Before I start on our upcoming trip, there is one other change that has recently happened to our family. If you remember, one of the unfortunate things that happened to us was the accidental death of our dog Montana. Those of you that have pets know that they become part of the family and are really missed when they are gone. Montana had traveled over 23,000 miles with us, and it just didn’t seem the same traveling without him. We had planned to get a new puppy in the summer after Montana was hit by the truck, and we had actually picked one out. A beautiful Australian Shepherd from a breeder in North Carolina. However, Liz’s accident resulted in us cancelling the new puppy. Well, once Liz recovered we decided to go ahead and still get a puppy. We contacted the same breeder and on January 22nd we picked up our new little girl, Brandy. We decided on the name Brandy because of the song by the same name. Some of the song’s lyrics contain the words, “She’s a fine girl with eyes that would steal a sailor from the sea”. We thought that really described her. She will never replace Montana, but she will be with us as we all start a new chapter in our lives.
Now that we are into the new year we are looking forward to our 2019 travels. Last year is behind us and we feel like we have a fresh start. We began in January by camping with friends in central Florida. It was Liz’s first time back in the coach since the accident last July and she did great.
Liz with Sue and Carl Grey
As I think back to the accident, I’m thankful that things worked out the way they did with our decision to not sell the house and go full time. Her recovery, once released from Brooks Rehab, was so much better facilitated being in our house. Our son installed grab bars in the shower and toilet area that really helped during the first few weeks of her recovery. She would have not been able to rehab in the motorhome. I think we would have probably stayed with one of our kids had we not had the house to go to. I certainly would not discourage anyone from traveling and living in their motorhome full time. After all that’s what we originally had planned to do. However, I would stress that it is important to have a plan of somewhere to stay for an extended period of time should an emergency similar to ours arise. Never in a thousand years did we think anything like this would occur, but fortunately we had the resources available to make the outcome successful.
It would have been difficult for me to get through this ordeal without the direct support of my family and the encouragement of friends. Our youngest son, David, came from South Carolina to help for a few days. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay as long as he wanted because his job at the time didn’t provide any leave. Our oldest son, Doug, is a Marine and was on ship deployment. He called regularly to check on his momma and provide what support he could. I found a campground and moved the motorhome closer to the hospital. So my daily drive went from 80 miles each way to a little over 10 miles. My daughter in law Renee, thank God, is a registered nurse case worker in South Carolina and she handled many of the insurance issues with Blue Cross. She also researched rehab hospitals in Illinois and the Georgia/Florida area. Her involvement became even more important later as I will explain.
I apologize for the length of this story, but I think it’s important that I explain our experience in it’s entirety. Because of the length, I’ve divided it into three parts. It’s my hope that our near tragic accident, and how we handled it, will help others prepare for those unexpected incidents that we all think won’t ever happen to us.
We started 2018 excited about the upcoming year and our planned RV travels. 2017 was behind us and Liz’s back surgery in February seemed to help her condition. She was now able to tolerate her back pain and seemed to be winning the battle with her osteoporosis, which, by the way, was originally thought to be bone cancer because of the number of collapsing vertebrae in her back. We were also still stinging from the loss of our dog Montana in December of that year. He broke away from Liz on a walk and chased a truck which unfortunately ran over him. It was in our neighborhood and the speeds were low, but we believe the driver was distracted although he didn’t admit that. We rushed him to the vet, but his injuries were too severe to save him.
As I said we were looking forward to traveling in the upcoming year. Our travel plans would take us to North Carolina first to camp with some fellow retirees from my previous job, and then on to South Carolina for service at Freightliner followed by a visit to Illinois to see my mother who is in assisted living. Our first sign that this trip might be “jinxed” was when we got a call from the assisted living facility well before we could get to Illinois. They said that my mother kept trying to walk out of the building and that she was very confused and angry. We were told that this situation needed our immediate attention so we hurried to Illinois. Long story short our one week visit turned into six weeks. We were, however, able to have mom’s medication adjusted which stabilized her situation. Consequently, we felt comfortable continuing with our now modified travel plans.
If you haven’t read the post entitled – Changes To “Our RV Travels” Site, please do. It will put this post in context and consequently it will make more sense.
Again Hello to everyone and sorry it has been such a long time since my last posting. When I started this blog, one of my promises to myself was that it would always be fun. I never wanted to try to monetize it in any way or feel that I had an obligation or duty to post at specific intervals. Consequently, there has been gaps of differing amounts of time between posts and also a different focus in each individual post depending on how I felt at the time. Having said that, I plan to continue to capture our travels so that we can have a historic record of it and can look back at our thoughts concerning the experiences at that time. It is already fun to look back on our posts from the first year. Finally, I hope that things that we have learned through our adventures and share here can be helpful to others who enjoy this type of travel and living.
Liz and I returned from what ended up being a ten week adventure that kept us mostly in the Midwest, Mid South, and the Mid Atlantic region of the country.
We viewed the full eclipse in SC, then visited with my mother in Illinois, traveled to Newmar in Indiana to have all our furniture re-upholstered, visited the Great Lakes region of Michigan, traveled to an RV rally in Marion, NC, then headed to the NC coast for a reunion with folks I used to work with who have RV’s, then back to Sevierville, TN for a week. Finally we ended up at Lake Lure and
It’s been two years since we have posted to this blog. So many things have happened in those two years that it’s going to take some time to explain everything. It’s been a real roller coaster of emotions for us and a lot of our friends and family. I’ll explain more later, and be as concise as possible so as to keep your interest. Suffice it to say that all things considered we have been blessed with the outcome. Hopefully there will be something useful readers can glean from our experience. I should start by telling all of you that might still be out there reading this blog that we changed our Url from fulltimingit.com to rvintheus.com. That is as close as I could get to rvingtheusa.com which is what I wanted. I believe that the new url better reflects our current status.
I’m going to start by publishing a post that I wrote over a year ago and never published. It will give you a little background before I move forward with what happened in 2018 and our plans for 2019. The post is entitled “Reflections and the Monkey”.
Gaffney, South Carolina
Freightliner Lobby waiting for Service
For those RV owners that have motor homes with a Freightliner Chassis, you may be familiar with the Freightliner Service Center located in Gaffney, SC. As opposed to all other Freightliner Service Centers, the Gaffney location specializes in motor homes and is considered by many to be the best place to have your chassis serviced. That’s not to say that there aren’t other great service centers, it’s just that Gaffney focuses on the motor home and treats it’s customer base in a way that builds confidence in their ability to properly handle all your needs. In addition, they offer a two day course (Camp Freightliner) on their product to educate owners in proper maintenance and on performance of the many motor home chassis. There is also a second follow on course that allows the owner to participate in the actual maintenance. To facilitate your stay they have twenty electric only sites with facilities to take on water and/or dump your tanks, if necessary. This certainly helps to make your visit for service more tolerable. The only downside to this location is that it’s popularity usually requires an appointment several months in advance. If you are interested you can take a look at previous posts on my great experience at Gaffney, and also about a not so great experience at another Freightliner service center not specializing in motor homes.
This was our two year service which is determined by the date the chassis is manufactured and not the date of sale. Even though we took delivery in October of 2015 for our 2016 coach our chassis was manufactured in May so that’s the date for our yearly maintenance. We had our first year work done in May of 2016. There is a six month service interval, but we bypassed that as we would have had to have it done shortly after taking delivery in October 2015. I know some folks prefer to do their own maintenance or maybe even stretch some of the recommended service intervals, but for me it’s a small price to pay to have these knowledgeable folks take care of everything. After all, we spent a lot of money to buy this complex home on wheels so it would be foolish to try to save a few bucks and not get the best service available. In fact, this year the techs observed a condition with the tag axle that I was unaware of and probably would have missed had I not taken it to Freightliner. More on that issue a little later.
Below is a copy of our bill which I believe is typical for the two year service. Please note that it also includes service for our generator and to have the coach weighed. It also reflects a 5% discount for being a member of the Freightliner Owners Club.
2017 Two Year Service
Registration and Customer Lounge with Three Service Bays on each side
On the Lift
Now as good as the service in Gaffney can be, it’s not without it’s faults. Since my visit in May, it has come to my attention through the iRV2 forum that there is an alignment issue with many of the tag axles on the 2016 and maybe even through 2017 passive steer chassis. I have not heard of issues with the 2018 model year as it may be too soon to tell as they haven’t been in production long enough. Many owners are discovering tire scuffing and scalping in as little as a few thousand miles. There is a Newmar bulletin on the chassis’ that details what they suspect might be the problem and outlines the proper fix, however Freightliner has not issued a recall. I think that this issue may go further than those listed in this bulletin as mine was affected and it’s not listed. I have read about other 40 foot coaches not identified that are having similar problems. Fortunately, my scuffing seems to be minor at this point and hopefully the alignment will solve the problem so that there is no further damage.
Here is the iRV2 link to the discussion of the issue:
I mentioned earlier that Gaffney was not without it’s faults and this is why. The tech that serviced my unit had to notice the scuffing on my tires to know that the tag was out of alignment and then he took it upon himself to do an alignment to fix the problem which, by the way, was covered under warranty. However, some friends of ours having their coach serviced at the same time and with a unit specifically listed as a potential problem did not have an alignment done. They were unaware of the problem at the time and I’m sure had visible scuffing and/or scalping of their tires present. There seems to be no coordinated effort to identify the problem and correct it. Instead of depending on the thoroughness of the technician that you happen to be assigned, this issue needs to go on a must check list for them. It’s not like they are a truck center and see a motor home on occasion, they deal with only motor homes.
A second issue that arose this year was my coach weight. Below is a copy of the weights done at Gaffney in 2016 and 2017. 2017 is on the left. As you can see there is quite a discrepancy between the tag and drive axles. Unfortunately, I didn’t focus on the weights at the time so I didn’t question it. However, I believe the weights to be incorrect as we are carrying basically the same load distributed in the same manner as 2016 so it is highly unlikely that it would have changed this much. I think they backed the unit up before weighing which would automatically dump the tag axle putting more weight on the drive. I plan to have the unit weighed again this fall at another location which should determine the accuracy of the Gaffney weights. The tire pressure recommendations don’t match the Michelin chart either, but I have to say that Newmar’s recommendations didn’t match when we initially took delivery of the motor home. So the lesson here is to become as knowledgeable about your coach as you can and check the information when you are able.
2016 and 2017 weights
Having said all that, I trust these folks to do the right thing more than any other Freightliner service center and will continue to try to coordinate our trips through Gaffney so that we can get any necessary service performed.
We are about to get back into the RV world again instead of watching from the sideline. We just had two new AC units installed at the house – Ughhhh – and everything setup for our extended absence. Plus, Liz is doing better and ready for an extended trip. WhooooHooo!! We did take three weeks at the end of May to meet some of my retired friends from work at the beach in NC, to get our yearly service from Freightliner in Gaffney and to spend a week at Lake Lure, NC at a nice motorcoach resort that we discovered so it hasn’t been a complete drought. More on our trip a little later.
Below is a map of our upcoming adventure which will start on August 18th and end sometime the last full week of October.
An onlooker witnesses an annular solar eclipse. MY1211 1500684 CC: YS4 COLLEEN PINSKI 05/20/2012 Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Our first stop will be in South Carolina to view the eclipse (see previous blog post). We have tickets for the Roper Mountain Observatory in Greenville, SC. It’s in the path of totality and they have programs all weekend on the event and will have astronomers on site during the eclipse to explain what is occurring during each
phase of it. I’m sure it’s going to be crowded, but they have five viewing areas for everyone and I think it will be a lot of fun. Certainly a once in a lifetime experience. Now, please please let the weather cooperate. One word of caution came to us from, of all places, Amazon. We ordered solar eclipse glasses from their site that were listed as meeting all the necessary safety specs, but Amazon notified us and said that the seller has not verified that they do in fact meet the specs and not to use them!! So be careful and double check your purchase. Thankfully they notified us and they are refunding our money. Here is a link to the Roper Mountain site. They have info on the eclipse too.
We then head to Illinois and will visit with my mother and other friends along the way. We hope to finally make it to Michigan this year for at least a week (Travis Bay). We had a month planned last year that included the UP, but we had to cancel due to assisting my mother with moving to another room in her health care facility. Then we travel to Nappanee, IN to Newmar. We have had issues of premature wear on our furniture and Newmar has agreed to re-upholster all of it even though we are out of warranty. I have to say that they are a company that stands behind their product. Newmar says that it will take seven working days to do the job which will cut briefly into our next event which is the Hoots Rally in Marion, NC. Hoots is a group of Newmar owners who also frequent the iRV2 forum. From there we motor to the Outer Banks of NC to again meetup with fellow retired friends from my former job before we work our way back to Sevierville, TN for a week. Finally we travel to Lake Lure, NC to enjoy the late October foliage before heading home.
Here are some pics from our last trip.
BBQ in Asheville, NC
One of the Many Breweries
Liz at Lake Lure
Hendersonville, NC – A Great Little Town
Motor Coach Resort Lake Lure, NC
Apple Valley – Our Site
Montana on Alert
I look forward to sharing with everyone our upcoming travels and hopefully can provide some information that will be helpful to everyone in their travels.
Hey Everyone!! Sorry to be gone so long, but we had to take care of a serious medical issue with Liz that kept me away from the blog and us off the road. I’m happy to say that after three emotionally filled months with numerous tests and countless trips to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fl, I think we are on the mend. Without burdening everyone with a long explanation, Liz’s vertebrae were collapsing with little or no trauma to her back. She also had a break in one of her shoulder blades and three fractured ribs. Geeez! One MRI indicated an area of concern in her spine that was thought to be cancer. The doctors thought this potential cancer was weakening her bones and allowing them to break easily. However, fortune was on our side and thanks to God the biopsy turned out be benign. So, it appears that she is dealing with severe osteoporosis, which presents its own issues but is certainly preferable to cancer. For now, two vertabrae were replaced by a surgical procedure called kyphoplasty. It has helped reduce the pain and stabilized her spine. Thanks to all our friends and readers who sent prayers our way.
Now on to the main subject of this post. On August 21st of this year there will be a total solar eclipse. Taken from Wikipedia – The August 2017 eclipse will be the first with a path of totality crossing the USA’s Pacific coast and Atlantic coast since 1918. Also, its path of totality makes landfall exclusively within the United States, making it the first such eclipse since the country’s independence in 1776. (The path of totality of the eclipse of June 13, 1257, was the last to make landfall exclusively on lands currently part of the USA.)
Total Solar Eclipse
Consequently, this is a significant event with the opportunity for people to view it from a large part of the United States. The next total eclipse will occur in April of 2024 but will not cross the entire country. It will come from the southwest through Texas and head northeast through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, New York and Vermont before entering Canada and then back through a portion of Maine. Since I have a better idea where I’ll be this August than in 2024, I’m going to give it a shot this year.
An onlooker witnesses an annular solar eclipse. MY1211 1500684 CC: YS4 COLLEEN PINSKI 05/20/2012 Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Path across the U.S.
Our current plans have us heading to Illinois towards the end of August so we have quite a few areas of opportunity in our travel path to view this event. Of course, it doesn’t matter where you are on the path if the weather doesn’t cooperate. It could only take a few misplaced clouds to ruin your experience. We plan to be in Greenville, SC where there is an observatory located at the Roper Mountain Science Center. In this area of South Carolina the eclipse will last around two and a half minutes (the time of total eclipse varies from a little less than two minutes to a little less than three depending on your location). The science center will have programs all weekend and into Monday that help make the viewing of the eclipse more interesting. Here is a link:
As you can imagine camping in the immediate Greenville area is already booked. I would guess that this will be the case in many areas in the “path of totality.” We found a place about 40 miles away with space available. However, you may want to consider not anchoring yourself to one location and remaining flexible to move with the weather forecast. It could mean parking at some temporary location at the last minute to observe the event, but the flexibility of moving would certainly enhance your odds of a good viewing area due to weather.
Finally, I should advise everyone viewing the eclipse, whether total or partial to wear appropriate viewing glasses. Regular sunglasses are NOT APPROPRIATE. Approved eye ware is available on the internet for only a few dollars. Alternate methods of viewing are also available, but involve indirect techniques which may not be as spectacular.
Solar Eclipse - How to View the Solar Eclipse - YouTube
There is a lot of information out there if you want to take the time to do some research. Below are a few sites that I found helpful.