Saturday, August 10, 2013

Red Bay Rebut

Time is passing very quickly as evidenced by that fact that we left Red Bay over a week ago and are now on our second-leg in Washington DC.  But I must try to throw some props out there vis a vis what my wife, partner-in-adventure and fellow blog writer shared about Red Bay, AL and Tiffin Motors.

1.  Props to Tiffin for being in manufacturing in the US and doing it where they're doing it.  They're likely the principal employer in this apparently very rural (15+ miles to the nearest package store) area.  Directly employing 800 people, perhaps a thousand more in direct suppliers w/in 50 miles and I'm guessing still many more in supporting services (multiple RV detailing/sandwich shop/nail salon businesses -- all 3 under one roof, now that's convenience!).  Tiffin's only out of country import are the windshields.  A lot to be said for being private v. public ownership...
Landshark at the nicest campground we've ever been to in Oklahoma City
2.  This is our second RV and though we are having more issues with this one than the last one (whose engine self-destructed as a point of reference), Winnebago also had a big grassy field where people would park for a few weeks while waiting for their service.  We just didn't need it at that time and didn't notice it (or camp there).  And Tiffin had the class to provide a full service campground instead of dry camping.
3.  We had 3 days of service on the rig (without an appointment -- admittedly not possible to make one) and were parked there only 7 days.  To put that in perspective, our "guy" in Silicon Valley had our rig for our final two weeks in SV and didn't even open the door for a week, only to discover that the door latch was broken (it wasn't when I dropped it off) and could not be opened...  He did fix it, however, he charged me for the repair.  And that repair cost the same as our entire 3 days of service in Red Bay.
4.  Wow.  I had to reread that last sentence.  3 days of service in Red Bay was the same price as they guy who may or may not have broken the door latch to the only door into the rig and his cost solely to repair that.  Admittedly, 2 days of the 3 days of Tiffin service were under warranty -- on a 7 year old rig of which we are the 3rd owners.  That's customer service.
5.  The Tiffin factory tour was by far the best factory tour I can remember.  We were right in the action every step on the way.  We saw chassis being put together from beams & wheel assemblies; woodwork for the cabinets being milled, glued & sanded; cabinets being assembled through complete  assembly.  Even the Winnebago factory in Iowa (which was pretty rural, but not as rural -- a 3 on a 1-10 logarithmic scale.  Red Bay is probably a 2.) kept us on a catwalk.  And we only saw the final phase of assembly -- chassis rolling in and pre-manufactured pieces being put together.
6.  Rig owners were welcome to spend their entire time with the repair mechanics the entire time the rig was being worked on.  I learned quite a few tricks in that time.  Priceless.
Cheesecake Filling "Ready to Eat" --
Martha's point re Diabetes was spot on...
7.  I actually found a bookstore.  An excellent one.  Sure, it was 25 miles away in the same town that Helen Keller grew up (causality?  probably).  But these days in Silicon Valley, that's about the apparent distance to finding an actual book store.  And they had a copy of the Sunday New York Times.  When I bought it, they put it in a brown paper bag which did make me think...
8.  Our internet connection was at least as good as I'm seeing here in Washington DC.  Seriously?
Live music, dancing and tasty down-home dinner under a natural
sedimentary overhang complete with natural waterfall?  Awesome!

And to the RVing industry in general, I've been fairly livid in private moments about the cost of RV maintenance, storage & repair, but after a few days in DC spending $300-400/day for hotels & dining (because kitchenette hotels means a mini-fridge & microwave), I'm recalling why we got into RVing in general.  It's a trade off. We always sleep better in the RV, the food is healthier, the TV is easier to limit/disable and the kids argue less (or at least I hear them less because we're more spread out than in a 5 seat car).

Yes, it was a hard run across the country missing way too many sights, but it was done in the interest of maximizing our time in Europe.  We will not be driving 2500 miles/week on that leg of our sabbatical.  I'd be very surprised if we cover similar distance (or even half that) even once in the next 10 months...

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