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Monday, February 28, 2011

Update from the Florida Panhandle

     We are settled in here in the Florida panhandle, aka LA (Lower Alabama).  We arrived Friday without a reservation ( because they don't take them) and moved immediately into a non-sewer site.  It's a great site on the bayou with a view toward the sunset.  There should be a sunset picture in the future.  We will move to a sewer site when one becomes available.  Today, while Durelle turned in a great round of golf, I went to the office, borrowed a "blueboy" (a portable tank on wheels that can be used to empty ones holding tank(s) and towed it to a dump station).  I emptied both tanks so tomorrow will probably be a laundry day.  While Durelle was enjoying a good round of golf, Baxter and I had a pleasant day sitting outside reading "The Federalist Papers".  It's the slowest reading I have ever encountered! 
     You can spend hours with a pair of binoculars around your neck wandering trails through the woods looking for the perfect bird picture.  But sometimes one just shows up in your front yard.  The picture of the cardinal was taken through the bus windshield.  The other picture was taken as an aircraft was "turning final" right over my head.  Many  of you will recognize the distinctive bottom profile of the F-22.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tyndall AFB

     We arrived at Tyndall AFB just after noon.  For the first time since we have been coming here we did not have to go into "overflow".  We will move when a sewer site becomes available.  The first picture is taken through the windshield at site #16.  That water you see is Bayou something or other.  The other pictures were taken Monday inside the Tiffin factory.  One shows the extent of extra stainless steel tanks asociated with the new clean diesel requirements.  One shows a bedroom slideout being hoisted into position, and the last shows the assembly process of a wiring harness.  The individual wires are not only color coded but also printed along their lengths with nunerical codes.  I mentioned earlier, I think that at twelve a day, a new Tiffin motorhome rolls off the line avery 40 minutes!
     We left the interstates in Montgomery and headed south on 231.  For most of its length it matches an interstate in that the speed limits are 55 or 65 and there are two lanes each way separated by a median.  The difference is that it passes through a number of towns such as Troy, Ozark, Dothan and several other smaller villages.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Coon Dog Cemetery

          Some of you recall that when I have described Red Bay, Alabama, I mentioned its claim to have the only coon dog cemetery in the world.  I suspect that there are some sceptics out there who believe that I was using an exaggerated metaphor to convey the "red neck" nature of the area.  Not so!  Today I am providing evidence that not only is the statement literally true, it is actually very understated.  The pictures are real, and the flowers are mostly fresh.  It is obvious that these dogs, coon dogs all, were very important to their owners.  There are no headstones for "Fifi".  It is located in a wildlife preserve about a mile east of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bus Repairs and Upgrades

     Much of this post will be old hat stuff for the motorhoming friends who follow this blog.  For the rest It may offer a different insight than the usual assortment of scenic views, Happy Hours, and community meals that have populated this blog.  The motorhome is a large, complex aggregation of systems that approximates a small, but well equipped, house which is constantly subjected to the rigors of an automotive environment.  As such, it is always in need of maintenance or at least preventive maintenance.  Much, but not all, of the burden can be borne by a reasonably competent DIYer, but the inexorably decreasing talents, energy, and initiative of the old fart set means that periodic visits to the factory become more common.   With the exception of last year we have been at Red Bay in February or March every year since 2003.  This year some of the tasks included: replacing the release lanyard for the generator tray, replacing the driver's side window (thermopane windows are prone to lose their seal in a vibration environment and permit condensation between the panes), modify the seal between the door and the screen door to eliminate a loud wind whistle at 55 MPH and above, replace a missing six inch piece of crown molding, replace one of the windshield fans, lube the hydraulic jacks and the slide-out mechanisms (OK, I should be able to do that myself, but I'm lazy and I'm here).  In addition, we decided to replace the notoriously troublesome accordion style day/night blinds with a more reliable and convenient type.  We would have been out of here in two days, but the blinds had to be ordered so we'll spend a week in rural Red Bay in a dry county with the only coon dog cemetery in the world.
     In the picture you can see we are in Bay 35.  It's a large well organized operation.  Greg is reading a technical bulletin dealing with adjusting the sensitivity of the anemometer actuated, automatic canopy retractor.  The old window is visible in the foreground.  The second picture shows how clean the place is.  In another part of Red Bay the factory is turning out twelve new motorhomes per day!  It is still a family owned business that has successfully weathered downturns like the gasoline crisis in the 70's and the current recession when they temporarily scaled back to three per day.  I estimate that they have revenues of at least $2M per day.  Since they are not a public corporation, no one knows how profitable they are, but it is obviously a sound company whose reputation has always been based on their customer orientation and extensive word of mouth advertising (like this, I suppose).
     So this has not been part of a glamorous travelogue, but it is a behind the scenes look at an inevitable part of the motorhome lifestyle.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Red Bay Alabama

     Well, here we are at beautiful, downtown Red Bay. We arrived about one (CST) and will head into service bay 35 (of 48) at 0700 tomorrow. Alarm clocks and I are not the best of friends and haven't been since March of 1997. The picture that does not fit the theme for today's blog I snapped of a C-5 settling down on final approach over our back yard Monday as it headed to Joint Base Charleston (previously known as Charleston AFB). If I had been quicker to grab the camera and run outside, it would have been much more dramatic. I'm sure I'll get another chance.
     The first shot of the bus was taken just before departure about 0830 yesterday. About midway of our 350 mile first day we stopped in Augusta and met Jeri Johnson for lunch. It was nice to get caught up with some common (and uncommon) friends. If we don't see her again in April in Charleston, we will in August in Belfast, ME.
     There is also a shot of the parking area at Tiffin.  If you look closely you'll see Durelle and Baxter out for our evening jaunt.  The place she is walking used to be runway 18 at the WWII Red Bay Naval Air Station.  You can still see the number painted on the approach end.  All sites are pull-throughs with 50A water and sewer.  Actually they don't have the water turned on yet this spring (?), but there is a convenient spot to fill the tank.  The sites are $10 per night, and they're free if your work is warranty work.  It's a well oiled machine that operates very effectively.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Milestone

     Guess what?  No picture today.  While the temperature didn't get out of the 50s today, Durelle and Cindy played golf at the course at the Charleston Naval Weapons Center.  Why a milestone?  For the first time ever Cindy beat her mother in 18 holes of golf.  It took her personal best to do it, but Durelle gave her a real challenge down the home stretch.  Playing over her head, Cindy shot a 40 on the front nine...five 5s, three 4s and a 3.  Durelle managed a 48.  Cindy struggled on the back nine.  She must have been aware of the significance of the event.  She ended up with a 90.  A triple on the 14th kept her from breaking 90.  Meanwhile, Durelle was putting on a charge.  After an inglorious 8 on 11, she buckled down and finished with three straight pars only to come up one stroke short.  I then met them at a favorite Mexican restaurant.
     I'm aware that the majority of the country didn't permit a round of golf today, and it was marginal here.  Nonetheless, it was another great day in South Carolina.