Thursday, July 05, 2012

It's HOT

We got to the Lone Point Corps of Engineers Campground on Lake Shelbyville in IL on Sunday July 1. As can happen when you pick a campsite online, the one we had reserved was not a great site to park a motorhome. But the nice gatekeepers for the campground suggested several alternatives in case I didn't like the one we were going to (maybe they knew it wasn't going to work). So we wound up in a nice site close to the boat launch and near the front gate. And we got a more expensive site than the one we reserved and paid for without paying any extra cost (the U.S. government computer system couldn't figure out how to charge us for the upgrade). So we have a full hook-up site (water, electric and sewer connections) instead of only an electric connection.

A Bay on Lake Shelbyville at Lone Point COE Campground 

Lake Shelbyville from Lone Point Campground

It's been an "interesting" week, one of those weeks where "interesting" is a way to say it has been a difficult week. First of all, it has been HOT! Most days this week in south central IL have been over 100 degrees. I sure am glad for a coach with two air conditioners! When we stayed inside, it was comfortable (even cold if we turned the temperature control too low). However, we didn't come here to sit inside an air conditioned coach. We came here to paddle our kayaks around in a large lake. We've gotten to do that twice by getting out early in the morning and staying out until the sun and heat got unbearable (or when the recreational boaters got too obnoxious). In the heat of the day, any effort outside produced drenching sweat.

The first couple of days of the week, however, were marred by the discovery Monday morning that the awning motor had burned out in the extended position. The switch appears to be defective and not cutting off when it is released (it is a spring-loaded switch and is supposed to return to neutral when released. It didn't. So first of all I called General RV in Huntley, IL, to see if they can get the coach in for service. I get to take it in on Saturday (day after tomorrow). The real challenge of the week, however, was retracting the extended power awning without any power being available to move it! Now keep in mind that this is an 18-foot awning that extends about eight feet from the side of the coach. It is heavy and it is about 9-10 feet high in the air. We do have a ladder with us. One ladder. Two would have been nice. We had to try to release the awning's frozen motor and then manually roll it up. Unfortunately the directions provided by the manufacturer did not work. At all. They said remove one specific screw and the awning could be rolled up. Uh uh. Nope. Not at all.

If you're going to be an RV'er, you have to develop some ingenuity. I'll admit that the mechanical side of things is not necessarily my strong point. John Clark (my father) could probably have solved the problem in a few minutes. He was that way, a born mechanic. Unfortunately his sons did not inherit that gene. So Mary and I tried various means of rolling the awning up. Finally, brute force accomplished the deed and we got the roller filled with awning to lock into place on the side of the coach. Except the screws that I needed to put back in place could not be reinstalled. The holes absolutely refused to line up. I did check with a local RV dealer. They could get to me in about two weeks. What we did was to fasten the arms of the awning to the frame on the side of the coach with zip ties so they wouldn't flop down on while we were driving. AND then we taped the end of the rolled up awning with duct tape to (hopefully) keep the air from unrolling it while we drive home on Friday and then to the dealer who will fix it on Saturday. We'll find out tomorrow if our jury rig will work. If it doesn't ... .

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Time Flies When You're Busy and Having Fun!

WOW! My last post was June 24 and here it is July 4. A whole lot has happened in the intervening time. Let me bring you up to date on the travels and travails of Forrest and Mary.

We left Blackhawk COE (US Army Corps of Engineers) Campground on the Mississippi River and drove to within 20 or so miles of home in Beloit and camped at Blackhawk Valley Campground on the Kishwaukee River. It was a nice one night stop and from there we headed on to Goshen, IN, and the Fleetwood Motorhome Association Rally. Why did we stop so near home and not go there? It seemed more fun to keep on camping instead of getting caught up in whatever was happening at home. And it was even closer to Goshen than Beloit.

We got to Goshen, IN, on Tuesday, June 26, and got assigned to a site. Before we could even get registered, we ran into Bob and Deb Norman from Franklin, IN. We first met Bob and Deb at last year's FMA Rally in Shawnee, OK, and they quickly became friends. It was a  delight to renew our friendship at Goshen and we hope to see them again late in August at the FMCA Rally in Indianapolis. They are a great couple of folks with interesting stories to tell. And while we were still getting set up on our site who shows up but Keith and Jan Penner from Texas whom we also met last year in Shawnee. We had a great time visiting with them too and know we'll see then again down the road. It didn't take long, either, to run into Hugo and Donna Lusten from AZ. We first met Hugo and Donna in DuQuoin, IL at our first FMA Rally, when they were parked right behind us and we saw them again last year in Shawnee when they were parked right beside us.  Great folks.

The FMA rally ran from Wednesday through Saturday night. On Wednesday, we actually got to tour the Fleetwood factory in Decatur, IN. It was a two hour bus ride to Decatur, but the tour was interesting and informative. Of course, Fleetwood thinks they have the most effective and efficient way of making motorhomes of anyone in the industry. Uh huh. They didn't ask me my opinion on that. (More about that later.)

RV rallies consist of educational seminars, displays (trying to sell you something), coach displays (also trying to sell you something), social events to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Brian and Melanie Low of Holland, MI, were new friends we met and had a good time getting to know. RV rallies also provide you with a chance to get some service work done at reasonable rates for labor and parts (unless, of course, they are covered by a warranty).

The big news of the rally was that we did NOT buy a new coach, having done that last year. However, our friends, Hugo and Donna bought a new coach, an Excursion 33C  diesel. It was a real beauty and we were so happy for them. They used to own a 2007 Fiesta 26 very similar to our first coach. Keith and Jan Penner also owned a Fiesta and, lo and behold, they showed up at the rally in a new Tioga! The Fiestas are falling fast!

Mary cornered one of the Fleetwood reps at a listening session they were holding and told him that if he were to come over to our coach and say he was proud of what he saw she'd call him a liar! That evoked an immediate response from Larry Rogers and almost before we could get back to the coach he was on our doorstep. He agreed that a patched carpet did not look good (it was delivered from the factory that way and we didn't see it where it was covered up). There were a few other things we could point out that should not have been wrong on a new 2012 coach. Consequently, some time in late August or early September we are going back to Decatur to the Fleetwood factory to get some extra work done to improve our coach's construction. We're looking forward to that.

We left Goshen on Sunday, July 1, and drove over to Lake Shelbyville Lone Point COE Campground. I'll pick up there next time I can write. Have a happy 4th of July!