Thursday, August 23, 2012

Waiting for the Part!

The last time I wrote, I mentioned that we were on the way to the Fleetwood Repair facility in Decatur, Indiana. We got here Tuesday afternoon, signed in, and were assigned spot number 1 in the Fleetwood "campground." Those of you who follow Mary's group on facebook (where are forrest and mary? ... it's a "secret" group so if you want to be part of it write her) have seen her picture of the "campground." For those who haven't seen the picture and who are unfamiliar with this camping joy, let me share the picture with you.

Thrilling, isn't it? If it looks like a parking lot, that's because it IS a parking lot, a gravel parking lot with electrical outlets, lots of electrical outlets.

We kind of feel like the poor cousin of the family since most of the coaches here are the BIG fancy diesel pusher coaches of Fleetwood and American Coach (which is the upper crust of the Fleetwood products). Thirty-eight, forty, forty-two, and forty-five foot long coaches abound. We have a thirty-four foot-long RV. We're small compared to the others!

Coaches at the repair facility have to be dropped off at 6 a.m.! Which means we have to get up at 5 a.m. Now I'm used to getting up at that hour, but Mary isn't, particularly since she retired. We get up anyway. I think they prefer to not have the owners in the bedroom trying to sleep while they are working on the motorhome. The first morning (Wednesday) I got to the office at 6:05 and the service tech had already called my name before I got there and when he didn't find me went off in search of the coach in slot number 1. I did get back to the coach (1/2 block away) about the same time he did.

Anyway, he drove the coach away to repair stall number 8 and we went back to the office. There we were issued our protective glasses and told we were welcome in the service area as long as we wore the safety glasses and had closed toed shoes on our feet (we did). A service writer then went through what we were asking to be done, we signed off on it, and the Fleetwood repair techs took over.

Wednesday we decided to explore, looking for some good water for kayaking. We're NOT whitewater kayakers. Class 1 rapids are all I've ever tried to handle, so we were looking for a lake to paddle around in. We found Salomonie Lake, a US Army Corps of Engineers impoundment leased to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Lake Salomonie is a bit low on water, something like 12-14 feet lower than the normal pool height. That meant that power boats were not on the lake and that the fishermen and the paddlers were having a field day!

These two pictures will give you some ideas of the lake. It is long and narrow and being low on water is even narrower than usual. We paddled for 1-1/2 hours to about the middle point of the lake and then turned around and returned to our put-in boat ramp. It wasn't the most thrilling lake we've been able to paddle around in, but it was water and we had fun!

Wednesday we returned to the "campground" and found our coach back in its number 1 slot. Much of the work had been completed, BUT we also discovered that the driver's seat was missing! Uh oh! It is really hard to drive one of these coaches without a driver's seat. There was a plastic chair in place for the driver to bring the motorhome from the repair bay, but it definitely wasn't legal for street driving.

When we checked in Thursday morning (today), we learned that when the driver's seat pedestal had to be removed to replace the poorly installed carpeting that one of the bolts holding the seat to the pedestal had been determined to have been installed cross-threaded and that absolutely ruins the bolt. They had to order a replacement part from the main Fleetwood factory which just happened to have one. Unfortunately, corporate bureaucracy and red tape nearly held up delivery of the part. Fortunately we knew one of the Fleetwood management people in the facility (he was the one who had facilitated our trip to the Decatur repair shop) and we rattled his cage, so to speak, and he went off saying, "Let me find out what's going on" (or what's NOT going on in our case). Thank you, Larry Rodgers, for your successful intervention! And thank you to the other Fleetwood techs who worked on the coach and fixed things the way they ought to have been fixed in the first place. All of which means that they finished the job, although we decided to stay put for the night and head out in the morning being more rested and refreshed.

Thursday evening we decided to take in the city of Decatur and went downtown to a special event, A Taste of Decatur, where 3 restaurants and 2 ice cream shops were selling their wares. We watched the dancers of the "Razz m'Jazz" dance school perform about a hundred dances (probably more like a dozen but who's counting?), ate pizza and ice cream, and listened to the local high school band play a couple of numbers (and they were pretty good, too). And THEN we got to participate in the special event of the night, the FIRST annual Decatur Sculpture Walk.  We looked at ten of the twelve sculptures that had been prepared for the event, with many of them being on-street sculptures and a few being inside sculptures.

When we returned to the luxurious Fleetwood campground, er, parking lot, we took a short walk looking at the other coaches and then we did what some people think RVers do best ... talk. We talked to a couple sitting out beside their motorhome and three other couples walked by at various times and joined the conversation. RVers can be really nice people.

Friday, it's on to the Timberline Valley RV Park in Anderson, IN, where we'll sit for a couple of nights before heading to the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) homecoming in Indianapolis starting next week.

Glad you're along for the ride!

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's REAL! We're FULL-TIME RV'ers!

I HAVE to write something tonight even though I don't have any pictures to go with it!

This is our first "official" day on the road as FULL-TIMERS! It is mind-boggling to realize that this is a reality. We took a two day trip to Green Bay this weekend to visit with Mary's sister, Kitty, and brother, Dennis, but went back "home" to Beloit to finish cleaning out the house, so today is the REAL first day of a new stage of life for Mary and I.

Let me back up. The house in Beloit sold the first of this month (at least that's when we accepted the offer to purchase) with a projected closing date of August 24. So we frantically shelved our plans for the month of August and set about cleaning out the house. We had two BIG garage sales, gave away all sorts of stuff to Good Will and Caritas (the local food/clothes pantry), and gave a few things to our kids. The last week, however, has been a mad dash to the finish. Thanks to Lamarr Pulliam and his crew for their last day visit to the house for a major haul-away of all the trash!

Last Wednesday, we moved the remaining possessions that weren't going in the RV to a storage unit. It is stuffed full to the brim! We still have a smaller storage unit to review and condense and we'll do that in a couple of weeks when we go back to the Beloit area for a couple of weeks (Sept. 1-15).

One thing I know for sure is that we have too much stuff in the RV! We've got to pare the list down some (or a lot). I'll try to get us weighed soon to be sure we aren't overweight. An overweight RV is a hazard!

Right now, we are on the way to the Fleetwood factory in Decatur, IN, to get some warranty work done. From there, we'll go to Indianapolis and the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) international rally. Following that, we'll head back to the Beloit area as mentioned above. After a couple of weeks on going through what we put in storage, we'll head east towards Glens Falls, NY, and the Adirondack Balloon Festival in late September. It's not that we're ballooners or anything like that but Mary's sister, Barb, lives in Glens Falls and we thought it was a good excuse to go see her and her family. From there, who knows where we'll go and when we'll get there!

Don't think that life will be a perpetual vacation for us. It won't. There will be many routine days with routine tasks like doing the wash, cleaning the house, and other such domestic matters. I won't have to cut the grass, nor will Mary. That's good. But there are many other things we'll take care of on a regular basis. We will get to see new places and do new things. This first year we may even move around a bit more than we will in future years, just to see where we want to be and when.

I will continue to do my life-coaching and mentoring work. We both will be looking into various places to volunteer and make a difference. And we'll put the kayaks into as many different bodies of water as we can and probably hike a few trails along the way. And I hope we'll get to see lots of friends and family scattered across the US of A and make some new friends to add to the group.

Enough for tonight. It's time to rest and relax. I'll be talking at you some more soon!