Friday, May 17, 2019

Elkhart, Indiana 2019 First Visit Ever

We departed Houston (Magnolia) Texas on Friday, April 5th and pointed our rig north toward Elkhart, Indiana.  We made the approx. 1,160 mile trip in 5 driving days.  That trip was a little bit more ambitious than we normally attempt.  We like to go about 100-200 miles a day, this trip had us moving over 250 miles per day, with one leg going over 300 miles.  We were on a mission to have major work accomplished on our trailer axles and a few small adjustments on our truck Romeo.  Upon arrival, we noticed right away the vibrancy of Elkhart and the surrounding area.  The good folks in and around Elkhart really make things happen.  The level of manufacturing in that area was truly astounding to us.  Much of the business is specifically manufacture of Recreational Vehicles of all types, plus much of the supporting businesses and systems also have their manufacturing operations in this same area.  Elkhart, Indiana certainly looked like RV Headquarters USA to us!

Our first stop was over to the Utility Bodywerks facility for a few small adjustments to Romeo the Ram 5500.  The good folks at UBW had us in and out in the morning of our visit, accomplished everything we requested and then sent us back on our way after charging us nothing.  What a good day it was for us when we selected Utility Bodywerks of Elkhart, Indiana to fabricate and install our custom hauler bed on our new truck.  Our stay in Elkhart was planned for one month and our only other appointment was at MorRyde for two days to rework our MorRyde IS Axle systems.  During our wait time we decided to visit a few of the RV manufacturing facilities.  Our first stop was at Thor MotorCoach.
No cameras were permitted inside of the facility, but we snapped a few pictures outside while we waited for the tour to commence.  The Class A chassis were lined up waiting to go onto the assembly line.
In the 30 minutes we waited for the tour to start a couple of MorRyde tractors brought in a couple of chassis each.  It turns out MorRyde does a lot more than IS suspension systems.  They fabricate and install the steel floor joists onto the Ford, Freightliner, Mercedes and other chassis.
A few days later, Gari parks Romeo in front of Grand Design.  On thing in common at all of the factories we visited was that the workforce appeared to be 50% or more Amish folks.  Very hard working and talented people.
We had a little time for a selfie out by the sign in front.  Again no cameras were permitted on the tour, but we can say that the Grand Design facility was the most organized and seemed to have the best quality controls in place.  One other thing that was notable at Grand Design, the CFO came out and greeted the tour group.  We took one last tour at the Newmar factory, but didn't get a single picture over there.
We managed to snap one picture when we came out from the manufacturing floor at Grand Design.  The materials yard was as organized as the assembly line.
Fast forward a few days to our visit to the MorRyde shop.  Steve pops in on the work bay to check on progress.  It looks like the brake rotors are off, but we still see the spindles on the coach.
Now we see the replacement spindle assemblies appear for later installation.
Below is a new torque arm bracket.  We had not anticipated replacing these 6 parts, but it was discovered upon disassembly that the bushing material had crushed allowing lateral movement of the torque arm resulting in lateral movement of the axle spindle and causing serious tire wear.  At $450 per tire, we want the minimum tire wear, so we elected to replace these brackets as part of the axle/brake/suspension overhaul.
Gari stops by to inspect the installed hub assemblies. and I think she is smiling.  It won't be long now until we are on the road again. 
Our next stop will be Mount Airy, North Carolina for one month.  From there we will visit our good pals Jim and Michelle and son Keith up in the mountains at Vilas, NC.  From there we will head to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia to visit mom and a few home town friends.  That will be a quick trip so limited visiting this time.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Easter 2019 ~ Our Lord is Risen

Jesus Christ and the Empty Tomb

Matthew 28:1-7  King James Version (KJV)
1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Mark 16:1-6  King James Version (KJV)
1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

Luke 24:2-3  King James Version (KJV)
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

John 11:25-26  King James Version (KJV)
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Matthew 28:19-20  King James Version (KJV)
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Luke 24:50-51
50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Waller, Texas 2019

We left Yuma and headed due east at the last part of March.  We made a B-line for Beth and Chris's ranch in Waller Texas.  The shot below is of Romeo the Ram with the custom Utility Bodywerks hauler bed proceeding through the front gate at the ranch on a beautiful sunny day.
Gari and Chris enjoy the ranch dogs basking in the warm sun.
Chris gives John Deere Gator rides to his furry buddies.  Bugsley would like to drive.
Steve and Gari retrieve Jilly and Pedro with the help of Scruppy the Border Collie for a trip to the Donkey Beauty Parlor.
Gari and Beth open up the Donkey Beauty Parlor.
Jilly asks, How do I look now?
We accompanied Beth to her special farriers shop not far away from the ranch.  Bryan and Ryan, two local farriers, worked together as a very knowledgeable and skilled team.  They have been working on Junior for months and the improvement is significant for Junior.
Gari says hello to a Clydesdale team we met at the farrier shop.
We even saw some cute new foals at the farrier shop.
Back on Beth & Chris's Ranch, it's time to ride, so Beth and Gari go catch some horses.
Gari has Junior and Beth has Dino.
Beth and Gari Saddle up.
Junior had to be temporarily replaced, he will go to the farrier tomorrow.  I know the pictures are out of sequence...  Beth has Tango all tacked up and ready to go now.  That Tango is one tall Thoroughbred!
 Off they go!  A beautiful day for a ride.  Beth and Gari are very experienced riders.
 Comin' around again...
Gari asks Dino to trot a little.
Another day a little more grooming fun.  Steve and Beth work on Dino.
Gari checks out Dinos interesting brand marking.
After a little target practice at the local pistol range, Chris looks on as Beth and Steve inspect and clean the firearms.
Beth won the day with the most bullseyes.  You already know not to mess with Texas and now you know not to mess with Beth!
Leaving at the end of a visit with Beth and Chris is always difficult because we don't want to leave.  We will think about the next visit to keep us happy in the meantime.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Salvation Mountain at Last!

We first discovered Salvation Mountain and Slab City by the Salton Sea in southern California when we were researching the RV lifestyle over 10 years ago.  Salvation Mountain is an inspirational story of a man named Leonard Knight from Vermont.  Leonard wandered about in life but ultimately ended up at Salvation Mountain near Niland, California about 35 years ago.  Leonard died about 5 years ago, but during his 30 years there, he near about single-handedly created Salvation Mountain.  It is a fascinating story, but also a very long one, so we won't try to retell that here.  You can easily find reams of information and pictures on Leonard's Salvation Mountain with a simple Internet search.  We knew that we wanted to visit Salvation Mountain the first time we discovered it, and this visit to Yuma turned out to include the day that we finally got to be there.  It was a great day that we will remember for a very long time.  Although Leonard lived into his 90s he maintained a childlike Faith in God and Jesus Christ.  What an inspiration he was and still is to us and many other souls.

Salvation Mountain, the gateway to Slab City at Niland, California
We were there March 18, 2019!
Leonard had made a model of Salvation Mountain on what looked like a empty cable spool.  Some of his empty paint cans outlined the model.
There were several decorated vehicles on the site.
The detail was amazing, the closer we looked, the more we saw!
 Indeed, Steve agrees that Jesus is the only way!
 The structure to the left is the mountain, and to the right is a museum area that Leonard was working on last.
Leonard even had a tractor, not just any tractor, but a very special tractor.
The wheels were adorned with Bluebirds and flowers; how about that?
 The blue and white "rivers" can be seen very well from this angle.
Guess what?  Yep, that's tight!
Follow the empty paint cans to the museum entrance.  Leonard estimates that he applied over 100,000 gallons of paint to Salvation Mountain, much of which was donated paint.
A few photographic artifacts mounted in a small room in the museum.
Leonard left behind an abundance of uplifting artwork, although he had no formal training in art.
A lone trophy was mounted on a display shelf.  Leonard was awarded this trophy in 1998 as the Sr. King of the Niland Tomato and Sportman's Festival.
Gari enters the museum area.  Behind is one of Leonard's ladders.  Working by himself one day as usual, a friend stopped by to tell him that was very dangerous working up on a ladder while alone.  Leonard replied, "it's OK, He knows I'm here."
The museum has several rooms built around what looks like trees...
 A photograph picture of Salvation Mountain is mounted among windows in this museum room.
An important message is found on a car door in this room.
Leonard worked on this site for 30 years.  He first used cement, but that failed.  This successful site used the ancient technique of adobe.  When the paint was applied it remains sealed and holds up extremely well.
How did he get paint to all of these "branches"?
Something for everyone on the north part of the mountain.
Looking down the blue & white river from the mountain top.
Steve at the cross on top of the mountain.
The yellow path is used to climb the mountain and is playfully called the yellowbrick road.
Steve admires the art work in the museum.
An interesting angle looking out of the museum.
Steve ascending the mountain as Alan and Janice pass on their descending leg.
Gari snaps a picture as Steve pauses on the way up the mountain.
Although these pictures are out of sequence the yellowbrick road starts at God's mailbox.
I see Janice and Alan descending from the mountain top between the rivers of blue & white.
Gari captures Steve through a window in the museum.
Leonard used all the paint, but saved the "pretty colors" for the final coatings.
A view into the back of the museum from the mountain top.
An important message waits patiently behind this artful tree.
And just remember, Leonard Knight had no formal art training.
Time has grown short for us here in Yuma, and we now prepare for our Spring, Summer and Fall destinations.  The map below takes us through the summer and has five major legs.  The first leg takes us to Magnolia,Texas where we will visit with Beth and Chris in Waller; leg two takes us to Elkhart, Indiana the RV headquarters of the USA, where we will have some suspension and brake preventive maintenance work performed on our trailer's MorRyde IS axles; leg three takes us to Mt. Airy, North Carolina where will visit with Michele and Jim in Vilas, NC; leg four takes us to the Eastern Shore to visit Steve's mom and some of our many hometown friends; and leg fives returns us to our new home state South Dakota just outside Rapid City and at the base of the Black Hills.  We haven't decided where we will go or when we will leave Rapid City, but we know that we will be back in Arizona by November unless something unexpected occurs...