Day 1: Saturday, May 17 After finishing the final steps of packing the new VW and our Aliner travel trailer, we hit the road toward our first destination the 2014 North American Rally of the Aliner Owners Club. This annual event moves locations each year and our Florida chapter was blessed to be this years host. Traditionally we have made a stop enroute to have brunch and contemplate what we might have forgotten before we get too far down the road away from home. Chris suggested the Golden Corral (howdya guess!). After a nice meal we drove 50 miles south through The Villages, making a short stop at a nice thrift store in Lady Lake. We reached the Clerbrook RV & Golf Resort in early afternoon and spent the usual 5-10 minutes setting up. (Remember, its an ALINER, so set-up is quick and minimal!) We checked in with our regional directors, Betty & Dick Purchase from Tarpon Springs, and adjusted our days schedule to attend the group meeting to discuss our plans to set up the rally. We spent part of the evening in the resorts hot tub. Oooooow, was that nice! View of golf course from an Aliner campsite.Day 2: Sunday, May 18 A few rallies ago, Sally & I started a custom of making pancakes for all the folks who arrive a day early to a rally. We continued that practice this year also. About 20 folks ate at our campsite, followed by a brief but meaningful worship service of praise by Betty & Dick Purchase (Dick is a retired pastor). The rest of the day was spent setting up tables & chairs in the various meeting rooms around the resort, decorations and materials for registration tomorrow (Monday), erecting the projection screen support frame Chris made, and other preparations.Day 3: Monday, May 19 Today was spent helping with registration we had 88 trailers with 1-2 participants per vehicle. Chris spent time going to several members trailers to fix various items that werent working: stove tops, air conditioners, lights, refrigerators, etc. These repairs are usually few and far between as travel trailers have generally improved in the quality of manufacture. The Grand Welcome brought us all together at 7:30pm in the Crossroads Clubhouse, followed by a terrific video of Christopher Still, a famous Tarpon Springs artist who created the paintings that adorn the Florida State Capitol / House of Representatives and Governors Office (one or more of those buildings). The video detailed his techniques and travels to capture ideas for not only those paintings but also the logo he created to celebrate the 500th anniversary of European exploration of Florida. Following Stills video, our Chris (Mendola) gave a brief intro to the rally group as President of the Central Florida VW Diesel Car Club. He mentioned Aliner owners concerns over selecting the best vehicle for trailer towing. He then projected a video of vehicle & trailer testing in England. The video & intro were actually a ruse by the British TV show Top Gear where two blokes literally wreck two camping trailers in a race to see who arrives second to a campsite where the loser has to sleep the night. Everyone roared at the video and it was mentioned repeatedly the rest of the rally. A campfire with wine & cheese, courtesy of Bill Kerola of Kerola Campers of Transfer, Pennsylvania, was a hit with everyone. We fell to sleep tonight exhausted and anxious to enjoy the remainder of the rally.Day 4: Tuesday, May 20 This was the first full day of the rally and a special one for us. After a full, Southern-style breakfast there was a craft activity aimed toward women, plus an alternate opportunity to visit vendor booths, of which we were one selling our wind kits and other Aliner accessories. Workshops followed, running from 10:30-11:30am, then lunch, a second session from 1-2pm, and the third session from 2:15-3:15pm. Sally and I presented our topic, Planning Great Trips, at both the 10:30 & 1:00 segments. Sally attended a weather presentation entitled Lightning Capital of the World while I enjoyed the Exploring Spirituality discussion session. The AOC: Aliner Owners Club Annual Meeting was conducted at 4pm, and a group supper was enjoyed at 5:30, followed by hilarious entertainment by Homer Noodleman, a former Brit now living in Weeki Wachee, FL. Hes a regular entertainer on cruise ships and can be seen on YouTube. We fell asleep exhausted and anticipating Wednesday. (photo right) Group does musical presentation after one lesson at autoharp workshop, one of the topics presented at the rally.
Day 5: Wednesday, May 21 Today was a day of exploration after eating another full, Southern-style breakfast. Folks wanting to visit a local attraction had a free day to explore Florida. Those wanting to remain in the resort could visit other campers and partake of several scheduled activities. At 9am a state park ranger from Louisa Lake State Park spoke about the state park system and Louisa Lake SP specifically. Her talk was very interesting. At 10am we visited several campers who had trailer issues. Chris worked on several of them with good success. During the week he fixed an LP stove, a refrigerator, diagnosed an air conditioner, analyzed a broken window and recommended a repair procedure, and taught a
S a l l y & C h r i s 2 0 1 4 S u m m e r T r i p
T s g , g . O g s YOU s & s .
A Travel Newsletter Ocala, FL Clerbrook RV & Golf Resort Marietta, GA Issue #1: May 17 - June 2, 2014
woman to replace her broken sink faucet. At 4pm many of us attended Meet the OC: Operating Committee (of the Aliner Owners Club). Following the evening supper (4-7pm) we watched a video where artist Christopher Still explained the paintings he did for Tallahassee government buildings Painting Our Florida Legacy. This was followed by a powerpoint slide program about the history and development of Florida by retired university professor, Dr. Gary Mormino, also known as Mr. Florida. (left) Park ranger shares info on Florida State Park system.
Day 6: Thursday, May 22 Following our last full breakfast of the rally we had a Factory Forum with Ned Collins, the CEO of Columbia Northwest, the parent company manufacturing Aliner
travel trailers. Then interested women campers had their own get-together with wine, chocolate and fellowship while others attended a presentation by Chris (Mendola) entitled Easy DIY Trailer Maintenance & Repair after which Chris did two demonstrations on members trailers, one on wheel bearing adjustment and the other on brake adjustment. The afternoon found volunteers opening their trailers to fellow campers to see the unique modifications, such as Jans highly modified Aliner (pictured, right). This went on from 1-3pm. At 5:30 we held a banquet with Chris and fellow camper Paul doing their impersonations of Arnold Schwarzeneggers stunt men. (St. Matthews folks will remember Hans and Franz.) The evening was concluded with a real Caribbean steel drum band with line-dancing and a lot of other fun. (above, right) Jan, from Texas, is the guru of Aliner modifications!
(left) Chris & Paul pose as stunt doubles for Arnold Schwarzenegger in skit at banquet; (middle) Conga line gets moving as steel band (right) plays caribbean music. Lead drummer shared his skills by playing a classical music piece (Bach or Beethoven?) on his steel drum . Quite interesting!
Day 7: Friday, May 23 Today was the official end of the NAR: North American Rally. Following the continental breakfast most campers left to drive to their next destination back home, visiting more of Florida, or traveling on to other camping adventures. Most of our Florida group met to discuss the pros and cons of the rally so we could share the results with those conducting next years rally in Cherokee, NC. We then went through the resort and removed any decorations or rally content from the various five meeting rooms we utilized. From there Sally & I drove around Clermont, FL looking for thrift stores and yard sales. Many of the Florida group got together for supper at the Honey Pot restaurant on US27. Known for their famous Friday fish fry, we enjoyed the evening with good food and great friends.Day 8: Saturday, May 24 Today we spent time looking for more garage sales, especially those listed on signs we saw yesterday announcing Saturday-only sales. We kicked back at the camping resort and said our goodbyes to various camping friends. Chris also helped another Aliner owner with a repair. We packed up our homemade projection screen support frame. Made of 2x2 lumber, it stood about ten feet high allowing the audience to see the video without interference from the heads of others ahead of them. This contraption took a while to strap to our cars roof for its ride back to Ocala. (Projection screen frame is seen in background.) (upper right) Earlier in the week Betty Purchase (left) is calling numbers for door prizes, assisted by Barb Wooldridge. (lower right) The success of the North American Rally of the Aliner Owners Club was credited to the group effort of the Florida membership, but it could not have been such a terrific achievement without the dedication, planning and leadership of Regional Directors Betty & Dick Purchase !
Day 9: Sunday, May 25 Amazingly we found ourselves on the road by 8:15am leaving Clerbrook RV & Golf Resort to find hardly anyone on the roadways. I guess Memorial Day weekend finds most folks sleeping late, skipping church, or probably both. Within 50 minutes we were home dropping off items used at the rally that werent needed the rest of our trip and vice versa, picking up items needed for our kids homes not needed for the rally. We have to minimize our loads when were gone 6 months from home! We arrived in Marietta, GA around 7:30pm following lunch at Cracker Barrel and breaks at numerous rest areas along I-75. It was fantastic to see our daughter Cindi, son-in-law Kip, and granddaughters Symphony and Journey, having seen them last in January at the memorial service for Sallys dad.Day 10: Monday, May 26 We got started with several jobs around the Williams house. Every day involves either a sports-related practice or an actual game involving our granddaughters. Symphony is involved in lacrosse while Journey just finished softball season. Both girls are also on a swim team with practice just about every day. Chris worked on the bars used to fasten the roof-top carrier to the familys SUV. He bent the bars with a slight U-shape to give them a better grip onto the existing roof rack bars so the carrier would be less prone to slide when being buffeted by winds on the highway. We treated everyone to a nice dinner buffet, especially because Kip was off work today.
Day 11: Tuesday, May 27 Our major project of the day was the installation of new shut-off valves on the two sinks in the master bath and on three valves under the kitchen sink. All went in exceptionally well with no leaks, though Chris discovered at leak somewhere up above the valves. This will be a project for later in the week after some more intense investigation. After the girls came back from swim team practice we took both of them to the area movie theater that has $1.75 admission every day and one-dollar admission on Tuesdays. We all enjoyed the Lego Movie, which was much better than we expected. Even Sally enjoyed it, and shes not a fan of movies, especially animated movies. Day 12: Wednesday, May 28 Sally spent about an hour removing the old weatherstripping from the rooftop carrier we are refurbishing for Cindis family. Though in excellent condition, the carrier needs brackets formed to fasten it to the roof bars of Cindis Mazda SUV. Chris made those bars from parts supplied by the previous owner and today padded them with self-adhesive sponge rubber to protect the finish on the SUVs roof rack. We also installed a steel wire rack in the pantry to facilitate more orderly storage of groceries. This really made a positive difference and came out looking great while being rigidly supported on the wall.Day 13: Thursday, May 29 Today we planned the ramp to go from the lawn up to the doors of the new shed. Chris dug some shallow trenches in the Georgia clay to allow the ramp to get down to ground level. He also work on a couple other minor projects around the house. In the evening we went with the girls to a swim meet where both Symphony and Journey competed. They were each in several races with Symphony chosen to compete in the IM, which means she does 1 lap in each stroke: back, breast, butterfly and freestyle. She did very well for her first time in a very grueling event. Journey came in first place in one of her events. (left: Symphony dives into pool during one-lap race. right: Journey, in blue suit, walks after coming in first place.)
Day 14: Friday, May 30 We went garage-sale-ing today while the girls went for free swimming (no practice) at the swim clubs pool. We found only a few items of interest so it was fun but not very productive. (Ah, but heres always another Friday!) Back at the house I disassembled one of the two faucets in the master bath; one valve has been leaking and Cindi had gotten free replacement cartridges from the manufacturer. In the end I discovered that these were not the correct cartridges, so others would have to be gotten in order to effect the repair. The faucet also had to be recaulked to the sink surface to stop splash water from dripping down below. We also finished the roof-top carrier that Cindi bought at a yard sale. This extra space will allow them to carry gear up top allowing them to carry extra friends inside when attending team sports events or when they go on vacation camping. Day 15: Saturday, May 31 Symphony had an all-day lacrosse tournament today on the other side of Atlanta. So their family spent the majority of the day at that event taking along a neighbor girl (on the same team) and her mom. The roof-top carrier we assembled was mounted on top giving them the extra storage necessary to comfortably leave space inside the SUV for everyone. Meanwhile we were involved in house projects. Sally did laundry and ironing for us and the Williamses while I worked on home repair & building projects. The lumber we had pre-cut at Lowes was made into the ramp to go into the Williams new shed. I also installed the window air conditioner in the master bedroom to supplement the whole-house system. I was amazed how quickly that installed less than 20 minutes. Sally occasionally came outside to help me hold the lumber in position while screwing together the shed ramp. Too heavy for us to carry, we waited for Kip & Cindi to return before moving it into place.Day 16: Sunday, June 1 While Cindi, Kip, Symphony and Journey attended the second day of lacrosse competition, we attended worship at Cross Of Life Lutheran Church in Roswell, GA. The regular pastor was attending the synod convention so the president of the congregation delivered a very good sermon at the contemporary worship service. The praise band did a good job and the adult Sunday School following worship was very enlightening. The presenters were in the Stephen Ministry visitors and listeners to persons in need within the congregation. We practiced skills in active listening by role-playing distress situations as the person in distress, the listener, and an observer who would provide insight into what he/she observed in the interaction between the other two participants. Sally was commended by several people was being a very skillful listener.Following church we picked up some supplies at Home Depot, then shared a tuna sub at Subway. Back home we stabilized the shed ramp we installed yesterday, re-caulked a faucet-to-sink connection on one sink in the master bath, adjusted the pop-up sink drains, and re-caulked tub fixtures in the hall bath. We walked to the community pool and installed several wooden plugs into vacant PVC pipes formerly used to hold pool umbrellas vertical. These unused holes recently broke table legs that just happen to fit into the pipe holes. Back home we sharpened a hand saw and measured the shed walls for particle board panels to facilitate the wall-mounting of garden tools. After all this we heard good news and reason to celebrate Symphonys lacrosse team (the No Doubts) came in second-place in regional competition with Symphony scoring several points. Wow, that called for grandpa to buy ice cream for everyone. Arriving back home we painted a shelf for the pool house at the community area, and then Cindi & Chris used up the last of the paint on the trim of the pool building. We will sleep well tonight!Day 17: Monday, June 2 Our day began with working on the interior of the Williams new shed. The interior has studs plus the backside of the exterior siding. Cindi found three abandoned chipboard panels on the side of the road, so we used those to make interior walls upon which to mount garden tools and other devices. Chris chopped out some tree stumps and then reinforced a retaining wall made from old concrete blocks to keep dirt from eroding from this yard into their neighbors pool area. Following that, Sally & I attached a shelf to the wall of the building at the community pool that will allow folks a location upon which to set a boom box.We celebrated Journeys 10th birthday this evening even though her actual birthday was over a month ago. We treated Kip, Cindi, Symphony & Journey plus two girlfriends to a pizza buffet followed by an evening of laser tag at a indoor entertainment complex. Sally chose to stay home so it was myself, the Williams family, plus the two girlfriends of Symphony & Journey going to play tag. The usual rate is $9 per person for a 12-minute
session. (A little steep!) But Mon-Thur the special is $9 unlimited time from 9pm-midnight. The adults played 4 sessions and the kids one additional game. It was a lot more fun than I expected. We were on teams with each member trying to tag the other teams members with a laser light beam, plus beam the oppositions home base. Each team and individual was working toward achieving the highest point score. I was worrying that it might feel like a war episode but in fact it was a lot of fun with persons on each side enjoying the company of the others. We really had a lot of fun and didnt get home until almost midnight. Whew what a day! (far-right) Sally is hard at work installing chipboard on inside walls of new shed. (right) This corner of shed will be parking spot for self-propelled mower, so we also placed boards on both walls at corner in case mower missed the studs and hit the exterior wall from behind. This will save the exterior from being damaged and was able to be made from scraps.
Cs & S M, Ts PS: Dont forget to visit our recently launched and still under construction website www.thriftytravel.info Our site features thousands of POIs (Points of Interest) cataloged by state & province, plus camping hints, folding A-Frame trailer products, plus previous summer trip newsletters all free and ready to help you with your travel & camping plans. The Central Florida VW-TDI Club has a presence on this site also. We always enjoy hearing from our readers, so keep us informed of your adventures!
You should get a charge out of this!Conversations at rallies often shift to questions that many of us cant answer, but weve all dealt with that problem at one time or another. Such is the topic of RV batteries, particularly: the difference between an automobile cranking battery and an RV or marine deep-cycle battery. I decided to search for some knowledgeable & reliable source and share what I found. In this case the info came from a brochure I picked up at a Walmart auto service center courtesy of EverStart batteries (quotes in italic). NOTE: We do not endorse any products or brands unless specifically noted.The automotive battery in your car and a marine starting battery are built to deliver only short bursts of energy. Then the alternator takes over, providing the electrical power to run the car or boat and recharge the slightly discharged battery. Lights in an RV, exhaust fans, and other low-draw devices are best served by a deep-cycle battery. Folks often use LP (liquid propane) to power their refrigerator while traveling, but the flame can blow out during movement. An RV battery can also be used but the draw, which is less than starting an enginebut still high, will eventually draw an RV battery down significantly. The automotive battery is never subjected to deep discharges under normal operating conditions. If an automotive battery were cycled like a deep-discharge battery, it would fail within 50 cycles or less. Deep cycle batteries should deliver in excess of 100 deep cycles if they are recharged properly after each use. Charge acceptance diminishes greatly if the battery is not recharged as soon as possible. The plate design and grid chemistry is completely different between auto starting and deep-cycle batteries. The grid alloy in a deep-cycle battery is specially formulated to increase the active material adhesion to the grid, thereby providing additional protection against stresses and abuses of cycling and vibration. Deep-cycle RV & marine batteries are also designed to handle more travel vibration than automotive batteries.Q: What can an RV owner do to maximize the life of his or her battery? A: Recharge your RV battery immediately after each use, that is, when you set up at the campsite, before you store your RV in a non-electric storage lot. Use your converter to charge the battery, especially if its a staged converter. Do not overcharge your RV battery. It will cause grid corrosion and reduced battery life. A staged charger will automatically shut off when your battery reaches the correct charge level. Always slow charge a deep cycle battery. Never fast charge or boost charge it. Under normal conditions a 10-12 hour charge with an appropriate charger at correct ampere rate will bring your deep-cycle battery to full charge from a deep discharge condition. Clean the top of your battery if soiled, but do it with the cover(s) in place so debris doesnt enter the cells. Check the water level before each trip and when you return; refill as needed. Clean tap water is OK; distilled water is best. (Bottled water may contain minerals!) Wipe the top of the battery if water / moisture is present (to prevent discharge across the posts). See that your cars charging system (auto battery) is connected to your trailer through car-to-trailer wiring so its alternator can recharge your trailer battery while you drive.This brief overview is not intended to be an in-depth review of RV batteries. Search the internet for additional recommendations. Next issue: What are staged converters? Why are they better than non-staged converters. When should you consider installing a staged converter. Is the person who suggests staged converters called a stage coach? Read Issue #2 and find out! (Ill bet youll be sitting by your computer for weeks just waiting for Issue #2 to arrive. No? How about if I rebate your subscription fee?