After almost 3 weeks on the road following one month in Blue Ridge, GA minding our grandson, Jace, it was time to put jacks down and slides out for the holidays here in North Georgia with our daughters and grandsons.
Making the run up to Lafayette, IN to the home of Liquidspring for repairs in some nasty downpours and wind, and the ensuing plunge in temperatures was stressful enough, always hoping I wouldn't have to crawl under my chassis to swap out ride height sensors. Fortunately, the system worked as advertised all the way up and back down to Red Bay, AL. It is truly amazing the difference in ride Liquidspring makes, and when in windy conditions (as we seemed to have for the five says it took to do the loop up north and back down south) the Sport mode - I know, it sounds really weird to write "Sport mode" when discussing motor home driving - made handling this RV much easier and didn't tire me out at the end of a day's drive.
I've written extensively about the Tiffin aspect of a visit to Red Bay previously, but I'd be remiss if I didn't cover the personal side of the Red Bay experience. And I don't want the comments I make here to be construed as a knock on Red Bay in any way, shape or form. It's a quaint little town in the upper left corner of Alabama, and it is the very definition of a company town. Frankly, it's hard to believe that 4 of the best-selling motor homes made in the world are made in this one small town. If a business in Red Bay doesn't say Tiffin on it, it's supporting that company in one way or another.
If I covered this before I apologize, but Tiffin doesn't take appointments for their service center. You show up, get in the queue for a full-service bay for serious problems, or in line for an express bay (2 technicians for up to 4 hours and then you're done) for smaller issues. This system is frustrating to many who are not full-timers like us who can spend as much time needed to get everything fixed, and truth be told it even frustrates some full-timers as well, but because people used to make appointments and then not show up, Tiffin instituted this policy and it works for them.
So you hurry to get to Red Bay, check in, and wait for "the call" . . . And you'd better be ready to scoot over to your assigned bay at the time of the call or you get replaced by the next customer in line. We heard of four people who missed their slot because they strayed too far from the service center to get back in time.
What does this have to do with decompression and reflection? Decompression first.
Waiting in Red Bay can be stressful. You're sitting in a parking lot with full hookups (when the water isn't shut off due to freezing temperatures), you can't go far if you want to keep your spot in line, and there's not that much to do to pass the time in such a small town. If you have satellite (we don't yet) you can watch TV, but if not, there are 5 OTA (over the air) stations that can be received in Red Bay - and they're all Public Broadcasting stations. And Tiffin doesn't provide cable. You just sit and wait for the Tuesday and Thursday priority lists to come out at 3:00 so you can have an idea of when your number will be called. If you're way down the list, say, #10 or higher, you can feel confident enough to venture away from the service center. If lower, you'd better stay put.
Once called though, it can be a great learning experience, as Tiffin allows owners to sit in their coaches while they're being worked on. It can be a great for the owner as you get to see they guys doing the work and ask them questions about the work being done.
Unless you have a dog like Taz.
Tiffin (rightly) doesn't allow pets to be in attendance while the coaches are being fixed. The technicians might make an exception for the little travel dogs many RVers seems to have these days, but a 70-lb shepherd/lab mix is a no-go. Now, you can take your dog to the pet friendly lounge Tiffin provides, unless your dog is a jerk.
Taz is a jerk.
We're working with her, but she gets too excited around other animals because she's never really been socialized around other dogs with few exceptions. She's not nasty or mean - just excitable and a jerk. So now either Barbara has to keep Taz occupied at some nearby park (there are none), and only if the weather is good, or we have to take her somewhere to keep her busy (hours in the Mini Cooper are NOT conducive to a happy dog) thereby keeping the owner (me) from interacting with my expert technicians.
Five days of trying to strike that balance is STRESSFUL. We managed to find a couple of places an hour or so away from Red Bay when we knew the coach was going to be in the service bay for the entire day. Tishomingo State Park on the Natchez Trace was a hidden gem, and Taz got some running around time. But otherwise, we waited. Mostly Barbara waited. In the Mini. With the dog.
Once finished, it's just a 1 day drive back to Georgia, specifically to Blue Ridge to pick up a Snap Pad we lost on our way out the previous month, and stay a night until our site is available in Cleveland, GA at Leisure Acres RV Campground. Not wanting to go through the construction zone at I-65 and I-20 in Birmingham when leaving Red Bay, we take an alternative route offered to us by our GPS program - CoPilot RV. It's supposed to be the shortest route mileage-wise, and doesn't look too bad. It's a 5+ hour drive, with some rural roads near the end. Everything is great for the first 4 hours, and then we hit the rural aspect of the trip. Our GPS decided, even though it knows we're in a 37 ft RV with a tow vehicle programmed into it's settings, that it would be fun to take us meandering along the Oconee River for over 25 miles. Now don't get me wrong; I'm sure it's a lovely drive in our Mini Cooper. One lane each way curving sometimes not so gently around every curve and sharp bend in the river. Not so lovely trying to reef that motor home around those curves in the last hour of a 5 hour drive!
As to the Reflection part, we're in an absolutely lovely spot next to a small pond populated with ducks, who serenade us each morning in hopes of getting fed by us. Barbara bought a nice duck blend of food to keep them happy, and Jace loves to come by and feed them. We sit outside and goof off; Barbara with her crocheting, me napping. We take walks.
I think back to the friends we met while in Red Bay. Jamie and Bob, Jennifer and Harry, and especially Ron and Teri; our next-door neighbors. Ron is retired Air Force and loves to golf, so we have two things in common in addition to RVing. We celebrated our last night together before leaving Red Bay with a dinner down the street, and talked and laughed like people who had known each other for years instead of just meeting each other 2 weeks previous. It's part of the RV experience we had hoped to find, but hadn't up until then. These are all people we hope to see again on the road in the future.
Posts might be few and far between for the next month until we get back on the road, but you never know. Some upgrades are being ordered to be installed before our next trip, and there may be a post or two on those. If not, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas from Barbara, Taz and me - the Parental Parolees!
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're planning the ultimate retirement experience - travel the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, play golf and stop at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.