Monday, September 14, 2015

Our East Coast Wrap-Up

Posted from Red Bay, AL

The plan when we left Arizona way back in April was to make a swing up the eastern side of the United States to visit family and friends.

I'm happy to say that we accomplished our goal and had a great time catching up with old co-workers and family.

We were in Florida for almost 8 weeks during the hottest time of the summer.  Definitely not ideal, but we survived. We first met up with a past co-worker of mine John Potter and his wife Maryann. They now live just north of Clermont, FL in a beautiful 55+ community.  It was great seeing the two of you again.  John has taken up the sport of pickleball, so of course I "forced" myself to play (many times, too).

Next we traveled down to the Cape Coral area and met up with George and Ellen Motley.  I worked with both of these folks pre-retirement up in Virginia.  They have since retired to this area of Florida and live in a beautiful waterfront home with access to the Gulf of Mexico.   This is a picture of us enjoying dinner one evening down in Ft. Myers Beach.

Ironically, Karen's brother and his family were vacationing in Florida while we were on the Gulf side. We were able to meet for dinner one evening before they had to return to Virginia.  Fortunately, we were able to visit again later in the summer when we got to Virginia.

Are you beginning to see the common "theme" of meeting around eating places in this blog?  Seems like it works that way with RVing friends as well.

We left Florida in early August and began a slow northward drive up the east coast.  We stopped for a few days in Myrtle Beach, SC to again visit with some past co-workers. It seems as though many guys I worked with have moved to either Florida or the Myrtle Beach, SC area.  Here we are at yet another restaurant with Joe and Dale Scalici and Rob and Cathy Forker.  Some great "stories" were shared around the table on this evening.

We finally got back to the Northern Virginia area in early September to visit with several of Karen's past co-workers, and finally our families.  Karen was very happy to meet up with friends Ana Zuniga and Jennie Moore.  We were all able to get together for lunch one afternoon up in Burke, VA. Ana's husband Lucho and Jennie's boyfriend Phil joined us and it made for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Another "fun" group we were able to re-unite with was from our pre-Fulltiming days.  We belonged to a local Good Sam chapter when we lived in Virginia named the Redwing Sams. We went on many camping outings with these folks when we lived in Virginia. Shared many a good time then, and certainly shared some great conversation at this restaurant up in Springfield, VA.

We finally got a chance to meet up with family after all of these "eating out" adventures with old friends.  Both of Karen's parents have had a lot of physical obstacles during the past couple of years. This was one of the first times they had been able to get out and go to a restaurant for some time.  We jointly celebrated their 57th and our 31st anniversaries together.

Lastly, but certainly not least, we got a chance to visit with my Mom and brother while in Manassas, VA.  As unbelievable as it seems, we failed to take a picture of all of us together.  Nevertheless, it was great seeing you Mom and Jeff.

Well, that pretty much sums up our summer.  We are now in Red Bay, AL having a couple of small things done on the motorhome before heading back west for our winter in Casa Grande, AZ again. No time schedule to really keep between now and then, but we should be back in Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort again by mid-October.  Let the pickleballing begin!

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Whirlpool Washer Repair

Posted from Thousand Trails, Gloucester, VA

Have you ever finished a repair job and were just so happy with yourself for being able to diagnose the problem AND fix it as well!  Well, this is exactly what happened to us recently when we pulled into the Thousand Trails in Gloucester, VA.

UP FRONT WARNING!  If you don't have a washer in your rig or aren't really interested in ever trying to fix one,  please stop now and bail out.  This blog post isn't for you!

We arrived last Thursday and Karen decided to do a load of laundry. Normally, when she closes the door and turns the load selector dial to a setting, several lights on the front panel illuminate and a countdown timer begins.  Today, NOTHING!!!!!   Not good.  Karen is none too happy.

We have a stacked Whirlpool washer and dryer positioned in the passenger side rear corner of our 2010 Tiffin Phaeton motorhome.  The washer model is #WFC7500V.  This washer has been in use in Tiffin motorhomes since around 2008 or 2009.  I'm not sure when they began using some other brands, but probably around 2011 or 2012.

Looking in from access panel
If you've ever tried to do anything with the washer and dryer in place, you know that access is very much unlike a sticks and bricks situation.  There is an access panel to the rear of our washer-dryer through a hole in the side of the rear closet.  It measures 4 1/2 x 22 inches and is basically big enough to turn the hot and cold water valves on and off, unplug the electrical plugs, and "maybe" replace the hot and cold water hoses.  I said maybe because I haven't tried that one yet.

Getting back to the washer problem, I checked the routine sources of the problem first.  Plugged a light into the receptacle to make sure that we were getting power up to that point.  Power was good.

Now I'm stumped.  It's time to go to the forum to see if anyone else has had a similar problem.  Several discussions about "other" problems, but nothing like the one we are experiencing. Remember, we have power to the washer, but seemingly no power is reaching any of the controls. I finally located a Whirlpool service manual online for this particular machine. Since several people have already asked for the service manual, I'm including a link to it here in my drop box account. (There's no need to have a drop box account for this.  When the splash screen on drop box opens, just click "X" and the manual will load.)

The more I dug into the problem, the more it sounded like an inoperative Central Control Unit (CCU) on the front of the washer.  Great!  I began pricing these online and they run anywhere from $200-$400 depending on whether it was a re-burbished or a new unit. I started checking the price of a brand new washer since this one is 5 years old.  Home Depot sells the same model for $689.  I'm beginning to not feel too good about the impending decision yet to be made.

I must give credit here to Bill (BillR22) on the Tiffin Forum as his correspondence with me indicated that he had a similar problem.  (He has a 2010 Tiffin Phaeton, as well).  He opened up his washer and found that some wires had come loose (presumably while bouncing down the roads).  I now had HOPE!

On with the repair.  (I can hear the readers saying it's about time).

These washers weigh about 170 pounds and are very hard to move around the way that they have been installed in the cabinet.  The height of the bottom of the cabinet shelf to the bedroom floor is about 14 inches and we also have an engine "hump" to deal with in this area.

To remove the washer from the cabinet I had to first remove the bi-fold doors.  Not hard, just three screws.  Remove the two bi-fold door latches on the left side of the opening, then remove a wooden spacer at the bottom of the washer.  Pretty easy so far.

The next task was to figure out how to build up a support shelf to pull the washer out of the cabinet.  I knew that if I ever got it down to bedroom floor level that I'd probably never get it back into the cabinet again.  A trip over to the TT maintenance shop and I returned with several cinder blocks and bricks.  These just happened to be the almost correct height.

I placed two pieces of 24" x 24" (1/2" thick each) on top of the block and bricks to make a temporary shelf.

Broken screw in washer
Ok, I'm ready to begin pulling the washer out.  It's not budging!  If you go back to Picture #1 in this blog you'll see that Tiffin placed two pieces of wood as a stop on the rear of the washer and dryer shelf.  Well, they had actually screwed thru the wooden stop block right into the metal washer cabinet.  After I finished cussing, I began to pry the wooden block to free the screw and the screw eventually broke.

Because the washer has four rubber feet on each corner which I needed to lift up over the front edge of the surrounding wooden cabinet, I used a strap to assist.  Karen pulled while I tipped the front upward to clear the cabinet, then I used the strap to move the washer totally out of the enclosure.  Fortunately, the water hoses were long enough that there was no need to disconnect them.

Here's a picture of the washer totally removed from the cabinet and sitting (quite nicely, I might add) on my temporary shelf.

Any access to the front control panels and circuit boards begins with the removal of three screws on the top rear edge of the washer. (The three nut drivers are positioned just to show the location of the screws.)

Once the screws are removed, grasp the top cover on each side of the washer and slide it backwards toward the rear of the washer. The top cover can then be removed.

The power cord enters the washer on the top right corner (when viewed from the front) and is attached to an AC line filter. EUREKA!!!  There's the problem!!!

As you can see in this picture, one of the wires is totally disconnected, and the other is just about to fall off of the terminal.

I love it when a repair is this easy.  I just re-connected the black and white push-on tabs and secured them with several turns of electrical tape.  Hopefully, they will stay in place much longer.

All that's left to do was to re-install the washer top cover and move the washer back into its' position in the cabinet.  (Oh, yes, I tested the washer before doing any of this. Worked perfectly again.)

The "beast" is a bit tougher pushing back into the cabinet, but we succeeded.

Believe me when I say that we were two happy people on the day of this repair.  I envisioned a trip by a appliance repair man at least.  Then, when all else failed either a replacement of that aforementioned CCU board, or worst case scenario, the replacement of the entire washer.

We had a working washer again and saved several hundred dollars in a service visit. Looking back, I see that this is a pretty long post, but hopefully it will assist someone else in at least removing their washing machine from the cabinet should the need arise.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Walking Tour in Charleston, SC

Posted from Carolina Crossroads, Roanoke Rapids, NC
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

We only had a couple of days to visit the Charleston, SC area.  We had visited many years back and took a harbor tour, but never really got a chance to visit the historic downtown area.

There are some trolley and van tours (as there were in Savannah, GA), but we wanted to hear a bit more of the local culture.  We decided to take a walking tour this time.  A quick search of the internet showed that "it ain't cheap" to park anywhere in downtown Charleston.  The onstreet and garage parking all charge $1 per 1/2 hour.  Another reason to search out the most bang for our buck.

We parked in a garage adjacent to the Visitor's Center and took advantage of the city's FREE trolley system.  Using this mode of transportation you can travel all over the downtown area, getting on and off as desired, and it's totally free.

We rode the trolley down to Waterfront Park where we met Jeff Zimmerman of Charleston in a Nutshell tours at 10:00 am for a 2-hour walking tour.  Jeff's family has lived in Charleston for many generations and he is very knowledgeable about the history of the city.  If you've ever used to secure tickets in an area you're unfamiliar with, you know what a nice discount can be had.  We saved 50% on the price of our tickets for Jeff's tour. Here's a Groupon link to many other activities in the Charleston area.

Rather than carry on in this blog about the history of each home, I've decided to just show a few examples of the mansions along East Bay Street.  All of the homes in this area are in the million dollar plus range.

Charleston has a long and interesting history because it played a role in our young nation's history all the way back to the Revolutionary War.  Of course, a large historical keypoint is the firing on Fort Sumter at the beginning of the Civil War. Monuments to war heroes are spread throughout the historical area and especially along the waterfront in White Point Gardens.  This is the Confederate Memorial Monument in White Point Gardens.

During our walk we had a chance to view many of the beautiful wrought iron gates leading to the houses.  I love these, so here's a collage of just a few of them.

The largest privately owned home in the city is the Calhoun Mansion.  Tours are available for this home, but we ran out of time before returning to this area.  Beautiful place.

Calhoun Mansion from the street
Looking in the front door

The Charleston City Hall has been in continuous use as the city hall since 1818. It was originally built in 1801 as the Charleston  branch of the First Bank of the United States.  The site's origins, however, date back to 1672 when it was known as the old "beef market".

The pink house is believed to be the oldest house in Charleston.  Any guesses on what it contained?  Hint:  "oldest house", yes it was a brothel.

We finished the tour in a building which has been restored to be the Dock Street Theatre.  Many live productions are held throughout the season.

It would be interesting to be able to see a play in this quaint, restored old theatre.  Very neat inside.

Although our time was limited in Charleston, I believe we were able to learn a lot about the history and culture of this beautiful old city through the walking tour. Charleston has a bit of a different "feel" than Savannah.  Much more opulent homes, but also more of a "big city" feel. Not necessarily bad, just different.

I have many more pictures about Charleston in our Google+ Album.  Please feel free to take a look!

Thanks again for stopping by to take a look!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Touring Savannah, GA

Posted from Lake Aire RV Park near Charleston, GA
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

Pic from company website
Due to limited time in Savannah, we needed to find a way to see as much of the city as possible in an efficient manner.  After a bit of research on the internet we decided to use Old Town Trolley Tours as our vehicle (pun intended). They are not the cheapest in town, but I would certainly recommend them. They sent a trolley directly to our campground at Red Gate to pick us up and take us to their starting point at the Savannah Visitor's Center.  That's worth it to me as it saves me the trouble and expense of driving and feeding the parking meters in Savannah.

They employ a "hop on, hop off" system.  Their narrated tour lasts approximately 90 minutes if you stay on the trolley and listen to the entire loop of 16 stops.  We decided to do this first to determine which areas we wanted to visit.  Believe me, there are many things to see in Savannah.   So many, in fact, that we purchased a two-day ticket which allowed us even more time to travel and board the trolley at our leisure.

There are many touring companies in Savannah.  Also, there are a huge variety to choose from.  You can take strictly walking tours, ghost tours in the evenings, or history and architecture tours, just to name a few.

Here's a few "modes" of tours.

Madison Square
As a bit of background history, Savannah was established and "laid out" in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe.  Gen. Oglethorpe originally designed the city to include 24 Squares.  These today appear as miniature park areas around which homes and businesses were built.  Only 22 Squares survive to this day as the Savannah Civic Center and Savannah Courthouse now occupy the 23rd and 24th Square.

Wright Square
Wright Square contains the remains of Tomo-Chi-Chi, of the Yamacraws Indian Tribe, who was often thought of as a co-founder of the city.

Chippewa Square
A monument to Oglethorpe is located in the center of Chippewa Square.  This Square also happens to be the location where Forrest Gump's bench was situated in the movie Forrest Gump.

Of course, Savannah's waterfront was also key to its' importance from both a trade and defense standpoint.  Today, many of the original trade buildings have been converted to shops. Cotton became an important crop to Georgia and the Old Savannah Cotton Exchange set prices worldwide.

Today, travel between Georgia and South Carolina has been made much easier by the completion of the New Talmadge Memorial Bridge in 1991.

The story of the Waving Girl statue can be found HERE.  If true, it's a testament to her devotion.

The Historical Society of Savannah has done a very nice job of preserving the history of the city. The waterfront area has many of these examples, but even a simple set of steps draws attention to days of long ago.

We're not big into shopping when touring a new area, but the Savannah Candy Kitchen caught our eye (and noses) as we were passing by.  The sign indicates that this taffy machine has been operating since 1914.

There is no shortage of churches in Savannah today. During the formation of Savannah, however, Catholics were forbidden.  Oglethorpe's reasoning for this was that should battles break out when the Spanish (down in Florida) were attempting to cross Georgia to get to the rich state of South Carolina, that Catholics would more than likely side with the Spanish because most of Spain was Catholic at that time.

The First Baptist Church, completed in 1833, is Savannah's oldest standing church.  It was spared destruction during the Civil War.

The Independent Presbyterian Church was used in the movie Forrest Gump.  The church steeple of this church is the one in which the feather encircled during the opening scenes.

Probably the most visited, and I think the prettiest church in Savannah, is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.  Admission is totally free and certainly a visit is in order.

Here's just one of several pictures of the interior of the Cathedral.  (Teaser:  Many more interior pictures can be viewed in my Google+ Album.)

Jones Street
One of the biggest draws of the historic section of Savannah is in the beautifully restored residences.  You could walk around for several days just looking at the homes and architecture of the period.

Armstrong House
There are a large number of "mansions" in Savannah as industries such as cotton, metal foundries, and others fueled the wealth of the area.

Hamilton-Turner Inn
The Hamilton-Turner House (Inn today) was the first residence in Savannah to have electricity.  It was almost destroyed in 1965 to make room for a playground. Thank goodness the Historical Society stepped in on this one.

All of this touring is hard work! That means that is was time for a treat.  Remember, it's August in Savannah.  That means hot and humid. Part of the trolley tour directed our attention to Leopold's Ice Cream on East Broughton Street. Leopold's was founded in 1919 by three brothers from Greece and has remained operating within the family since that time.

Leopold's has been rated as one of the top ice cream shops in America.  The lines would certainly attest to this.  Though long, at times, they do move quickly, however.   We definitely give it a BIG thumbs up!

Looking back at this blog, it's getting a bit too long.  Let me just end by saying that a visit to Savannah is well worth it.  Also, I have many, many more pictures in our Google+ Album that I didn't post to the blog. Please take a look.

Thanks again for stopping by to take a look!