Our stay in Angel Fire New Mexico

 As we mentioned in our last update we made another move on Monday (10/2) and landed at the Angel Fire RV Resort for an 8 day stay. This resort has been on my radar for a couple years as a place to check out and maybe stay cool during the summer months but it has not been in line with our travels and the rates are a little higher, well a lot higher than we like to pay so we didn’t put out any extra effort to get here. But as luck would have it they were pretty much in our path south this year AND they were running a 2fer deal making the price just a little higher than we normally like to pay instead of a lot more so we booked 8 nights and paid for 4.

The view out our windshield

The view out our windshield

 Heck, we have already blown our Campground Fee budget out of the water this year (along with a few other categories) so why not continue the trend right? Someone has to be hiring somewhere LOL!!!!

 After getting here and setting up we decided to just kick back and do nothing other than chat with a couple other campers, do a walking tour of the resort and wait for the Kansas City game to come on, pretty uneventful but fine with us. Well uneventful except the game!!!

GO CHIEFS!!!

GO CHIEFS!!!

 Angel Fire sit’s at 8400 ft elevation and it’s been a while since we have been this high (well altitude wise anyway LOL!!) and it didn’t take long to notice. Just walking around almost had us gasping for air so when we saw the Pickelball courts we almost had to chuckle at how much of a struggle that might be, but we were sure to find out.

They have some very nice shower rooms available at the park.

They have some very nice shower rooms available at the park.

It may look like she has a smile on her face but really she is gasping for air.

It may look like she has a smile on her face but really she is gasping for air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forecast for the next week was all over the board so we had to pick & choose just when to do things and it turned out the Tuesday (10/3) was going to be a nice day so we decided to make the 25 mile drive down the mountain and do a little touring in Taos.  

 Taos sit’s at an elevation of 6969ft so along with it being a pretty drive down the mountain it was also 1400ft lower in elevation. Now I’m not sure we could really notice much difference with only 1400ft difference in elevation but mentally I think it helped LOL!!

 We drove the streets to get the overall feel of the area and then hit the Visitor center before making our way to the San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church which was built between 1772 and 1816

 

 

 

 

 

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The Taos Chamber of Commerce states that the building is “one of the most photographed and painted churches in the world and during our visit there must have been at least a dozen people with their isles set up painting.

 They take pretty darn good care of this church in fact each year in June a group gathers for two weeks to re-mud the exterior with a mixture of mud & straw.

Check out the gutter system along the top that drop water down to the decretive catchers below.

Check out the gutter system along the top that drop water down to the decretive catchers below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No pictures were allowed of the interior but like most old churches like this it was pretty impressive.

 After the church we headed to the Taos Plaza, the historic center of the town of Taos. The plaza was built for defense with windows and doors facing into the plaza and the limited entrances could be barricaded but now has a grassy park with shady trees, park benches, and a gazebo surrounded by a variety of shops made of adobe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walked the streets for a while but to be honest I was so hungry that my attention span was dwindling fast and the “hangry” Dave was showing up so we walked down to the #2 rated place to eat in Taos called the La Cueva Café and hand lunch.

 Walking up to the place had us wondering how it could be rated #2 but it proved itself by having some pretty darn good food and service. Of course t’s the only place in town we ate so we have nothing to compare it to.

 After lunch we did some more walking of the streets before making our way home.

This tree has a very strong desire to live. Youi can't see but it's pretty much hollowed out and look at the sapling growing next to it.

This tree has a very strong desire to live. Youi can’t see but it’s pretty much hollowed out and look at the sapling growing next to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday and Thursday were off and on again miserable weather with winds blowing, some rain and cooler temps so we pretty much stuck around home and snuck in a walk when we could and did have a chance to at least play a little Pickelball.

 Our comments earlier about how tough playing Pickelball at 8400ft elevation proved true. After a little warm up and only a couple straight games were huffin & puffin and ready to call it quit. Wait, I hate the word quit, I meant to say take a break LOL!!

 I think it was Friday we decided to take a drive to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

The bridge was started in 1963 and completed in 1965 and spans 1280ft and at 565 feet above the Rio Grande it is the seventh highest bridge in the United States and 82nd highest bridge in the world.

 Of course we took a walk across it and back which if you have a real fear of heights might be a challenge LOL!!

 We have mentioned before in updates how it’s interesting that in some parts of the country and at certain popular attractions safety is taken so seriously that it almost takes away from the actual attraction with all the fences and barrios yet in others, like this one for example, you are free to live life on the edge.

 In fact while we were standing in the middle of the bridge looking down over the edge we couldn’t help wonder how many people had jumped over the edge so I had to look it up. As it turns out an average of 3 people per year leap to their death from this bridge.      

 They are studying ways to deter suicides like higher fencing or netting but the lack of the all mighty dollar is standing in the way.

 Anyway, we didn’t mean to get morbid and it was a pretty neat place to visit so if you find yourself in the area stop and have a look over the edge!!! Oh, it also seemed like a popular place for local crafters to come and set up table to show off and sell their pieces.

 Saturday, (10/7) was another nice weather day with brilliant blue skies full of sunshine and very little wind so we decided to do the 84 mile loop called “The Enchanted Circle Drive” that circles all the way around Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in the state at 13,161 feet.

 You may or may not know that New Mexico has long been known as The Land of Enchantment so I guess doing the Enchanted Circle Drive is a must.

  The drive circles Wheeler Peak which is New Mexico’s highest peak at 13,161ft and for us took us starting in Angel Fire it took us through the towns of Eagle Nest, Red River, Questa, Taos and back to Angel Fire.

 Most of the drive was pretty scenic but we agreed that we wouldn’t call all of it enchanting LOL!! And other than the scenery itself the favorite part of the loop for us was the town of Red River which was really the only thing that caught or attention enough to stop during the drive.

 

 Red River is a ski resort town with a country town feel. It has a great main street filled with eateries, tavern and shops and of course because Octoberfest was going on during our visit didn’t hurt either.

 We took some time and walked the streets taking in all the sights and spent some time inside the festival site wandering through the dozens of venders set up showing off everything from jewelry to painted gourds to homemade wines and beers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We didn’t partake in any alcohol testing because we were at the very beginning of our loop but looking back knowing what we know now I think we might have just pulled up a hay bale, listened to some music, ate some of the great smelling foods and sampled a few spirits and just turned around and went home from there. But we all know how hindsight works.

 So after spending time in Red River we returned to the truck, broke out our sacked lunch of rolled up flour tortillas & peanut butter, carrots and grapes and continued on. Do you see now why looking back staying at the festival would have been a great idea LOL!!!

 Ok, now for a twist in our planned 8 day stay in Angle Fire. Even though we had been dealing with a little rain, some cool temps and windy days (wind strong enough that we almost started pulling in slides) we didn’t consider leaving early until we noticed in the weather forecast that snow was on the way and the day before our scheduled departure day was going to have a high of 36 and a low of 12!!

Bone in pork chops & Brussel sprouts.

Bone in pork chops & Brussel sprouts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well now we don’t live in a home on wheels to stick around and deal with snow and temps like that so we both agreed to find a spot at a lower altitude with better weather and make a move ahead of our planned departure date even though we were paid up for 2 more nights.

 After a little research on-line and a couple phone calls we found a spot southeast of Angel Fire at an altitude of about 3000ft lower were temperatures were going to be in the high 60’s to mid-70’s for the next week and made our reservations.

 So Sunday morning (10/8) we lifted our jacks on a beautiful sunny (but brisk) morning with no wind and rolled away from Angel Fire headed south to warmer temps.

 When we first started this fulltime adventure we (like most everyone else that lives this lifestyle) said we are going to follow the nice weather and for the most part we have, BUT it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Weather can sneak up on you unexpectedly and you just have to deal with it but when it’s forecasted days in advance and you just sit still and don’t take advantage of your mobility by living in a house on wheels, well then you can’t complain about it and dang-it I don’t want my right to complain taken away!!! LOL!!

 Anyway, we are holed up in a pretty nice spot a few miles outside of a “way to big city” with Pickleball courts, Foosball, pool tables, a shuffle board table, a nice pool and a casino with a couple nice restaurants to keep us occupied.

 And yes, even though the city we are close to is WAY too large for my liking we will undoubtedly venture in to take in a few of the sights available but we will go into that in our next update.        

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Spending time in La Veta Colorado

Friday (9/29) brought another travel day so after an abbreviated morning routine we lifted our jacks and rolled away from Oakley Kansas.

 For today’s travel we decided to take some backroads so we took HWY40 west out of Oakley to HWY 287 that we took south a few miles before jumping on HWY 96 west. We drove 96 to Ordway where we took HWY 71 south until we reached HWY 10 and drove it until we reached Walsenburg Colorado and wiggled our way through to HWY 160 that we drove about 15 miles to HWY 12 that finally dropped us into La Veta Colorado and the Circle the Wagons RV Park after a 284 travel day.

 The entire days was spent on very lonely 2 lane backroads, some sort of narrow, some very nice and some ended up very wet as we popped in and out of rain showers. But one thing is for certain like we said, they were lonely, baron and very non scenic roads. But I would take them over overcrowded and congested with scenery I can’t look at anyway because I’m so busy watching for other crazies on the road LOL!!

 Once all checked in and set up in our site we had lunch and chilled a bit before heading out for a driving tour.

 La Veta is a very small town with a population of just over 800 people and sits at an elevation of 7037 feet. The community was named for a mineral deposit near the original town site, La Veta meaning “mineral vein” in Spanish.

Our site at Circle The Wagons RV Park

Our site at Circle The Wagons RV Park

The view from our door

The view from our door

 We did a quick driving tour and then a short walk about downtown before heading out into the country side to take in some views.

 Before long the wind picked up and the rain came so we made our way home for the rest of the evening.

 Sunday we decided to drive the 82 miles loop on the Scenic Highway of the Legends that provided some pretty nice views of the Spanish Peaks which are two peaks that rise high over plains. The West Peak is 13,626 feet tall and the East Peak is 12,683 feet. They were called Huajatolla (Wa-ha-toy-a), meaning breasts of the world.

 It also took us through the small former coal mining town of Cokedale. The mine shut down in 1947 and from the looks of things nothing has happened since then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cokedale was established as a company town in 1906 by the American Smelting and Refining Company and by 1909, Cokedale had a population of 1,500. Each day it’s #1 mine produced 1,500 tons of coal a day and its 350 coke ovens produced 800 tons of coke. Mining operations at Cokedale continued for 40 years and produced over a million tons of coal but things are sure different now.

 The most interesting thing left in Cokedale for us was the remains of the Coking Ovens and Ebony Hills “slag piles”.

 Another point of interest was the Devils Stair steps.

I think our favorite’s along the route was Monument Lake and North Lake. Monument Lake is located in the Monument Lake Resort that also has lodge with rooms to rent as well as small cabins. The lake is 100 acre’s and is stocked with browns, cutthroats, rainbows, kokanee salmon, and splake.

 Everything was all closed up except the lake while we were there but that’s all we were interested in anyway.  We drove around the lake 2 separate times during our visit and saw people reeling in fish each time but we didn’t see anything huge flopping around.

 North Lake is a manmade lake constructed in 1907 to create a water supply for the City of Trinidad and is also stocked with the same fish as Monument Lake.

 We spent time around North Lake on two separate days as well but didn’t see anyone catching any fish but in all fairness it was pretty windy each day and I think the people that were bold enough to deal with the elements were just fishing in spots that were out of the wind a little and not necessarily where the fish might be, and I can’t blame them.

 We made a stop in a small little community called Cuchara on one of our drives but I guess we stopped in a little early because the streets were empty which were good for pictures but 2 other times we drove through the streets were completely packed with cars, enough so that we opted to not stop again.

 From what we gathered there are a couple very popular restaurants in Cuchara that are a huge draw which was another part of our decision to not make a stop, we have eaten out sooooo much more this summer than we normally do that we have decided to cut that back a bit LOL!!  

 Here is a link to more info on the Highway of Legends in case you have an interest. 

https://www.trinidadco.com/main/highway-of-legends/

 We enjoyed our short 3 day stay in the area but it would have been much nicer if the wind hadn’t blown so much. It blew so hard at times that it actually made it hard to stand upright to even take a picture. At one point it was even hard to push the truck door open against the wind to get out and then I found myself laughing as I bounced around trying to keep the camera stable. I felt like some of the newscasters you see on TV LOL!!

 Monday (10/2) we decided would be another good travel day, the sun was supposed to shine and the wind was supposed to hold off until late afternoon so we took advantage of the window of opportunity, lifted our jacks and drove about 170 miles south to our new home in Angel Fire New Mexico at an elevation of 8400ft.

 We decided because it’s still pretty warm farther south we would hang out in Angel Fire for 8 days before thinking about making another move. We have until November 1st to make it to our winter home so we have time to kill.

 We also made sure we were all set up at our new home well before Monday Nights football game because Kansas City was playing, GO KC!!!!! What a nail biter, that game stressed me out.     

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Travel day and a little time spent around Oakley Kansas

 Wednesday (9/27) we lifted our jacks and rolled out of the Prairie Band Casino, jumped on I-70 and drove 307 miles to the High Plains Campground in Oakley Kansas.

 Dang, driving through Kansas is a lot like driving through Texas with lots of nothing to look at. But that’s partly due to the highway we drove I’m sure, but maybe not LOL!!

 Once set up in our site and had a few minutes to relax we headed out for a short driving tour of Oakley to get a lay of the land before heading home to have dinner and chill the remainder of the evening.

 Thursday morning (9/28) after our morning routine we decided to drive out to the Monument Rocks, sometimes referred to as the Chalk Pyramids about 25 miles away from our campsite.

 

 

Even though it’s pretty much popcorn fart dry in the area now, the Smoky Hill River once had enough flow to carve unique “badlands” in the fossil-rich chalk layers of western Kansas.

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The chalk formations reach a height of up to 70 ft and are estimated to have been formed 80 million years ago.

 Compared to what you see in Utah these may pale in comparison but we enjoyed walking around and having a picnic lunch here just the same.

 After our time at Monument Rocks we headed back to Oakley and stopped in at the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center for a look see.

 The Cultural Center doubles as the Visitor Center and has a few small displays, a small gift shop a short interesting movie about the area and plenty of information about the area, and the parking lot is large enough for big rigs to navigate and there is a nice grassy area for pets to stretch their legs.

 There is also a pretty nice bronze sculpture out front of Buffalo Bill on his horse (weighing in at 5000 lbs) and a buffalo (weighing in at 4000 lbs) that cost approximately $450,000 to build at the time.  

 From the beginning of the Buffalo Bill project until the sculpture was put in place took six years. It had its beginning as a sketch on a napkin at a restaurant in Garden City, KS. Once the monumental piece was started, it took about three years to complete.

The sculpture was first created in clay. After it was completely sculpted it had to be broken down in over 100 smaller pieces to be cast separately. After being cast, they were bronze welded together, chased, and then the final patina was applied.

The sculpture is approximately two times life-sized with the Buffalo Bill sculpture standing 16′ tall and was dedicated in May 2004 and is owned by the Wild West Historical Foundation, Inc.

 Once we finished up with Buffalo Bill we headed home to get cleaned up a little before going over to Cap’n Jacks Pub for some dinner.

 Cap’n Jacks doesn’t look like much from the outside but if you are in the area don’t let that fool you because the food was pretty darn good.

 After dinner we called it a night and gave a little thought to lifting our jacks the next morning. We decided to get away from I-70 and take some back roads for our travel day on Friday and boy were we on backroads LOL. But we will leave that for our next update.     

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Our tour of New Horizon

 I contacted New Horizons on Monday at scheduled a tour of their plant for Tuesday (9/26) so after a good night’s sleep and our morning routine we jumped in the truck and drove the 83 miles from our campsite at the casino to Junction City where the factory is located.

 We had toyed with the idea of actually lifting our jacks and making a move to Junction City after our stay at the Casio and tour the plant from there but there just wasn’t anything else in Junction City we wanted to see so we figured just driving there would work out fine, and it did.

 We arrived at the factory just before 10 when our tour was scheduled and after a short sit down meeting with Candie who was doing our private tour we headed into the plant.

 Touring the New Horizons plant was as different as night and day compared to the Montana and DRV plants. The Montana plant gave the feel of just banging out product, jam packed, somewhat un-organized and no real modifications are allowed. And the DRV plant even though much more organized and considered semi-custom meaning some customizing is allowed but not really all that much and it was still apparent that they were mass producing a product and they wanted to get them out the door and both plants had workers buzzing around everywhere, well actually just DRV because when we toured Montana the work shift had already ended.

Frame shop

Frame shop

 Right out of the gate New Horizon starts to set themselves apart from most other 5th wheel manufacture by designing and building their own frame in house and each frame is designed for particular floorplans which just makes great sense to me compared to the vast majority of 5th wheels on the market today use a mass produced frame built by an outside source called Lippert.

 I’m not saying that Lippert frames are a bad thing necessarily and it seems manufactures can spec out certain things on a Lippert frame but from what I have seen the in house frame that New Horizons builds is a much more sturdy and substantial frame using a 12″ Steel I-Beam over 4 inch structural steel tubing design. OH and they use only American Steel! Like anything else, without a good sturdy foundation it’s tough to create a strong and lasting product at the end.

 Lipper frames tend to come with 6 Hydraulic levelers, the 2 front landing gears being rated at 14K each and the 4 rear being rated at 6k each compared to New Horizon using only 4 Big Foot leveling system but each leg has a 17,000 pound lift capacity.

 At first thought you might think that a 6 point leveling system would have to be better but then if you think about how much stiffer the I-beam constructed frame is on a New Horizon and think about all of the motorhomes on the road that are much heavier than any fifth wheel and they only have 4 jacks you start realizing that maybe, just maybe the other guys use e extra jacks to remedy a weak spot.

Pretty large storage area.

Pretty large storage area.

A panel would normally cover the hoses and panels but this was taken in the front storage bay so you can see what type of access you have if needed.

A panel would normally cover the hoses and panels but this was taken in the front storage bay so you can see what type of access you have if needed.

 I don’t know, on one hand I guess if the weak spot is fixed by the 2 extra jacks them you no longer have a weak spot (except going down the road in comparison) and we certainly are not going to toss DRV out of the mix because of this.

 New Horizons use a Mor/Ryde IS axle suspension system and each coach is engineered to carry a minimum of 3,000 lbs of carrying capacity. NOTE, 3,000 lb MINIMUM. For those of you that have been shopping or have owned ANY type of RV you know how important cargo capacity is and how little you may end up with in some brands and units. Here is a link in case you care to learn more about the Mor/ryde systems. http://www.morryde.com/products/87-independent-suspension-system

Another thing we noticed while at the meat & potato’s section of the tour was the location of the 100 gallon fresh, 70 gallon grey and 70 gallon black tanks, they are over the axles where they should be. Plus they are heated & insulated and come with the external sensors and flush out system on both the black and grey.

Part of the cabinet shop.

Part of the cabinet shop.

 While touring the Montana plant I asked if they used an external sensor system on the tanks, the answer was no. When I asked why the answer was because of the additional cost. WHAT!!! There isn’t a RVer out there that doesn’t complain about the unreliable internal sensor systems and that would complain about a puny $300 (roughly) out of the gate to have a good reliable external system. Plus if they started buying these external system at bulk like they surly would they would get a much better price. Just another thing that makes me think Montana does not really think a lot of the end user, but just the ending bottom line. Just my opinion    

 Another thing I noticed during the tour was the attention to detain in the wiring. I call it like I see it and our Tiffin has nothing but a rat’s nest of wiring crammed into every nook & cranny you look at and is one of the weakest things I think Tiffin does. And to be honest I didn’t feel that Montana did much better than Tiffin and DRV was the best of the 3 however but not even close to New Horizons, they really do it right. Wires were ran in loom’s keeping everything neat and things were ran and secured in lines instead of having a “ Oh, I have an extra 5 ft of wire so I will just stuff it in here someplace because no one will ever see it ” mentality.

 Another feature that I really like was the placement of their generators if you wanted one, it’s fitted UNDER the 5th wheel in the middle of the coach instead of taking up valuable space in the cargo space up front AND adding more pin weight. This feature alone is HUGE in my book.

 When it comes to the framework of walls New Horizons is really not much different from the other guys. The only real difference I saw was that DRV welds one side of the aluminum ribbing and uses a screwed on bracket on the other side claiming it allows for some movement instead of breaking weld where New Horizons welds all seams. I don’t know, in my mind ridged is good but that discussion can be left to the engineers of the world. Again, one way or the other would not sway us one way or the other until it could be proven to me which was best.

 As far as insulation goes coming from the construction world years ago I liked what I saw at DRV with the glued and hung batt insulation, it just looked insulated to me compared to New Horizons and there high density closed cell foam insulation. But I will say that once I saw a completed wall and a cut away section I started to be swayed a bit, the thickness was impressive.

 And when I asked Montana and DRV about insulation in the slide floors I think I saw them start to laugh at me saying there are some areas that you just can’t really insulate. But when I asked New Horizons they quickly told me that they do insulate the slide floors which is huge. In full disclosure they did not SHOW me how much insulation they put in the slide floor.

That cutout shows how think the walls are before the external sheet is put on.

That cutout shows how think the walls are before the external sheet is put on.

 Speaking of slide floors, New Horizons has found a way to make the slide floor pretty much flush with the main floor when extended which is great. What is also great is you can opt to NOT have carpet on the slide floor so if you opt for hardwood flooring in the rv you can also have hardwood on the slide room floors which is great.

 Even though our motorhome is considered to have tile everywhere we still have carpet on the slide floors which we would rather not have.

 Oh, did I say hardwood flooring?? Well yes I did, when I asked Montana and DRV about hardwood flooring (we love our heated tile floors but tile in a 5th wheel I’m sure would really add up weight wise pretty fast and cause issues) we were simply told NO. But with New Horizons hardwood flooring is almost a standard. And when I asked Montana and DRV about heated floors the answer was NO and even though New Horizons does not really like doing heated floors they will but they tell you up front that they will warrantee the floors but not the heated portion which I guess is fare if you know that up front and really want them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well this is starting to get lengthy and we haven’t even talked about the glitz and glitter of the interior. Well the theme of getting what you want continues. If you want to change the standard layout of the kitchen just speak up, work with the design team and have it done. If you want cabinets to be taller than standard, no problem, if you want to reverse the entire floor plan and have the exit door on the opposite side of the RV, no problem, if you want to supply your own kitchen sink or bathroom sinks, no problem, want to supply your own wall sconces, no problem, want to change the size of windows or even slides, no problem. It just goes on and on. Heck I think if you told them to leave out the kitchen and just make one huge living room they would do it. Try ANY of those things with any of the other manufactures out there and see how far you get LOL!!!

 But that’s why they call New Horizons a custom 5th wheel manufacture, you just have to be willing to pay the price to get exactly what you want.

 Oh sure price, here is where the fun stops because New Horizons 5th wheels are not cheap and if you are anyplace near our tax bracket they are downright expensive but once again, if you want the top of the line and you want it your way you don’t have many options.

 It is “our opinion” Montana and DRV are nowhere near being in the same league as New Horizons and if money wasn’t an issue we would buy a New Horizons hands down at this particular time.

It's hard to get good shots in small areas.

It’s hard to get good shots in small areas.

 New Horizons only produces about 35 units per year compared to the hundreds the other guys put up so as you can imagine there is more attention to detail in the New Horizons.

 Ok, let me back pedal just a little because nothing is perfect, we don’t like their windows. They use the windows with the little crank our portion at the bottom and we just don’t care for them. If we want a window open we want it OPEN, not have some puny little area tilted out, heck I don’t think you can even yell at your neighbor through one of those stupid things but then again that just us.

 And what REALLY surprised me is that they use that same crank out type window on the sides of the slides. I can just see me pulling a slide in with the window cranked out, not good. In all fairness we did not ask if they would use a different window but when we expressed our dislike for the crank out style they didn’t jump right in with option’s so who knows.

 

This unit is over 50' long!!!

This unit is over 50′ long!!!

   

 Lucky for us we are not really in the market for a 5th wheel right this minute so we are hoping that DRV (which is the 2nd runner up for us) will up there game and offer a few things that New Horizons offers now within a couple years at maybe a lower price. And if they don’t, when (and if) the time comes we will have to sit down and really think hard which way to jump, who knows maybe a lightly used New Horizons built close enough to the way we would want that we would jump on that. And who know, maybe we would just buy a new one and get it exactly the way we want it. Only time will tell.

 For now I really love driving our motorhome and we are very comfortable in it so there is no hurry.

 Well that pretty much sums up our short stay at the Prairie Band Casino, after our tour we stopped for a late lunch / early dinner and headed home for the evening and Wednesday morning (9/27) we lifted our jacks and moved westward. You will need to come back to find out where. IN fact by the time we get this posted we will have moved at least twice and changed states at least once and maybe twice LOL!!! We will get caught up.

 Oh, and this post is not meant to piss anyone off, we have friends with both DRV and Montana that have great luck with them and we would hate to not be invited in for a beer because of this update LOL!!!. These are just our honest opinions.    

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We escaped Red Bay and headed Northwest.

Picking up where we left off in our last update Saturday morning (9/23) we lifted our jacks and escaped from the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay Alabama. We had the wheels rolling at about 7:30 headed in the general direction of Junction City Kansas about 770 miles north west with no intention of reaching it without a one night stop over someplace in between, but just where we had no idea.

 When you look at routes to get from Red Bay Alabama to Junction City Kansas the GPS wants to route you through big cities. One option being up through St. Louis Missouri and then west through Kansas City or the other option being through Memphis Tennessee and then north through Kansas City and west to Junction City. If you have been reading the blog for any length of time at all I will probably be redundant in saying, I HATE BIG CITIES!!! 

 When we rolled out we really had 2 different routes in mind and regardless of which we opted to take the first 225 miles were the same but when we reached that 225 mile mark we would have a choice to make.

 He headed out of Red Bay towards Belmont then continued north/northwest through Corinth, Henderson, Jackson, Dyersburg and on up to Sikeston Missouri where we pulled into a truck sop to fuel up, have a little lunch and flip a coin to figure out which way we would go from there LOL!!. This route had all good roads and part of it even 4 lanes and took us through a few small towns and country we would have never seen sticking to major routes PLUS we were able to miss Memphis (which we have already visited by the way).

 After a little lunch we decided to take hwy 60 west towards Springfield where we took 65 north to 13 north which kept us out of the heart of Springfield and stayed on 13 until we reached Clinton where we switched over to hwy 7 until we hooked up with hwy 49 and drove it to hwy 470/50 that we took to 10 and finally up to I-70 that we took through Topeka. Once through Topeka Kansas we took hwy 75 north about 20 miles to the Prairie Band Casino where we spent 3 nights. Whew. It really sounds more confusing than it was but this route avoided St Louis and kept us on the southern outskirts of Kansas City which still had some traffic but not bad. Once you look at it on a map it will make sense.

 OK, so we sort of got on a roll with the rough direction so we will go back a bit. After leaving Sikeston and before reaching Springfield we spent the night at the Laura Ingalls Wilder RV Park in Mansfield Missouri which made our travel day right at 400 miles.

 We had a nice long pull through site so we didn’t even unhook which is uncommon for us because we normally always go for a driving tour when we stop. But I guess we were just on a mission. I’m not sure I’m in favor of this new travel pattern we have been doing the last couple weeks, in fact I know I’m not.

We are the 3rd site down just beyond the 5th wheel.

We are the 3rd site down just beyond the 5th wheel.

 Laura Ingalls RV Park is certainly nothing special and we wouldn’t call it a destination but it served the purpose for what we needed and after a good night’s sleep we were on the road again at 7:30 on Sunday morning headed towards the casino.

Our site was up in the middle of those tree's

Our site was up in the middle of those tree’s

Diane found a friend.

Diane found a friend.

 Once we reached the Prairie Band Casino we paid for 3 nights, got set up and chilled for a while and watched the Kansas City Chiefs game (WAY TO GO KC!!) before going over to have dinner and make a donation to the gambling gods. This time they accepted our puny $20 each donation and didn’t offer any change back so we left LOL!!!

Yes, I wash the windshield now and again even if it does not look like it. Oh, and should we be trying to find a campground near Minneapolis in Feb.??!! What a birthday that would be.

Yes, I wash the windshield now and again even if it does not look like it.

 We were officially tired anyway so after the casino we headed home and relaxed in front of the TV until bed time.

 OK, so the main purpose of putting ourselves through the last couple long travel days was so we could sort of get back on track after our detour to Red Bay from Michigan and end up in this area to tour the New Horizon’s 5th wheel factory in Junction City and to set us up with a more northern route to drop down into Arizona for the winter opposed to driving the southern route through Texas which looking back at that decision now may have been crazy but what the heck right?

 Monday (9/25) we didn’t really have any set plans other than making a run to the town of Holton to check it out and to make a stop for groceries. And to contact New Horizons to set up our tour. Other than that we just had a down day to recuperate from the hectic last week or so. 

 

 I think we will stop here for this update and talk about our tour in the next update.

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Our time at the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay Alabama

 In our last update we left off after getting set up at the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay Alabama on Saturday (9/16) and starting our wait for our visit from a coordinator on Monday morning and absolutely nothing exciting happened on Sunday except football on TV. GO KC!!!

 Monday morning rolled around and knowing things start early around here so everyone can finish up mid-afternoon to avoid working in the heat we were ready for a visit at 7am and just waited our turn.

 About 8am Jason showed up with our list of repairs in hand to have a look at everything. Once we finished our walk he said we would have about a 1 ½ week wait to get into a full service bay. At that point I asked about getting into a express bay which gets you 3 hours in a bay with 2 service tech’s working on your rig and what they get done in 3 hours is what you get done and you can pick the order of importance and they will work off that.

 Jason’s reply was that we would be borderline on getting everything completed on our list in an express bay but if that was our choice we could probably be in a bay in about 2 to 3 days. After a short consideration we opted to take our chances in an express bay. I’ll mention here that one of the items on our list was a broken tile and the tile work is NOT done in a express bay so that did not count towards the 3 hours, we knew we would have to pull over to a special bay to have the tile work done and would have to stay there overnight.

 After we signed the proper papers with Jason stating we knew the rules that go along with an express bay he went on his way and we started our wait once again.

 The remainder of Monday was just filled with a little walking around the service center and a drive around town but we were sort of dying with the temps being in the high 80’s and the humidity being at levels that we had not experienced in some time so most of what we did was hide where ever there was air-conditioning LOL!!

 Tuesday morning (9/19) we figured we would go over to the Tiffin manufacturing plant and take a 9:30 tour, so after I was ready I went outside to chill in a chair until Diane finished getting ready and while doing so Trevor pulled up to the coach next to us to deliver a custom rug set. Oh, who is Trevor you ask?

 Well, we have been communicating with Trevor since we made the decision to head to Red Bay about installing custom lights under our couch on the frame rails and under the 2 slides on the passenger side with the thought of having them done after we were finished at the service center.

Having our lights installed.

Having our lights installed.

 Of course before he left we got talking and he said, “What do you have going on today”? To which I said “nothing important”, to which he said, “Well why don’t you come on down to the shop right now because we have a bay open and can get right to it”, to which I said “OK”. Then I said to Diane “OUR PLANS HAVE CHANGED let’s get the rig ready to roll!!”

We can change the light from blue to a bunch of other colors as well as have them automatically change or even strobe.

We can change the light from blue to a bunch of other colors as well as have them automatically change or even strobe.

 Getting the lighting done pretty much killed most of Tuesday which was fine with us because #1 we figured we would have another down day during our Red Bay ordeal to tour the plant and #2 we toured the plant back in 2013 so it really wasn’t that big of a deal to do again, even though we have liked to.

 Wednesday morning (9/20) we figured would be another down day but were not 100% certain so once again we toyed with the idea of doing the plant tour at 9:30 but were really wishy washy. But regardless of what you do while hanging out at the service center you just make sure you are ready for anything at 7am just in case.

 Once again I found myself sitting outside in a chair at about 8am and the phone rang, it was the service center saying, “We are ready for you in bay #10”!! So we quickly this stowed everything  and rolled on over.

That's us in the express bay

That’s us in the express bay

 While in the express bay they fixed, #1 a door latch issue. It seems something came loose or broke inside the framework that allowed the catch pin to move and in turn made us have to slam the door to get it latched and it started squeaking like a farm truck going through a corn field.

 #2, we had a wall between our ½ bath and the bedroom that would move during travel at the bottom. Sometimes it would move far enough that the latch wouldn’t even hold the door shut but just a slight nudge with the foot would get it back in place and all was good.

 We were told that at the time of our build they happened across some new super adhesive and figured that was all they needed to secure the wall to the floor but obviously not. So they took the base molding off and installed an anchor bracket which now has the wall solidly set in place.

Just kickin back in wait mode.

Just kickin back in wait mode.

 #3, we had one day shade that would not stay down. Not really a big deal to us because our windows are very tinted to begin with and we have a night shade that worked if needed. And we have an outside shade over the window plus it’s on our driver’s side so while set up in a campground if the sites are close enough together the only view was of our neighbors patio which we don’t care to see anyway.

 But it needed to be fixed so they installed all new shades, day shade and night shade so everything is good again.

A picture down the middle of the service bays.

A picture down the middle of the service bays.

 #4, the window next to the entry door and passenger seat leaked. It was an operable sliding window and right where the two windows came together while closed would let water in during a hard rain.

The view from our old window

The view from our old window

The view from our old window

The view from our old window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We found this out the day before we were going to leave Lazy Days when buying the coach and of course they didn’t have a window so it was going to take something like another week to get it repaired but after spending 5 months there we said screw it, we are not waiting. I just went to the hardware store and bought some residential weather stripping and stuck it between the two pieces which sealed it up nicely and that’s the way it stayed.

 It wasn’t really a big deal to us because even in our last coach which had the same window we found we hardly ever opened it but of course it wasn’t right so needed to be fixed.

 The good thing that came out of this is that a year or two after we bought our coach Tiffin started installing a fixed one solid piece of glass window instead of an operable window. Which meant there there was no bar smack dab in the middle of the window right where Diane’s eyes were naturally while looking out while traveling which she has complained about for YEARS!!! So of course we opted to have the new solid window installed.

View from the new window

View from the new window

View from the new window

View from the new window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only problem during the install was the tech’s installed it without sending it to the paint booth first to have the frame painted. So when we first saw it Diane picked up on it being a flat black instead of a gloss black like it was supposed to be. Of course the techs comment was they didn’t notice it and they normally send the coach over to the paint shop to have it painted after the window is installed, (coughing and spurting out Bull*&%t).  

 Well that added another step to our process now having to get in line to have the window painted and everyone else we talked to at the shop said normally the window is taken to the paint shop before installation which saves time, oh well we just had to deal with it.

And they fixed the wiring issue we talked about with the heated floors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Anyway, they took care of a couple other small little things and after about 5 hours total we were sent back to our site to wait for a tech to come out and work on our entertainment center that hasn’t really worked properly since day one. That sum’s up Wednesday.

 Thursday morning (9/21) the tech showed up at our site to work on our entertainment center. If you have read our blog for a while you may remember me working on this system a couple times myself and cursing the rat’s nest of wiring and poorly designed area where all of the electronics are stored with such bad ventilation that allowed way too much heat to build up. In fact I installed a fan system to help with heat buildup that seemed to really help.

 After a couple new parts and a little rerouting of wires and a few choice comments on the rat’s nest of wires the tech had everything working properly and we now have a fully operational entertainment center that we probably won’t ever be able to figure out anyway LOL!!!

 When the tech left we walked over to talk with Wanda (the real brains behind the scheduling) to see if she had any idea when we might make it to the tile shop. While talking to her she got the tile guy on the radio and before we knew it we were once again packing things up and rolling, this time towards the tile shop for the next round of repairs.

 We backed in next to the tile shop where we would have to spend the night. The actual taking out and replacing the tile didn’t take all that long but we couldn’t move until the thin-set and grout dried which took over.

Our home for a night next to the tile shop

Our home for a night next to the tile shop

 And by the way, after seeing how the heated floor is installed in the coach if we have another tile break I will be taking care of it myself.   

 Knowing that our next step would be getting the frame painted on the window I walked over to the paint shop area and tracked down the foreman to see how their work load looked, his answer was that he probably couldn’t get to us until Monday or Tuesday, DANG!!

 At that point I explained what happened in the express bay with them not taking just the window over to get painted and as soon as he heard the story and that all we had to have done was 1 window frame he told me to look him up when we were given a clean bill of health at the tile shop and he would see if he could squeeze us in even if he had to just do it behind one of the bays, so we still had hope of getting out by the weekend but we were not holding our breath.

 Once the tile work was complete the tile guy said he would see us at 7AM to run the slide in a couple times and make sure everything was ok and then release us.

 About then we realized how bad the grout was looking in the rest of the kitchen area compared to the new grout so we decided we had nothing else to do so I ran over to the hardware store, picked us up a couple firm brushes and we shared a good chunk of the evening cleaning grout LOL!!! Who says this RV life style isn’t all fun and games!!??

 That takes us to Friday morning (9/22). I was awake about 4:30 and I woke Diane up about 6 so we would be ready for our morning visit, and at 6:30 I found myself outside shooting the bull with the Tile guy as he had his morning coffee and cigarettes before punching in at 7. It turns out he has been working at Tiffin for 35 years!!!

 As soon as he punched in at 7 he came in and within 10 minutes we were cleared to move. At that point he said we could stay put if we wanted while I ran over to track down the paint shop foreman to check status.

 I could not find the foreman so I headed to Wanda’s office (the brains of the operation) so see if she might have any information. At that point she got the foreman on the radio and he said it would probably be Monday, WHAT!!!!

 I then asked Wanda where I could find the foreman and then went down to see him in person. Once I found him and asked what the odds were of us getting painted today he acted like he didn’t just have a conversation with Wanda and said “give me just a little while and we will get you in”. Face to face conversations are at times much better.

  I didn’t even let on that I was just standing with Wanda when he said Monday and just said “great thanks” and headed back to the motorhome. Once there the tile guy said that there was another coach on its way over so we would need to vacate. Dang I was hoping to just be able to sit until we got a call from the paint shop but we ran the slides in, lifted our jacks and rolled back to our site.

 As soon as I got to our site I stepped outside to check my positioning and a golf cart rolled up and asked if we had a window to be painted. I noticed he had a bottle of touch-up paint in his hand and said “why yes we do but I think it’s going to take a bit more than that!!”. At that point he realized he had the bottle in his hand, laughed and said “head over behind bay #24 and we will get right on it”. That was perfect because I hadn’t even turned off the engine yet.

 After dropping it off we headed to the customer lounge and just kicked back, all we could do then was wait. But things were certainly looking up as far as us being able to get out on Saturday which was much better than we had figured when we rolled in a week earlier. To be honest we expected to be there 1 ½ to 2 weeks.

 While waiting I made another trip over to the parts store that Tiffin has on site to pick up another item I realized we needed, this was the 3rd trip to the parts store during our visit and every time I go there it just meant more money spent LOL.

 Actually having the parts store there is great because so many items you just can’t find any ol place while traveling so we picked up some extra latches for our refer that seem to go bad way too fast, a vent for our ceiling duct, 2 gutter extensions, a new handle for our grey tank valve and 2 new windshield wiper replacements. All good stuff.

 Speaking of the parts store, during one of our shopping sprees as I was studying almost everything on every shelf I heard someone say “Dave? Diane?”, when I looked up it was Jeanne and Charlie, fellow Tiffin owners and bloggers that we meet a couple years ago in Quartzsite Arizona. It’s such a small world.

 We had a nice chat in the middle of the isle before saying our “see ya down the roads” and parted with intentions of getting together for a beer or something while we were all in town but it just never happen unfortunately. With a little luck we will bump into each other again soon and we will make it happen. Oh, you can find their blog on the sidebar of our blog under “Blogs we follow”. It’s called Road Trippin’, Watkins Style.

 By this time Diane and I decided it was time for a walk to check on the coach and by the time we got there they were just finishing up. So we hung around until they were done and then we were escorted to the office to settled up and get cleared for departure, YIPEEE!!!  All said and done we were only out of pocket $283 so not bad with all the stuff we had fixed.

 About this time we realized that we were going to be leaving the following morning and we didn’t really have a route set in stone nor did we have any reservations for a place to land once we did leave LOL!! Again not our normal routine. But a fellow on the Tiffin Forum did tell us a route that he likes to drive when coming through this area so we figured we would give it a shot so we were not overly stressed about anything. Oh, we did know we wanted to head up to Junction City Kansas.

 But first things first, we have friends that were in Red Bay waiting for their new motorhome to be fished being built and we wanted to at least get together for a visit of some sort. And because both them and us have had a pretty busy schedule over the last week we decided to meet at the Mason Jar Restaurant for dinner Friday night.  

 We met Kathy and Mike the first time in Quartzite Arizona boondocking in the middle of the desert at a Tiffin Gathering in January of 2015. It seemed they were following our blog before ever going fulltime so it was great to meet them and we have been following there blog ever since as well. And we hooked up again while camping at Valley of the Rogue State Park in southern Oregon in May of 2015 and have not seen them in person since so it was great meeting up again. The only bummer is we didn’t think about getting any pictures!!! Dang it!!!

 A link to Mike & Katy’s blog can be found on the sidebar of our blog under “Blogs we follow” and is called “Life Rebooted”. They have had some great adventures so there blog is a good read,

 After dinner we said our “see ya down the roads” and went our separate ways. Until next time Mike & Kathy!!! Good luck with the new rig.

 After dinner we headed home to solidify some sort of plan for our departure the next morning before going to bed with intentions of getting a somewhat early start once again.

 That sums up our fast and furious side trip to Red Bay. We are a little behind on the blog at this point and we have covered over 700 miles since doing this update but we will get up to speed soon.

 Saturday Morning we were up and ready to roll about 7:30 with a long day planned. We planned to make it to Junction City Kansas on Sunday so we could take a tour of the New Horizon’s 5th wheel plant so come on back to see how that all turned out.  

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Time for the change in plans we have been referring to.

Ok, we have been toying with hints and innuendo’s about our summer travel plans changing for the last few updates so I guess it’s time to get up to speed with what we have been referring to.

Some of you may or may not remember or even know about the hoopla we went through in Florida when we bought this coach in 2014 but to make a long story VERY short (compared to the whole ordeal) we drove away with a few very small items left on our punch list of repairs unfinished and of course during the first year of ownership a couple more very small things popped up. None of them earth shattering or any that hampered our use of the coach but issues that needed to be addressed none the less at some point.

We communicated to Tiffin that we probably were not going to be anywhere near the factory within our 1st year of ownership and we really felt having the issues we did have taken care of at the factory was something we wanted to do. And of course them knowing what we went through with our original purchase they told us they would keep the list of issues on file and would honor the repairs under warranty at any time in the future convenient to us which was all we could ask for.

As time went on we actually fixed a couple things ourselves that was on the list and never really worried about the other items until about 6 months ago when we had an electrical failure on part of our heated floor, we have 2 zones for the heated floor and the zone that control’s the front half from the bedroom forward failed.

We normally stay in warmer climates so not having the front heated floor wasn’t a big deal but the idea that it was an electrical issue bothered me and soon after we experienced the problem a recall was issued so we knew what to expect as far as repairs go. So I just cut the power to that zone and we carried on with life. Again, nothing earth shattering, except that failure could have really gone bad fast.

What our map looks like for our travels since Jan. 1st. 2017

What our map looks like for our travels since Jan. 1st. 2017

Then a little over a month ago during one of our travel days on the wonderful roads in Michigan (roads in Michigan are among some of the worst we have traveled on since hitting the road) we heard a loud POP but nothing was obviously wrong from our seats. However once we reached our destination Diane realized during setup that a tile had cracked right in front of our refer, we figured that was the pop we heard. Well bummer!

We carry a couple spare tiles with us and normally I would just replace the tile myself but as mentioned before, we have heated floors and I’m not all that familiar with just how the heated floors in the motorhome are constructed so I decided doing this repair was something I would leave for someone else. I didn’t want to be responsible for really screwing up the heating portion of the floor. If a shop screws it up THEY can fix it on their dime.

Even though a cracked tile would be hard to describe as earth shattering it was something that would bug us more than any of the other little items on our punch list so it started us thinking and our thoughts went something like this.

We are in Michigan which is about as close to Alabama as we may be for maybe another year so if we cut out time short in Michigan by just a couple weeks but do a few longer day trips while still in the area to at least see a little of the towns we originally planned to spend time in (we are referring to the long day trips to Holland and Ludington a couple updates back) and then bee-line it to Alabama so we can get all of our repairs done and out of our hair and still make it to Casa Grande Arizona for our November 1st reservations it would be a good thing. Whew, was that one long ass sentence full of poor grammar or what!!!! LOL!!!

All of that thinking happened while we were in the Traverse City area which set us up for our stop in Stanwood which was about as centrally located to Holland and Ludington and a couple other spots we wanted to visit and put us on a direct line to Shipshewana Indiana which would be the starting point for the real change in our summer plans, going to Red Bay Alabama.

Our original plans were to spend a little more time in Michigan, then drop out the bottom and angle over to Kansas City and tour Arrowhead stadium before continuing on through some of Colorado and on down to Arizona. But like most of us Fulltime RVers say, our plans are made in Jell-O and can change shape at any time. One thing we have learned to do in this life style is  be flexibility.

So, like we mentioned in our last update we woke up on Friday (9/15), lifted our jacks and hit the road with only one thing on our minds, and that was to drive the 640 miles in 2 days and get to Red Bay on Saturday.

Why the push to get to the factory on a Saturday when no one would even see us until Monday you ask, darn good question. The answer is you can’t make appointments at Tiffin and it’s a first come first serve type of setup, like it or not.

Anyway, after leaving Shipshewana we drove 430 miles (a new record for us for miles traveled in one day since hitting the road and one I hope stands for a darn long time) and spent the night in Goodlettsville Tennessee just north of Nashville.

Saturday morning we woke and hit the road at 7am again and drove the remaining 210 miles to Red Bay Alabama, checked in at the office, turned in our list of items needing attention and started the wait.

The next stage would be waiting for a tech to make his rounds Monday morning meeting everyone that checked in between closing on Friday and the opening on Monday to verify their list so they could be put in the Que.

Keep in mind that there are still lots of rigs still sitting from the week before still needing attention and even rigs from the week prior or maybe even the week prior so the waiting game can be pretty intense if you let it be. At this point we will just kick back and make the best of it.

All of these rigs are here for some type of repairs. It's just one big Tiffin Rally,,,, not really. We are on the right hand row about the 8th rig from the bottom of the long row of motorhomes.

All of these rigs are here for some type of repairs. It’s just one big Tiffin Rally,,,, not really. We are on the right hand row about the 8th rig from the bottom of the long row of motorhomes.

OH, to top it off Red Bay is in a dry county!!!! Why the heck are there dry counties anyway!!!??? And it’s hot and humid, dang we went from temps in the mid 70’s most of the time for the last couple months to high 80’s and high humidity in the blink of an eye. I’m not so sure we have our heads screwed on right LOL.

We will just let it be at this and will go into how things are going, or went at Red Bay in our next update. We are hoping that we get out of here in a timely manner and if we do we plan to head North West to tour the New Horizons 5th wheel plant in Junction City Kansas before angling down to Arizona for the winter.

Wish us luck.

[DK1]

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