Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Camping Again! Fort Smith, Arkansas


Oh, it is SO NICE to be camping, really camping, again!!!!!  The drive from Houston to Fort Smith was ok, it is nice to be out of Houston and the traffic and the smog and the humidity.  It is in the low 60’s at 5:30 here in the Fort Smith area, very low humidity, and this COE park is quiet and not even half full.  The Corps of Engineers operate a number of parks, many near to the lock and dams they oversee. We are at Springhill Park Due to the senior saver, it only cost $10 per night for electricity and water, with a dump station free to use if you camp.  We got to choose our own site, and I got a nice, fairly level one.  Many are very, very deep, you could fit a 45’ motorhome, pulling a trailer and a car without any problem….well, except for how narrow the pads are.  But hey, we are not complaining because we are camping again!!!

1b     1c

The dogs, Bubba and Skruffy, could not believe their eyes….or their noses.  No more civilization, no more of those dreaded spurs which got into their fur, not much grass…but they are not complaining, that’s for sure.


And look at us…no neighbors to our right side, left side, straight across or behind us.  I think we will get some good solid sleep tonight, and tomorrow we will spend the day visiting Marcia’s relatives, and getting a little grocery shopping done. 

Someone emailed me asking if I apologized to “Joy” for my attitude over the phone when I first learned of the awning not being in.  Now this un-named person (Mom for short) knows me better than to ask, but I will share my email to her after we left ….
Although I was a bit worried there for a bit when I found out the awning had not come in, you sure smoothed things out with your open honesty to the situation.  I am sorry if I came off a bit strong right at first, but we had a very bad experience at the Ford Dealership in Florida near our condo where they had the motorhome in their shop for 30 hours and never even popped the hood....and this was just for getting a tune-up.  I was promised it back after one day, two at the most....well needless to say they lied, and that work will be performed in Sacramento now.
Please send the awning to  ….
Thanks again, and thank your staff too.  Please just let me know you got this email, I did not get it off until we got to the rest area on Highway 59 about 100 miles north of Houston.
Dave Burdick

And her reply….
Thanks for your business, and I have always lived my life that honesty is the best policy and that holds true with life and work.  I appreciate you giving us the opportunity to work on your vehicle.  Once the parts get here, I will send it to the address below and will send you an email with the shipping number.
See you soon mom….love ya!  --dave

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Is Everything Big in Texas?

As we were driving to Houston last Sunday, we stopped at the Welcome Center on I-10 just over the boarder from Louisiana.  I decided I needed a bit of a walk and decided to use the Welcome Center’s facilities….well, that was one, long walk.  Never had to walk so far to use facilities at a rest area.  On my way back to the motorhome I came upon an older couple and I said, “When they say everything is big in Texas, they are including the walks to the bathroom facilities too.”  They chuckled, as did I as I headed back to the parking area.


Now you can included the dog park in this list too.  Bubba is way off in the distance left, and Skruffy is in the not so distant right.


Here Skruffy is near me…Bubba is way the heck out there.

1c   1d

But you have not seen “big” until you see the big dog area!  It is at least four times bigger than the small dog park.


And yes, it includes this big pond for the dogs to swim in!  There is even a dog cleaning station, where you can wash your dog down before you take them home.  WOW!  It is called Pawm Springs Dog Park, and it is located in Sugar Land, Texas, just southwest of Houston. 


And you just got to love this sign!


We are at a rest area along Highway 59 about 100 miles north of Houston.  On the other side of the highway about four trucks have pulled in carrying these huge windmill blades.  I have seen these things passing through Arkansas, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma before.  They are huge.


Yep, we found us another nice rest area to stay at.  The “RV’s” get to park along side the building, while the trucks are out further in the parking lot.


It is a nice little building, very clean, and about seven years old according to the Texas Highway website.


What do you mean you want to go back to the dog park?
Speaking of big, let me tell you a bit about the huge heart that Joy Wiese, service manager of PPL has.  Yesterday around 4 pm, just as we were returning to PPL from a shopping trip to Wally World I get a call letting us know that our motorhome is back on the pad at camp PPL, and oh, by the way, the awning did not come in as expected…..  Well, that is all I remember as I kind of blow my temper over the phone and let them know we are less than ten minutes away and I will be talking to Joy personally about this.  Well, Joy just looks me in the eye and tells me the honest story about how the supplier had not told her that it was going to be 3-4 weeks, instead of the standard 1 week, for this awning due to the special order.  I immediately see that she is telling me the truth, and now it is just “what can we do about it?”  We can come back in 2-3 weeks, or cancel it, or have it shipped to California…which is what we are doing, at their shipping expense.  We then go over what needs to be done still, and she hopes to have it ready by noon, no later than 2 pm on Tuesday.  Well, it was ready at 1 pm, they also fixed a slight leak in the toilet, have ordered a part which will be sent along with the awning, and the price was $300 less than her quote twelve days ago.  She said they were charging $150 labor to put the awning on, and that was deducted, and there were a few things she did not even charge us for.  What a nice lady, with a nice, good, big heart.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Houston–Camp PPL


Wow, what a ride this has been!  We bought our little Isata 10 days ago, drove it to Florida, got it registered, tried to get it looked at by a Ford dealership, which went array, packed it up Thursday and Friday and headed back to Houston, arriving here Sunday afternoon.


We essentially reversed our travel from Houston to Florida….staying at Flying J near Tallahassee (until at 2 a.m. the motorhome next to us still had not turned off its generator so I got up and drove another 30+ miles to a rest area, which worked out great), then to Louisiana where we stayed at the same rest area we stayed at when we left Houston nine days earlier.  Now we sit in the PPL parking lot in one of the four over-night parking places with 30 amp service. 


As we neared Houston we decided to go to a “Blue Beacon” truck wash.  We had cleaned the inside of the motorhome pretty good at one of the rest areas, and I wanted to get the outside washed down.  So here we were behind this US Army Recruiting Truck.  We had a long wait, and I sat there and admired the art work…that is when I saw it.


Do you see it?  Here, let me reverse it so you can read it better….


Why they have the word “Champagne” written on the vehicle this soldier is in is beyond me….tried doing a bit of research while we awaited our turn, but did not turn anything up on that.  Then I go in and pay, and guess what….the poor “real” soldiers are trying to pay for their wash with a US Army credit card, and it is refused.  They tried three different cards, no go….all refused.  The manager looked at them and said, “Give them a complimentary wash…”   Nice going Blue Beacon….you now you have my patronage for a long time now.

As for the bad weather….we did not have anything buy high winds on Sunday in Texas…not the first time, not the last I am sure.  We hope that we don’t hit any bad weather while we are in Arkansas, and as we travel through Oklahoma and Kansas later next week.  I do hope that my friends and family in Arkansas are safe tonight, because is does not look like it is going to be a fun night.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Good Plans….Some Work, Some Don’t

Monday I went over to the local Ford Dealership, Karl Flammer Ford, and talk to a service representative.  I tell him that I wanted to have a tune-up, have the belts and hoses checked out, and that it probably needed a front-end brake job since there is a slight squeak when I break at speeds under 20 MPH.  The kicker is, I need it out by Wednesday, Thursday noon at the latest.  “No problem,” he says, and I make reservations for bringing it in first thing Tuesday morning.  Promptly at 7:30 am we get it over there…takes about 20 minutes to get all the information into the computer, and Marcia, Skruffy and I head over to the Orlando area in the HHR to see her brother who was having surgery on Wednesday.


All day while we are gone I await the phone call to verify the work that needed to be done, or in other words, sign-off on hundreds of dollars of work.  We get back home around 5:30 p.m. with no phone call.  I call over to the dealership, and our service guy is gone for the day, working the early shift, and I should call around 9:00 a.m.  Well, three calls between 9:15 and 10:00 only get me an answering machine….so at 10 I head over to the dealership to find……


…the motorhome in the parking lot, hadn’t been touched for the entire 27 hours that it had been there except to move it to the rear, fenced in parking lot.  I talk to the service rep again, and he told me that they were too busy yesterday, and that it would be in a bay by noon, and he would call me by 1:00 pm.  Marcia, Skruffy and I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond, and headed back around 2:00, with still no phone call.  Call from me again got his voice mail, so I just kept driving and went directly to Karl Flammer Ford.  This time, motorhome was in service bay, but the hood wasn’t even up.  I asked our service rep, he said they had not got to it yet, and I said, “Pull it out, we are taking it away….I told you that we had to have it today, tomorrow noon at the latest.  You have had it for 31 hours, 17 1/2 business working hours, and nothing has been done.


So Friday we head to Houston, then up to Arkansas, then out to California.  There, we will have the work done.  Until then, I will be watching the gauges very closely.  It drove very well from Houston to here, and I feel it will drive fine to California.  Now why these dealerships are so shoddily run, and lie right to your face until you catch them in their deceitfulness, that I cannot explain.
As for Marcia’s brother Dean, right now he probably feels something like this guy pictured above.  He has had a Aortic Aneurysm for many years, and it finally grew to the point that something needed to be done.  They put a “Y” shaped stent in, and also performed a Angioplasty procedure to open up another area near his heart.  He is doing very well…and we are all glad that they did not have to cut him open and separate his ribs which would take much longer to heal.

It is amazing what they heart doctors can do these days.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

These Shoes Are Made For Walking


Yes, another “song” oriented posting….don’t know what’s getting into me.  I know, however, where my feet have been the past three years.  Shortly after we got married, I picked up this pair of sandals at a local Palm Harbor shoe store.  I had not had a pair of sandals for like, ever….at least 30 years or so.  Well, after three years, these sandals are just about finished…. regulated now to dirty jobs, they will need to be kept in one of the holding areas near the front door of the motorhome. 


About 18 months ago I purchased this pair from Amazon, same brand as the one above, but different style.  I wear these to church, and keep them in good shape.  I wanted to buy ones like the ones I already had, but could not find them…even back at that same store in Palm Harbor.  But a recent search on Amazon found the exact same style shoe, but different color, at Amazon.  They came in just before we left for Houston.


As you can see….same shoe, a bit tighter because they are not “broken in” yet, but give me a few months and they will feel just right.


Why is it that shoes that look like this….feel so right?
Well, a little over a month ago we were checking items off our list for our Alaska trip…now we have lists of items that need to be done in short order for our trip back to Texas, then Arkansas, then California.  Big difference is, anything that is not “absolutely needed” can wait until we get to California.  If the Ford Dealership can work us in, I want the new motorhome checked out before we leave.  A few items will be ordered through Amazon with 2 day shipping, and I am sure a trip to Camping World will be in order if needed.  And, of course, a visit to the DMV to get it licensed and registered.  Soon, the real fun will begin. Party smile

Hope you had a wonderful Easter…we enjoyed ours with a great service at church, a wonderful breakfast at Lucky Dills, a very nice visit from Marcia’s Grand-daughter, and a quick visit to the new motorhome.  (Of course, just had to share the video of my oldest son’s “double bird”….as a Florida graduate she got a kick out of his loyalty to SEC rival Arkansas.)  After today’s well deserved “day of rest”, it is going to be a very busy week.  Doubt I will ever catch up on the many blogs that I normally follow, but I try to glance over them the best I can.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I Can Drive For Miles and Miles and Miles


Don’t know what it is with me, but I have always been one who can drive for miles and miles and miles (think of the song “I can see for miles…..”)  We left Houston at 5:30 on Thursday, arrived in Tarpon Springs/Holiday area at 12:30 Saturday morning after spending the night at a Flying J in Tallahassee area.  We both got a good 7 hours sleep, it was pretty quiet, a bit cold, but very comfortable.


These pictures were taken at a rest area Friday just inside Mississippi.  We did not stay long, mostly so that the little Princess, errr, Skruffy, could do her business out on the lawn.  She feels so “privileged” now days…well, I guess for the past 4 1/2 years since I rescued her…but very much so now that she gets to live with us in the condo, and she got to go help pick out the motorhome.

2a     2b

When we compare this motor home to the last, we do so with tender love because we really did like the Jayco, and there are a few things about it that will be missed, especially the extra room.  However, the Isata has a “state of the art” for 2005 sound system, including a Sirius radio (top of dash) and this neat Kenwood radio, GPS, and who knows what else it does system.  We had a GPS that we took between the car and the RV, now each will have their own.  The voice on this one is so much more gentle.  But like all GPS systems, you will find errors with them.


So how are we going to break the new motorhome in?  I can drive for miles and miles and miles!!!  We plan to leave on Friday, April 25th (mom’s birthday, by the way) to head to Houston.  After a few days of repairs, then up to Arkansas to see my youngest son, some family and friends and routine doctor’s appointment on the 6th, then to Utah for a very quick visit with my daughter Stephanie, and then to California by May 9th so that we will be at mom’s BBQ picnic on the 10th.  Getting from point “D” to point “F” in 3 1/2 days is going to be much, but I did it once in 28 hours so I know it can be done.  After that, life is going to slow down considerably….and a refreshing trip to Yosemite will also be in order before mom has her hip operation.  Winking smile

Friday, April 18, 2014

Got IT! Headed back to Florida

Just a very quick note....we drove away from PPL Motor Homes at 5 pm, just the time one wants to drive through the heart of Houston.  We made it to the outskirts of Houston to a Flying J around 6:30, had dinner at a Cracker Barrel a few mile further, and made it to a rest area 100 miles into Louisiana by 2 am.  After a few hours of sleep we are going to head further to Florida.  Following a good size storm, don't think we will catch it though.  Pictures later, we promise.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Looks Like It’s A GO!

We arrived at PPL Motors promptly at 9:00 a.m., they open at 8:30….we didn’t want to seem like eager beavers. (Ya, I think we blew that cover by driving 950 miles from Florida in two days, don’t you think.)  It didn’t take long before our salesman Ash was driving us over to the Isata.

image   image

We were extremely pleased with the inside.  The dark wood, the comfortable feeling.  The couch slide is deeper than our Jayco, which opens up that part of the room much more.  And the bedroom is laid out a bit better than the Jayco where the bed was off to one side just a bit.


This awning, which was above the slide, was taken off by the owner when perspective buyers wanted it fixed before they bought it.  He refused, and had it removed.  You can see the rip in this picture from their website.  We are going to pay for a new one to be put back on.  We are also having the roof seems resealed, and replace the outer seal of the slide so that it will seal better when closed.  When we started looking at this motorhome the price came down $1,000, and this work is going to cost us $1,700, so in reality I look at as it only cost $700.  Other than a few minor flaws in the stripping near the two cab doors.  We had the same thing along the front of the cab with our last motorhome…something that happens with age.  After all, this is a 2005 vehicle, but it is in pretty good shape for its age.  When I got on the freeway I floored it and it had more pep than our Jayco did…same engine, less weight.  This also has rear airbags, and we could really tell the difference in the ride.

PPL's Pre-Delivery Check Out and Demonstration
The pre-delivery check out and demonstration includes the following equipment:

  • Generator
  • D/C Power Converter
  • Roof Air Conditioner
  • Refrigerator (gas and electric)
  • Slide Out 
  • Range
  • Furnace
  • Microwave
  • Hot water heater
  • Toilet
  • Fresh water pump and System
  • Holding tanks (filled to 3/4 full and then checked for leaks)
  • Hydraulic/electric jacks
  • Electric Step
  • Awning (demonstration only) "As Is"
  • All batteries are "As-Is"
  • Headlights, blinkers, brake and marker lights
  • Roof and Window Seals "As Is"

Our cost for this is $290.00. The above items, are demonstrated prior to the "closing". If any of the items listed above do not work properly during the demonstration, we can cancel the purchase if the owner will not repair the item, and our $500.00 earnest money would be returned and the demonstration fee waived.
If the checkout goes well, we will head back to Florida with it on Thursday so that we can attend church on Easter with our church family.  The next week we will register it and get our Florida plates, then purchase items we need to replace for travel, load it up and have it back here to PPL on Monday, April 28th.  Then I have a doctor’s appointment up in Little Rock where we will also visit friends and family in Arkansas, and then head out west to California where mom has a big family gathering planned for May 10th…something we thought we were going to miss due to our Alaska trip, but now, we are going to try and make it.  We also found out that mom is going to have hip surgery in June, so I think we will be hanging around the area during much of the summer again.  Between the family gathering and the surgery, I think we are going to just have to visit Yosemite, something we missed last year.

Monday, April 14, 2014

950 Miles, Tomorrow Will Tell If It’s Been Worth IT!


We left Holiday/Tarpon Springs area about 1 pm Sunday, arrived in Houston at 5:30 Monday evening.  The HHR drove great, getting nearly 30 mpg for the trip.  We stopped in Daphne Alabama at a La Quinta, where we will be staying here in Houston too for a few nights.  We appreciate La Quinta because they are dog friendly…even though Skruffy is now a Service Dog, we want to support those places that appreciate dogs and dog owners.  Bubba stayed back in Florida mainly because of room…we had the HHR packed with enough stuff to “Camp” in a motorhome for a couple of days if we indeed go back home with another home on wheels.



We think it will be worth it….will let you know tomorrow.