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!

Home Away From Home, Indiana

Newmar Factory and the RV Hall of Fame

A day of waiting. Although we did not have a service appointment with Newmar we decided to go anyway to see if we could be worked in. The scheduling office opened at 7:30 and Jerry was right there to put our name on the list. They said they would call in the afternoon to let us know what was available.

We also knew we had a problem with our SMI Stay and Play brake system and the home office is in Gary, Indiana about 80 miles from Nappanee so Jerry called this morning to see if we could get in there for service. We know that part of the problem is incorrect installation and we were hoping that they could rectify that. They said they would call!

We had planned to go on the 10:00 tour of the Newmar Factory but when we got there it was already full. I’m pretty sure that many of the FMCA attendees left Indianapolis for Nappanee. We decided to be back by 12:30 for the 1:00 tour.

After that with nothing to do we headed out to Elkhart to visit the RV Museum but before we got out of Nappanee we realized that we probably wouldn’t have as much time as we’d like at the museum so we ditched that idea. Really what we had done all morning was ride up and down the Main Street of Nappanee trying to decide what to do with our allotted time!

Next stop, Kountry Klub of Newmar. We had talked about joining when we first got our Canyon Star but just never did. We could join now for the pro-rated rate of $45 and get a year and a half. Pretty good deal so we did it. Hopefully we can go to some of the rallies. The International Rally is held the same week-end as the Louisville vs NC State game so that is definitely out. Ughhhhh – football games rule my fall!

With extra time to spare and waiting for phone calls we went over to the Newmar lounge so Jerry could get some Internet. In the midst of all of this I’ve gotten a text from Helen Jo saying she had gotten a call from Misty at Cypress Glen saying that Mom is really sick. Both Helen Jo and I were trying to work out some way for her to get to the doctor. Helen Jo is in Alabama and I am in Indiana, a situation that rarely occurs. In fact to the best of memory we have never both been out of state at the same time and seldom are we both out of town simultaneously. Fortunately we were able to get that worked out.

We had a quick lunch and then decided to drive on over to the Newmar tour to be assured of getting in. Our guide, Ashley actually came in earlier than 1:00 and took our group because they knew a lot of people would be showing up for the 1:00 tour.

Touring Newmar is nothing like touring the Toyota plant in Lexington. There is no automation but a lot of guys working steadily and hard. Newmar puts out eight new units a day but only builds what has either been ordered for a customer or ordered by a dealership for inventory. It was interesting to see the detail that went into each coach, also the quality of materials used was phenomenal. At the end of the tour we got to go in a few units, an Essex, a Dutch Star and a Bay Star. These were all 2018 units as the last 2017 rolled out at the end of June.

Next stop, Elkhart for the museum. On the way Jerry got a call from Newmar saying they would pick our coach up at 6:00 tomorrow morning for work. He also got a call from SMI saying we could bring our car in to have the brake system checked. That taken care of we headed on the ‘RV/MH Museum. Since we had visited a similar museum when we were in Texas we were not as impressed as we could have been. The start of the tour had some new units, two Class C’s. I had never been in one before and was pleasantly surprised at how much room they had. It would be good for a single person I think. I also saw a GMC Class B and it was really nice. Along with all the up to date technology it even had a built in wine cooler. Afterward I looked to see how much it cost but never could find a price so I later looked it up on the web and found – nothing! Interesting. Of course there were many old units as well and a lot of pop ups. I really do love RVing and camping but trust me, had I lived in those early days I don’t think it would have been for me. I told Jerry that I guessed I was born at the right time, not too early for the hardships and not too late for the progressive liberals. Two interesting coaches were the one for Charles Lindbergh and one for Mae West.

Let’s go camping!

We headed on back to the coach and after a bowl of popcorn and a little nap we had the first real meal we’ve cooked since we’ve been gone and it was good, nothing special just home cooking. A little walk around the campground and brief chats with folks from Oklahoma and we turned in for the night. Knowing we had to get up at 5:00 tomorrow sent us to bed a little early.


Nappanee, Indiana – Home of Newmar Motor Homes

Well we did it. We spent a week, well nearly a week, 6 days in the coach with only electric hook-up. When we arrived we had a full water tank and empty gray and black tanks and we made it. Since our sensors don’t work correctly we really never knew how full our tanks were or how much water we had. When Jerry filled up the water tank before we left the gauge indicated that it was 1/3 full and it was 1/3 full all week!

Plans were to pull out of our parking space by 9:00 and as directed get on pavement to hook up the car. We actually got it all done and pulled out of the fairgrounds at 8:50, an absolute record for us. For a change it was a sun shiny day and an easy drive but Highway 31 to Nappanee has a lot of construction going on and not a minute too soon. It was possibly one of the worst highways we’ve traveled on.

Fortunately we got to Newmar in Nappanee about 11:15 and got the last FHU parking place. We had already decided that if we couldn’t get a full hookup we’d find a campground. Not only did our tanks need emptying we also needed to wash clothes. In view of that I used our AllStays app to locate a campground that was in the area but fortunately we didn’t have to use it. Newmar has a number of places to park RV’s but only a small number with full hookups. Nearly every place we looked though was full as I think many of the folks at the FMCA rally had the same idea we had and headed to Nappanee first thing Sunday morning.

We parked next to another Canyon Star and Jerry visited with him for a while. While he was doing that I began cleaning, getting rid of all of the mud we had tracked in during the rainy week. Sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, dusting – all of it but you know, it doesn’t take very long when you only have 300 square feet. When Jerry came in we decided to find a fast food place for lunch since we didn’t have anything we could prepare plus we needed to go grocery shopping and get gas for the car.

We ended up at Amish Acres, a tourist attraction not far from Newmar. They had an ice cream shop, a cheese shop, a fudge shop, a farm tour and a restaurant (definitely not fast food). We headed toward the restaurant and it was like any other buffet, nothing really special but nearly $40. We probably should have gone to the grocery store first!

After we got back to the coach we both took naps. I can’t believe I was so tired but we have been on the go all day and night for a week. Afterward we walked around the “campground” and ended up bringing our chairs and visiting with some folks. One of the guys, Bob from Chapel Hill, Texas also has a Canyon Star. He showed me how he prevented his floors from getting damage from the rollers when the slides come in. He cut foam shelf paper from the Dollar Store into 12” inch squares and lets the slides come over them. We will definitely try that! We also visited with a couple from Tennessee and the guy actually knew someone that I had known years ago. Small world!

As I was sitting here typing this I just saw an Amish buggy ride by and two girls on bicycles behind it. They were going pretty fast! A very different scene than what I usually see out of our window!

Home Away From Home

Second Day in Fancy Gap

Woke up this morning to pouring down rain so have been trying to decide how to alter our plans. This is such a lovely campground and I had planned to spend the morning walking around but it’s too wet. As I sit here typing I’m looking out of the window enjoying the natural scenery with different birds just hoping from tree limb to tree limb. It is so quiet, peaceful and refreshing, like a dip in a nice pool!

Yesterday I realized that the USB ports and the GPS plug on the rig dashboard were not working so this morning I tried to do a bit of research on why. I posted on our FB Newmar group and someone suggested it might be an inline fuse and although I agreed that it might be a fuse I surely didn’t know anything else. This morning I e-mailed support at Newmar about our problem and was hoping for an e-mail response today. Instead within 30 minutes I got a phone call from a tech who explained where to look for the problem. With a flashlight I got down on the floor in front of the driver’s seat – yes, it was close – located the fuse box (who knew), found the fuse, removed it and gave it to Jerry who determined that it was indeed blown. A trip to an automotive store just got added to the plans. Hope there’s one near here! What great service from Newmar!

By this time the rain had stopped, so we went for our usual morning walk. We are definitely flatlanders not used to climbing these hills! We stopped by the office to get some ideas for touring and Jerry checked to see if they had a 20 amp fuse – they didn’t. We continued our walk but it was a short one, just over 20 minutes.

We left not sure where we were going but decided to take the Blue Ridge Parkway. We actually thought we were headed to Mabry Mill but I think we were to take a left out of the campground and not a right. We eventually ended up at the Blue Ridge Music Center which was first on our agenda anyway. What a neat place. The museum is very interesting and comprehensive. Bluegrass music is performed daily in the breezeway. Today it was Bobby Patterson and Willard Gayheart. They have several CD’s for sale and some outstanding pencil art as well. We thoroughly enjoyed listening to them play a set.

Afterward we left and ended up in Galax where we bought gas, a fuse and had a picnic lunch at Felt’s Park. Set Gypsy to bring us back to the campground only to discover that we were only 14 miles away. The drive back was a lot faster but not nearly as pretty plus we didn’t have that “I don’t know where we are going” feeling!

After we got back I got back down on the floor in front of the driver’s seat beneath the steering wheel – Imagine! Since it was so very difficult to see even with the aid of a flashlight I blindly inserted the fuse only to discover that the USB port and the GPS plug still didn’t work. Jerry firmly believed that the fuse was blown so he got down there and realized that I had inserted the fuse in the wrong place. I told him exactly where to put it but I had been unable to reach it and didn’t realize it. Now everything is working!

We hung around the rig for a while and then headed out to Floyd, VA for the shapenote singing. Floyd is a very small town and upon arriving Jerry just looked at me with that “what have you gotten us into now” look. Our first stop was Floyd’s Country Store. We wandered around a bit and Jerry bought a hat with “Made in 1948” on it and took his first selfie! He sent it to the kids and they couldn’t believe he’d taken the picture himself.

We continued to walk around the town, in and out of stores. It’s a bit hippie with a lot of tie dye! We went in a hardware store that probably had anything anyone would need. Though the store wasn’t very large it certainly had a lot of varied merchandise.
We finally made it back to Floyd Country Store where we had dinner. I had a spinach salad and a slice of quiche and Jerry had a grilled cheese with bacon sandwich and tomato soup. It all was quite good especially being in a country store.

Around 5:30 people began arriving for the shapenote singing. Shapenote singing is absolutely fascinating. Quoting from the Floyd Country Store webpage “Shapenote is a unique singing tradition, dating back to early America. Singers sit in four voice parts facing each other, forming a “hollow square.” Unaccompanied, they sing hymns and anthems in a style that is often loud and raw. It is a participatory practice, not framed as performance. The term “shape note” comes from the notation; the notes are written with different shapes- triangle, square, diamond as well as circle.” Singers use the syllables fa, la, sol, ti. It was quite interesting but I didn’t feel that I could participate as it was way out of my comfort zone. Jerry kept urging me to try it and I kept coming up with excuses but after he called me “chicken” several times I jumped up and joined the group. I definitely have not been musically challenged like that in a long time! We sang for over two hours and though I’m quite sure I was la, la-ing when I should have been fa, fa-ing, no one complained, criticized or judged. It was a very eclectic and friendly group and the leader was quite good – and patient! After two hours a very tired Gale headed back to the campground for a good night’s sleep!