Plans for the Future

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Plans for the Future

August 29 and we are finally able to get a camping weekend in the schedule. It has been a long spring and summer of getting everyone back on their feet, literally. My mother had hip replacement surgery that led to complications at the same time my father had a mysterious drainage from a past heart surgery open up and Jeannie broke her foot. It was a challenging time that left precious little time for anything but surviving. But we survived, everyone is thriving and we are able to find time at the margins for a weekend away.

Since the trailer was unused for most of the summer I became concerned about keeping the water system healthy, so I came up with a plan to “Summerize” the system with a mild chlorine flush. I mention this because this trip needed to be to a place that we could un-“Summerize” and get any parts that we might need. We decided that there was no place better than Stagecoach for this, being that it is close to Camping World. Fortunately everything worked and no parts were needed.

It rained an incredible monsoon from Mandarin to St Augustine. It rained so hard that we were down to 30 miles per hour and not able to see very far ahead at all. After the drenching and just as we pulled into Stagecoach the ML indicated a trailer light failure. Sure enough, the drivers side tail light bulb on the trailer had cracked. I opened the lens and everything was dry, but it looked like a thermal failure on the bulb. We will have to keep an eye on it in the future.

A complete treat for us was the discovery that our neighbor was an Airstream. In the morning I managed to snag a conversation with the couple as they were preparing to leave. The husband and wife were from California and headed to Savannah and Charleston before making the lefthand turn for home. They were traveling in an Airstream 27FB Classic being pulled by a GMC 2500 Diesel.

We had a wonderful conversation with them for about half an hour and they offered a tour of their rig, which we gladly accepted. Their trailer was very cosy and comfortable and provided a more personal perspective than seeing the same model in the dealers lot. Most impressive was that it felt very usable and suitable for long adventuring. We exchanged experiences and took in any advice they could offer.

They indicated that they felt that they had made a good selection in their rig. It was comfortable and capable. They had been out a couple of months, with this being their longest trip. They had traveled over 39,000 miles so far and were far from done. Their advice included changing to 16 inch LT tires and keeping up with the occasional water leaks around the windows. They highly encouraged going to an Airstream Rally to meet other people and getting good advice.

After wishing them well we spent the rest of the afternoon reexamining our future plans. We decided that as we approach retirement we need to start the transition to the lower cost lifestyle and make the commitment to our adventure. We decided that once the lease is up on the ML 350 we will go ahead and replace it with a pickup truck. We can get by with the ML 350 for the interim but it is just too close to the margins from a towing perspective for years of extensive travel. Our plan is that we will get a pickup and I will drive as my daily driver and possibly look into getting something like a used Jetta diesel for every day use. When the lease is up on the C Class we will most likely get something like a Passat for Jeannie. As a wild card we might consider keeping the C Class, we will just have to see.

Having made those decisions we are now even more excited to get into our Victory Lap. We certainly do not want to wish the present away. We plan to continue to enjoy the Island Time and our current rig to the fullest. It is helpful though to be able to see where we think we may be headed. It is sobering to realize that this phase of our lives is drawing to a close. We are excited about our future, but at the same time apprehensive about the changes and their implications.

In the end we are in God’s hands and his plans will prevail. I believe he put these dreams in our hearts for a reason. Either to fulfill or pull us through challenging times. Either way, we are enjoying living the dream.

Thanks,

Captain Skip

First Outing of the Season with Extended Crew

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First Outing of the Season with Extended Crew

It’s a new season of camping and a new season for our family as we are now camping with two of our grandsons when we go family camping. This year we have increased the crew on the Island Time to include both, Logan and Gavin. It is such a treat and privilege to be able to have special time with them and build our relationship for the years to come.

Since our first adventure was scheduled for March 13th we needed to get the Island Time prepared for the season while still winterized. We took the trailer to Camping World of St Augustine for wheel bearing and roof maintenance and asked them to service the refrigerator and water heater as well as clean and detail the exterior. I have to tell you, I could not be more impressed with their service. When they pulled the Island Time around for us to take home, it look brand new. Everything was spotless, the exterior shined, the black on the frame was fresh and the awning stains were gone. Truly amazing.

Our season opened with a weekend trip to our favorite campground, Fort Wilderness at Disney World, but without our dogs. We were concerned that with having both Logan and Gavin on board that it might be just too much confusion for the dogs little poodle brains to manage. While Sailor is a trained therapy dog and can be very gentle, when they are both together we sometimes get more assertive pack behavior from them. Since they were not raised around children, when pushed too far they react to children as they would react to other dogs. They are usually good boys, but why add that variable to the equation.

We arrived at out campsite, #1454 around 2:00 PM and after fully un-winterizing, were ready for the fun to begin. Wes brought Logan and Gavin around 4:30 PM and the fun began! Wes stayed for burgers on the grill and then headed back home. We had a great evening, getting things sorted out, taking a golf cart ride and setting up the transformer bed. Yep, setting up the transformer bed. This is the first time we have converted the dinette table to a bed and it was an exciting event. Gavin slept in the new transformer bed, while Logan slept in the other transformer bed. A little Netflix and it was lights out for all of us.

The next day started around 6:30 AM with breakfast and some games leading to a trip to the playground and a boat ride. We rode the boat to the Magic Kingdom and had it entirely to ourselves on the return ride. After the boat ride and a little more playground time, we explored the horse stables where the boys took a pony ride. It was great fun with each boy getting their own pony which was led by an adult. The ponies were more than tame, but had a mind of their own and sometimes wanted to stop and visit with their other pony friends. Our ponies were well behaved as were the boys.

The afternoon was filled with lunch and more playground time, a few games and Logan’s birthday party. Grandma Jeannie had decorated the site with Happy Birthday banners and provided cake pops along with a special birthday candle that spun and make sparks. A good time was had by all.

In the evening after dinner everyone had their baths and then we went to the campfire to make S’mores. We even met Dale, of Chip and Dales! After the campfire it was off to bed.

Before we knew it the weekend was over. Loretta, Wes and Tyler picked up Logan and Gavin in the morning and after a brief golf cart ride headed home. Just like that the action packed weekend was over.

We had a nice and uneventful journey home with a big smile on our faces. A little tired, but already making plans for another family camping event over Memorial Day weekend. How fun!

A new year and new adventures, let’s go!

Thanks,

Captain Skip

Time to make some S'Mores at the campfire

Time to make some S’Mores at the campfire

Logan takes a ride on Blaze

Logan takes a ride on Blaze

Gavin takes a ride on Nemo

Gavin takes a ride on Nemo

Time for a boat ride to the Magic Kingdom at Ft Wilderness

Time for a boat ride to the Magic Kingdom at Ft Wilderness

Time for games at Ft Wilderness

Time for games at Ft Wilderness

Pellicer Creek in August

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Pelllicer Creek in August

Here is what happens when I wait too long to make my blog entries, I do not remember the details or perhaps even the big things. Let’s start with Pellicer Creek the weekend of August 22. Looking for a little longer journey to make sure that all of the under carriage repairs were in order we decided to spend the weekend just a little farther south.

After a non-eventful drive we arrived around 8:00pm after calling at 7:30 pm to let them know we were running late but were about 30 minutes away. Pat met us at the gate and took us to site 23 which probably has the second best view in the entire park. A quick setup and were there for the weekend.

As usual Jim and Pat were more than helpful and we had a wonderful, restful weekend. Since we do not have an optimal setup to take advantage of their wonderful cable TV offerings, we used our trailer antenna and enjoyed not watching the single channel we could get over the air. I say enjoyed not watching because it was actually a nice change to unhook and find other things to do. We usually choose to use our cell for WI-FI here to get a little better speed, but even with that it is pretty slow.

When we were getting ready to breakdown the campsite, this was the first experience I had with the sewer connection to the ground being higher in elevation that the end of our trailer connection. I made the hose connection and pulled the gate valve and things did not flow with their usual enthusiasm. After realizing the issue, I managed to get the final flow out of the tank by lifting the hose about mid-point and getting it to drain. After a few times of doing that I could get the tank to be completely empty. After refilling the tank to flush it out I performed the same procedure only to have the hose come uncoupled from the trailer and dump about 2 – 3 gallons on the ground. Later Jeannie commented that it smelled like a horse stable nearby. We had a good laugh when I told her the cause of the odor. I did flush the area with clean water repeatedly to dilute any residual material.

On Sunday the only other remarkable thing to report is that we were able to make a u-turn leaving the campground, so that we did not have to travel a few miles down the road to find a wider intersection.

Next week is Labor Day at North Beach!

Thanks,

Captain Skip

A comfortable day at Pellicer Creek Campground

A comfortable day at Pellicer Creek Campground

First outing with new ML350 at Pellicer Creek

First putting with new ML350 at Pellicer Creek

Boarded by Pirates and Surrounded by Idiots

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Boarded by Pirates and Surrounded by Idiots

Finally camping again and glad to put this chapter behind us. This weekend finds our adventure resuming at Hanna Park after a month due to interruption by events beyond our control or any test of reasonableness. Before I recap the events that have transpired since the last blog entry, let me focus on the positive and moving forward. We are camping again in space #18, a very nice back-in site with a beautiful view (though the utilities are pretty far forward in the site), a nice breeze blowing on a nice summer day. The music is playing, there is a rib eye roast in the Cobb and it is not hard to remember why we like doing this.

Now to recap the happenings that lead to the title of this entry. Yes, we were boarded by pirates! After dropping the Island Time off at the Gore RV parking lot on July 4 I called on Saturday, July 5, to make sure they were aware that the trailer was in their lot and needed to be moved to a secure area before closing that day. On Monday, I called the service department to start the repair process. They indicated that they would put an estimate together and submit a claim to CornerStone for the repairs as part of our extended warranty and repair contract. The service representative mentioned that it looked like someone had attempted to break into the trailer and had damaged the door. He indicated that it did not look like they had managed entry to the trailer.

Explaining that we had a week-long vacation planned at the end of the month, I would guarantee payment for the axle repair so that we did not have to wait for authorization from CornerStone to place the order for parts and I would pay for the door as well. The service rep indicated that it usually only took about a week to get the axle, but it may take longer for the door.

Later that week I received a call from the service rep that CornerStone had declined the axle repair on the basis of the terms of the contract. According to their rejection they did not cover nuts and fasteners, which is true, but the terms were listed in the exclusion portion of the contract not the performance portion of the agreement. The service rep also indicated that the door would be special order from the factory and be $695.00 for the parts. Here is a key clue, he suggested that we may want to file it with our insurance. I indicated that with $500 deductible, all it would really do is charge us with a claim and not really be worth the effort.

To try to shorten the misery of this recap, I called at least twice a week to see what the progress was and to make sure it is ready for vacation. I repeatedly got a story that the axle is there but they are waiting for the door. I am still not able to get a clear date for completion and we need to decide if we are going to take vacation or not. We finally decide that we are going to go on vacation as it seems likely that the trailer will be repaired the Thursday before were were planning to leave.

At the end of the week before vacation, I am still getting the same story on waiting on the door, so I called their parts department. They told me that the door had been there for over a week, but they were waiting on the axle and it would be delivered on Monday. So knowing this I check with my service rep and he assures me that it would be ready Monday or Tuesday at the latest, so we decided to take our vacation, but cancel our reservation at Hilton Head. We would just make the best use of the time that was available and go exploring in other areas.

Then on follow-up on Monday the service rep tells me that it may not be ready until the following Friday as they were still waiting on the door. Since I knew that the door had been there for at least a week and that the axle arrived on Monday, it confirmed my fears that my service rep was less than reliable, so I escalated to the General Manager who got involved and assured me that it would be ready by close of business on Thursday. I am not very happy at this point as we have wasted a large block of vacation time. Looking back I could see in fact that my service rep had been misinforming me all along and basically had a reliability problem. Great.

Boarded by pirates. Thursday morning we received a call that the trailer was ready, so we quickly got ready and went to pick it up. $2,300 later they brought the trailer around and when we open the door, we discovered that the TV was missing, to which the service rep immediately responded with “well you will just have to add it to your insurance claim”. Get the connection. He seemed close to panic when we told him that the door could only be locked with a key or from the inside, but it was not possible to lock the door from the inside and close it. Since the door had not been breached previously and it would take a key to re-lock the door, it had to be an inside job, with someone who had access to the key. The logic of this situation was impeccable, there is no other explanation that works. It happened while in their control, and as you guessed it, they denied any responsibility.

Finally, after working through the service rep and the service manager, I was able to get the General Manager involved and he agreed to reimburse us for his cost for the 32” flat screen, $170. That was better than nothing, but would not replace my Samsung 32” 1080p, 120 hz refresh rate TV.

There are so many other details to this story that support the surrounded by idiots portion that it would just be too depressing to document them all. As an example, they forgot to order a tail light replacement lens, so they were going to have to keep it another two weeks. We resolved that by buying a whole taillight assembly and they were just supposed to snap on the lens and give me the rest for parts, instead they installed the whole new assembly and charged me for the installation and forgot to give me the parts. They forgot to order a wheel cover and lost my coupler pin. The list just goes on.

I will never go back to Gore RV for service unless forced to for warranty work, no wait, the warranty did not work either.

Once we got away from Gore, we went to Discount Tire and had four new Goodyear Marathon tires mounted. This may not have been necessary, but I did not want to take a chance. Of the four, one was brand new on the ground as the spare replaced the one with the separating belt. Another tire was severely overloaded when we had the bearing failure, and the other had been subjected to high heat when the bearing hub was on fire. So four new tires please. These were mounted and balanced without any fanfare and we were headed home, finally.

I was able to find a nice replacement flat screen and mounted it on Friday morning. Same model, size and refresh rate, but this one has Smart Apps with it, so I can get Netflix for grandchildren directly on it. Oh yea, they got my Apple TV also. By the way, the new TV is great.

All of this is now in our rear view mirror. I will file an appeal with CornerStone and feel reasonably confident they will pay. Even if they do not, this is the end of the line on that. I need to move on from this and look forward to the great adventures ahead.

Here is what I have learned:

– I will never get service at Gore RV again if I can help it
– I will make sure the bearings are serviced every 12 months, needed or not
– These things will happen
– It can all be fixed
– I am way too dependent on others for my happiness
– Pirates have moved inland
– Idiots are everywhere

Thanks,

Captain Skip