Sunday, February 19, 2017

Still Alive and Kickin'

Posted from Casa Grande, AZ

(Click on Pics to Enlarge)

I can't believe that it's been since August of 2016 when I last posted a blog.  There's no excuse. I've just been darn lazy. When I last posted we were still in Red Bay, AL getting the damages to our coach repaired. Although we finished all of our work in a relatively short period of time we just "hung around" the area for awhile waiting to see several friends who dropped in from time to time.

We finally picked up the jacks and left on September 22 to begin our journey west toward our final winter destination here at Palm Creek Golf and RV in Casa Grande, AZ.

I'm not going to bore everything with all of the stops and details of our trek, but I'll just mention a few of the highlights along the way.

We stayed in Vicksburg, MS for a few days with our traveling friends Paul and Laura. This gave us both a chance to make sure that all systems on our rigs were working correctly and to visit the Vicksburg National Military Park.

This park has more monuments to fallen soldiers from individual states (other than Gettysburg) of any park I've visited.  One very interesting section of the park housed the U.S.S. Cairo Museum.  The ironclad was sunk in the Yazoo River on December 12, 1862 and was re-discovered in 1956. It was raised, restored, and re-located to its' present location and is the only remaining example of this type of vessel in existence.

We continued into Texas with Paul and Laura and finally split up to allow them to visit some friends before we would meet up again in Casa Grande, AZ.  We overnighted in a neat little Texas State Park named Monahans Sandhills State Park. It was water and electric only, but we were only here for one night (wished now that we had stayed for a couple of days to explore).

The sand was so white and soft that you would have thought we were at the beach. Very cool in the middle of Texas.

We usually begin our winter stay at Palm Creek (this is our 4th year now) in the middle of October, but Karen was having a problem with a tooth so we hurried back a bit sooner to get to our local dentist. We arrived in Casa Grande, AZ on October 2nd this year!

We like Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort so much that last season we decided to sign a 2-year annual lease agreement. The advantages to us were that the park would construct an 10x12 shed with electricity and water hookups plus give us a monetary credit for the first year.  Because we knew that we would be coming back for at least the length of the commitment it was a no-brainer for us.  The only negative is that we continue to pay during the summer months when we're not actually here.

When we arrived this year we decided to have a bit more concrete patio installed, along with some brick pavers to make the site a bit more useable.  To help offset the costs of these additions, we decided to do our first ever workcamping since becoming fulltimers.

We took a job in "Special Events" with the Park.  Little did we know that this job is somewhat of a catch-all, because Palm Creek has a lot of special events.

Without getting into all of the events we've setup for, worked, and then torn down afterwards, here is a look at one of our first events, the Palm Creek Fall Festival. It is the first "welcome back" get together held in November. Every one of those tables and chairs are positioned (and then removed) by the Special Events Team.

Here we are in our outdoor "uniforms" before the Fall Festival began.

Back to the fun stuff.  In November, Palm Creek Golf and RV again hosted the USAPA National Pickleball Tournament.  My partner from last year, Bill, and I again played in the Nationals.  Definitely no medals from that event, but since we both were moved up to the 4.0 skill level this year we both learned a lot and had a great time. (Sorry, no photos on this one.)

In January we decided to leave the comfort of FHUs in Palm Creek and venture out into the desert of Quartzsite, AZ to attend the 2017 OOBerfest. What is OOBerfest you might ask?  It's an informal gathering of friends who follow a blog called Outside Our Bubble created by David and Brenda Bott. They happen to own a Tiffin motorhome as well, but that is not a requirement for attending their OOBerfest gatherings.  For full information and some great drone videos take a look at David's posting on the event.

I'm not sure of the final count, but it was somewhere in the mid-70 count.  There were about 100 rigs who had made initial commitments, but the weather might have kept some away.

As is typical of RVers who gather, there is usually a potluck dinner. There was certainly no shortage of good eats here.

On Saturday night, David and Brenda had arranged for a local band Notes from Neptune to entertain the crowd under the stars. Several large bonfires were built (it does get a bit chilly in the desert) and everyone seemed to have a great time.

Being in the open desert always provides for spectacular sunsets.

One day while in Quartzsite we decided to do a short bit of hiking. Something we both enjoy, and something we had not done in some time. We drove a few miles south of Quartzsite and visited the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge.

An interesting reason to visit this area is to see the California Fan Palm, which is the only palm native to Arizona.  There are just a few remaining, but a short hike up the trail revealed some up in the crevices of the rocks.

I'll have to admit that the palms sighting was not my favorite, but the views both in and out were certainly worth the hike.

If you've been to Quartzsite before, then you know that a visit to the Hi Jolly Memorial is required. It's in the center of town located in a cemetery and is easy to get to. Rather than explain the significance of Hi Jolly to the military, I'll just post a picture of the memorial to him and the second picture will explain the significance.

(Click to Enlarge)
After getting through all of the holiday season events (which meant a lot of work for Karen and I), the work load has lessened somewhat and the real start to the pickleball tournament season has begun. Karen is partnering this season with Debi, who is the wife of my partner Bill.  They played in their first tournament together over at Mission Royale and, although they didn't medal, played well together.

Bill and I didn't medal either, but we had a good time.

Women's Doubles Skill Group 3.0

Just a few weeks ago we had our annual Palm Creek Members' Tournament.  Debi and Karen played together again and won the bronze medal for their skill/age group. Way to go ladies! (It must have been all of that drilling provided by their husbands.  LOL)

I was able to win a silver medal with Rick in the Men's Doubles 4.0, Age 50-64 Group.  My regular partner Bill took the gold medal with his mixed doubles partner Vera.  All of our little group won medals, so we were happy picklers!

Hopefully, that catches up the blog for a bit without being too wordy. I had to use a lot of restraint to keep this blog as short as it turned out.
My goal is to attempt to write more often this year, but I make no promises.

Thanks again for stopping by to take a look!

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!