As we sit solidly in Fall and await the advent of Winter, it was time to get our coach ready for the extended trip to somewhere warmer. Like many homeowners who have to get ready for the cold, or find little things that need doing before the wintry weather makes it's annual appearance, our house is no exception. After driving 8,000-10,000 miles since our last visit to Red Bay, little things come loose (as is expected in a home that suffers the equivalent of an earthquake nearly every time it hits the road), recurring service on the chassis is needed, and sometimes an upgrade or two is taken care of.
The big difference between me and you homeowners out there? I'm retired, have limited skills and tools to accomplish some of the simplest jobs, and I'm retired. That means I pay someone else to have this stuff done. Costs a bit more, but did I mention that I'm retired?
So moving on, our list was blessedly short this October, as our coach continues to be one of the better built coaches that has come out of Tiffin in the past few years.
So you know what that means, right? More money available for UPGRADES!
One of the nice things about Red Bay is that the area is populated with current and former Tiffin employees who have started their own businesses either full-time, or do the same work they do at Tiffin after hours. There's at least a couple of dozen shops that can take care of everything Tiffin does, with the added benefit that you can make appointments with them instead of using Tiffin's first-come, first-serve scheduling at their service center. Plus, after your first year (when your full warranty runs out with Tiffin), they limit you to 2 technicians in one Express Bay for 3 ½ hours maximum. Third-parties will work on your coach for as long as you need them to, and they charge the same $125 per hour that Tiffin does.
So same people and talent, same service rates, fixed appointments, and creative people who can make almost anything you can dream of.
Enter Cody Poores.
Cody worked in Tiffin's cabinetry shop for many years, and started a business doing upgrades after-hours a few years ago. Cody is one of those people who is truly a craftsman at his work. When COVID hit and folks were let go due to the economy slowing down, Cody decided to leave Tiffin for good and do his magic full-time.
One friend of ours had Cody replace their 3-drawer cabinet on one side of their galley and converted it into a pull-out peninsula with extra counter top space. Another friend did the same, but added a replacement doghouse (the area between the two captain's chairs up front used for cup holders and minor storage) into a much more functional (and beautiful) cabinet and table. Barbara was storing clothes in a narrow but deep hamper in the bedroom. It worked, but was clumsy if she needed something in the bottom of the hamper.
While Barbara would love to have more kitchen counter top workspace, our design is different than our friend's galley is, so there's no way a peninsula could replace our 3 existing drawers (more on that later).
But the doghouse replacement and hamper change-out was definitely on our radar scope.
Had to set up an appointment nearly 6 months in advance (since snowbird season runs from September thru November and Red Bay gets VERY busy during that time), and sent Cody our choice of styles, stain color and counter top style and color, and the wait was on. But was it ever worth it.
As you can see from the before and after pictures, the doghouse was of a cheap plastic and fake chrome construction that was basic in design, and barely functional. No real flat surface on which to sit anything, and the cup holders were low to the floor and away from the seats, so reaching down to grab a sip of something required some manual dexterity while driving a 38-foot motor home down the road.
So out went the old doghouse and in came this:
As you can see, the cup holders are now raised higher and more towards each captain's chair for ease of use. The counter top is wide and deep, and can hold my tire pressure management display for easy viewing when driving, or snacks when the seats are turned around facing inward and parked in a campground for weeks or months at a time. A recessed tray extends the area for snacks and drinks, and a drawer beneath stores everything from sunglasses to monitors when we're not driving. The counter top is the same material as the rest of the coach, the hardwood used is the same as Tiffin uses, the stain is the exact same, and the handles even match the ones on our drawers. In short, it's a perfect addition to our house and makes the front of the coach look like it was built with the rest of the coach.
Barbara's hamper has been converted into two deep adjustable shelves with more than enough space to hold everything she used to store in the hamper, with extra room available to get 3 pairs of shoes off the bedroom floor.
Next Spring? A pull-out counter top next to the fridge for extra workspace when preparing meals.
Prior to Red Bay, we spent two weeks in Piney Grove COE in Dennis, Mississippi. A very pretty Corps park with tight spaces in one half of the park, and decent sized spaces in the remainder. Guess which side of the park we had? Yup, the tight side. Our driveway was listed as being 50-feet long, but that was with the inside angle measured; the outside was more like 40-feet, which barely gave us enough room to pull the Jeep in perpendicular to the front of the motor home.
Spent our last week in Piney Grove flat on my back recovering from something my grandson gave me. This year I have been through COVID in late May, the flu in late July and whatever this bug was that Jace gave me. I've had healthier years.
But for now, it's back to North Georgia for November and December and our go-to campground, Leisure Acres in Cleveland, GA, to be near Jace and our daughters for the holidays. Haven't made our Winter reservations for January – March yet, so we don't know if we'll be in Florida, or Texas, or even Arizona this winter. We'll roll the dice later in November to see where we'll be.
Even though we're not traveling I have plans for an update or two on here before the holidays, but if I get lazy (after all, I'm retired) here's wishing all fellow, future, and wannabe Parolees a Happy Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas, and a safe and Happy New Year!
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're living the ultimate retirement experience - traveling the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, playing golf and stopping at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.