Home Away From Home, North Carolina

Frustration, Praise and Thankfulness!

Almost four years of RVing and we still feel like Newbies! We seem to learn something new on every trip, sometimes something really big and sometimes just a process that makes things easier. Despite the absolute fun and convenience of traveling on wheels occasionally we have a bit of frustration. Things break or wear out just like they do in our sticks and brick home, thus my post today.

On our way to the FMCA Rally in Indianapolis in July we realized that our assistive braking system on the car was not working so while at the rally we talked with a representative from the company. We discovered that the system had been installed incorrectly. Campers Inn had never installed one before so they were learning and we could understand that. The plan was to contact them as soon as we got home to resolve the issue.

On to Nappanee, Indiana, home of Newmar to have some work done on our Newmar Canyon Star. In addition to some other smaller issues the rollers on the slide had damaged some of the tiles. We asked about getting them replaced but the cost was prohibitive (ah, say exorbitant to us) so we elected to buy a box of tiles and have it done at home. Perhaps that was our first mistake.

When we got home (in early August) we took the coach to Campers Inn in Selma/Smithfield, NC where we had the brake assistive system installed. They had agreed to put down the new tiles in the coach at half the cost plus ascertain the problem with the braking system. They immediately got to work on the tiles. They removed the damaged tiles, opened the box we had purchased from Newmar only to discover that we had the wrong tiles. What? We could see the tiles through the cellophane on the box and they looked like the correct tiles. They were the right color but the distributor had changed the grout line making it impossible to correctly align the them. Of course we called Newmar and learned that the distributer had discontinued those tiles – what? We’ve got bare places on our floor, down to the OSB and no available tiles. What to do? Then began the process of Newmar trying to find some tiles. We held off on taking the car to Campers Inn while we were waiting to receive the tiles so we could get it all done at the same time. Second mistake.

We had planned to take the RV on a short trip to Raleigh, NC in September for a horse show but of course that was not possible as it was still at Campers Inn waiting for some tiles. One canceled trip.

Finally after several weeks of waiting, phone calls to Newmar, frustration, etc. on September 7 I sent an e-mail to Newmar Customer Service and we finally found out that the guy handling our tile problem was out due to a family emergency (actually two emergencies) – understandable but then we had to start explaining all over again. Finally around the first of October I sent an e-mail to Customer Service stating my dissatisfaction with Newmar and the tile problem. Then began a series of e-mails with Derek who was trying to catch up and do what he could. Thank you Derek.

The next step was receiving an e-mail from Ivy in Customer Service apologizing for “this whole ordeal” and telling us that the tiles shipped out that day. After several disappointing days of waiting anxiously for the UPS truck arrived we called Customer Service once again. You won’t believe what we found out. The box of tiles (I use that description lightly) in its journey arrived in Greensboro, NC empty – torn and nothing inside. Excuse me, but did no one notice that tiles were falling out of the box? They contacted Newmar who contacted us. Only three boxes of the tile had been located and one of them was gone forever.

Back to the emails again. The parts man who had originally helped us e-mailed us and told us that they had found some more tiles and would be sending them to us. Since it was Friday and we were scheduled to leave for a FMCA chapter rally and then a Kountry Klub (Newmar) Region 5 rally on Tuesday I asked if they could be overnighted. He replied that they were being sent by the distributor but Newmar had OKed them to be sent if the distributor would do that. Shortly afterward we got another e-mail saying that they had found some tiles at Newmar and they were being sent out that day. Thank you.

Jerry contacted Campers Inn and an appointment was made to take the car in on Monday at 8:00 for the brake repair and to pick up the RV. Guess we’ll be traveling with no tiles on the majority of the living area of the RV because it is doubtful that the tiles will arrive by Monday morning. I have always taken the sheets off of the bed, washed them immediately upon arriving home and then put them back in the coach. Did I do that the last time? Of course not because we were dealing with the house issue plus we had taken a lot out of the coach to use at home because everything in the house was packed up for the move that didn’t happen. On to the story, we decided on Friday to go to Smithfield, get the sheets and determine what we had left in the RV in July. Off to Smithfield we went (an hour away) and guess what we found. Someone had left the battery disconnect on with perhaps a light on so the battery was dead meaning that we had no steps, no light and no way to put the slides out to get the sheets. Discouragement reared its ugly head.

We finally pulled the sheets off, literally climbing in and out of the RV and headed home. Brake assist not fixed, no tiles and a dead battery but you know what? These are just little blips along the way of life. There are so many people that have real problems and ours are just inconveniences. Yes, I have been discouraged at times. 2017 has not been kind to us in many ways but God has not been surprised by any of this. He is still in charge! Praise God!

Update – Monday, October 16: Jerry got up early and was at Campers Inn before they even opened. They quickly got to work on the car and Jerry, the RV (finally) and the car were home by lunch. Guess what was in the garage waiting for him when he arrived? You guessed it – a big box of tiles! Obviously Newmar didn’t want a repeat of lost tiles so they had packaged them in a huge box. Jerry immediately called Campers Inn and they said to be there by 8:00 on Tuesday morning and they would put the tiles down.

We spent the rest of Monday getting ready to leave and by 7:00 on Tuesday morning Jerry was on the way. I followed in the car about an hour later. The tiles were replaced quickly but they suggested that we wait for at least two hours before picking the coach up giving the tiles time to set. No problem as we were not in a hurry. We walked around Carolina Pottery, the local outlet mall, got some buffet lunch at Pizza Inn and pulled out of Campers Inn a bit after 1:00. The floor looked great! They had asked us not to use the slides for 24 hours but other than that all was good – finally!

After a couple of stops along the way we pulled into Tanglewood Park around 6:00. We have stayed at Tanglewood a number of times in the past and although there are some unlevel sites we usually have no problem getting level. When I had called to make the reservation I was given a choice of what site to choose and thinking #10 was on one of the first rows I chose that. #10 is in the corner and most unlevel. We finally had to put the jacks down manually but we got it good enough for the night. Setup was quick and easy since we were not pulling out the front slides. We were able to open both slides in the bedroom and that gave us plenty of room for the night. We were having dinner with David and Jane so not pulling out the front kitchen slide did not cause any inconvenience.

It felt so good to be back in the coach with everything in its place. Looking forward to a good fall of camping! It got pretty cold that night but we were snug and warm inside our little home on wheels. Ah….

Kudos to Newmar and Campers Inn for their persistence in helping get our tiles replaced. Circumstances beyond their control contributed to a long delay but eventually all was resolved. Needless to say we’re on a first name basis with both companies!

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North Carolina

On to Sycamore Lodge

We are finally getting back on the road and doing a little bit of traveling and it feels good! We must have been excited about it because neither of us slept well last night. I had hoped to leave by 7:00 and Jerry had said 8:00 and it was actually 7:46 when we pulled out of the driveway. At the end of the street Jerry put the coach in park and we had a moment of prayer asking for safe travel today. I’ll admit I’m a little skittish after our last “trip” but I know God has us in His hands.

Jerry knew that we needed to add some air to the tires and the small air compressor that he has at home just would not do the job so his plan was to stop by Mallard’s on the way out of town where there is an air compressor. At the last minute he decided to go to Universal Tire to let the professionals do it. Good choice I think. He had put the new sensors on the tires yesterday and was eager to make sure everything was working correctly. By the way, the TPMS system that we were using was from TechnoRV and when we contacted Eric about the system’s failure to alert us to a problem he quickly sent us a new set. Campers Inn and TechnoRV have been very supportive throughout the entire ordeal and I highly recommend them for products and service.

Wish I could say the same about Acme Tow Dolly located in Kearnsville, NC. We have called, e-mailed and even stopped by the business but have been unable to reach the owner. He did return one call but Jerry missed it and when Jerry tried to return the call leaving yet another message there was no response. The accident occurred April 15. It is now June 1 so we’ve been trying to speak with the owner nearly six weeks. According to the firemen the brake bearing on the tow dolly locked up causing the fire. The tow dolly was sold to us with a 5 year maintenance free guarantee. Guess you can offer that if you don’t plan to respond to an incident. I really hate that because I do want to support local businesses whether it be our city or our state but I surely don’t recommend Acme Tow Dolly to anyone. I do intend to alert the Better Business Bureau but other than that I guess we have no recourse other than to warn others.

We finally pulled out of the tire shop at 8:14 for a 100+ mile drive to Jackson Springs. We were not exactly sure where it is so the ride should be interesting. We were told to follow our GPS and that’s what we’re doing!

Have you ever heard the phrase “you can’t get there from here?” Well that may apply to Sycamore Lodge! We had two GPS’s plus MapQuest and so of course we got three different routes to take. Sycamore Lodge is located in Jackson Springs which I “think” is in the Pinehurst/Southern Pines area but I’m not sure! Although many RVer’s suggest taking the back roads we always stick to the four lane highways. At forty feet plus a toad we feel safer and less likely to get into a sticky situation if we continue on main highways. Unfortunately for this trip nearly half of it was on two lane country roads going through several small towns. Even at a slower speed it’s difficult to keep the coach in our lane on some of the curves. Jerry commented that only I would be able to enjoy any of the scenery because he had to keep his eyes on the road. Oh no, I don’t enjoy the scenery because in cases like this I’ve found it better just to keep looking down!

We arrived around 11:30, a little over three hours from when we departed. As we were driving in on nicely paved roads Jerrys’ comment was “great place to ride bikes”. More about that later. Registration was quick and we were told that we were scheduled for lunch and to meet with a representative on Friday at 2:30. Guess we’ll be having “lupper”!

Since we were free for the rest of the day we set up, had lunch and then decided on a bike ride. That was not one of my brightest ideas! Yes, there are paved roads but they are right in the center of the campground. Otherwise there are graveled, sandy roads – and deep sand at that. We rode two miles and I must say that is the hardest two miles I’ve ever ridden. It was hot and humid and in places the sand was so deep we had to get off and push the bikes through. Oh, it was about 1:00 in the afternoon too.

The campground itself seems to be very nice with a lot of amenities (not cable) but is in the middle of nowhere! I used the GPS to search for places to visit and there’s just nothing nearby. The closest Walmart is 14 miles away! The campground does have a nice pool and hot tub, a pretty lake for catch and release along with a pedal boat and some canoes on shore for use, horseshoes, volleyball, and some other outdoor activities. My favorite was the small putt-putt course.

We had a lazy afternoon which I guess we both needed after the previous busy days, weeks and months that we’ve had so it was sort of nice. Wouldn’t want too many of these days though! Perhaps tomorrow before the appointment we’ll have to take in the pool. It’s really too hot to do too much outside.

After dinner Jerry and I took a walk. We eventually ended up at the lake and just sat and chatted while we enjoyed the view. Since no one else was around it was so quiet and peaceful and restorative. It was a nice way to spend our 27th anniversary, nothing special, just the two of us appreciating the years we’ve had. On the way back to the motor home we played a game of putt-putt. I haven’t improved at all in the years since I last played but it was fun.

Needless to say it was an early night for us. Jerry turned the air condition down to 65 degrees and we slept snug as bugs in a rug!

Home

Braking Systems

After ordering the Air Force One braking system for our coach I was surfing the web and was on the RVillage site. Someone asked about towing so I added our experience with the tow dolly and said that we had ordered the Air Force One system. As is usual with social media several of us began to “chat” and someone asked me if our coach was gas. Well, yes it is. He responded that he didn’t know a gas coach could use an air brake system. Oh my – I began my research. Jerry had researched the different braking systems but somehow had missed that air brake systems would only work on a coach with air brakes – well duh – we should have figured that one out. We immediately called Campers Inn and were able to change the order to the SMI Stay-In-Play system with no problem and were still scheduled for the following Wednesday for installation. Whew – dodged a bullet finally.

We brought the coach home on Tuesday and headed out Wednesday morning for Campers Inn Jerry driving the RV and me following in the car. We arrived at our appointed time, 10:00 and then got the good news plus the bad news. The good news was that the system was less expensive. The bad news was that it took longer to install. Probably a wash either way. We ended up spending the entire day in the area. Since they were installing the system on the car we drove the RV to the local outlet mall and wandered around there for a while and then had some lunch. We eventually went back to the dealership and waited while they completed the installation. I cannot say enough good things about Campers Inn of Raleigh. They were most courteous and even invited me to a birthday party they were having for an employee.

Finally everything was completed, the car was attached to the RV, we had gotten instructions on what to do so off we went. Fortunately we had a very uneventful trip back to Kinston because when we got home we encountered yet another problem. Jerry detached the car from the RV and I began to back it up and realized that I had very little braking power. Oh my, what now? It was after 5:00 so we parked the car and the RV and called it a day.

On Thursday after talking with Campers Inn they sent a technician to our house (55 miles) to go over the installation to see if they had done anything incorrectly. This was the first time they had installed this system so it was a learning experience for them as well. He couldn’t find anything wrong so our next call was to the local Jeep dealership in Greenville. They told us to bring it over. I still can’t believe that Jerry drove the car 30 miles to Greenville at 4:30 in the afternoon with no brakes. I was so worried about him and tried several times to call him as I was too far behind him to see him. When he didn’t answer my calls I began to get more anxious and when I got to the dealership and saw him my first words were “where is your phone”. He often has his ringer turned off and I assumed that was the case this time but no – the phone was home.

He got to the Jeep dealership safely and we left the car. They ran a diagnostic on it and discovered that the vacuum switch had been put in backwards during the installation of the braking system. They repaired it and we picked the car up on Saturday. Campers Inn has graciously opted to pay the bill since the mistake was on their part.

The car is home, working fine and now we will get to see if we can get everything together for a trip! Time will tell.