Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No News About Mona

I called Tonya Chambliss at Cullum Maxey last Thursday to inquire about the status of Mona's repairs. The hydraulic jack is on order and 1 to 1-1/2 weeks is expected. I'm trying to learn more about getting a windshield cover without too much luck. Some people seem to have good luck making their own from materials purchased at Lowes. More research is needed. I'm creative... I can do this.

The Blue Ox Cover and Electric Extension Are In!

Kim called late last week to tell me the cover for our tow bar and the electric extension cord are finally in. I didn't call her back until today because I wanted to try to add the bicycle cover to our items before making a trip to Columbia. As usual, there's no pressure to pick up the merchandise and I'll get down there next week, probably.

On The Search for Bikes

The type of bicycle acceptable has to be comfort first. Desires include in order of importance: no more than 5 speeds, fenders, fat seats. Of course the seat thing is easily remedied. I'm still not convinced a standard cruiser isn't okay with me. However seeing a lady my age learn the ease of uphill pedaling has me almost convinced that a bike with gears would be best. Still not sure. We're looking on Craigslist and at all the department stores. We'll take new or used, but we're not spending a fortune. Those collapsible folding bikes aren't for us and neither are the recumbent ones. Too weird. On Saturday, in the pouring rain, we drove to M'boro looking for the Swoopes Bicycle store on E. Main Street only to find them closed for a week's vacation. We've checked every K-Mart, Target, Walmart and some bicycle stores and nothing is right. We'll just have to keep trying...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mona Goes For Repairs

On Tuesday, April 20, we took Mona to Cullum Maxey with our list of repairs and questions. The hydraulic jack is by far, the worst of them and the kitchen sink leak worries me. Wayne drove Mona and I followed behind in Blackie. We're have no idea how long the repairs will take or what we will be expected to pay for them.

Saturday Night at SunCoast RV in B'ham

It was still light when we pulled into SunCoast RV in Calera, Alabama on Saturday. The temperature was very nice as we unhitched Blackie and backed Mona into the overnight campsite. We ate dinner early, as usual and took our walk up to the sales office and back again before going in for the evening. The night was cool and we were forced back into sweatshirts the next morning.
2010 Spring Vacation to Destin

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sunset King Lake RV Resort - DeFuniak Springs, Florida

Wednesday - Saturday, April 14-17, 2010 were spent at Sunset King Lake RV Resort in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. We'd noticed the place on the way down last week as two oncoming motorhomes were turning onto the road leading into the park as we passed by. There was some problem leveling Mona as the hydraulic jack worsens. Finally we were able to get her leveled manually and we used the drip pan under the jack. We like everything about the park except the lack of shade. Our campsite K-3 has patio shade during the first half of the day but is in direct afternoon sun. We've found the windshield to be a huge source of heat and we have to close the curtains to keep the camper from becoming too hot. Our rate is $28 per night for 50/w/s/c. It seems like a friendly place and there are lots of snowbirds. We stay on the third night and plan to pull out on Saturday morning.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010: From Topsail to "Camping on the Gulf"

By 11 a.m. we were loaded and pulling away from Topsail Preserve State Park in Destin, once more unsure of a new destination. Because we hadn't really gotten our "fill" of beach, we decided to splurge for two nights at a place called simply, "Camping on the Gulf" .. also in Destin. It's in Destin, along Highway 98 on a narrow parcel of land that runs several hundred yards from the highway to the gulf. There really are camping sites right on the beach, but we opted to be away from the surf and sand so we're nearer to the highway in an area with a few pitiful looking trees. Certainly none that could be mistaken for shade trees however. The rate is $87 per night so we're spending $194 for two nights in site #310. We do have 50/W/S/C. The only open pool has a large tenting over it and is just hideous. We will not be swimming. The campground has many vacant sites and lots of retirees. Our kind of place. We enjoyed cooking out and taking walks around the campground and to the beach where we sat on a picnic table. Funny how we avoid getting sandy in our old age. That's another weird thing.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010 - Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

We set a destination of the Gregory E. Moore RV Resort at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. On Saturday morning I called to see if we could, by chance, expect to get a site when we arrived. It does not look promising as we are still in the "spring break" season and many families, of course, go to the beach during the vacation week. It doesn't matter to us, we will go into the area anyway and take whatever we can find. Our exploring spirit makes us take such chances.
Wayne used the new sewage mascerator system to dump our tanks before leaving Greenville. What a fabulous piece of equipment! The pump works like a charm. For the first time yesterday, we extended the patio and door awnings and the pull down window shades. The shades presented a challenge as it took me some time to figure how to keep them from rolling back up.

Sunday, April 11, 2010 - Full Day at Topsail in Destin

We awoke to another beautiful day, with the sun coming into Mona's big picture window. The park was brimming with people, already up and walking their pets and kids. Mid-morning prompted a drive to try our luck finding bicycles and a bike rack to fit into Blackie's new receiver hitch, just installed while she was at Columbia Campers. We visited four stores, Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target, but didn't find bikes to suit us. We returned in mid-afternoon and stopped by the park office to see if there might be a chance of staying on in our existing spot for a few more nights. That won't be possible, however, there are other spots inside the park but none we like well enough to cause us to stay. Back at the camp, we finished watching the Master's Tournament and saw Phil Mickelson win. Mosquitoes are plentiful in the campground so we were unable to eat supper or watch nighttime tv outside. Still unsure of tomorrow's destination, we'll decide that tomorrow, but for now, we took the very long walk down the paved pathway to the beach.

It was a nice walk and we arrived in time to see a beautiful red/orange sunset. We walked quickly back to the campsite to get in before the night and the mosquitoes took over.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Overnight at Sherling Lake Campground in Greenville, Alabama

What a terrific campground we found Friday afternoon in Greenville, Alabama. It is Sherling Lake Park and Campground about 7 miles from the interstate.

While our particular site, #34 was not the best (sun on the patio side), the campground itself is very appealing. We have 50 amp service, sewer and water for $25. Another frozen dinner tonight, followed again by a cool walk.

The night air is cool. Cleaning the kitchen after dinner, we found the small sink drain pipe to be disconnected -- pouring the drain water directly onto the floor below. We threw a towel onto the wet area and investigated the problem and determined we could not fix it. I plugged the drain and covered it.

Our "Welcome" to Topsail

We arrived at Topsail Preserve State Park Campground in early afternoon on Saturday, April 10 and were, frankly, surprised to get a place to camp. It was just for two nights -- site #142. The campground was nice; it had been recommended by the Helton's, who we had met last winter in Williston. We could see why they liked it. We unhooked Blackie and I let Wayne around to the campsite. Immediately I saw a man in the site directly behind us taking an unusual interest in us. He walked to the rear of our site and stared relentlessly. I stared back. He never flinched. Wayne and I readied our new $20 walkie talkies and made preparation to back Mona into the site. I knew the idiot was still staring and I knew, too, that he would become a problem. I didn't get Wayne lined up properly and the first attempt was stopped and we had to reposition. At this point, the idiot walked up behind me and began "...he's running over the sprinklers." That did it. I couldn't believe my ears. I asked him to leave and he did but he did not stop starring critically. He shook his head so Wayne could see him in the rear view mirrors. What a dreadful start to this camp adventure. I finally got over my anger and we enjoyed the first evening at Topsail -- taking a walk after dinner and before dark.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010 - South from Birmingham on I-65

Another absolutely beautiful day is expected today but the night was very COLD. Colder than we've had in over a week at home in Franklin. We had to add extra blankets and use the heater. We ate breakfast, pulled in the slides and began preparation to continue the trip. As we were in an out -- leaving the door open, a big dove found her way inside and suprised me as I went in. She was perched comfortable on the dashboard where, I suppose it was nice and warm. Wayne caught her and helped her back outside. We finally got underway again wearing long sleeve clothes. Wayne is getting more comfortable driving Mona and I just love the ride. Last night and this morning we found the right rear jack has a terrible leak -- spewing pink hydraulic fluid with each use. Upon starting the diesel engine, the hydraulic fluid level alarm began. We drove the 10 miles down I-65 to SunCoast RV Center, our usual stop for repair, it seems. They could not fix the jack, but Larry suggested we just buy some Dextron III fluid and continue replacing all the fluid that leaked out over the course of the vacation week. We were encouraged and made our way to get our daily WalMart fix of food, toiletries and hydraulic fluid. We also got an oil change pan to put under the jack so the fluid wouldn't spray all over the ground when we used it. We have an appointment at Cullum-Maxey to have the jack repaired for Tuesday after we get home. The rear camera that would not come on yesterday has apparently fixed itself overnight and works normally today, giving us a good clear view of Blackie tagging along behind us.

First Night in Mona: Birmingham South

Site #30 at Birmingham South campground was a terrible one. Overgrown clover and gravel without a tree anywhere nearby. The $45 price is too much and there are amenities that are of no interest to us... i.e., swimming, planned activities, WI-FI, cable tv, etc.

We are happy to have our first night aboard Mona and we got all the remaining personal things put away before dinner. We still don't have full food provisions, but we have enough to get us started. Wayne put the bedroom things away and I worked in the front of the coach. We had a frozen dinner and it was pretty good.

The night is cool and clear after a very pleasant day of driving. Wayne cleaned the windshield and I cleaned up the small bit of dinner dishes afterwhich we took a walk around the campground and along the street where we had camped in Evie on the way home from last spring's vacation week.

We reminiced about the severe storm's effect on the group of young people in their tents last year. On our walk we saw a big black Newell MH that was probably the largest, most elaborate coach we've seen.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Vacation Departure

Wayne's taken Thursday off and we're planning to tie up the remaining loose ends and leave for a week of vacation. We returned to Columbia in Mona to pick up Blackie and took Mona to R.P. Williams for service. Thursday morning at 10:00 we were on our way back to get her. We love the new Blue Ox system! The connection and disconnect of Blackie is quick and easy. We pull away from RP Williams around 11:00 and take the Lewisburg Highway to I-65. Today's destination is Birmingham South Good Sam's Campground. We arrived by 3:00 after making one or two stops along the way.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tying Blackie and Mona Together

Yesterday, Tuesday, April 6, I drove Blackie to Columbia to have her new Blue Ox towing apparatus installed. There's a faceplate that will be permanently added to Blackie's front grill and a tow bar that fits into Mona's hitch receiver. We left her there all day with a plan to drive Mona down for the "fitting" Wednesday morning. Jerry told me about RP Williams service there in Columbia and I've made an appointment to swing Mona by there for an overnighter to have her serviced. She only has 7,100 miles but she is four years old. Even though she's been kept under cover, the fluids should be changed.

Selecting Blackie

On Friday night, April 2, Jeff Dawson, at Alexander Ford called to say he had found a nice little black Escape XLT that only had a few more features than we wanted. He and I had already discussed price differences between Big Whitey and a basic Escape and I was pretty happy with that figure. Wayne balked at paying for features we didn't want and in the end, Jeff and Alexander agreed to a compromise we were willing to accept. We were happy with the credit we'd get against the lower priced Escape. On Saturday, April 3 we would go in to seal the deal and make the vehicle exchange. I had swapped telephone calls with a man who was interested in buying the Reese Pro Series Fifth Wheel hitch and I explained all that to Jeff Dawson at Alexander. Finally on Saturday morning, the man drove in from South Carolina and bought both the hitch and the metal tool box. Things are beginning to go our way and we can hardly wait to take the maiden voyage! By early afternoon, we completed the transaction and christened the new Escape with the obvious name choice: Blackie.

Friday, April 2, 2010

We Need A Toad....

Early in the week I began taking the camping things over to load into Mona's huge basement. The space filled quickly as we knew would be the case. Wayne began trying to zero in on tow equipment and the vehicle he wanted to pull behind. We had originally thought about getting a small truck for hauling motorscooters, but we're not sure we really want to do that after some thought. We don't like the Chevy Colorado or the Dodge Dakota, our only real choices. By Wednesday, I was test driving cars on Wayne's short list. First was the Honda CR-V which we both liked, but seemed "austere" so I tried the Chevrolet Equinox, but the dealers are stuck on "full price" and although we liked the car, we didn't like it that much. On Thursday, I tried the Ford Escape at Alexander and it became my favorite. I think it was Wayne's favorite too. We will work toward the trade.

Bringing Mona Home

On Wednesday, Mr. Satelite installed our new TracStar satelite system and we arrived at Cullum Maxed around 11 a.m. to get instruction on operation and to complete the purchase of Mona. We were there nearly all day, but the weather was wonderfully nice and sunny. It was a good thing we had planned to spend the afternoon there because it took such a long time to go over the satelite, complete the purchase and then go through the buyer's orientation. William went over everything but I'm sure we will have lots of quetions when we finally get to taker her out.

Sweet Mona

On Friday afternoon, March 19, I made an appointment to see a 40' Phaeton FSBO in Donelson -- it was a disaster and we stayed only long enough to save the seller embarassmnent. I had found that an 06 Monaco Diplomat was in Cullum-Maxey's inventory so we decided to swing by to see it. We loved the coach even though some of the important features we were looking for were not in the unit. We stopped at Bankston as we left the area and looked at the 40' Phaeton on their lot but it was just not in good condition. We had plans to drive to Gadsden, Alabama on Saturday to see a 36' Phaeton but it sold Friday afternoon so our trip was cancelled. We spent Saturday looking online for any possible coaches. A few in South Florida but we really didn't want to go so far and buy from an individual. Late Saturday afternoon, Bud Maxey called with a price on the Monaco we had seen Friday. We really did like that coach and on Sunday, in torrential rain, we made our way back to Cullum Maxey and arranged to buy "Mona" -- now all we need is a "toad".

The Sale of Evie

Within two weeks of selling the Civic, I received a surprise afternoon telephone call from someone inquiring on behalf of her parents, from north Alabama, who were looking to buy a used fifth wheel. Wayne was unable to leave work on short notice, so I managed to hook Evie up to Big White and pull her out into the storage facility. I let the slides out and showed her to Linda and Randy who agreed to buy Evie. Mixed emotions -- we really love the camper but she's just too labor intensive for full timing.