Home Away From Home

Another Busy Day in Perry at FMCA Reunion

Another early start as Jerry had the conclusion of his driving class. I decided to go to a seminar entitled “Women and RV’s”. I’m not quite sure what I expected but it wasn’t what I got although it turned out to be very interesting. The initial question was “what are you going to do when something happens to your spouse?” Wow – I hadn’t really thought about that. We’ve just been worried about getting home in case something happened to someone at home. The presenter Fran Marynik along with her husband Ed said they didn’t want women to be scrambling and having people take advantage of them in case something life changing did occur. Their main suggestion was to have a plan. Fortunately since everyone there was a member of FMCA we have the advantage of being able to call them and they will assist with arrangements even to get a driver to take you or you and/or your coach home.

She urged everyone to know the vital statistics of their coach: Make, model and year, Chassis, Engine and the length, width and weight of your coach. Additionally you should know who to call if you should experience any trouble with any of those items along with jacks, housing, transmission, etc.

An app that was recommended was glimpse which is a locator. It can send a link of a google map to others to let them know where you are. This is especially helpful to those traveling alone. Leaving a television on at night when you’re away makes it appear that someone is home and some even put men’s shoes outside the door to indicate there is a man at home.

We have heard many times this week about the things that should be regularly checked like air pressure in the tires, oil, water in the batteries, etc. Safe places to overnight in lieu of campgrounds are hospital parking lots and church parking lots. When parking do not park so that the door is next to the curb because that hides your entrance or exit from others who may be around and presents an opportunity for something to happen.

The next seminar was about cooking for two in an RV. The feisty 82 year Tupperware saleslady had numerous recipes and ideas and soldiered on despite a number of technical difficulties. I definitely will be trying some of her suggestions and the first one will be a quiche in the microwave.

I joined Jerry in the next seminar about using Velcro in the RV. This Velcro is high temp acrylic and can be used to hang pictures, secure hoses, secure things kept on the counter tops plus many other uses. After the initial application it has to cure for 24 hours before using. I suggested to Jerry that we could possibly use it to secure the Garmin that I use as it falls off of the counter quite frequently as we travel.

After the seminar we came back to the coach for a quick lunch and then back to the fairgrounds intending to look at the new Newmars. We saw a tram so Jerry suggested we get on. Well, the trams are for the people staying on the grounds so instead of going to the new coach section we rode around the camping area. There are about 2400 units out there! Amazing!

We talked with the representatives about the possibility of having lights added to our awning and how it could be done. Not sure if we’ll be purchasing them at this point as we are probably going to buy a TPMS and that will blow the budget for the trip! We also wandered through some of their new coaches and they are nice and then on our way to the next seminar we went in a Phaeton. Wow, just wow. Lesson learned here – if you are happy with your coach don’t go looking at new ones. I really am happy with our coach and I am not interested in a diesel.

Jerry went to a seminar on tires and I went to hear Mac the Fire Guy. The top four reasons for RV fires are diesel engines, Norcold refrigerators, wiring under the dash and tires. Gas coaches are the safest. He said that if you hit the rumble strip when driving you should always check your tires on your next stop to see if any damage has been done. He talked about fire extinguishers and CO alarms. He recommended the Atwood CO alarm and said to have the tallest person in the rig put the alarms at his level. It is safer to sleep in the bedroom with the door to the main part of the coach closed.

We drug our tired bodies back to the coach for a brief rest before heading back over for a get together with Jan, Jim and their group from the Atlanta area. We met two new couples and thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them.
Before heading over to the concert we raced back to the motor home to put up the awning and the chairs as it looked like we might have a storm (we didn’t).

We finished up the night with a concert with Mark Chestnutt, Lori Morgan and Joe Diffie. Thought I don’t know much about country music I enjoyed the concert.

Back to the coach and ready for bed. Church in the morning at 8:00. Man, these 8:00 mornings are killing us!

Home Away From Home

Day Two at FMCA Reunion in Perry

Jerry had an 8:00 session this morning, actually the first part of a two day session called RV Driving Safety Program. Once he completes the session tomorrow he will be presented a certificate that he can present to our insurance agent and our insurance should go down. Good deal! Since I also wanted to attend an 8:00 session we were up and out early. They have a devotional each morning at 7::00 but we haven’t been able to make that yet.

My session was called The Intentional Traveler and the presenter was Pam Johnson. A former engineer and programmer she has written a program to consolidate planning tools and records to include maintenance records as well. She is beta testing an online version and asked for volunteers so I gave her my name and information. The only requirement to be a tester is to make at least one entry a month on the application. It was very informative although a lot of what was covered were things I was already familiar with. Relative to trips she said one of the most important things was to do research ahead of time and to make notes about each destination. One tip I got was to take each of the very many brochures that we get when we stop at a Visitor’s Center and to write down a few facts about that particular site. Then throw the brochure away because you can only keep so much in the motor home. I am certainly going to try to do this in the future and hopefully can eventually get caught up on our vast collection and try to minimize the number of papers we have.

She gave the analogy of filling about a 1/3 of a jar with sand and then finish filling it up with rocks. How many rocks can you put in? Then she suggested putting the rocks in first and then adding sand. You naturally can put more rocks in even using the same amount of sand. That is how our trips should be planned. Determined the big rocks first and then plan around them.
She recommended several apps most of which I already have but one good tip was to use the satellite view on the Allstays app. I’ve never done that but will certainly use it in the future. Although we try to abide by the 330 rule, either driving no more than 330 miles or stopping by 3:30 she suggested that the 230 rule be used. Always allow time for an oops, a campground you really don’t want to stay at, or getting lost, or any number of reasons. She also recommended getting a Big Rig Atlas. We have an atlas but will try to get the one for big rigs as it has very pertinent information for us.

My next session was Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda by Camco out of North Carolina. The speaker was very entertaining and told relevant stories as he gave a great many tips. Yes, he was selling a product but that was not the focus of his presentation. One thing he suggested that everyone have is a Volt Alert by Fluke which can be purchased at Harbor Freight. This determines the line voltage and can prevent someone being shocked by touching the motor home. Another tool he recommended was an infrared thermometer. Just by touching the tire you can test the heat in the tires and then determine if additional air is necessary.

Whenever selecting any kind of tank treatment be sure that it contains coconut oil as that lubricates. All in all it was a very informative session. An additional tip he told us was to use hornet spray to fight off bears! Hopefully that’s a tip I won’t have to use!

The last session I went to was on inside cleaning. It too was a vendor but the cleaning products she used were household products, e.g. white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol. Her company is Almost Heaven Microfiber and although she strongly recommended using her towels she also gave out a booklet with all of her cleaning tips in them. I am definitely going to try some of them very soon.

Jerry and I met and walked around some of the exhibits and then decided to return to the campground for lunch. We were back at the fairgrounds by 2:00 and he didn’t have a seminar until 3:00 so we went over to talk with the TechnoRV folks about the tire monitoring pressuring system, TPMS. We are very interested in buying one but want to make sure that we get the right one.

Jerry went to his seminar and I went to the other exhibition building and ended up buying a couple of things. In the seminar I went to yesterday the lady demonstrated some dishes that could be used in the microwave to boil eggs and cook pasta. Since we do both of those things often I decided to get those two dishes. Using those in the coach prevents the “kitchen” from heating up.

I met Jerry a little after four and we tried to find some other TPMS dealers but the vendors were closing at 4:00 so we weren’t able to see any.

Then we went to a meeting of Coaches for Christ, a national organization of Christians who are RVers. It was very uplifting to see believers together in a national meeting. The “Singing Auctioneer” sang and he is quite good. There will be a church service on Sunday morning and he will be singing then.
We came on back to the coach and I finally fixed dinner. It was nice to have a good home cooked meal.

After we cleaned up the kitchen we headed back to the fairgrounds for the opening ceremony which was impressive. A young girl whose family full times gave the invocation and then we said the Pledge of Allegiance and then sang both the Canadian National Anthem and our National Anthem. Very nice!
Next we were entertained by a comedian, Lee Marvin Adams. At our last rally (and only other one) we were “entertained” by a not very funny comedian but Mr. Adams had us all rolling with laughter.

Just before he concluded I got a phone call from Caroline and it frightened me as she generally doesn’t call me. I immediately got a text from Trent saying that Eva was trying to call me to tell me she lost her first tooth. I couldn’t return the call then but as soon as we got out and away from everyone I facetimed her and saw that precious snaggle toothed munchkin. Oh my, she’s growing up so fast.

Back to the coach and to bed. Another 8:00 morning coming up!

Home Away From Home

Find Your Pot of Gold! in Perry, Georgia

Today was the first day of the FMCA Family Reunion and it was a very full day. We had already picked up our registration materials so we kind of had an idea of where we were heading. Jerry’s first session was on Maj Jong! Apparently he learned a lot because it lasted a pretty long time. I headed over to Chris and Jim Guild’s session on Technology for Travelers: Pictures Maps, Movies, and Blogs. Although I had heard some of the things before of course there was more to learn. Today’s class just touched on some of the subjects they will be covering in more depth during the week-end. I really want to play with making a Google map but I surely won’t have any time for that in the next few days.

After our sessions Jerry headed over to a session on how to detail your coach in an hour. He said he learned some very valuable tips and encouraged me to attend a later session on cleaning the inside. I had already planned to go.

We walked over to see the new coach demonstration but actually ended up going to the Newmar section and talking with Matt, the head of customer service for quite a while. We were in a Canyon Star and another guy, Clarence, came in and he too had a Canyon Star so there was quite a lot of idea exchanging. I think Jerry got some good tips.

I left him there and headed to the session on Microwave/Convection Cooking. One of the most relevant things I learned was that everyone else’s convection can preheat in under five minutes. It takes ours forever so I’m guessing something might be wrong there. Oh well.

After the sessions we came back to the coach and sat outside and rested a bit before heading back over to join Jan, Jim and their FMCA group for potluck dinner. What a nice group of people. They’re getting together again on Saturday and asked us to join them again.

After a quick run to the grocery store we came back to a fairly cool coach considering we’ve only got one air conditioner going. It has been cooler today though plus most of the time it’s been overcast so that has helped keep the temp down. Tomorrow is supposed to be even cooler. Let’s hope! All in all so far the weather has been great for a rally.

Home Away From Home

A Day in Perry

Since our air conditioner is not working we sort of planned our day around the technician coming to work on it. Jerry called around 10:30 and he was on his way over so we just waited for him. Surprisingly enough the coach had not gotten so terribly hot especially with the back air conditioner running. In fact I got a bit cool last night.

George, the technician came and checked out everything up on the roof and then came down and told us that our extended warranty would not cover it. I think he enjoyed the looks on our faces because he hesitated just a bit before he added that the air conditioner had a two year warranty so Dometic would cover it. Whew! The problem was though that it would take 8-10 days for a new unit to get to Perry. Since we have been in contact with Newmar so much recently Jerry called and after talking with the representative a few minutes he just gave George the phone and the two guys worked it out. They conferenced call with Dometic who is going to send a unit to Newmar but Newmar is going to go on and send one of theirs out immediately. It will still take at least four business days to get here so we will be extending our visit at least one day.

We mentioned to them the stuff that Camping World had spilled all over the side of our coach and as of yet Jerry had been unsuccessful in removing it. They suggested using WD40. Jerry tried some after they left and it worked!

We walked up to the office then to see if there would be any problem with us extending our stay. The park is so full now with many people attending the rally but also other snowbirders traveling through. They assured us that it would not be a problem and we told them we’d let them know as soon as we knew anything.

As we were walking around we met a group of FMCAer’s from Virginia and stopped and chatted with them for a while. We all had our Camping World war stories it seems.

We came back to the coach and grabbed our lunch, Cliff bars and a clementine for me. Then strangely enough we went to Camping World in Byron to get a bar for the door and a cover for the steps. A quick run to the grocery store and then we headed back to the campground to take everything in.

We had a meeting at 3:00 for the first attenders for the rally so we headed over to the fairgrounds for that. It really pertained more to the people staying on the grounds and then they covered the book. Hopefully the sessions will be an improvement.

When we came back to the campground we sat outside and read. Our neighbors came over and we visited with them for a few minutes. I realized when I went inside that cooking in the coach would be difficult so we decided to go out to eat. I sent a message to Jan and Jim and we met them at Longhorns for salads. We had another lovely visit with them discussing everything from RV’s to education.

Back to the rig and a quiet night. It’s cool in the bedroom and fortunately so I’m headed that way!

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!