Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I hope this is the last post on this subject.

Got up this morning and checked our credit card account.  There was a charge for $731.42 "posted" to our account from Raben Tire.  I was like, geezzz, what now??  I also had the receipt from FMCA for $453.59 I was like what the heck, did we pay for this one tire twice??
So I'm sure you know what I did.  I called Brad with Raben Tire.  He told me he told the comptroller to "release" the $900 allocation charge and the comptroller misunderstood and charged our account the $731.42 for the tire.  He said they immediately caught the error and placed a credit to the account for the $731.42.  I called the bank that holds the credit card -- they couldn't "see" the credit but said it might take a day or so to show up.  Believe me when I say I am keeping a close watch on this situation.  One thing for sure -- we do NOT want to pay twice for one tire!
This has been an experience we won't forget anytime soon. 
As reported on a previous post, our toilet broke while we were traveling.  When we were in Fletcher, North Carolina, at Snider Tire yesterday, we stopped at Camping World in Hendersonville and bought a new one.  So, Alan installed it this morning.
After removing the old toilet, he scrubbed the walls and the floor.
And prepared the new one for installation.
It didn't take long (thank goodness) to install and was ready to use.
The weather has been nice since we arrived.  It rained last night and it has been cool today -- feels like Fall is in the air.  It's 64 as I write this with low humidity.  We wish it would stay like this!
Thanks for stopping by -- God bless you -- and that means YOU!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Follow-up To Yesterday's Posting

The first phone call I made this morning was to the Raben Company in Louisville.  I spoke with "Janice" in their accounting department.  She told me the charges for the new tire would be $731.42 and she would be processing that today.  I asked her if that included the $200 for opening the warehouse after hours to retrieve the tire.  She said, "Yes."  I then told her I thought that was a little exorbitant, that I could understand $50, $75, but I felt $200 was taking advantage of folks in a stressful situation.  I gave her our email address and requested she email the receipt to us.  I also verified that their corporate office was in Evansville, Indiana, and what the phone number was, which I had already located via Google.
I immediately telephoned the corp office and spoke with Mark Raben.  He told me they were a family business, having been in business 60 years.  He also explained why there was a $200 charge for after hours, stating they mainly serviced 18-wheelers and that it took approximately 2 hours to change a truck's tire in all sorts of weather and at all times day and night.  However, that was not our case since we actually drove, picked up the tire and they performed no service, other than providing the tire.  He was surprised that "John" did not actually wait for us with paperwork indicating we had purchased the tire.  As far as John's words that he would meet us if I was willing to pay him $500, he said he had never heard of that happening before.  He quickly apologized and said he would call and have the $200 after-hour fee removed from our charges.  We exchanged email addresses in case he was unable to reach us by phone.
I then called FMCA to see how to handle the warranty on the blown tire.  I was told to contact Michelin.  I then called Michelin Consumer Relations who told me we had to have a certified Michelin dealer look at the tire and gave me a phone number for the dealer to call.
The next call on the list was to Snyder Tire in Fletcher, North Carolina, where we purchased the tires last September.  Since we also want to have the tires rotated and the new tire balanced, Snyder does service work on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Mallory gave me the name and phone number of a campground fairly close to Snyder Tire.
We packed up and left Clinton, Tennessee, for Rutledge Lake Resort in Fletcher.  We drove in and out of rain as we crossed the Smoky Mountains, and as we pulled into the campground, the sky opened up and it poured!
This evening I missed a phone call from "Brad" Raben.  His voice mail stated he had read my blog post -- WHAT??? -- and that we could again purchase the new tire through FMCA Michelin Program at a cost of $454.  He further stated that the $900 allocation on our credit card had been released. 
It wasn't long until I received a call from Mark Raben, who reiterated Brad's voicemail.  I gave him our FMCA membership number.
We are very appreciative of the Rabens' professionalism in handling this situation after the fact.  They could've just said, "sorry, that's our policy," but they didn't.  They resolved what we comprehended as bad business practices in a timely, efficient manner to our satisfaction.  We are very thankful no one was hurt and there was no damage to our motorhome -- it could've been a lot worse.

One more thing and I'll hush.  On Saturday prior to the blown tire incident, we stopped for lunch.  A man was standing on the side of the road with a sign that stated "hungry homeless vet."  Since we know there are thousands of homeless vets, we wanted to give him something, but not money.  We bought him a burger, fries, drink and even a Frosty from Wendy's.  When we came out, we saw him pick up his duffle-looking bag, his liter bottle of drink and package of chips and started walking.  I called to him, stating we had something for him and gave him the bag.  He thanked us and continued walking.  We watched from the motorhome as he walked to a nearby car, got in and drove away.  It was not a new car, but it wasn't a bad car either.  We don't know if he was truly homeless, but it doesn't matter.  We did what we thought we should and it was also an example to our grandson of helping someone who may be less fortunate than we are.  Dalton kept saying over and over, "We are such a nice family." LOL

Thank you for listening to our woes and providing encouraging words.  

God bless and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Catching up with our final escapade in South Dakota will have to wait.  I wanted to share with you what happened to us on our way back to North Carolina and perhaps get a little feedback on what you would've done.  This is sort of long, so please bear with me.
We left South Dakota last Monday.  We normally don't drive for days without stopping for at least a couple of days, but this time we just kept driving.  We wanted to stay out of the heavy rains and flooding happening in Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee.  So, we decided to head East until we reached I-75 in Lexington, Kentucky, and then go South to Knoxville, Tennessee. 

The first thing that happened was on Thursday (8/8), I accidentally hit the monitor for our motorhome camera with the vacuum cleaner handle.  It did not appear the monitor was hurt, but when we turned it on, you could see the insides were scrambled.  We had just replaced the monitor two months ago when the old one died.  I was sick!  That replacement cost over $300.  I called RV Cams -- who by the way is an awesome company.  "Tim" said he had just purchased several refurbished monitors and would sell us one at his cost of $129.  I gave him the address of the RV park where we would be stopping for the night and also paid for delivery before 10:30 the following morning.  Promptly, at 9:30 Friday morning, we had the replacement monitor, which Alan installed and we were again on our way.

On Saturday (yesterday 8/10), we found ourselves on I-64, about 50 mi West of Louisville, Kentucky, when we heard a pop.  Alan said maybe it was the 18-wheeler in front of us, but it definitely sounded like it came from us -- on my side of the motorhome.  So, he pulled over on the shoulder and sure enough, the right, inside tire had blown out.  I immediately called Coach-Net, our roadside service.  It was 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon.  Alan crawled under the motorhome and did not see any damage caused by the blown tire.  We sat for a couple of hours before "Robert" called us and said he was having a hard time finding our size tire.  He had one possibility but the company's service tech was out on a call and would check his warehouse when he returned from that call.  We told him we would like to have Michelin but a comparable tire would do.  We bought six new Michelin tires last September, so the tire should still be under warranty.  We continued to wait.  In the meantime, Coach-Net called to check on us and we informed them of the problem the service tech was having in finding a replacement tire.  They said they would do some checking and get back to us.  We could see the next exit, so Alan decided to walk and see if he could perhaps drive to a more level location and get us off the interstate.  When he returned, he said there was a gas station -- he could see the sign but couldn't see the station itself because it was on a hill obscured by trees. We unhooked the car and Dalton and I drove to the station -- there was enough room so I called Alan and told him to come on.  He slowly drove the Motorhome approximately two miles to the station's parking lot.  In the meantime Coach-Net called again and said they had not been successful in finding a tire.

Finally, around 7:00 pm -- 4 hours after hearing the pop -- Robert called and said he found a Michelin tire.  He explained that Coach-Net only pays for him to reach us and the tire's location was approximately 50 miles from us -- in essence, in Louisville.  He also told us he was approximately 40 miles from us in the opposite direction, so therefore it would be an additional $181 for him to drive and pick up the tire and then come to our location.  After further discussion, we finally said "tell us where to go and we'll go pick up the tire."  He went on to tell us that the company that had the tire wanted a credit card number with a $900 allowance on the card for the tire, that the company charged $200 after hours to go to their warehouse for the tire.  OH MY, it gets worse.  It was $600 (a markup from the cost of the tire of $429) for the tire, plus the $200 after hours fee, plus applicable taxes, and that they would settle up the account on Monday and reimburse any money due us.  At first, we were like "you go get the tire and use your CC."  After further discussion, he got the after hours service center for the tire company on the phone and I gave her the necessary information.  I was very leery about doing so, but what were we to do?  I asked where this company was and she gave me the address and said she would have the service tech call us with directions.

We got in the car and off we went.  "John," the service tech called with directions.  He said he had placed the tire on the right side of the building, that we couldn't drive through the gate because it was locked, but we could get through it -- we just couldn't drive through it.  I asked him if he was going to be waiting for us and his response was, "if you pay me $500."  I was FURIOUS.  Talk about taking advantage of stranded folks -- I told him he was nuts and would not be getting another nickel out of us.  We didn't even have a receipt for this tire.  We found our way to RABEN TIRE in LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, parked the car outside the gate and Alan and Dalton rolled the tire from the side of the building to the car and loaded it in the back of the car.  I again called the service center and told "Anna" we had nothing showing we bought this tire -- no receipt, no nothing.  She said she understood and informed us that all our phone calls had been recorded.  She told me John was the Manager of the Service Department.

We called Robert when we were 40 miles from our motorhome, as he instructed, so he could meet us there.  By the time we made it back to our motorhome, it was around 9:30.  We hadn't had anything to eat -- the gas station made pizzas so we ordered one, set up our chairs and waited for Robert.  After waiting another 45 minutes, I called him to ask if he was coming and he showed up about 15 minutes later.  By the time, he got the tire changed it was almost midnight.  We were hot, tired and still concerned about what had transpired. 

They say things happen in 3s -- well, the third thing was the toilet broke.  We ended up driving the motorhome 13 miles down the road to a hotel.  It was not a pretty hotel, but it was cool and the water was hot -- we all three had showers and hit the bed, but neither Alan or I slept very well.

My question for you is how would you have handled the situation -- especially the money and the fact that the tire was left outside a locked building/gate for us just to pick up with no receipt, no nothing?

I will be calling RABEN TIRE first thing in the morning.  I also will be calling FMCA about the blown tire.  We bought the tires through FMCA's Michelin Program and I will be calling Snider Tire in Fletcher, North Carolina, who installed the tires.

We are currently in Clinton, Tennessee, just North of Knoxville.

Once we are back in North Carolina and I have my wits about me, I hope to blog the rest of our time in South Dakota.  We did have a great time and Dalton really seemed to enjoy his time with Nana and Papa.

God bless!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


We all remember 'Little House on the Prairie.'  Our daughter was a big fan of the show.  She used to say she wished she had lived during that time.  It was not an easy life for sure -- none of the modern conveniences we often take for granted today.
Laura Ingalls Wilder's homestead is located in De Smet, (pronounced Des-Met), South Dakota.  We saw the sign on I-90 as we drove from Sioux Falls to Mitchell.  The last time we were in South Dakota, we did not take the time to drive the additional hour to visit the homestead.  This time I was determined we were going to stop and at least take a picture for our daughter.
We took the back roads and it seemed to take forever.  In Clinton, South Dakota, East on Hwy 34, we came across this historical marker.  
As you can read, this crash in 1943 is the largest air disaster in South Dakota history.  We are always saying we are going to take a trip and stop and read all the historical markers we see.
We turned North on State Hwy 25 and about the time we were ready to give up, there it was.
In 1862, President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act.  This act gave "any person," who was the head of the family, a 160 acres to try their hand at farming for five years.  The individual had to be at least 21 years of age and was required to build a house on the land.  If after five years, the farmer could prove his land successful, he paid a filing fee and received a deed. 
Free land lured the Ingalls family to the Dakota Territory to claim a homestead.  School, church and a part-time job was important to Charles Ingalls (Pa) and his family.  The Ingalls Homestead met their wishes and was only a mile from the small town of De Smet.  The land was perfect in many ways and had good water, which was a very important commodity.  In 1880 Pa filed on this homestead and in 1886 the final papers were filed and a declaration printed in the De Smet News.  This 157.25 acre homestead cost Charles and Caroline Ingalls $16.00 in filing fees.  When Mary Ingalls, one of Laura's younger sisters, became blind in 1879, Pa said to Laura, "You have to see for Mary in words." Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote many of her Little House stories about this land.
We paid our $10 each for admission and started out to explore.  My first thought was $10 seemed a little high, but by the time we had finished our visit, I realized it was well worth the $30 for us to see, hear and learn the history of the early settlers to the Dakota Territory.  It was a great day for being outside -- cool and windy.
Remember the old merry-go-rounds in school yards?  Well, Dalton thought I needed a ride. 

It made me dizzy yester-year and it still makes me dizzy today.

Many settlers fashioned their wood farm wagons into covered wagons with covers stitched out of heavy cotton duck material.  When they reached their destination, the wagon box was removed from the running gear and set on the ground making it their claim to the land.  The running gear would then be used to haul materials to build a permanent home.
Personally I cannot imagine traveling by covered wagon far away from home and family, across all sorts of terrain, including steep mountains and hot deserts, but many did it.
Dalton and Alan climbed in for a closer look.
 Ingalls Family 1891
 Laura when she was writing the Little House books

Pa Ingalls built their little house in three stages. 
In the Spring of 1880, he built a 'half-house' of 140 square feet for his family of six.  Laura described it as having a slanted roof. In 1881, an additional 140 square feet with two small bedrooms were added.  Laura wrote that the two bedrooms each had a window.

While attending the Iowa School for the blind, Mary learned to play the organ.  Pa and Laura worked and saved money to purchase a pump organ as a surprise for Mary's homecoming.  To have room for the pump organ, Pa built a 12x16 foot final addition to their little house.
After the completion, Mrs. Ingalls declared their little shanty a real home.  (The reconstruction of the current little house was built according to the specifications stated in the proving up paperwork required to obtain homestead ownership of the land.)
Pa Ingalls also built a 16x24' hayroof barn into the hillside west of the house.
The use of hay as roofing material is an example of the resourcefulness available to him.  Prairie grass grew in abundance on the treeless prairie. The current barn is an active shelter today for chickens.  We also found a newborn calf sleeping and a cat hiding inside. 
At the stable, we met the horses who would be pulling the covered wagon with all the visitors to the school house.  I cannot remember the names of both horses, but I do remember one was named David.
We rode in the wagon approximately a mile to the one-room schoolhouse.
We all jumped out of the wagon -- well, all the kids did -- and hurried into the classroom so we wouldn't be late for class.
Johnson School was established in 1881, but the original burned in a prairie fire.  This structure was built in 1889 and was located nearby at Thompson Lake before being relocated to its current location.
Everyone was encouraged to choose one of the stylist outfits and sit in a desk.
Do you know what this poem is referring to?  You probably cannot see the last work in the poem, but the word is "gold."
The answer is "egg." 
 The teacher asked the kids if they knew how students were punished back then?  There were various answers from being sent to the principal's office to receiving a spanking.  One of the students demonstrated it for the others by drawing a circle on the chalkboard and putting his nose in the circle.
 There was even a spelling bee.  All the students stood in front of everyone as the teacher gave each a word to spell.  We were really surprised Dalton joined in because he was the oldest and tallest, but we were proud he did.  His word was "buttercup." 
He looks thrilled...LOL.

Each child spelled their particular word correctly and ranged in age from six years to fifteen years.
We learned that a little country church was recently moved to the homestead, so we decided to take a look.
It is beautiful
It's used for weddings and other special events, such as the staff's Christmas party. 
You can also rent "covered wagon" campers.  There are four of them in a semi-circle.  It's like you just stopped for the night after a long day traveling in your covered wagon.

Random Photos 
We had fun visiting the "Little House on the Prairie" and would recommend it to others.  We always enjoy learning about the early settlers and what they endured in their journeys.  They could teach each of us something above love of family, hard work, ingenuity and survival.  South Dakota was not an easy place to settle in with long, harsh winters.
This post concludes our visit to Mitchell, South Dakota, and the  surrounding areas.  Stay tuned to see what else we see and do in South Dakota.
Thanks for stopping by.  Until next time, may God continue to bless our voyage, our family and friends and YOU as well!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Our next stop in Mitchell was the Prehistoric Indian Village.

More than 1000 years ago, bands of native farmers and hunters used this land as farming ground, where they raised corn, squash, tobacco, etc.  The women tended the crops, while the men hunted and fished along the nearby Firesteel Creek. 

In 1910, a Dakota Wesleyan University student discovered the first signs of ancient human activity around the site.  The history of the site has been preserved and is the only archaeological site in South Dakota that is open to the public.  The Village is an active research center and is a National Historic Landmark.  Visitors to the site can see the many artifacts that have been excavated during the annual dig and you can tour the dig itself in the Thomsen Center Archeodome.    
Students from the University of Exeter, England, come to the Village to excavate the site during June and July each summer.  By the time we visited the Village, all the students had returned to England.
It's rare to find a complete skeleton of a bison because the Indians used every part of the bison for something.
These Native Americans lived in lodges, where 12-20 family members lived together.  The Prehistoric Indian Village depicts what those lodges perhaps looked like, based on research and archeological findings.  Each lodge was roughly 20' by 35' and the walls were made from a mixture of clay, grass and branches. 
The "bed" in the center of the lodge was reserved for the respected person in the lodge.
We have one more adventure in the area to tell you about before we move on down the road.  Hopefully, I will be back in the next day or so to tell you what else we found, so stay tuned.

Monday, July 29, 2013


We pulled into the RandR RV Park in Mitchell around 4 in the afternoon of July 23. 

We stayed at this RV park in 2010.  Nothing fancy, but you can use Passport America for 7 night. You don't find that very often.  They do charge $4 for 50 amp, so for four nights, we paid a little less than $23 a night. 
Dalton loves animals -- he hunts with his dad, step-brother and his other grandpa, but he doesn't like shooting guns.  Since it was late in the day, the first place we took him was Cabella's.  There is no Cabella's in North Carolina that we have found.
Cabella's sells a large variety of sporting goods, including guns, ammo, fishing equipment and clothing.  But, what we like to see is the display of animals.
Cabella's also allows RV'ers to stay overnight in their parking lot.
The next day we headed to the Corn Palace.  What's a Corn Palace you ask? 
The World's only Corn Palace can  be found in Mitchell, South Dakota, and is an American folk art icon.  The first Corn Palace was built in 1982.  It was a way for the early settlers to display their agricultural bounty in an effort to prove the fertility of the region's soil.  The building is famous for the huge, colorful murals on the front and sides of the building and are redesigned every year.  The 2013 theme is "We Celebrate," depicting various holidays. 
The work is done by hand and it is a delicate  and detailed process.  The border trim of sourdock and rye is cut, tied into bundles and stapled to the building.
In August, the workers begin to change the murals one by one as sketches created by local artists are transferred to roofing paper and nailed to the mural panels.  These sketches also serve as blueprints, as each color of corn and the area it covers is indicated on the drawing.  Twelve shades of corn are planted in separate fields to maintain color purity and the very best ears are hand-picked by local growers for use on the Corn Palace.  Each ear of corn is then sawed in half, shaped and trimmed to fit the designated spaces and nailed into place.  Roughly 275,000 ears of corn, grown in over 100 acres of land, are used to redecorate the murals each year.  The Corn Palace is the only place in the world where this type of folk art is being preserved.
The building is used for various events throughout the year, such as dances, banquets, sporting events, etc.  In fact, USA Today has named the Corn Palace as one of the Top 10 places to play high school basketball games and called it the Boston Garden of the Midwest. 
The best part is high school and college kids are hired each year to pull off the old designs, install the border trim and prepare the building for the new murals.  It gives these young folks something constructive to do with their time during the Summer.  High school and college kids also help with the concessions, tours, etc. inside the Corn Palace.
 Did I tell you more than you ever wanted to know about a building with corn on the outside?  All the info is provided in case Dalton wants to write a paper on "What I Did This Summer."  HAHA
Foolery Shots

To be continued...stay tuned for what else we found in the area.