We're Wingin' It travel blog


From WalMart, Franklin, Tennessee.

Once again we find ourselves sitting here at Uncle Wally's in Franklin, Tennessee, waiting. It seems that much of our life these past few weeks has been spent waiting for one thing or another. This time we are awaiting some papers to be delivered to us tomorrow by Fedex related to the new Phaeton; more on that in a bit.

Since I last wrote, we have lived the Sandwich Generation life. We've spent a few days with Vicki's parents & spent a few days with Kevin, Stef, Cameron & Tori, our son, daughter-in-love & grandchildren in Los Angeles.

As has most of the rest of the nation, we have also worked through damage-avoidance from the wintry weather.....damage either to our bodies for a few of the days & to the Bus for all of the days. No effort at all was required to avoid damage to our bodies for those days that we were in Southern California, though a few of the hours there were cool enough that I opted for jeans rather than my preferred shorts.

We remained at Vicki's parents until Friday morning, then left there & drove the Bus to the driveway of Dwight, friend, former co-worker & reader, in Brentwood, just south of Nashville. He had offered us space in his driveway to park the bus with hookups while we were out of town. He has owned a camper trailer in the past & has a basic knowledge of how they operate & his location was ideal for us.

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 12:25 PM. Isn't it amazing how a morning can be so hectic just to meet an early afternoon flight.....no wonder my preference is to travel on my own timetable via the motor home. We were leaving Springfield by a few minutes after 8:00 AM, arriving at Dwight's driveway about 9:15, a bit ahead of our schedule.

Getting the Bus parked in an out-of-the-way location took a little more time than I had contemplated, so we were in hurry-up mode by the time that we were ready to make the hookups & transition to the Jeep. I have always been & probably always will be on the anal side of being early & sticking to a pre-determined schedule in situations like this.

I "dog-boned down" (I've been waiting to use that phrase) from the Bus' 50 AMP power cord to a typical 110V patio outlet on the house. "Dog-boning" is using a sequence of adapters to step-down through the different size cords to get from head to tail. The adapter to go from a 50 AMP cord to a 30 AMP cord somewhat resembles a large dog bone, hence the label.

I had never stepped-down that far in cords, so was not totally sure of what was going to happen. I needed to supply power to the Bus' battery charger so that the batteries could be maintained while running the fans & thermostats on the propane furnaces. Knowing that the weather for a significant portion of our time away was going to be sub-freezing, the furnaces were necessary to protect the plumbing.

As a back-up, I had reviewed with Dwight how to monitor the battery status & run the generator if needed to maintain the batteries.

An option would have been to do a complete winterization of the plumbing, but our tight schedule for departure & upon arrival made that option undesirable.....OK, my laziness, ignorance & inexperience in doing so also played a part in the decision.

I got the power cord all dog-boned & plugged-up, & all looked well.

I then ran a separate 110V cord for the refrigerator direct to a separate plug on the house. My limited electrical knowledge told me that maybe that separate cord would be wise, J. I. C. (just in case). As a part of the refrigerator set-up, I also connected a 60-watt incandescent light socket into the same cord. I had left the light bulb laying near the ice-maker plumbing for extra warmth to that area.

All looked well. We drove-off in the Jeep, headed for the airport, with a quick drive-through at the nearby McD's for a breakfast biscuit. Yes, that stop was included in the morning's timetable.

While sitting in the drive-through, I had one of those "flash" moments....you know, the kind when totally out of the blue you realize that you forgot to do something. This flash was that I had failed to adjust the thermostat down from 75 to 50 degrees, as I had intended.

I had set-it to 75 to force it to initiate running while making the set-up; 50 degrees would be ample to protect the plumbing without consuming all of the extra propane, electricity, battery power, etc, that the 75 setting would do.

So, with McD's biscuit in hand, we made a quick return to the Bus to validate that yes indeed, I had failed to adjust the thermostat as needed; then back enroute to the airport, having now burnt the extra few minutes that we had earned. I should have taken one more moment though for a final review.

We made it to the airport, got parked, got checked-in, luggage checked, & like good air passengers, sat there at the gate for an hour or more, waiting for boarding. A good flight, even the layover in Kansas City, Kevin et al's arrival at the airport timed very well to coincide with our readiness, then they took us to dinner for our two-days-apart birthdays of last week.

Lots of good conversation, etc, Friday night, then much of Saturday was spent at a miniature golf & arcade park. Dinner from the home-grill Saturday night, church Sunday morning (we had the special treat of hearing Kevin present week four of a six-week series of messages that he is presenting to the full church, from his role as Youth Pastor), football games & just hanging-out Sunday afternoon, followed by spending much of Monday touring the H. M. S. Queen Mary docked in Long Beach harbor ending the day at a local pizzeria. Tuesday, Stef, Cameron & Tori returned to school (Stef & Kevin both teach), while Kevin volunteered to take a vacation day to haul us back to the airport.

All in all, a very good long weekend with them!!!!! I had intended to write a journal entry while there, but I trust you understand that those special moments of spending the limited time with the family took precedence.

A good direct-flight back home, arrived back to the Bus approximately 9:00 last night. Shortly after getting back to the Bus, we discovered that the refrigerator was not running. Upon further investigation, I found that we had failed to turn it on when we parked last Friday morning.

The refrig will run on 12V & propane while traveling, but I have joined the camp that says "safety first" as to traveling with the propane lines open. Therefore, we always close the propane line & turn the refrig off while traveling. Normally it is not a problem since we have a routine for setting-up house when we arrive, but this time we did not set-up house, we parked & ran. Totally our fault for being in too much of a hurry.....& I never had a "flash" moment while away about this omission.

Needless to say, in spite of the mostly cold weather that the area had had while we were in California, we had a fair amount of food that had gone bad. The thermometer inside of the refrig indicated 47 degrees, but that was warm enough for a long-enough period of time. Being frustrated with myself for forgetting to take the simple step, I did some other things this morning while Vicki tossed all of the food-gone-bad into garbage bags.....else, all I would have seen was $$$$$.

After not hearing anything from anyone about the Phaeton by Monday, two weeks after we last saw it in the Paint Shop, I called my Saleslady who had no current information on its status. I asked her to call the factory for an update & then let me know.

Her later response was that it was scheduled to be driven the 50 miles from the factory to the dealership on Tuesday.....GREAT!!!! She agreed to call me as soon as it arrived, which she did about 8:15 AM California time. Conversations since then have indicated that the Service Department will need the rest of the week to install the dealer accessories that we have requested & to perform the routine dealer review & prep.

As of this moment, we are now expecting to do our orientation on Monday with the moving of our personal stuff continuing into Tuesday. I want to spend at least one night, & most likely two nights, living in it on the dealer's lot before we head-off to Florida, just to give it our own personal shake-down while still close at hand for assistance.

I opted to finance a part of the cost & retain the equivalent cash invested. I made that decision back in November, but after the way that the market has moved these first weeks of January I'm not so sure that it was the right decision.

What was that mantra that I chanted back there in that Investment Philosophy journal entry that I wrote....long term....long term....long term....long term. Yea, I still firmly believe in that philosophy, but I have to admit these past few weeks have challenged me. Today's market rebound renewed my faith that there is a bottom, to be followed by a rebound.

Anyway, sorry for the diversion there, back to the point. I am taking financing with Essex Credit Corp, a division of Freightliner, the chassis company, based in San Francisco. The financing is not arranged through the dealership, so the paper trail is a bit more awkward.

Now that we have a living, breathing, completed motor home, it is time to sign the papers, etc. Essex is shipping them overnight for signature, hence our holding here in the Nashville area. We are going to a Corps of Engineering campground in northeast Mississippi to wait-out the weekend, but I did not know the area well enough to suggest a delivery point there.

We will get the papers tomorrow, sign them, & ship back to Essex, then head to Mississippi for the weekend. It occurred to me today that we have not been in a campground, other than the Tiffin factory facility which is better labeled a parking lot with hookups, since October 29, 2007, over TWELVE weeks ago!!!! We are both ready to resume living with nature.

I try not to make commercials here very often, unless well deserved, but I have been extremely pleased with Essex during this process. Their rep has been veryyyyy pro-active in getting things done, stepping-up when the dealership was very complacent or stated "not-my-job" about some necessary steps. That has become a major sticking point with me about the dealership. On top of being very pro-active, they have dropped their interest rate by ½% since committing to the loan, even though they were already a ½% below the dealership at the time of the commitment.

If anyone is contemplating RV financing, I would highly recommend that you give them a shot. If you'd like contact info, leave me a message in the Guest Book & I will be glad to assist you with that.

So, here we sit tonight, again watching the few shoppers who are braving the cold, come & go through Uncle Wally's parking lot. We very much wish that there was a real campground that we could use while here in Brentwood & Franklin, but unfortunately the closest ones are all 40-50 miles away.

Enjoy life. Whatever temperature the weather brings to you, warm your life by your attitudes & actions.

As a closer, I'll append a story that I recently read.......................

"A group of graduates, well established in their careers, were talking at a reunion and decided to go visit their old university professor, now retired. During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives. Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups -porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the hot chocolate.

When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor said:

'Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

The cup that you're drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups. And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life. The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you have. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate The Creator has provided us. The Creator makes the hot chocolate, man chooses the cups. The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything that they have.'

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. And enjoy your hot chocolate."




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