Georgia, Home, Home Away From Home

We Have Our Motor Home Back!

June 24: Was I nervous, excited, awed? Not sure, but I woke up today before 6:00 a.m. thinking about what lie ahead. Our accident occurred December 28 and we haven’t even seen the motor home since January 3. In fact, we haven’t seen it since it was towed to NIRV in Lawrenceville, Ga. Why you wonder haven’t we been in to check on it? We live in eastern North Carolina so a “little” trip to Lawrenceville just wasn’t possible.

We left Pamlico Beach around 9:00 only stopping twice, once at a rest stop and once to fill up our gas while we were still in South Carolina where gas is considerably cheaper than North Carolina. We had prepared a picnic lunch – doesn’t that sound fancy – it was just a sandwich – so we ate as we traveled. We actually got to our hotel in Augusta around 3:00 and wondered why we hadn’t plan to drive on to Lawrenceville. Well, we probably would have arrived during the worst of traffic so it was probably a good decision.

We rested for a bit and then went to check out the very nearby Gander Mountain/Camping World where we actually bought some bear spray in preparation for our summer trip out west.

Jerry wanted something different for dinner and suggested Thai. We have only eaten Thai a couple of times but we liked it so I went on Yelp and found a restaurant fairly close, Sawasdee. Fortunately, there weren’t many people there when we arrived so the waitress could give us some extra attention and offer suggestions which we sorely needed. I’m not sure what either of us got but I do know both entrees were delicious – and hot, just like we like it. Needless to say we drank a lot of water and fortunately the waitress kept our glasses topped off!

June 25: Again Tuesday morning I was awake before 6:00. After a cup of coffee we stumbled downstairs for the complimentary breakfast, then showers, packing up and on the road to Lawrenceville shortly after 9:00. Were we excited much? Although we got a call saying they were running behind and we could delay our arrival we continued on to the dealership anyway. We were ready to see our RV!

Upon arrival we met with Mike, the paint and body manager, who was working with our coach. He took us to the coach and I can tell you it looked grand! The front is beautiful! We ended up spending three days, four nights at NIRV. They wanted us to stay several nights in case there were any hiccups with the coach and there were some small issues.

Mike got it parked for our overnights and then our work began. Our sheets and towels had been in the coach six months and a lot of that time it was parked outside so our first order of business was getting them washed. Since we didn’t have septic hookup I was hesitant to wash several loads so off to the laundromat we went. We know nothing about laundromats and that quickly became obvious. We saw the machines, a triple load (yes, we could have washed everything in one load had we known) and it had the number “14” on it. We incorrectly assumed that it meant 14 minutes which in retrospect would surely be a short wash cycle. The “14” stood for the 14 quarters needed and Jerry only had $5.00, 20 quarters and of course as usual I had none. Needless to say we didn’t wash much, just the towels and damped dry them. Lesson learned – always have some cash with you!

Afterward, we found a restaurant for dinner and then a grocery store for some coffee! The rest of the evening was spent washing sheets. We only got the bottom sheet washed and dried before we collapsed in the bed pretty tired but glad to be back in our coach.

June 26: They picked it up by 8:00 on Wednesday morning for some more work. After lunch they took our Jeep to install a new base plate for the tow system plus they worked on a few more hiccups. Jerry noticed that the refrigerator was pushed out further than it had been so they addressed that.

The biggest issue seemed to be that we needed two new front tires. What to do? Was it safe to drive home where we knew we could get the tires? Questions, decisions! We had been given the name of someone to call at University Tire. Unfortunately, that gentleman was out for the day and the person Jerry talked to gave him a price of $1800 and said they did not honor the FMCA Michelin program. Ouch. Thus began the process of seeing if we could find a dealer in the area that did honor the program or find someone at home. We did find someone in Lawrenceville with a considerably lower price but we found out on Thursday morning that he could not get the tires. Regroup – Order the tires at home and hope for the best?

At this point I looked at Jerry and said “we need to pray” so right there in the car we bowed our heads and prayed. I asked the Lord for wisdom and to work out our problem the best way possible. If it was ok to drive home on the tires we would but otherwise I prayed that the right door would open.

Jerry then tried once more to call Matt at University Tire. So glad he did. He was able to talk with Matt and found out that they do honor FMCA and they had the tires in stock at a considerably lower price. Answered prayer and yes we did immediately thank the Lord and give Him the honor and the praise!

Although there was a lot of waiting, our time spent at NIRV was not so bad. They were numerous couples in and out waiting for their coaches and we developed quite a camaraderie. Everyone discussed their various travels and we got some good tips for our upcoming trip out west. Kudos to NIRV, namely Todd, Mike, Amanda, Miles, Alex, Justin and Nikki who is the beleaguered receptionist and I’m sure hears many “interesting” stories but always with a smile on her face. I don’t think we have ever done business with a company where everyone was so genuinely pleasant. They always had a smile and the time to listen with an attentive ear. I’m quite sure some of our questions were rather mundane to them but they always answered as though it was the most important question of the day.

June 26: Although Jerry had wanted to get on the road really early I knew that wasn’t going to happen (it rarely does) so it was 8:45 before we were hooked up and on the road. As always we had prayer before pulling out asking for God’s protection for safe and accident-free travel.

Although traffic was heavy it moved along until we ran into construction ahead. On the left was a sign indicating that the left lane was closed. On the right was a sign indicating that the right lane was closed. Really? Were we supposed to fly over? Jerry changed to the left lane only to realize that we needed to be in the right lane so back we went. Needless to say it was a little nerve-wracking to immediately run into traffic issues but Jerry soldiered on with great aplomb.

It was a terribly long day filled with continued construction in numerous places, bumper to bumper traffic in places and then pouring rain in bumper to bumper traffic very reminiscent of conditions when we had our accident. Jerry did a fantastic job but I must admit I was a bad passenger. Lots of gasps, “oh mys” and “watch out”! It continues to amaze me when people suddenly pull in front of us as though we could stop on a dime. Really folks!

We finally arrived in Kinston 11 hours and 501 miles later, very tired and hungry with another hour and half or driving ahead of us to get to our river home. Driving that distance is something we rarely do and for good reason but thankfully we made it safely and the RV is ready for our planned summer trip.

Now to spend July 4th with precious family!

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Georgia, Home, Home Away From Home

Finally!

After six months we have finally gotten the call. Our RV is ready (or will be Tuesday afternoon) to be picked up. Things moved very slowly initially but after a timely e-mail a few weeks ago it has been all systems on go. Murphy’s law has been in effect though. When the ordered windshield came in it was broken so they had to re-order. The wrong hood latch was sent so that had to be re-ordered. Despite these problems NIRV worked diligently to get our coach ready.

We also ran into problems getting the license tags renewed. They expired May 31 so we had to have it renewed before we picked it up. Can you imagine how nerve racking it would be to drive from Georgia to eastern North Carolina with expired tags? The problem we ran into was the safety inspection. To renew tags in NC the vehicle – car, motor home, truck, trailer, etc. – has to have a safety inspection done prior to the renewal (and taxes paid). Interestingly, safety inspections are not required in Georgia. Thus began the back and forth of e-mails and phone calls to NC DMV and NIRV. Finally, Miles at NIRV took the bull by the horns, cut out the middle man and got on the phone with DMV in NC He was eventually able to get an exemption for us. Obviously, our coach has been inspected from stem to stern and quite frankly has gotten a better inspection than normal. We were finally able to get the tags renewed yesterday. Now, if I can remember to put them in the car to take to Lawrenceville!

Plans are to leave Monday morning to drive to Augusta which is only 139 miles from Lawrenceville. After breakfast Tuesday we’ll drive on to NIRV and finally see our beautiful coach. Not only has it been repaired but it has also been thoroughly cleaned inside and out. I had assumed I would be spending a couple of days getting everything cleaned so I am so grateful for their in-depth cleaning. Two people spent eight hours cleaning the inside. Yeah, I know – it probably hasn’t been that clean since we bought it! All I will have to do is wash the linens and dishes, pots and pans, etc. Whew!

After the inside is cleaned they’ll do the outside and then park it inside so no chance or it getting dusty or rained on. Monday morning they will put the invisishield on the front and on Tuesday morning they will take it to a tire company to ensure the tires are in line. After that, it’ll be ready for us. We’re planning to spend two nights at NIRV to make sure everything is working OK. They have a week reserved for us but we just can’t stay that long due to the July 4th holiday looming.

Yes, we are excited but also a bit nervous. I still react whenever Jerry suddenly hits the brakes in the car so I know I’ll be very alert in the motor home. I’m sure Jerry is a bit nervous about driving too. It’s not like we’ll get to start out in a less traveled place. Lawrenceville is right outside Atlanta! Need I say more?

Plans are to return home by Friday, leave the coach there and then head to the river for a week. We’ll have a house full with lots of good time with three of the grands. Back to Kinston by the 7th and frantic packing, doctor appointments, haircuts and cooking to leave on July 10th. We’ll make it. We always do but as always it’ll be a rush.

Please keep us in your prayers as we travel first to Lawrenceville and back and then out west. First, stop Springfield, Illinois and then on to South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho before heading back to NC by Labor Day. Never fear NC State. We’ll be in Raleigh for the State-ECU game on August 31st!

Georgia, Home, Home Away From Home, South Carolina

On to the Gator Bowl – Again!

We finally arrived in Jacksonville, Florida around 6:00 Saturday evening. We really looked like a couple of vagabonds checking in. There was no readily available cart so there I sat in the lobby surrounded by our “stuff” while Jerry parked the car and the staff looked for a cart. We must have looked pitiful! We got in the room and Jerry collapsed on the bed from fatigue, both physical and mental I’m sure. We were supposed to meet Becky and Billy for dinner but they were exhausted as well after a 4:00 am start to catch their flight down. We just decided to meet the next morning. Jerry was sound asleep and there was no restaurant in the hotel. I didn’t want to venture out alone to look for a restaurant so I spent the evening in the room. Although we had put some things from the refrigerator in a cooler we really had nothing to eat and I was hungry. Jerry loves pork skins – I don’t but desperate times call for desperate measures. I ate pork skins, a tangelo and even got two of my chewy vitamins all accompanied with a bottle of water. Living the high life!

On Sunday we picked up Becky and Billy and headed for Amelia Island for the day. It was a nice peaceful day something we really needed. Hyatt Place is on the St. John’s River and they have a nice patio out back. We ended the day there sitting by the fire pit having a glass of wine. Well, I did. Jerry had a Mountain Dew!

We spent Monday getting ready for the game, having a delicious lunch at Bistro Biscotti’s and then on to the stadium. Tailgating was fun as we visited with a lot of State fans. Our seats were great. The game – no so much. With the loss of two coaches who took jobs elsewhere and two seniors who were planning to go pro electing not to play we were at a disadvantage to begin with plus Texas A&M is good!

We left Jacksonville Tuesday, New Year’s Day and headed to Barnwell, SC where the RV was. Although our choice was limited I was able to make reservations at the Days End Wyndham. When I called I was quoted a price of $89. When I questioned that price due to information I found on the Internet he said $71 was the best he could do. Glad I asked. Ok, I’ll take it. Days Inn Wyndham – good reputation. Right?

Our first stop when we got to Barnwell was Palmetto Towing were the coach was. We could see it behind the locked fence but there was a sign saying beware of dog so we didn’t venture in. It looked kind of pitiful sitting there with its broken windshield and headlight hanging down.

We headed on to the hotel. When I went in the office to check in I was dismayed at the condition plus no one was in the small room. I looked at the breakfast area and knew we would not be eating breakfast there the next morning. After ringing the bell on the desk my check-in was handled by a guy that asked for my ID and charge card. That was about all he said, not very welcoming at all. Then Jerry and I went to the room. One look at it and we knew we would not be spending the night there. Jerry went back to the office to see if he could get a refund while I just stood in the smelly room afraid to sit on any of the stained furniture. Of course we couldn’t get a refund but we weren’t staying. I’m not sure I have ever been in a hotel room that bad and yes, I did put a review on both Trip Advisor and Yelp.

Then we had to decide where to go. Our options were Aiken, SC or Augusta, Ga. Since we knew the RV was going to be towed to National Indoor RV in Lawrenceville, Ga we elected to go to Augusta. I called and was able to get reservations at the Hyatt Place for nearly the same price as Days Inn Wyndham. There was a world of difference in the two!

When we checked in the ladies at the desk could not have been more pleasant and welcoming plus after taking a look at us they gave me two free coupons for a glass of wine! We settled in the room and then went out for a nice steak.

Wednesday we decided to go to Lawrenceville to NIRV. I had heard good things about them but wanted to see the dealership plus I think it’s always a good idea to put a face to a name. Lawrenceville was only a couple of hours away so off we went. We were able to meet with the service manager and show him pictures of our coach. He answered all of our questions and gave us an approximate time line of how things would go. Of course it all depended on when the coach arrived and Palmetto would not tow it until they received a check from our insurance company.

Thursday we got up and out early heading back to Barnwell. We had decided not to empty everything out of the RV and only get clothes and Jerry’s tools. We crammed everything in our Jeep all the way to the ceiling and headed back to North Carolina, 300 miles away. When we got back to Kinston we stopped by the grocery store only to realize as we were walking back to the car that there was nowhere to put anything extra. Fortunately we were not far from our home as I had to hold a 24 can case of Mountain Dew with a bag of groceries on my feet! That’s OK. We were safely home. Thank you Jesus!

Although the trip was filled with dismay, angst and fear we knew when we left home and all along the way that we were in the Lord’s hands. We had prayed for safe travel and He kept us safe. We know it could have been so much worse but we are OK. Material things are just things that can be replaced. Sure, we wish the accident had not happened but we are thankful for God’s mercy, grace and protection all along the way. To Him we give the honor and the glory.