Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sharon Talks About Her Mayo Visit and Our Cummins Service Center Experience (Part 2 of 2)…


Thursday was my birthday and I had no appointments that day, however the doctor I saw in dermatology called to say I needed to come back because the biopsy revealed that the place on my tummy was a squamous cell skin cancer (sigh, what a great present for my birthday) and would require removal. Amazingly he was able to schedule the treatment right before my wrap up appointment with internal medicine the very next day. This is the beauty of the Mayo Clinic...amazing.

Image may contain: tree, sky, plant, outdoor, nature and waterIf only things went that easily at the Cummins Service Center. After reviewing the quote and researching, John felt like the service center was charging us way too much for the labor and he felt like he could really do the work himself. So on Friday morning we called to say we needed to pick up the parts. Of course this took several calls because only one person could talk to us about when to pick it up and his extension constantly went to voice mail and he would never return any of our calls.

When they finally called back, they said the parts were not there. Furthermore they weren't sure exactly when they would arrive (probably Monday, the day we plan to leave). After much back and forth both on Friday, they said one of our parts showed up, the replacement hose. We drove the 40 miles over before my final appointments only to find out it really was not there, a technician had driven downtown to get the hose but the insulation that we paid for would have to be shipped to us.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, plant, outdoor and natureAfter scrambling and arguing with them (because they wanted to charge us to ship the insulation even after they told us it would be there Thursday and we paid for it already along with a very steep diagnosis fee), we finally prevailed. (Only because John threatened to void the credit card transaction as a dispute and let them fight it out with the credit card company). Because of all this hassle we were cutting it very close to my appointment at the Mayo. I was very upset but alas it came in the nick of time for us to race to my appointment. It really shouldn't have been that stressful, though. The communication at this place was horrible and so we will have to wait for our repairs yet again.

At the wrap-up appointment I learned my x-rays revealed no real concerns other than "normal" wear and tear for my age and all my other tests were positive as well. So glad am I it is all done and we can get back to the business of having fun again...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sharon Talks About Her Mayo Visit and Our Cummins Service Center Experience (Part 1 of 2)…

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After spending the night at Walkabout RV park, Monday morning we drove over to Jacksonville Cummins Service Center. John had previously made an appointment for Tuesday for diagnosis of our engine whooshing noise. The Service Center had back in electric and water sites so we checked in after hooking up. The technician said there was a possibility they could see us that afternoon so we dropped off our keys and took off in the car to do some grocery shopping. Upon our return we discovered they had been unable to get to our RV.

Image may contain: tree, sky, outdoor and natureImage may contain: tree and outdoor

On Tuesday we again left Cummins our keys and left early in the morning to begin my scheduled visits at the Mayo Clinic for a full physical. First came a consultation with Internal Medicine then downstairs for bloodwork and Urine sample. Next was a flu shot for us both then my mammogram.

Image may contain: textLastly I visited dermatology where the doctor did a biopsy on a suspicious spot on my tummy. He also found some precancerous areas on my lower lip and prescribed a chemo cream for me to use twice a day for two weeks. He warned this would be an unpleasant but necessary treatment. He also recommended a lip protectant sunscreen, Vanicream, for me to use from now on as prevention. He also recommended using Vanicream sunscreen but he did say the one we get at Trader Joes is just as good. So it was off to the store we went to buy some lip cream. Thus ended our first day. Meanwhile we kept expecting a call from the service center with our diagnosis. John left several messages but we never got a call.

Image may contain: drinkUpon returning to the center, the technician explained our problem was a hole in an intake hose caused by an overhang of wood from our "dog cage housing" rubbing a hole in it over time. They also indicated we should redo the insulation which had fallen out near the engine. We paid for the diagnosis and the parts. Parts were ordered and were expected to arrive on Thursday. We debated staying at the service center and cancelling our reserved stay at Hanna Park but both of us really love the park so we just decided we would just schedule the RV repair the following Thursday, Friday or Monday around my appointments once the parts arrived.

The next day had me going in for bone density, an EEG and some x-rays of my back because I had suffered a back strain earlier this year and although it was getting better, the doctor wanted me to have x-rays to rule out a fracture. Next I had a gynecology exam appointment ending another day of appointments. John found a Groupon at Mello Mushroom so we had pizza and beer in the Avondale neighborhood. It was a very nice end to a long day fighting traffic and going to appointments.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ft Frederica, Jekyll Island and St Simons Island GA…


We left the Charleston SC area and continued southward for a little over 160 miles. We originally planned to stop for a few days near Savannah Georgia which is one of our favorite southern cities but we were unable to locate any available site close by so we continued on to our next location in Brunswick Georgia. After about three hours we pulled into Golden Isles RV Park, a Passport America park.


Golden Isles RV Park is not all that pretty but it is certainly a great location to visit the Golden Isles area. We did encounter a power issue with our pedestal as it was dropping one leg on the 50 amp circuit. Rather than move we chose to go ahead and only use the 30 amp circuit. Minor problems like this happen now and again as we travel around the USA.


Our first stop was to revisit St. Simon’s Island. We have been to it before but this time we explored the National Historic site of Fort Fredericka. It was is a neat stop with an interesting walk on the grounds where the fort once was. One interesting thing here was the abundance of Palm Warblers! There were remnants of a few buildings and bunkers as well as lots of informative plaques explaining the history.


My favorite part of the history described on the plaques was the inclusion of quotes taken from journals and letters of those who lived there at the time. It really gave us a feel for what life was like for these people back them…


We also took a day to revisit Jekyll Island over to our favorite beach containing lots of picturesque dead trees which beach erosion left behind. It made for some dramatic backdrops and has been a very popular place for couples to get married. However, once we parked near the beach and started hiking to the shoreline it became very obvious that Irma had visited before us and left a path of destruction behind.


The beaches of Jekyll Island lost lots of sand and beach erosion took its toll on the old dead stately trees that once adorned the coastline. Hurricane Irma then left behind the old rip rap which the sand once covered and ton of newly killed trees mostly toppled by the destructive forces of the hurricane. Evidently someone was still getting married as there were chairs set up by one of the few remaining older dead trees. I am sure it was planned well before Irma but the bride and groom decided to still get married there,


On the way back to the RV we drove through the historic side of the Island and walked around the grounds there. There are some really beautiful buildings here and there were a couple of wedding receptions that were being planned here as well. We also visited the historic town of Brunswick, Georgia which is slowly becoming revitalized. It is becoming quite a nice little downtown area. In town we came across a quirky local’s hangout called Tipsy McSway's where we enjoyed a couple of great happy hours.


I have a little more to blog about about a last days in Georgia. Then up next will be one overnight stay about 20 miles south of here and then on to Jacksonville Florida to have our engine noise diagnosed… We sure hope it isn’t anything serious!


NOTE: We left the Brunswick Georgia and stayed one night at Walkabout Campground before moving on down to Jacksonville Florida to have the RV serviced…

Monday, October 23, 2017

Urban Hiking Around Charleston SC…


We sure enjoyed our first visit to the Carolina Beach area of North Carolina. However, it was time to move further south with Charleston SC to be our next destination. Finding it difficult to locate accommodations in the area we finally found availability at Wishing Well Campground in Sunset Beach, NC. It is not the nicest park but certainly an okay stop for us to visit this area again.


Our first day was spent mostly trying to locate a 25 amp slo-blo 125 volt fuse. Why did we need such a specialized fuse? Well when we went to bring in our slide not too long ago it wouldn’t come in. I did my best to troubleshoot and finally determined that it must be a fuse somewhere…. but where?


I made a quick call to the service center in Red Bay Alabama and a nice fellow working at Tiffin Motorhomes told me exactly where to look for the likely culprit – a ceramic slo-blo fuse. He told me I could use any 20 amp or higher fuse and it would bring the slide in but I needed to replace it soon otherwise I would be going through a lot of 20 amp glass fuses. At least I had one of those so we were able to retract the slide and move on.


As soon as we could we went to Camping World (two of them) and neither one carried the fuse. We had already blown through three 20 amp glass fuses so I needed to find one fast. After again trying to find one in North Charleston and near us we finally gave up deciding we would just wait to look for it at our next destination. We were then free to explore so we drove to downtown Charleston SC.


We have toured Charleston a few times before but have always loved this historic and charming southern city. We scored some free parking near the ferry to the National Historic Site of Fort Sumter. We checked out the visitor’s center but opted to not take the ferry over to the fort. We decided instead to walk across central Charleston then come back along the waterfront.


Fourteen thousand steps later we had taken in all the sights which downtown Charleston had to offer. I love, love, love the architecture in this town.So many beautiful homes have been restored in most cases to what they once were in the 1800’s. Our stroll down Broad Street, along Murray Blvd, .then up to the Waterfront Park and the maritime Center was delightful indeed.


Just as we were returning to our car we saw an Ace Hardware store where we thought why not stop on the off chance they had our odd fuse. Whaddya know! They indeed had it so we happily paid three whole dollars for the fuse elated at the serendipity of happening upon it so unexpectedly! We decided to finish our long trek at a local watering hole to celebrate our great day before returning home to pack for our move further south…

NOTE: We left the Charleston area and stayed a few days in southeastern Georgia but are now in Jacksonville Florida to have the RV serviced…

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Carolina Beach Last Day and Shrimp Fest in Little River SC…


Our last day at Carolina Beach we walked over to a nearby Brewery to play their 9 hole disc golf course. It was a nice short course which we played twice and of course it had the added benefit of  the ability to stop at the brewery for an after golf treat. To end our stay we drove over to Carolina Beach to have a beer an an eclectic dive bar called The Fat Pelican.


It is a quirky dive bar with an 18 wheeler refrigerated truck attached to it.  Patrons go past the bar upon entering to walk up and into the truck to pick from over 400 bottled beers.  Once the beer is selected, it is opened and paid for at the bar.  This bar is chocked full of funny signs and beachy knick knacks. We found an outdoor area with cornhole boards and ended our day chatting with a very nice fellow in town on business from Richmond, Va. 


The next morning we headed south through Myrtle Beach and Charleston SC to our next stop at Wishing Well Campground in Sunset Beach, NC. It was a small mom and pop Passport America park where we stayed 3 nights. The location is just south of Myrtle Beach so we were able to explore the area a bit before moving further south.

Before going to our overnight accommodations we stopped at Black's Tire and Service center. As I mentioned before we had a Goodyear G670 RV tire shipped there from the website Simpletire.com. I elected after calling for some quotes to use then because they sell tires cheap!!! I bought the tire online for hundreds of dollars less that what I had been quoted ($970 installed). Black's came highly recommended and when I called to verify that morning, sure enough my tire was there.


We pulled around to an outside bay as instructed and didn’t even have to unhitch the CRV. They replaced our tire with the newly balanced one in less than an hour. Our total bill for removal of old tire, balancing and installation of new tire was under $60. My total savings by doing everything myself was more than $300. Yep, I will surely do this again for our next set of tires!!!

After setting up in Wishing Well campground the day was pretty shot so we spent a quiet day at home. The next day we drove into Myrtle Beach to check out the beaches from South Myrtle Beach to North Myrtle Beach. It is always nice to spend some time on the beach listening to the waves crash in…

Our last bit of excitement was attending the Shrimp Fest in Little River SC. The main reason I wanted to attend it was there was a Zydeco band named Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas playing. The fest itself was mostly just a bunch of vendors but the music we heard for a measly $5 admission was fantastic.


First we heard a solo one man band dude who explained to the crowd that he had spent a lot of time in volunteering with his wife in Africa.He wrote and sang songs raising money for the people of Africa. Brian Ernst was pretty amazing and has an interesting story! The next band we head was a brass band called The Empire Strikes Brass. They were a very eclectic band that mostly resembled the band Chicago but had elements of Country and Western and even Hip Hop making for a very entertaining afternoon.

However, the cream of the crop was indeed Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas. The place was up and dancing by the third song as Zydeco so often makes even the person who doesn’t like to dance (like me)… well, dance!!!! The mixture of sounds from the lead, the squeezebox, spoons and keyboards had everyone in the audience moving and gyrating. What a fantastic ending to our stay before moving on…

NOTE: We are now south of Charleston but leave on Thursday to head to Brunswick Georgia for three nights.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Exploring Wilmington and Carolina Beach NC…

While at Carolina Beach State Park I was notified the tires for our Honda CRV were delivered to Florida and the tire for our RV was delivered to North Carolina. Now all I have to do is set up both installation appointments. I also still need to make an appointment with Cummins folks in Jacksonville to address the engine noise. All in due time…


We sure are enjoying our stay at Carolina Beach State Park. This park is fantastic given our nice site and all the available hiking within the park. We take a walk around the park exploring different areas each morning and then in the afternoon we have gone outside the park to see what greater Wilmington has to offer..


One afternoon we drove over to historic downtown Wilmington NC for an urban stroll. This part of Wilmington is really quite interesting. There is quite a variation in the styles of architecture in town.  There is also a neat section along the Cape Fear River which has a riverfront boardwalk with restaurants and taverns offering outdoor seating for patrons to take in the scenery and to watch the evening sunset. We ended the day at Front Street Brewery in downtown Wilmington for a brewery tour and their happy hour of fine craft beer and half price appetizers.What a great vibe this brewery has!


Another day we explored Fort Parker at the southern end of the peninsula we are staying on. Fort Parker is a National Historic Site and there is a small visitors center with a museum of wartime artifacts. It is interesting to walk around the remnants of the hand built Civil War bunkered fort while reminiscing what life might have been like for those who were here in the 1800’s. We ended this day at Kickback Jacks for their happy hour which included 1/2 pound cheeseburgers with hand cut fries for only $5!!! It was delicious!


On one of last few days we spent time at the beaches nearby. The beaches here are nice but the communities decided to charge for parking anywhere visitors would want to stop and look at the beach. Two fifty an hour for parking is a bit high in my opinion but we were finally able to explore a few beaches by seeking out some free parking a short distance away.  Kure Beach on the southern end had free parking near the waterfront so we feel it is the easiest and best one to visit when in the area.


One more day in Carolina Beach then off to get a new tire on the RV if all goes well…