Friday, July 01, 2011

Day 15
1 July 2011
Canyon, TX

What an amazing place! I'm talking about Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas. We got in here (Palo Duro RV Park in Canyon, TX) in early afternoon and, after a short lunch, headed for the reason we stopped here: the Palo Duro Canyon. This is the second canyon in the US to the Grand Canyon. You are driving across the plains of the Texas Panhandle when all of a sudden the ground drops away and this awesome sight begins to unfold before you. Today, I'm going to let some pictures tell the story.

Palo Duro Canyon, TX

Palo Duro Canyon, TX

Palo Duro Canyon, TX

Palo Duro Canyon, TX

Palo Duro Canyon, TX

Palo Duro Canyon, TX

Palo Duro Canyon, TX

Palo Duro Canyon, TX

 In wide view pictures it is truly hard to give a perspective on size, depth, length, etc. But this is an impressive sight!

It was a hot day, so we didn't do any serious hiking. As you can see from the thermometers it was hot and getting hotter. The second thermometer is in the shade!

Your intrepid explorer and 105 degrees F.

110 degrees F. IN THE SHADE!

And just a few more.

Today, we will leave Canyon and head for Brantley Lake State Park, New Mexico. NEW MEXICO! Finally! Brantley Lake SP is in the southeastern part of the state near Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 13
29 June 2011
Elk Creek, OK
Elk Creek RV Park

Well, we DID it! We traded our 2006 Fleetwood Fiesta 26Q for a 2012 Fleetwood Terra 34E. That's moving from 27 feet long with no slideouts to over 34 feet long with two slideouts! Space! Here's a short look at the new coach. It's not professional video but it will give you a glimpse of what it looks like.

Do we like our new RV? Yes! Are we happy customers of McClain's RV in OK and TX? NO! Are we happy customers of Fleetwood RV? NO!

Everybody says that when you buy a new RV it is like buying a brand-new car. There are always some things wrong that have to be worked on and fixed. That is often true, but I bought a new car last fall and had NOTHING to take it back to the dealer to get fixed. Honda makes their products right, I guess. But that's neither here nor there.

We took possession of our new coach last night (Tuesday night, 28 June). We signed the papers and went to the closing dinner of the FMA Rally (Fleetwood Motorhome Association). THEN we pulled our soon-to-be-former coach out of the campsite, drove up to the parking lot, and moved everything we had from one coach to the other. That took us about 1-1/2 hours (plus a little more because we had some wonderful people helping us and that sometimes causes a little ... er, down time, but thanks to the wonderful people who helped us out we had fun getting the job done, thanks to Bob and Deb Norman, Keith and Jan Penner, and Hugo and Donna Lusten, plus an unnamed couple from Canada who joined in).

We then moved to new RV back to our site and prepared to finish organizing things to move on the next day as the rally concluded. What?! The rear air conditioner isn't cooling! What's wrong? Grrr.  This is a big problem, particularly since we are headed for the heat of New Mexico in the summer!

I began to collect a list of the "little" problems that were emerging. Fortunately, the evening was somewhat cool and we could use fans and open windows and get some sleep. The next morning I continued compiling the list. It eventually got up to 15 different items that needed fixing, ranging from the major (the A/C) to the insignificant (two small holes in wall panel which, in the light of day, turned out to be poorly placed staples holding the paneling). The list also included a significant water leak.

So we headed for the nearest McClain RV service center (since that is the dealer through which we purchased the coach). We bought the Terra through a salesman from the Dallas-area store, but the Oklahoma City store was the closest. I want to give a great big shout-out to Regina Gill, the service manager at McClain RV in OK City. She was buried in RVs needing service and had all her techs working on other people's problems. Somehow she managed to take care of about twelve of the items leaving only the leaking shower and a couple of small items. The A/C wouldn't work because in construction ONE wire to the thermostat wasn't attached. The leaking shower had a P-trap that was not properly installed. The bathroom door trim wasn't installed correctly (keeping the door from closing), and the list goes on. Fleetwood RV, YOU have a MAJOR quality control problem. Fleetwood RV CEO John Draheim will be getting a detailed letter.

Enough complaining. We are enjoying our coach tonight and when we get to Las Cruces should be able to get the last BIG problem, the shower, fixed.

This is an adventure in life, a Grand Adventure (or was it Great Adventure) I called it when we first left home. And adventures don't always go as planned. We had NOT planned to trade and buy a new RV. That was supposed to happen NEXT year. But it happened this summer. Things were supposed to work the way they were intended to work, but that didn't. I mostly kept my cool. Mostly. And nice people made good things happen. Tomorrow, we move on to Canyon, TX, and the Palo Duro Canyon.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 11
27 June 2011
Fleetwood Motorhome Rally, Shawnee, OK

It's a windy day in Oklahoma. I could start a description of every day so far with that description but this morning seems even more so than others. I could also start with "It's going to be a HOT, HOT day in Oklahoma." Near record temperatures. 103 degrees F. yesterday was the high here in Shawnee is what I heard. More of the same to come.

The rally is going well. We've met a number of folks and enjoyed visiting with them. Who knows, some of them may even turn into friends as we get better acquainted. They've all been nice folks. Most are older than us, but some are younger. Most have bigger coaches than we do, but that is to be expected since we have one of the smallest. Of course, I've been looking at the coaches on display and have found one to love: Fleetwood Terra (2012) 34E. To me, it seems to have almost everything I would want in a coach. Mary likes it too, but in her way that complements mine so much she wants to see more examples, learn more, look at the dollars and cents. I think it is a good balance. I get excited. She restrains me. It works for us anyway, although I know that at times she feels like she is being a wet blanket to my enthusiasm. She's not. It's like a governor on an engine keeping it from running away and self-destructing. I appreciate her thoroughness. So now I have two "favorite" coaches, the Terra 34E and the Tiffin Allegro 34TGA. Each has something to recommend it over the other. Each has some points at which it is not perfect. Compromise is the nature of life so we'll see which way we go. Interestingly, the salespersons I have talked to that represent each of these models are both named Fred. It's too bad that I can't get them in the same room competing with each other to make an offer!

We've gone to some interesting seminars and learned some useful information. We both have gone back to seminars we went to last year and learned things that we either didn't hear last year or that have been added to the presentations. We have things we need to talk to people about to learn even more in areas like cleaning and safety and internet connection on the road. (I wish my US Cellular connection was more reliable and faster. I know the latter is unlikely to change unless I could stay in 4G areas and invest in new equipment, but those areas are scarce. The former, however, could be improved. I'm going to look into options: a booster, an external antenna, a new carrier [Verizon is likely, should I decide to change].) 

The highlight of yesterday was a beneficial discussion with Blue Ox, the manufacturer of our towing system. I've had some frustrations with installing the supplemental braking system in the car prior to driving each day. For those who haven't thought about it, even though a motorhome is a large vehicle, if it is towing even a very small car (like our Honda Fit Sport), it needs to have a system in the car that activates the car brakes when the driver steps on the motorhome brake. In our case, that is a Blue Ox Patriot model that pushes on the brake pedal when I step on the brake in the coach. It seems like it takes me half an hour to do something that should tae five minutes. I stopped by the Blue Ox booth and explained my problem and Michael Swan, a customer  service representative, came out to our coach and spent some time looking at the setup and suggesting some changes to solve the problem. It worked for him. Now let's see if it works for me on Wednesday when we get ready to leave here. I also got a free part to replace a small ring that had vanished somewhere along the road. Thanks, Blue Ox!

Saturday, both Mary and I took a short (two hour) driving course. It was excellent instruction. Some of it told me what I already knew, but we both learned that we could back a 38-foot coach through a slalom course of orange cones WITHOUT hitting or running over a single cone! We drove straight line learning how to handle a diesel coach (ours is a gasser and feels somewhat different...and easier to drive), backed straight line, practiced precision stopping, drove a slalom course forward and backward, and then
practiced turning corners in a long coach. And we both passed with no mishaps.

Last night (Sunday), we went out to eat at Alister's Deli, a chain we learned to appreciate in Murfreesboro, TN. Good eating, reasonable prices, and great sweet tea.

Now let's see if the conference center can top yesterday's breakfast which was biscuits and gravy. Off to begin a new day!