Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Back to Red Bay - Phannie's Birthplace

At Red Bay RV Park, Red Bay, Alabama...

We decided this was as good a time as any to head for Red Bay and get some routine things taken care of on Phannie. She needed her annual service on her engine and genset, and the local facilities weren't too crowded yet, as it is yet a little early for the spring snowbird migration of Tiffin owners heading back north. If you own a Tiffin motorhome, it is only a matter of time until you make a pilgrimage to Red Bay, the tiny factory town just inside the state line in northwest Alabama. I won't go more into the Tiffin experience now, but you can read more about it from a previous post here.

Our first stop was at Bay Diesel, a local provider of motorhome engine and chassis service that has probably done more of these with motorhomes than, well, just about anyone. They still do business with the small town ethics that you would expect in the rural Bible belt, and I do not question anything they recommend as they do a thorough look at all the systems. 

Fortunately, Phannie came through with flying colors. All that was needed this time was the basic fluid and filter changes.

As luck would have it, we found out through the grapevine that a number of our Tiffin Bluebonnet club members were also in town with their coaches. Naturally, we did what we always do when we get together--eat! We trekked about ten miles south of Red Bay to Reeves Steak and Fish House, where we had a nice get together with our friends:

Club members in this photo (besides us) were Diane and Chip (near left) and Shirleen and Hank (near right). Members Richard and Patsy were there, but Richard was taking the photo and Patsy is visible just beyond Sandy. Friends Lynn, Ed, Art and Gerry also joined us.
The next evening, we motored over to Tupelo and had dinner at Mt. Fuji Hibachi Restaurant, where we had a very entertaining chef:

From left: Patsy, Sandy, Diane, Chip, Richard and Moi. 
We brought back enough leftovers from this place for another meal. Lucky us!

The national Tiffin Allegro owners' club has a rather robust constellation of local area chapters across the country. There are several in Texas, and joining the Bluebonnet club has provided us with some very special friendships with people who have a common interest. If you enjoy the social aspects of RVing, then maybe an owners' club is something you would enjoy.

On a rainy Saturday, Sandy had the idea that she needed to organize the storage cabinets above the couch in Phannie. These had become a bit of a rat's nest in more than a year of fulltiming, and she managed to redo the contents in such a way that we ended up with a bunch of extra space. Fortunately, one of the hallmarks of a Tiffin motorhome is the company's dedication to providing massive storage space, but there is a downside in that stuff gets pushed to the back that really should have been thrown away. Sandy made short work of this, and I found myself making a couple of trips to the dumpster. Oddly, she actually enjoys organizing things, God love her; it's just that they don't always stay organized when I'm around. 

We will be in Red Bay a few more days as we take care of some more minor service items, then we'll be making our way back to the Dallas/Fort Worth area for routine doctor visits. After that, we'll be heading to Conroe to see the kids:

Perhaps I should mention that you can still get a 15 percent discount on any Strongback chair by going to and using the code "PhannieAndMae15" when you order. 

Just so you'll know, I don't get a kickback from Strongback; I just like their chairs because of their good back support.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


At KOA Branson, Branson, Missouri...

We've had a great week in Branson with our friends, Bubba and LouAnn and Harvey and Mary Lou. We took in a three-day series of gospel concerts, followed by attending "Moses," an amazing live show at the Sight and Sound Theater. If you've never seen a production at this venue, it would be worth your while just to witness this visual extravaganza, the likes of which I had not seen before. 

After our friends left to go back to Texas, Sandy and I got tickets to a musical show, "Number 1 hits of the 50s and 60s."

This was another fine show with some very talented performers. It was neat to be transported for a while back to the popular music of our youth, done so well as it was. We couldn't help but notice that the 50s music now has a much smaller presence in the theaters than it did when we started coming here 20 years ago. I guess time doesn't wait for the bobby-sox generation either, does it?

We've decided to head over to Red Bay soon to get Phannie's annual drive train service done along with some other mostly cosmetic things that need attention. More on that later.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sure Enough, It Gets Colder When you Go North!

At Long Lake RV Resort, Poteau, Oklahoma...

I knew it was too early to leave the Rio Grande Valley. I suppose we had been lulled into thinking that our tropical clime would somehow go with us northbound, but it didn't. After an uneventful leg to Port Aransas, we enjoyed a nice seafood dinner with Jackie and Steve at a local dockside restaurant. Here are our traveling mates at our table overlooking the harbor. Looks like a pirate ship may be approaching over Steve's shoulder:

It has really been a pleasure traveling with these two fine folks; we've had a great time with a lot of laughs. 

Our next stop was at the Jamaica Beach RV Resort near Galveston to attend another Tiffin owners' club rally. The closer we got to our destination, the worse the weather became, unfortunately. Our entire stay there was marked by cold weather, including rain, fog and then high winds as a front blew through. To make things worse, the RV park had just partially completed a new expansion, and the new spaces and roads were unbelievably narrow. Most of the big rigs had great difficulty navigating the maze without hitting something or running the wheels off the pavement into the mud. What a mess! Obviously, the owners were motivated entirely by greed when designing this sardine-can part of the park, having no consideration for their potential customers. We will not be back, and you can be certain of that.

One of the rally events I always enjoy is "Tech Talk," a discussion about technical issues related to our Tiffin motorhomes. On this occasion, I was asked to give a presentation on computer-aided trip planning, which I was happy to do. Here's a photo of my lecture, using my iPad to project images onto the TV set behind me.

Here are three of our members looking on:

Art, Hank and Shirley at the Tech Talk lecture.
In defense of those hard working club members who set up locations for our rallies, their job is not an easy one. There are actually very few parks that can accommodate a large group like ours, and I don't think anyone realized what had happened to Jamaica Beach during its expansion. You guys do a great job getting us fine rally locations, and we appreciate it.

Leaving Galveston, we stopped near Kemah to have lunch with Mindy and Tyler and the grands. This was a great little reunion, and I was so pleased that the boys ran to greet me even before I got out of my seat there in Phannie's cockpit:

This photo may give you the wrong idea; I'm actually very strict with the boys; they get away with nothing around me. You believe that, right?

We said goodbye to everyone after lunch, and Jackie and Steve headed back to Austin. Although we were sorry to see them go, we know they were desperate to see their little granddaughter, Maddie, who lives nearby.  It was hard to leave our family, too, but we will be back before long, and Mimi and Poppy, as always, will have an armload of surprises for them.

Our first stop after Galveston was near Canton, Texas at a Passport America park named Bluebird RV Park. This was a rather basic park, but quiet enough, and we especially liked the $18 discounted parking fee.

We left Canton in rain that was preceding yet another blustery cold front, whose strong winds we fought all the way to Poteau, Oklahoma to Long Lake Resort, another Passport America park. Again, the price was right at $21, and we had a nice paved spot next to the river. What a deal! What's not so great is that it is going to be freezing tonight, and the temperature will drop into the twenties in Branson! What were we thinking, leaving the warm RGV? 

Tomorrow we meet up with other longtime RV friends, Bubba and LouAnn, who will have with them some more of our friends, Harvey and Mary Lou. What a good time we'll have as we travel on up to Branson!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sick Call, But Well Enough to Head North

At Llano Grande RV Resort, Mercedes, Texas...

Our time here in the Rio Grande Valley is coming to a close. We've had a good time visiting with friends and enjoying the magnificent warm sunshine with nearly constant breezes to keep mosquitoes away. One almost has to suspend belief to realize that we have been here in our shorts and tropical shirts in the dead of winter. We see scenes of northern snow and ice on television, but it seems unreal because we're so detached here from that sort of thing.

We were traveling this time with friends Steve and Jackie, whom we met by chance in Austin a couple of years ago when we parked Phannie next door to their rig at an RV park. We started off with plenty of energy here in the valley, going to dinner with our RGV friends, taking in a movie, shopping, and even going to the annual barbeque cookoff here in Mercedes. In this photo, old friend Ed and I are chowing down on some BBQ chicken. (It was very, very good!) And no, Ed and I didn't collaborate on our attire; we just can't help being fashionable, I guess.

Along with Steve and Jackie, we also took in the Iwo Jima Museum in Harlingen. This was a small museum, but we were surprised how much we learned about the importance of the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. If you're ever down here, it's worth the visit. There's no charge, but they gladly accept donations.

Jackie and Steve at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Harlingen
It couldn't be, of course, that our idyllic time down here would be unmarred. It didn't take too long for all of us to notice after the museum visit that we were beginning to get cold symptoms. As the days passed, we all developed full-blown colds that would pretty well ground us for quite a few days. Steve and Jackie had the worse of it, but we've finally begun to get around again, just in time to leave, it seems.

We haven't been exactly idle since we've been laid up. We got Phannie's carpet cleaned by Lee at All About Floors; they do a great job. I also assembled all of our financial records needed for taxes that will soon be destined for our CPA, who will give me the (normally bad) news in a few weeks regarding how big a check I will have to write.  

We're headed to Port Aransas and Galveston from here, where we'll be attending another rally for our RV club, the Texas Bluebonnet Allegros. We'll say goodbye to Steve and Jackie there before heading farther north to Branson, but we'll probably meet up with them again this summer in Red Bay.

We'd like to remind you that you can get 15 percent off Strongback chairs by using the code "PhannieAndMae15" when you order any of their products.  Just go to (We don't get a commission; we just like the chairs.) 

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.