Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Update on Deb's Dad

My Dad is getting better each day. His hand and arm have improved some but have a ways to go. Right now he still isn't able to use his right hand for much. Today the OT person taught him how to use an adaptive strap on his hand to hold a spoon or toothbrush. It isn't easy when your hand has no fine motor skills. If his blood levels are good tomorrow, he will move to the Wake Med Rehab Hospital. He will be doing physical and occupational therapy for at least 3 hours each day. He will be learning to feed himself and other personal care all over again. They'll also work on rebuilding his overall strength. Right now, walking farther than to the bathroom is an adventure. We're not sure how long he'll need to stay there. Hopefully, long enough!! Thanks everyone for your kind words, prayers and support. They mean so much more than Gary, my Mom and I can say. Love to you all.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Back in North Carolina

On Tuesday we learned my Dad had been admitted to Western Wake Hospital in Cary with gallbladder trouble. Upon discussion between him and his doc, it was discovered he'd also been having chest pain so a Cardiac Cath was done on Wednesday morning. Two heart vessels were found to be blocked and he was transferred to "Big" Wake Med for an angioplasty w/ stents placement. He came through the procedure OK. However, later in the evening he had a stroke. Fortunately it appears to be a small one with only residual paralysis/numbness in his right hand. He also has some mild weakness in his right leg.
We left Indiana on Thursday and came 949 miles back to NC arriving about noon on Friday. He is still at Wake Med recovering. I've been transporting my Mom back and forth to Raleigh from their home in Sampson county. He had a better day today getting out of bed once, sitting in a chair and walking in the hall for a few feet. Hopefully he will continue to improve each day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Searching that “Perfect” RV

As you know by now we’re looking for our next home. We’ve visited at least a dozen dealerships traveling between NC and Indiana. We’ve used our RVIG.org research information and searched the internet. We’ve talked to other full-timers during Escapade and since. We’ve made a list of 5th wheels that meet the criteria that is important to us.

1. Safety..Specifically how will it tow? What is the dry weight of the unit? How much can the frame and axles carry safely? How much can it carry? What is the weight limit for the rig?

2. It needs to have at least 2 slide outs. One in the bedroom and another in the living/dining area. Space..we need more space. OK..I admit it..living in 208 sq feet after a two story house with over 2800 sq feet is HARD and I don’t want to do it any more!! Can you hear me stomp my feet???

3. It can’t be too long. We’d like it to be not longer than 32-33 feet exterior from the hitch pin to the back bumper. That is a challenge. Of course the floor plans I really like are usually longer by a couple to three feet.

4. Price has to be within our budget. We’re using the Nash as a trade in but will probably finance some of the purchase price and don’t want to price ourselves out of the ability to drag this thing down the road. We’d like to find a gently used rig that is on our list but so far that hasn’t worked out.

5. How well is it made? Is it sturdy enough for a full-timer or was it designed and built for a weekend/vacation rig? We need this one to last a long time. I don’t want to shop for another RV any time soon. The factory tours we’ve been on and the RVIG.org research information we’ve been using have helped us learn about this for some models. We’ve also talked to other owners to learn about their experiences with various brands.

6. There are a few other “minor” considerations that won’t break the deal if we like the rig overall. Nightstands beside the bed. A desk in the living area. The bath all in one room. A closet that could be used for a stackable washer/dryer unit. No combination units please.

We went to three factory tours while we’ve been in Elkhart County. We started with the Carriage RV plant on Monday morning. A very knowledgeable guide, Jennifer took us through the plant in about an hour. We learned quite a bit about how an RV is built and specifically how Carriage is built. We were especially pleased to see them building the Carriage Cameo 5th wheel since this is a model that has made our list. The best part of the tour was the folks building them. We were able to get in their way and ask them questions. They really do a lot of quality control checks. We liked that a lot. Red tape used to mark items needing attention was everywhere. Better to find these at the factory than at the dealership or worse yet in your campsite.

There are a couple of floor plans in this line that may be OK for us. Neither is exactly what we want but pretty close. I like the plan that has the entire bath room inside a room best. And there is an extra wardrobe next to the bed in that same design. We’ve learned that extra storage is very useful to have. Of course these are new rigs and we’d really like to find a used one that is in excellent condition.


On Tuesday afternoon we went to SunnyBrook RV for their tour. I must say they don’t put much effort into this. The plant had stopped working for the day. No employees were present except the gentleman doing the tour. He seemed to view the tour as a bother and wanted it to be over as soon as possible. Also, the rig being built that day was their entry level travel trailer. Not at all what any of us in the tour were interested in. We were told they build one type of unit for 2-3 weeks then change off to another. We were just unfortunate to arrive in the week they weren’t building the SunnyBrook Titan (which is on our list). We learned they don’t make their own frames (Carriage makes theirs). The gentleman wasn’t very knowledgeable about the frame. He just knew who they bought it from. Not how it was made. We couldn’t even see the frame very well. And it wasn’t the one used on the Titan anyway. Overall, I came away with an unpleasant taste in my mouth about this whole event. Disappointment!!! We’ve probably removed the Titan from our list due to it’s weight. It is a pretty heavy 5th wheel for it’s size. And that is our most important criteria. The rig must never exceed weight limits for the truck or the frame.

Wednesday afternoon we went to Heartland RV. This was a real eye opener. We’ve been looking at these 5th wheels ever since they started manufacturing them in 2006. They are really pretty. And if we were looking for a vacation/weekend rig we’d probably go for it. But, it isn’t built for a full timer(in our opinion). The cabinets are stapled together (not screwed). And they use a hydraulic system for the slides. It is also the tallest we’ve looked at. We’d worry a lot about bridge heights if towing this one. So, regretfully we’ve taken it off the list.

We’ll keep looking and learning. The right rig will present itself at some point.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Escapade in Goshen Indiana

Escapade is over. (Except for the hitch-up breakfast tomorrow). It has been great. We met some very nice RV'ers and learned a few new things. We've enjoyed it very much.
Yesterday was Gary's birthday. Pretty low key without a big hoop la!! I cooked a BBQ pork roast for dinner. It was pretty good and Gary seemed to enjoy it.
Afterwards, we went to the Ham'o Rama. This was a talent show performed by our fellow Escapees. It was good. Professor Sex was there. Along with Elvis and Johnny Cash. There was an accordion player, a xylophone player, a piano player and several singers. Line dancing too.
At the closing ceremony, we learned the official count was 845 RVs and 1615 people. (At least my memory says that, I didn't write it down when it was announced. This is the most RVs in one place that I have ever seen. Tonight some of them started pulling out toward their next adventure. We're staying here until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. We're still 5th wheel shopping and plan to visit some manufactures in the area before moving on.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fall Escapade-- RV Rally in Goshen Indiana

We arrived bright and early Sunday morning in Goshen. We'll be staying here at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairground for the Fall Escapees RV Rally. The Escapees RV Club is a club for full-timing or full-timing wannabes. Check out this link for information about this fun and friendly organization. http//www.escapees.com/index2.asp

There are over 1000 RVs parked on the fairgrounds. It is mind-boggling to see so many rigs in one place. We've already met some great RVers. Two couples we'd met at the LOW we attended in Kentucky are here. And several of the instructors we met are here too.

Our next door neighbor is from Titusville Florida, down the beach from where we occasionally stay in New Smyrna Beach. Gregg and Judy are from Michigan and are full-timing in a Nu-Wa HitchHiker Champagne 5th wheel. It is a beautiful rig. Very high-end costing over $80,000. Way more than we plan to spend on our next rig.
Gary and Suzanne ride around on the coolest bikes. Suzanne's is a recumbent bike. Gary's is a recumbent trike. I think I'd like one of them. Both of them look like fun to ride. I found this web site that has bikes like them.

Yesterday afternoon we heard a high school steelband. They were awesome. They won first place in a National championship. Check out their web site and sample their music. Click on the Merchandise tab, then you can click on each title to hear it. They are an amazing group of young musicans.

Today we've been to a couple of classes, then went to the RV show that is here. We saw some beautiful BIG 5th wheel rigs. Carriage Cameo and Carri-Lite. None of them were the size we're interested in. (31-33'). It looks like the manufacturers/dealers brought their best to show off. We' re a little disappointed that Heartland didn't come as scheduled since they make the BigHorn 5th wheel which is one we've been considering. Hopefully we'll be able to go over to their manufacturing plant next week for a visit.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

North Carolina and Onward

We moved to my Mom and Dad's house near Spivey's Corner, NC just in time for my Dad's birthday. On Sunday we had a great reunion of most of my brothers/sister and family. In all, we celebrated 6 birthdays in our family for August. Lot's of tasty food was consumed.
Then the rest of the week went downhill from there. My Mom had chest pain on Monday and we spent the next two days in Betsy Johnson Hospital. After tests and more tests at Wake Med on Thursday, it was decided she didn't have a heart attack and in fact has a "pretty good" looking heart for her young age :). It never was decided exactly what caused the pain, but I still believe it was likely related to her cutting up 5 chickens for the reunion on Sunday.
Anyway, the doc says use Alieve if it happens again. A good thing came out of this, she did meet a new local doctor and has decided to stick with him, moving her care to his office. Much better than driving 45 minutes up to Fuquay every time she needs a doc. I think my Dad's going to switch to him too. Dad had a tough week too, not feeling well and was in the doctor's office on Wednesday. A urinary infection was discovered and he started antibiotic treatment on Friday. The both seemed to be better on Saturday so we moved on up to Kerr Lake for Labor Day. Every time I talked to them after that they said they were feeling better. Hopefully, that trend will continue this week.
On Saturday when we arrived at Kerr Lake, Gary's sister Sherry, her husband Doug, both of her sons Tim and Todd and wife Donna along with all their kids (except Samantha) were already at the campsite enjoying the great weather. Tim's wife Crystal stayed at home recovering from some surgery she'd had the previous week. Our friends Ken and Laverne were there. Also, Van, Rita and their son Daniel too. On Sunday Jenn and Mark came up too. Everyone had a great time doing what we do at the lake..playing in the water, playing in the sun,reading, relaxing, eating and more eating, and just enjoying being together. Ken had found a new game (similar to Horseshoes) and almost everyone tried it out and seemed to like it pretty good. Two golf balls are strung together and thrown at a stand to earn points. Like I said, like throwing horseshoes but different. The weather was wonderful. It had cooled down to the 80's with even cooler nights. Heaven on Earth!!!
On Tuesday morning we headed out toward Goshen, Indiana. We're going to an Escapees Club Rally. I'm told upwards to 900 rigs with folks meeting to learn new things, enjoy music, crafts, food and making new friends. We've been looking forward to this rally (our first) ever since we heard of it last year. Several other "Class of 2007" full-timers will be there and we'll be able to meet face-to-face.
Along the way, we've stopped at several (6 so far) RV dealers looking for our next home. We're going to upsize to a 5th wheel trailer. Hopefully in the next month of so. We're looking until we find just the right one.
Tuesday night we stayed a Mama Gertie's Hideaway Campground in Swananona, NC. This cg is very nice as long as you have a strong engine for your vehicle. Up hill all the way. Definitely worth it though. Nice folks and very reasonable price. Wednesday morning we went on west and then north. We stayed at the Levi Jackson State Park in London Ky. We've stayed here several times. It's a good state park (10% discount for AAA). The internet reception wasn't good though so we got out early today to continue on north. I've got 12 more hours to work before Saturday.
So, we're back on the road again. We should be in Indianapolis this afternoon. Love to you all...Deb