We left Nashville on October 29. Amazingly there was quite a bit of ice on top of the slides, about 1/4 inch thick. Sadly, through a glitch in our departure system, we forgot to put the satellite dish down. It got whacked by the first overpass we went under, about 2 miles from the campground. Larry was able to climb up on the roof to ensure it was still anchored and we were able to drive to Red Bay. We drove most of the way down the Natchez Trace Parkway. This is a beautiful stretch of road. We traveled about 140 of the 440 miles of it. The maximum speed limit is 50 mph and there are no commercial trucks allowed. If we hadn't been so upset by the satellite situation, we would have really enjoyed the peacefulness of it and the fall colours.
The title is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Camp Red Bay is the "campground" at the Tiffin Service Centre in Red Bay, Alabama. It is semi-paved/gravel with full hook-ups. Each morning at 6:45 am there is a march by coaches to their designated service bay. Work starts promptly at 7 am, break from 11:30 to noon, with quitting time precisely at 3 pm (unless they are working overtime, which they did while were there, stopping at 4:30). There are 50 service bays. We were in #14 for 2 1/2 days. Our service guy Terry was very nice and seemed quite efficient, thorough and methodical. We hung around and watched to see what we might learn about our coach. One of our problems was that our CB didn't seem to work so they replaced it. While Terry was testing it with someone else's, Maureen asked him if we had to speak with the same accent in order to get it to work. She has not heard the end of that comment since!
Wednesday afternoon we waited around to be called for the windshield work. The new satellite arrived Wednesday about 2 pm. We met the satellite guy, Nick, off-site at 3 pm. He was not allowed to work on it in the campground. He was unable to fix the satellite, saying that the plate to attach the dish was the wrong one. When we got back to our site, Larry looked at it some more and with the help of the neighbour got it all working before dark.
Our neighbours that had arrived on Sunday are Tom and Penny. They are from Brainerd, Minnesota and have a very nice dog, part brown English Springer and part Brittany Spaniel. We got together with them every afternoon. Tom was very helpful up on the roof. He used to be in construction so he's good with ladders! They did not have an appointment for service so they were waiting for an opening.
We found out Thursday morning that they couldn't find us Wednesday - someone had put a post-it over our site number and the only other number was #14. Of course they couldn't find us in site #14 because we're in #93! We were eventually called to go in to have the windshield replaced. It had to be replaced because the windshield wipers had originally been put on wrong and everytime they went over to the side they scratched the windshield. The only way to fix the scratches was to replace it. Two guys worked as a team and actually did it quite efficiently. The windshields are made in Turkey! We then waited around for a couple more hours, we thought for the tile guy but it seems we were waiting for the glue on the windshield to set. We got back to our site and hooked everything up. Larry went to flush the toilet and there was no water. We went out the front door and it was pouring out the sides underneath the coach. Turns out that the slide mechanism had severed the water hose. Larry went over to the service bay and the supervisor came out and spliced the hose together. We're not exactly sure how it happened but they said they would fix it. So now we have to dry out the bays.
Friday we waited until about 10:30 then Larry went over to see what was going on. They never did get to us Friday to do the tile work and they don't work Saturday and Sunday. Every customer we talk to has a different story to tell. Some have been there for up to 8 weeks already. We have not planned on that so we'll see what happens.
Saturday is sightseeing day - they don't work at the service center and everything's closed on Sundays. First we went to the Coon Dog Cemetery. Only coon dogs are allowed to be buried here. Many are registered champions with the United Kennel Club or the American Kennel Club. Headstones are as simple as a name written on a log, a piece of metal or a beautifully inscribed granite stone. We continued on our way up White Pike seeing quite a few what we would call Hillbilly Cabins (one had a sign on the gate "Nothing Here is Worth Your Life") to Highway 72, then on to Muscle Shoals and Florence, both right on the shore of the Tennessee River. We stopped at W.C. Handy Birthplace and Museum. Mr. Handy is considered to be the Father of the Blues. While he is probably not the first to perform the blues, he is the first to officially write them. The hand-hewn logs of the little two room house are original, having been moved from about 6 miles away and reconstructed. Although he did not live in the house for long, it is furnished as it might have been when he lived there in the late 1800s.
We stopped for an oil change in the Jeep then on to Captain D's for lunch. Then we came back to the the Indian Mound and Museum. It is estimated that this mound was excavated 1000 years before Columbus. It was used as the foundation for a temple or large house. The little city museum houses artifacts that date back 10,000 years, mostly spear and arrow heads. The man in the museum said in 1975 there was 5 feet of water in the museum building. Then we went to Pope's Tavern. Built in 1830 as a stagecoach stop, it was also a tavern and inn in its time as well as a hospital during the Civil War. 38,000 soldiers travelled through the area on their way to New Orleans. The museum is filled with items from the 18th and 19th centuries. We even found a write-up upstairs of a Ogilve Hamblin that had attended the hospital.
We then went to Wal-Mart in Russelville for some groceries then home. The weather had improved and was quite warm.
Sunday most things are closed so we just hung around the site. The weather was beautiful. Tom and Penny behind us are so nice. We spent part of every day with them while they were here. They were anxious to be moving on so they had some of their work done by the RV Service dealer across the street. We cooked a big ham in the crock pot and had them over for dinner.
Monday November 7 we were called to the Tile Shop in the afternoon and one big porcelain tile was relaced as well as three little accent tiles. Larry helped with vacuuming up the little pieces that fly everywhere when they are chipped out. The only way to get the big tile out is by hammering and chiseling. When we got back to our site the guys from the Mechanic Shop showed up for a house call. We had a few questions for them and they were quite helpful. On Tuesday, we made an appearance at the Welding Shop for a new solenoid for the right front hydraulic jack which hadn't been holding its balance. We then went out to Custom RV to have the GPS on the satellite hooked up. Now everything works perfectly on that. Turns out the one sent with the new dish was defective so Brannon put the old one back in that Larry had salvaged. Wednesday was oil change day for the coach at Bay Diesel. They also checked everything over. They do very good work there. They also changed the valve stems on the rear tires - for cosmetic reasons they were facing in on our particular model of coach, making it very hard to check the air in them. We stopped to get haircuts at Ann's house - $10 each. She didn't have time for Larry just then so he would go the next day.
We had been told that we probably wouldn't get in to have the slide fixed until Monday, so Thursday we woke up somewhat leisurely. Just as Larry was about to get into the shower, about 7:05, his phone rang - Can you get to Bay #1 in five minutes? The answer has to be yes or you lose your place. So forget the showers, pack up and get there. We did it in 7 minutes! Then we had to take all the stuff out of all the cupboards on the driver's side. It took the entire day (make sure to see the photos) and they did an amazing job. We watched the whole thing, only taking a break when they did for lunch. Needless to say Larry didn't get his haircut! While we were watching we chatted with a couple from Summerland BC - Hazel and Dennis. Friday morning we had to be back there for about an hour then back to the site - that's it for this week! In the afternoon we went over to the factory and on the way in chatted with Bob Tiffin, the owner of the company. We saw a coach similar to ours on the assembly line and watched what they were doing for a while. Larry stopped at Ann's and got his much needed haircut. We went to City King Chinese Buffet for dinner. Not too bad.
Saturday is sightseeing day. We drove out Hwy 19/172 to Hackleburg to see the damage from the tornadoes in April. They are beginning to rebuild. Some houses were totally destroyed. All the buildings on the main street are closed and the town hall is in trailers. As we passed through town you could see the swath where the tornado ripped leaves off trees and uprooted them. And this was not the main devastation. We continued on in a loop to Tupelo. Larry had to go to Elvis's birthplace for a shirt. We found a very nice liquor store called La Vino where we got some rum and wine, and Maureen got a beautiful fresh red rose. We continued on up to the Natchez Trace to the turnoff for Red Bay. Nearly all the leaves are off the trees now. We went to the Belmont Cafe for dinner. It is open Friday and Saturday nights for dinner (5 to 9) and Sunday to Friday for lunch (11 to 1:30). The food's pretty good. Larry was giving our waitress a hard time about not serving alcohol (this county in Mississippi is dry, as is the county that Red Bay is in). She did not know what Bailey's was, but the other waitress did. The owner came over and we talked for a while.
We spent Sunday relaxing and cleaning up a bit. So much dust! On Monday about 10 am we got the call to go in to the paint bay for a few touch-ups. He was going to be working on it for most of the day so we went for one last drive. We ended up at the Belmont Cafe for lunch. They know us now. We also stopped in at the main Paint Shop where all the coaches are painted. It was very interesting. We also stopped by the factory one more time and stopped to have a talk with Bob Tiffin, the owner of the company. He is very customer-oriented and always has time for you.
Tuesday we were given the ok to leave. At this point we discovered the fridge was leaking. We called Terry over and he pulled a piece of glue out of the drain hose. Hopefully it is fixed now. Then Larry went to the office to check out. The young lady had to enter all our things, with the remedy, who did the work and how long it took. Our total was $0.00 as was our camping fee. Not bad for 18 days.
We appreciated the work of the technicians - Terry "How Y'All Doin" Craigmore, Billy, The Super (Torino), Craig (The Tile Guy), and others. Terry was called to the office twice during our check out to answer questions and couldn't believe "the foreigners" weren't gone yet! We're outta here! On to Memphis.