Tag Archive for: #tiffinmotorhomes

Elemental

The elements come into play on our travels, whether motoring from one locale to another, or while we are camped out for any period of time.

Such has been the case in traversing from Idaho to Oregon, and then from our stop in Bend to our destination along the coast, Coos Bay.

Our timing on both legs couldn’t have been better. We missed storms moving into Idaho after we left, and we jumped ahead of storms moving through the mountains outside of Bend as we made our way to the ocean.

Idaho Ready: What you need to know about the chain up law ...How to put tire chains on a semi-truckO

Photo credit: Idaho Transportation Department and Schneider Truck website

In the mountains, one is always at risk of snow and ice. The signs along the way, noting “Chains Required When Flashing” are a bit disconcerting. Chains help vehicles grab the ice and snow for traction. Kind of like crampons for huge trucks. Fortunately we never had the warning flashing lights, for we didn’t invest in chains.

We would have had to turn back.

On our travels from Bend to Coos Bay, Route 58 between Route 97 and State Highway 5 was an absolutely beautiful trek, with Odell Lake and the Willamette River running alongside. Willamette Pass was a little nerve-wracking, with a decent amount of snow on the ground. But the roads were clear and dry.

Here is a glimpse at how the elements came into play on our adventures in Oregon…

Fire

Any opportunity to jump into our kayaks and paddle is a blessing, and such was the case in Bend. The kind folks at the outfitter, Tumalo Creek, directed us to a nice launching dock on the Deschutes River. They instructed us to paddle our way a couple of miles up river, then enjoy the current on the way back.

So what does a fun paddle on the Deschutes have to do with fire? In 1990, the Awbrey Hall Fire burned along the western flank of the city, jumping three major highways and destroying 22 homes and 3500 acres. Had we been able to continue paddling up river, we would have been near the Deschutes River Woods division that suffered the most damage.

We had a lovely evening catching up with a high school friend of Brad’s, Eric Davenport and his wife, Lynn. We visited them over ten years ago while traveling through Bend with our kids. The years dropped away as we hiked their property with Eric. In the distance, the view was hazy, from prescribed fires set to manage the forests. The photo below is from a Facebook page keeping residents advised of both controlled burns and wildfires.

After the hike we enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by Eric, then warmed by their Russian fireplace in the center of their beautiful open family room/kitchen. The fireplace is highly efficient and beautiful. I sat on the hearth for a bit…it was quite toasty. The fun evening ended entirely too soon, but we were leaving early the next morning for Coos Bay.

Air

We’ve been blessed to be hunkering down at the Sun Outdoors Campground in Coos Bay. Our site is just 50 yards from the beach and ocean. It has rained the entire time we’ve been here, and the winds have been a gusting! The motorhome is shaking as I’m writing this, the winds howling up to 45 miles an hour.

We haven’t let the stationery front stop our fun…enjoying hikes on the beach in the mornings with Luna, and exploring the towns and coast over the last few days. We even took in a fun “Wine Walk” sponsored by the local Rotary Club in Coos Bay.

But, oh that wind. And Rain! This photo doesn’t nearly capture how angry the elements seem to be…the air howling, the waves crashing, the sand and rain drops pelting our skin. But hey, it could be snowing, right?

Water 

I never tire of being by water. The ocean, especially in storms, takes water to a whole different level. We marveled at a brave paddle boarder navigating the waves in a cove near our campground. The waves crashing against rocks at Cape Arago State Park at the tail-end of Route 540 were mesmerizing.

But, water can be deadly. We learned about King Tides, which occur along the Oregon coast when the Earth, sun, and moon are all aligned. The huge tidal waves occur about once a month…we just missed them when we arrived. A woman we met on the beach intrigued us with stories of people being swept out to sea from king tides. Note to self…don’t turn your back on the water during king tides. Yikes.

Earth

From water to earth…we were fascinated by the huge Bull Kelp that washed up on the beach near the campground. We could see the “holdfasts” that attach to submerged rocks out in the ocean. They reminded me of characters in the Pirates of the Caribbean! The stranded jelly fish always make me a bit sad…and we saw our fair share on the beach as a result of the rollicking tides. Luna was wise to avoid them on our beach hikes.

The last picture, of the Stellar, or Northern Sea Lions hanging out on the rock and in the waters along the coast of Cape Arango State Park, has a story. Or rather, what you don’t see in the picture offers story.

The tide was coming in as we watched the sea lions, captivated by their defiance of the force of water. The sea creatures were barking and crying away…trying to avoid losing their position on the rock to the hundreds waiting in the water. I thought it was a territorial thing, until I looked to where they kept casting their gaze.

There, on a rock below them, still, motionless was another Stellar sea lion. This creature did not move for the fifteen minutes we stood and watched. But the other sea lions did, seemingly agitated, moving back and forth on that rock, looking to the sea, then back to their newly departed friend.

Through my experiences and research in the past, I knew in my heart what was going on.

I looked up at Brad with tears in my eyes and said, “I think they are grieving.”

Brad squeezed my hand and gave me a big hug.

A touching end to adventures that provided us with many goosebump moments among the elements.

 

Alright, Alright, Alright

My youngest brother, Gordie, recommended we listen to Matthew McConaughey’s memoir, Greenlights on our travels. I was a bit hesitant, as I thought the actor was rather self-absorbed. I mean, what could I learn from a man who made a name for himself running on beaches and showing off his six-pack abs?

Plenty.

The timing was perfect to listen to the story, narrated by none other than Matthew himself. (We came to know each other on a first-name basis through the journey.)

Brad and I had quite a few road hours on our travels from Nashville and onto Branson. Throw in a little unplanned side trip to Red Bay, Alabama for a quick repair, and the roughly 6 1/2 hour audiobook helped pass the miles.

Our trip to Red Bay required an overnight stay where we were not intending to be. Matthew would summarize this situation by saying, “Greenlights.” In other words, green lights mean go. But sometimes in life, the green lights might change on us, causing us to redirect. And as life plays out, we end up with a Greenlight we weren’t expecting. Such was the case with our Harvest Hosts overnight stop at a little farm and orchard along the way. I’ve never camped in such a quiet, peaceful spot. Until the neighboring rooster woke us up early the next morning.

“The problems we face today eventually turn into blessings in the rearview mirror of life,” Matthew offered.

Greenlight.

Our view at Blessed Bounty orchard, an unexpected overnight.

I was surprised to learn that Matthew spent several years traversing in a van and Airstream trailer that he customized. He named the trailer Canoe, in honor of his visit to the Squamish Nation reservation in Vancouver. The tribe gave him a handmade oar, a symbol of the tribe.

Matthew said, “The oar guides the canoe, guides you through life—so I named the Airstream the Canoe. I mean, the highways are like riverways, they’re just concrete.” 

Our oar was guiding us to a place that was on both of our radars for some time; Branson, Missouri.

Branson

We stayed the week at Table Rock State Park, just fifteen minutes from the city of Branson. The lake is absolutely gorgeous, with a huge marina and a several-mile hiking trail around the perimeter. Over the weekend, a huge Bass Fishing Tournament, sponsored by Toyota happened on the lake. We’d wake up in the morning with the sounds of the National Anthem being sung to send the fishermen off for the day, and hear the announcements of the daily divisional winners in the evening. Top prize? $200,000!

The marina at Table Rock State Park, the Showboat Branson Belle and sunset at the park.

We wanted to take in a show, and at the recommendation of a friend, went to see Reza, an illusionist. Reza’s huge acts were amazing, but his smaller tricks were simply mind-boggling. I would have gotten a picture of him, but he kept disappearing.

Where did Reza go?

A huge bonus was catching up with a dear high school friend. Hannah Spotts and her husband Mike, who joined us for dinner at the campground. It was such a fun and lovely evening. Hannah recommended we visit one of her favorite places in the area…

Dogwood Canyon

Johnny Morris, owner of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s founded this extraordinary 10,000 acre conservation area with hiking and biking trails, trout fishing, and horseback riding. Tickets to the tram are extra, but the bonus is at the top. We enjoyed our close encounters with the herd of bison, including a rare White American Bison.

Brad and I also had a blast playing the Mountain Top 9-hole golf course, and taking in lunch at Arnie’s Barn afterwards. My drink of choice? An Arnold Palmer, of course.

Salina

Salina, Kansas was definitely a Greenlight. We stayed/played at the Salina Municipal Golf Course, which is one of the nicest muni golf courses we’ve ever played. Luna had a blast joining us during the round, and was quite chill afterwards while we had dinner on the patio at Ya Yas.  We took a nice stroll through the surprising downtown. Fun!

Rafter W Ranch

Our last stop before hitting Denver was yet another Harvest Hosts site…Rafter W. Ranch. We camped out in their field, away from their grass-fed cattle, and enjoyed hiking the property. We picked up some steaks before we left the next morning, on to our next adventures.

We finished listening to the audiobook, and could relate to this quote from Greenlights.

“We cannot fully appreciate the light without the shadows. We have to be thrown off balance to find our footing. It’s better to jump than fall. And here I am.”

Thank you, Matthew for your insights, your stories, your inspiration. We aspire to Just Keep Livin‘.

And we’re doing Alright, Alright, Alright.

 

Trip to the Mother Ship

Red Bay.

It sounds like a spice, or for those in Florida currently, a description of the coast lines getting hit with Red tide.

But, for every Tiffin motorhome owner, Red Bay means home. As in Sweet Alabama home.

In 1941, Alex Tiffin opened Tiffin Supply Company in this little town in northern Alabama. Throw a stick and you’re in neighboring Mississippi. The store carried any and every thing one needed to build a home. The family business expanded in 1965, with the purchase of a cotton gin. Alex’s son, Bob, took to the management of the operation like a fish takes to water.

Tiffin Supply provided materials to a business that came to town that manufactured recreational vehicles. The business folded and the Tiffin family seized the opportunity to hang another shingle with their name on it. Tiffin Motorhomes was established in 1972.

A 1984 Tiffin Allegro bus. Credit: Tiffin Motorhomes Facebook

Bob Tiffin summed up the competition and determined he wanted to build a better product, one that would stand the test of time. Other RVs were being made out of fiberglass and aluminum. Bob built his Tiffins on a much more durable steel chassis.

Tiffin started with making just two coaches a day. Now the company makes thousands of their hand-crafted, quality motorhomes every year. The company builds both gas as well as diesel fueled motorhomes, with models ranging from smaller 25-foot Class C vehicles, all the way up to 45 foot Class A motorhomes. Check out their models here.

Check out this beautiful 2023 Tiffin Zephyr. Photo credit: Tiffin website

Bob’s sons are now involved in the business, which was bought out by Thor Industries in 2020.The company has stated that they intend to remain in little Red Bay, Alabama, population 3200, give or take. Moving the company out of the area would be devastating to the community.

What Bob Tiffin began has exploded into a whole cottage industry, with service providers ranging from garages that do mechanical repairs, paint shops, detailing mobile vans, and even businesses that will custom make new cabinetry and update and replace furniture.

The Tiffin company has an excellent warranty program, so many travelers to the small town stay in graveled make-do parking lots and head out first thing every morning to get in line for warranty service. For those of us with vehicles that are out of warranty, Red Bay is still the place to come for repairs. Many of the off-shoot business owners and mechanics are former Tiffin employees. They know these coaches inside and out.

We had a whole laundry list of items that were beyond our mechanical abilities, and had absolutely no clue how to figure out which businesses in Red Bay to tackle the repairs. We read about owners who were spending several weeks scheduling their various appointments. We didn’t have that kind of time frame to work with. So, April Fowler of Happy Host RV Concierge to the rescue! April contacted service providers on our behalf, and stacked our appointments within a four-day window. Davidson RV did a fantastic job with most of our repairs, and had a comfortable, dog-friendly lounge for us to work from. The crew wanted to adopt Luna as their shop dog!

On day 2 of our repairs, we snuck in a tour of the main Tiffin manufacturing plant in Red Bay. No cameras were allowed, so I just had to stamp the imprint of the sight of all the workers diligently laboring at their jobs in my memory banks. From custom-made wood pieces for the cabinetry, to all the color-coded wires that make up the three miles of wiring in each coach, to seeing a unit nearly complete at the end of all the processes, it was amazing.

Our last stop involved getting our cracked windshield replaced. The repair entailed nearly 5 hours of work in the repair shop, then letting the seal settle overnight. I wish I took a picture of the huge garage from the inside of our coach. I can now add sleeping overnight in a service garage to my list of life experiences. We slept well, and were protected from the massive rain storm that pounded on their tin roof through the early morning hours.

We woke up early in time to open up the big garage doors and let our last provider in for a special touch to our coach.

The special paint job is a reflection of our love for our country and our shared joy in seeing all of her beauty.

With clear skies and bright sun filtering in from our new windshield, we left the Mother Ship.

One more step closer to home.

But before then…more adventures await in Blue Ridge, Georgia.

 

OBXing

OBXing…verb 

1) exploring the Outer Banks of North Carolina

2) noting all the vanity plates that start with OBX

3) checking another destination off the bucket list

I’ve always wanted to visit the Outer Banks, with two experiences high on the list; visiting the site of the Wright Brothers historical flight, and seeing the Wild Horses of Corolla. During our week’s stay, we checked off those boxes and then some.

We camped at the OBX Campground on Colington Island, Kill Devil Hills. Our site was beautiful, just off the waters surrounding the island, and literally a stone’s throw away from the Wright Brothers Memorial. As we drove into the campground, we noted a bike trail surrounding the national park, so we decided we would take the short bike ride along Colington Road to the trail the next morning. As we headed out into the cold, brisk winds, I thought of Wilbur Wright’s quote, “No bird soars in a calm.”

It was rather appropriate we biked to the site, in homage to the bicycle-building brothers from Dayton who had a dream to create and fly a machine in the air.

We walked our two-wheelers along the route the brothers took on those historic flights on December 17, 1903. We were amazed by not only how far they ultimately flew that day, but all of the time, effort, research and attempts by Wilbur and Orville to achieve the first powered, controlled and sustained flight.

“It wasn’t luck that made them fly; it was hard work and common sense; they put their whole heart and soul and all their energy into an idea and they had the faith.”
― David McCullough, The Wright Brothers

Next up on that bucket list was to see the wild horses. There are various tour companies that will take you out on the beach in Corolla, but our trusty Jeep was up for the task, so we did a self-guided tour. The beach was rather compact, so we didn’t deflate our tires to the recommended 20 psi, which adds more traction.

We spotted five horses on the northern edge of Currituck Beach, lumbering slowly along the ocean’s edge. We respectfully stayed the requisite 50 feet away as they trudged through the sand. Quietly, almost mysteriously, the Colonial Wild Mustangs walked in the opposite direction, in single file, paying no attention to us.

I had to pinch myself seeing two iconic Outer Bank traditions, both in the same day.

Little did I know we were about to take in another…the Tomato Shack in the town of Duck. Carlton is the second generation owner of this beautiful market. We bought some fresh eggs, bacon and a variety of veggies for our travels.

One of the upsides to traveling in an RV is to be able to make home-cooked meals. I foraged away during the summer, freezing many batches of pesto, homemade marinara sauce and homemade chicken noodle soup. I even made my first batch of banana bread in the Coach on this trip. Yum!

We golfed twice on the Outer Banks, at the historical Sea Scape Golf Links (only because it was the first time I ever beat Brad, straight up!) and the Nags Head Golf Club. Both great tracks, and easily made our way around 18 holes in 3 hours due to midday tee times and off-season.

We traveled to the far end of the Outer Banks, going as far as Hatteras. (There is a ferry you can take further.) We were saddened that we couldn’t climb Cape Hatteras lighthouse, but enjoyed learning about the incredible effort in 1999 to move the lighthouse due to potential beach erosion. It took 23 days and a massive engineering effort to transport the beacon 29 feet to its current location.

I loved this view of massive charter fishing boats on our way to Hatteras.

Tundra Swan Adult (Whistling)

Photo credit photo on the right: Ian Davies/Macaulay Library

We stopped at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Center, where we were able to see hundreds of the migrating Tundra Swans. The all-white swans look majestic, gathered in the warmer waters of the Outer Banks for the winter.

This is for the fans of  the 2008 movie “Nights in Rodanthe” which featured Richard Gere and Diane Lane. The original house used in the movie also had to be moved up the beach due to the shifting of the sands. The property is rented out, and up for sale. But beware, it looks like it might need to be moved again in the future!

We ventured to Roanoke Island, taking in the quaint village of Manteo and the Roanoke Island Festival Park Heritage Center. After a quick tour of the reconstructed Elizabeth ll, we thoroughly enjoyed the interpreter at the first English Settlement Site. He was kind enough to create a small souvenir…a nail that he forged.

We tried to solve the mystery of the Lost Colony during our visit to Fort Raleigh, but alas, no such luck.

Luna, our lovable Labrador didn’t get to take in the golf or the historical sites, but fear not, she got her own adventures in too. We headed to the deserted beach early one morning, and to Jockey Ridge State Park, site of the tallest living sand dune on the eastern seaboard on our last day in the Outer Banks. She brought back her share of  the beach and the dune to the coach!

We enjoyed a rare night out while on the road, enjoying the delectable local fresh seafood and produce at the quaint Colington Cafe.  It was great to ditch the hiking/biking/golfing/kayaking gear and hats for a little more formal attire.

Our fond farewell to the lovely islands of the Outer Banks involved kayaking around the bay near Roanoke Island. Winds into our faces at the start, then cruised back quietly, past the sea grasses swaying in the winds. The breathtaking sunset was a perfect end to our OBXing adventures.

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