After spending a bit over three weeks at the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay, Alabama, we are finally on the road again. Yippie! This morning, for the last time, we bundled up LeuC and drove over to a service bay. This time it was Bay 44, where the Diamond Shield technician applied his clear protective sheeting onto our right front quarter panel which had recently been repainted. This was the quarter panel that was hit but a big, burly mule deer way back in September of last year. At that time, we did not notice any damage to that panel but it was later discovered to have a few, almost invisible, micro-cracks in the fiberglass. Most of LeuC’s exterior is fiberglass, much like the hulls and decks of our beloved sailboat, Leu Cat. This makes for a very strong, flexible but light exterior for our bus.
Also, when the deer hit that panel, it must have loosened the bolts holding it onto the bus’s frame because after driving many thousands of miles after the deer was hit the panel had moved just a fraction of an inch. I say this because when we were in Baton Rouge last month the steps that automatically slide out when you open LeuC’s door, caught on the edge of the panel and cracked it. Ouch! Thus, while in Red Bay we had this quarter panel re-fiberglassed, repainted and then a new Diamond-Shield applied. The amazing thing about this work was that the Tiffin people insisted that they not charge us for this work! We had told them that we thought the repairs were all tied to the fact that the deer hit us but they said that since the power door step caught on and cracked the panel long after the deer hit us, it would be covered under warranty. Whoo Hoo! I am not sure how much this saved us but we were in the paint and body shop bay for three days and it took another 3 hours this morning for the Diamond-Shield technician to do his work. At $95/hour, the labor charges would have been significant.
In general, we were very impressed with the Tiffin people we worked with during our stay at their service center. The vast majority of issues they worked on were covered by their warranty. We ended up only paying for the rear ladder we bought and had installed and the replacement and painting of four side panels that I had scratched while driving on a very narrow curvy road in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Going around a tight hairpin curve, I pressed the side of LeuC up against a side rail for a brief second. The replacement of these four panels, their installation and repainting, along with the new ladder and its installation only cost me $2,500. I had visions of the costs going as high as $10,000 and had budgeted for that expectation. What a wonderful surprise the actual costs were.
I compare these costs to our typical costs of annual maintenance costs and retrofitting costs of our sailboat, Leu Cat, after each major ocean crossing. We averaged about $5000 a year for general maintenance and about $25,000 for the each of the 5 retrofits we did after crossing the Carrageenan, Pacific Ocean, Java and South China Seas and the Atlantic Ocean.
On top of that, our 24 days of staying at the Tiffin Service Center campground and sucking up their 50-amp power, guzzling down their water and using their disposal sump was all free! Double Whoo Hoo! We must admit, we are very impressed with the Tiffin Company and their dedication to make our RV home the best they can. While we were there, we talked with many other RVers and listened to the horror stories they had experienced in previous motor homes built by other manufactures. They all agreed that Tiffin stands behind their product better than any other company on the market. Our experience here confirms that.
Even though we are very impressed with and grateful to Tiffin for the quality of services provided and their commitment to making our experience the best, we certainly were ready to leave after 24 days there. Their campground is basically a huge RV Park and we just are not RV Park people. Most of the people we met there were very nice but, after a while, people tended to drift into cliques, including those that shared their values and excluding others that did not. While we did tend to socialize with a particular group of people that we enjoyed being with, Mary Margaret and I really enjoy mingling with all types of people. This allows us to better understand the basis behind peoples’ views and beliefs and exposes us to all kinds of different perspectives. However, given how polarized and tribal the US has become, we found a few of the cliques were just not interested in our views since we tend to be on the more “liberal” side of the spectrum. At times it seems like you are walking on egg shells in your efforts not to point out the various myths or lies that one fraction or the other are professing to be the truth. Thus, with that in mind, we were anxious to get on the road again and continue our adventure of exploring North America.
Today, we drove 4 hours and arrived just west of Montgomery, Alabama. Our day’s destination was the Gunter Hill Corp of Engineers campground. Since we were not sure of the exact time of our departure from the Tiffin Service Center, we did not make a campsite reservation. However, I had research this campground and knew that it was mostly empty and we could just walk right in.
From our research, we knew this was going to be a lovely park and this was confirmed with our arrival. Tucked in the middle of a beautiful oak forest, nestled up along a river, the campground was just the reprieve we have been looking forward to. I will let the photos I took show you how beautiful it is.
Our only regret was that we were only spending one night here since we are anxious to arrive tomorrow in Marianna, Florida, where our former brother-in-law, Larry, and his wife, Ruth, live. However, we did vow that if we come back this way again, we will be sure to stay at this park for much longer so we can explore it and really enjoy all that it offers.