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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Checking In

Hey there. Sorry I haven't posted much this week. We've been hanging out at my folks' and then Lins & Reagan came down. It was SOOOOO great to see them. That little girl has grown up so much since we were home at Christmas. And Reagan's amazing, too! :) HAH!

Actually, we've been a little busier than expected as my mom ended up back in the hospital on Monday due to some internal bleeding. Since her surgery in March, she's been on cumadin (not sure how that's spelled) because of the blood clots. Well, it was too much for her system with the other meds she's on and her body couldn't handle it. Thankfully, Mommy knows her body well enough that she knew she was bleeding and got to the doctor's and was admitted to the hospital before she got very sick. I'm grateful to say that Mommy is doing very well now and she's off the cumadin and will probably be coming home in the next couple of days.

So, we didn't get to play as much with Lins & Reagan, but we still got extra time with them since I really expected not to see them until the end of the week. I just can't get enough of Reagan. She's funny, adorable, loving, and I'm so glad I'm home!!!!!

Randy & I figure we'll leave here this weekend, as long as my mom continues to get better. As much as it's been great to be here at my folks', we're looking forward to getting back into our home and bed. There's no place like home!

Until the next time . . .

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A New "Toy"

I've placed a “shout out” box on this page. It's just another fun way for you to communicate with us. Try it out. Just type your message (keep it short!) in the message box and hit enter. Be sure to enter your name, too, so we'll know who's hollering at us. Give it a try!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Almost Home

We spent the last couple of nights on the road; Saturday night was spent in Brunswick, GA which is just 30 miles north of the Florida/Georgia border. We want to go back there in October because it is very close to Jekyll Island which I've read is pretty cool. Sunday night found us in Florence, SC for an overnight stay.

Monday morning we set out for a three and a half hour trip to Winterville, NC to spend a couple of nights with Dan & Debbie. An hour and a half later we had gone all of 60 miles having to stop twice to find a truck stop with a good air hose. How frustrating. But, at the end of that hour and a half we found ourselves at a Cracker Barrel! That sure takes the frustration out of a morning. :) AND this was Randy's FIFTIETH Cracker Barrel! (Russ & Pat, we wished you were with us to celebrate!) I wanted to get a picture of Randy in front of this CB in Lumberton, SC, but I totally forgot. UGH! I was not happy when I realized that.

Anyway, we were finally rolling down the road putting the miles behind us. We had an uneventful trip, thank You, Lord, and got to Dan & Deb's about 3pm. So, what was supposed to have been an easy, short trip ended up being an easy, longer trip. Oh, well. We're retired, so what do we need to rush about for?? :)

We leave Dan & Deb's tomorrow morning and head to my folks' on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I'm really looking forward to seeing them, especially my mom since she's had a bit of a rough time since her surgery in March. We'll spend a week with them, just hanging out and doing whatever they want to do. Mommy's got a “honey do” list for Randy. He can't wait! But, it's really nice to be flexible enough to be able to stay and help them whenever they need it. After all, they certainly have done enough for us.

Hope you are happy in your world. If not, look inside yourself and see what it is that you can change, 'cause guess what? You are the only person you can change, so when you're not content, you can fix it within.

Until the next time . . .

Friday, April 18, 2008

Looks Like We're Ready to Leave!

It seems we'll be leaving Camp Monaco tomorrow morning. YAY! I know, I know, I need to hide my sorrow a little better. :) I gotta say, even though we were here a week longer than we ever expected, the RV techs are great guys. They are as caught in the middle as the customers. We are all at the mercy of the those scheduling the service. And since we'll need to come back in October, I'm glad we now know what to expect.

Yes, we are making another “reservation” at Camp Monaco for October. While caulking the roof area, a crack was found. It's in the area where we had work done a couple of years ago when Randy had back into a tree while parking the RV. Apparently, that repair has run its course and needs to fixed again. So, we'll be back!

Here are a couple of pictures. The first is our “site” - we are parked right next to a bay door leading into the service area. Nice, huh? Actually, it's a good place to be 'cause we don't have to be moved every time techs need to work on the rig. So, it's not very pretty, but it's functional.

The other picture is of the guys who worked on the rig. They are a great bunch of guys, very personable. If we had to be here, at least the staff is friendly.

So, we'll leave here Saturday morning, spending the night in Georgia. We'll spend Sunday night in South Carolina and arrive at Dan & Debbie's Monday afternoon. We'll just spend a couple of nights with them and leave Wednesday morning for my folks'. Can't wait to see them.

Until the next time . . .

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Starting the Second Week

It's Tuesday again and we're still guests of Camp Monaco. Didn't think we'd be here this long, but it is what it is. We did have a nice chat with the Customer Service Supervisor and shared our displeasure at the slowness of the service. Of course, he was sympathetic and he did share his disgust with the incident involving the poorly written diagnostics. Apparently that technician is walking around with a new rear end. :) Work has begun on the rig, finally, and we are to pull out of here on Saturday morning at the latest. We'll see.

More to come, I'm sure. Until the next time . . . .

Friday, April 11, 2008

. . . and Still We Sit . . .

We've now been at “Camp” Monaco, as I've learned it's called, for four days. And you're thinking we're getting ready to leave tomorrow, right? WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!! The work has not even been started yet! Yeah, you heard me.

Part of the problem was that the technician who wrote up the diagnostics on the the worklist items is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He finished his diagnostics and gave the list to our service writer, Matthew, who in turn gave it to the person in charge of warranty work approval. She got halfway through the list and had to have Matthew come in to explain the descriptions to her. No, it wasn't legibility on the part of the tech's writing, it was his lack of a grasp of the English language (and he was not of ethnic heritage, either!). So, Matt had to find another tech to go back over the same worklist to rewrite the order. That brings us to yesterday afternoon and no actual work having been done on the rig.

This morning we were told that the warranty approvals were being sought and we would know something today. Now, we had approved one item that had been brought to our attention after we got here. That is the stripping and resealing of all the caulking on the outside of the rig. It's supposed to be done every two years at the most and we've never done it – we didn't know it was supposed to be done. So, on Wednesday, we gave Matt the go ahead to have that done, figuring it would get started because there was no warranty involved. Needless to say, for whatever reason, that hasn't begun either.

This afternoon we found out that only two of the items on our list would be covered by warranty. We were shocked. But, most of the items fell under that wonderful umbrella of “maintenance.” UGH! How the heck are you supposed to perform maintenance on things when nothing is wrong???? And when something does go wrong, isn't that what a warranty is for? Hmmmmmmmm . . .

We will now be guests of Camp Monaco for the weekend and well into next week, if not longer. Aren't we lucky? And we've found out from talking with others here, this is typical of the service facilities. You come and just figure you're here until your work is done. Some people have stayed for a month or more!! I find that unacceptable, but what are you going to do? The work has to be done and you're already here. But, I can promise you, my concerns and disgust will be shared with those in charge. I believe it's this way because no one complains enough and just figures “it's just the way it is.” My complaining may not do any good, but I feel service organizations need to know when they are not hitting the mark.

I'm sure I'll more to share as the week rolls on. Here are just a few pictures of Camp Monaco; there are more on the website. I need to get a picture of our setup to share with you. It's a sight to behold.

Our rig sits apart and alone. :(

Until the next time . . .

Some Blessings in the Midst

If you look under the debris, and you ask God to show you the sun, you can always find blessings in the midst of chaos or crisis. I firmly believe that and it's not Pollyanna talking. It is something I have experienced in every stage of my life. And it continues . . .

Since we have found ourselves in Central Florida, we knew there were a couple of visits we could make. Our good friends, Ray & Judy, who we met during our first full-timing winter in Florida, are still in Palmetto which is just a couple of hours south of Camp Monaco. Sara's grandparents, Bob & Sue Smith, live in Valrico, just a little more than an hour south of us. So, we made plans to visit both while waiting on our rig to be serviced. These visits are two wonderful blessings in the midst.

We had dinner Wednesday evening with Bob & Sue. Now, Randy & I figured we'd go down for dinner, stay a little while and head for home. Boy, were we in for a surprise. We arrived around 5:30 and four hours later, we were still having a wonderful time! Bob & Sue are two of the most loving, generous, caring people I've ever met. We were welcomed into their home (and family) with open arms and hugs. From the time we stepped through their door, we were comfortable and at home. And what a home they have! Bob collects deer figures, every kind imaginable, and Snow White and Seven Dwarfs figurines and dolls. Yes, Bob collects them. He has a fantastic collection of all things Snow White. I loved it!! These pictures represent just a small portion of the collection. Sue collects dolls and miniature tea sets and dishes. Amazing. They are such vibrant people and I feel so blessed that they are now family. They already love Kevin and haven't even met him. But, Sara loves him and that's pretty much makes him okay with them. We had a lovely evening and can't wait to spend more time with them at some future time.

Thursday was spent with Ray & Judy at their campground in Palmetto. We had not seen them in a year and a half and were quite excited about getting together. As it happens with good friends, it was if only a couple of days had passed instead of 18 months. We just started talking and laughing and didn't stop until we left that evening. We sat outside at their campsite and visited with whoever walked by and also got to see some of the folks we knew from our time there. We finished our day with a great dinner at a Mexican restaurant Ray & Judy really like. It was hard to say good-bye, but we are hoping to see them this summer at the wedding. If not then, we'll see them this fall when we go through Kentucky.

So, instead of ranting and raving about the injustices of poor customer service, I am reveling in the joy of new family and old friends. The sun is shining and I have a roof over my head and a man who loves me more than I probably deserve. I'm gonna concentrate on my blessings in the midst. I hope you can, too.

Until the next time . . .

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Here We Sit . . .

Okay, so we pull into the Monaco Service Facility around 7:35am after having to spend last night at a nearby campground because the facility didn't have room for us at their campground. Not a big problem. I wait to speak with our service writer, Matt, to let him know we are here and ready for his walk-through and for the coach to be taken in for its service. Yeah, right.

Matt is a really nice guy and I feel badly for him having to deal with the customers who have not been given ALL of the information needed. I fully expected, as we have had this appointment since June of last year, to check in and be taken fairly quickly into the service bay. Not happening. As we sit here at 2:20 in the afternoon, the RV has yet to be taken in for diagnostics. Grrrreaaaat.

I fully understand that service facilities can only estimate the length of time repairs will take, but c'mon! How long have they been doing this? So, we are not sure how long we will be “guests” of Monaco, nor do we know when/if we will get a spot in their campground. We have been told that we will be able to plug into their electric for the night, so I guess that's something. But, I am a trifle annoyed by the scheduling of service.

I've taken several pictures of all of the RVs lined, but since I'm on a WiFi connection, I don't think I'll be able to load them for your viewing pleasure. However, when I get our satellite connection, I'll be sure to do so. Until then, you can look forward to hearing more of the continuing saga.

Until the next time . . .

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Famous Suwannee River

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate so we didn't get out to the town of White Springs to check out some of the historic dwellings. It has rained off and on all day yesterday and today. So we just had to relax and watch movies and play on the computer and cross stitch. Such a rough life we lead! :)

We did brave the outside today long enough to get a couple of pictures of the Suwannee River as it runs beside our campground. Yes, folks, I sacrificed for you and got caught in the beginning of a thunderstorm, but it was worth it to show you the famous “ribber” that Stephen Foster immortalized in song. Hope you appreciate it! :) hahaha

Yeah, I know. Looks like any other river, doesn't it? Oh, well, ya get what ya pay for!

We leave tomorrow morning for Wildwood where we're getting some work done on the rig. Hopefully, we'll only be there for a couple of days. And since we have to be out of the rig all day, we're going to try to get down to Frog Creek Campground (where we stayed during our first winter on the road) and see good friends, Ray & Judy. We're also hoping to meet Sara's grandparents as they live just an hour south of the service center. We'll let you know!

Until the next time . . .

Friday, April 04, 2008

White Sulphur Springs & Stephen Foster Culture Center

We've settled in White Springs, FL for the next few days. White Springs sits on the Suwannee River, the same river that Stephen Foster immortalized in his song, “Old Folks at Home,” or as most people know it, “Way Down Upon de Swanee Ribber.” There is a museum and park dedicated to Stephen Foster which we visited today.

First we stopped at the visitors' center to get some info on the area. While there was lots of information, I certainly was not impressed with the staff. We were never greeted nor asked if we needed any help. But, we found what we were looking for and left.

Located behind the visitors' center is White Sulphur Springs, fed by the Suwannee River, it was a popular retreat in the late 1800s and early 1900s for folks who wanted the healing benefits of the springs. The current structure was built sometime between 1903 and 1908 and consisted of treatments rooms, concessions and an elevator. While we were there, we met an elderly gentleman who used to live in the area and remembered the glory days of the Springs. Since he didn't appear to be 100 years old, I'm not sure just what he remembered himself or what he remembered being told. Either way, it was fun speaking with him and seeing the joy he was experiencing being back in his hometown.

Suwannee River feeds the springs

We then went on to the Stephen Foster Culture Center which began in 1950 as a museum to Stephen Foster and his music. Because of a folk festival that was first held in 1953, the museum grew into a park where folk arts and music are celebrated and demonstrated throughout the year. This weekend there was an antique tractor and engine show. There are also several buildings in which local crafters show their skills and creations such as quilts, jewelry, pottery, and even dulcimers!

In the museum there are several dioramas dedicated to the most recognized songs Foster wrote. They are quite lovely and, unfortunately, my pictures don't do them justice. Also found in the museum, along with several antique pianos, is the desk upon which Foster wrote “Old Folks at Home.” It was his brother's desk, but had been kept in the family until its donation to the museum. The original manuscript of the song is encased in glass on the desk.

Old Folks at Home
Camptown Races

Another focal point of the park is the 97-bell carillon that is found in the middle of the park. It is housed in a towering campanile that is 200 feet high and was completed in 1957. The carillon is the world's largest tubular carillon in the number of bells and it was installed in the tower in 1958. It took more than a year to build the set of bells which is made of 3 sets of 32 bells, plus one high G bell. Many of the more than 200 compositions that Foster wrote are played throughout the day and is a beautiful sound to hear.

Finally, the hot, humid weather drove us back to the RV. I sure wasn't prepared to go from a hint of spring last week in Alabama to summer in Florida! Yuck. I guess I shouldn't complain, though, considering lots of folks up north are still getting snow.

If the weather cooperates, we may take a jaunt into the town of White Springs. There are several other historic sites that may be interesting to check out. I'll let you know.

Until the next time . . .

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

We're in Florida

After a great breakfast with good friends, Randy and I pulled out of Rainbow Plantation and headed east. We had a very easy drive along US Route 90 for our first stop in Florida, Sunset King Lake Resort in DeFuniak Springs. We arrived without mishap (praise God for his traveling mercies) around 2:30pm.

Sunset King Lake Resort is a membership park, but allows nonmembers 2 nights through Passport America. The park sits on a lake, hence the name, and most folks are long-term campers, with many park model homes here as well. I think we're in a fairly new section because the sites in this area are larger than those in the front of the park. And I'm grateful for that 'cause the other sites are quite close to one another. Gotta be chummy to camp in those! Otherwise, it seems to be a nice park with lots of winter activities.

We're going to have a visitor today. Bob Hampton, the fellow who publishes FiftyPlus, the magazine that I write for, is always in and out of this area. So, when he found out we were going to be here for a couple of days, he asked if we could get together. Of course, I said yes! I am looking forward to meeting him since we have talked so often on the phone over the past few months. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow we'll break camp and head for Suwannee Valley RV Park in White Springs. We'll be there for four days so I'm hoping to do a little exploring. I know I haven't had a lot to share with you all this winter, as far as sight-seeing goes, maybe I can rectify that soon.

Until the next time . . .