Year 2 Day 92 and 93 Almost Done

Yesterday and today we made great progress toward completing our stay here at the Tiffin facility.  We were concerned that we would have to wait many days before being moved from one type of work bay to another.  The concern was based on the number of other people and their motor homes waiting to get their work done and some of the horror stories we have heard.  We have met a number of people who have been here many weeks as they wait for spare parts to arrive.  Plus, we are just one of over 100 RVs that are here to get work done.  Thus, the waiting line to get into a specific work bay can be very long.


Fortunately, we have not experienced any significant delays in moving from work bay to work bay.  We started in work bay 35, where Greg and Jeremy addressed the majority of issues we had identified.  We were there for 6 weekdays as they addressed all but a few issues.


Yesterday, we were called into work bay 41 where the Scott, a Tiffin mechanic, addressed the service issues we had.  These included leveling the suspension system, adding a bit more antifreeze to our radiator and fixing our electronic motor oil level meter which had stopped working.  These minor issues were all taken care of in just 1.5 hours.


This morning, we were called into work bay 44B where our windshield was inspected and resealed to address wind noises that we were hearing at speeds over 60 MPH.  When we bought LeuC, we had noticed that there was a small spider crack in the windshield that had been caused by a rock when they transported LeuC from the Tiffin factory to the dealership in Mesa, Arizona.  The dealer did replace the windshield but it was not sealed properly, resulting in some wind noises that we could hear when driving above 60 MPH.  The work to fix this issue took most of today but only because Dave, the supervisor of this work bay, wanted to have the sealant properly set and dried before releasing us back to our campsite site.


With all of this work now behind us, we are waiting to be called into the last work bay before we are done with all of the work we requested.  This last work bay is the paint and body shop work bay.  We have been told that we should be called in this Thursday.  Once there, we will have the new compartment doors painted, the front cowling adjusted and a cracked panel near the front door step repaired.  We understand that any paint work takes two days so that the paint is properly cured before we will be released.20180404_085427


Thus, there is the possibility that we will be done by this Friday afternoon, just two weeks to the day that we arrived.  Whoo Hoo!  If this happens, we may be leaving on Saturday, Sunday or Monday morning, depending on when the paperwork is all completed.

Year 2 Days 89 to 91 Happy Easter

Before I forget, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter.  Also, Happy April Fools Day.  It is not very often that these two days fall together.  I hope nobody was received a rotten Easter egg….


We have spent the last 6 business days inside Bay #35 here at the Tiffin facility, working our way through the long list of items we wanted to have worked on.  We are now getting down to the last of the items that Greg and his assistant, Jeremey can work on.  Once they are done, we will have to wait until the Mechanical Bay has room for us, and then wait some more until the Window Bay has room for us and then wait some more until the Paint Bay has room for us.


We wish to have the 6-month engine service done on LeuC while we are here and this will be done in the Mechanical Bay.  When we bought LeuC we noticed that there was a chip and small spider cracks in the windshield that was caused by a flying rock when they drove the bus from the Tiffin factory to the dealership in Mesa, Arizona.  Before we signed the papers, we made sure that the dealer would replace the windshield on his nickel, which he agreed to do.  After waiting a few weeks for the massive windshield to arrive, we had it installed but soon noticed that it had a couple of minor air leaks once we hit speeds over 60 MPH.  We opted to waited to have it fixed until we arrived here at the Tiffin facility since they have a specialized Window Bay and have all of the specialized equipment necessary to handle such massive windshields.


Monday, Greg and Jeromy will install three of our side compartment doors and a side panel.  There was a minor scratch across them and it was decided that it would be cheaper to replace them instead of trying to remove the scratch.   I was very pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive the replacement parts were.  That is one of the advantages of being at the factory where they are made.  Once the 3 doors and side panel are on, we will have to have them painted, which is why we will need to visit the Paint Bay.


To celebrate Easter, we participated in a wonderful potluck this afternoon.  Originally it was to be for 40 people but when word got out that we were having a potluck, it grew and grew and we ended up having over 100 people attend.  With a potluck, the more the merrier, as everyone brings a special dish so we ended up having all kinds of great food.  It was all very good and there were tons of it left over.  Mary Margaret made up two dozen devils eggs and a delicious strawberry angel food cake.20180401_17043920180401_170452


Along with enjoying the great food, we met a number of very nice people who shared lots of “Old timer” RVer tips and suggestions.  One of the suggestions was that we should join the Family Motor Coach Association or FMCA.  For $65/year, you can become a member and get all of their benefits.  The one benefit that Mary Margaret likes the most is that if anything ever happens to either one of us, they will fly you and your spouse home and then drive your RV to you home, all for free.  That is very attractive since if something should happen to either one of us, the other would prefer to be with the one who is ill and not worry about what to do with LeuC while we are gone.


One final note, I would like to mention that our alma mater, the University of Michigan, had its basketball team win its NCAA Final Four game against Loyola of Chicago in a very exciting game.  We play Villanova Monday night in the Championship game.  Villanova has been ranked as one of the top teams in college basketball all season and we are not given much of a chance in beating them.  However, who knows.  We were not given much of a chance to do this well so we will just have to wait to see what happens.  In the meantime, … Go Blue!!!!!

Year 2 Days 84 to 88 The Dust Is Flying

This week has been a work, work and more work week as early each morning we bundle LeuC and drive her from our “campsite” here at the Tiffin facility into Bay #35. Greg and Jeremy are assigned to that bay and they are dedicated to working on each bus that comes into their bay until all of the punch list items they can work on are taken care of. Our punch list ran to a whopping 46 items. Most of the items were trivial as you can see from below, but a few were significant.

Each day, from 7 AM to 3 PM, Greg and Jeremy roll up their sleeves and work on our items. It looks like tomorrow they will finish with all of the things they can work on. At that time, we will be moved into either the Mechanic’s Bay, the Window’s Bay, or the Flooring Bay or, at least, be placed on the waiting list to get into those respective bays.

During the five days that we have been in Bay 35 we have come to really like Greg and Jeremy and they have provided us so much insight and knowledge regarding making repairs or adjustments to LeuC. They have also shared some little-known secrets on how to operate her better. For instance, they showed us how we can project our navigation map up to the 42-inch flat screen TV that is at the front of the bus. Thus, we can see the navigation map and the routes we take so much easier as we are driving down the road. Whoo Hoo!

As we have gotten to know them, they have adopted us into their family and shared with us stories of their past and present. They have also shared with us where to go for the best food, shopping and so on. They have also told us some really great jokes and funny stories. It has been great getting to know them as they make all of the requested changes to our home on wheels.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is the list of items that we have requested be addressed while we are here at the Tiffin facility:

Items That Greg and Jeremy Can Work On In Bay 35:

1. Ceiling lights keep burning out or start rapidly flashing. So far about 45 lights have been replaced during three different times. Many of the same light fixtures have had their lights replaced. Also, I have noticed that the passenger side ceiling light will flicker when the microwave is operating. Currently, another 11 lights have failed. We need to get to the source of the problem instead of just replacing lights,
2. Kitchen lower left drawer slide will not close,
3. Passenger side diesel cap will not close,
4. We cannot both sit at the dining table as the seats are too close. We would like to move the forward seat back about 6 or so inches. If that is not possible, then we would like to remove the forward seat. Can we also re-center the table or replace it with a wider model?
5. Rear bathroom closet door wire stop is broken,
6. Replace wall hanging near refrigerator,
7. Shower towel rack is loose,
8. Shower hand wand holder bar is loose,
9. I cannot get the generator auto start to work when voltage drops below set point,
10. 0.4 V difference between front and rear voltage meters. Can they be calibrated or adjusted? The forward meter, which is closest to the house batteries has the greatest voltage drop,
11. Left rear wheel sound panel in wheel well came loose,
12. Light under kitchen sink is missing,
13. Front passenger swivel chair left arm rest is skewed,
14. Powder room toilet keeps flushing and will not stop,
15. No rear floor heat setting on panel,
16. Speedometer compass has stopped working,
17. Ceiling Light fixture near dining table is hanging,
18. Wooden screw plug over refrigerator is missing,
19. Floor heater does not work on diesel mode,
20. Floor molding by bedroom door has come off.
21. Washing Machine leg needs adjusting.
22. A docking light is loose and one is filled with water.
23. Driver side flat mirror jiggles.
24. Inspect wiring under passenger chair
25. Bed slide squeals excessively.
26. Cooler storage panel does not unlock when the remote is used.
27. Rear lights are out.
28. Repair leather on recliner and passenger chairs
29. Headlight accents lights are not working.
30. I am find black soot on hydraulic and fresh water pumps.
31. Install rear roof ladder,
32. Fire Extinguisher Recall,
33. Check hydraulic fluid level,
34. Inspect under carriage for loose nuts and bolts
35. Educate us on how to use the surround sound,
36. Go over each and every breaker with us.
37. Go over list of 6-month service needs.
38. Show us where the black and grey water tank sensors are located.
Mechanic’s Bay Work:
39. Four right side compartment panels need repair or replacing.
40. Panel near door folding steps has cracked, it needs repair,
41. Front cowling need adjusting,
42. Adjust air suspension system at left rear of bus about 1 inch,
43. Oil level meter is not working on driver side panel
44. Check engine antifreeze level and freshness.
Window Bay Work:
45. Get rid of whistle noise at both sides of windshield that occurs at various times and during various conditions when driving,
Flooring Bay Work:
46. Replace porcelain floor tile near refrigerator.


Year 2 Day 79 An Afternoon Treat

I wrote this post earlier this week and thought it had posted.  However, apparently the Interest connection was not good and it did not successfully post.  Thus, I am posting it now.

——————————————————————————————————————————Around noon today I glanced through the RV’s massive windshield and saw a familiar face smiling at us as he approached.  It was Jim, our son-in-law’s father.  He, his wife, Peggy, and their youngest son, Mark, had just arrived at our campground to visit us.  Last week they had driven from Tucson, Arizona to Atlanta to attend the shower of their other son’s wife’s (Katie) baby shower.  They were now heading back home to Tucson and were in our neighborhood here in Mississippi.  What a treat!


Jim is a former Air Force officer which allows him to use housing at various military bases when they travel.  As it turns out, there is an Air Force base in Columbus, Mississippi, just about 15 miles away from us, where they are spending a couple of nights.  They have rented a three-room house which is awesome.


We always enjoy getting together with Peggy and Jim and this afternoon was no exception.  Mary Margaret had prepared a wonderful lunch for their arrival.  She had baked a huge chicken pot pie and thrown together a tasty salad.  Everything was so good that seconds were offered and readily accepted.


We spent the afternoon catching up on things since the last time we saw each other was over the Thanksgiving holiday time period.  We discovered that Jim and Peggy are seriously kicking around the idea of buying an RV and doing some traveling on their own.  They would keep their house and use it as a base while taking some nice, extended travels in the RV.  It would be great if that happens and if it does, with a little planning, we might be able to do some adventures together.  That would be fun!


We also enjoyed sharing our views and insights on the terrible political mess that the US is in and we all are still trying to figure out what it will take for Congress to start acting in a responsible manner, putting the country’s best interests in front of their own personal best interests.  Not much optimism amongst the four of us on that subject…


Before we knew it, the afternoon was getting late and Peggy, Jim and Mark had to leave.  They will be getting up early tomorrow morning and continuing their long drive back to Tucson.  It was rather remarkable and fortuitous that we could get together in Mississippi for the afternoon.  While their visit was short, it was sweet and we are so thankful that they could stop by.





Year 2 Day 83 The Times They Be A Changin’


This afternoon Mary Margaret and I drove an hour to Florence, Alabama.  We had discovered last night that this town was going to be one of the over 800 places around the world where a March For Our Lives was going to take place.  We wanted to do more than just talk about the horrible shootings that are going on in our schools, we wanted to get off our butts and actively show support.


As we arrived, we reflected that it has been exactly 50 years since I last marched in a protest and 49 years since Mary Margaret has.  In 1968, I and a VW bus full of guys from our dorm at the University of Michigan drove the 600 miles to Washington DC to protest the war in Vietnam.  That march had a significant impact on my life as it made me realize after being gassed in the streets of Washington DC, that if I really wanted to create change in government, the most effective and long-term way to do that was to be in a position within government to effect change.  Eight years later, after getting married and graduating with my first two degrees, I joined the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and two years later was in charge of helping create and implementing their new hazardous waste regulatory program.  Six years later, I was fortunate enough to be selected to come to California to help reorganize their hazardous waste regulatory program.  I was doubly fortunate in that I was surrounded in both jobs with very talented, dedicated people, who were equally passionate about protecting our environment and helping change the way industries and local governments managed their hazardous wastes.


For Mary Margaret, when she came to the University of Michigan in 1969, she was equally passionate about the inequities in life and quickly got involved in the Black Action Movement and participated in various protests and activities on campus in support of equal rights throughout her years at the University.


Looking back on our lives, I am proud to say that we both, in our unique ways, were active in the two biggest cultural movements of our times: the equal rights movement and the environmental movement.


Now, it is a new era.  The mantle of involvement has been passed on and new agents of change are stepping up and are eagerly dedicating their energies to evoke change.  The two biggest cultural movements now are women’s rights and student rights for safety in schools.  We are very proud of our kids who have stepped up and have become active by marching in these protests and bringing their families with them and getting them involved.Chris and Michael At Women's MarchHeather And V Protesting

When Mary Margaret and I arrived in Florence, we had little expectation of seeing a large group of people protesting the gun violence in our schools and the embarrassing lack of significant response by our elected officials.  After all, here we were in the very heart of the deep, red south, where gun laws are at a minimum and people are passionate about their rights to carry arms, even the deadly assault weapons that have played such a violent role in so many school mass murders.


We were pleasantly surprised to find that by the time the rally and march started, we were about 200 people strong.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


To start the program, seven students, ranging from a six grader, to high school students, to a young college student, all gave very passionate and inspiring speeches that evoked many cheers and much applause from the audience.


After the speeches, armed with protest signs that we made by hand at the rally, we all then marched around eight blocks of the central part of Florence.



During the march, I was proud of Mary Margaret’s passion as she was one of the marchers leading our chants.  She would yell out: “Protect Kids” and then the rest of us would return our shouts of: “Not the Guns”.  Man, it was like being back in our heyday!


During our time in support of the students we met many wonderful people, all as passionate about protecting our kids from school violence.  The marchers were of all ages, ranging from “old farts” like ourselves, to younger couples who have kids in schools, to new mothers and fathers, pushing their infants in strollers.  It cheered our hearts to see so many people making the point that enough is enough and changes need to be made to stop these horrible killings.


It was interesting to note that we also had a small group of NRA people doing their counter protest.  There were 5 or 6 men, holding signs in support of the NRA.


I do wish to mention that most of the people we talked to believe in the second amendment but recognize that times have changed since it was written over 200 years ago and that there needs to be more controls on people who buy and own guns and a ban on assault styled guns.


By the way, Stan, a fellow who I worked with back in my days in California, shared this YouTube video of Buffalo Springfield singing one of the many protest songs during the 60’s and 70’s.  I have posted it here and invite you to watch and listen to it.  The words are just as appropriate now as they were back in our heyday.


Year 2 Day 82 It’s Always An Adventure



Yesterday, we received our update from Tiffin regarding where we stood on the waiting list to get into a repair bay at their factory in Red Bay Alabama.  Two weeks ago, when we were placed on the waiting list, we were 27th.  Based on this most recent update, we were now number 2.  Whoo Hoo!.


We called to make arraignments to drive up to Red Bay from our campground near Aberdeen, MS.  We discovered that the Tiffin folks are not the most organized since getting into a repair bay is not well coordinated with getting into their “campground”.  This is a big deal because one needs a place to park one’s bus during the night while the bus is getting worked on during the day.  Tiffin’s “campground” holds over 90 buses and it was packed full.


In Tiffin’s defense, they are currently swamped with people like us, trying to get in.  Apparently, the demand for RV buses has exploded in the last couple of years.  To meet this demand, Tiffin has increased its production.  We have been told that Tiffin is now building around 3000 units each year.


To make a long story short, after many calls to different people, we were finally told that if we were on site by 7 AM, we would be moved into a repair bay and that bay would be exclusively ours until the various issues we wanted addressed were completed.  We were also told that the “campground” office could not guarantee a site to park our bus each night, but if we were there at 7 AM, we would be in the front of the line to get in.


Armed with this information, Mary Margaret and I got up this morning at 4 AM, bundled up LeuC, and by 5 AM started down the road, heading for Red Bay, which was about an hour and half away.  I should note that as we hooked up our little Fiat behind LeuC, Mary Margaret noticed that LeuC’s tail lights were not working.  Grrrr!  Here we were about to drive 70 miles in the pitch-black darkness of night without taillights.  Fortunately, the taillights of our little Fiat worked so that cars and trucks traveling behind us would know when we were braking or when our turn lights were blinking.  Whew!


It was quite an adventure driving down the narrow, two lane windy roads of rural Mississippi.  Driving in darkness, I did not have the usual visual clues that I use during the day to keep LeuC inside the lane markers.  During the day, I can use our two side mirrors to watch how close our wheels are to the lane markers and when a vehicle is coming toward us in the opposite direction, I can ease over to the right to maximize the separation distance between us and the vehicle coming toward us as he passes.  This is especially important if the other vehicle is a truck with big mirrors hanging out from his cab.


However, since it was pitch black out, I could not see the lane markers in my mirrors.  I had to guess at how far over to the right I was, using only the right-side lane markers that I could see out in front of me.  driving-twisting-turning-rural-highway-in-pitch-black-night-timelapse_eyandsvq__S0000Driving a car, this is not a very difficult thing to do but that is not true driving a 40-foot-long bus.   Your eyes are about 8 feet above the road and the bus is so much wider than a car that you do not have much room to play with before you are on the shoulder or off the road.  I think I adjusted to this new driving environment pretty well but it was a new experience.


To make this adventure even more so, I missed a turn and ended up on a very narrow side road with a sign that said “Road Ends”.  Gulp!  Our Google Maps app showed that the road curved ahead and would connect to another road that would take us back to our route but that ended up not being correct.  We ended up stopped in the middle of nowhere, in the pitch-black darkness on a one lane road where we could not turn around, looking at mounds of dirt placed across the road, blocking our way.  Double gulp!night driving one lane road


We ended having to unhitch our little Fiat and I tried to slowly back LeuC up without running off the one lane road, down into gullies running along each side of our one lane road.  To compound the problem, I could not see a thing because LeuC’s tail lights and backup lights were not working.  We ended up having Mary Margaret slowing drive our little Fiat right behind me so I could follow her taillights in our rear facing camera monitor.  It was a bit harrowing but we finally passed a dirt driveway that allowed us to turn around and continue on our journey.  Whew!


We ended up arriving at the Tiffin factory at 7:02 AM.  We were told that we were in luck, as the “campground” had a site for us and were directed to site #77.


We then went into the repair bay office and were told to sit tight and they would get us into a bay as soon as one opened up.


We received a call around 10 AM and moved LeuC into bay #35.  Here we met Greg and Jeremy, who would be in charge of addressing our list of issues.  Based on our discussions, it looks like we will be here a week or more.  We shall see.


Year 2 Days 76 to 78 Home Again



We wrapped up our week at the golf and spa resort yesterday by getting in another round of golf, going to a really great movie (The Greatest Showman), and returning to one of the best Italian restaurants we have ever eaten at (Gianmarco’s).  We had hoped that Mary Margaret could have ridden with me while I played golf but when I went to check in, I was told that my 3-some had been turned into a 4-four.  Grrrrr!  If that was not bad enough, I discovered when I got to the first tee that the young lady that had checked me in was mistaken and I would be playing with another couple and we were actually a 3-some.  Double Grrrrr!


The course was sloppy due to the rain we had the previous day and night so it was cart path only.  Plus, when you hit your ball, it would plug when it landed and you would get very little role.  It made for a very long day.  On the positive side, with all of the walking, I did get almost 13,000 steps in, which translated to almost 6.5 miles of walking up and down many, many steep hills and banks.  My score reflected the conditions we played in as I struggled and shot a 103.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the couple I played with and the beautiful scenery I played in.


The previous day, due to the rain, we opted to spend the day at the movies and enjoyed watching “The Greatest Showman”.  It is a wonderful song and dance film centered on the life of P. T. Barnum.  We enjoyed it so much that after the show we ran over to Barnes and Noble and bought the sound track.  We have not done that it a very long time!


We finished the day off by returning to Gianmarco’s and were, once again, waited on by our new friend, Seth.  Mary Margaret had their lasagna, which was to die for, while I dove into a large bowl of linguini fradia volo with clams, shrimp, sausage and spicy marinara…. yum!  For desert, I returned to their rum cake in which Seth brought a little extra rum for me to drizzle over it and Mary Margaret enjoyed their very decadent flourless chocolate cake.  To make the night complete, Seth told us that if we ever returned to Birmingham, we would have to stay at his house and meet his family.  How special is that!


Today, we loaded up our cute little Fiat with our bags and returned to LeuC, who had been patiently waiting for us back in Mississippi.  Along the way we stopped at Costco and loaded up with all kinds of goodies.  When we arrived at our Blue Bluff Campground we gave LeuC a big hug and kiss, unpacked our bags, put away the provisions we bought at Costco and then drove LeuC over to the sump dump to empty her black and grey water tanks.  We had left them full when we went off for our week of being pampered.


When we returned to our camping site we then settled back and relaxed, safe and sound back home.  Yay!


Tomorrow, our son-in-law’s parents, Peggy and Jim, along with their youngest son, Mark, will be coming over to visit.  They are driving back to Tucson after attending their other son’s wife’s baby shower in Atlanta.  Nate and Katie are having a little girl as their first-born.  Whoo Hoo!