Saturday, August 17, 2013

Marinette & Oconto, Wisconsin

After having our bedroom slide-out problem diagnosed at Van Boxtel RV in Green Bay, we knew that we’d need to stay in the area to wait for parts to be shipped from Tiffin in Red Bay, AL. We kept the broken slide in, to avoid risking not being able to bring it in again when we needed to move. But it didn’t cause a big problem, just cut down a little on floor space in the bedroom. Any other slide would have been a lot harder to live with.


We chose to go about 60 miles north to Marinette and stay in the Moose Lodge Campground on the Menominee River.



The last time we were here (4 years ago?), we met up with our good friends Geoff and Nancy Justiss and enjoyed spending time together. Our site was one like these that face the river.


However, all those sites are now rented by season-dwellers and almost all the other parts of the campground are full as well. But there’s a big, open grassy area with water/electric hookups where we were quite comfortable.


However, on Friday we began to be surrounded by folks coming for a big weekend gathering. At least a dozen RVs arrived that day, and most of them found sites beside and behind us.


Our next-door neighbors had 4 sons and a large dog. They were all pretty well-behaved, but we were bothered by their smoky campfire that burned or smoldered 24/7, and by the fact that the parents drank beer and smoked (cigarettes for her, cigar for him) non-stop. This is a view out our driver’s side window under the window awning.


We were glad when the hustle and bustle of the weekend was over and quiet reigned once again! We didn’t do a lot while here, but we did drive into the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan to have a couple of meals at Schloegel’s, one of our favorite restaurants. Good food and nice views. And good memories of being here with Nancy and Geoff.


We got to sit in the area on the right, with gentle breezes and a great view of the bay.



The slide-out parts arrived at Van Boxtel on Thursday, so we moved 30 miles closer to Green Bay to the town of Oconto, where we have a lovely full-hookup site right next to the Oconto River.


Across the river is a pretty nice view, too.


At first, I was afraid we’d have no phone or Internet access, since I couldn’t get even a 1x signal on my smartphone, much less 3G or 4G. But Don’s phone worked, and he called me and I was able to answer. So I called Verizon on his phone and went to the second level of Tech Support. A woman named Gina (who didn’t know that Wisconsin doesn’t share a border with Canada) told me how to turn on Data Roaming. This allowed my phone to access the Internet through the Extended Network, since there’s no Verizon coverage here. But she warned to turn it off when I’m near (within 5-20 miles) of either Canada or Mexico. Otherwise, steep additional charges will be automatically charged to our account. Hurray! I’m now a happy camper with a reasonably strong 4G signal. Both Don and I are relying on my phone to give us access to the Internet more often now, since our DataStorm satellite dish isn’t working and a lot of RV parks’ web access is poor or non-existent.

That evening, we had a surprise knock on the door. Another Tiffin owner (Allegro Bus) noticed us when we pulled into the park and walked over to introduce himself. He also noticed the RV Driving School signs on the car. He and his wife met Don’s son Craig when they were at the Tiffin Service Center in Red Bay, Al, and he remembered Craig telling him about us. It was just one more of those wonderful ‘small world’ experiences! We were delighted to spend some time talking with Kevin Miller and later his wife Laura joined us. And we look forward to spending more time with them while we’re here.

On Friday, we were up early to get to the RV shop by 8 am, and actually arrived about 15 minutes early. During the day, we were able to go into the Employees Only area and check on the progress occasionally, but spent most of the day lounging on very comfortable leather couches reading our Kindles. Steve, the tech, was very knowledgeable and friendly, and happily explained what he was doing every time I went out to see the work, and he didn’t mind my taking pictures. The first step was to remove all the wood trim on the inside.


Next, he pushed the slide out part way and started removing the gears and motors on the outside.


Here’s one of the replacement parts.


The piece of metal in the track is one that broke off…


…of this piece. (Look just above the bronze gear.)


The wheel you see at the bottom in the pic above was broken off the top of that side, leaving just a shaft below the gear.


Finally, about 3:00 pm, the replacements were all installed.


The slide moved in and out as it should, and only the trim pieces needed to be replaced.


Steve showed me the power connection (shown in the mirror) that he found unplugging itself, which could have caused the problem. He secured it so that it won’t happen again.


We were very pleased with the service we got at Van Boxtel and highly recommend them, even though they’re not an authorized Tiffin dealer. We love our Phaeton, and they took very good care of it. And the best thing is that Tiffin covered the whole thing – parts, shipping and labor! We didn’t even have to sign any paperwork at the end of the day. Thanks, Tiffin!

We were glad to be leaving Green Bay just before rush hour, and I only had to deal with a little heavy traffic in the few miles of construction heading north. (I always seem to be the driver in these conditions – why??)

Forgot to tell you about our lunch. Steve recommended Los Banditos about 2 miles away. As we were entering the parking lot, I noticed a woman smiling at us. Inside, we discovered that she’s a part owner with her hubby, and both of them came to our table and talked with us about full-time RVing while we enjoyed a wonderful lunch. Those RV Driving School signs on our car attract a lot of attention. If you’re ever in the area, check out one of the Los Banditos – the owners are at the West location, on W Mason St.

Returning to the campground, which is very popular on weekends, I had to do a 3-point U-turn and back into our site because of additional RVs that had arrived during our absence. The teamwork Don and I have developed served us well, and several fellow campers were impressed as I backed around trees, cars and trucks to get back into our site parallel to the river.

Now that our ‘house’ is whole again, we intend to relax and enjoy the weekend before heading north.