grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Friday, October 31, 2014

22-31OCT14 - Houma, LA (via toomsuba, ms; celebrating a birthday & halloween)

Wednesday, 22OCT, Tiffin finished working on the dash AC before lunch; so we immediately paid our bill & hit the road.  The dash AC worked great for an hour & then nothing!#@!  Rather than drive into night, we drove to an out of the way (& we mean out of the way) KOA outside of Meridian, MS, (Toomsuba, MS, really).  KOA has a really bad habit of naming their location for the nearest location most people would recognize, but the actual location is miles away!  That evening Corrie discovered our Tiffin bill charged us for parts that were not installed?

Thursday finished drive to our daughter Rebecca & husband Raymond’s driveway in Houma, LA.  During the drive we corrected the Tiffin bill over the cell phone.  Unfortunately, no joy on the dash AC.  That evening our son Joe & Tasha came by for a family dinner.

Friday evening Oma, Opa, Rebecca, Jaxson & Mason headed to Thibodaux for a Halloween Festival supporting the local police & fireman (way too many people!).

Saturday (Corrie’s birthday), 25OCT, Rebecca, Jaxson, Mason & us headed to Larose, LA, for the French Food Festival.  In our opinion it should be called the Cajun Fried Food Festival.  Anyone coming to the festival to find cuisine from France based on the festival’s title would be very disappointed!  Since daddy Raymond working just down the road from the festival he was able to meets us for lunch.  Then at 1800 everyone (including Joe & Tasha) met at Ichiban for Japanese birthday dinner.  Followed by stopping by Cherry Blossom Yogurt for dessert (they charge by the weight of your container).

The rest of the month was spent not doing much other than running errands; Corrie starting xmas shopping; starting our annual medical & dental appointments; family dinners; & getting ready for Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

13-21OCT14 - Red Bay, AL (via williamsport, md, & dandridge, tn)

Early Monday morning, 13OCT (Columbus Day), we hit the road for several days of hard driving to the Tiffin Motorhome factory in Red Bay, AL.  Why – because several minor things need fixing on the RV & we have decided that since we would be driving by Red Bay we would stop at factory service center & see if we could get in without appointment (see below BLOG for our last visit & difficulty of appointments).  The day was eight hours of driving & 450 miles covered.  Beautiful scenery until afternoon fog sets in for several hours.  Once again driving on Interstates in Pennsylvania is stressful, because of road conditions, construction, heavy traffic, weather, etc; not to mention many, many, dead deer on the road.  The KOA in Williamsport, MD, was definitely off the beaten track.

Tuesday’s drive thru all of Virginia & part of Tennessee on I-81S was one of the most scenic Interstates to drive even though we hate Interstates.  Drive was another long one with one major accident delay (not involving us) & couple of rain squalls – 440 miles to spend the night in Dandridge, TN.

Wednesday, 15OCT, we completed the drive into Red Bay, AL, after 350 miles driven.  Even though Tiffin has greatly expanded the number of RV sites at their facility, there was no room at Tiffin.  But some the locals noted a business opportunity & have created small RV parks surrounding the Tiffin repair center.  So we drove across the road to McKinney RV, who has installed over 20 RV sites.  See below BLOG for more about Tiffin repair facility; & McKinney’s “relationship” with Bob Tiffin.

Thursday afternoon a Tiffin rep came by the RV to go over our work list.  The repair rep told us that it was at least one month to get into a service bay!  But if we could live with a three hour service, something might be available next week. (Apparently Tiffin is having problems with some of their newer models including 2014’s?  Our informal survey indicates there are a lot of new & newer Allegro Busses, Phaetons & Open Roads waiting for service.)  So we opted for the three hour service to address these three issues:

1) air horn system that almost caused a fire as we discussed previously in the BLOG; 2) our GFCI 120volt circuit keeps “popping” for no reason;  3) our dashboard AC system stopped working almost one year ago & we have had it looked at three times, each repair has lasted less than a week each time.

Friday at noon we moved the RV across the road to a Tiffin factory RV spot.  After setting up camp Dan set-up the DISH satellite since it looks like we will be here awhile?  Saturday, 18OCT, we headed over to Russellville, AL, for a flea market & WalMart.  After returning to the RV, we moved it over to Detail Depot for so they could repair some front window chips, & then wash/wax the RV.  (see above 2012 BLOG link for more details on Detail Depot & our last visit).

Sunday just before lunch we headed into Tupelo, MS, for a little exploration.  First stop was the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center & Headquarters just north of Tupelo.  While there we picked up info on Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site, & the Tupelo National Battlefield Site.  Then we watched the informative 15 minute film on the Trace.  At the visitor center we also learned the following two major Civil War battles in the “local” area:

#1) 10 June 1864 -

In 1863 Federal armies won important victories at Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and Chattanooga.  In the spring of 1864 the Federal mission was to bisect the South from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to the Atlantic coast at Savannah, Georgia.  Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman wanted to destroy the Confederate Army led by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and occupy Atlanta along the way as he executed his “March to the Sea”.

Sherman knew that his plan was vulnerable.  To supply his large troop movement into north Georgia, he depended on the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad.  This line could be most threatened by the excellent horseman of Confederate Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry corps.  Sherman needed to keep Forrest in north Mississippi.
In June, Sherman ordered Brig. Gen. Samuel Sturgis and 8,100 soldiers to move out of Memphis and into north Mississippi for the purpose of fighting Forrest and his cavalry corps of 3,500.  Win or lose the primary goal was to keep Forrest in Mississippi.  Sturgis's forces were crushed by Forrest on June 10 at the Battle of Brices Cross Roads and the Federals retreated back to Memphis.  Although defeated, the primary mission was accomplished.

#2) 14 July 1864 -

In July, Sherman still needed Forrest to stay in Mississippi.  This time though, Sherman expected better results on the field of battle. Sherman ordered his commander in Memphis "to make up a force and go out to follow Forrest to the death, if it cost 10,000 lives and breaks the Treasury."  Now the Federal force was 14,000 strong and led by Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Smith.  The Federals left Memphis on July 5 headed into north Mississippi, determined to defeat Forrest.

On the morning of July 14, the Battle of Tupelo began at 7:30 a.m. when the Confederates began a series of uncoordinated charges against the Federal position.  These attacks were beaten back with heavy losses.  Failing to break the Federal center, the Confederates attacked the Federal right, again without success.  After dark, the Confederates made another attack from the south without significant effect.  Although his troops had repulsed several Confederate attacks, General Smith was alarmed.  The heat was taking its toll on his soldiers.  Also, due to bad planning, his men had little but coffee and worm-infested hardtack (crackers) to eat, and their ammunition supply was very low.

At 2 p.m. on July 15, after skirmishing with Confederates on the western and southern fronts, the Federals began marching north in the direction of Memphis.  They marched four miles and crossed to the north side of Old Town Creek and camped in the late afternoon.  At 5 p.m., from a commanding ridge south of Old Town Creek, Confederate forces surprised Smith's troops with artillery and infantry fire.  The Federals scrambled and formed a line that pushed the Confederates off the ridge and forced them to retreat to Harrisburg.  The fight at Old Town Creek ended the Battle of Tupelo & once again Forrest’s Calvary was prevented from advancing on Sherman’s supply lines.  Among the casualties was Forrest himself, who was kept out of action for three weeks.

Our later exploration of Tupelo showed a very nice downtown but everything was closed on Sunday?  We did notice lots of painted steel guitars on the sidewalks in tribute to Elvis, who was born in Tupelo.  Lunch was at Woodys – no wild game as advertised on their sign, but a very good Sunday buffet w/snicker raviolis (selected as best Mississippi dessert two years ago?).  Then we took the Trace Parkway for forty miles back to RV – beautiful road that we took several days to explore & drive the entire length of in 2004 in our first RV.

Monday, 20OCT, Corrie headed back to Tupelo & the Mall.  Right at lunch Dan got a call from Tiffin service that our three hour slot would start in thirty minutes & please drive the RV to service bay 31!  They were able to repair air horn that almost caused a fire when the wiring shorted out.  But nothing else was done & they wanted the RV back at 0700 the next day.  Tuesday morning the Tiffin electrician could not find the problem with our GFCI 120volt circuit; it appears that the system has repaired itself?  So it was out of the service bay to wait for a technician to try & solve our dash AC problem that we have lived with for almost one year.

Wednesday morning we receive phone call to get over to bay 42 to have our dash AC system looked at!  The dash AC was supposedly fixed by lunch time.  So we paid our bill & quickly hit the road to Houma, LA, & the kids & grandkids.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

08-12OCT14 - New London, CT (40th reunion & homecoming)

Wednesday morning, 08OCT, we hit the road for a short drive to our next RV park in North Stonington, CT; for Dan’s 40th college reunion/homecoming at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.  Yes, unbelievably Dan is that old & graduated from the Academy way back in June of 1974.  See our below BLOG link for more about these reunions & our last attendance in 2009.  As we said in that BLOG military academies routinely hold reunions every year for the classes that previously graduated in five years increments.  So in 2014 reunions & special events are held during homecoming for the classes of 2009, 2004, 1999, 1994, 1989, 1984, 1979, 1974, etc, etc. This was number 40 for the USCGA Class of 1974; & more than 100 of our 350 inductees showed up (more on this later).

The RV park we have used twice before (2004 & 2009) was a little dump’y & was almost empty previously; & we have never needed a reservation.  Apparently they have been taken over & major improvements have been made, because they are now full?  So we are now at another RV park that is further out from New London & reunion activities.  After setting up camp we headed to the Foxwood casino.  This is supposedly the world’s largest casino, but it is really several different gaming areas in different buildings connected by walkways & halls.  Very disorganized & many areas are closed & roped off.  After making our usual small offerings to the gods of chance we headed back to the RV.

Thursday it was off to New Haven, CT, to concentrate on roadfood & roadside America.  First stop was Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, in business since 1925.  We got there at 1130 & it was filling-up fast (lots of regulars).  Pepe’s is credited with the creation of “New Haven style” pizza – thin crust baked in bread ovens fired by coal.  Pepe’s has won numerous local & national awards for their pizzas.  Dan went with their famous White Clam pizza & Corrie went with the classic Margherita, both excellent!  Highly recommend, just get there early.

Next stop (after a quick Ikea stop) was the PEZ factory (which opened in 1973) & visitor center (which opened 2011) in Orange, CT.  PEZ started in Austria in 1927 as a peppermint (or in German pfefferminz, aka PEZ).  The visitor center is definitely all things PEZ with a viewing windows of the factory.  They charge $6 admission but you get four dollars off any purchase, plus you can easily win an unique dispensary w/candy by completing a “quiz”.  Since we made a minimal purchase, they lost money on us!  We recommend it!

Then it was back to New Haven for a burger at Louis’ Lunch, supposed inventor of the hamburger in 1895.  Louis’ is very small & constantly busy.  Louis’ is truly unique in that they “grill” their patties in ancient, gas fired vertical broilers.  We have never seen anything like the three contraptions they use to slowly (& we mean slowly!) cook their hamburgers.  Warning don’t even think of asking for ketchup!

Friday it was off to Mystic, CT, for a walkabout (Corrie still hasn’t seen the all time chick flick “Mystic Pizza”?).   Then it was off to Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough in Noank, CT, for a small lobster roll.  Turns out they close Monday for the season.  They opened at 1130 & were packed by noon.  Last stop for the day was tracking down a Muffler Man in Norwich, CT.

Then it was back to RV to get ready for the first reunion event – the Friday night no host cocktail party at the Mystic Marriott Hotel in Groton, CT.  The dress was supposed to be shorts, Hawaiian shirts, and sandals with no socks. Very few of the attendees observed the proper dress code; but Dan ever being the rebel wore sandals with socks!

Saturday, 11OCT, was almost an entire day devoted to Reunion activities:

1000 – A moving Memorial Service of all the class members who have passed since 1974, in the Auditorium of Dimick Hall led by Rex Auker & Will Henrickson, two classmates who moved on from their CG careers to becoming men of the cloth.

1100 – Tailgate luncheon in Dimick Hall Auditorium.

1300 – March-on to the USCGA football field (thankfully the rain stops).  March-on is when the five year classes attending Homecoming/Reunion march onto the field (starting with the youngest class first, 2009). While marching on, a humorous, short “commercial” is read over the PA about your class and its accomplishments (or lack of accomplishments).

1330 – USCGA vs Curry football game – GO BEARS!!! (CG wins 17-0)

1600 – All classes cocktail party at Leamy Hall.  This event is for any Academy alumni to attend during the homecoming weekend (ie those not part of a five year reunion).

1900 – The big event of the reunion weekend, the class dinner dance back at the Mystic Marriott Hotel.  Turns out that the Academy class of 1969 was having their dinner dance in the ballroom next ours.  We didn’t pay any attention to this, because with the number of five year reunions going on & small number of hotels available, having several classes in one venue is not uncommon.  But what was unique was that their music was being provide six of their classmates who played rock & roll at the Academy back in the late 60s!  And the lead singer was Rear Admiral (retired) Paul Pluta who Dan had worked for!!  Learning this, we headed next door to check it out.  All six members have played off & on over the decades, & definitely can still kick ass!!!

Sunday was a “new” homecoming/reunion event – Dan’s classmate (& reverend) Will & wife Jackie Henrickson had a brunch at their beautiful house in New London.  Normally in the past nothing “planned” happened on Sunday, as everyone makes their departure from New London.  Thanks to the Henrickson’s we enjoyed one more opportunity for reminiscing & an excellent brunch buffet!  Then it was back to RV to enjoy the great weather, recuperate from all the reunion activities, & prepare for tomorrow’s departure.

PS - At the beginning of this BLOG we mentioned that we would be discussing the number of attendees (or classmates as they call each other) at this 40th reunion/homecoming.  This year there were about 100 classmates, compared to 50 back in 2009.  Why the increase?  Because after 2009 a group of classmates decided not to depend on the mailing list created some thirty years ago to send out invites.  They decided to try & locate all 350 original inductees, not just the 200 classmates graduated.  They are still working on finding everyone.  But many who did not finish the entire four years were contacted & extremely grateful & touched to be tracked down & invited.  Many eagerly attended for the first time; in addition to graduates who decided to attend for their first time.  For example, two of Dan’s classmates who finished college elsewhere & we visited driving from Sultan, WA, to Connecticut, attended (see BLOGs about Montana, & New Ipswich, NH).