Pittsburgh to Red Bay, AL
Just about the time we left Pittsburgh the weather finally warmed back up. It was in the upper 60s the day we arrived, but then the highs dropped into the 50s with lows in the 40s for the whole time we were there. It was also cloudy, rainy and dreary. When we left, the 5-day weather forecast was finally calling for partly to mostly sunny with highs in the 70s every day. Oh well, that's Pittsburgh weather for you.
In spite of the fact it was getting warmer again, we still headed south. Our first stop was at Caesar Creek State Park where we stayed Labor Day weekend. We arrived on Thursday, and as is usual for the middle of the week, we had the campground pretty much to ourselves.
As we described in our earlier post about Labor Day at Caesar Creek, the campground has electric only hookups (30 amp) and the sites are widely spaced.
The final destination for this leg of our travel was Red Bay, AL, which is where our motor home was built. Our electric awning had been acting up and frequently balked when we tried to deploy or stow it, and some of the clear coat paint on the top of the front cap had started to peel. We could probably get any RV dealer to repair the awning, but we wanted to stop at the factory repair facility in Red Bay to have the top of the cap repainted before the peeling got worse.
Tiffin Motorhomes (TMH) has a campground with about a hundred full-hookup sites adjacent to their repair facility. We have stayed there several times before - once to have fogged dual-pane windows replaced and a few times to tour the factory. We know from experience the campground empties out somewhat on Fridays and fills up again by the middle of the afternoon on Sunday. Once the full-hookup sites are gone, there are a couple of electric-only sites, then you get to dry camp at the far end of the campground.
Because Margery had one last doctor appointment on Wednesday, we couldn't leave Pittsburgh until Thursday. Therefore, we had to make tracks to get to Red Bay on Saturday in order to have the best chance of getting a full-hookup site so we wouldn't have to dry camp with the highs in the upper 80s that were being predicted for Red Bay for the following week. That meant driving about 5 hours a day for three days in a row. We could have taken our time and arrived the following Saturday, but we hear the repair facility gets busier and busier as it gets later in October because early snowbirds stop for repairs on their way to Florida.
Our second overnight stop was at Bluegrass Music RV Park in Franklin, KY. Bluegrass Music RV has full hookup sites, some with 30-amp electric and some with 50-amp only. There is free Wi-Fi, the roads and pads are gravel, and there is sparse grass between the sites. Most of the sites have decent spacing for a private campground.
Bluegrass Music RV is a Passport America campground, but we thought the price was a bit high at $23 a night after the 50% discount. Some PA campgrounds discount their entire camping fee, but others discount only the base camping fee, then add on chargess for things like sewer hookups and 50-amp service at the full price. We're not sure because we didn't get an itemized bill, but we're guessing Bluegrass falls into the latter category.
The entrance to Bluegrass Music RV is between a Speedco truck service garage and the Pilot truck stop; and even though the campground has a large sign across the road from the entrance, the entrance is a little hard to see. We almost ended up on the truck scale at the Pilot. The campground is far enough from the road there wasn't any noticeable noise from the Speedco or the Pilot. If there was any noise from Speedco or Pilot, it was drowned out by the noise from the interstate.
The drive for our third day took us on Natchez Trace Parkway. Natchez Trace Parkway is under the juristiction of the National Park Service. It follows the approximate route of Natchez Trace, which was a Native American trail that was later followed by traders in the 1700s and early 1800s. The traders would take flatboats down the Mississippi, sell their cargo and sell the boat for its wood, then follow the trail back north. The trail ran from present-day Natchez, MS, to Nashville, TN.
Natchez Trace Parkway is a slower-paced, scenic drive that has a 50 mph speed limit for most of its length. Commercial trucks are not permitted, and there are no stop signs, no traffic signals, and no towns directly along the road. We drove it this time on a Saturday, and there were lots of bicycles and a little more traffic than usual, but it was still an easy road to drive. The road is lined with woods and farms, and there are pull-offs where you can see and walk the historic trace.
We arrived at the Tiffin campground in Red Bay in the early afternoon and got one of the last 4 full-hookup sites. The campground is intended to be used by those waiting for service, not as a destination campground, so it is nothing fancy. The sites are close together, and although most of them are pull-throughs, they are too short to leave your toad attached. But the campground does have full hookups, free Wi-Fi and cable; and at a price of only $10 a night it's a pretty good deal.
The campground is located on the site of an old airport, and the main road of the campground is the old runway. The rest of the campground is somewhat dusty gravel. The photo below shows our site at the Tiffin Allegro Campground.
There are occasionally one or two motor homes in the campground that are not made by Tiffin, and we even saw a 5th wheel there once. Those people probably were making a one or two night stop for a factory tour rather than waiting for service. Staying here is like suburbia where all the 'houses' look the same. You'd better remember your site number since it would be easy to park by the wrong RV!
The campground is pretty quiet on the weekend except for new people pulling in. By Sunday evening, the electric-only overflow sites were filled, and new arrivals were starting to use the dry-camp area. On Monday the bustle starts when employees begin arriving about 6:00 AM. Rigs start pulling out of campsites and into the service bays around 6:45. There are over 40 service bays.
There are two ways to get service for your motor home at Red Bay. You can make an appointment ahead of time and get right in on your scheduled day. The problem with that is the appointments were running almost a year out. They recently started a new system where appointments are made on a quarterly basis. We're not sure exactly how that works yet.
The other way to get service is to just show up and wait for an opening. This is what we do, and it also seems to be what most other people do. A few years ago, they designated some of the service bays as express bays for work that is estimated to take less than 3 hours. A lot of work falls into this category, and customers with small repairs can get in and out in a few days.
The paint and body shop at Red Bay is always very busy. Tiffin works with a couple of body shops in town, and they recommended one of those to us to get the top of our cap repainted. Since our peeling clear coat was a simple job of sanding and repainting, using the body shop in town would save us several days of waiting. The body shops in town are used by Tiffin all the time, and they are familiar with the Tiffin paint formulations.
Our awning repair fell in the under three-hour category, but we still had to "hang loose" to find out exactly when we would get called to a service bay. We'll tell you all about the rest of our stay in Red Bay in our next post.