So, it’s been a couple of weeks – both figuratively and literally since I had anything to say about RV life. Seventeen days to be exact…
While I’m fortunate not to be running between American Airline gates as their maintenance crews continue their orchestrated work slow downs…or slogging through V Lookups and Pivot Tables in spreadsheets with thirty-plus columns…..Lynn and I are admittedly in a bit of a…shall I say…funk.
I think David said it best, so without further ado….(Public Service Announcement – Mom, press the sideways triangle in the middle of the photo below…and make sure that your speakers are on.)
Last month, I shared that we have a defect with our drivers’ seat. After a call with Newmar leadership (will explain why in a moment) their Director of Service asked us to swivel the seat rearwards / 180 degrees, so that we could identify if the lean stayed in the same orientation or if it reversed. It was a brilliant troubleshooting suggestion and immediately we found that this…
…Turned into this….
After sharing the above photo with Newmar, they consulted with Flex Steel, the manufacturer of the seat, to determine the course of action. The next day, Newmar called and offered to remove the seat and send it to the factory for repair. Most of you that know me well already are correctly presuming my reaction to this….”Repair? No thank you. This seat was delivered to us defective and I’m simply NOT going to accept it being twisted, hammered or otherwise re-worked back into shape.” My request for a new seat was met with a twelve-week manufacturing lead time and I could have it sometime in October. Again, those of you that know me best (Mom, Dad, Marianne, Mark, Todd, Kathy, Greg, Denise, Rick, John, Ruth, Kathy, Jay & Lance) are probably chuckling and presuming the kind of reaction that was met with….Long story short – The replacement chair will be delivered and installed at the factory on July 24, three weeks after that conversation. Proof-reading this blog, I’m left shaking my head while looking at the photo above. Lower back pain? Yeah – no doubt. Can you even imagine sitting for an hour at an office desk with this seat tilt? Wait….how about driving three hour trips at more than 55 feet of combined vehicle length weighing almost 50,000 pounds at 65 miles an hour?
So, that’s the good news, I guess. As we cancelled all open camping plans with plans for a July 14 arrival at the factory, this means we’ll be there for two full weeks with the seat arriving two days before our scheduled departure on Friday July 26. In the meantime, while we kill two weeks in 90 degree Central Indiana, Newmar will correct this list of other issues:
The other issue that has been frustrating is our feeling that we did not receive a thorough explanation of important vehicle systems and preventative maintenance schedules. Unlike my “former self”, I am trying hard to be less critical and keep things in their proper perspective. So, purposely keeping within that spirit, let’s just say that I wrote a direct, plain-spoken letter to senior management which was met with a lengthy call from their Director. Let’s also just say that their Director agreed that the vast majority of items which we feel were not explained SHOULD have been explained. This factory delivery experience cost close to $5,000 which comes out to $900 a day. For that price, we should have left as experts! So, while our plans for the next two weeks were supposed to be in Minnesota and Wisconsin, spending time with Erin & Mike plus Carrie, John and other 3M friends and introducing Lynn to Minnesota craft beer….instead we’ll be sitting on freshly poured black top, watching Amish buggies saunter slowly past our rig three or four times an hour and listening to freight trains blowing their whistles throughout the night. OK, we are looking forward to seeing Joanne, our favorite Indiana bartender and their fried pickles. But other than that…..not much to look forward to.
So hey…here’s another fun thing that happened. How about our coach losing all power on the afternoon of July 3rd at about 90 degrees? Well, we were unlucky to have picked a RV Park with system-wide low voltage. Had we been properly trained on this vehicle system, the synchronized stupid looks on our collective faces might have been less profound. Thankfully, Lynn had researched and ordered a $500 Energy Management System – essentially a surge protector with many more features. This system sensed that the voltage dipped below 104 Volts, the threshold that can begin to cause damage to motors and appliances. So, for three glorious days, we kept the blackout shades down, limited our dining choices to cold and take out food and mostly stayed at the campground as we were worried about the power going off and the heat rising with Spangler by herself. With the holiday weekend over, the voltage has risen to 115V – 118V and the power interruptions have stopped. Next on the shopping list is a portable gas grill.
As we had scrapped all future reservations to head back to Newmar, we began planning our travels once we leave the factory on July 26. Knowing that we have an event in Jekyll Island in late September and three weeks in Charleston in Oct/Nov for various medical / dental / optical poking, prodding and checkups, I felt heading to Minnesota was going the wrong way for not enough time. Lynn suggested Chattanooga and Nashville, but I wasn’t thrilled with their 90+ degree August high temperatures. We both want to avoid coastal plans in the middle of hurricane season….so, for absolutely no other reason other than its a sensible route….we decided to leave Newmar, spend two nights south of Indy, then five nights in Frankfurt, KY, followed by four nights in Huntington, WV, one quick overnight somewhere in middle-of-nowhere Virginia followed by by eight nights at a swanky Lake Norman (Charlotte NC) Motorhome Resort.
I’ve been remiss in the lead-up & launch of retirement in visiting my parents in Boston. So, Lynn will be by herself in Charlotte for half of our Charlotte stay while I fly up to Boston to see family and also attend the 35th year get-together of my photography school alumni in Greenfield, MA. After Charlotte, we have no plans for the six weeks till we visit Jekyll Island. Almost all the Asheville, NC / Greenville campgrounds that can accommodate our big rig are full. Yay. Another fall out from the needed revamping of schedule. We have spent hours trying to find campgrounds in the area – the hunt continues.
So, as my sister Liz so eloquently said to me two weeks ago, “Jimmy – shut the fuck up about the drivers seat. You’re in the financial position to retire at 55. You’ve got your health, a beautiful wife and are wandering the country not having to go to work tomorrow..and like you say…This Won’t Matter In Five Years”. Thanks Liz – Shutting the fuck up now. I Love You.
Oh….and pass the laughing gas, David.
Lynn’s 2 cents – So yes, we are definitely in a funk being stuck in this tiny space, in the heat, in the middle of nowhere MI. Even retired life has its ups and downs. Not every day is full of adventure. Right now we are trying to pick ourselves up by our boot straps, get out of the campground for a few hours and do something fun. As Dave Matthews says “You and me together, we could do anything, baby.” And clearly this is better than working!