Test Drive

Everything worked. Except the Internet. Hence being a bit quiet with the blog this week. But don’t worry. Back it at now. Pounding away on the keyboard. Feverishly following all things related to the RV world.

What is this everything I speak of? The everything that was working? You thought I was retired and I had stopped working?

The everything working was the test run of our coach.

We have been parked for over four months now. A bit of a long stretch for the coach to be standing still. We will start our trip south on October 23rd, a mere five weeks away. We thought it wise to take the coach on a bit of a drive for a few reasons. One, to determine if the coach still worked and two, to determine if we still remembered how to work the coach.

We booked a site at a KOA in Kingston, Ontario, very close to our old property in the country. This was our home for a few days:

Not bad. The site was gravel but the size of the site and the finished patio made it a very pleasant place to park. Although busier than expected for this time of year, the park was still very quiet due, I suspect, to the absence of families. Everyone is back to work and back to school. Everyone except us happily retired travellers.

We enjoyed spending time with our oldest son and his wife and with a number of our friends. It was fun to be back in Kingston as everything was so familiar but we both agreed that we are thrilled to be out living on the road.

The coach performed flawlessly and it seems to be ready for the long trip south.

I love driving our coach. It was a thrill to get back on the road and moving again.

Looking forward to starting our trip down to Florida.

Hopefully before the snow.

Tiffin Rampage

Red Bay, Alabama. Founded in 1907, Red Bay is a very small town. Roughly 3,000 people. The sale of packaged beer and wine by private vendors is apparently prohibited. Not that it matters. As we shall soon find out.

Red Bay is home to Tiffin, a builder of motorhomes. Tiffin owners, after they take delivery of their coaches, are known to make their way to Red Bay to get their issues resolved at the factory.

Hmmm. Wait a minute. Didn’t we do just take our Newmar coach to the Newmar factory in Nappanee, Indiana?

Similar business models, similar builders. Tiffin and Newmar are amongst the best manufacturers of Class A motorhomes. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have issues with the coaches they build. You will.

And it shouldn’t make you angry. Just head out to a small town in Alabama or in Indiana. Chill for a few days, perhaps a week or so. Enjoy the quiet, calm surroundings.

I was catching up on all things Newmar including checking out the Newmar Dutch Star Owners Facebook page.

It is one of many sources of information about the RV community that I follow. I do not see too many posts about Tiffin on the Newmar Dutch Star Owners page. Rightly so. However, this one did catch my eye.

Kelly does not appear to be in good spirits in the above photo.

What was this Tiffin Campground RV rampage?

Let’s take a quick look at two Tiffin coaches. The one on the left in bay 14 is a brand new 2019 Phaeton, waiting for its new owners to take delivery. The one on the right was driven by Kelly.

Good thing the coaches are both at the Tiffin factory. They need a bit of buffing.

What happened?

Alcohol.

The first headline that I came across on the Red Bay News: Intoxicated driver facing charges after ramming RV into motorhome repair facility, causing major damage.

The relevant clip:

Sources tell The News the two people involved are a husband and wife couple who allegedly had been drinking and gotten into an argument. Multiple sources say the female got into the RV and started to drive it. When she did she drove right into a repair bay door and slammed into a brand new 2019 model motorhome that had just been repaired and was awaiting delivery to its owner the following morning. Sources say the force of the impact was so severe it dislodged the transmission from the RV that was hit, and the RV driver had to be cut out of her vehicle before being transported to the hospital.

Another update from the Red Bay News provided more details:

Witness reports state that Mongiello, upset over something, pulled her RV out of its stall at the campground with its awning and slide open, and while it was still connected to campground utilities. She proceeded to drive around, picking up speed until she slammed into the building. Her husband, Joseph Mongiello, was behind her in the couple’s Jeep, and witnesses say it hit the back of the Mongiello’s RV. It is alleged Mongiello was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Joseph Mongiello was arrested Tuesday evening at the scene and charged with public intoxication. He was released on Wednesday.

Kelly Mongiello was not charged until Friday after she was released from the hospital. The collision was so violent it trapped Mongiello in her RV, and she had to be extricated by firefighters and first responders.

Kelly was charged with Criminal Mischief in the First Degree. That offence carries a prison sentence up to 10 years and a fine up to $15,000.

Such excitement at the Tiffin Red Bay campground. Fortunately no one else was injured although I do feel sorry for the new owners of the Phaeton. Their coach will not be ready for delivery as scheduled.

Skeeters

Something wicked this way comes when the warm weather in Canada arrives. Mosquitoes. Not just your run of the mill mosquito mind you.

No. Canadian mosquitoes are killer mosquitoes.

The smaller ones look like this. They will swarm you in seconds.

There are bigger ones of course. A species of mosquito called Psorophora ciliata. They have a cute nickname: Gallinippers. So called because when they bite you, they take a gallon of your blood. These giant mosquitoes are roughly twenty times the size of most mosquitoes. To quote a senior program specialist at Public Health Ontario:

Because of their size they are definitely a little more potent in their bite, you can feel them quite readily.

They are not exclusive to Canada. They also hang out in many other parts of the world including Florida.

Our coach was littered with mosquitoes last night. I killed about 20 of them this morning. Lots of blood throughout the interior of the coach. It looked like a war zone.

So difficult to keep them out with a dog. She takes time to get in and out of the coach and, during the evening hours when the mosquitoes are milling about in large numbers, they attach to her coat and they take advantage of the open door to rush inside.

Rough night trying to sleep with the sounds of mosquito whines. I woke up covered with bites.

We had the same issue with our house in the country. We wound up staying indoors at dusk and using the garage door for walking the dog at night.

With a coach, our options to keep the mosquitoes outside are limited.

Might be time to check out a few patio repellants for the front entrance area. Perhaps a Thermacell?

The Homestead

Settling in. The jacks are down and we will stay planted in Ontario for the six months that we are in Canada. We’ll still do a bit of travelling while we are in the province. Ontario is, after all, a pretty big place. How big, you ask? Well, you have come to the right website for the answer to that question.

For my American friends, Ontario is about the same size as Texas and Montana, combined.

Ontario is larger than France and Spain, combined. Ontario is 3 times the size of Germany, 4 times the size of the United Kingdom (more than 8 times the size of England) and over 15 times the size of Ireland.

Most of the 13.5 million people in Ontario live within 100 miles or so of the U.S. border. There are vast expanses of Ontario that constitute a wilderness devoid of any human life.

Yes, Ontario is a big place to hang out for six months.

We had a few concerns coming back to Canada in our coach.

The first concern was finding a nice spot to park the coach. We originally planned to store the coach and rent a nice condo near the water somewhere. But it is very challenging to find a nice furnished condo for only six months. There are some really nice options if we were willing to rent for a year. Nothing really for snowbirds.

We could buy something I suppose. We just do not want to be tied down to a house right now.

Nice spots for coaches in Canada? Let’s just say that things are a bit rustic here in the Great White North compared to the United States.

We have found a pretty nice spot just north of Toronto and we think it will work out just fine for the six months that we are here.

The second concern, which might sound a bit trivial, was Internet access.

We are both quite active on the Internet and having a reliable, high-speed connection is important. Although not really high-speed, I have been able to jury-rig a setup where we get a consistent 5 Mbps service for our devices in the coach. Although I would prefer a higher download speed, say 10 Mbps or more, we can make do. I have been able to make it work fine under load when the park is at full capacity due, in part, to me using the 5G band and some VPN bonding when required.

The third concern was tranquility.

We are older and we are not partiers. I’m generally to sleep by 10pm. We prefer a calm environment. In Canada, most parks are family parks. And I have no issue with family parks. I just prefer to be in a calmer location. Where we are is limited to two adults only per site. This offers us a spot that is really quite nice and peaceful. We just came out of a busy long week-end and we really did not notice it in this area of the park.

Once the weather improves, I will take a few shots and a video of our location. We have a nice spot, far nicer than we expected. We are very happy to be here and, of course, very happy to reconnect with our family and friends after our time away down south.

Ozarks RV Resort

1,678 miles travelled since we left Desert Shores Motorcoach Resort on April 14th. Only 1,133 miles to go and then we will be setting up our coach on Canadian soil. We are currently at Ozarks RV Resort on Table Rock Lake for two nights. We have had wonderful weather all the way so far. Sunny days.

It has been a bit of a challenge staying connected online. The quality of the WiFi service at all of the parks we have visited since leaving Desert Shores has ranged from poor to really awful. I’m going to have to beef up the mobile Internet over cellular for the coach on our next trip south. Our Canadian data plan is woefully inadequate when travelling in the United States. And slow.

I had done up a video for one of the resorts and the owners wanted to use it on their website. It took over 4 hours to upload the roughly 400 MB file off my smartphone’s hotspot.

I’m doing a seminar at a motorhome show in Canada on May 4th. I use a lot of graphics when preparing presentations like this one and that takes a lot of bandwidth as I source many of the graphics online. Trying to do that work while on the road is proving to be darn near impossible.

I’m hoping that when we stop at Newmar later this week I will have access to high-speed Internet so that I can get the seminar finished up.

Lesson learned. At least I will have a few months to research options stateside before heading south again in November. I’ve been a member of the Mobile Internet Resource Center for the past couple of years. I’ll leverage their guidance in terms of a better mobile Internet infrastructure for the coach.

It has been three days since we left the beautiful Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch in New Mexico. We sure loved that place. Definitely has earned a spot in our top ten list of the nicest parks we have visited.

From Ruidoso, we stopped at Oasis RV Resort in Amarillo, Texas, literally a parking lot for coaches on the way to somewhere else. All paved, easy access to I-40, clean, quiet, level sites. More than fine for an overnight stay. Our next stop was Mustang Run RV Park near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Similar to Oasis RV Resort. A decent spot for an overnight stay.

Then the Ozarks Luxury RV Resort in Arkansas for a two-night stay. The drive into the resort was filled with twists and turns. At least two hours or so of pretty serious motorcoach handling on very tight country roads. At one point, we came very close to a collision with a distracted driver. I have that one on dash cam and I will post the video whenever we get to a spot with decent Internet service.

This is our spot at the park.

Most of the sites are unoccupied. Although originally started as a Class A ownership park, that development failed and Ozarks became a mixed resort with all classes of RVs. They do emphasize that they are an ownership park however you can rent here without any difficulty.

We have a wonderful view of the lake and we are enjoying some downtime on this peaceful and upscale property. One more stop before our three-day service call at Newmar. And, from there, back to Canada for six months.