Saturday, September 15, 2012

Playing Catch-UP!

I simply didn't realize how much time I let go by before posting anything! I didn't mean to ignore those of you who follow along with us in our travels. The last time I wrote was August 26 when we were in Indianapolis for the FMCA Family Reunion. Now it's September 15. What happened?!

We had a great time in Indianapolis, going to seminars, having a good entertainment evening (and one that wasn't), and touring new coaches of all price points. The $1.7 million coach we saw did seem a bit over the top compare to our little Terra, but it was just too much. Not too much money but too much bling and shine. And it was BIG! (Forty-five feet compared to our thirty-four feet.) The seminars were quite educational. We booked two months of our winter time in FL (more on that later).And we bought a brand new mattress for our coach. It was very plain that the OEM mattress was just flat cheap ... and not very good. They saved weight and money and neither saving served us well. So we bought a new mattress and is it ever better! Thank you Denver Mattress!

The highlight of our visit to Indy was an opportunity to connect with Bob and Deb Norman who live nearby. We've met them at the Fleetwood Rallies for the past two years and have enjoyed hanging out with them. Bob and I will never agree on politics, but that's alright. We do appreciate the faith perspective each of us brings to life and we have a good time in the RV world. Bob and Deb, we both had a great time and are glad you made the effort to come up to FMCA. (Deb's father was in the hospital for a number of days before they came up to Indy and would later pass away. Deb, you have our love and sympathy!)

One of the most interesting things that happened took place on the day AFTER the rally when we were getting ready to leave the Indiana State Fairground. I had arranged to get the coach weighed at 9:30 that morning so we weren't hurrying to get ready to leave. (Getting the coach weighed is vital for folks like us who have almost everything they own in the RV. Do we have the load balanced? Do we have too much weight in the coach? That, of course, is very dangerous.) When I went to take one of the final steps to leaving our camping site, retracting the hydraulic jacks that stabilize the coach, the system would not come on. I tried and retried and checked all the steps I needed to follow but nothing was happening. So ... I walked over to a small group that was standing nearby in front of their RVs and apparently getting ready to leave and I asked if any of them knew anything about the hydraulic system for the jacks. And one of said "I'll be over in a minute."

One of the things I have always heard about RVers is that they are ready and willing to help one another. I did not get the name of either one of the men who helped me (or their wives who kept Mary entertained while we were working on the jacks) but I sure did appreciate the time they took to try to help me. The women told Mary and the men told me to not let this get us upset, that things like this happened to RVs and that if we were going to live in one we just had to get used to it.

We (the fellows helping me and myself) wound up calling Fleetwood's customer service and they told us how to manually retract the jacks (a task that is somewhat messy and a little bit hard to do but one I'm glad that I now know what needs to be done to accomplish it). So we got the jacks retracted and could head for the weighing session (a full 1-1/2 hours late). Fortunately they could still get to me and the results were great. We are underweight and reasonably well balanced, left to right and front to back. Thank you, unknown fellow RVers, for the help you rendered. I hope I cross paths with you again along the road.

Heading for home, we stopped off at one of our favorite campgrounds, the Champaign Sportsman's Club, in Mahomet, IL. This is a small, simple campground with basic facilities, but it is quiet and family-like. I've been there three times down. And it is on Lake of the Woods. And three out of the four jacks worked. The fourth just wouldn't go down.

We arranged to take the RV into Finnegan's RV in South Beloit, IL, a local dealer from which we have had very good service. The problem with the jacks? An electrical connection that had separated on ONE of the four jacks. It was simple to fix but cost more than a few dollars since it took some time to find and the labor cost was all that it involved. I'm glad nothing more serious was involved.

So, with the house sold and new folks living there, where did we go? What did we do for a place to stay? We went to Hidden Valley RV Resort near Milton, WI, between Beloit and Madison. That we we could go see the kids AND go to our storage units in Beloit and visit some friends. By the way, we drove past the old house and neither one of us felt bad about not having it as home. It did seem a little strange to not be able to stop in, as we have done in past years, and do the wash and pick up a few things we needed.

After we moved out of the house, we had all of our remaining belongings in the RV and in two storage units in the Beloit-area. So during the two weeks we were home, we sorted and gave to Good Will and other places and moved things from the RV to storage and from storage to the RV. NOW we have only one storage unit. And we have a few more things in the RV and a few fewer of some things with us.

One of the fun things that we did during the two weeks we were at Hidden Valley RV Resort was to go to near-by Edgerton's Chilimania. It was a genuine chili cook-off competition plus a salsa-making competition. We tasted some twenty or so salsas and nearly thirty different kinds of chili. Wow! Some of it was hot, some of it was very taste-filled, all of it was good. Thank you, Edgerton, for a fun day!

Today, after two weeks at Hidden Valley, we headed east. We're going to Glens Falls, NY, and the Adirondack Balloon Festival. We'll also get to visit with Mary's sister, Barb and her family, and Mary's brother, Dennis. Tonight, we stopped off at the Elkhart Campground in Elkhart, Indiana. It was in a good place at the right time to stop but one of the real reasons that we stopped here was that I had read Nick Russell of The Gypsy Journal speak so favorably of the times he had stopped here for a while. Thank you, Nick! I can well imagine that we'll stop here again. Tomorrow, however, we'll move further east, stopping at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a day. Do you remember when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was so polluted that it would catch fire and burn for days? It's all cleaned up and, I understand, is a beautiful place to visit. We're looking forward to checking it out.