No more doubts….


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He appears so confident!

While Bill never doubted he could drive a 40′ motor home, he had serious doubts after the first trip.  We purchased it in Cocoa, FL, then drove to Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, Florida then to Troy, Alabama and then to our final destination of Red Bay, Alabama. Read about that journey here.

He said starting out on I-95 North was not the best way to get broken in. But once we turned west on I-10, he was a bit more confident. And then things went pretty well until we got close to Birmingham, Alabama….reminiscent of I-95 North. But worse! And then things were ok from there to the border of Mississippi and turning north to Red Bay, taking Mississippi County Road 23. That’s where Bill’s white knuckles about had it! It’s a very narrow, winding road without any berm for safety if your wheels go off the road (like when another big truck passes you and you need to move over close to the edge of the lane).

After a really wonderful experience in Red Bay, we needed to start figuring out how to get to our next destination, Fredericksburg, Virginia. Bill really wasn’t looking forward to the mountains, or driving in rain. But since we needed to get there as soon as possible (we spent 4 days longer in Red Bay than would have been ideal), we had to carefully select the route. So lots of time went into finding the “perfect” route for the first leg of the journey. There were three routes to pick from between Red Bay and Jasper, Tennessee. The fastest and shortest route went around Huntsville. Strike that route. Next was to go slightly north. Or take a longer route, but avoiding the major cities, more of a southern route. So we picked it, thinking it would not be in the mountains. At best, we should be there in four hours, plenty of time to still enjoy the day and take a good walk since we left at 9:00 am. (The mountains show up in this pic, but not on our original map…or at least we didn’t see them.)

Route

It SHOULD have been approximately 180 miles and 3 1/2 hours from Red Bay to Jasper, TN.

We are starting out with our new navigation system (Garmin) in the RV with Debbie still following in the car with the relatively new navigation in the new (old) Cadillac, SRX. Wouldn’t you know we couldn’t get them to match, so it was a bit confusing.  Bill decided to just read the paper directions we printed. But he forgot he was still trying to get comfortable and couldn’t grab them while driving….So we missed that first turn!

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A sign said, “Visitor’s Center” ahead…

So Debbie’s navigation system recalculated and recalculated and recalculated.  So she called OnStar which is a courtesy with our car purchase. They tried to recreate the trip for her – but Bill had the paper directions and Debbie could only say “southern and avoid big cities.”  Bill was following and really doesn’t like to talk on the phone (no hands free set up for him). Debbie decided to pull into a “Visitor’s Center,” Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, to talk about the route.  We did get to talk….and then….

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No Visitor’s Center in view!

OOPS, this means he will have to make a U-turn as there really wasn’t a visitor’s center as Debbie had hoped, at least not near the road. We both took it in stride…at least the weather was good and the road was flat (as in no mountains).

We jumped on I-65 and headed north, noting it was now going to take about 4 hours to get to Jasper.  So we thought we would only lose 30 minutes. But it was such a beautiful day and we were happy to be in Tennessee….life is good, we’re thinking….

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Bill was happy saying he now had 1,000 miles under his belt. That makes Debbie VERY happy!

Tennessee is a BEAUTIFUL state! Debbie couldn’t help but snap a few photos with her iPhone, driving safely of course……

Just beautiful blue sky and rolling hills….

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Debbie is thinking, “Look at all these sights we are just blowing by….but our grandson is calling our names….”

But then there was a detour off onto County Road 41 off of CR 65. We thought we were heading to I-24.  So long story short, it began to rain heavily and we’re lost in spite of our GPS systems and OnStar. Well, let’s say, Debbie was lost and Bill wanted to go one way but Debbie insisted on following OnStar’s suggestion. Fortunately, Debbie pulled into a good area for a quick conference call and a U-turn….while talking on the phone, Bill says, “Oh no, my wiper blade just fell off.” Did I mention it was raining heavily?

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Oh no, my wiper blade just fell off!

Debbie is a woman of prayer. So as she pulled into this turn lane for the U-turn, there were only a few cars, then suddenly a lot of cars! So she pleaded with God for safety while Bill hopped out to put the blade back on (fortunately we had just stopped at the right time and place for it to land) and Debbie had to do the same – to take a picture. This was starting to get funny….to her….

And the trip just now got interesting. We’re not sure how it happened but we got on the type of road Bill said he’d NEVER drive on. One of those narrow county roads with lots of switch back curves, in the mountains with little to no berm and “cliff’s” on the other side of the road, with lots of pick up trucks in a hurry to go no where. And it’s raining….No pictures but it was scary and Debbie was in the small car!

But then, we got to the top of the hill and now it is a four lane highway…BUT and also 6% grades…AND runaway truck ramps, three of them! This is not good for Bill….and it’s back to white knuckles.

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At least it’s not raining now!

This may be a bit long, so time to bring it to a close! Somehow, we found this quaint little county park, Marion County Lake and Park, right off of the Tennessee River! Our review here.

It only took us six hours, rather than the 3 1/2 we hoped it would be. So much for a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon. The sites were not clearly marked so we initially pulled into the wrong site. It wasn’t a real level site, so one tire didn’t quite touch the ground, but we had no choice and were just too stressed to try to re-park the motor home again. But somehow, we decided it was so beautiful, we had to take a walk around the park.

We were the only motor home. There were many trailers and 5th wheels near us and on the other side, lots of tenters. We had water and electricity. There was a dump station near the office. It was a nice of enough of a location to stay two nights…and we needed that time to “chill” out!

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Our site, # 28 A & B. Debbie is more relaxed than Bill.

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View from our RV

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Another view. That bridge is I-24, going over the Tennessee River.

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We walked over two miles, taking about 45 minutes walking time..

And then we met an interesting young man who just dedicated his life to Jesus – and who happened to be from Wyoming, near where Debbie was born. Not many people are from Wyoming….

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Two fellow Wyoming-ians!

Aspen said he never knew anything about Jesus. He was homeless at the time, just traveling with a tent and on his bicycle when he came to the know who Jesus is in Chattanooga. He was robbed twice there. Not that he had much, but his dad had given him a really nice tent. He said the Lord said He would be provided for, He just wants him to cross America and spread the news of His Gospel! So please pray for Aspen and his journey.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

After all this, Bill said he no longer has any doubts he can drive the motor home in just about any condition. But we really need to watch the weather.

Our second day there we took a great hike, nearly five miles, around Foster Falls! Photos for that are uploaded here, onto Flickr.

So guess how our next trip went? Heading to Bristol, Tennessee….

The waiting game….settling insurance claim, buying and selling RVs


This blog is more for us (and a few close family members who live far away) to help us remember what we were doing and where we were going! As we age, we realize more and more how body parts, like the brain begin to deteriorate and not function as well as in our younger years.

Since “the” accident on May 2, 2015, the following has transpired, and all for the GOOD!!!! Wow, We’re exhausted, but who ever thought so much good would come out of what we thought was a disaster?

But first, a little build up to all the excitement BEFORE the accident….

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For sale at R & D Family Campground

 

Our grandson approved of the buyer!

1) SOLD! SUNDAY APRIL 26, 2015. We have blogged several times about wanting to upgrade to a Class A motorhome. Actually, that was Bill’s dream for at least the past 5 years. While we resided in Florida (2004-2014), we were able to attend at least 10 RV shows, including the Florida Super RV Show held annually in Tampa every January. We attended it three times, twice to “learn” about RVs and this last January, to get serious about trading in and buying. Sadly, we learned our Keystone Xlite Cougar was worth much less than we hoped it should bring, and the motorhomes were worth WAY more than we thought we would pay.  We decided we had to sell ours on our own and buy from a private seller.

We slapped on a “for sale” sign while we staying in campgrounds until we finally sold it on April 26, 2015 (via Craigslist). Delivery was scheduled for May 4, 2015, as it was time to move on after being in the Fredericksburg area with our daughter and family. The buyers really didn’t want it until early July, but we made a great compromise. And not a matter to forget, we attended Spotwoood Baptist church that morning. As we worshipped and prayed, we also heard what we needed to hear to keep our faith alive!  Sermon titled, “The Race Set Before Us” from Hebrews 12:1-3.) It can be heard here.) Yes, we’ve been praying for the Lord to help us (not enrich us, but keep us patient through the process) and to guide us to the “right” buyers and seller. This buyer was heaven sent on this same day!

2) MONDAY, April 27: We found our dream Motorhome, located in Cocoa, Florida. We were willing to travel just about anywhere for it. So it was divine providence we found it back in Florida. How amazing, the day after we sold our 5th wheel, we were able to strike a deal to buy our next home! We now needed to put a push on finishing our projects for our daughter and son in law…and spend as much time as possible with our grandson! It was a very busy week. Our mutually agreed upon date of purchase was May 11, 2015. We had a week planned to visit friends in their new cabin in North Carolina. And then it happened…..

3) SATURDAY, May 2:  The accident! Soon after it happened, we calmed down and listened to our daughter. She is an insurance claims adjustor (and no brag, just fact, she is one of the best based upon her performance evals) and takes after her father (who was also a good one).  But Bill also was a former auto body man as well as Autobody shop manager, so he had more knowledge than is good for someone in such a stressful situation.

He saw a long hard and arduous battle to be made “whole” and we were more than ready to upgrade into a motor home. We were concerned this could delay our purchase….Right after we called our insurance company, we called State Farm, the person who rear-ended our truck (we had lent it out). We did go on scene as did a patrolman,

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Our 5th wheel had to be towed to the new owner since our truck could no longer safely tow.

who declared it was the other person’s fault, not our driver (our son in law).  State Farm took all the info and then put me (Debbie – I do all the “office type) stuff) on hold. The agent came back and said their insured had already called in and State Farm will accept responsibility and they will process all of the claim. This was a small miracle as that rarely happens this fast – and it happened like this because we called so quickly and we had a police officer’s statement!

We had to cancel our trip to North Carolina while we settled our accident claim. The next morning, Sunday, we attended Bowling Green Baptist Church.  Again, we experienced the best worship experience and also heard the “perfect” sermon for our current situation, “Purposeful Prayer” which can be heard here.

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We followed our 5th wheel to it’s new owner. We got caught in rush hour traffic.

4) MONDAY, May 4:  State Farm delivered our RV to it’s new owner in Maryland! That was also a small miracle. Since we are technically from Florida, the accident occurred in Virginia, and we needed it towed to Maryland, it was too many state lines for the regular claims adjuster to approve. We had to get nearly hysterical to get the approvals as we had to be out of the site by 11:00 am -and wanted to avoid rush hour. Thankfully the owner was more than gracious and let us extend until the tow company arrived-which was 12:45 pm. We knew traffic from Virginia to Maryland around the Washington DC beltway would be a nightmare in rush hour traffic (and it was). Because neither our daughter nor Bill were handling this claim, in their positions they could have authorized it, we had to get referred up the chain of authority three times, taking nearly six hours. Tick tock tick tock tick tock….we were counting the minutes.

Our truck was drivable (just couldn’t tow), so we followed the RV to deliver it to the new owner and that was fun!!! BUT since we got to the sellers home so late, 4:15, by the time we got to the bank at 4:35, it was closed! Now we couldn’t get our “cash” – the only way to do a large Craigslist sale. So we had to spend the night and wait for the bank to open. The new buyers were awesome and it all worked out. And BTW, we were supposed to spend this night at our daughters and thus one more night with her and our grandson. So sadly, we missed that opportuntiy.

5) TUESDAY, May 5: We then drove the truck to an auto body shop near our daughter’s home – and where we stored all of our belongings from the RV. One advantage to buying and selling your RV at a dealership was to be able to move the stuff from one RV to the other while side by side. But we saw two other young couples we follow (on their blogs) and they said it isn’t even that easy.

This Autobody shop was also wonderful, they did the full estimate early the next day. We were given a rental as we turned the truck in. We were given 7 days and unlimited miles since our next stop was Cocoa, Florida, where we were buying our new home! We anxiously waited to hear about the damage. Late that day, we were told our claim was being referred to another level (Total Loss unit) and to wait until the next day for further instructions.

5) WEDNESDAY, May 6: The clock is ticking. We have a family visit planned for May 21 in Illinois. We needed to get to Cocoa to inspect our new home and get all that paperwork processed. Waiting waiting waiting while driving south!

After about 5 hours on the road, we received the best possible news: Our truck was a total economic loss and they agreed to make us whole, beyond our wildest imagination! We contacted the loan company and asked to move the closing up to May 8.

6) THURSDAY, May 7: We arrived in Cocoa and inspected the motor home. It was THE one! It was everything represented to us (so we thought) and was exactly as we thought it would be. But the loan company had not communicated back and it looked like we could not close the deal the next day. We still hoped it would be on May 11. We began using http://www.CarGuru.com to look for a dinghy (car to be flat towed behind the motor home). It also began to look promising to slip over to Sebring to surprise my mom (Debbie’s) for Mother’s Day. We were headed to see Bill’s mom on May 21 in Illinois.

7) FRIDAY, May 8: We are frantically trying to find either a used jeep Cherokee or a Chevrolet Equinox that could be flat towed. We test drove an Equinox and ruled it out. Just not enough power. And then we learned how hard it is to find a used Jeep Cherokee that can be flat towed in Florida. Apparently, Florida is too flat to have a market for the type of Jeep we need. We knew two car salesmen in the Sebring area, so we reached out to them to see if they could help us.

8) SATURDAY, May 9: We stopped in Orlando on the way to Sebring to test drive a Cadillac SRX, the crossover SUV. We were really discouraged about the lack of Jeeps or the particular Equinox we had considered.

We couldn’t believe how perfect the SRX was for us. We really needed a luxury ride as we know there will be times we will need to take some long trips in it (without the motorhome) AND we needed to be able to fit two car seats and at least one adult in the back seat. We plan to be with our grandchildren at least four months a year. We then spent the rest of the day and Sunday with Debbie’s mom and step dad, Cliff, and other family members. It was a great time to be there to help support them as Cliff is battling cancer. Any and all family members are coming there to visit and offer support.

On the roof

Bill hates hights so I’m so proud of him climbing up there to inspect it and learn about the air conditioners.!

9) MONDAY, May 11:  What a shock, while we were further inspecting the Motorhome and starting to load our belongings in it, we got the phone call. Our check was in with the local State Farm office. Bill hopped off the roof of the motorhome, off we went to get it and deposit it in the bank. We had the title to the truck, so it was a fast exchange. Another miracle!

We now feel the push to get the car and get out of the rental vehicle. We went to a dealership on Merritt Island to see their inventory.  Sadly, we couldn’t strike a deal. Also, no word from the finance company, looks like the loan won’t be closed on this date as planned by us two weeks prior. Our seller, pictured on top of the motor home with Bill is also heaven sent we learned! She has been so patient and wants to make sure we know and understand everything about this motor home!

10) TUESDAY, May 12: It looks like Bill found the perfect car for us….but it’s in Del Ray, 120 miles south of us. Oh well, we have to go check it out! So off we go and are we ever glad. It was the best possible deal for us! Bill started his adult life as an auto body man. He worked on some Cadillacs back in the day and really liked the quality of the build of these vehicles. He tried to talk me, Debbie, into owning one. I was never interested. I’m not a car person and prefer much lower profile cars. But now, all I can think of is making our grand babies safe and comfortable…and our aging bodies as well.

We had a deal and off we went in our new car and turned in our rental. How wonderful, this particular one matches our new motor home…if we could just get the loan closed. Both us and the seller are doing all we can to get to the loan officer all we need to help expedite the process. We’ve now been in hotels a week and that means meals out. We hate eating out so much….that’s why we love our home on wheels. We bring our kitchen with us.

Everyday while in Cocoa, we had plans to go get the inside of the RV ready for us to move in. We hastily loaded up all our stuff before we headed to Sebring on Saturday. But the only decent hotel near it is actually in Palm Bay, 37 miles south and a 40 minute drive. We never made it back to do that or learn more as the seller had offered to teach us.

Oh what a week we’ve had. As much as we know we sold our 5th wheel at a better price on our own and we are buying our motorhome at the best possible price, this process has been so grueling. If there is a next time, we’ll go through a dealer!

11)  WEDNESDAY, May 13: Finally, we received the loan documents, had to go to the bank for our signatures to be witnessed by a Notary and to move some funds around. Looks like we may own our motorhome this week! Once it’s finalized, we will fully reveal it!

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This scripture has become more and more real and important to us as we see the Lord’s hand and perfect timing in all these events:

“In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps!”

Proverbs 16:9