Saturday, June 10, 2017

Florida Cruising and Music

We spent some time visiting with Brian's family while in Florida. His sister Laurel lives in Port St Lucie, and we were able to park in her driveway. Brian put in a full hookup for us when we stayed there a few years ago and it worked out well for us this year too. She's a great hostess and it was nice to spend some time there.

Brian's brother Bruce and his wife Eileen live pretty close to Laurel in the Stuart/Palm City area. We were lucky enough to get a river cruise on the St Lucie River in Bruce's boat.

When we were scuba diving we were pretty interested in identifying all the different fish and we were pretty good at it. We find ourselves doing the same thing with birds now. While on the river we saw some birds but the only one I got a decent picture of was this osprey. It's pretty cool how many states we have seen them in.

After we got off the boat, Bruce took me on a golf cart tour on the way back to their house. We saw all sorts of birds including this one which we called the mystery bird for a while. After doing some searching we think it's a tricolor heron with breeding plumage. I won't be offended if anyone has a better ID.

This is a little blue heron.

Another limpkin. We saw these on our Rainbow River trip as well.

Bruce and I saw a flash of pink over by one of the ponds and it turned out to be a roseate spoonbill. Pretty obvious where it got its name.

These cute little ducks with the orange beaks are black belly whistling ducks.

These odd ducks (excuse the expression) are Muscovy ducks. We saw them at John Prince Park near Boynton Beach when we move the Bus down there to visit our friend Chuck.

Brian and his friend Chuck go back to (different) high school days in New York and we always try to visit Chuck while we're in Florida (previously California).  He's a bass player and has played with many different artists. These days he's staying very busy playing with different bands in the Boynton Beach/Boca Raton area. We were pretty happy that we got to see him play several times while we were there. One night we went to the Fish Depot Bar and Grill and not only listened to some good music but had a good dinner as well. That's Chuck in the baseball cap.

We stayed an extra day because Chuck was doing his regular Monday night gig at the Funky Biscuit where he is one of the Funky Biscuit All Stars. These guys are real pros and play backup to visiting musicians on Monday Night Jam Night. Chuck was backing up John Carey on harmonica the night we went. For music fans - yes that is a Hammond B-3 with a Leslie speaker.

This is the first time I've uploaded a video. Hopefully it works for a little sample of the performance we saw ... 


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Rollin' on the River

After getting the Bus all fixed up in Red Bay we moved on to Florida. We spent a week or so with our friends Denny at Patti at their place north of Panama City.

So good to see them again and catch up on things. Their property is close to 5 acres and they had a spot near the house for us to have a full hookup, which was great.

Our next stop was at RV friends Paul and Helen who live in Inverness, close to Ocala and part of Florida's Nature Coast. Once again we were able to park on Bus on their property and have an electric hookup.

Paul and Helen invited us to take a cruise on the Rainbow River in their boat. The river is fed by a spring so the water was super clear.  Beautiful day for a cruise and lots to see.
Captain Paul at the helm below.

There were numerous cormorants and anhingas. Both put their wings out to dry and are hard to tell apart from a distance. Brian did his research and we learned the difference between the two.
There are several anhingas in the tree below. The female anhinga has a light colored neck, the male's is dark.

A cormorant drying its wings off -

Since anhingas mostly inhabit freshwater we have seen them in Arizona as well as other areas of the country. They have a longer neck than the cormorant, their bill is slender, long and pointed, and they have a long fan-like tail.

Anhingas are also known as the snake bird for the way they look while swimming.

Cormorants are found mostly in coastal waters and rarely fresh water, and have a shorter neck compared to the anhinga, Their bill is long and curved with a sharp hook, and they have a short, stiff tail.

We saw quite a few herons, both hunting and flying.

We saw another bird that was a new one to both of us called a limpkin. It's known as the crying bird because of its weird call which is very distinctive.

I got a kick out of this owl scowling at the anhinga - obviously it wasn't a deterrent in terms of keeping the anhinga off the dock.

There were lots of turtles,

an alligator


and people enjoying the river as well.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Scratch Repair

Once again we found ourselves spending time in Red Bay, AL having work done on the Bus. We arrived on April 24 and work began on April 25 to repair some scratches we got in an encounter with a guardrail in Oregon last summer. We knew at least 3 basement doors had to be replaced and there were some other age related paint issues we wanted to get touched up. Of course it was more involved than we thought and the scratches required more work and more parts than the original estimated.

The guardrail made contact with our exhaust tailpipe with enough force to cause damage to the fiberglass. This also caused cracks in the fiberglass in other areas of the rear of the Bus.

We returned to Bruce Deaton at Custom RV to have the work done. Bruce and his crew hand built the fiberglass layer by layer to reshape the exhaust port. Careful shaping and sanding and cutting got the hole looking new again.

A total of 4 aluminum basement doors and the fiberglass wheel-well piece were replaced.

Areas to be painted were masked off and primer applied. More careful sanding to the primer perfected the surface for finish painting.

We had to spend a couple days living in the Bus while it was still in the repair shop. They let us out for the weekend with the Bus almost ready for painting.

Here you can see they have just applied the black paint. More masking has been applied in preparation for other colors. They may not look it but the taillights are masked.

And here is the finished product. Looking pretty good for 11 years and 133,000 miles. 

I thought it might be interesting to show some of the process of painting a new motorhome. We went over to the Tiffin paint shop. Below is a shot of a newly built unit in the first stage of starting to mask off windows etc. The metal looking areas are aluminum and the grey is fiberglass.

Here is how they start to position the huge pattern stencils. Workers stick on something similar to decals that are removed after painting. This unit already has the base coat of paint applied. This would be the primary color. The other colors will be applied over this color. The yellow you see is the stencil which means the area beneath this yellow will remain as the base color.

Next the teams fine tune the stencils and mask specific areas.

Here they have applied a reddish color in specific areas. The painters know from experience and guidance pictures exactly what color goes where.

After all the colors have been applied – usually 4 colors in total – the masking is stripped and they check everything over and do some touch up and sanding or whatever is needed. Then a team of at least 4 painters go to work with fresh clean air pumped into hoods to protect them from the paint and fumes – they apply “clear coat” over all colors to get a shiny clear finish. Note a couple guys are on sort of lifts they can move in out and up and down and all along the length of the motorhome. The guys on the floor then follow behind the upper half guys painting the lower half. A team effort so all paint is wet as it is applied and no over-laps will be seen. The picture below was taken through a dirty window since the paint booth is completely closed off.

Next they fine sand the entire unit before applying a final coat of clear. All these processes are done by teams of 4 to 6 people – or more.

Here are a couple of shots of what a finished coach might look like.

Tiffin Motorhomes in Red Bay employs over 1200 people to produce these beautiful coaches. The paint shop has 16 massive paint booths and over 100 people working to turn about 14 various models per day.