Home Away From Home

Are We Going?

What a week! Are we going to Perry, Ga for the FMCA rally? Maybe, maybe not. Each day was a wait and see meaning not much got accomplished towards getting things ready.

When we returned from our Louisiana trip we dropped the motor home off in Concord to get some warranty work done. We had told them that we had a trip planned and asked them to please have the work completed by March 11 (we dropped it off February 15). We knew there was a real possibility that the work wouldn’t be completed by then but we were hopeful. We had also asked them to change the oil and winterize it and that was done immediately. In fact, the technician got the keys to the coach while we were standing there and assured us that his part would be done.

Before I explain our frustration perhaps I should explain that we were returning the coach for the fifth time to have the same issue addressed. Just taking a unit to the repair shop for five times for the same issue is frustrating enough but add to that we live four hours away and two of the times we had to unpack everything in the coach and put it into our Toyota Avalon for the trip home. Yes, we looked like the Beverly Hilllbillies but the appearance not withstanding just imagine riding four hours in such “comfort”! One trip we even had to pack at home and then go up there to pic the coach up to leave for a trip. I know – there are much worse problems in the world than being unable to get your motor home!

A couple of weeks after we dropped the coach off we began to call to find out the status but unfortunately could not talk with anyone. We repeatedly left messages but the calls were not returned. Do you know how frustrating that is? Even if the answer is no just please tell me. Don’t ignore my calls.

We finally learned on Monday, March 7 that the technician had received the work order that day. After having been given the run around plus returning the coach for the fifth – yes, fifth time to fix a problem we were just disgusted so I sat down that night and wrote Newmar to let them know how the entire process had been mishandled. I will add this caveat in their defense. Motor home technicians are difficult to find.

The very next day, Tuesday, March 8 we got a phone call from Newmar and after saying that this kind of service or lack of was unacceptable they arranged a conference call with the dealer. To make a long story shorter we got a phone call on Wednesday evening around 7:00 (yes, the shop had closed earlier – apparently they were working overtime to get our coach repaired) saying our coach was ready. Yay – we were going to get to go to Perry. Oops – they had found another problem that they were unable to repair and it was a Ford issue.

The sway bar was broken. It was suggested that we take it to an authorized Ford dealer to have it repaired and voila, there is one in Kinston however the coach was not safe to drive and Kinston was two hundred miles away. The Newmar representative finally convinced them to tow the coach to an approved Ford dealer in Charlotte to have the sway bar repaired. We talked with Performance and they said it was an easy fix and they would get right on it. We might go to Perry!

Finally Friday morning Performance Ford called and said the coach was ready so we jumped up and began to frantically prepare to go to Charlotte. Jerry suddenly very wisely said, let’s just go tomorrow and spend the day getting ready. That sounded like a wonderful idea to me if the service department was opened. Jerry called and they were opened on Saturdays so our trip to Perry was on.

Since we finally knew we were going to make the trip we began to get food and clothes ready. We had spent the week working on the house getting it ready to put on the market but it was time to change directions.

Since we rarely eat out when we’re traveling I usually make up several dishes ahead of time. Today I made a meatloaf, stuffed peppers, meatballs, spaghetti sauce and sloppy joes. Yep, a lot of beef! Jerry made some sausage balls and then we began to pack a couple of weeks’ worth of clothes and food into the Avalon! Quite a feat since I do tend to over pack. Hey, you never know what you might need and since we were leaving Perry to go to a horse show I had to be prepared to both. Right?

On to Georgia!

Home Away From Home

Headed to South Carolina

it’s May 3 I think – Sunday and we’re on our way to Townville, SC, Lake Hartwell Camping, a Passport campground.

After I got up I enjoyed my cup of coffee and then went on to get my shower, dress and began securing everything in the back for our day of traveling. I knew Jerry wanted to get on the road as quickly as possible. Had he known that we would be traveling around Atlanta he might have suggested leaving even earlier. As it was we pulled out of the campsite at 9:08 and were on the road soon. There was right much traffic going around Atlanta but it was Sunday morning so I’m sure it was lighter than normal. Thankfully we didn’t go through Atlanta. I’m learning about routing and hopefully will do better in the future. Land is getting a lot flater and we don’t hear the coach go into overdrive nearly as often. Glad we don’t need any gas because gas in the Atlanta area is the most expensive I’ve seen on the trip.

When we realized that we would be passing near Dawsonville I called Debbie, Jerry’s sister to see where she was. Of course she was in NC.

It has been a nice sunny day for travel. Constant traffic most of the way but not stressfully heavy. We’ve talked a bit about favorite campgrounds, least favorite, how many miles to drive in a day and what would influence that decision. Overall a nice ride but quiet. I have offered to drive a couple of times but Jerry says he’s OK.

12:50 brief stop at the Visitor’s Center just as we entered South Carolina, only about 20 minutes from our destination – I hope!

We arrived at Camp Hartwell Camping at 1:15 but unfortunately the office was closed with a note that they’d be back at 12:45. Someone arrived at 1:45 – couldn’t set the clock? When she finally came back someone in front of me was paying for storage or something with $1000 cash. I had to wait quite a while but understood that her $1000 was much more important than my $19.80 that had already been paid. We finally got to the campsite after 2:00, a little tricky coming in but it was a pull through. From the looks of the place though I asked Jerry if he really wanted to stay here. His comment of course was “we paid for it”. It was a nice looking campground but people unfortunately looked a little sketchy and across from us was a “cabin” (really a trailer) and a couple of yelping dogs.

Oops, change of plans. After two attempts Jerry could not get the rig level and with everything else he said let’s go on so he headed to the office to the office to see if we could get a refund. Of course not! On our entire trip the best campground we stayed in was a Passport and the worst – this one, is a Passport. Guess you never know.

We were leaving by 2:35 and on the way to Tom Johnson Camping in Concord. We had Adkins bars for lunch as we rode along hoping we could even get into the campground. I called several times and each time got transferred to Charlotte Motor Speedway, something about a big concert week-end. Someone from the Speedway was trying to contact the campground and was supposed to call me back. In the meantime we were headed there. We had no electricity with the battery – fridge was not working – so we needed hook-up tonight!

We stopped in Gaffney, SC to get gas and Jerry asked me to drive for a while – bad decision. I had only been driving a little while when the traffic began to pick up. As we passed a Rest Stop Jerry asked if I was OK and I lied and said yes. Traffic began to get even heavier with an additional lane and I was in the middle with cars and BIG trucks passing me on both sides. I finally told Jerry that I was about to have a nervous breakdown. It took us a few minutes to find an exit so we could stop and exchange seats. We pulled into a shopping area but that didn’t work and getting out of there was very difficult. We finally turned into an empty Hobby Lobby parking lot, exchanged drivers and as we were pulling into the street the car dolly drug, the coach swayed, the pantry door opened and cans began rolling out. Fortunately the coffee pot was plugged in or it too would have been on the floor. Perhaps this was an omen of what was to come.

I was really disappointed and thinking this was not a good way to end a trip. The poor campground shook my confidence in finding good places to stay and the driving experience surely took away what little driving confidence I had away. Of course Jerry tried to make me feel better by saying it was a poor decision to ask me to drive into the Charlotte area and traffic. He also said I needed to do two things – drive more to the center line and we discussed how to do this and he also said I needed to relax! Ok – I’ll do that – one day maybe!

When we pulled into Concord and up to Tom Johnson it looked like Woodstock must have looked. Tents, campers, cars, everything everywhere. I could see why they never called us back. We found out later that it was the Carolina Rebellion, intense heavy metal music for the entire week-end. We pulled in the drive at Tom Johnson and Jerry decided if I moved the cone he could drive in and get us back out on the highway. First time I’ve ever defied authority and moved a cone but I did it. We idled next to Tom Johnson while I looked for a nearby campground while listening to deafening music. I found Apollo Campground, called and they had an empty site.

We went over – it was only .8 of a mile away and behind a couple’s home. They were elderly and so sweet. The man led us to our site and we finally got parked. As Jerry was leveling and we were setting up we met the couple next to us, Sandee and Mitch from Florida in their Tiffin Allegro – we have seen so many of those this trip. After getting set up and warming up dinner we went next door and visited with them until after 10:00. The music stopped somewhere around 10:00 finally. Sandee said it had been going on since 9:00 Friday morning stopping at 11:00 each night. It was so loud it shook the ground where we where! They were a delightful couple who gave us some good ideas and encouraged us to look into COE parks. That I will do for our next trip.

It was a difficult and depressing day but ended on such a good note. Made me not want to end our trip but alas, home was calling.

We got up the next day, packed up the car with nearly everything in the RV and took it to Tom Johnson’s. We went over the list of concerns, about 15 items, and then after lunch at Olive Garden we left Concord about 1:00. We stopped for gas and for a break at a Rest Stop and were home before 5:00. I unpacked while Jerry started mowing the grass!

What a wonderful trip and I’m ready to start planning another.