Sunday, November 20, 2016

Wandering With The Wrights

If you remember in the last blog we had just arrived in Red Bay, AL to have some work done on our motorhome - most of it minor except for the painting needed after a tree jumped out and bit the back end of the bus on our way down.  Some people have to wait weeks to get into get work done, but we hit it just right and were in and out in record time.  Which was awesome as it gave it us more time in Birmingham and Montgomery.  While in Red Bay we met a delightful couple from Arlington Heights that just went full-time in May.  We went out to dinner with them and really enjoyed them - such a small world.

While at the Tiffin manufacturing plant we took a tour of the plant.  Tiffin builds most everything it self and uses very few outside sources.  The woodworking section of the plant was massive.

One of the first things we saw when we entered

The beginning of a Tiffin coach

The sides haven't been put on yet to make it easier to get all the cabinetry, appliances, etc. inside

Our coach in the service bay being worked on and Teddy wondering when he was going to get his home back

They have a very nice lounge available while waiting for work being done on your coach - most everyone has a dog.

The bays open at 7:00 am and if it is your day to go in you line up outside of the bay door they give you the night before.  So everyone is up early and headed to their bay about 6:45am  Kinda fun to watch - someone said it was a parade of Tiffin's.
We were told we needed to eat at the Mason Jar Restaurant in town so went our first Saturday there for breakfast and found it closed which we thought was odd.  When we went back a few days later the owner asked if it was our first time and we said yes - that we had come Sat and they were closed.  He said he has closed on Saturday's ever since his son started sports - most games are on Sat. and he didn't want to miss any - love his priorities.
Loved the mason jar chandeliers.
Tiffin has a great set up to allow you to wash your coach while you are there so before leaving she got a bath.  One more Red Bay story I decided I wanted a dim light in our bedroom and after seeing the mason jars Jerry suggested we get a mason jar fill it with a small string of lights and we would be all set.  I loved the idea but everywhere we went only sold cases of jars.  There was a hardware store right across from Tiffin so went in and asked and they had them - by the case.  The man asked what I needed and I said just one or two.  He asked if I could come back after lunch and I said sure - when I got back he had gone home and gotten me two his wife didn't use anymore and insisted I take them and wouldn't accept any pay.  The people we met in Red Bay were all so kind and helpful.  We won't mind returning at all when the coach needs something done.

All done at Tiffin we headed for a state park right outside of Birmingham.
When we arrived in Birmingham this was our welcome on our camp site.
The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed exploring this huge park on foot and by car
We visited many of the Alabama Civil Right Trail sights.  This was a self-guided tour that was fascinating.  We were there 2 hours and the time just flew by.  For a museum to hold my interest for two hours it has to be something and this was.
So informative and eye opening.  To think we were alive during a lot of this and at least for us were pretty oblivious to all that was going on.

16th Street Baptist Church that was bombed.  4 - 11 year old girls lost their lives and many more were wounded with shrapnel.

We weren't there on Sunday or would have attended their service.

The inside of the church was beautiful

We really enjoyed Birmingham and I really wanted to stay longer - little did I know what was ahead for us in Montgomery.

Before leaving Birmingham we visited the old Sloss Furnaces an old steel mill - this mill and the railroads really helped Birmingham grow into the industrial center that it became.  It grew so fast they called it the Magic City.

Jerry enjoyed this tour much more than I did :-)

A turbo compressor for the blast furnace
The size of this wrench gives you some idea how huge the furnaces were
Last but not least we toured the Golden Flake Chip Company which is huge in the south.

These were all the bags they sent us home with - gotta love free samples.  Also got to taste chips right out of the oil - still warm!
Jerry also visited the Southern Museum of Flight while we were in Birmingham - Teddy and I relaxed at home :-)

Visited downtown Montgomery which is the capitol of Alabama.  Many large beautiful well kept buildings.

Toured the First White House of the Confederacy

Capitol Building


Now this is where things got really awesome -  We were at the Dexter Parsonage Museum where Martin Luther King was the pastor from 1954 - 1960.  We had a wonderful docent, Marguerite Foley, who took us on a awesome tour of the parsonage and shared many wonderful stories.  Jerry and I were the only two on it.  The parsonage has been restored to when MLK and his bride of 2 months moved in.  This is the home that a bomb was thrown on the front porch that almost led Rev. King to give it all up - he was so upset and worried about his family after the bombing and many threats on his and his families lives that he seriously considered giving everything up and quitting.  While we stood in the kitchen of this parsonage Mrs. Foley played a tape of a talk that Dr. King gave in Chicago telling of his desire to quit and that he believes that Jesus spoke to him while in this kitchen late one night that encouraged him to continue with his stand for righteousness, justice and truth.  At the end of the tour we told Mrs. Foley we hoped to attend the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church on Sunday.  Turns out that she is a member and said if we saw her to come sit with her.  She also told us about a family down the street that had actually taken in 20 Freedom Riders into their home to keep them safe during this turbulent time.  To keep this short Jerry and I walked down to look at the house after the tour and Mrs. Harris who still lives there was on the porch swing -  she will be 94 next month.  Being the bashful person I am I asked if we could come and talk to her.  We were there with her on the swing for over a half an hour and her daughter Valda came.  Her daughter has written a book called "Just a Neighbor" a child's memoir of the civil rights movement.  It was the most enjoyable time.  They both told us stories and it was just a wonderful experience.  

Mrs. Harris and her daughter Valda Harris Montgomery

Took a drive and found where Jerry had come several times during his working days to teach classes

There is an extreme drought in this area and there are signs similar to this everywhere.    They haven't had any rain for over 60 days.  With no rain in that long many things get dusty - including Teddy.

Teddy getting a shower - not his favorite thing.

We made it to the church that Martin Luther King was pastor at this morning and we did sit with Mrs. Foley.  This is one of the friendliest churches we have ever been blessed to attend.  It was a great 2-hour Southern Baptist service!
This is our last night in Alabama - tomorrow morning we head to near Tifton, GA to meet some friends for Thanksgiving and then it is a short drive Saturday to Ray City, GA where we will be doing our next NOMAD'S Mission Project - looking forward to both.  We hope that you all have a Very Happy Thanksgiving - be safe and hug everyone you care about.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Wandering With The Wrights

We left Illinois Beach State Park as planned on 11/1.  Before leaving we were blessed to have visits and to visit many of our friends and family. 

My brother Brian came up from Peoria, my brother and sister-in-law from Zion and Jerry and I had a great dinner with my mom.

Spent a delightful evening with Lauri, Shaun and Kayla Zenner.  After being family since Lauri was born and neighbors for 21 years they are some of the people we miss the most.  She is extremely talented at decorating and this was her fun dinner table centerpiece.  Being creative is not one of family genes I inherited.
I forgot to take a picture of Audrey but spent a fun afternoon with Audrey Slosser - we worked together for many years and she shared some of her garden bounty.
Since we still have not been able to eliminate my mom's wrist/arm discomfort completely - we are now doing acupuncture.  Please say a prayer that this works - she will be going 3 times this coming week.

Also spent time with Dale & Carol Meisinger and got to see their beautiful new home.  Spent many years working at EMCO with Dale & Carol also.  Last but not least pictured above are Joan and Linda Dockery - I really think Linda comes to see Teddy and just tolerates us being there :-).  We were also able to visit with most of our children and grandchildren so the stage was set to move out.

 So on Tuesday morning we headed out.
bringing way to many of these little guys with us but haven't seen any in a few days so assuming we threw the last one out the door.
 Our first night was a stop in Effingham, IL.  We had a nice drive and we commented that we were excited to be on the road again after sitting still for the most past of 6 months.

Arrived at the campground and to make a long store short we had a run in with a tree.  We always make a point of telling them our length and that we are towing a car and they assured us this was a good sight - not so much!!  Way to many trees to maneuver around.  I was spotting and was talking to a man who came up to point out the tree issue and wasn't watching as I should have been - so we are both taking blame for this one.  It is really minor and ironically our destination was to Red Bay, AL to get some minor things checked on our motorhome.  Tiffin coaches are manufactured in Red Bay and they are known for their customer service and good coaches.  So we were heading to the right place to get our little tree issue fixed.  Jerry says we didn't run into it - it jumped out and bit us!!

Saw this magnificent 198 foot Cross at the intersection of Interstates 57 & 70 in Effingham, Illinois.  The site is intended to serve as a beacon of hope to the 50,000 travelers estimated to pass the site each day.  
The following day we drove to Jackson, TN - it was another long driving day so when we stopped for lunch we all took a rest before continuing on our way.  Spent the night at a Walmart in Jackson - we laughed as with it being a parking lot there weren't any trees!!
This is at the Walmart - Teddy is watching a raccoon right outside the window.

We arrived in Red Bay, Alabama on Thursday morning having traveled through parts of IL, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.  Red Bay is a town of a little over 3.000 people and 1,500 of them work at Tiffin Motorhomes.  It is a small town full of very friendly and courteous people.  We took a wrong turn looking for the campground associated with the service department of Tiffin.  We ended up in a school parking lot which was a good thing as it had room for the coach.  We weren't sure how to get back out.  A man pulled up in a red and white pick up.  I went over and introduced myself as Jerry maneuvered the coach around - the man had us follow him and he took us right where we needed to be.  His name was Bobby and his wife had family in Zion & Winthrop Harbor - small world.  Went to the Piggly Wiggly in town yesterday to pick up a few groceries and I got out my Pig loyalty card and the manager happened to be standing nearby.  He asked if I was from the Carolina's and I said no Illinois - he said you don't need a card here we give everyone the best price we can.  Then the bagger insisted on taking the groceries out to the car.  They always offer at home but when I say no I am fine that is it but this nice girl said that is a service we like to extend our customers and proceeded out the door with the cart.  At church this morning several people asked what model of Tiffin motorhome we had - they knew we were visitors and probably in town because of Tiffin.

The Tiffin campground is actually an old airport landing strip surrounded by grassy areas for dog walking.  Everyone in this location is waiting for service.  It is mostly done on a first come first serve basis and people who need a lot of work can wait weeks before they get in.  Fortunately our items are not very time consuming, even including the scratched end cap and busted vent cover, so we get to go to an express bay.  Which means they think everything will take less than 3 hours and we will get in sometime this coming week.  People here are nice and friendly in the campground and we are all in the same boat - waiting so lots of visiting goes on.  The only negative is we only get a couple of PBS TV stations as we have chosen not to have satellite TV in the coach.  But what a great time of year not to have to listen to TV so we aren't listening to political commercials!!  We get news on the radio and there is a lounge we can go to to watch TV a very short walk from our coach but we haven't done that yet - might tonight.

Teddy made a new BIG friend - he kind of looked at him in amazement.
 So far now we sit in Red Bay, AL - when we leave we are hoping to spend some time in Birmingham and Montgomery to soak up some of the history there.  It will depend on how long we are here as we are meeting friends in Georgia for Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow we will tour the Tiffin manufacturing facility which also gets you one night free here at the campground and Tuesday plan to go to the Red Bay Museum and learn more about the history of this area.  FYI - we were curious as to home costs and taxes here so did some searching on Zillow - highest taxes we found were $669 on a $229,000 home!!

Here we are heading out on our 2016/2017 winter adventure