121. Red Bay, AL

Actually, Belmont, MS. Two towns 6 miles apart complete with Tiffin plants. Red Bay probably has a half dozen large Tiffin plants while Belmont only one. But Belmont is a nicer place, IMO, a far nicer place and more convenient for my purposes. I’ve got appointments to have my windshield replaced – 1 day in Red Bay. The windshield is on order. I also have a 3 day appointment for painting the front and rear caps of the motorhome in Belmont and a 1 day appointment in Tuscumbia/Muscle Shoals, AL to lift up the rear bedroom slid out and replace the Teflon pad on which it slides. Thinking I might try to get the generator serviced while here as well – if I can get in.

The latter is a key phrase. Tiffin warranties and services all their motorhomes up to and through 10 yrs old. Beyond that there are so many outside businesses owned and operated by former and present employees which specialize in Tiffin motorhomes. Seriously, the traffic jams around here are primarily motorcoaches. National shortages related to COVID aren’t helpful either (as in windshields, air conditioning components etc., etc.

Yesterday (Weds March 17, 2021) was a weather day. Warm and humid and predicted, for the prior 3 days, to be a major storm day. Monday’s predictions were for “Level 3” (out of 5) storm day on Weds. Tuesday the predictions were upped to Level 4 for almost the entirety of MS and AL. Weds continued at Level 4 some areas to my south being Level 5. It started by late morning with rains and tornado watches beating the predictions by being 6 hours early. By 5 pm the tornado warnings were in full blossom with sirens blaring. Had made some earlier inquiries as to county names of those south and west (helpful when listening to weather reports) and as to location of shelters. With the sirens, it was time to hop in the car and drive a mile to downtown Belmont. City Hall is built on a rise and behind it, built in a hill, is the community shelter; concrete walls, concrete ceiling with concrete beams and concrete posts. With ground overhead and torrential rain, there was significant water leaks but it appeared very safe – certainly more so than a RV. The street in front looked like a parking lot with cars parked ever which way. The shopping area parking lot across the street was likewise jammed with cars. I joined a crowd of townspeople inside. Huge shelter easily capable of holding probably 5-600 people.

Waiting for the “All Clear”
My home for two weeks. No frills but very level and very good power service. Usually about 10 coaches every night and so far all but two are Tiffins. The paint shop is just out of sight behind the gray building.

Wed., 3/24/21

Nearly a week has gone by. It’s been quiet as in boring. The windshield has not yet shown up. I’ve ‘unhooked’ the motorhome from the ‘campground’ and driven it a couple blocks to the paint shop where I’m plugged in. I’ve got two slides out and inside my motorhome inside the paint shop will be my home for awhile. The paint job won’t be finished till Monday evening instead of Friday and that means I’ll probably have to delay the 6 am Tuesday appointment for the work on my slideout. It gives the glass folks a couple more days to get the new windshield in. If it doesn’t arrive, I’ll probably head towards Elkhart, IN, after my visit to DC, to get it installed. Be nice to have it handled here and get everything done.

More forecasted bad weather heading this way with storms to start in the early morning hours tonight and changing to strong storms by 9 am Thursday. Predictions are for strong winds, thunderstorms, hail and tornados tomorrow. I had the shop owner show me how to get back in the building if I have to head to the storm shelter again. I have a folding chair in my car this time so I don’t have to stand. It looks now as though the front may be through by early afternoon Thursday which would be good as the workers here don’t start till 3 pm and if it’s under storm warning, they’d probably head home to be with family instead of working on my motorhome. I don’t have TV coverage here inside the shop so I’ll be sure the phone is charged so it can sound its piercing alarm if there’s a warning. Meanwhile I have a few dozen DVDs – currently playing Gaither American Freedom 9/11 Carnegie Hall concert. It’s a bit stinky in here this evening. The neighboring coach got clearcoated just before everyone left and I’ve just shut down the big evacuation fan and closed the bay door so not all the smell is gone yet.

The crew’s started in on the coach within a half hour of my arrival. A little nervous seeing the sanding of the paint finish even though that’s what I want. It’s irrevocable now. Hope they’ll remember how to repaint the striping.
The rear cap starts to get attention. First item of business is removal of a severely dated “Roughing it Smoothly” decal from the upper left. Crew is now, with a knife, removing the remnants of an old AllegroBus decal. Newer models no longer have these and after repainting, these will not be replaced.

In other news from Lake Wobegon…

In blog #118 I wrote about a camp host gig I got for June ‘21 at Silver Lake State Park in Michigan.

I also had a telephone interview for Volunteer Camp Host at P J Hoeft State Park in Rogers City, MI. It’s on Lk Huron about 50miles south of the Mac Bridge. But timing didn’t work out. This morning I was awakened by my phone and interviewed with the Bay City State Park located also on Lk Huron at the base of Michigan’s thumb. Things are looking up! Third ‘job’ interview in my life and I got to do it from bed! When finished, the interviewer said she get back to me.

A half hour later I also got another call, this from Ludington State Park but they were looking for a mid June to mid July gig and I’ll be at Silver Lake State Park till the end of June. So this interviewer said she was going to try to see if she could find someone to cover the June portion and would get back to me. Ludington is a very large campground, somewhere around a thousand site I think, and they have 4 campground hosts.

45 minutes later I got another call from Bay City SP offering me the month of July which I accepted. So I emailed my “sorry” to Ludington. So now I know where I’ll be from May 28th to Aug 1st. Hope I’m not sorry. Actually looking forward to the experience.

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4 thoughts on “121. Red Bay, AL”

  1. Thanks again for the update. It is interesting how the motorcoach industry settled there. Do you know how that got started?
    Darlene and I hope to be in Michigan near the 4th of July. We plan to drive up toward Cadillac where cousin Larry has a place. We will check and see where you are at and maybe we can visit.


    1. Well most of the RV industry settled in Elkhart (by far) IN, with an outpost here and another in OR. and Fleetwood in CA. Newmar in Elkhart, Tiffin here and Monaco in OR went higher end (though still under Blue Bird and Prevost) and more or less flourished. Winnebago in IA is the only one that succeeds with consumer lo and hi end both and that’s because most everything including furn is proprietary plus great service. Tiffin made its name not only building great coaches but obsessing with aftercare. They say 500 coaches a week come to the mother ship to have all manner of things done which could be done by mobile RV repair just because the owner, Bob Tiffin, will treat the owners like royalty. There’s a fanaticism that’s seems unrivaled. I actually laugh that “Tiffinites” as they are called sometimes don’t realize they can buy their replacement Michelin’s from any tire dealer anywhere that handles Michelin truck tires etc. But no, there’s a pilgrimage to Red Bay. I’m more impressed, like Elkhart, with all the satellite businesses than the manufacturers.

      Proof that there is a successful marketing path besides discounters. That little ‘campground’ I was in for 2 weeks generally had 10-12 Tiffins in it each night fully half of which would be 45 footers and a total used value each night of $2mil or more with no owners seemingly with the know how to even replace a water pump. Multiplied by dozens of parks plus sat vendors who have a few full hookup spots at their business


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