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).