Where do I start? First, I want to wish everyone a very healthy, happy and prosperous NEW YEAR! I hope it is everything you wish it to be.
Before I get started, I want to let you know that this post will have no photos of where we have been. One of the reasons I have procrastinated for so long about catching up on where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to puts my mind into overload, and I have restrained myself from even going there. I have vacillated on what to do, and finally came to realize that it would take forever to sort through the hundreds of pics and upload. (So sorry!) I should just get on with the show. So, I finally decided that because it is a new year, I would start afresh. Great reasoning, don’t ya think?
As most of you know by now, our Baby Girl is down and out! Yes, after about 4 weeks in the repair shop, followed by 5 weeks on a whirlwind tour of the East Coast, and after returning her to an altogether different repair facility upon our return, we learned that she died of a broken neck. Broken frame, that is. Plain. Pure. Simple. I cried. That was the last thing we expected to hear on Tuesday, September 15, after returning from our awesome adventure that took us from Niagara Falls (Buffalo, NY) to New York City, as well as a few boardwalks all the way down on the Jersey Shore and back again. Let me catch you up.
We arrived in Shipshewana, IN on Thursday, June 11. On Monday, June 15, we took our Baby Girl to Lifestyle’s fairly new repair center in Middlebury, IN for repair work. She was there 4 weeks and 3 days when we finally had to scoop her up (unfinished, I might add) and take her on a 5 week journey up and down the East Coast. My second cousin, Alberto, was coming to the states to visit and meet his American family for the very first time.
Our first night out after leaving the repair center was a quick overnight stop on our way to Promised Land State Park in Greentown, PA. We chose this state park because it was in close enough proximity to Newark Airport where we would be picking Alberto up. The plan was to leave early the next morning at 7:00, but we did not hit the road until about 11:30. A totally unexpected event occurred. Our kitchen slide would not come back in.
Yes, recall, we had just left the repair center the day before, and now this. AND, we had never even had an issue with the kitchen slide before. Go figure! Panic set in and I was on the phone with anyone and everyone at the repair center, all the way up to the owner’s assistant. We eventually got someone on the phone who could walk Craig through crossing wires, etc. to manually pull in the slide. Until we could return for additional repairs, and for the next 5-6 weeks, that meant that Craig had to crawl under the rig every time we stopped to camp somewhere just to push the slide out. Then, every time we got ready to leave he had to crawl back under the rig to pull the slide back in. Great advertisement, don’t you think! (The name of the manufacturer is splashed all across the front cap!) In spite of everything, we had a wonderful time with Alberto, and are blessed that he was able to come to the states spend time with us!
After our whirlwind trip with Alberto, we returned to Shipshewana where we put Baby Girl back into the shop. Only this time it was not the manufacturer’s repair facility. Nope. They suggested a third-party repair facility that they said they have had very good luck with. While dropping her off, we were told assuredly “five bay days”. Two weeks later, nothing. So, we began to snoop around to try and find out why everyone seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth. Why couldn’t we reach anyone? Why wouldn’t anyone talk to us? When people finally started to resurface, that is when we learned it had been discovered that Baby Girl had a broken neck.
Note: I don’t want to leave anyone with the wrong impression here. Lifestyle had every intention of taking care of us, and they have. They were just trying to get their ducks in a row before approaching us with the bad news.
It took two full months and many meetings later to figure out what we were going to do, and what the manufacturer was going to do. It was a bad time of year for something like this to go so wrong because the factories were shutting down operations while they transition to new floor plans, retool for the new models, and then there are the holidays. Oh, and throw snow days in there, as well. (We’re now in January in northern Indiana, for crying out loud!) Two months ago, to the day, we signed an agreement. We agreed it would take approximately 4-6 weeks to complete a replacement rig. Our solar system had to be transferred over, our generator pulled from our old rig and installed in the new one, satellite had to be installed, among many other things. Well, here we sit NINE WEEKS LATER, going on ten. Unfortunate for us, they discontinued the floor plan that we had fallen in love with and that had worked so perfectly for us. So, after many weeks of trying to determine what to do, we eventually fell across probably the last model, already built, with a floor plan that would somewhat work for us. Actually, it is the only floor plan that has any decent counter space in the kitchen. (There is no kitchen counter space in the newer models.) Sufficient counter space is a very important factor since we love to cook and entertain. But it’s not like our Baby Girl… at all! The one we ended up with (again, not much choice) is 1-1/2 baths and is THREE FEET LONGER, or 42’ 2” to be exact! Now, you may say, “That’s even better!” But, hold on to your cavallos! Bigger is not always better. It limits us to places that can accommodate bigger rigs, and a lot of the state parks, national monuments, etc. have been around for so long that they were built for pop-up tents and the like. But, we shall see how it goes.
Most of the repairs/modifications to our replacement rig have been made. However, they are still waiting on some replacement items such as our upgraded toilets, the door to the modified half-bath, and who knows what else. In the meantime, our rig went to paint last Monday (a week ago today) for touch up. We received an e-mail this morning that it was supposed to return to the factory today. So we decided to just drive over and peek around the back lot to see if it was back. IT WAS! (But hold on! There’s more!) We called our contact from inside the truck to see if we could come in and take a look. Progress! So we thought. He informed us that the job was not acceptable (runs in the clear coat) and it had to go back to paint. Nooooooooooo! Really? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
So, here we sit, in the same hotel, whiling away the hours, days, weeks, months. A lifetime already! As I write this update, today marks DAY 199 of our stay here at the hotel, and that doesn’t even include the time we were away!
Our hotel room has been transformed into an efficiency apartment. We recently purchased an induction cooktop along with stainless steel cookware which, actually, has come in very handy. We mostly prepare food in our room (nothing too smelly) instead of going out to eat. We are so tired of eating out. Yes, we do treat ourselves every so often to a delicious ribeye steak at the Coppertop Tavern Restaurant & Bar. If you ever find yourself in Shipshewana, IN, we highly suggest you check it out. It is not a “tavern” as one might think, but it does have a bar and they do serve beer and liquor there. It is a nice, small spot right smack dab in the middle of cornfields. Oh, and there is always a waiting line of folks, so go early! I should probably send their name into Triple D (Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives)!
I was fortunate enough to be able to fly home to Texas (all expenses paid by Lifestyle) to spend 3-1/2 glorious weeks with my mom and family. I said “I” because Craig stayed here. We felt his presence would be instrumental in pushing our new rig from place-to-place. His efforts certainly paid off. Thank goodness he was here to take care of things!
Sadly, neither of us were able to go home for Christmas. Lots of reasons, of which I will not go into here. I will tell you that it was my very first Christmas away from home in my entire life! No ‘retakes’. I will avoid my soap box now. Suffice it to say, it could have been because of a broken leg… or something worse! But, it wasn’t. Thank you, Lifestyle! (Ohhh! Did I really say that?)
I would be remiss if I didn’t make mention that the people here at the hotel have just been indescribably hospitable and wonderful! We have come to know so many great and friendly people not only here, but around town, as well. Since “moving” to Shipshewana, we have had experiences that we would not have had otherwise. For example, the hotel manager invited us to their employee Christmas party. About half the town showed up! On Christmas Eve, the hotel owners picked us up and took us to their church. On Christmas morning, an Amish housekeeper here at the hotel invited us over for Christmas breakfast with her mom and sisters. (We had “haystacks” for the very first time. De-lish!) Then, we had dinner that evening in the hotel owner’s home. The front desk crew gave us a Christmas card signed by the different shifts, as well as a gift certificate. I cried. All the ladies in housekeeping surprised us with a very nice card AND… are you ready for this??? A homemade quilt/blanket that one of the ladies made just for us!!! Again, I cried! AND, the colors just so happened to match the color of the interior in our new rig!!! Finally, there was a New Year’s Eve party here at the hotel. Great fun!
The owners of the hotel have many business ventures in this small town. Although the flea market has been closed for the season, the auction and cattle barns remain open for business only on certain days of the week. So, on occasion, we go to the indoor auction where all kinds of crap (sorry) is sold, and people actually buy it! (To my RV friends… it’s lots-n-lots of stuff!) Inside the facility it sounds like a bazillion bees buzzing because there are several auctioneers doing their thing all at the same time… on loud speakers! It’s loud, and it echoes. And then there’s the cattle auction. That is really, really cool! There are catwalks in the back above all the stalls and we could just stand there for hours watching the arrival and placement of all kinds of livestock into designated stalls. I did not particularly like to see the 500 lb. pigs fighting, but it happens, I suppose. The actual cattle auction takes place in the arena, separate from all the stalls. The owner of the hotel is the auctioneer there and, if nothing else, I just like to see him in action. I told him at the Christmas dinner party that I was inclined to purchase something from him, but I couldn’t understand a word he was saying! We laughed. And, believe it or not, auctioneering is not something learned, necessarily. It is in ones DNA… and that’s the truth! You see, while we were sitting around their dinner table on Christmas day, their little 19 month old grandson started babbling non-stop. I had no idea at the time what in the world he was doing until he slammed an imaginary hammer (his fist) down on the table! Yes, he was auctioneering! I learned just this morning that he is now slamming that hammer down twice in a row, just like his grandfather. And, he loves to watch auctioneering on smart phones. No, not comics. Auctioneering! If someone shows him a video of something other than auctioneering, he’s not happy. He will sit forever watching these videos. Unbelievable!
While here, we have even volunteered to help out at the hotel. We have picked up and stacked chairs in the conference rooms (so many parties during the holidays), put away tables, vacuumed, cleaned and restocked the coffee bar… anything we can to be helpful. It gives us something to do. After all, everyone has been so very good to us… treating us like family… and we just feel we should pay it forward. And we do. With smiling and grateful hearts!
So, as you can see, although we have had our share of setbacks with our home, we have certainly made some lasting memories in these ‘ol fields of corn of northern Indiana. We have said several times to each other that we could easily live here… if it just wasn’t for this “white stuff”. Yes, as I write this the snowflakes just keep getting bigger and bigger.
I want to thank everyone who is reading this for being patient and waiting for me to post again. I know I have some new followers who enjoyed my posts in the past, but may have given up, gotten up, and left the room. LOL! I hope that’s not the case! I have tried so many times to get back in the groove, never to go through with my intentions. I thought too many times about going backwards and sharing our travels up and down the East Coast, but the mere thought of posting so many photos was causing me near panic attacks. (Not!) So, I just decided I would provide an overview of where we have been, what we have been up against, and what we’re doing as we grow older… one day at a time… in this moment in time!
In spite of everything, we are truly blessed. It’s all part of God’s plan for us! May He bless and keep you!
Until next time, I leave you with this. (Turn up your speakers!)