Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Enjoying Our Outings Away From Red Bay Alabama…

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With the Memorial Day weekend approaching in Red Bay, Alabama we could finally get out and about for a little exploring. It is nearly impossible to do anything during the work week because there is always a possibility of receiving a call from Tiffin to show up a maintenance bay ASAP. In most cases a call is received the day before but often when finding themselves ahead of schedule they will call the next person in the queue to come on over.  There’s no way we would risk losing our precious place in line!

That weekend we drove up to Florence to play a round of disc golf and do a little grocery shopping. We pulled into the McFarland Park Disc Golf Course in Florence, AL and each grabbed our favorite three discs to head out for a nice round of golf. It was certainly great to see green again since all we see in Red Bay at the Allegro Campground is asphalt and gravel….

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McFarland Park Disc Golf Course is located along the Tennessee River and is very green and lush. It is certainly a great location for a disc golf course and this one is a nice one, albeit a long course. It took us a couple of hours and our round was complete.

Another day we headed southeast to Tupelo Mississippi. We have visited both Florence and Tupelo several times before in the past so we have seen all the sights already in these locations therefore this Memorial Day Weekend was about getting out for a little exercise while having fun. As a result our trip to Tupelo was also to play disc golf at Veterans Park.

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This course was much shorter than the one we played in Florence but makes up for it in how challenging it is because of how much elevation comes into play. This course rewards precision and accuracy two things that neither Sharon nor I excel in… however it was a  really fun course to play.

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No trip in this area would be complete without a trip to the iconic Road Treat the Rattlesnake Saloon. It is a one of a kind bar/restaurant actually built in a cave! Upon arrival after parking visitors can either wait for the cowboy shuttle (a guy in a pickup truck) or they can walk down the slope to the cave/bar. Taking the shuttle is an experience in itself because of the steep winding downslope to the cave. We highly recommend taking it at least once if you have never been here. It’s a treat for sure. As a side note, be sure to bring ID because everyone is carded!

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We walked down and luckily found a couple of empty chairs. Alcohol is not served until after 5 pm but that was fine by us since we also wanted to see the live music slated to start at 6:30. We really enjoy visiting this little road treat and we certainly enjoyed our adult beverages while listening to the lively local band.

With our Memorial Day weekend over, it will be back to Tiffin time to await our call for the remaining repairs…

Note: We are still in Red Bay Alabama…

Monday, May 29, 2017

Living on Tiffin Time in Red Bay Alabama…

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We are at the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay Alabama. After giving Norris (the triage guy) our list of items all we could do was sit and wait for a call to enter an express bay to begin our repairs. The way it works here is everyone is on a first come first served status and if you are not immediately available when the call comes in for your turn in a bay,  you go back to the end of the line. So during Tiffin work hours we stay put and wait....we call it living on Tiffin time!

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imageOur main goal is to take care of our damage from the incident we had back in Texas where at first we thought we encountered a road hazard but later discovered a piece of framing had fallen out and caused the damage to our rig.We are here since Tiffin will fix all of it for free under their 10 year frame warranty (at least so they say – we will see come bill time). I also want a small repair to our slide while we are here as well.

imageDespite there being a lot of rigs in line,  surprisingly we got a call Monday afternoon telling us to be in an express bay early Tuesday morning. Tuesday at 7:00 am we were snuggled in Bay 9 and the two Tiffin technicians began scratching their collective heads trying to figure out where all the broken wires were supposed to go. After about two hours and with the assistance of another technician the wires were all back in the normal position and all the electrical things that didn’t work were now working.

Next they attacked my slide issue and after about 45 minutes did the best they could do.  I was told the repair still might not stop the slide from leaving black marks on the new flooring. If it doesn't work we will probably need to have new rollers put in our large slide out. Just when I thought they were done they replaced our windshield wiper blades since apparently there was a recall on them that I didn’t even know about. We love having our work done here for things just like that.

imageWith our three hours of express bay time up we parked back in site 5 awaiting further instructions. That afternoon we got another call to be in Bay 41 to have our framing welded back in to our coach. Again at 7:00 am Tuesday morning we were in bay 41. Sharon is not happy to have to be up at 6:00 am, especially two days in a row!!!

Well Wednesday came and went as did Thursday dimming all hope we had of our getting out of here before Memorial Day Weekend. Friday morning I decided I had better check to make sure they knew what we were still lacking and to get some idea of where we were in the queu. Wanda, the scheduling coordinator, said my next stop was paint and body but didn’t know about the other things on our list.

At her suggestion I spoke with Don Boyd whom I had initially communicated with regarding our incident. He remembered and since no one had taken care of my damaged wheel liner he immediately sent a technician out to remove and replace it at our site. I sure am glad I inquired as to our status and hopefully we can have our paint and body work done Tuesday when the employees return to work after the Memorial Day Holiday. After paint and body, then all that will be left is to have them inspect the front driver side wheel for any mechanical issues and have our front end aligned to ensure nothing was knocked out of whack from the incident.

We are therefore spending Memorial Day weekend mingling with about 50 other Tiffin owners in Red Bay Alabama, making new friends while we wait. We wish you and yours a very Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Note: We are still in Red Bay Alabama…

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Welcome to the Tiffin Service Center–Red Bay Alabama…

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Before leaving Arkansas we checked our route and the RV parks on both our preferred north and south routes were closed because of high water on the Mississippi River. I found other places we could stay but decided to contact Don at the Tiffin Motorhomes Service Center in Red Bay Alabama and ask about space available at the Tiffin Allegro Campground in Red Bay. The Allegro Campground is the Tiffin Service Center’s campground and is mostly just a large parking lot.

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Don advised I would be wise to get there before the weekend as there were several available sites now but they would likely fill up before Sunday. Heeding his advice and not being able to stay where we wanted to anyway we drove from Little Rock Arkansas straight over to Red Bay Alabama, a very long day for us at 281 miles. Sure enough we pulled into Allegro Campground and there were plenty of sites and even by that Friday evening there were at least 30 to 40 spots available.

imageSaturday we woke to some rain showers but not wanting to spend the whole weekend in Red Bay we made a drive down to Tupelo Mississippi about 40 minutes away. It rained most of the way so we weren’t going to be able to play disc golf as we had hoped but since we have been to Tupelo before we decided to just drive around a bit and then stopped in to checkout a new brewpub. We enjoyed a craft beer and watched a little NCAA regional fast pitch softball before heading back.

We decided to drive back on the Natchez Trace as it passes just south of Tupelo and just NW of Red Bay. Even with sporadic rain showers this was a very pleasant drive. With speed limits of 50 mph and with no stores or advertising along the roadside we simply meandered our way through while enjoying the lush green sliver of land encompassing the Natchez Trace.

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Well we had even more rain on Sunday and sure enough by the end of the day Tiffin Allegro Campground was full. I am sure glad we heeded Don's advice and came in a few days earlier than we planned. It seems with all the rain in this area we wouldn’t have been able to do much of anything anyway. Now we will settle in on "Tiffin Time" awaiting our turn for needed repairs....

Come Monday Norris (the first guy you will meet at the Tiffin Service Center) came by and got our list of items we need to have taken care of. Most of our list is composed of items that Tiffin will fix for free under their 10 year frame warranty. If you remember we had an incident back in Texas when a piece of framing fell out under our RV causing a bit of damage as it fell out on the roadway. We hope to get it all fixed while we are here…

Note: We spent one more night in Little Rock Arkansas but are now in Red Bay Alabama…

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Last Day in Little Rock Then Off to Alabama…

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Our last day in Little Rock we experienced a few scattered rain showers so we made no real plans to explore the area any more than we already had. However when the rain let up we decided to take a long walk into the downtown area. From the campground we walked across the Clinton Bridge and hung a right walking along the Arkansas River.

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We came across a Natural Science Center and strolled in finding lots of critters being held captive in their little ecosystems. Snakes, fish, lizards and more were on display. Outside the museum the grounds had a fantastic display of local wild flora with identifications making it not only a sight for the eyes but one for the brain as well…

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Further along the trail we came across the Old State House Museum which had been previously pointed out to us on our trolley ride. Our trolley driver explained that this was the site of President Clinton’s campaign headquarters and the scene of an epic party after his presidential win! As we walked by we noticed their entry sign so we were enticed  to explore its confines. We found it to be a super cool historical building.  We wandered the exhibits downstairs then made our way up and down dark stained wooden staircases which creaked with age as we climbed.  Around every corner we found interesting artifacts and historical photographs to explore.

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Afterward we moved on along the the roads parallel to the river and found the Arts bldg. where the symphonies in Little Rock are held. Heading south from the river we walked along a road littered with small stores and eclectic restaurants. Some looked quite interesting but it was way too early for a quick meal. After about a half mile walking south we made the turn back toward the downtown area.

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The city of Little Rock has a bit of a bad image as they are known for being a high crime area. However, the crime areas are mostly outside of where we walked. Most of the people we encountered were very friendly. Even the one lady in her  mobility scooter who asked if we would buy her a cheeseburger was mostly harmless. We thoroughly enjoyed our stroll in downtown Little Rock and hope to return to enjoy it again one day…

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As we were heading back we came across the Flying Saucer a regional chain with banners boasting  their having a hundred taps of craft beer and a hefty food menu. It once again beckoned us to enter so we moseyed up to the bar and ordered a nice craft beer to cheer our wonderful stay in Little Rock. A perfect way to end our stay!

The next morning we broke camp and prepared for what would be an abnormally long drive for us of 281 miles to Red Bay Alabama…

Note: We are still in Red Bay Alabama getting some work done on our RV…

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hiking to the Top of Pinnacle Peak in Arkansas…

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Our last few days in Little Rock became quite an adventure. After yesterday's 16.3 mile loop into a punishing head wind I had planned to take a day off to recover.  However after seeing that stormy weather was heading our way I decided that although we were a bit leg weary we should go over to Pinnacle Mountain State Park  to do some hiking while the weather was still nice.

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I didn’t really read a lot in advance so had no planned hikes since it was a spur of the moment decision to go..After the 40 minute drive over to the park we came in the back entrance and were pleased to find no fees associated with entering this park. Our first stop was at the visitors center where we picked up a trail map and talked with the ranger about hikes within the park.

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After firming our plans with her we decided to hike the east side trail to the top of Pinnacle Peak. On our way to the trailhead we saw a sign for a short interpretive loop trail. We thought this would be a great trail to loosen our legs before tackling the longer trail.up the mountain. I have to admit this may have been one of the best interpretive trails we have hiked. There were lots of plaques identifying plants and several stations where visitors could listen to specific topics about the landscape.

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The loop trail was nice but now it was off to the main course, Pinnacle Mountain. We found the parking lot for the trailhead and put our boots on for the hike. The trail appeared to be rocky and steep so I also put on my boots rather than hike in my tennis shoes. By the end of the hike I was sure glad I chose to wear my boots.

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The trail is only about 3/4 of a mile to the top of the mountain making it a rather short 1.5 mile hike. After all the biking we did yesterday we had no complaints. We started up the trail which was pretty rocky and had lots of rock steps to climb. It was a steady and relentless climb until we got about 1/2 way up. Then it became very steep and the trail all but disappeared. It then became a trail going up a talus slope of large loose rocks. A yellow dotted line was painted on the rocks to help point a path of least resistance to the top.

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The last stretch was quite a grueling climb to the top and both of our legs were singing to us! We finally summited and the view was fantastic overlooking the Arkansas River floodplain below and we could also see Little Rock way off in the distance. After resting and hydrating we grudgingly started the steep trek down the mountain knowing full well our legs were going to be beat again…

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There were lots of wildflowers on the trail and we were certainly glad we took the hike especially after we were finished. After arriving back at the RV park we traded our boots for our tennis shoes and walked  downtown for a frosty beverage at the Blue Paddle Brewery. We both agreed it was a great way to end the day…

Note: We spent one more night in Little Rock Arkansas but are now in Red Bay Alabama…

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Cool 16.3 Mile Bike Loop on the Arkansas River Trail…

We added more days to our stay at Downtown Riverside RV Park in Little Rock Arkansas in order to have the  time to do a few more things I had my eye on. One excursion I really wanted to do was the 16.3 mile bike loop along the Arkansas River called the Arkansas River Trail. The website described this loop from the Clinton Presidential Bridge to the Big Dam Bridge and back as a 15.6 mile loop but Sharon’s Fitbit and Map My Ride disagreed.

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There were two challenges with us taking this particular bike ride. First neither of us have been riding our bikes much lately and we were unsure how saddle worthy we might be. Secondarily there were some stiff south winds this day which meant we would be riding into some strong headwinds somewhere along the trail. The good news was that since it is a river trail it is basically flat the entire length of the way. So off we went…

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We started from our park in North Little Rock and made our way along the northside of the river. One interesting thing we noticed was a submarine docked alongside the banks of the Arkansas River, the USS Razorback. While we didn’t tour it we did find it interesting.

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Next up was the area known as the Big Rock Quarry. This geological formation is what inspired the region’s name. French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bernard de la Harpe first noted a large outcropping of rock along the river so he named the 200-foot bluff “Le Rocher Fran├žais” (now known as Big Rock). The smaller outcropping on the south bank was named “Le Petit Rocher” (or the Little Rock). An interesting history tidbit…

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We continued along the north shore mostly in wooded lands alongside the river. It was a very pleasant bike ride with the wind not bothering us too much. We took delight in the spring green and the rock formations around us as we rode this stretch of the trail. Soon the Big Dam Bridge came into view. This is the longest U.S. pedestrian/bike bridge at 4,226 feet. It spans the Arkansas River atop the Murray Dam. It also connects North Little Rock to Little Rock Arkansas.

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Once across the Big Dam Bridge we hit some headwinds and even worse this side of the river was more open so there was nothing to block the winds. We plugged along and stopped when we saw a few young bucks in velvet at the edge of the woods. The deer didn’t seem to care about us so we watched them for a while as we rested.

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Shortly thereafter we passed the International Headquarters for Tae Kwon Do. We stopped for another break as our legs were starting to feel the churning of the pedals into the relentless wind. Finally we reached downtown Little Rock and the Rivermarket district.. We passed several of the historic buildings downtown and then rode past the Rivermarket Amphitheater.

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On to the home stretch we finally caught a glimpse of the Clinton Library meaning the Clinton Bridge was nearby. Crossing the Clinton bridge was our last hurdle as we climbed the slight incline of the bridge…. cresting it and finally coasting down the other side back to our park. Boy were we tired…. but not tired enough to get off the bikes and walk back over the bridge into town to try out the Blue Paddle Nano Brewery. Although they weren't our favorite beers we enjoyed the laid back vibe of the place.after our grueling, but totally fun bike ride…

NOTE: We have left Little Rock Arkansas and made a monumental move for us to Red Bay Alabama, more on that later…