|Written February 3, while in Bowling Green, Florida, covering several prior days.
Knowing that our next few weeks would be fairly busy, making the transition to the new Phaeton, traveling several days to get to south Florida, & then enjoying the weather & traveling that area, I set the number one objective for Sunday afternoon (January 27) to be getting our 2007 income tax return finished & filed.
I had done much of the prep work in a couple of earlier sessions, using some estimates in the absence of actual numbers. I knew that there were still a couple of Forms 1099 that I did not have, but I knew that I would be able to get actual numbers from the appropriate websites. Isn't the internet great!!!!
Sunday afternoon arrived with some of the brightest sunshine that we had seen in several weeks. It was just too nice to stay cooped-up for the whole day. Given the itch to get outside, what a coincidence it was that we both had that strong urge to see if our dealer might have completed the prep of the Phaeton & then left it sitting outside. What a coincidence that the dealer was 25-30 miles away, a nice distance for a Sunday afternoon drive in the sunshine!!!!
Surely I would only need a part of the afternoon & night to finish the taxes. We hopped into the Jeep & headed for Sherman, Mississippi. We found that the dealership was open, but we really didn't want to be hassled. Our salesperson specializes in internet sales, so she would not have been there at that time.
We circled around the back of the building, avoiding the area where the salesmen would have been watching. As we rounded the building, we saw a Phaeton of the right color parked just outside the Service Department doors. In our excitement, we immediately concluded that this could only be ours. Moments later we noticed that it had certain things & didn't have certain other things, leading us to quickly replace our excitement with disappointment.
We left the dealer's lot a bit disappointed, drove a circuitous route back to our campground, ready now to settle in & finish the taxes. I finished the return, resulting in a nice refund. I electronically filed & have since received confirmation that the IRS has received it.
Monday morning we paced ourselves, not wanting to rush out of the campground & rush over to the dealership too early. We had not heard anything from them, so we assumed that all was on schedule for the Phaeton to be ready for us.
We got there about 11:00 AM, to find them doing the last little bit of washing & cleaning. After a quick walk-through, we suggested that we would run-out to grab lunch so that they could finish the cleaning. When we returned, they had it pulled outside, waiting for us.
After a walk-through & walk-around, they explained some of the features, then we went inside to do all of the paperwork. Now it was time for the physical work of moving to begin.
We had brought boxes with us to help move stuff between the two. Moving between motor homes is much like moving between stick houses in some respects, but much unlike it in other respects.
Everyyyyyy thing you own has to be boxed-up & moved. All of the cabinets & cubbyholes have to be emptied & moved. The boxes have to be hauled.
On the other hand, those boxes have to be walked in one trip from the old "house" directly to the new "house". Given the circumstances, we were not able to pre-pack anything & everything had to be unpacked immediately so that the boxes can be reused for many more trips. As the boxes are emptied, the stuff has to be put somewhere, at least temporarily, so that within a few hours we could be safely rolling down the road.
Given that we were moving between an old & a new of the same length from the same manufacturer, the variations in the cabinets & other storage areas were less than might have otherwise been. By late afternoon, the physical stress of going down the steps of the Phaeton & up the steps of the Bus for every trip between the two houses began to have its effect.
The floor of each sits four feet above ground level. That means down four feet of steps & then immediately back up four feet of steps, with a large box in my arms, going through a narrow door on each end. The four feet of distance was covered by five steps on the Bus, two of which were very tall. The steps on the Phaeton were engineered a bit better, providing six steps more evenly spaced.
The weather was OK on Monday afternoon, but rain storms were forecast for all day Tuesday.
I was loading boxes & transporting them between, while Vicki was unloading & putting away in the Phaeton. It is my nature to push hard to get the total job done as soon as possible. By the late afternoon, my age & lack of conditioning was beginning to make itself felt.
I pushed on to get as much done as possible, partially just from excitement, partially from just wanting to get it done, but mostly out of concern that Tuesday would be an all-day drenching . We had only a few tidbits to move from the inside by the time that we waved the white flag Monday night, but I still lacked all of the outside storage bays.
At that point, I knew that we would have a couple of options for Tuesday. If it should indeed be raining too hard, we could simply park in a corner of the lot, work on better placement of the stuff that we had already moved & wait-out the rain to move the outside stuff. If it was not raining, then I could work on moving the outside stuff while Vicki continued putting-away inside. Of course the third option would be a combination of the two.....I could just get wet while I moved outside stuff while it rained, while Vicki continued inside.
We slept on the Select Comfort bed in the Phaeton Monday night, but I have to confess that the ole body was aching so much I don't think it would have mattered much where we slept. A few pain relievers were the answer to at least get some sleep.
We were up & had a good start on working option two (moving outside stuff without rain) when the employees began arriving for their 8:00 AM starting time. The skies were threatening, but not yet leaking.
I was moving as fast as the ole body would allow. The heavy rains began just minutes before I had the last things moved-over. A little rain has never bothered me, particularly when I am on a mission!! I finished, counted that as my morning shower, dried-off & changed into some dry clothes.
We had found a few things that we asked the dealership to tidy-up while we finished. By late morning, they had done all that we had asked, we had everything moved over & ready to ride, at least temporarily. The Service Manager still had to finalize his paperwork for the extras that we had had him do, so we went to an early lunch. We were rolling-out by noon:30, headed eastward towards Birmingham.
The winds on the eastbound highway between Sherman, Mississippi & Birmingham, Alabama were gusting very strongly. I was staying quite busy working the steering wheel to counter the gusts. I could not get a good read as to how well the Phaeton would handle, versus how much the winds were tossing us around.
At one point, the door suddenly flew open. We had noticed what seemed like a lot of wind noise from the right front corner, but again unfamiliarity interfered with us knowing whether it was a temporary or permanent situation.
The door was open only a few inches, but flopping in the wind. Fortunately the hinges being at the front caused the wind flow to keep the door from flying wide open. When Vicki recovered from the surprise, she was able to grab the door handle while I slowed & pulled-over.
As I pulled-off, I found how to engage the emergency flashers, one of those details you should but just never do learn how to operate in the excitement of sitting at the dealership. We got the door closed & locked this time. I intentionally left the flashers blinking while I pulled back into traffic, only to find that the same lever that engages them did not disengage them. Try as I might, nothing worked to disengage them.
We drove down the road with the flashers blinking, going for several miles until I could find an exit that looked safe for me to pull-over & examine closer, possibly even reading the manual if necessary.
In the last few days, I have spent several hours reading manuals (more on that later, but just one tidbit now). Many times the manuals caution that the operator should be fully familiar with the operation of various functions before driving the first time....how unrealistic is that!?!?!?!?!?!?!
As I approached the exit, I automatically hit the turn signal lever to signal my turn. We rolled-on down to a safe spot on the exit ramp, where I realize that the flashers are no longer flashing. HUHMMMMM. Sitting there, I ran the experiment of engaging the flashers & hitting the turn signal lever, causing the flashers to disengage. OK, I have that one figured out now, OJT....On the Job Training.
We made our way on into Birmingham, headed to my favorite fueling retailer, Flying J. The dealer had provided a nearly full tank of fuel, but I wanted to get started on a fuel-mileage run so I had to top-off the tank.
Long-time reader Joe had posted last weekend that he and his wife Carolyn would like to meet us as we went through Birmingham. They live on the south side near a new WalMart located well for our stop for the night. I had originally responded that we would likely be through Birmingham Wednesday night, but with some quick & flexible change of plans, we were able to meet with them Tuesday night.
They took us to dinner, after which we continued our socializing in the "den" of the Phaeton. We very much enjoyed getting to know them......thanks for your hospitality.
The winds continued gusting through the night, enough so that we retracted one of the slides while Joe & Carolyn were still with us. Before we went to bed, we retracted the three other slides. Still, there were a couple of gusts that jostled us a bit.
The winds blew themselves out, so that we had smooth sailing starting Wednesday. Joe & Carolyn had given us an alternative route through Montgomery, Alabama, allowing us to avoid congested areas. GyPSy Lady squawked when we did not follow her instructions, but sometimes the human knowledge is better than her electronic knowledge. She squawks, but she gets over it.
We landed Wednesday night in Tallahassee, Florida. I wanted to make another fuel stop, not so much because I needed it, but because I wanted to get my first fuel mileage reading & because I wasn't sure that I could make it all the way to the next Flying J near Tampa.
I had thought that we would stay overnight at the "J", but when we arrived there, it did not take me long to decide that that was not going to be a good idea. The parking lot was fairly small & it just did not have a good "feel" for overnighting. We quickly found another WalMart SuperCenter within a few miles.
There were 8-10 RV's at W/M, we had our own little corner of the parking lot. I thought that we might have an issue with a couple of "mobile" men sitting on the curb near where we pulled-up, but they soon wandered off.
Thursday we made our way from Tallahassee to another WalMart SuperCenter in Zephryshills, just east of Tampa, about 80 miles short of our ultimate destination.
Each night we would do a little more rearranging, reading manuals, settling into our new home. The 300 or so miles that we were driving, while still recovering from the workout of Monday & Tuesday, left me feeling like a little whupped puppy, too tired to do any writing.
I'll end this segment here, & hope to follow-up tomorrow with more. I'll go ahead and post some photos & provide explanations of them in the next entry, as well as tell more about the features of the Phaeton & this campground.