of entertainment, night life, or a great selection of restaurants or shopping. But for us, we love to cook our own meals, we only shop for what we really need and between Amazon.com and Walmart, we are kept stocked. We love the Lord’s creation, there is a lot of that here.

I just read a review of the play Les Misérables in our home town. The most famous quote from this iconic movie is, “And remember, the truth that once was spoken: To love another person is to see the face of God.” (Victor Hugo). We must admit, our belief system demands we love others. So we do love people, or at least try. Some are more lovable than others….but who couldn’t love all these lovely people! They have been so patient and kind. You never hear them lose patience with any of us, but yet, so many of us lose our patience with them.

What we have found here that we’ve never found before is a WEALTH of information from other Tiffin owners.  That has been refreshing.  And the people we are meeting has been energizing.  Everyone has a story, so talk about entertainment, just to hear some of the stories will keep you laughing or crying!

So back to our diary! We did have a technician install a hard-wired surge protector for us over the weekend. There are some jobs it’s easier and faster to “hire” out.

Monday, June 15, 2015  We got a break from the early morning assignments.  This day, we hade a 49 mile road trip one way for another “good will warranty” repair.  For about 3 years, Tiffin used plywood in the wet bay area, and we were one of the units that needed it replaced. Our appointment was at 10:30.


Happy to head out at a “reasonable” hour!

Debbie finally got to ride as a passenger (the car is not set up to flat tow as of yet) and she loved the comfort of the passenger seat. And it was a gorgeous drive in the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.


Bill was so much more relaxed. No white knuckles today!

The location was at Kimbrough Automotive & A/C, 75 AL-157, Tuscambia, AL 35674, telephone 256-381-0797. The GPS can get you close but it won’t get you there for the last few miles. Another customer told us what to do but it didn’t make sense when we got close. So we called Kimbrough and they told us exactly what to do, but Bill didn’t hear the directions fast enough…..so he had to make his first U-turn! Now that was exciting but it put us back on the road in the opposite direction! So while we thought we’d be early, it was about 11:15 when we pulled in. They thought our appointment was at 1:30 so they were just happy to see us!  Here is a picture of what to do:


Follow 157 to Moulton and Cullman where 20 & 72 split. THEN turn left immediately into Kimbrough.

They are remodeling the building so we sat in a brand new lounge that needs a bit more work. But the chair and couch were comfortable. It was about a three-hour repair. It is just amazing we are getting this work done under the “Good Will Warranty.” Bob Tiffin has a wonderful reputation. His quality of workmanship seems to be a dying art.

We arrived back at the Service Center too late to get any more work done. We still need a few little things and one more big job.  But we enjoyed the rest of the day.  Bill wiped down one side and the front of the coach.  Debbie was able to get in a long walk and visited with the neighbors. We know we will have another early morning so we didn’t stay out late.


Bill’s hobby, polishing our new home!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015 – This day is crunch day! Time for our main slide floor to be replaced, so we arrived in Bay 47 at 7:00 am. We were never told how to prepare, but we heard we’d need to remove a few things. The technician helped us and then we went to the customer lounge until 11:30. Debbie walked by it to get a few pictures. It’s a bit unnerving seeing your motor home wide open! That is the back of our residential refrigerator. And the slide is laying on its side with the dirty looking canvas. The crane lifted it off. It would have been fun to watch it going on and off, but at least we saw how it came together on the factory tour!


Our Coach with the main slide taken off.

We were told it would be done at 11:30, so we checked in with Shane, our original tech who ordered the parts for our washing machine and entrance light panel. His boss was standing there, so he arranged for it to be brought to his bay for the final touches. Oh how hopeful we are that we will be done today and can head to Virginia tomorrow. Our daughter checks on us regularly to see when she can expect us. Being 8 months pregnant and working full-time is not easy with a toddler. And we miss him!

We were able to stay in the coach while Shane and his assistant worked inside. The work was completed by 3:00. He said our paperwork would be completed in about 40 minutes, so we drove the coach back to our site and set up.  Debbie put a load of laundry on – but had trouble getting the washer to work.  Shane came over after giving a few suggestions via text message. But by then it was working.  Debbie is a happy camper!  About 40 minutes later, we went to get our final bill.  We were very nervous about how much all this work would cost…..But we were so HAPPY and amazed at how low the bill was. No wonder there is so much brand loyalty! The most expensive thing was the exhaust pipe. It was a miracle it hung on until we arrived here.

We went home ready to plan our trip to Virginia. We have to go through the mountains so need the best possible route.  The drive to Kimbrough was a great opportunity to practice riding in the hills and using the engine brake. And since we got up at 5:30, we were ready to relax for the evening. Actually, we were both too tired to try to take a walk. It is hard work hanging out while people work on your home!

While we were cooking dinner, we noticed the air conditioner didn’t seem to be working right. Debbie came up with lots of excuses/reasons. But Bill was concerned there was still an issue. It was one thing we had looked at – and they said it was in the sensors so they were replaced.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015  We woke at 5:30.  Bill didn’t sleep well, concerned about the A/Cs. He wanted to talk to a technician.  But Debbie said, “It’s time to go!” It felt like they were working to her. But Bill warned about “feelings.”  He said you need common sense. But nevertheless, we got ready to go. After trying to get the GPS set for our first location, Jasper, Tennessee, Bill started the coach up….and the front jacks would not retract. This was an issue we had looked at several times as it was a continuing problem since we bought it. Long story short, we spent the day waiting to get a call to bring the rig in for both the A/C and the jacks. And to not embarrass Debbie, she had to shake up a supervisor as we had not phone call by 2:00. So we had new jacks put on by 3:00 and now we have to spend another night to have the A/C looked at….will we ever leave Red Bay?

Thursday, June 18, 2015  We were up again at 5:30. We really want to leave but we would like to resolve the A/C issue. So we got ready and were ready for a phone call to be in Bay 7 by 7:00 am. But after a relaxing breakfast and time to think (and feel the A/C) we decided to leave and start heading east. So Bill went over to talk to the Shop Foreman. He said they were booked today anyway, so it would be another day. So our paperwork was processed and ready to us to settle this new bill with in 40 minutes.  Bill returned home to prepare to move. Debbie went to the Tiffin Parts Store (near the laundry room) to get one more thing. The prices there are sold at dealer cost! And then she checked out with the service cashier and then again at the Campground office. The stay this last night was gratis since the jacks were a “do over.” But the jacks cost as much as the new exhaust pipe. We know it was the right thing and we feel confident we will be good to go for another year.  We plan to return yearly for our annual service.

So off we headed to Jasper, Tennessee. We decided to make it an easy day to recover from the stress of the early service work and dealing with the same issues over and over.  To us, it wasn’t that big of  a deal as everyone is only human. We do feel we will be better customer’s next time.  So our next blog will be a bit entertaining as we share how this easy 3 1/2 hour trip turned into six and it was anything but easy! And one part fell off in the middle of a torrential rainstorm.  We heard there is a serious storm called “Bill” going across several states….so stay tuned!

Our final thoughts:  We have learned so much these past few weeks. Several things apply to owning a motor home and the full-time lifestyle – as well as coming to the Tiffin Service Center. First, you really need to be flexible. Patience is invaluable. And probably the best attribute is to have a sense of humor! But for us, it’s also all about our faith. That keeps us grounded and when we feel so helpless and out of sorts from things out of our control, we can just trust the Lord that He is in control and somehow, things will work out for the best!  We loved our time in Red Bay and can’t wait to return!


Fun while in Red Bay, Alabama

Tishomingo State Park

Tishomingo State Park

We needed some fun after a grueling week, talked about here. We are so grateful the culture of the Tiffin Motorhome enterprise is so upbeat and friendly, but it was a rough week.

Whatever we do, where ever we are, we do look to have fun! But we are really pretty boring people. First and foremost with us is enjoying God’s creation, from beaches, to mountains, to flowers to babies – especially our grandson and our soon to be second grandchild! We can’t wait to bring our grandsons along with us one day….

While we are traveling, our favorite activity is to go hiking, especially in the mountains, state parks or wherever there is challenging terrain and we love to take very long walks on beaches (especially Myrtle Beach or Topsail). At a minimum, we both like to walk at least two miles a day wherever we are.  We also both enjoy history, so that means visiting local museums. And who doesn’t enjoy a beautiful botanical garden or any gardens? But Bill also enjoys keeping his vehicles clean and polished! So we found a few things we could do to enjoy our time in Red Bay, Alabama while we get our new, but old, motor home repaired and spruced up to suit us.

HIKING:  The first thing we do in a new area is search out places to hike. When we arrived here, we did a google search and discovered what appeared to be the closest place was 40 miles away. We decided when we first arrived, we didn’t have the time to drive that far. So Bill went out and walked all around town, looking for a place I could walk. I can’t walk very long on sidewalks/concrete. He saw alot and enjoyed the quaint town, but found no green spaces. Little did we know, the Allegro Campground and Service area has plenty of asphalt and dirt roads, so we enjoyed lots of walks around the grounds and surrounding neighborhoods. I use Map My Walk app, so calculated nearly 15 miles in the short time we’ve been in Red Bay, excluding the two day hikes.

We discovered on our drive back from Illinois, that Tishomingo State Park, Mississippi is only about 10-15 miles away! We were so happy to discover this.  The day we were having our Cap Rails switched out, a day long process, we planned to enjoy the day in the woods. We dropped the motor home off in Bay 17 at 7:00 am. It was foggy out, so we hung out in the Service Lounge while the sun burned the fog off. We needed to be back by 2:30, so we headed out around 10:30. (It’s easy to lose track of time. We have spent a lot of time getting to know new people.  You get to talking and a few hours can slip by!)

This park is located right off the Natchez Trace Parkway, at milepost 304, located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It is “steeped in history” and has fabulous scenery (why we love State Parks). There have been archaeological excavations that confirmed the presence of Paleo Indians as early as 7000 B.C.  The park is named after the leader of the Chickasaw nation, Chief Tishomingo. The famous Natchez Trace Parkway is the premier highway of the early 1800s and as a modern scenic highway, runs directly through the park. What also makes this park unique is the landscape of massive rock formations and fern-filled crevices found no where else in Mississippi. Yes, we hiked in Mississippi – which borders Red Bay! Here are a few pictures from our nearly 5 mile hike:

We couldn’t wait to go back…so on Saturday, we headed back over. But we were delayed as we found someone to install a part for us that would be cheaper to do rather than have it installed during our servicing. So we didn’t spend as much time there as we would have liked, only hiking about three miles. It was also the hottest day of the year and we felt it! Here are a few more pictures, but click here (Flickr) to see all our pictures from the park.


Our Phaeton would fit on this site!


Entrance for the tour.

TIFFIN FACTORY TOUR: We had no expectations for this tour. But this was nothing we could have imagined! They ask you to be there by 9:15 and they start at 9:30 sharp. You are asked to sign in and put on eye protection they provide. Then you are give a headset and receiver. They have coffee and restrooms. Be prepared to stand and walk for nearly two hours! We were shown a short video as an introduction and then each of the two tour guides introduces themselves and starts with additional history. We then walked over to the factory, or at least one building to start learning how Tiffin’s are made.

We started the tour with history: In 1941, Bob Tiffin’s father Alex started Tiffin Supply Company, a lumberyard and general merchandise store in Red Bay, Alabama. From that business start-up, two more generations of Tiffins and more than 50,000 RV owners have profited by Alex Tiffin’s strong sense of customer service. Bob joined his father at Tiffin Supply, which sold just about everything needed to build and furnish a house.

In 1965, Alex Tiffin and a handful of investors bought a state-of-the-art cotton gin, when cotton was still king in Alabama and much of the South. The operations manager quit before the first bale arrived for ginning. Alex turned to his 23-year-old son Bob, who took to the cotton business, machinery and management like it was second nature.

Soon he had the gin operating at ten bales an hour. He still marvels at the way the gin was engineered. Looking back years later, Bob smiles about his abiding fondness for anything mechanical — especially something that rolls.

As the cotton gin became a steady contributor to the Tiffin enterprise, a new manufacturing operation came to the area. The Commodore Company opened plants to build manufactured housing and recreational vehicles. Many of their supplies were purchased from Tiffin Supply Co. The Tiffins learned more and more about their new customer and its products. After three years, the Commodore Co. called it quits, closing its doors. Always eager for a new challenge, the Tiffins purchased the facility, and Tiffin Motorhomes was born.

The tour then started in what used to be the cotton warehouse. We were reminded that Bob Tiffin doesn’t like to build new when he can “recycle” a building! This warehouse is now where they process all the lumber and prepare it for the wood cabinets and any wooden trims! Yes, they make the cabinets by hand and we saw it in action. We didn’t need to wear face masks, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone take the tour that has breathing problems and can’t stand for nearly two hours. 


Wood preparation shop

We then moved outside and walked over to the Chassis center. There was an outdoor presentation of the four chassis before going inside to see how they are engineered. The welding shop was near by, but we couldn’t see inside. We saw how the wood shop has grown and will now expand into the Chassis center.  There is some transition with the chassis’ as they build some themselves and others are from Freight-liner.


Outdoor chassis presentation, moving from the wood shop to the chassis shop.

We were warned we would begin to wonder when we would see the motor homes actually being built, and indeed, we began to wonder. So into the actual “factory” which is not necessarily like an assembly line, but is divided into 12 separate departments.  What was most interesting is that each part has a unique six digit number. If you want to watch your coach being built, those numbers will be fun to keep track of and watch.


Note the head sets and standing! We are entering the shop where they begin production. Note the # 6, #5, & #4 – that’s where the parts move from site to site.

From here we watched how they prepare the exterior walls. This was fascinating and using state of the art equipment. Then we saw how they prepare the countertops and then the plumbing. Next was to see how they prepare the wiring for the units.  Amazingly, approximately 3 miles of wire is put into the largest units! We were then able to see how the plumbing and wiring is installed into the chassis. The next step is seeing how the tile floors are assembled and then lifted onto the chassis.  The coach is now ready for the interior walls and cabinets. It was fun seeing how they move the units around, going from station to station.  


After interior walls, plumbing and electric, time for the outside walls

The next phase is to install the exterior walls, using cranes. And then the roofs are prepared, including the air conditioners  and then set on top, again, using cranes. The slide-outs are assembled first, and then installed on the chassis. The front unit is also assembled with glass before being installed. Next step is to prepare the coach for paint. Currently, the actual painting is done in Belmont, Mississippi. We were all encouraged to go there to watch, but they don’t give tours. By now, the tour was over, but we were invited to go inside and look at the new models! We didn’t dare do this as we want to stay happy with our 2010!  We finished the tour looking at the 1975 Allegro on display for nostalgia’s sake!


It was so sad to see the yellow and green faded out shag carpet….we had it in our second house! We’re really old!

You can watch a short you-tube video of the tour, which included painting the coach. Our complete photo album from the Tiffin Factory tour also on Flickr:

RED BAY MUSEUM: This is a very small and quaint museum. Usually when left alone, we can spend at least 2-3 hours in this size. But we were the only visitors and the tour guide wanted to accompany us through it. He said he was a “transplant” and didn’t really know the history very well. So he couldn’t answer too many questions. But was a musician so he really keyed in on all the “famous” musicians who visited the town, and especially the Tammy Wynette exhibits. While Bill has a lot of untapped musical talent, he wasn’t that interested…and I have little to no musical talents so I wasn’t interested in famous musicians for the most part.  Just sayin’….


Bill hates having his picture taken, but he hates taking pictures with my iPhone even more!


We hate seeing a “church” in a museum and pray it doesn’t come to this one day….but these were donated when the church was updated!


Red Bay celebrated it’s centennial in 2007

CHURCH: We always make it a point to attend church on Sunday.  And for some reason, we keep picking on the First Baptist Churches – or rather, we keep feeling the calling to attend their services. We have never been disappointed and the message always speaks to our hearts. The message this week was on God’s faithfulness and it drove home how good and kind He has been to us! And to this town.

This is really a little sleepy hallow, except for this HUGE RVs that drive around town….While on our way to the Tiffin Tour, we were diverted from the route….I could see a police officer hunkered behind his vehicle, weapon drawn. I immediately thought it was those fugitives who escaped from prison in New York. But no, it was a drug addict that took 5 hostages in the local pharmacy. The pharmacist was an amazing woman, who happened to be a member of First Baptist Church (as was the owner of it). She was able to get the customer’s freed and stayed with the shotgun bearing addict.  He just wanted drugs, so she complied and gave him what he wanted…and maybe a little more. Once he was out, she took the shotgun and turned it over to the police….of which there were about 50 by then! So the message really had special meaning for this congregation and town as they were all called to pray for a safe turn out!

What even made this Sunday better, was that we met a couple here that needed a ride to church. Their car was in the shop. So what a blessing to get to worship with like-minded believers and get to know them and their work. They are full-timers, too. But they just sold their 5 acre farm-ette – the wife’s dream was to have chickens and grow all her own vegetables….but she just felt ready to give it up and go full time and serve the Lord in various ministries. They belong to “Campers on Mission.” Did I mention they were in their early 70s?

The sermon was taken from Lamentations 3:22-23:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Tiffin RV Service in Red Bay, Alabama – The Beginning


The case cover that holds all of our manuals

Bill has his own reason’s for preferring the 40′ Phaeton QTH, but for me, Debbie, it was the testimony of an owner who brought their new “used” Class A motorhome to the Tiffin RV Service Center in Red Bay, Alabama after they bought it from a private party. They planned to update a few things. While the technicians were going over their rig, they discovered there were a few recall issues. The main one was fixing the wet bay area and another was a slide floor. And at no charge, it was covered by Tiffin’s “Good Will” warranty. This made me really like the brand!

Since we were buying an older motorhome, 2010, we felt we should bring it back to the mecca (using the definition) “any place that many people visit or hope to visit”) of Tiffin. We heard good things about the service in Red Bay, but we also heard there is usually a wait. Since we were trying to meet a family obligation after buying it, we wanted all the information we could get about the process.

So first things first, we googled “Tiffin RV Service at Red Bay, Alabama.” Sadly, there wasn’t much information about it. But a few bloggers shared their experiences, which weren’t all that favorable.  So far, we are thankful we have had nothing but a positive experience here.

We did find two interesting blogs about other Tiffin Owners experiences:  RVWanderlust and 2toTravelPhaeton.  Neither blog prepared us for the drive to Red Bay, nor how overwhelming it is when you first check in!  Part of us being overwhelmed was Bill’s inexperience in driving the motor home while I was either leading us in the small towns, or following Bill on the highways. 

Whenever we need to learn about something, we think it’s best to go right to the horses mouth.  Since we couldn’t find the answers on the internet, we called the Service Center at (256) 356-2769.  A technician in the Service Department said they don’t make appointments, it’s “first come first serve” and the current wait was anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. You arrive (must come in person) check in, and when it’s close to our “turn,” you’d get a phone call to bring the RV in.  In other words, we could make a two week family visit while the clock ticked.

I also asked about camping. They have camping on site, but you cannot leave the RV there – like we would want for two weeks. The technician emailed me a list of the local campgrounds, which was also a bit overwhelming because there were so many.  (I suddenly had visions that Red Bay was really a big city!)  Anyway, how do you pick one that will be the most convenient, etc.?  We figured we would find a place to park the RV and then just drive around and look for the “best campground.”

Thankfully, we pray every morning and ask for the Lord’s help and guidance. We actually “stumbled” on what became the best possible park for us! Somehow, the GPS went a bit haywire and I (Debbie) was leading Bill. So while it told me to go one way, I was following the signs to the Tiffin Service Center. I knew Bill was stressing out after the harrowing drive on a very narrow and winding road (for 23 miles). I needed to find a place to park….and then I saw a sign, “RV Park.”  I honestly didn’t realize what we pulled into, but it turned out to be the best choice, Red Bay Self Serve RV Park!  Their telephone number is (256) 668-0526 and the address is 717 4th Street Northwest, Red Bay, AL 35582.  We parked here from May 19 – June 11, but for nearly 2 weeks, we were not there, just the RV.  We felt safe there as there were enough other Tiffin Owners, the owners check the lot daily and it’s in a good area. Also, unbeknown to us, it is very close to the Service Center, just a few blocks within walking distance, so the Tiffin Employees can also easily come by.  We’re not sure if they go to the other “off site” campgrounds, but when we said this was where we were staying, the response was, “Good, employees can come there.” And they did!

Red Bay RV Park

Red Bay Self Service “RV Park”

By the time we arrived to the Tiffin Motorhomes Service Center on May 19, to get our “number” the wait was down to 3 1/2 weeks! We now could easily work around this with our scheduled family trip (to spend time with Bill’s 94 year old mom). We signed in, and planned to leave in two days.

We also needed to find someone to add the tow bar to our car and take care of some additional business. And Bill needed a day to unwind after his harrowing 720 mile journey in four days! We checked into the Service Center, also known as the Allegro Campground (which has many stipulations) and were a bit overwhelmed. They gave us a “Guest Guide” that was full of everything we needed to know and more. But the main thing was that when we drove our car there, but didn’t know we needed the VIN and our odometer reading. So we had to rush back, get that and then filled out the questionnaire. We had written out our list of 20 items we wanted looked at, so we provided it to them as well. We were told someone would get up with us to go over the list…but we didn’t expect Norris from Tiffin at 8 am the next morning! And two other Tiffin employees also came to check on things to finalize our “list.”  We were so impressed and ready to head out with confidence we made the right decision to bring it back to it’s birthplace!

This is where we parked for our time at Red Bay.

This is where we parked for our time at Red Bay. We’re on the right side with our car in the middle. There is a church behind us, but the steeple looks cool over the “Self Service Office!”

To be continued, a diary of our time at the Tiffin Service Center. We hope and pray we will be as happy when we leave as we were when we first arrived! Or go to our Fun  in Red Bay blog.