Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Repair of Our Phaeton

Posted from Red Bay, AL
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

This blog is about the repair process after my accident with an immovable object at a gas station in Vermont in July of this year. Rather than re-hash the details of the original crash, just click here if you're interested.

The crash occurred on July 23rd just prior to us arriving at the Escapees National Rally in Essex Junction, VT.  When we arrived at the complex I took a closer look at the damages and contacted Progressive Insurance Company online at 12:49 PM.  My biggest concern at this point was that the damage to the "wet bay" door would not allow me to open that door.  Because of this, we wouldn't be able to hook up any water or have our tanks drained during our stay.  Not a good start to the Escapade.

Fortunately, with the help of a couple of guys from one of the dealerships exhibiting at the Escapade we were able to pull the fiberglass wheel well fender out a bit, then get the wet bay door (the one immediately in front of the wheel) to unlock and open. Not only had the rig sustained damages to the (3) doors, but the fiberglass wheel well piece was broken, several of the steel frames behind the doors were bent, and the flooring under the wet bay compartment itself was broken.  I could see the time to repair and dollar signs already starting to escalate.

My initial inquiry to Progressive generated a case number for the crash and I received a telephone call from Michelle (no last names will be used because I didn't ask permission) at 4:43 PM.  She took some additional information from me and asked me to send a few pictures of the damage. She also told me that she would attempt to a local adjuster come to my location on Monday July 25.  (Note: Michelle was located in Connecticut.)  On Monday I received another call from Michelle indicating that an adjuster was not going to be able to visit us before our departure day on Friday July 29. That really wasn't a big deal as I had already indicated to her that I desired to have the rig repaired in Red Bay, AL (the home of Tiffin Motorhomes). She was fine with that, just wanted me to contact her when we arrived.

My biggest concern was how to keep the wet bay door from opening, and keeping water out, while we traveled from upstate VT to AL. I "Macgyver'd" a system using some cardboard and duct tape. The "repair" held surprisingly well and allowed us to make it to Red Bay.

We arrived in Red Bay, AL on Wednesday August 3rd. We've stayed several times at the Red Bay Downtown RV Park up in the middle of town. We enjoy it there as there is no dust and only 10 sites available, so never a bunch of traffic. The temporary duct taping did well.  I just needed to add a bit extra to the fiberglass wheel well fender which decided to flap in the breeze.

I re-contacted Michelle from Progressive and advised her that we had arrived in Red Bay. David, out of Tupelo, MS, was assigned as our local adjuster.  He came over to our site at 2:30 PM and did a complete "work up" on the damages to the rig.  We advised him that we wanted Bruce Deaton, of Custom Paint and Auto Body (256) 356-5695, to handle the job. He stated that he works frequently with Bruce and would contact him. Before leaving, he gave us a complete printout of the estimated damages.  The total cost to repair was estimated at $5055.96. Fortunately, we've been with Progressive Insurance for a few years now and have a $0 deductible for the collision.

On August 4th Bruce Deaton came over to our site to determine what part of the job he would be able to do.  I gave him a copy of the damage estimate and he felt confident that he could handle the entire job of painting, fiberglass repair, frame fabrication, and wet bay floor replacement in-house. He indicated that the biggest slowdown would be in getting the needed doors from Tiffin.

On August 5th we drove the wounded Phaeton over to Bruce's shop, located only a few blocks from our campground for him to begin the work. By the end of the workday he had fabricated and installed all of the necessary steel framing behind the doors.

Although Bruce was confident that he could remove and replace the broken wet bay floor he felt that Tiffin could probably handle the job more efficiently. From someone who has been to Tiffin for service repairs on several occasions, I could feel that we were about to hit a slowdown in the repair process. Fortunately, Tiffin contracts out this job to a company named Kimbough's Automotive and Power in Tuscumbia, AL. Bruce had secured an appointment for Tuesday August 9 at 7:00 AM.  From our campground, Kimbrough's is approximately an hour drive. We arrived promptly at 6:50 AM and parked the coach in the lot. At 7:15 AM an employee came out to check with us.  We told him that Deaton's shop had made the appointment and he indicated that "someone" would be with us in 15 minutes. Well, 15 minutes turned in to 35 minutes before I went inside. The person in the next bay indicated that it would probably be a couple of hours before they could get started.  I indicated to him that was fine and off to the lounge we went to wait. At 11:45 I noticed that our rig was still sitting in the same parking spot. I caught one of the guys again as they were going to lunch and inquired whether or not they were going to be able to take our rig today (they close at 3:00 PM).  He thought that they were waiting for the insurance adjuster to take a look at the rig. I told him no, the rig was here to be repaired. He stated that if his partner didn't mind working a little late that they should be able to get to the repair today.  I was skeptical at this point, so Karen and I went off to grab some lunch.

We returned to Kimbrough's about 2:00 PM with the expectation of still seeing our coach sitting in the same parking spot.  To our surprise the rig was actually in a bay.  Even better, two guys were working on it. They completed the job at 3:02 PM.  I asked when they began and was informed that it was around 1:30 PM, so the entire job only took about 1 1/2 hours. Pretty darn good and the work looked very well done.

On Thursday August 11 I took the rig over to Bruce's for more work.  By the end of the day he was able to get the doors from Tiffin and re-install all of them.

Friday August 12 was spent priming and painting all of the newly re-worked areas. It's starting to look a lot better at this point. The wet bay floor looks great at well.

Only the re-installation of the lights and clear coating are needed at this point.

On Monday August 15 Bruce totally completed the job. So, from our arrival in Red Bay on August 3rd until the job was totally completed on August 15th, the total was only 9 working days.  WAY QUICKER than we had expected.

The best part is that the rig looks better than new in the area of the repair job and the bay doors open and close better than before. 

We can't say enough good things about the way Bruce Deaton was able to work us into his schedule and complete the job in a MUCH quicker fashion than we thought possible. We have used Bruce to also do a very small repair on the rear of the Honda Fit last year (a shopping cart into the hatch) and he did an equally great job on that.  All of our paint and body work (hopefully, not too much) will be performed by Bruce.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Really Done It This Time

Posted from Essex Junction, VT (Escapees Rally)
(Click on pictures to enlarge)

Well, I finally did it.  After 6 years of careful driving in our rig, I managed to have a collision.  Thankfully not a collision with another vehicle or person, but contact with an inanimate object which was just sitting there minding its' own business.

When we travel, we always use truck stops to refuel.  I like to know that I'll be able to get in and out of their stations without problems. So, I broke our own rule on this one.  We were headed to the Escapees National Rally in Essex Junction, VT on Saturday, July 23rd. Unfortunately, in this part of the country there seem to be no large truck stops (Pilot, FJ, Loves, etc.) to refuel.

I had tried to do my homework to find a diesel station close to the Escapade.  That seemed to be the Mobil station just off of Interstate 89 in Winooski, VT.  I used Google Earth to get a "birds eye" view of the station and it seemed possible to use as a stop.

A couple of mistakes on my part. Since they advertised as having diesel, I assumed that diesel pumps would be available on at least 2 islands at the station.  That was not the case.

As I pulled into the station from the main road, a single vehicle was blocking the pump at the far right end. No problem I thought, I'll just pull thru, go around the rear of the station, and use the diesel pump on the other end (where the white car is located in the first photo.)

Well, there is no diesel pump over there.  It turns out that the only diesel pump is on the far right end of the station as I initially pulled from the highway. So now I have to circle the front of the station and get back to the original pump again.

At the time of the collision with the fixed metal post, there were two vehicles parked parallel to the highway at the front of the station. I attempted to turn around the post, miss the cars, and head back to the other side of the station. Doing fine until this pole "jumped" out and bit the side of the rig.

Backed away from the pole, but the damage was already done. We did manage to get fuel, however. Probably the most expensive fuel stop I'll ever make!

We continued the 3 miles to the Escapade and got set up. It gave me a chance to take a closer look at the damages. It's a lot more than cosmetic.

The greatest intrusion was to the compartment just in front of the DS wheel.  Of course this happens to be our "wet bay" where the connections for the water and sewer are made.

You might be able to see that the door was forced both back and up thus preventing us access to the compartment. With the aid of several other folks here at the Escapade we managed to at least get this door open which allowed us to connect to the water line. I can foresee the use of a LOT of duct tape in our future to limp in for repairs.

Speaking of repairs, I contacted our insurance company shortly after arriving at the Escapade. I received a return call in short order from a repr. at Progressive's claims center. I explained to her that we are fulltimers and would really like to get the rig repaired in Red Bay, AL. This is at the Tiffin Service Center and we'll hopefully be using a body and paint shop which I trust there.  She didn't have a problem with that and would attempt to have an adjuster come to the Escapade on Monday (today) and get the paperwork rolling on this claim.  I also advised her that we would be in this location until Friday (end of the Escapade).

Well, of course, we've run into our first little hiccup.  We received a call from the claims person late on Monday afternoon and she advised that her adjuster would not be available anytime this week. Her advise now is to wait until we get back to Red Bay, AL and to have a local adjuster come out at that time.

I really don't have any problem with that, other than it will just slow down the initial process of getting us into the shops.

Looks like the rest of the summer is going to be shot with an extended stay in Red Bay in our future. Think about it, what better place to be than in the south in August (and maybe September)?  Yes, I am being very sarcastic at this point.

Other than this, we're enjoying a good time at the 56th Escapees Escapade.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Monday, July 18, 2016

This Is Why We Make Reservations Over Holidays

Posted from near Bernardston, MA
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

This post is a bit late, but we've been "on the move" lately.  One of the few things we've learned as fulltimers is to make reservations over holidays and to be "in place" somewhere during those times.

Well, we did just that for the recently passed Independence Holiday weekend, but things didn't turn out as planned. Oh well, we got to experience a bit more blacktop boondocking than we would have liked, but more on that to follow.

We are Thousand Trails members and as such we had booked a 14-day stay at Gettysburg Farms in PA to include June 27th thru July 7th.  Seems like a good idea.  Beat the weekend crowds both before and after the holiday.

....And here's where the L O N G weekend story begins.

We arrive at Gettysburg Farms about 1:00 PM. For those not familiar with the TT reservation system, it's a first come, first served situation once you arrive at the park.  We ideally would like to have a 50-amp FHU site because we are going to be here for 10 days.  We unhook the toad from the MH and begin the search for a site.  The first thing we notice is that there are absolutely NO 50-amp FHU sites left in the entire park.

It's supposed to be hot weather for the next few days, so our next level of searching is for a 30-amp FHU site.  Yay, we find and occupy the LAST FHU site in the entire park.  All other remaining sites are W/E only and many are down near the river in a somewhat "soft ground" area. I really don't want to take the chance of becoming stuck with the MH.

Ok, we've set everything up and turn on a single A/C (because of the 30-amp service) and everything seems to be going well.  How stupid of me to think that!  We have a Progressive Industries Surge Protector/EMS system installed in the MH to protect against several different types of electrical maladies. One of these is low voltage. If voltage below 104 is detected, the unit shuts off power to the MH to protect electrical components within. You guessed it, we were experiencing low voltage approximately every 10-15 minutes and the power to the MH would shut down.

To their credit, after contacting the office, an electrician was sent to our site in short order.  They replaced both the 30-amp plug and the circuit breaker at the pedestal, but still to no avail. I suspect we were near the end of the line for this electrical run and the electrical work (being old) was just not able to keep up with camper demand.

Ok, what to do?  Our choices were:  (1) Stay on the site and hope the power got better, (2) move to an W/E only site for the remainder, or (3)  leave and try somewhere else.  We did give Option #1 a try for a bit, but it just wasn't getting any better.  We finally decided to leave the park and headed to our next destination which was the TT Hershey park.

Here's where the real fun began.  Because it was an upcoming holiday weekend we were only able to book the rest of the day (June 27) and we had to leave on Friday (July 1).  At least we've got a few days covered at this point.  Now we begin our campground search for the holiday weekend.  We literally contacted every campground within 2 hours driving distance of Hershey.  After the laughter died down on the other end of the phone, ALL campgrounds advised that they were completely booked for the holiday.  Not to be unexpected, actually, as this is the first big holiday after school has left out for the weekend crowds.

Now what to do.  We finally decided upon testing out the "self containment" feature of our MH by asphalt boondocking for the next 4 nights. We filled the freshwater tank before leaving TT Hershey and set out to the Palmyra Walmart.  Got a nice spot out in the corner of the lot.

Attempting to be good "overnighters" we parked the passenger side to the curb and only put out our slides on that side of the MH which hung over the grass.  The view out this side was at least tranquil.

We really didn't want to overstay our welcome (as the manager said it was ok to stay for 1 or 2 nights), so on the 3rd day (July 3) we pulled in the slides and headed to our next spot, Cabela's in Hamburg, PA.

If you've never overnighted at a Cabela's store before, give it a try. They actually seem to like RVers staying in their lots. Plus, spending a few bucks in the store doesn't hurt either.  This Cabela's had several rows on the side of their lot designated for RVs.  The spaces were long.  They even had a dump station which was activated by use of a credit card kiosk at the facility.

They had several horse corrals and several kennels for dogs in case you wanted to exercise either.

Because we like to attend local Minor League Baseball games when in new areas, we searched and found that First Energy Stadium was located in Reading, PA only 30 minutes away.  On Sunday night (July 3) the hometown team Reading Fightin' Phils (AA team for the Philadelphia Phillies) were due to play the Harrisburg Senators (AA team for the Washington Nationals).

First Energy Stadium is a very cool older stadium. The type with lots of brick and a certain baseball "feel". It was probably one of the best attended games we've been to in some time.

This next paragraph is only for true  baseball followers (especially Washington Nationals fans).  Jonathan Pabelbon, currently re-habbing from an injury, was due to pitch an inning or two for the AA Harrisburg team. He pitched the final inning, although the Fightin' Phils were already ahead by that point and eventually went on to win the game 12-10.

We did get to see a fireworks display this weekend.  The post-game show featured a pretty nice display.

Only one more night to survive the weekend!  For the last overnight (July 4) we drove back to the Palmyra Walmart. We did this mainly because it made for a short drive (about 15 minutes) back to the TT Hershey campground on the following morning.  We stayed at TT Hershey for another six days before moving on.

So what did we learn from all of this.  Most importantly, we learned that we need to have reservations in place for holiday weekends. Even then, however, some things just are beyond your control. Roll with the punches.  We also learned that our MH does great in self-contained mode. We used the generator several hours each morning, and several hours each evening, while making dinner and watching TV and messing with the computers before bedtime. Fortunately, the weather wasn't too hot, but if it had been the generator could have run all day if needed.  So our Independence Day weekend wasn't ruined by any means, it was just different than we had anticipated. At least we know that we can asphalt dock for several days if needed.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look (and listen to my whine).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Spending Money in Red Bay, AL

Posted from near Gloucester, VA (Thousand Trails)
Click on Pics to Enlarge

About a week ago we made our annual pilgrimage to Red Bay, AL.  Red Bay is the home of Tiffin Motorhomes and we like to re-visit the service center from time to time (hey, it's not that bad here, really!)

On this trip we had several items which were pre-planned such as having our entrance steps replaced at the Tiffin Service Center and having our annual maintenance on the coach performed at Bay Diesel (a local shop in town).

After getting up on the ladder and taking a closer inspection, I decided it was time to replace all four of our slide toppers as well.

The largest expense was replacing all six of our tires on the rig, but it was also time to replace the four tires on the Honda Fit.

We arrived on a Saturday and dropped off our request for the entrance steps to be replaced over at the Tiffin Service Center.  Early on Monday morning, two techs arrived at our campground site (Downtown RV Park) in Red Bay to take a look. They advised that the steps could be replaced at our site without having to wait to get into a service bay.  Excellent!

A bit of background explanation is needed here as to why the steps are being replaced to begin with.  Our coach originally had Coach Steps by Lippert as OEMs.  It seems that the Coach Steps had a little problem with a main bolt breaking which allows the steps to drop and swing freely possibly causing serious injuries to someone who might be using them at the time. It turns out that this wasn't such a small problem as NHTSA got involved and forced a safety recall for certain model years of MHs (not just on Tiffins).  If you have this step on your MH, you might want to check with the NHTSA site (for Tiffin, the recall number is #15V-880), or with your coach manufacturer for the recall. 
The involved Tiffins are as follows:
2007-2010 Allegro Bays
2008-2015 Allegro Open Roads and REDs
2008-2015 Allegro Buses
2008-2015 Phaetons
Any of these rigs manufactured between May 25, 2007 and December 18, 2014 are involved in the recall.

The "fix" which Lippert was allowed by NHTSA was to install a bracket beneath the fan gear (beside the motor) which would catch the assembly WHEN the bolt broke.  I wasn't too thrilled by their solution, so when I heard that Lippert was giving a $200 credit if the end user wished to get rid of the old steps altogether and have the Kwikee brand of steps installed, this is the option I chose.

The new steps were quickly installed and thus far have operated MUCH smoother and QUIETER than the previous Coach Step brand ever did.  I'm pleased at this point.  Trust me, I'll make another post in the future if these too turn out to be less than stellar.

Our next pre-planned order of business was to have our routine chassis, engine, and generator annual service work performed at Bay Diesel. I've used this company every year since we purchased our coach when in Red Bay. I don't necessarily think that they do any jobs FAR better than another business could, but I like the idea of being able to be in the bay (and under the rig) while the maintenance work is actually being performed.  It gives me a chance to observe their work and ask questions at the same time.

Everything was going smoothly until one of the techs called me over to "take a look at this".  That's never a good thing to hear. It turns out that the exhaust pipe connecting the output side of the turbo to the muffler was broken.  I don't know if this occurred very recently or not as I had no warning that something had broken.  There was no audible exhaust leaking sound at this point. This is called a "flex" pipe because of the accordion style of construction in the pipe which allows for a bit of movement as the engine torques slightly from side to side.

In the above picture you can see just faint signs of exhaust escaping as evidenced by the black soot on the upper and lower portions of the flex pipe. Once removed and placed on the bench, the flex part of the pipe broke away easily.

We flipped the pipe over and a large crack was evident in the solid piece of the pipe.

I've already come to realize that anything on a MH chassis is expensive, but the replacement price for this pipe floored me.  Just the part itself was over $700.  WHAT!!
Chris Morrow is the owner of Bay Diesel and advised that he had seen similar breaks on Allegro Buses.

He contacted Tiffin on my behalf and was able to convince them to pick up all except $250 for the part and 1 hour of labor for installation. There appears to have been some known problems with this pipe as the new pipe uses an entirely different time of braiding in the flex area. This was an unexpected cost, but I was happy that the repair was made while we were here in the shop versus on the side of the road somewhere.

"low tech" bead breaking procedure
The next planned item on our list was to replace all six of the tires on the motorhome.  It truly hurt me to replace tires with plenty of tread remaining and absolutely no signs of sidewall cracking. Our rig's tires would have been seven years old in July of 2016, so I wasn't willing to gamble on riding out the old set a while longer.  The OEMs were Michelins, but after some research on the internet and consulting with many fellow Tiffin owners whose opinions I trust, I decided to switch to the Toyo brand.

I haven't had them long enough to make a fair comparison yet, but the ride is no different from the Michelins and the price was definitely better than the Michelin cost (even with the FMCA discount).  The best part of the entire re-mount was that I now have outward facing valve stems on the outer rear duallies and I installed one piece valve stems on the inner duallies sold by a company named Your Tire Supply.  I had always had a very slow leak on my right rear inner tire and I attribute it to the valve extension on that tire. Access to fill all of the tires is now quick and easy.

Not directly related to the motorhome, but a part of our cash outlay while in Red Bay was the replacement of all four tires on the Honda Fit.  We had these installed at the Costco at Barnes Crossing near Tupelo, MS.  The tires had over 62,000 miles combined driving and towing.

The last item that we wanted to get done while in Red Bay was to have Brannon Hutcheson of Custom RV, Inc. install new slideout toppers on all four of our slides.  The originals were made by Carefree of Colorado and were definitely showing their age. I had patched several small tears in the edges and the large DS slideout topper was beginning to show evidence of the fabric letting water thru.

Brannon and his assistant (John or Jason, sorry for my lack of memory) made quick work of the job as usual.  We've had several modifications done by Brannon and he always is efficient and does excellent work.

We decided to change the original topper color to a black this time around after looking at some of the new coaches.  I like the look as the topper seems to disappear over the slideout.

Well, that completes our list of planned, and unplanned, work done while we were in Red Bay. Here's a re-cap of the actual costs.

Replace Steps (after rebate credit):   $345.36
Flex Pipe Replacement                 :   $355.00
Routine Coach Service                 :   $323.63
New Coach Tires                          : $2958.25
New Honda Tires                         :   $496.53
New Slide Toppers                       : $1058.46
Misc. Tiffin Store Purchases        :   $  77.44

GRAND TOTAL                           $ 5614.67

Hopefully, a few of these larger ticket items will not need to be replaced for several years. I mainly wrote this post for folks new to the RVing lifestyle or those thinking of becoming fulltimers someday.  The purpose is to show the need to budget for items such as these (and more) because repairs and sometimes modifications need to be done.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Houston Astros, SKP Headquarters, TT Lake Conroe

Posted from Red Bay, AL
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

So what in the heck do these three totally different subjects have in common?  I'm still playing catch up with my blog entries and this was the most recent places we visited before heading toward our current location.

We are members of Thousand Trails and had never been to the Lake Conroe campground in Willis, TX.  We knew that this preserve had been recently updated, so we were anxious to take a look.

Several of the TTs we had visited in the past need some tender loving care, but Lake Conroe has done a very nice job. First off, we liked the spaciousness of the sites. It's nice not to be on top of your neighbors for a change.

The pool area and associated buildings were very nice. During our entire 2-week stay, the pool was used very little and gave us the opportunity to do water aerobics many days.

Many nice areas to use to just sit around the pool without even going in the water.

Paul, here's a hot tub picture just for you! (Best wishes for a speedy recovery from some recent physical setbacks).

Of course I had to look for the pickleball courts.  They have 4 newly re-surfaced courts, but we found no one to play with the entire time we were there.  Must have been the wrong time of the season.

For more pictures of TT-Lake Conroe click here to view them in Google+ Albums.

Our blog readers know that we like to attend Major and Minor League Baseball games when possible. The closest Major League team is the Houston Astros. The first question becomes how best to get to the game? and how to avoid big city parking fees?  After a bit of research we decided to park at the northern most metro rail stop and take the light rail to the ballpark.

The decision to use the metro worked well. One early hitch, however.  We pulled into the Northline Transit Center and discovered that a parking permit was required. Of course we had none, so a quick jaunt to the adjacent Walmart lot worked great. (See Walmart's good for something besides RV parking.  LOL)  If you are ever in Houston and decide to travel downtown, this is the way to go.  It cost just $1.25 per person each way and the ticket allows to unlimited transfers within a 3-hour period.  A single day ticket can also be purchased for just $3 per person and allows unlimited travel on the bus and light rail system for the entire day. One of the better transportation deals we've found.

We watched the Houston Astros play the Cleveland Indians on a Wednesday afternoon game. Usually a mid-day game draws few fans, but the crowd was actually pretty good. This is a domed-station which can be opened and closed.  Because there was a slight chance of rain today, the roof was closed.  It made for a very comfortable environment to watch the game.

Thanks to Randy Warner's comment below, I added this section after writing the original blog.  We almost never purchase our tickets at the ballpark, but get them ahead of time by going online. This time we used an online broker named Vivid Seats. The seats we had were $23 if you purchased them directly from the Houston Astros site. We purchased them for $3 each from Vivid Seats (and there were no additional handling fees.) We thought that was a really good find until we got to the ballpark and purchased some food.  A hot dog, pretzel, and a drink for each of us cost $34. Looks like they got us back in the end!

The game turned into a marathon. The Astros won the game on a walk off home run in the bottom of the 14th inning by a score of 4-3. This was the longest game in the Major League season up to that point.

We are also lifetime members of The Escapees RV Club. We feel that this organization is truly dedicated to the interests of RVers, and especially extended or fulltime RVers. If you have any questions about this group, please look at the link above or ask us a question in the comment section at the end of this blog.

For additional pictures on the visit to the ball park, click here.

The headquarters for the Escapees Club is located in Livingston, TX. Although we have been members since 2008, we had never visited.  Livingston is approximately 50 minutes from the TT-Lake Conroe preserve, so off we went. It was a nice drive and the headquarters was a pleasant surprise.

The campsites near the entrance were roomy and well tended.

One of the unique features of the Escapees group is the CARE program. CARE is an acronym for Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees. I'm not going to cut and paste information of this program here (click on the link above), but we found it to be a well administered and well conceived program.

The facility was very clean and we had the opportunity to speak directly to the care manager at length about the program.

A thrift shop has been recently opened where the generated sales are turned directly back to the CARE center residents. They also run the shop.  Very cool idea I thought.

For additional pictures on SKP Livingston, click here.

Well, we're only a couple of weeks behind in our blogging now! The next few blogs will probably include outlays of cash.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Yes, We Like to Eat!

Posted from Red Bay, AL
(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

I titled this blog after putting it together.  I didn't realize how many "eating" pictures were involved until after I wrote this blog of our travels to Fredericksburg, TX, and then on to Luling, TX.

After Fort Davis, TX we (along with Paul and Laura) moved further east to Johnson Creek RV Resort just west of Kerrville, TX. This was a very nice find of a campground by Paul.  All of the sites were concrete and most had long pull thrus.  The utilities all functioned well  We stayed for 4 nights, and with 2 nights of 33% discounts (Escapees) and 2 nights of 50% discounts (Passport America), the rate was very reasonable.

Fredericksburg, TX is about a 45 minute drive from the campground, so on Saturday (4/30) we decided to make the trip. Although Fredericksburg is a nice town to visit, I was somewhat disappointed.  I had heard about the large German influence in the history of the town and expected to see more of that than what we found.

There were some signs such as the Pioneer Memorial at the Vereins Kirche Museum. (Society Church) This was built soon after the first German settlers arrived. It served as a town hall, school, fort, and a church for all denominations. The original building was demolished in 1896, but local citizens rebuilt it in 1935.

For lunch, we looked for some semblance of an authentic German restaurant. We found the Auslander Restaurant and Biergarten. The food was excellent and the chance to eat outside added to the experience.

After Kerrville, Paul and Laura and we split up to continue our summer travels in different directions. We traveled just a short distance east along Interstate 10 and stopped for a few nights at Riverbend RV Park near Luling, TX. Another Passport America park and a nice location to explore some of the sights in the area.  One of the main reasons to stop was to visit my Aunt and Cousin who live just outside of Austin, TX in nearby Lago Vista.  I hadn't seen either of them in a couple of years, so the chance to get together was very nice.  Aunt Carol's place sits high on the hill above Lake Travis.

Back to that "eating" thing again, Carol wanted to take us to a restaurant named the Oasis Restaurant which overlooks Lake Travis.

The seating is arranged on many levels, all with a gorgeous view of the lake.

Dinner was excellent and the chance to meet up with family was even better.

The real bonus for this restaurant, and a favorite my many of the patrons, is the ability to view the sunset from the comfort of your table.

As if we hadn't already eaten enough in the last few days, our next goal was to find a good barbeque place.  After all, we are in Texas. After checking the reviews, we decided to drive north a short distance from Luling to Lockhart and try Black's BBQ. 

Black's BBQ  began in 1932 and is now owned by the fourth generation of the original creators. The business in Lockhart claims to be the oldest BBQ place in Texas.

I chose sliced beef brisket and a spicy sausage for dinner.  I will concede that it was the most tender brisket I've ever eaten. The slightly smoky BBQ taste (without any sauce or toppings) was excellent. I believe that they will also mail order.  Um, just a thought!

That's enough food for one blog.  In the next blog, I'll continue to talk about our stay in Luling and I promise no more food talk in that one.

As always, more pictures are available in our Google+ Albums.
For:    Fredericksburg, TX
Thanks for stopping by to take a look!