The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

It's a Fiesta....Six Flags in San Antonio

I forgot to mention that our "big" presents to the kids and grand kids were annual passes to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. They will be able to go as often as they like all year.

I ordered all the passes online and, in order to get the upgrade to Gold Passes and the free parking passes, we had to validate them in person at Six Flags no later than the 29th.  Well, the grand kids couldn't come until the 28th so.....the 29th was our only shot.   I think that the surprise was very successful; even Steve and Helen didn't guess.  All I told them was that they had to block out the 29th on their calendar and not make any other plans.  I figured we would be heading out early to beat the crowds but.....Six Flags didn't open until 1:00 PM so we headed out at noon as it is on the other side of town and we wanted to be early.  Why was the upgrade so important? Well, you get extra benefits with the Gold Pass but the Parking Pass is huge since parking is $18 bucks a pop. Outrageous right?????  We took two cars as I knew DH wouldn't last the day and breathed a big sigh of relief when they scanned our paper copy for the parking and let us in.

We went through a special line where they took a finger print and gave us each a card.  Then we had to go to another building further in the park to get the passes updated to Gold and have the Parking passes added electronically.  All in all, it was a fast easy process.  No pictures this year, they are using the fingerprint instead.

I'm not big on rides and DH has to be careful with his back so we spent a lot of time watching everything going on.  I figured we would go to some of the shows but that didn't work out this time.  Steve, Helen, and Cameron were up for most of the rides.  Morgan was a little more cautious.  Grandma took her over to this Ferris wheel while the others were on one of the big scary ones.


They did talk her into this one that goes up into the air but I think I could even have handled it if I wasn't taking pictures.


Ah, finally a ride we could all get into!  Even DH hopped on this one. Helen is hiding in the background.

Hey, it's not all horses on this carousel.

I think he is looking for a way to get in trouble!

I think we have someone who is getting very tired.

DH and I headed out right after this.  Morgan wanted to stay and tough it out so we were off.  Finding our way out was interesting to say the least.  It is so easy to get turned around even with the little map.

Ah, here we are.  I'll be back with the kids. We'll see about DH.  Hasta La Vista!

Christmas....A Second Time Around

Helen had a major triathlon workout on Saturday so I got to be the ride-along to pick up the grandkids. We left at 7:45AM so Helen was already out biking and DH was sound asleep. After a stop at Starbucks to get a quick pick-me-up, we were off on the backroads to Marble Falls which is the meet-up point.  I never mind riding along as Steve and I have a great chance to chat so the time passes quickly.  We stopped for another coffee in Marble Falls as we sometimes have a rather lengthy wait but the ex was only 20 minutes late this time so we were off.  DH met us at Steve's and Helen had everything ready there so we had another Christmas "morning".  Somehow I missed the tree and all the decorations but they are pretty.




And then the "piece d resistance", new bicycles.  This was so funny because the bikes were sitting behind the dining room table, not in plain sight but not really hidden either.  Morgan walked by and around then quite a few times without saying a word.  Hmmmm, we still aren't sure whether she was blind or just trying to be diplomatic....she isn't saying.

Steve had an unexpected and nice surprise because, for the first time ever, someone on the other end helped the kids buy him a present. Thanks Dan, it meant a lot.

DH and I headed home so that kids and grandkids could head out for a bike ride.  Later on, everybody came back to our house where the kids opened some more presents.  Unfortunately, I didn't do very well on pictures of that but they had a lot of fun and got a little help from the traveling longdogs.  We grilled some steaks (Cameron's favorite meal) for dinner.  Later on, we played many games of LCR (Left, Right, Center).  This is a really great game for a group of people....no matter what their age.  It's easy, keeps everyone's attention, and is lots of fun.

The day was lots of fun and ended with a beautiful rainbow which appeared right behind our house!

It was a great Christmas, no matter which day you look at.

A Relaxing Christmas Celebration.

Christmas #1 has flown the coop.  We decided to have the big dinner on Christmas Eve.  So it was turkey and all the fixings including homemade rolls.  One of our wonderful neighbors brought over a creme de menthe pie which we added to to the butterscotch and pecan pies already on hand.  

Christmas morning, we waited to open the stockings until Steve and Helen came over for brunch.  We had a great breakfast casserole with sausage, eggs, hashbrowns, and cheese.....very easy to make but it took a little longer to cook than I thought it would.  No problem, this was our relaxing day.  Later in the day, we watched a movie and had some great leftovers so Christmas was relaxing for me too!

Then it was off to the living room to open the presents.  Santa was very good to all of us. Harley and I got a ball launcher so he was very excited as his favorite thing in life (next to food) is playing ball.

Tomorrow the grandkids come to San Antonio so we have another Christmas to celebrate.  Guess I better get upstairs and wrap the very last of their presents.

Today several of my RVing friends and I got together for a Christmas lunch at Cheddars.  It's a rough week so there were quite a few that couldn't make it but Birdie, Vickie, Mary Jane, and I had a wonderful time.  Birdie will soon be heading south to the Rio Grande Valley (something about birding and warmer weather, lol) and another one of the ladies is heading to Florida in her RV to spend time with relatives.  Another one of the group couldn't make it today as she and her husband were off in the RV to Florida too.

Hope you all had a great Christmas!

And Off in the NIght There Arose Such a Clatter!

Not the Traveling Longdogs obviously but some of their close friends were called in for a little extra help this year.  So, if the sleigh is small, and you hear "woofs", you just never know who actually delivered your box!

May your day be merry and bright. Hoping it's filled with special meaning just for you. Wishing you sunshine, happy days, and wonderful memories wherever you are this year.


Merry Christmas to all from The Traveling Longdogs. 

A Camping World Experience to Remember

I headed up to Camping World on the 19th for an 11:00 AM appointment, (arrived at 10:30 AM as requested). This was the day I was going to get an early Christmas present installed in my 5th wheel, a Fantastic Fan Vent with Remote Control. My 5th wheel, like most 5th wheels, has a very high ceiling in the living area so I wanted the remote so I wouldn't have to climb on a step stool every time I wanted to use the fan.

I know what you are going to say.......we've all heard stories about work gone wrong at various Camping Worlds.  I admit it, I was concerned too but they had a great price on the Fantastic Fan/Vent, over $100 less than I could get it for at another RV place that I use.  My DH was originally planning to install it for me but Camping World also had a special on installation of any item going on so we opted to go that route.  So I set out with great expectations.

My Service Writer, Nicole Matteson, was working as quickly as possible to speed up the check-in process. Once I was checked in, I moved my truck and 5th wheel into the line of RVs waiting for service technicians. My friend Birdie showed up just in time to take me to lunch; Nicole told us to take plenty of time so we headed to Olive Garden.  After a relaxing and delicious lunch, we headed back to Camping World and spent some time looking through the store and at the RVs in the showroom.  Birdie left about 1:00 PM thinking I wouldn't be there much longer.

Nicole was in and out of the service area checking on various jobs in the works.  Sometime after 1:30 PM, she told me the service technician working on my rig said it wouldn't be too much longer. Then 3:00 PM rolled around, hmmmm. This should have been a one hour job.  At 3:30 PM, I told Nicole that I was getting worried about what they were doing to my rig.  She told me that she had put a second technician on the job at 3:00 because she was also very unhappy with progress.

Finally, at 4 PM I had enough and had real concern about my rig.  Nicole took me out to the service bay with her to find out what was going on.  The second technician had completed the inside wiring and left the first one to finish it up.  The first technician now said there was a problem with the fan itself as it would not work. Really????? I chose Fantastic because of their stellar reviews. The second technician said he had never seen a Fantastic fan not work and he would finish up the job in 25 minutes. I knew traffic was already building up between New Braunfels and San Antonio but agreed to wait.

At 5:00 PM, I was told it was done. They backed it out of the bay and came in to get me.  The second technician told me it worked just fine but I would need to have the lights on when I wanted to use the fan as it was wired into the overhead lights which were daisy chained together. What!!!!  I hit the roof and, by that time, with that announcement, was not very pleasant.  Leave the lights on to use the fan in an area that included a sleeper sofa and dinette bed both of which are used when kids and grandkids travel with me. Even if I was traveling alone, I wouldn't want the lights on at night.  I asked him if he would be able to sleep in a room with all the overhead lights on. He tried to tell me that the wiring is always done like that.

Nicole went to confer with her manager, the Field Operations Director, and get his advice.  She went out to the RV to check herself and then came back to get me, and showed me that the fan would work without the lights on as long as I turned the lights on/off at the ceiling.  I sat there in my RV for about 15 minutes so upset and angry with my whole experience that I could hardly think straight. Totally gone was my Christmas excitement. Then I walked back inside and went directly to the manager's office and said I wanted to speak to him.  He had several employees in there for a meeting but they immediately cleared out.

I let him know exactly what I thought about Camping World and said that my experience was exactly why they have such a poor reputation with many RVers. He was very apologetic and asked what he could do to rectify the situation. I gave him a running account of what had happened that day, what his installers had said and done, and the fact that Nicole was the only one in the whole process who knew and cared about what she was doing.  He said he would do whatever he could to make it right but wanted to ask me a couple of questions as soon as he sent word for both installers to not leave the premises.  First, he wanted to know if the person who helped me with the fan had asked me whether there was 12 volt electrical at the installation site.  No.  Did she ask if there was a light within 12 inches of the site. No. I told him that I had asked quite a few questions about the fan because I wanted to know if the Fantastic or the newer MaxxAir fan was better. They both look about the same. She told me that the only real difference was that the MaxxAir fan had two arms holding up the lid. She said that Fantastic has been around for many years and had always provided outstanding support in any case where a customer had a problem later on. They had lots of experience with Fantastic bug didn't have that much experience with the new MaxxAir. There was no discussion about installation other than her scheduling it.

Then he asked if the technician or anyone had explained the how the wiring would be done. NO or I would not have purchased a much more expensive fan with a remote. The whole purpose of the remote was so that one didn't have to get out a step stool every time they wanted to do something with the fan. Next we went out to the RV. The first technician had left work the minute my RV was backed out of the bay but the second technician met us at the RV. The manager asked him if there was an extra fuse site in the box. He started to say that the installations are always done the way he did them because otherwise you would have to route all over through the ceiling, cut through studs in the roof, etc. to run the wire.  The manager said "did you see that there is a refrigerator directly across from the installation site and that the refrigerator is sitting right over the fuse box?" The manager said that installation was generally done to a nearby light (when there wasn't 12v directly at the installation site) due to all the cutting to the ribs in the roof and extra wiring work required; however, that would not have been required with the way my RV was laid out. He went through the process the technician would need to use to pull the fridge partly out to run the wire down the box it was in and made sure the technician understood it and couldn't come up with any other issues with doing that.

The manager said again that he was extremely sorry about the whole experience I had with Camping World right from discussions about the fan through the work that was done.  He offered to refund all of my money or to take $100 off the price and have the technician rewire the fan through the refrigerator box the next day. He asked me to think about it while he went out to set up meeting with his technicians and parts staff for the next morning. He intended to implement new procedures for working with customers in addition to ensuring that parts people did not set up installation appointments for customers as they did not have enough knowledge of the technicians' experience to assign jobs to them.  I know that Nicole had already spoken to him about that.

In the end, I opted to take the refund. If I want to use the overhead lights, I will have to use the stool to turn them on but I had to balance that against my overwhelming anxiety about having the same technician pull out my refrigerator and touch something else that worked perfectly. He seemed to know what he was doing but his attitude to the whole process still left a lot to be desired.

So, how do I feel about Camping World in New Braunfels?  Well, in my view I probably couldn't have had a worse service experience aside from working with Nicole. I am, however, impressed with the Field Operations Director, Bill Heinrich. He truly does care about his customers, their experience with Camping World, and the service work that is done there. He tried very hard to make things right. He did his best to ensure I was satisfied. And more than that, he immediately started steps to ensure that other customers did not have the same experience I did. So I expect to see improvements in service work in the future.

My advice is to ask lots of questions wherever you have work done. If things don't feel right, they probably aren't and you need to be proactive. You have a big investment in your RV.  In future, I will ask about my technician's experience and I will insist they explain what they are going to do in advance.

Postscript:

Since it was dark when I got home, I didn't take my RV back to storage until the next morning. My son came over to guide me when I backed it in. He climbed up on the roof to check out the vent.  When he came down, he said "call the manager", we are taking it back to them.  He needs to personally see the work that was done.  The new vent cover over the Fantastic Fan was loose, the nuts had not been tightened, the nylon keepers weren't even close to where they should have been, there were gaps in the sealant, one of the screws into the roof was stripped and loose, and there were two holes drilled in my roof that had a light finger scab of sealant over them.

Bill climbed up the scaffolding ladder to see for himself as we requested. He was appalled and told me he was really glad I came back to show him. He called the second technician over and asked him if he had checked the job on the rooftop.  He claimed he had not which didn't earn him any positive thoughts from his boss because he knew that he was called in because the first technician did not know what he was doing. On top of that, while the 2d tech went up on the roof with my son, he told him that it didn't look like that when it left the day before. At that point, Steve came down and relayed the conversation to Bill and asked him what could possibly have happened during a 15 mile drive from New Braunfels to San Antonio and back again that could have made an installation job look like that. Bill said absolutely nothing could have happened, it was an appalling job and the service technician was only making himself and Camping World look worse.

In the end, it was all fixed to our satisfaction and reinspected by my son. The first service technician may well not have a job working on RVs any longer.  The second technician will need work on attitude adjustment and to develop some real customer concern.  I think that Bill Heinrich, Field Operations Manager, will see to that very shortly. Given some more time, I think that there will be improvements.

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Ah, the annual Christmas parties!  Okay, my DH's idea of Christmas parties may be a little different than yours but you have fun when and where you can have fun.  Our party invitations came some time ago and DH has been patiently waiting so Thursday night we were off to the party.  Woods Cycle Country in New Braunfels, TX puts on a party for their customers every year.

It's best to arrive early as lots of people show up.  In addition to providing some great brisket and chips snacks, they have a musical combo playing, cookies and cider, and your invitation includes one 40% off parts and accessories coupon so you can also get a little Christmas shopping done. DH and I each get our own invitations so we each had a coupon.  Son Steve also had an invite coupon and I'm sure DIL will have her own invitation and coupon next year.  lol.

Not to mention that they give you a ticket for drawings they hold every 15 minutes for the two hour party.  You sign up for this one when you arrive.  Steve's name was called for the very first drawing and he got a $50 gift certificate!  DH was grumbling because he has never won one of the drawings inspite of attending each year so Steve was grinning.

The receptionist knows both Dave and Steve by name and know who I am as well so she came over to be introduced to Helen as well.  It's a family friendly place.

There is always a little line up for the food.

The brisket was great.  And they kept the line moving very quickly.


Sometimes they have a country band, this year they had a group playing Christmas and other music which was really nice.  They also set up a few tables so people can sit for a bit.

The gift certificate winner was happy.

DH was happy too because he had a little Christmas present all picked out for me to get him which makes shopping for him a little easier.  I also picked up another present but I'm not telling about that one because the recipient doesn't know about it.  Then we went on to Cooper's for dinner.

We ordered a couple of pounds of brisket to make sandwiches.  They provide the bread, onions, pickles, and beans on the side.  It was a do-it-yourself meal.

Ya'll come back now!  Hope you have at least one fun Christmas party to attend this year.

Where Have All the Readers Gone?

Well, the computer is fixed and working like a champ.  I managed to catch up on all the posts I missed thanks to pictures being grouped by dates.  But something is amiss.  It must be due to the inundation of posts.  I'm so sorry about that. Or maybe it is because the posts were backdated to the time they occurred. That was important to be able to find them in the future.  Alas, my readers have also taken a break.  I miss you.

We have had quite a cold spell here in central Texas.  Frigid, at least for us.  It doesn't compare to the north by any means but it is cold for us.  Our highs are back around 50 for this week but that is still 15 degrees or more below our normal.  The southwest is suffering too and east of us too.  Everywhere but the extreme southeast.  Ah, they brag on sunny, warm temperatures still.  Their time will come. It always does.  I sure hope this doesn't mean that we will be cold all winter.

Had to share this with you all.  Keep in mind this is Texas and a temporary frigid spell is moving through.  Just a note:  I'm sure no animals were harmed in the making.


The Christmas cards and shopping are waiting.  The house needs decorating.  Where are the elves when you need them????

Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Run, Ride, and Car Show

Picture

Steve had a flyer for a motorcycle run at Ladybird Johnson Park that sounded like fun.  The question was, where exactly was Ladybird Johnson Park.  We were most familiar with Ladybird Johnson Park in Fredericksburg as we have stayed in the RV park there many times.  Steve knew there was also a Ladybird Johnson Park in Austin.  So, Google to the rescue.  I found the event online and surprise, there is also a Ladybird Johnson Park in San Antonio.  Sunday morning we set out to find it and it wasn't far at all.  San Antonio has a lot of parks.

This event was hosted by Operation Comfort and My Father's House Church and featured a 5k Run/Walk, Motorcycle ride, and a Classic Car Show.  Proceeds go to support Operation - a benefit for Vietnam Veterans.



The motorcycle riders and the runners were out when we arrived so we took in the car show.

It was an eclectic event with cars from the local area as well as some distance away in Texas.  Steve, Helen, and each of the kids were invited to sit in this truck and have their picture taken although I don't have those.


Steve had lots of questions and met lots of the owners.

The runners just sort of appeared as there didn't seem to be a big finish area probably because it was a 5k.  But the motorcycles all came in as a group.


All in all, it was a nice way to spend a morning and we plan to go back and check out the rest of the Ladybird Johnson Park another day when we can get to it.

Thanksgiving And We Are Thankful

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and we are very thankful for many things.  Helen and Steve wanted to host the holiday in their new home.....their very first holiday with the kids and us in their home.  This was also Helen's first time cooking a turkey by herself.  Of course I use that term loosely since she had lots of "help" with the basting from Morgan, Cameron, and Steve.

She figured out turkey size from a chart on the Internet which said she needed a 12 pound turkey for 6 people.  Steve just laughed and told her to get a 20 pound turkey as everyone liked turkey leftovers. She also fixed a fancy squash dish with maple, bacon, and onion topping that was delicious.  She and Morgan baked pumpkin, pumpkin pecan, and apple pies.  This stepmom has tons of patience when it comes to cooking with the kids.  She also made green bean casserole and stuffing.  She asked me to do the sweet potatoes and homemade rolls.  I also did the mashed potatoes to give her more time to get the turkey set up.  And I made the gravy for her when I arrived.  Dinner was great!


Having Steve and Helen here in San Antonio is one of the things for which we are thankful.  And all of us are grateful that the kids get to be here with us every 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend.  They love being with Dad and Helen so much more often.  And Steve is grateful he isn't driving from Florida to Texas once a month just to see them for a weekend.  We would love to be together with all our family more often but we are grateful for the family members we do have with us.

I am grateful to have my computer back and working like a champ.  And I am grateful to have finally gotten all my pictures for the last month loaded up and edited.   My blogposts are now up to date. You may be grateful for that too if you thought I was gone and then you were inundated with backdated posts.

The Birthday Boy Celebrates His 10th

Cameron's birthday was actually over a week ago.  He spent that weekend with his Dad but Grandma was out of town at an RV GTG.  So Cameron, Morgan, Dad, and Helen went ice skating to celebrate but planned another party for when all of his San Antonio family could be there.  So we all got together on Wednesday night for a special dinner (steak and rice.....Cam's favorites).  Cam wanted vanilla cake with vanilla icing which caused some raised eyebrows and questions from several asking if he was sure he didn't want chocolate.  One of the benefits of growing older is more experience. I decided to go with a pyramid of cupcakes so Cam could have his choice and others could have their chocolate. Morgan wanted strawberry last year, everybody ate a little piece including Morgan, and the rest of the cake sat there.  It was good but not what everyone liked.......so, this time....two kinds of cupcakes.

He thought it was really cool.


Those colored sugar cake toppings sure do leave kids with blue tongues and lips.

I think we scored with this present.  Some battling tops for his collection.


He also got two more books from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid collection.  He loves them.



The biggest hit was probably the Iron Man Mask.



Harley was not sure what happened to his boy.  I think it was the glowing eyes.