Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 3, 2013 "Thank You Patterson RV"

Slap my butt and call me Shorty. As hard as I try and stay current on our blog, it is becoming more difficult to do with so many distractions that pop up at a moment’s notice. So, daily I must choose between doing “something”, or writing about what we’re doing. With that said, I’ll try and catch up.

A little over a month ago, while in Childress, we encountered a problem with our HWH slide and leveling system. Ass CC was extending the last slide out, it abruptly stopped before fully extending. I looked at my watch and it was 3:35 pm on Friday. Both Winnebago and HWH close at 3:30, so it looks like it will be Monday before I can talk to anyone at either location.

Over the weekend, I surfed the Web for answers and narrowed it down to the motor that drives the hydraulic pump. On Monday I called the extended warranty people, and they gave me three names of people to call. When I called them, the first said I was too far away for them to drive on a service call, the second one only did RV glass repair, and the third was in Tucson, and said they would be happy to look at it, IF we brought the rig in. Right…….drive to Tucson with the slides out. NOT! Back on the web and look for a Winnebago/Itasca dealer in route to the RGV.

Patterson RV Sales in Wichita Falls, just slightly out of our way, said they could look at it Thursday morning, no sooner, BUT, we would have to retract the slides manually; easier said than done. If I had an air impact wrench, it would have been a breeze, as it were, it took about an hour for each of the two front slides. The two bedroom slides had to be pushed in from the outside with good ol’ brute force. Lucky for us, there were construction workers camped nearby, and CC sweet talked 4 of them to come over and help. Relatively easy to get in using this method, compared to the front two.

While in Childress we had a great visit with CC’s daughter, Letta and her family, and enjoyed cooking class with her preparing eggplant and chicken parmesan, CC’s favorite. I’m thinking Letta is trying to suck up to her mom???  Whatever the reason, CC loved it and we all enjoyed good meals together.

We decided to leave Childress on Wednesday, and drive the 120 miles to Wichita Falls, rather than get up at 5 am on Thursday, to make it to Paterson by 8:30 am for our scheduled appointment.

After the summer of repairs we have encountered, I was not overly optimistic as we arrived at Patterson, and commented to CC, “plan on at least a week in Wichita Falls, before we continue southward to the RGV.” 

But every once in a while, Murphy doesn’t raise his red head, and miracles can and do happen. I cannot begin to say enough good things about Patterson RV. They are in my books the best service we have experienced in almost 4 years of full-timing. They informed us every step of the way on what repair was being done, and the overall status. Our service technician was Darren, and was the best one I have ever known; bar none. He had our problem diagnosed within an hour of arrival, and 30 minutes later had the motor disassembled, and notified us the repair was a simple as new brushes. He further elated me with information that Patterson had a good relationship with a local company that specializes in rebuilding electric motors.

I now believe a good, no GREAT RV dealer can does exist. Any other RV service provider would have told us they would have to order a new motor from HWH, wait for it to arrive in about a week, and bring our rig back to install the new motor. But not Patterson, they went the extra mile, and for that we are extremely grateful. After paying our $100 deductible for the extended warranty, we were back on the road by 4 pm. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

We left Wichita Falls and drove southward on US281 to our usual stop for a few days at Coffee Creek RV Park, just outside of Santo, TX. We really enjoy this place; quiet, peaceful, and a great hot tub and pool. After the last few weeks it was nice to just relax and relieve some stress soaking in the Jacuzzi.

Braunig Lake RV Park, just south of San Antonio would be our next home for a few days, as we work our way to the RGV for the winter. The weather was warm and humid, just perfect for enjoying the pool beside the lake.

Drum roll please…………………

Our travel day to the RGV was uneventful, just the way we like them, and arrived at our winter home in Weslaco, TX at Ranchero Village. It didn’t take us long to get set up and make our way to the pool. The park only had 8 other campers when we arrived, which is typical for this time of year, as most do not arrive until after Thanksgiving.

The following day CC decided a trip SOTB (south of the border) was in order. We spent the day walking around town visiting our Mexican friends; margaritas in hand. After a late light lunch of tacos, we ventured NOTB, as pool time was calling our names.

Now, after a month, we fell settled in for the winter, and back to our somewhat usual “routine”, which consists of 8 am exercise, 2 pm pool time and 4 pm happy hour. Every other hour is open to spur of the moment activities, which occur on a daily basis. We do manage to stay busy and active, and it’s hard to believe how fast the time flies.

Now that we are up to date, CC promises she will be more conscientious about updating the blog more frequently. That will happen if I can convince her that two trips SOTB per week is not “necessary”, but I will admit those $2 margaritas are a tempting persuasion.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, take care and stay well…………………..

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 17, 2013 - “Family and Friends”

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We finally departed Forest City in route to Oklahoma City to visit family and friends. Our first overnight was once again at Prairie Flower COE, just north of Des Moines. The following day we continued on I-35 South to Wallace State Park, about 40 miles north of Kansas City, MO, where we planned to catch up with CC’s cousin, Joy, whom we had not seen in 3 years. We had a delightful lunch, and the afternoon passed way too quickly. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge.)

Wallace State Park was so quiet and peaceful, we decided after our stressful adventure at Winnebago, we needed some “quiet time”, and so we decided to stay a few more days.

From Wallace, we high tailed it to Bartlesville, OK to meet back up with Carl and Carla who were on their way back to the St. Louis area after spending most of their month in UT and AZ. Osage Hills State Park would become our home for the next week.

The area was perfect for Carla’s pet, Tula, to get some much needed exercise after being cooped up for almost two months in the Airstream.

Carl wanted to make a return visit to Woolaroc, Frank Phillips ranch just south of Bartlesville. CC and I spent part of our childhood growing up in OK, and never knew this place existed, but we are certainly glad Carl insisted, as it is truly amazing. The museum, exotic and domestic animals, and the lake and surrounding woods; I can now understand why he felt so strongly about Woolaroc.

Once again, our travel planner suggested we venture to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy. It is protected as the largest tallgrass prairie in the world, and home to almost 3,000 bison.

At week’s end, we bid farewell to Carl and Carla, and pointed Elly in the direction of OKC, for a visit with family and friends. CC’s daughter, Letta, drove in for the weekend with her granddaughter, Haley, for hugs and kisses from relatives in the area. CC’s aunt Gayle, had not yet met Haley, and she wasted no time in wrapping Gayle around her little finger.

On our second day in OKC, CC’s brother, Mike, called and said he was flying in for a visit. Being a Delta pilot allows him the privilege of flying, space available, wherever and whenever he desires, free of charge. We had not seen him in three years, so it was good to catch up and indulge in a Scottish beverage or two, after lunch at Pearl’s with mother Jo.

The week was a blur; dinner with Rick at Abuelo’s was fantastic. Thanks Rick. Good luck in your new position with Chesapeake. Sid and his son Conner, just back from Iraq, met CC and I for a cold one, and we learned of his upcoming nuptials….Congrats Conner. Always a highlight of our time in OKC, is our annual dinner at Gabriella’s with Chuck and Kelley, Bobby and Marilyn; next year we need to take a timeout from the frivolity for a picture. Take care of you and yours, they are all you have. Thanks for the good time!

John and Vicki invited us to a weekend of sailing at Lake Texoma. The weather and wind were perfect on Friday, temps in the 80’s and winds 15 – 20 mph. By the time we returned to their condo, Letta called and said she was on the way, as she needed some down time outside of Childress; long story don’t ask. All in all we had a fantastic visit, unfortunately the winds died on Saturday, which meant a top speed of 1.9 knots. Thanks John and Vicki.

That rounds out our visit in OKC. Tomorrow we will move to Childress, TX for a few days before moving southward to our winter home. Thanks for stopping by. Take care and stay well………….........

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 21, 2013 – “Winnebago – Never Again”

We have now been in Forest City since September 9, and the events that transpired here have not been pleasant. To say that Winnebago is a reputable company couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact they operate much like some of our elected officials by promising the world before you buy (or vote), and then stick it to you after the sale (election). Sound familiar?

We checked in, bright and early, at 7 am on Monday morning. They had our appointment reservation, noting the broken roller and cracked tile. We also wanted an oil and filter change and chassis lube. Since service customers are limited to 3 items to be repaired, unless their coach is still under the factory warranty (1 year), I had to choose between the wind noise emanating from the driver side window, OR, get them to check the slide that we spent 2 days at Lazy Days last year getting adjusted. I chose the noise, which was a mistake.

By 3 pm, Monday afternoon, they had completed the oil and filter and chassis lube. They deliver the coaches back to the parking lot in front of the service center and instructed us to again show up at 7 am on Tuesday, and to plan on spending 2 nights in a hotel while they were repairing the slide. OK, if that’s the only way for repairs to be completed.

The following morning, Tuesday, we delivered the coach promptly at 7 am, and proceeded across the street to the Lodge Resort, and were told we could check in after noon. Later that afternoon, Al, our service advisor, phoned and asked if I wanted them to replace all 8 rollers or just the broken one. To which I replied, why replace only the broken one that had failed? Al informed me Winnebago had switched vendors, and the new rollers were substantially better. Since the slide was already out, which was estimated at 20 hours labor to remove and replace, I thought it prudent to change all 8 rollers to the newly designed ones.

Wednesday afternoon, Al again phoned me with news that our tile could not be exactly matched. They had a 16” tile, but it was the wrong color. They had the right color in a 12” tile, which would mean piecing together a few tiles to fill the void. Al asked if we could come over to the service center, and make a decision, to which we complied.

While in our coach, I asked Dave, the service technician, if I could see the broken roller. To which he replied, “What broken roller?” The one on the front that was broken, I said. Dave then informed me it wasn’t broken and why it had malfunctioned.

What was originally diagnosed by Leach Camper Sales in Lincoln, NE, as a broken slide roller, turned out to be a bent slide roller mounting bracket caused by the improper installation of the bed rail when the motorhome was manufactured at Winnebago. The bed rail SHOULD extend the length of the slide, and is what the 8 rollers rest on when the slide is out. It is a 2-1/2” to 3” wide board, and is at the very outer edge of the motorhome, so the slide doesn’t rest on the ceramic tile floor. It was originally installed about 2”-3” too short, causing the front roller to roll on the edge of the board, and over time caused the front end of the board to become concave on the top side.

Over time, the roller bracket malformed due to the increase in weight on the unsupported half of the roller. The bracket in turn, scratched the floor, scoring the ceramic tile, and eventually the 16” tile snapped. Dave then took me back in our coach and showed me how he replaced and extended the bed rail, to fully and completely support the weight of the front roller. If it had been done this way, the right way, when the coach was originally built, I seriously doubt I would have had any problems at all with the slide roller(s).

The following morning we were informed that we would need to spend an additional night at the Lodge, to allow for the thinset to cure for 24 hours before the tile could be grouted. 

By 3 pm on Friday afternoon, Winnebago had completed the repairs, and presented me with a bill of $3,852. When I explained to Al Steen, our service advisor, that the lion’s share of the bill (over $2,600) was directly related to the slide repair, and I felt Winnebago should bear some responsibility, as the rail bed was incorrectly installed when the coach was built. Al said he would check with his boss, and in about 10 minutes returned and said, “I’ve knocked off 2 hours of labor”. I stood there in utter amazement, and after regaining my composure said, “That’s all? $210? That is all Winnebago feels is fair?” To which he responded, “Well, your coach is after all, over 3 years old. I have some flexibility, but over 3 years when the warranty is one year, what do you expect?” “Maybe 50%”, I replied, and added, “I don’t think $210 is fair”. Al then apologetically added, “I’m sorry you feel that way”.

And the issue with the wind noise resulted in 1.4 hours of labor ($147), and a description on the statement; “Wind noise driver’s window (SA 9-9) Test drive, no more noise than normal.” Really? 1.4 hours for a test drive?

By now I’m starting to think I made a BIG mistake of buying another Winnebago product, after a similar experience 3 years ago with the ’06 Suncruiser while we were here for service. It’s been a week now since Winnebago gave me the shaft, and I’ve slept since, and now feel confident, that I did indeed make a mistake. We have talked to too many Tiffin owners over the past 3 years, and feel if we had purchased a Tiffin, Bob (Tiffin) would have covered 100% of the slide repair. Everyone who speaks of him responds in a similar fashion, stating him to be one of the fairest, honest, reputable men they know.

Goodbye Winnebago, as they are NOT a good buy. I’m taking my future business to Tiffin…….

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2013 – “Is Winnebago a Good Company?”

Our time in Montrose, CO with Carl and Carla, this third day of September, is over. They will continue westward, while we travel eastward to Forest City, IA. This day we journey I-70 over Vail and Loveland passes, with an overnight stop at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden, CO.

On the outskirts of Denver and on the road shortly past 9 am, to hopefully avoid rush hour, we’re back on I-70 for a short distance. Now I-76 becomes the wind beneath our sails, as we lumber towards Nebraska. I use the term, with tongue in cheek, as I-76 JUST HAS to be one of the roughest roads we have ever been on…..EVER!!!!! At times we could only travel at 45 mph to maintain the structural integrity of Elly. Finally we cross the state line, and merge with I-80; now we’re flying at 65 mph, the maximum speed we travel due to the speed restriction on the toad. We arrive in Ogallala, and overnight at the Country View Campground.

Travel day 3, back on I-80 towards Kearney, NE, where we planned to stay at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds. We stopped here overnight 3 years ago for $10; electric only. When we discovered they had raised their rate to $15, coupled with the fact they are only a few hundred yards from the railroad tracks, where trains run constantly, all night long, we hit our favorite campground finder, where CC found Hall County Campground ($20) in nearby Grand Island.

The park is located about 3 miles south of town, and is very quiet, which made for a good night’s sleep; well worth the additional $5.

Day 4, once again I-80 is our pathway eastward where we will return to Walnut Creek in Papillion, NE, for yet another overnight stay. CC contacted her friend, Dixie, and made plans to have dinner with her and her husband, Ken. This is an unusual year, travelwise, and this marks the third time in 30 days we have seen Ken and Dixie. It is always a treat for us to meet up with old friends, especially when a good meal is involved.

On the Friday morning of travel day 5, CC and I both woke up feeling the effects of not have traveled this fast for quite some time, and realize we are both creatures of habit, and this pace is not our normal. But press on we must, as our appointment in Forest City is Monday. Once again, we jumped on I-80 towards Des Moines, IA, to Prairie Flower State Park for another overnight sleep.

We both can see light at the end of the tunnel on our last travel day up I-35. Today was the shortest travel day, about 140 miles, but it seemed to take forever. We pulled into Forest City, after stopping in Clear Lake to wash Elly and her toad. All of the good camping spots at the Winnebago Service Center were already taken by 2:30 pm, so we overnighted across the street at the Welcome Center.

Monday morning 5:30 am, September 6, we awoke and started the arduous task of prepping Elly for her orthopedic doctor appointment, to have her slide removed and roller(s) replaced. We ahd her in the waiting room at promptly 7 am. By noon, we were notified of the diagnosis, and that surgery would take place Tuesday morning, an overnight stay, replace rollers and broken tile, another overnight, and grout and re-install slide on Thursday.

The Knights Inn Lodge is now our home for 2 nights. In 1969 it was originally a 17 acre estate of the daughter of John K. Hanson, founder of Winnebago Industries. In 1987 Winnebago purchased the property, and together with Wyndam Properties, added 10 “Embassy Suites”, converted the main residence to a lodge, and converted the stables to 5 guest rooms. It opened it’s doors to the public in 1988. In 2008, the property was purchased by a retired Methodist Minister, who operates the lodge to this day. The view from the back deck overlooks Bear Creek Golf Course and the banks of the Winnebago River.

Will we be departing Forest City tomorrow? If past performance is any indication of future performance, probably not. Three years ago we were here originally for 2-3 days, and ended up almost two weeks. I spoke with a gentleman that purchased a new 2014 Meridian, on August 6, and of the 65 days of ownership he has spent the past three weeks at the service center. Hold on; my phone is ringing………………………(to be continued)

Just back from the service center, as Al, our advisor had called to tell us they were having problems matching the tile. Could we come over and decide what we would like to do. It seems the 18” tile that “matched” was the wrong color. They’re alternative solution, replace the 18” tile with a 12” tile of the same color, and piece together leaving 2 more grout joints than the original. CC decided the 12” solution was “less obtrusive” than the different color. Not perfect, but under the circumstances, tolerable. While inside our rig, inside the service center, I asked if I could take a picture of the repair work, as the slide was only partially in. “Absolutely not”, was their reply. “We have a strict no pictures policy”. “But we’re on the inside of MY rig(?)”, I responded. Again, “Absolutely NOT”. As we left I asked CC, why the hell did I buy another Winnebago product?

To be continued………………………………

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 28, 2013 – “Exploring Montrose, CO and Beyond”

We’re all settled in here at Cedar Creek RV Park, and decided to extend our stay due to 1) Labor Day Weekend approaching, and not wanting to worry about finding a campsite, and 2) There is so much to see and do in the area.

Montrose is an excellent spot to see some of the most scenic parts of Colorado. The vistas are all around, everywhere you look. No visit to the area would be complete without stopping at Black Canyon National Park.

Understandably, Painted Wall is the most photographed location in the park; looking back in history over 2 million years of geographical formations.

Another great day trip is Ouray, CO. As most mountain towns in the area, this originated as a mining town in the late 1800’s

Carla and CC enjoyed the shopping in all the quaint and unique shops, and Carl and I wandered from bench to bench, just visiting and taking in the scenery.

The following day Carl went fly fishing, while Carla and CC did laundry. I sorted through the hundreds of pictures taken, and culled the unfavorable ones. Dinners are always a co-op effort, and are definitely ad lib, and if I must say, outstanding.

The next day we covered 130 miles, mostly off-road, across Owl Creek Pass, which served as a backdrop for the filming of the classic John Wayne movie, “True Grit”.

Also in the area is Chimney Rock, a unique geological formation similar to Devils Tower in Wyoming, and according to locals, is larger. Personally, having seen both, I have my doubts.

We met a couple from Florida that recommended a visit to The Double RL Ranch just south of Ridgway, CO, describing it as “the most beautiful place we’ve seen”. Well, alright then.

This 17,000 acre ranch is owned by Ralph Loren. For an in depth sneak peak at the inner workings of the ranch, click here to view a video produced by Oprah.

On yet another day trip, we traveled 60 miles south, to the mining town of Silverton. Today, this town would dry up overnight, IF the Durango to Silverton Railroad quit running. As it is now, it serves the local merchants well as it runs two trains per day during peak season, and one train per day year round.

Main Street has been saved by the National Historic Society, as well as many of the buildings in town, and except for the cars, looks the same as it did in the late 1800’s.

A local watering hole, Handlebars, came highly recommended, so being lunch time, decided to give it a try.

While the ambiance is very unique, displaying an eclectic mix of new and old, the food did not match our expectations.

And yet another day trip, we traversed back eastward toward Gunnison, and The Blue Mesa Reservoir, to Morrow Point. The National Park Service has a guided boat tour through the Black Canyon, a few miles downstream from the Blue Mesa Dam. After 236 stairs and almost a mile hike we reached our starting point, and boarded the boat.

Even this late in the season, Chipeta Falls is still flowing at a fraction of herself during the Spring thaw.

The trip lasted almost 2 hours, and the scenery was overwhelming. Steep canyon walls carved by the Gunnison River for over 2 million years; at some places the cliffs raise some 2,400 feet above the water.

That sums up a few of the things we’ve been doing to keep us amused and occupied since our arrival in Montrose. In a mere 6 days, we’ll say good-bye to Carl and Carla, and Montrose, as we journey back to Forest City, IA and our appointment at Winnebago. Thanks for stopping by, and until next time, take care and stay well…………………………………

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013 "Hurry up and Wait"

While in Central Iowa, we made our way by Newton for a stop at Maytag Dairy, for some of their fantastic blue cheese. After sampling some white cheddar and havarti, those were also in our shopping basket.

Hurry up and wait, is what we are now doing. Making our way to Leach RV in Lincoln, NE for our August 6 appointment, we decided on a stop in Papillion, NE for a week long stay at Walnut Creek Lake RV Park. We have stayed here before, and even though they only have electric, the peace and quiet offered outweighs the absence of full hook-ups.

In keeping with our travel theme this year, CC planned a visit with her longtime friend, Dixie, who lives nearby. Plenty of laughter is always present when those two get together.

While in the area, Dixie and her family treated us to pizza at Big Fred’s, an Omaha tradition since 1965. CC and I ordered a small, and we had leftovers. The others in the party ordered larges, and also had leftovers times 10. Later in the week, Dixie invited us for a family meal with Nathan, Nicole, Elijah, Dixie, Noah, CC, Lindsay and Mackinsey.

On the morning of August 6, we traveled the short 55 miles westward to Lincoln for our 8 o’clock appointment at Leach’s. We had three items for them to repair; the passenger side front slide needed an adjustment (or so we thought), the door awning was not fully closing, and the fiberglass engine access door had separated from the steel frame, most likely on the roads of Indiana. Shortly before noon we were notified to door awning had been adjusted, and the engine access door would need to be removed. According to Leach, Winnebago did not use enough adhesive when they attached the cover to the frame, and the adhesive would need to cure overnight. OK, no problem. The slide was another matter. They diagnosed the problem as a broken slide roller, which was beyond their expertise to repair, and we would have to go to the factory in Forest City, IA if we wanted it repaired. The following day when we returned to have the engine door reattached, Leach presented me with the bill, and I was not a happy camper. It seems the Extended Platinum Warranty they sold me in 2011, would not cover any of the repairs, part of which was $165 to diagnose my slide problem, which they did not or could not fix. To say that I am not pleased with my experience at Leach would be an understatement. IMHO, they are just like most of the RV Dealers we have visited; maximize profits with minimal effort.

OK, more hurry up and wait. Our appointment at Winnebago in Forest City is September 9. Do we hang out around Lincoln / Omaha for the next month or move to a cooler climate? We normally spend the month of September in our old home state of Colorado, so this year will be different and we’ll do August. With that decision behind us…….westward ho! As we traveled along I-80, needing fuel, we pulled into Flying J. When we were ready to pull away from the pump, I realized the two truckers on each side of me had pulled out at an angle, fencing me in. I’m sure they were having a good ol’ time knowing exactly what they were doing, so we just sat and waited them out.

We arrived in Elizabeth, CO, and pulled into our usual spot on C and D Loop at Rick and Zoe’s RV Resort. The following morning I got up early enough to capture a shot of the rising sun.

While our time in Elizabeth was short, we had an enjoyable visit and caught up on the past years events of our mutual friends and immediate families. Dinners were always memorable with lively conversation, great food and wine.

While we were in Troy, MO last month, we tentatively made plans to spend August and/or September with Carl and Carla, playing tour guide for them in our old home state. Carl and Carla arrived in Elizabeth, and Rick and Zoe were gracious enough to let them camp overnight before our departure to Buena Vista, where we spent two days sightseeing.

The drive from Buena Vista to Gunnison over Monarch Pass had CC white knuckled, as she buried her head in her Kindle as we descended the steep, winding road. After we arrived and got settled in at our campground, Carl was anxious to experience some off-roading in the National Forest around Lake City.

After a brief two day stay in Gunnison, we moved westward on US-50 to Montrose, where the Cedar Creek RV Park will be our new home for the balance of August. We have numerous sights to see and things we want to do while we are here, so I’m sure the time here will seem short. After Labor Day, CC and I will head eastward to Forest City, IA, and Carl and Carla will continue their journeys through Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, take care and stay well………………….