Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Trace, Part II and Natchez Wilderness Preserve May 19-26

After a great tour of the Tiffin factory we returned back to the Natchez Trace Parkway and headed over to the Thousand Trails Natchez Wilderness Preserve campground.  It was nice to get back on the parkway and enjoy the traffic free drive.  We crossed the Tennessee Border chalking up one more state on our list.

With all of the rain, the fields were bright with yellow mustard seed.

Colbert Ferry on the Tennessee River and the John Coffee Memorial Bridge.  The body of water is called Pickwick Lake and is formed by the Pickwick Dam on the Tennessee River.  It is a very popular fishing and boating area.
 Over look from the highest point on the Natchez Trace Parkway.  I think it was about 850 feet in elevation.

 We arrived at the Thousand Trails campground and set up camp for the next few days, using it as a base camp to explore the rest of the Trace.  Many of the pull outs are small and some are close together making it hard to maneuver the motor home and all of the stop and go is terrible on the gas mileage.

Just a few miles from our campsite is Meriweather Lewis Site,a memorial to Meriweather Lewis.  The Grinder House below is a reproduction of the stand  where he was found shot and dead.

The monument over Meriweather Lewis grave site represent a broken shaft symbolizing the untimely conclusion of his death.
 You can hike on part of the Trace in the park.  There is also a nice campground but we didn't stay there because we were at the Thousand Trails a few miles away.
 There are several nice short hikes along the Trace between the Meriweather site and the Northern Terminus.  We stopped at Fall Hollow and were treated to several waterfalls and wildflowers.

Gosh, everything is so lush.  It could almost be Hawaii!

This is an old tobacco barn.  There are still some tobacco leaves that are suspended from the ceiling.  The leaves are smoked dried which is why the barn is not air tight.

 The original Natchez Trace runs behind the tobacco barn for about two miles and passenger cars can drive the two miles back to the parkway.  The road is narrow and there signs of the recent wind storms that had blown down branches and debris.  Not a place for an RV.

The Highway 96 Double Arch bridge is almost at the end of the Trace.  It has won many awards and spans 1648 feet and is 155 feet above the Valley as seen below.

The final mile marker on the Trace.  The parkway is suppose to be 444 miles long but we couldn't find the 444 mile marker.  The parkway actually end at the intersection of Tennessee 100 and there are no signs proclaiming it is the end, which I thought very odd...sort of an anticlimactic end.

 We spent several days at the Thousand Trails campground where Joel worked a few projects between exploring the area around the parkway.  The campground is on the shores of Chief's Creek Lake.  The weather cooperated one day and allowed us to throw the kayaks in the water and spent an enjoyable half day paddling around the lake.

 This Blue Heron was very shy and took off as soon as I clicked the shutter but I was able to catch him in mid air.

These turtles were huge!  They had to be 12-14 inches across.

We left the Thousand Trails on Thursday (5/26) to head for Cedar Hill, Tennessee (about 40 miles north of Nashville) to visit my son Jason and his wife Rhonda.  We will be "Moochdocking" (driveway boon docking) through the Memorial Day Holiday and maybe longer.  There are few maintenance projects (oil change and coolant change) that Joel needs to accomplish as well as finish up the installation of the solar system, so that will take a few days, and site seeing in Nashville and surrounding areas.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Side Trip to Red Bay, Alabama. May 17-18

We left the beautiful Davis Lake and headed over to Red Bay, Alabama.  Red Bay is right on the border of Alabama and Mississippi and not a very long drive from Davis Lake .  It would have been nice to stay at Davis Lake a little longer and dip the kayaks in the water, but it was cool and cloudy most of the time except when leaving in the morning.

Red Bay is a small town and you would think for it being such a small town Tiffin customer service area would be easy to find.  It took us several sweeps through town and unhooking the car before we found our destination.  There are signs but they focus on travelers coming from the North and we were coming from the south.    Tiffin Motors has a parking area at the customer service repair center with full hook ups available to Tiffin owners who need warranty or repair work done. Its called the Allegro Campground.  It is also open to SOBs (some other brand) motor homes passing through the area and want to tour the factory.  Basically it's a large paved parking area, but it's free.  There must be at least 50 spaces if not more and most were occupied waiting to get into the service center.  The place was jumping when we got there and we were told we could stay two nights if needed because they weren't very busy yet.

I found the folks at Tiffin to be extremely accommodating and friendly even though we were SOBs.  The Tiffin owners we talked to were really happy with their coaches and service.  No, Joel is not thinking of replacing the Big House.  I, on the other hand, at a different time, had contemplated replacing my Class C Born Free with a small Class A and Tiffin makes a 28 and 32 foot Class A diesel pusher. I was curious about how the motor homes were put together.

Our tour began at 9:30 with a short introductory movie and then on to the different departments.  We were giving head phones and the guide had a mic so we could hear what he was saying.  I thought this was really clever.  Without the head phone I don't think I would have been able to hear him very well.

Our first stop was where they make all of the cabinets on site. The cabinets are made start to finish from raw wood to the finished product.  It is a very large operation.
 Some of the wood is being prepared for cabinet making.

A lot of wood goes into cabinet making. Cherry and alder are used.

Everything is done by hand at the plant. I noted the workers were not wearing masks.  Apparently it is an option and not required.  I did note most employees were wearing some kind of ear protection.  It was pretty noisy.

Cabinet boxes getting readied for faces.

 All of the drawers at made at the plant

This is a "virgin" chassis.  It is driven into the plant where the rails, out rigging,  framing, engine, and wiring are installed.

 The chassis is pretty bare.

The rear engine diesel motor is dropped in.

 This chassis has some of the framing and out riggers installed.

 Joel is inspecting some of the work.  I think it met with his approval.

This is the finished chassis

These are floor and wall insulation panels.

They are glued to frame work which is attached to the chassis

 I think this is one of the floors being readied to put on the chassis.

Once the floor is installed then the finish work begins.  All of the cabinetry is installed over the finished floor.

 This is a slide.  The cabinetry is installed in the slide before it is attached to the frame of the motor home.

This look like a full galley slide.

Ever wonder what those round saucer like things are on top of the motor homes?  There are a new type of antennae being used instead of the old bat wing type.  There was a whole box waiting to be installed.

 Roof is almost ready for the fiberglass cap

 Fiber glass front cap being installed.

 Next stop was to the wiring department.  The wiring harnesses are put together here.

 Each peg has a number so the person putting the wiring together knows how much wiring to use.  All the wiring is labeled every six inches indicating what it is for so if work needs to be done later it is easy to tell what the wiring is for.

A finished wiring harness is put in a box and labeled for a particular motor home.

Afterwords we were free to roam the plant and finished and unfinished motor homes ranging from the smaller Allegro Breeze to the larger top of the line Zephyr.  I was amazed we could wander at will and no one seemed to care.  The motor homes leave the site in Red Bay and are driven a few short miles to Belmont where full body paint is applied and then they are brought back to Red Bay for a final inspection.

Joel discovered at the customer service repair center there is a whole warehouse of spare parts, used and new, not meeting specifications that can be purchased or some can be picked up free.  Needless to say, Joel came back with a few parts for future projects.

We left Red Bay Thursday morning and headed back over to the Natchez Trace Parkway. Our next stop will be at the Thousand Trails Campground for a few days.  We plan to use this as a base to explore the rest of the Trace before heading to Cedar Hills, Tennessee, where my son Jason and his wife Rhonda live.