Friday, October 30, 2015

Beautiful view this morning

Woke up to a beautiful sunshiny day and a view of the lake since a few RVs left earlier today!
Rutledge Lake RV Park

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Another weekend, another rally

This weekend, we are participating with another rally of Wanderlodge Owners, albeit a much smaller group than last week. We are in Fletcher, NC, at the Rutledge Lake RV Park.
A view of our rig - we have a really nice site with a lake out from the side of the coach (though there are other RVs in campsites next to the lake). I'll try to get a picture of the lake tomorrow.

Miss Kitty has determined that the easy chair is just made for a sweet kitty!

A rainy day in South Carolina

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Carolina Landing, Fair Play, South Carolina. Unfortunately, it rained almost the whole time we were there, so we didn't get out to see much. The campground is a Thousand Trails campground, so we were able to stay for free. The campground is pretty rundown, and we were concerned that we would not be able to find a site that could accommodate "Miss Doozie", but they had a site that we fit in, and we were able to navigate the roads to it on Tuesday and out again this morning.

We did a bit of computer work - changing lots and lots of addresses. It is amazing how many places you need to update addresses when you get a new mailing address! Now to see how much mail still gets forwarded to us - which will identify additional places with whom we need to update addresses!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The rest of the story (aka the reason for the delay)

So, yesterday, we stayed an additional day at Pine Mountain due to hearing something "strange" in the front driver's side wheel.
What we could see through the hole in the wheel.

I could grab it with needle nose pliers, but couldn't get it out.

Another view of it inside the wheel. The bright shiny thing inside the wheel are the Centramatics balancers.

After calling CoachNet, they sent out a guy to look into it. We thought he would be able to take the wheel off the coach and check it out for us... but... somewhere between our explanation and the guy coming, that message didn't transmit. Anyway, he was able to work the piece around and bend it (it was soft lead) and get it out:
The piece of metal that was rumbling around loose in the wheel.
Jimmy and the guy who came out both thought it was a weight that would have been attached with some sort of adhesive to the brake drum as a balancer. Either the Centramatics are doing their job and adjusting appropriately, or I didn't notice any difference on the drive today.

We are now at Thousand Trails in Fair Play, SC. We'll be here a couple of nights and then be moving on to Fletcher, NC.

Monday, October 26, 2015

On the road again... or... maybe not...

We were scheduled to leave the campground this morning, and were all ready to leave, but heard a strange, rhythmical sound (repetitive with the rolling motion) coming from the front driver's side wheel. After a lot of listening and looking, we determined that there was a piece of metal loose in there that was going around inside the rim.

We took pictures and sent them to Jimmy. He recommended that we get someone out to take the wheel off and see where this piece broke off from. So, we've called CoachNet and are waiting for the service company they identified to come to take the wheel off.

We were blessed that we had not yet left the campground when we heard it, and that the campground was large enough and empty enough that we could drive around quite a lot to diagnose it. We were also blessed that the campground has an empty spot and we're on a concrete pad which should make it easier for the service person to be able to get to the wheel.

I was thinking about the blessings of an enforced wait. We had something similar happen when we were driving from Montgomery, TX to Escapees a couple of weeks ago - the low air indicator kept on going off. That turned out not to be anything to be concerned about, but it could be that God protected us from something along the way by slowing us down some. Or that we were able to meet someone that He wanted us to meet who wouldn't have been at the place where we were if we had arrived when we planned to arrive.

Dwayne reminded me of the Israelites in the desert who depended upon God to tell them when to go and when to stop, guiding them by a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. We have the Holy Spirit Who guides and directs, if we listen. Sometimes He may need to cause the low air indicator to go off, or a piece of metal to come loose in a tire rim to have us stop long enough to listen.

I pray for ears that are more attune to His leading!

Carrying a golf cart, or a tow vehicle, or both?

When we bought the BlueBird, it had a motorcycle lift on it. The lift could be reconfigured to carry other things - like a golf cart, or even extra storage boxes (Dwayne's woodworking equipment?). While Jimmy was here at the rally, he noticed how many people had various campground transportation devices (golf carts and the like) and wondered if we wouldn't want to have the lift back on.

As folks were packing up yesterday morning, I happened by where a couple was stowing their golf cart in the back of their small SUV. I didn't get pictures before they started, but they take all the parts that stick up and out off, and the frame of the golf cart actually shortens down. The lady of the couple told me that her requirement was that her husband had to be able to manage it on his own, and that he could - though he had plenty of help here at the end of the rally.

Cart is being dismantled. The couple at it are the owners.

The ramps to get it into the back of the toad - and you can see that it isn't a huge SUV.

At this point, it is compressed in length. The owner is taking the steering wheel off.

It all fits! Mallie was one of the helpers.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A plug for Citibank

I got a text at 4am, followed by a phone call at 10am, from Citibank.
They noticed unusual activity on our card.

I figured that it was just because we are traveling... but... no... the card that we use for phone and internet charges had been used - or attempted to be used - at 3am central (4am eastern) to make a small charge. Citi blocked it, and notified me by text. If it were really my charge, I could have contacted them and they would have allowed it. But since I didn't (I heard the text and turned over and went back to sleep), they denied the charge and put a block on the account until they could contact me.

Once we talked, they cancelled the card and were preparing to send a new one that would arrive Monday, but to our Livingston address. I said that we were traveling and wouldn't be back to the Livingston address for several weeks, and asked if the new card could be sent to another address - they readily agreed and it will be waiting for us at my brother's (along with several other assorted orders - family members know that the Cartwrights will be arriving soon when packages addressed to them start arriving!).

I am always pleasantly surprised when a credit card company recognizes fraud and protects me before it occurs!

FYI - with Citi, I use a "Virtual Account Number" (VAN) when I'm making charges on the internet. This service generates a one-time-use credit card number with an expiration date for the next month. If someone happens to capture my credit card number as I am using it, it will not be a valid one for them to use as the number is one-time-use. I have asked other credit card providers if they have a Virtual Account Number service, and no one else that I have asked has had it (Synchony or Chase, I believe I have asked). I don't know whether there is some other issue with the "VAN" - Citi has made some changes to it over the years I have been using it. But it seems to me that it would be a really good thing to provide for internet shopping...

The history of Blue Birds - part 3 - "We are simple people, we bend metal and paint it yellow." - George Luce

Also in the 70's they started bringing customers in for the Rally in the Valley, bringing customers and employees together.

1982 brought changes in how the wiring was done in the coaches, reducing the amount of wiring from 6 miles to 2 miles of wires per coach!

1982 brought the wide body - 102 inches wide

A quote from one of the family members: "Wanderlodges were the show horses and school buses were the work horses." - Sarah Louise Luce

Some interesting stories about certain Wanderlodges - the check image is from the president of Nicaragua who bought a Wanderlodge in 1974. Other famous people also had them - some of the stories he told - Johnny Cash's bus was brought in for service; the workers found that Miss June's Bible was open next to the bed. They were having problems getting the heating system working, until they found that some compartment was stuffed full with cash; Johnny said, "Oh, yes, let me get that out of your way." and then the heater worked. Mohammed Ali backed his coach into Lake Michigan. The King of Saudi Arabia had his specially built with special large tires for running in the desert; the drivers compartment was specifically built without air conditioning. Saddam Hussein ordered a number of coaches; there is evidently news footage of him fleeing in a bus that is a Wanderlodge.

The Luce family also had a coach - three families shared one coach. As far as he knew, they only ever had used coaches.

Some family pictures, including his grandfather, George, helping a person out who had broken down in their car, getting his hands greasy while helping them get on their way. And then the bottom right was the same as the first picture in the presentation, of young Laurence Coppedge in his grandfather's lap.

In 1992, the family sold the Blue Bird and Wanderlodge companies to Merrill Lynch Capital Partners.

Laurence found a statement of the beliefs of the company, reflecting the family's values - he purchased this document at the sale when the company closed.

Laurence has now started his own businesses.

He included a quote from his grandfather at the end: "We are simple people, we bend metal and paint it yellow." - George Luce

More information about Laurence Coppedge:

The history of Blue Birds - part 2

The man on the far right is Laurence Luce; next to him is George (Laurence Coppedge's grandfather), then Buddy, then Joe. George felt called to the mission field, and though he was conflicted about whether to stay home to help with the family business, his father told him to go where he was called.

Laurence Coppedge had a coat that had been Laurence Luce's - it was evident that Laurence Luce had spent time working on the vehicles that were manufactured in his plant.

Since George went to Belgium on his way to the mission field, he was able to see the new chassis design at the Paris auto show and send it home to the family business.

Bringing about the first forward control transit bus without a conventional front in the US in 1948.

The family tried other businesses - like delivering chicks...

And various businesses under the Cardinal brand.

The first motor home type was built in 1963. Both the first and second ended up being owned by the same owner as the first burned up due to a poor design (I think something about the manifold) - so the second was sent to the owner in Las Vegas to replace the first that burned.

The Governor of Georgia (Bo Callaway) had a Blue Bird Transit Home - it was written up in the magazine, House Beautiful.

The motor home's name became The Traveler. Meanwhile, the bus company, which had been fighting being in a southern niche, pursued being successful in Canada and became the #1 bus in Canada.

The first Wanderlodge was built in 1964-65.

Blue Bird attempted to compete with other motor homes, but it was a unique product

The first coaches were built in the older part of the factory where the wooden ambulances from the WWII era had been built.

Redesigned interiors

In the mid 70s, Blue Bird Body Company reached #1 in the US school bus market. Wanderlodge still gets more press, and is the top of the line production coach.

In the late 70s, in the height of the fuel crisis, they prototyped a huge 450 gallon fuel tank that would allow driving from Atlanta to LA without filling up.

The history of Blue Birds - part 1

Tonight we had the pleasure to hear from Laurence Coppedge, great grandson of Laurence Luce who founded the Blue Bird Bus Company. He was great to listen to, and it was neat to hear about the background of the company and the family behind it.

Young Laurence on his granddad's lap

Laurence Coppedge

Laurence Luce owned Ford dealerships. He did well with them, but felt he could build a better vehicle.

Laurence Luce was very concerned with safety of vehicles that would be transporting children to school.

After repurposing two buildings (a stables and a peach packing plant), the third plant was built in 1935. The Blue Bird Body Company was the first to build with a continuous steel bow, and first all steel body.

Buses on the assembly line

Laurence Coppedge shared about the faith of his great grandparents, and of his family. They had Christian services at the plant about once a week. Laurence Luce shared the gospel with his employees and led many to Christ in his office. He was also very hands-on.

At the very end of the war, as men were coming back home, the factory burned. While they were able to save many of the buses that were in production and some of the equipment, they now needed to rebuild at a time when supplies were not readily available.

Laurence and Helen Luce prayed about their needs and the needed supplies (in the form of repurposed materials) were provided just in time for the building of the new factory. At a time of immense building, Blue Bird had the privilege of having all re-tooled company, ready to hit the ground running at the end of the war.

Funny toad

When I was doing laundry last week, I noticed the sign in the back of one of the toads... I saw it hooked up today...
Can you read the sign in the back window? It says "RV Pusher"...
I also like how their colors are consistent between the bus and toad!

Travel to Alaska

One of the sessions today was a report on the trip that 4 of the couples who are members of WOG took to Alaska this past summer. It sounded SO neat, and a little scarey! I hope Dwayne and I can do a trip to Alaska at some point.

Some things I noted:
  • They didn't make any park reservations before going. They boondocked about 2/3 of the time and stayed in RV parks just 1/3 of the time.
  • Their fuel costs were about $4800 round trip. 11,000 miles (one of the couples kept very detailed records, they were from near Branson). Costs for RV park stays was about $1600.
  • The 4 coaches kept in touch via CB radio (we would have to learn how to use ours!).
  • They took AlCan highway up (east of the Canadian Rockies, I think) and came back down further west. They talked about information that they found on the information signs on the way up on how fast the AlCan highway was originally built.
  • Things to research before going: look up rules on what can be taken into Canada - e.g. amount of cash limited by Canadian dollar value. Check on pet health certificates - will probably need to get a certificate in Alaska to be able to return through Canada (needs to be within 30 days). Would be good to have specific documentation for pets such as rabies certificate, not just the tag. Also research what is allowed to bring back into US.
  • At the Top of the World Highway, you take a ferry across the Yukon in Dawson City that is evidently pretty hairy. Dawson City on Google Maps   Satellite view of the ferry crossing on Google Maps
    • If I understood correctly, only one Bluebird could go at a time. They may have other vehicles on the ferry too, but not two Bluebirds.
    • Commercial traffic has right-of-way, so if there were tractor trailers or buses, they would go first.
    • I think Randy said that the banks of the river are constantly being washed away, so there was a dump truck dumping rocks to rebuild the on-ferry/off-ferry area constantly. The area where you drive on/off is just a gravel area.
  • They said that the biggest damage-causing vehicles were folks who were towing travel trailers or 5th wheels. Many seem to go very fast and kick up a lot of rocks. Plan to replace windshield when return to US. Maybe headlights too.
  • They left US in late May (5/21, I think) and returned late August (8/20). 
  • I think I understood this correctly: If you have ever had a DUI on your license (even if you are just a passenger in the motorhome), you cannot be in the vehicle being driven through Canada.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Another couple along a similar path

At the end of the row of campsites where we are parked is a CruiseAmerica rental motor home. I stopped to talk with the lady there and told her that about 16 months ago, we rented a CruiseAmerica motor home and now we are fulltime in a bus up the road from them! They are really interested in downsizing and thinking about going on the road too.

They have two Bernese Mountain dogs - wow - they are big boys!
"Tucker" - about 135 pounds (normal sized)
"Tank" - supersized at about 180 pounds