We Have Moved

Posted on January 1st, 2011 by Nick Russell

We welcome in the new year with a new address for the blog.

Chris Guld, from Geeks on Tour has been working hard to get the new blog layout formatted and ready to go. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, Changes Are Coming, we are in the process of moving all of our websites away from the Yahoo servers, which have given us repeated problems over the years, and which limited the number of blog subscribers we could have.

To access our new blog and today’s post Another One Bites The Dust, please go to our NEW BLOG ADDRESS and bookmark it for future access. If you are already a blog subscriber, you will have to subscribe to the new address for your daily blog feed.

Thank you for your patience during this transition.

Norcold Nonsense

Posted on December 31st, 2010 by Nick Russell

We were up and busy early yesterday morning getting our motorhome ready to go to our appointment at Camping Connection to get our new door lock installed, and to have our second Norcold refrigerator recall work done.

We left the Thousand Trails campground a little after 8:30 to be at the shop for our 9 a.m. appointment. Camping Connection has been doing a lot of Norcold recalls, and I’m sure this sign helps. Along with the fact that they have such an outstanding reputation for professional RV service work.

Camping Connection Norcold

This company doesn’t jerk you around like a lot of RV repair shops we dealt with when we had our Fleetwood Pace Arrow Vision, which we called the Motorhome From Hell. I can’t count the number of places where we arrived for an appointment, and then sat around all day, and more times than not they finally strolled out and tell us the parts needed for our repairs weren’t in stock, even though they had weeks to order them.

Not so with Camping Connection! They may be a small shop, but a lot of the big places, even the nationwide powerhouse in the industry, could take a lesson from them! Within five minutes of our arrival, they had pulled our Winnebago back to the service area and a tech was working on our repairs; a new entry door latch installed and the Norcold recall work done. We were finished and on our way by 11:30.

Camping Connection 2

Compare that to the four hours we spent at Camping World in Mesa, Arizona back in May while they replaced two tire valve stems that they had screwed up in the first place! And by the way, one of the two valve stems they replaced failed again, because they crank them down so tight they mash the little O-rings in the stems.

We feel a lot more secure now that we can actually lock our entry door again. The original door latch was white, and this one is black, because Winnebago no longer stocks the white unit. But it looks fine, and more important, it works!

There were two other coaches besides ours at Camping Connection having the same Norcold recall work done. And remember, this is the second recall, because their first fix didn’t work. But, considering the number of RVs that have burned to the ground from refrigerator fires, it has to be done. We have seen RV fires, and trust me, they are an ugly sight!

trailer fire

RV motorhome fire

Actually, we had two fires in our bus conversion, but thanks to Miss Terry’s quick response, and the lessons she learned in Mac McCoy’s RV Fire Safety classes, both were extinguished quickly with little damage.

Norcold was supposed to send customers a $50 gas card as compensation for their time and trouble after the first recall, not that $50 makes up for the hassles of calling around trying to find a shop that can do the work, sitting on your thumb for weeks waiting for Norcold to send the parts, because they won’t send a part out until you make the appointment, and then driving to a shop and sitting around waiting for the work to be done. This time around they are not even offering the $50 compensation. Not that it matters, since we never received the card from the first recall!

I have no idea why Norcold won’t just send their authorized repair shops a batch of the parts needed for the recall, so they could take care of customers as they come in.  Instead they make you wait while they send them out on an individual basis. I mean, they know that there is a potentially hazardous problem that could result in a fire, and even deaths, but they are either too cheap/lazy/stupid/incompetent (you pick an adjective, they all work) to just get the damn parts out there and installed. What a way to run a business!

We have one of Mac McCoy’s refrigerator fire extinguishers installed in our refrigerator compartment, and that makes us feel a lot more secure. Every RV should have one.

But Terry and I are in agreement that if our Norcold breaks, or if they have yet another recall (and I would not be at all surprised if they do), we’ll pull the piece of junk out and install a residential refrigerator. We had a Maytag refrigerator in our bus conversion for over eight years, and it never gave us a bit of trouble.

Thought For The Day – I’d like to help you out. Which way did you come in?

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Going Two Directions At Once

Posted on December 30th, 2010 by Nick Russell

Yesterday we felt like we were going in two directions at once. We had to drive into Orlando to pick up the pre-printed envelopes from the mail service, and even though it was only 27 miles, it took us well over an hour to get there.

We left the Thousand Trails campground about 11:15 and ran into a lot of traffic on State Route 192 through Kissimmee, which is no surprise, since that road is always busy. When we got onto Intestate 4, it was a parking lot, with long lines of cars in each eastbound lane sitting still.

For the next eight miles, it was stop and go traffic, with a lot more stopping than going. We were close to Disney World and Universal Studios, which are both very busy with holiday travelers, and several roads merge onto the highway there, creating a bottleneck. Which meant that all of the traffic coming onto the highway was trying to push their way in, passing on the shoulder, and doing whatever they could do to get one or two cars ahead of the next guy. And once they got there, they crept along just like the rest of us. It took us over a 45 minutes to go those eight miles, and when we finally reached our exit, there was road construction for several miles, making progress slow on the surface streets too! :(

We finally got to the mail service, picked up the envelopes, and then had to get right back on Interstate 4 to drive to the UPS freight dock in Tampa to pick up the new issue of the Gypsy Journal. Fortunately, the interstate was only backed up in the eastbound lanes, so even though  traffic was still heavy, we made good time.

It was 77 miles to the UPS facility, and once we were out of the traffic around the Orlando area, we zipped right along. Traffic started to get busy again when we got to Tampa, but it wasn’t close to being as bad as in Orlando.

I have to say that I’m impressed with the UPS freight service. They picked up our load of newspapers from the printer in Allegan, Michigan at 12:36 Monday afternoon, and it arrived in Tampa at 6:35 a.m. Wednesday morning! I couldn’t have driven that far that quickly!

Of course, when we were picking up the load of papers, we discovered that UPS has a freight dock in Ocoee, just 17 miles from the mail service, and 22 miles from the Thousand Trails campground! When we were scheduling the shipment, I was told that the closest facility where we could pick it up was in Tampa. Hey, gasoline is cheap right? And what else do I have to do with my time but drive 140 miles round trip?

We hadn’t eaten all day, and by the time we got back from Tampa, we were famished. We met Dave and Jean Damon at a Chinese restaurant a few miles from the campground, and when I hit that buffet line, it wasn’t a pretty sight!

We had a nice dinner with our friends, and the more time we spend with Dave and Jean, the more we like them. In fact, we’ve gotten so close that I may even take our hard kayaks off the roof of the Explorer and let Dave work them over with some of his 303 products! Yeah, I’m that kind of friend. :)

Thought For The Day -Time flies when you don’t know what you’re doing.

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Where Did The Day Go?

Posted on December 30th, 2010 by Nick Russell

Sometimes I don’t have anything special to write about, because a lot of the time, living in an RV is just like living in a house or apartment. We do chores, we goof off, we visit friends, and before we know it, the day is gone. Yesterday was a good example.

My friend Dave Damon had asked if I could pick him up in Clermont yesterday about 12:30, after an appointment he had, and I said no problem. He actually called about 11 and said he had finished up early, so we drove the 15 miles or so to pick up Dave and his pretty wife Jean, and drove them back to the Thousand Trails campground.

The last couple of nights, I have been unhooking our water hose overnight because it was getting so cold, so back at the motorhome I hooked it back up and filled our fresh water tank, and left it hooked up so Terry could do some laundry.

I had been craving some of Miss Terry’s delicious crepes, and while I was doing that, she made up a batch for brunch. Yummy! I’ll never be a slender man.

In the afternoon, I spent some time trying to familiarize myself with a Kodak Zi8 digital video camera I recently bought for an upcoming project I’ve been working on. The Zi8 is a pretty nifty little camera. It’s about the same size as my Droid Incredible phone, and the quality of the videos, even taken inside the motorhome with just ambient light, is pretty impressive.

Kodak Zi8

I knew from the reviews I had read that the camera’s built-in microphone is basically worthless for outside use, so when I ordered it, I also ordered an Audio-Technica lavalier microphone. But even with the mike, the sound volume was very low. My buddy Greg White has the same camera, so I called him in Texas and picked his brain. Greg said he’d look at his camera and try to figure it out, but about then, I found the camera’s volume adjustment, and solved the problem myself. When all else fails, read the directions.

Greg is a computer whiz, so while I had him on the phone, we talked about the fact that my Dell desktop seems to be getting slower all the time, in spite of running all of the different cleanup programs and such. The computer is about three years old, and that seems to be about the lifespan for one for me, since I use it so much, and bounce them around all over the country. We decided that when we hook back up before our Arizona Gypsy Gathering rally, Greg will try to work his magic on it, and if that doesn’t do it, it’s time to go shopping.

After I got off the phone with Greg we made a run to WalMart, which was busy, but not as busy as we had expected, what with folks returning Christmas gifts and shopping for after-Christmas bargains.

It was a good day for telephone conversations, so once I got my fill of WalMart (which didn’t take long), I left Terry to the shopping and went outside and talked to my buddy Orv Hazelton, who is at the Escapees Jojoba Hills co-op in southern California. Orv said it was supposed to get very cold there overnight. That made me feel a little bit better. If I have to be cold, everybody should be cold!

When we got back to the motorhome, our neighbor, Charles Deutschmann, invited us over for a bowl of ice cream and some conversation during the evening. Never one to turn down free food, especially ice cream, I quickly said we’d be there.

We had a nice time visiting with Charles and his wife Nancy in their beautiful Monaco motorhome. It’s a mid-entry diesel pusher, which you don’t see many of, and the layout was very nice. The ice cream was delicious, the conversation flowed well, and before we knew it the time had flown by and it was after 10 p.m. We felt bad for taking up Charles and Nancy’s entire evening, so we took our leave and came home.

We watched TV for a while, and by the time I caught up on a few e-mails and wrote this blog post, it was getting late and time to think about bed. Where did the day go?

Thought For The Day – I’m not cynical. I’m just experienced.

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Changes Are Coming

Posted on December 28th, 2010 by Nick Russell

It was another chilly day here at the Orlando Thousand Trails campground, so we spent most of the day at home. The bad news is that being stuck inside too long really gives me cabin fever. But, the good news is that we’re getting a lot of things accomplished.

Yesterday I found a mail service in Orlando and made arrangements for them to handle sending out the new issue of the Gypsy Journal that is somewhere on a truck between Michigan and Florida, making it’s way south. We should have the papers in a couple of days, and then we’ll get them mailed out. Between the holiday printing schedule, which is always a hassle, bad weather, and problems with new production equipment at the printer’s, we’re running late. But as I wrote a few days ago, every December we run into something to delay us, no matter how hard we try to plan ahead.

Once that was taken care of, I uploaded the new digital issue of the paper, and sent e-mail notifications to all of our digital subscribers.

Meanwhile, Miss Terry has been busy sorting cabinets and drawers and piling stuff up on the counter. I asked her what she was up to and she said it was early spring cleaning, and anything that wasn’t useful was just taking up space and adding weight to the motorhome going to the dumpster. I was very quiet the rest of the day, just trying not to get noticed.

We have some changes coming for the new year. My pal Chris Guld from Geeks on Tour has been working on moving us to a new web server, and making some changes in our blog format.  We’ll be taking it live in the next few days, but here’s a sneak peak at the new blog format. Look it over and let me know what you think.

At first glance, it looks very similar to the present blog, but the comments will be easier to post and access, the new format automatically displays links to related blog posts, the links in the left column to the rest of our website are more contemporary, and best of all, it won’t be on the Yahoo servers, which have given us so much grief over the years. Chris still has some tweaking to do, but I think it’s a big improvement.

You may notice that there is a tab at the top to Miss Terry’s Kitchen. Don’t get too excited, Terry isn’t ready to commit to a cooking blog yet, but if we push her far enough out on that limb, she may have to. Or, she may just break that limb off and beat me with it!

In the afternoon, Denny and Cindy Henderson came by to pick us up, and we went to dinner at a nice restaurant called Oakwood Smokehouse and Grill in Clermont. Denny and I had the rib platter, Terry had chopped barbecued pork, and Cindy had a burger. Everything was delicious. At one time we were fans of Sonny’s Barbecue, which has locations all over the Southeast, but on our last few visits, we were disappointed in the food.  Given the chance, I’d opt for Oakwood Smokehouse any time.

Back at the campground, I unhooked our water hose so it would not freeze overnight, then came inside and got some writing done before it was time to go to bed.

Bad Nick did some writing too, and posted a new Bad Nick Blog titled You Can’t Make This Stuff Up! Check it out and leave a comment.

Thought For The Day – Sorry, but my karma just ran over your dogma.

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