Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday May 26, 2014-Dixie Caverns Campground, Salem Virginia

The first thing I want to say is that I hope everyone has a nice Memorial Day. My brother found this old photo of our Dad and my namesake, Wallace Coffman, from his U.S. Navy days during the second World War. He served on a LST, a large ship that carried war supplies to the troops.

Now to catch up on a very relaxing weekend, we went into Salem on Saturday to look around. We love exploring these new (to us) towns and their stores and restaurants. While there, I decided to find the local AT & T store to look at a new I phone for me. It is time for an upgrade and I had tried to do the deal while we were in Kentucky but it didn't work out. They were intent on  moving me from my old phone plan to something newer and I wasn't will to do that. Today I met a nice young man who fixed me up with no hassle and in a short time I was the proud owner of a new phone.

Getting back to the park, I have to tell you about a neighbor that came in Saturday evening. I think I told you about the man to our left that had to bring his awning in when we pulled in. I told you that these sites are close together. Well this evening a single lady came in driving a motor home. I didn't have my awning out, but couldn't have used it after she pulled in. She was so close that she couldn't open one of her slides without coming dangerously close to our trailer. I never saw her come out except to hook up her utilities and she was gone in the morning when I woke.

Stella had learned from talking to the folks in the office that they seldom use the site next door because it is so close to our site, but later Sunday afternoon, another truck and trailer came in and parked next to us but not as close this time. It was a man and his teenage son in a toy hauler fifth wheel. 

One last story about our neighbors. There is a young lady across the street from us that is camping in a tent with her large Alaskan Husky dog. We met her after loaning her one of our dog tie-outs for her dog. She is from Maryland and was here to meet her parents who are from Houston and are camping in a Hi/Lo trailer. Both of her parents are learning to play the mandolin and dulcimer and we enjoyed listening to her father playing and strumming on his mandolin. Ironically, they were in Mountain View Arkansas the weekend before we got there and had stayed at the Ozark RV Park where we stayed. We knew some of the same people that work at the park. It is indeed a small world!

So long.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday May 22, 2014-Dixie Caverns Campground, Salem VA

We didn't do anything today but rest after the long drive yesterday. I got some pictures downloaded that we took on the trip that I'll share with you. I've got to give Stella the credit for most of the pictures, as I was busy driving.

The first thing in the morning, we had to wave goodbye to Dave and Nancy, who are going to a state park in Tennessee to visit relatives nearby. 

 The beautiful dome of the state capitol in Charleston West Virginia. Since we were driving, it was difficult to get a good photo.

 The Appalachian Mountains are pretty.

 The biggest grade that we ran into was a 5%, not too bad.

 Pretty but hazy mountains.

 The roads were excellent for the most park. We had freeways all the way, so we made good time and got great fuel mileage of over 11 MPG.

 Not much chance of a clearance problem here!

 One of two tunnels that we went through.

 At last, our destination. We haven't gone through the caverns yet but will before we leave. 

Home sweet home for a couple of weeks! As you can see, there is plenty of room in the pull thru space for our entire rig. The tall trees surrounding the park make satellite reception impossible, but they have good cable and great wifi in the park.

We will get out and explore tomorrow and if there is anything interesting, I'll let you know.

So long.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday May 21, 2014-Moving day-Whispering Hills RV Park to Dixie Caverns RV Park, Salem VA

We were up early to get a good start on moving day. Well, I must say that Stella has made a lot of headway on the inside stuff, and I had already dumped the tanks, so that chore was already done. We made good progress and pulled out a bit after 9.

Our traveling companions, Dave and Nancy, had pulled out about 30 minutes before us, traveling to a state park in Tennessee. They just recently realized that the park has only 30 amp electric, no water or sewer at the sites. I hope they like boondocking! 

We made a stop at a Love's Truck Stop for a bit more fuel- we are concerned about driving through the Appalachian Mountains and don't want to run out of fuel. We have decided not to completely fill the big tank since we're not traveling that far between destinations and we don't need to carry the extra weight. The truck stop was very crowded so we decided to go to a less crowded rest stop abut 60 miles away. It was the perfect choice and we had the sandwiches that Stella had made and had a nice relaxing lunch. I even capped a Munzee in the parking lot. We were soon back on the road-freeways most of the way today- and pulled into the Dixie RV Park about 4:15. The park seems okay, with long driveways and decently level sites. The people in the office are friendly and helpful and I soon met our neighbors. The only downside of the park is that they are close together. Our neighbor next door had to roll his awning in so I could drive into ours, but he has room to open it now that we're in place. The place is completely surrounded by trees, so no satellite reception, but they have good cable reception. Time will tell how it works out.

We are both tired from the long day, and I think we'll probably just stay inside tomorrow and rest.

So long.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Monday May 19, 2014-Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown KY

Well, the rally is over and we had a good time. We saw old friends and made some new ones, so that was a success. The weather has been relatively good but cold at night and early in the mornings, but it made for good sleeping. I've even slept as late as 7:30, which is very late for me.

There was a couple that sang for us on Saturday night and they were good. They sang a lot of oldies and many people danced. It was almost like we were back in high school. Hoyt put together a fire in the large ring behind the rally pavilion and several of us went out during the band break to sit by the fire. It was cool enough that the fire felt good, but for some reason, abut 10:30, both Stella and I got very cold as if the temperature dropped suddenly. We packed up and went home, where I had a hard time getting my hands warm. It was just strange that it came on us all at once.

Most of the folks left on Sunday but a few stayed over until Monday. We got to spend a little bit of time with Kevin and Nelly and Dave and Julie. We will see them as well as others that were here in Urbanna in a couple of weeks. Should be a good time.

Monday morning, the others pulled out, leaving only us here. I went out Monday morning and captured some Munzees, something I haven't done too much lately. There are a lot of Munzees here and I got a lot of them. It was fun and I felt good getting some good exercise. Nancy had made reservations to go to the huge Toyota factory for a tour this afternoon. It was very interesting but they were very strict about no photos and even made us leave our cell phones at the desk. 

I was very impressed with the plant. It is modern and very clean with no junk laying around, no spills of any kind and no grease anywhere! The workers all seem happy and many waved or acknowledged us as we passed on our tram. It was interesting to learn of the ergonomics for employee comfort and safety (the cars are raised or lowered for ease of the employees as they installed different items onto the cars) to a hydraulically operated chair to make it easier to install the dash and other items in the interior. They certainly demonstrated why the tram is necessary! They have about 7.5 million square feet under roof and we toured a lot of it. The plant is located on 1300 acres and it is kept immaculate! The entire tour screamed professional, from the short intro movie with a screen and projector that dropped out of the ceiling to the headphones that we wore to be able to hear Audrey, our tour guide. The only thing we didn't see was the painting area. She said that any dust or dirt that might be brought in by a visitor could ruin a paint job and we certainly don't want that! I was also surprised to learn that they remove the doors from the cars after they are painted and they are then computer controlled so that the proper colored doors are returned to the car after the interior and other things are installed. It would be highly embarrassing to have a set of white doors installed on a black car. 

Just about everything is computer controlled. They use "smart sleds" to bring parts to their destination. The smart sleds are controlled and guided by electronic sensors in the floor to navigate and are smart enough to sense when their batteries are running out, so they return to their dock to recharge. Apparently, they seldom get lost, or at least we didn't hear of it if they do. 

Another innovative idea that they use is their "just in time" plan for parts. Parts are delivered by smart sled or by a human-driven sled to the technicians/installers when they are needed, so there is never any excess parts cluttering the working area. 

The tour was very interesting and I would recommend it if you are ever in this area or where there is another Toyota plant.

So long.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Thursday May 15, 2014-Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown KY

The rain continued today along with cool weather. It only got into the low 60's today, so most of us stayed inside. It was good to rest, but we came here to meet new people, so when we found out that we were having an impromptu cookout this evening, we were glad. Unfortunately, we didn't find out about it soon enough to prepare anything or to even go to a store to buy something to take. Stella had bought some pretzel balls while we were in Shipshewana, so we took those and they were a hit. We enjoyed meeting some new friends and are looking forward to the rest of the rally.

Since today was so slow, I'll tell you a little bit about Georgetown Kentucky. The main industry in town is the Toyota Motors manufacturing plant. They they produce the Camry, Avalon and Venza models. the really interesting thing about this plant is that it is a "zero landfill" location. This means that all waste is either recycled or composted. The compost is then used in a large garden that produces over 2.5 million pounds of produce that is donated to a local charity for distribution. 
Pretty cool, huh!

So long.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wednesday May 14, 2014-Moving day-Shipshewana South Campground to Whispering Pines RV Park, Georgetown KY

We were up early and packing up this morning. We were late getting started the last time we moved and Dave and Nancy had to wait on us and we were determined that this wouldn't happen again. We pulled out a little before 9 and were soon on our way. 

It began to rain on us while we were still in Indiana and continued while we drove into Ohio. Thankfully the rain stopped before we got to the bigger cities of Dayton and Cincinnati so there were few traffic issues. We only made one stop for lunch at a rest area, where I capped a couple of Munzees. It didn't take very long and we continued to make good time. The rain began (lightly) as we exited the freeway onto the road to the park, but we were hopeful that it would slack up or continue to be light. We pulled into the Whispering Hills RV Park a little after 3. The rain got harder and was pouring by the time we were escorted to our site. It didn't take long for me to be soaked but I got everything done.

Dave and Nancy have been traveling with us since we left Texas and we have enjoyed their company and the security of having someone along to assist if needed. When we got to our sites, we found that somehow one of the windows in their bedroom had been broken out. There was no sign of a rock or other projectile and we decided that it must have been done by a tree branch. I gave Dave a trash bag to seal the window temporarily and he will decide how to make a permanent repair.

There are several people at this rally that we don't know, so we're looking forward to making new friends here. 

So long.

Monday May 12, 2014-Shipshewana South RV Park

Monday was another slow day, with more of our friends leaving. This morning, many of us went over to Topeka IN to have breakfast at Tiffany's Restaurant, a place that we had heard about but not been to yet. Topeka is in the heart of Amish country and we all enjoyed the drive through the country and seeing all of the beautiful Amish homes and farms. When we arrived at the restaurant, it too was an Amish-run business. I guess the Amish religion allows members to use modern equipment when they are away from their homes because there were lights and all the regular equipment that any restaurant has but everyone working there wore typical Amish clothes.

After a huge breakfast, we returned to the park and Jim and I went over to Goshen to the fairgrounds to run some errands there. While there, we tried to go onto the grounds to check out some vendors that were at the Escapees Samboree that was going on there but the gatekeepers wouldn't let us drive in. I planned to find our friends Sam and Donna while we were there but I didn't know which site they were in and didn't want to walk the entire grounds to try to find them, so we left to go over to Elkhart and the Heartland factory. While there I got to meet the new Landmark brand manager, Tom Montague and saw some new and exciting things to come soon. 

We returned home for some rest and since it was getting close to supper time, to decide what we were going to do. A few went back to the Blue Gate but we were still full from breakfast, so we passed. We had a nice campfire to burn up the rest of the firewood. It was a nice way to end the rally.

So long.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sunday May 11, 2014-Shipshewana South campground

I am adding the rally days all together because we were so busy and had so much to do during that time, I just didn't have time to write it up daily.

Friday morning began with a delicious breakfast prepared by Jim B and several helpers consisting of pancakes, eggs, lots of bacon and sausage and of course, coffee and juice. It was a great way to start the rally! Then for lunch, we all went over to Elkhart to RV Capitol for a sandwich and a presentation from Sonny Dismukes, who is a salesman for Lippert and a tour of the dealership, looking at the new trailers. Then we returned home to rest up before going to supper at the Blue Gate restaurant, a great Amish-style restaurant in downtown Shipshewana that we have been to several times in the past. There was a bit of a mixup and our party got separated throughout the restaurant, but we had a good time and ate WAAAY too much food.

Saturday was another eat-all-day. We started with great donuts from the Rise N Roll Bakery and coffee. Another great way to start the day! We came back home and began preparing for a planning meeting for the Amana rally with Jim, Dan, Karen and a telephonic connection with David L. the Iowa chapter leader who is helping us with "boots on the ground" assistance since he is there. It was a good meeting and we got a lot accomplished.

Saturday night was as much fun as I've had in a long time. Hoyt arranged for a chili cookoff, judged by the park office staff. All of the chili was good but Jim's won the prize. One of the new folk and my new friend, Phil, got a bowl of Jim's chili and started sweating! It didn't taste that hot to me but Phil got the bottom of the pot with a concentration of the hot spices, and it certainly had an effect on him. The funny part of the evening was an auction conducted by Ray and Bill, Jim's neighbor in the RV community and Marc Comer, the Ohio chapter leader. It was one of those "you had to be there" things, but they were hilarious. They sold everything from nice, new items to crazy stuff like empty KOA bags and everyone had a blast! 

Sunday began with another donut and continental breakfast for those that were leaving today. It is always sad to see your friends leaving after the rally and this one was no exception. Lots of hugs and handshakes though...

We had a big ol' leftover potluck for dinner Sunday night. We had campfires every night and we burned most of the firewood tonight but left just enough for the last one tomorrow night. The reason some was left is that a thunderstorm blew in and rained our fireside chat out. For tonight at least...

So long.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thursday May 7, 2014-Moving Day-Elkhart Campgrpund to Shipshewana South Campground, Shipshewana IN

We were up and at the factory just after 8 and dropped the trailer off for the replacement of our underbelly covering. I figured that this would be a very quick job, but there were other trailers there having work done and another had beaten us down to drop theirs off, so we just got in line to have our work done. 

While dropping the trailer off, I got a call from Jim B. who invited to eat lunch with him, which we gladly accepted. We did some shopping at Wal Mart, went by to visit with Rob Reid, owner of Great Lakes RV and tried to visit another friend at the Heartland factory, Jim F. but he was in a meeting so we missed seeing him. We just piddled around Elkhart until time to meet Jim at Culver's. When he arrived, we all decided to have a new burger that they are offering, a Pepper Grinder Pub Burger, which was very tasty. We had a nice visit with Jim and soon went back to the factory to pick up the trailer. In less than 30 minutes we were at the Shipshewana Campground, getting set up.

We saw a lot of our friends after arriving and learned that they have a hot dog potluck dinner planned for tonight. Dan and Karen furnished the dogs and some of the sides, and as usual, the potluck was delicious. We visited with some new folks at their first rally and then went outside to sit by a nice campfire, visiting and chatting with our friends. 

I turned in early because I was tired from driving for the past several days but Stella stayed out until 10:30 or so, but she had to tell me when she came in because I was conked out! 

We're glad to be here and in rally mode. It should be a lot of fun.

So long.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tuesday May 6, 2014-Moving day-Illinois Fairgrounds, Springfield Ill to Elkhart Campground, Elkhart IN

Our traveling partners, Dave and Nancy, invited us over for breakfast before leaving in the morning. Stella volunteered to make biscuits and Nancy fixed scrambled eggs, sausage and gravy, so we had a very good and filling breakfast before packing up. We met for breakfast at 8, but still pulled out around 9:15, so it was a very good breakfast that didn't interfere with our leaving. Good job girls!

We made excellent time down the highways and didn't stop for a break until getting into Indiana on the toll road. It was a pretty quick stop, so we didn't lose much time. We lost more time in the traffic backup near Chicago where several busy roads cross and merge. I'd hate to have to drive those roads very often. 

We arrived at the Elkhart Campground about 4:30-5:30 Eastern Time, and before too long were set up for an overnight stay here. We have stayed here several times, so it's good to be back.

I verified out appointment time for tomorrow morning, so if all goes well, we'll be in Shipshewana by noon. Can't wait!

So long.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday May 5, 2014-Moving day-Ozark RV Park to Illinois Fairgrounds, Springfield Ill.

We don't have quite as far to go this morning but we still planned to leave between 8 and 9. I'm sorry to say that Stella and I got it done but just barely. We pulled out right about 9 and were soon on our way to our next destination, Springfield Illinois. 

Stella had asked Doug and Billy, who are both very familiar with the area, for directions and they recommended a route that we took this morning. Although it was a two lane road with no shoulder to pull over onto in case of emergency, the route was very pretty. The road was narrow in a couple of places but we made good time. We made our only stop at a Loves truck stop, soon after getting on I-55. We all ate lunch and the dogs went out and did their business, and it was a good pit stop. 

We went through St Louis and saw the Arch again, which is always impressive. We went by Busch stadium but since we are on a trip schedule, we didn't stop. We really didn't have any issues or problems today and were all feeling pretty good when we arrived at the Illinois Fairgrounds, our home for tonight.

So long.

Sunday March 4, 2014-Ozark RV Park, Mountain View AR

We had a very nice day today in spite of some of our Heartland friends having to go home. I saw Luke off but missed Don and Joyce, who had already left when I went outside. 

Most of the rest of us went to am old fashioned church service in one of the buildings here in the park. Andy, the RV park owner, led the singing of some old hymns and that was good to hear. Brother Joe was from the old school of preachers, doing his sermon from the Bible. He did mention someone from long ago, Angel Martinez, that I had heard in revivals in Galveston. I think Brother Joe was shocked when I told him that I remembered Angel and his flamboyant colored suits. 

After church we went to the Folk Center to the Iron Skillet restaurant for a great buffet lunch. We all ate too much but the food was great and the friends even better. 

We returned to the park and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. We sat outside later in the afternoon and visited with our friends on our last evening with them. We went over some things with Billy and Janice for their new job as chapter leaders and then had a nice chat with Dave and Nancy, who are hooking up with us to travel together to several rallies. I'm sure it will be a lot of fun, traveling with another couple. We are looking forward to it.

So long.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Saturday May 3, 2014-Ozark RV Park, Mountain View Arkansas

We all got together this morning to go to the Blanchard Springs Caverns that is nearby. We rode with Billy and Doug went along with us, since Judy is visiting her mother in California. Janice, Billy's wife didn't want to go because of the walk. 

When we got there, we learned that there is a "white nose virus" in the cave and that we would have to remove wallets, belts and anything else that could not be washed. Also no photographs in the cave were allowed, but this was not explained. Then when we started to go in, we learned that we could not use our Golden Age passes because we needed 15 people to get a discounted rate and that is exactly how many were here today. If we had used our passes, it would have penalized those that didn't have them. We thought that our passes also allowed 4 people to enter with each pass, but the lady in charge told us no, we would not be able to do this. We were very unhappy with these local rules, but their cave, their rules.

Beautiful grounds at the entrance to the caverns. 

All of this water comes out of the caverns and of course, causes the stalactite and stalagmites and other formations in the cavern. Lots of water!

You can see a couple of openings of other small caves on the side of the rock wall.  

One of very few photos of us together. One of our new friends took this for us.

This evening we went to a concert at the Folk Center. I took some photos and a couple of small videos but am not happy with the work I did. I will work on it and post it later if I can get it straightened out. We enjoyed the music, even though it's not what we listen to a lot. The old style hillbilly music doesn't come to Texas very often but we still enjoyed the performances.

So long.

Friday May 2, 2014-Ozark RV Park, Mountain View Arkansas

The Arkansas rally is going very well. We had a very good potluck breakfast this morning, attended by all with some great food. Billy S. made biscuits and gravy and we furnished scrambled eggs and others brought bacon, sausage, some great cheesy hash browns for a very tasty breakfast. I forgot to bring my camera or even my phone, so I didn't get any pictures of the fun.

We all came back home after breakfast and to rest during the afternoon. I had a nice chat with Billy and he agreed to become the new Chapter Leader of the Arkansas chapter. He agreed with the understanding that his rallies are held here at this park, and I believe that this will work out well. 

I had put out my chairs in the shade and several of our friends came by to sit outside and chat. We caught up with old friends and met and visited with new ones. The weather is perfect and we are having a great time here. I think we've found another "favorite" place...

We had an ice cream social meet and greet tonight after the supper hour. Everyone loves to get together and the ice cream just makes it better.
Everyone loves Blue Bell! 

Everyone looks so intent on getting every bit of that good old ice cream!

After finishing up our snack, we went around the table, telling about our backgrounds and how we became Heartland owners. We heard many funny stories about our lives and experiences and had a lot of laughs. Great fun and we can't wait to come back here.

So long.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thursday May 1, 2014-Ozark RV Park, Mountain View AR

Our first day here was very interesting. I was told that there was coffee in the office every morning, so I went up about 8 and met several very friendly guests as well as the owner of the park. We sat around for a few minutes and I noticed that there were several musical instruments around the room and then several of the men began taking them out of their cases and tuning them up.
One of the players this morning. And yes, that's a broomstick on top of a washtub with a cable running down the stick. It sounds just like a bass fiddle when played though.

The owner of the park, Andy, playing the mandolin.

Two park guests, playing guitar and singing. They all played very well and sang folk and country music. It was nice to sit and listen to music early in the morning.

Stella, Billy, his wife Janice and our friend Doug getting ready to enjoy lunch at Cody's Restaurant in Fifty Six Arkansas. Fifty Six got it's name from the federal government in 1918 when the settlement tried to name itself Newcomb, which was rejected. The government named the town after the school district, #56.

We had a nice meal and returned to the park. I set out some lawn chairs and several of our friends came by and visited. It was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon. The weather was just about perfect, with clear skies and high 60's temperatures. This is a great place!

So long.

Wednesday April 30, 2014-Moving Day-Paradise Lake Resort, Nacogdoches to Ozark RV Park, Mountain View Arkansas

We have a long way to go today, about 400 miles, so we were up early to get ready to leave. The first thing I did was to go fill up the tanks with fuel, so we should be able to get all the way to Indiana and perhaps beyond on this fill-up. It was cold, about 48 degrees this morning, so I put on jeans and a jacket, but while getting my fuel I got hot and so when I got home I changed into shorts and took off my jacket. It was comfortable while we drove, and I was glad I had changed. 

We had been in contact with Dave and Nancy, the North Texas Chapter Leaders, and knew that they were heading to Mountain View from their home in Terrell TX and had talked to them about hooking up somewhere on the road. Stella talked to them and we decided to meet at the Welcome Center outside of Texarkana. They had just about finished their lunch and we just took a short break while I changed back into my jeans. It was freezing here, and I couldn't even stand to go to the restroom before changing. Stella and I had already eaten some delicious pork sandwiches, thank you Janie!

Here is the view of Dave and Nancy's trailer that we had for some of the drive.

Terrible destruction from the recent tornado at Mayflower Arkansas. 

We did see some pretty scenery of the Ozark mountains.

We even saw a few dogwood trees blooming.

As we neared the park, some very ominous clouds started rolling in.

Surely another tornado would not come dropping out!

We made it to Mountain View!

After getting set up, we met with Billy, who is work camping here and one of our old friends from the Heartland club, Doug. We had a nice visit with them and before you know, we were set up and ready to have some fun. We can't wait for the rest of the group to arrive tomorrow.

So long.