Letters From a Bus
Our bus and one remaining truck the morning after the rainstorm. 06/28/07
July 2007: Homeward Bound
1st entry for July
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Waiting for Tiffin

A PathosComedy in One Act

Scene:  Allegro Campground, Red Bay, AL. 

Several buses are parked in a large gravel lot.  Wires overhead are strung between poles to supply power for RV hookups.  The setting is stark and bare.  Having arrived on a holiday and needing attention to their RV, a family waits for Tiffin to materialize.

Time:  Week of July 2-8, 2007.

Characters:

Deni:      Rational, retired, husband and new RV owner/driver.

EeBe:    Emotional, retired, wife and new RV owner/passenger.

Mogo:    Two-year-old, small, fluffy, white female dog — dominant.

Rudi:      Four-year-old, small, fluffy, white male dog — passive. 

Scene i, Day One: Waiting
Monday morning:
Deni and EeBe stand outside in front of their bus at Site #5

Eebe:

Deni:

Another hot day.

All of Red Bay is shut down because Tiffin takes the entire week off for a July Fourth holiday. 

It’s weird.  When will they fix our cruise control and the windshield wipers?

Don’t you remember?  Some of the guys will stay at work this week so they can take time off later on during the hunting season.  The service guy came around yesterday to look at our service requests.  He said we would be scheduled for next week but he would try to squeeze us in this week.

Eebe:
Deni:

EeBe:    Does this mean we have to stay here all week?  Can we go somewhere today?

Deni:      We better not.  What if they come by to schedule us?

EeBe:    There’s nothing to do.  I’ll go write e-mail letters.

Monday 1:30 PM:
Enter Scheduler who pulls up in a red pickup truck.

Deni:      Are you Tiffin?

Sceduler:  No.  I’m the Scheduler.  How you all?  You can take your bus to Bay #9.  They’re ready to look at it.

Deni:      Hurry and put the slides in.  I’ll unhook the power and water.

EeBe:  What?!  I didn’t think Tiffin was coming today.  I’m not ready.

Monday 2:00 PM
Enter Bus into Service Bay #9

Deni:  To technician:  Are you Tiffin?

Tech1: No.  I’m a technician.

Eebe:  It’s very hot.  How can we keep the dogs and ourselves cool?

Tech1: You can wait in the lounge.

Eebe:   I don’t want to wait in the lounge.  Let’s take a drive with the dogs. 

Deni:   When should we come back?

Tech1: I’ll park your bus outside the bay when we’re finished and I’ll leave you a note if you need to bring it back
tomorrow morning.

Mogo: Jumps into the car.  Get out of my way.

Rudi:   I want to get in too! 

Monday 3:00 PM
Enter Honda at Service Bay #9

Eebe:   Can you believe all the flags we saw in Red Bay Park?

Deni:   I guess people in the south are very patriotic.

Eebe:   Seems like it.  Each flag has the name of a fallen soldier.

Deni:   I’ve never seen anything like it.

Eebe:   The service bay is closed already.  There’s our bus parked outside.

Deni:   They close at three.  They only had an hour to work on it.

Eebe:   There’s no note.  What does that mean?

Deni:   I don’t know.  We better get up early and bring the bus back over here before eight.

Eebe:   That’s ridiculous.  Maybe they won’t be expecting us in the morning.

Deni:   Well I don’t want to be late and hold them up.

Exit Honda to Allegro Site #5

Scene ii, Day Two: Waiting
Tuesday morning:
Deni and EeBe stand outside in front of their bus at Site #5 drinking coffee.

EeBe:   Looks like another hot one.

Deni:   Hurry up and get ready.  We better take the bus
over to the service bay.

EeBe:   No!  That’s a waste of effort.  We don’t know if
they’re expecting us.

Exit Deni towards Service Bay.  Eebe sits on the bus step and drinks coffee. Enter Deni.

Deni:  The Spartan Smart Wheel is no good.  The
solenoid is completely gone.  They are sending
away for a new part.  It will be flown in.  They don’t
need us over there today.

EeBe:   Walks to a gray parrot hanging in a cage on the neighboring bus.  Are you Tiffin?

Parrot: Whistles

EeBe:   There’s nothing to do.  Let’s drive to Florence.

First fuel fill-up - $450 gift from Bankston at Texaco, Jordan Lane, Huntsville, AL 5/21/07

Later: 
Enter EeBe and Deni carrying packages.  They get into the bus:

Eebe:   Who would believe it takes over an hour to drive forty-five miles? 

Deni:   Country highways.  But it’s a pretty drive to Florence,

EeBe:   Can you believe it took us another hour to find a decent place to have breakfast?

Deni:   Well, you didn’t want to settle for Cracker Barrel.  I guess a lot of people here don’t go out to eat the way we
do in the bay area.

EeBe:   Well at least we got our prescription drugs from for the next month from RiteAid.  And I found these good garlic
rolls at Shoney’s.  I’ll bake some tonight.  Didn’t you just love the Coon Dog Cemetery?

Deni:   Been there since 1937.  A guy donated the land for that cemetery.  Really amazing.

Eebe:   It touched my heart.  Those guys loved their dogs.

Excited dogs bark:

Mogo:  Get off their laps.  I own them.  If you get on the couch I will bite you.

Rudi:   Can I stand up and put my paws on the couch to say “hi”?

Mogo: No!

Much Later:
EeBe and Deni re-enter bus.

EeBe:   I like our neighbors, Mary and Steve.  That parrot is an African gray named Max — or Maxine….

Deni:   I like them too.  And their Bichon, Shotsie, is quiet and well behaved.

EeBe:   Not like ours.  Be quiet you two!  If we have to wait all week we might as well get some custom cabinetwork done.  Mary gave me lots of ideas for improvements.

Deni:   Make a list and we’ll give it to the cabinet guy. 

Scene iii, Day Three: Waiting
Wednesday morning — Fourth of July
Inside the bus with A/C running full blast.

EeBe:   There’s no one here at the campground.  Everyone has left.

Deni:   Do you want to do something or go somewhere?

EeBe:   No, it’s too hot.  It’s like a desert.  Let’s stay inside. There’s nothing to do.  I'll go write my blog.

Enter Dumpster Diver.  He uses a stick to fish through bags in the dumpster opposite the bus.

Eebe:   Walks to the Dumpster.  Are you Tiffin?

Diver:  No.  I collect cans.

Later:

Eebe:   I saw a Dumpster Diver.  It might be the highlight of my day.

Deni:   You did?  I bought corn and peaches from an old farmer.  That might be the highlight of my day. 
Pause.  You don’t suppose the farmer was Tiffin….

EeBe:   You never know.

Wednesday Night:

Deni:   I never heard any firecrackers or fireworks.

EeBe:   I have a headache.  We never went out except to walk the dogs.

Deni:   How many movies did we watch?

EeBe:   We watched “The Guardian” while I groomed Rudi.  Then I watched “Les Miserable” while I ironed.  Then we watched “RV” in the afternoon. 

Deni:   Anyway, we had a good holiday dinner — hotdogs and corn on the cob, strawberry-peach shortcake —

EeBe:   — that we ate inside because we have no grill and no camp chairs.  But it was too hot outside anyway.

Deni:   Tomorrow we’ll go talk to the Service Manager and plan to get our closet turned around the way the did
in the ’08 Allegro Bus.

EeBe:   I’m going to go lie on the bed and watch “Groundhog Day.”

Deni:   I will too.

Mogo: Hops on bed and steals Rudi’s treat.  Mine.

Rudi:   This is not right.

Scene iv, Day Four: Waiting
Thursday morning:
Enter Tech2 in pickup truck.  He gets in the bus. 

Deni:   Are you Tiffin?

Tech2: No.  I brought your new Spartan Smart Wheel part.  I’ll install it here.  Won’t take but a minute.  No use making
you drive over to the service bay. 
(He installs a small chip and tests it.)  Good to go.  Have a good day, you all.  Exit Tech2.

Deni:   One down, one to go.

EeBe:   What one to go?

Deni:   The tag axle is leaking oil.  Spartan had a recall on that.  I called Bankston after we ordered ours and asked
them to check our VIN numbers with Spartan.  They said we weren’t on the recall list but we’ve got the same
problem the others have had. 

EeBe:   Now what do we do?

Deni:   We can’t drive the bus.  The bearing is fried and the plastic cap is melted.

EeBe:   When can that be fixed?

Deni:   Not until next week.  It’s on a Spartan warranty.  Spartan has given permission to let a local company fix it but
he’s on vacation this week.  I’ve left a message with Chris at Bay Diesel & AIC.  Hopefully he can work on it
next week.

EeBe:   We’ll never get out of here.  There’s nothing to do.  I’ll go upload my photos.

Mogo:  Takes Rudi’s stuffed toy from him.

Rudi:   Licks Mogo’s ear.

Thursday afternoon:
Deni and EeBe are on their computers.

Deni:   I can’t get on the Internet.  Can you?

EeBe:   Yes.  I’m on our wireless network, The Bus.

Deni:   I try to get on The Bus and the Campground knocks me off.

EeBe:   Can you get on the Campground?

Deni:   Only for a little while.  The signal is weak and then it knocks me off.  (Telephone call from Deni's computer
tech, Mike White.  They try everything for an hour.  Nothing works.)

Deni:   I can’t understand it.  It’s worked perfectly everywhere else.

EeBe:   You’re getting interference from the Campground.

Deni:   Yeah, but we can’t figure out how to stop it.

EeBe:   Get a Mac.

Thursday evening:

Deni:   We’re set for the closet remodel.  Wade says there are two ahead of us.  Next week the factory will be going full
time again.  He says they’ll be busy.  I hope he can get us in next week.  Good thing the closet remodel is a
warranty item.  That would have been expensive.

EeBe:   What will they do?

Dede:   The main electrical panel in the closet faces out.  It takes up a lot of closet space.  They will turn the panel and
make it smaller. It was a bad design.

EeBe:   Will we have more room for clothes?

Deni:   It will be a big improvement.

EeBe:   I’ve made a To-Do Wish List for the cabinet guy.

Deni:   Let’s see it.  OK.  Might as well get these things done while we’re sitting here waiting.

EeBe:   Man-oh-man, I thought we’d be in California by July.  Here we are in Alabama for two weeks — maybe three.  It
will be going on August before we get back.  We’ve had so many delays.

Deni:   They say you can’t make a schedule or commitments when you’re in an RV. 

EeBe:   Clearly not. 

Scene v, Day Five: Waiting
Friday morning:
Deni and EeBe are on their computers.

Deni:   Are you online?

EeBe:   Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  Mostly I can get on.

Deni:   I’ll have to use your computer to pay some bills.

Eebe:   Grinds her teeth.

Later:

Eebe:   There’s nothing to do.  I'll go work on my website.

Much Later:
Enter cabinet man.

Eebe:   Are you Tiffin?

Cabinet Man:   How you all doing?  No.  I do cabinets for Tiffin and woodwork on the side.

Deni:   Can you expand my computer table and give me a slide out desktop?

Cabinet Man:   Sure can.  Good golly.  This is a long list.  Might take me awhile.

Deni:   Looks like we’ll be here for a while.  We’re waiting for the warranty closet remodel and the warranty Spartan tag
axle repair. 

Cabinet Man:  OK.  I’ll get back to you on Monday with an estimate.

Friday evening:
Deni and EeBe stand in front of the bus with the dogs on leashes.  A woman walks by with a small bichon wearing a kerchief.

Mogo: Charges the Bichon barking and growling.  I’m bigger than you.  I’m badder than you.  And I’m better than you.

Rudi:   Trots at a heel by Eebe.  Uh oh.  I was afraid of that.

Deni:   Mogo!  Stop that!  Heel!

Eebe:   That dog is an embarrassment.

Rudi:   Who knows?  That Bichon could have been Tiffin.  There was something about her….

Scene vi, Day Six: Waiting
Saturday morning:
On the bus.

Deni:   Are you online?

EeBe:   Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  Are you?

Deni:   No.

EeBe:   Bummer.  You want to try Marty’s Restaurant across the street for breakfast?

Deni:   I don’t think they have a very good reputation, but what the heck.  How can you ruin breakfast?

Exit Deni and Eebe.

Later:
Enter Deni and Eebe.  They get on the bus.

EeBe:   That was the worst ever.

Deni:   I take it back.  You can ruin breakfast.

EeBe:   How do they stay in business?

Deni:   Dumb RVers like us.

EeBe:   Never again.  Are we waiting for anyone to show up?

Deni:   Nope.  It’s Saturday.

EeBe:   There’s nothing to do.  Let’s go west to Mississippi.  Tupelo is a larger city than Florence and there’s a
freeway to get there. 

Deni:   What about Tiffin?  What if Tiffin shows up?

EeBe:   Let’s risk it.  Tupelo has two Wal*Mart Supercenters.  Then maybe we can go see the Natchez Trace Visitor’s
Center.

Deni:   I’m going to tell all your friends you’re shopping at Wal*Mart.

EeBe:   Have mercy.  I can’t help it.  There’s no department stores around.  There’s not even a Target in sight.  Where’s
Macy’s when I need them? 

Deni:   Far, far away.

Exit Deni and Eebe.

Saturday afternoon:
Enter Deni and Eebe.  They get on the bus carrying packages:

Deni:   That was worthwhile.

EeBe:   Now we’ve got a few handy kitchen things:  cookie sheet, meatloaf dish, baking dish and a pizza pan.

Deni:   And they all fit in the convection oven.  That was a good dinner at Charley’s. 

EeBe:   Yes.  At last, we found a decent restaurant.

Deni:   And we found a Starbucks!

EeBe:   Just in time.  We’re almost out of French Roast.  I loved the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Deni:   I want to drive the whole length.  It’s gorgeous.

EeBe:   Wasn’t that Visitor’s Center fascinating?

Deni:   It was great.  I’d stop and do the entire parkway now if we didn’t have to hurry home.

EeBe:   That’s 440 miles.  Maybe it will be even better in the fall when it’s cooler.

Deni:   It was cool on the trail in those woods.

EeBe:   True.  It was beautiful.

Deni:   And we’re here now.  I mean isn’t that why we’re doing this?  Didn’t we do this to see fascinating places like that
— full of history and scenery?

EeBe:   Yes, you’re right.  So far we’ve been going places for other reasons.  We haven’t chosen our own destination
yet.  The dogs would love that trail.

Deni:   Maybe we don’t need to hurry home.  What’s the deadline?

EeBe:   I don’t know.  Maybe you’re right.

Mogo: Lies with her head on the floor.  They ignored us all day.

Rudi:   Lies with his head on the floor.  It’s wrong.  Totally wrong.

Mogo: Why don’t they go to the Swamp John's to eat?  They say that place is excellent.  When we drove by it smelled great.

Rudi:   Why don’t they get a take-out dinner at Piggly-Wiggly?  I’ve never had catfish.

Mogo: These people are lame.

Saturday evening:
On the bus.

EeBe:   That was fun visiting with Mary and Steve.  She really makes me laugh.

Deni:   They’re a nice couple.

EeBe:   I love that ottoman she had made.  The box is great for storage and the leather matches the couch.  It’s a
perfect addition so I can put up my feet when I sit on the couch.  It can be a miniature coffee table or end
table.  It’s a terrific idea.

Deni:   We might as well get that done as well.

Rudi:   Think we can get them to take us for a walk?

Mogo: We can but try.  (She attacks Rudi growling viscously.)

EeBe:   Oh, my gosh!  These dogs need some exercise.  We have to work off that negative energy.

Deni:   Rudi!  Find your leash.  Mogo!  Do you want to go for a walk?

Exit with dogs on leash.

Later.
Re-enter EeBe carrying Rudi and Deni carrying Mogo.  They put the dogs down in the bus.

Deni:   That stupid woman!  Why would one woman have three big dogs that she can’t control?

EeBe:   I don’t know.  I’m shaking all over.  Rudi could have been killed.

Deni:   That big black lab was going to get him.

EeBe:   It’s a good thing you picked up Mogo and yelled at me to pick up Rudi!

Deni:   Didn’t you know he was dangerous?

EeBe:   I saw he was loose but I didn’t know what he would do.  When he got near I saw he wanted to jump up on me and get Rudi. 

Deni:   Two dogs loose!  The smaller herd dog was foaming at the mouth.  The lab wasn’t a killer.  He just wanted to
get Rudi to run so he could chase him.

EeBe:   Yeah, and maul him.

Deni:   You did a good job by kicking at him.

EeBe:   Lot of damage I’d do with sandals but I kept him away from me.

Rudi:   I sure am glad you picked me up.  I stayed still and let you help me.

Mogo: I didn’t!  I wanted to kill that dog.  I snarled and barked.  I wanted to get down and give him what for.

Deni:   Mogo, you did not help the situation one bit.

EeBe:   Those dogs were not trained.  They didn’t come when she called them.  She couldn’t catch them.  That was
really dangerous.  When she got the herd dog on a leash, the big poodle and the herd dog got her tangled up
around her legs.  She couldn’t catch the black dog.  He wouldn’t get near her.  We had to stop and wait or he
would have followed us.  Are you sure he was a lab?  His ears were up and pointed like a German Shepherd.

Deni:   She has no business taking three big dogs out when she can’t control them.

Eebe:   That was so scary.  I tried to get of photo of her after she got the black dog on a leash but my hands were
shaking so badly I don’t think it came out.

Rudi:   You don’t think she was Tiffin do you?

EeBe:   Absolutely not, Rudi. Absolutely not. Don't you worry about that.

Scene vii, Day Seven: Waiting
Early Sunday morning:
Enter technicians in pickup truck.  They begin to apply a Diamond Shield to Mary and Steve’s Allegro Bus.  EeBe and Deni sit in the cab of their bus drinking coffee.

Eebe:   What are they doing?

Deni:   Exits cab and approaches Shield guy.  Are you Tiffin?

Shield guy:  No.  I put shields on the cap of a bus.

Deni:   Re-enters cab of bus.  Steve is protecting his cap — the front of his bus — from nicks and scratches.  He takes his coffee and goes outside to watch together with Steve and other RV men who wander over to watch.

Later:

Deni:   That is an amazing process.  I think we should do it.  By the way, the guy who pulled in on our other side is in a Fleetwood Bounder. 

Eebe:   He couldn’t be Tiffin could he?

Deni:   No, he’s thinking about buying a Tiffin Phaeton.  He’s looking at coaches.

Eebe:   There’s nothing to do.  Invite them over if they want to see an Allegro Bus.

Late afternoon:
Deni & Eebe enter bus.

Eebe:   This has been our most social weekend so far.  We met Mary and Steve from Florida and now we’ve visited
with John and Bernadette from Tennessee.  That was fun to have lunch with them at La Estralita.  It was
good.  Do you think we should stop in Branson on the way home?  Some of the shows they told us about
sound like fun.

Deni:   It depends on when we’re going to get out of here.  It doesn’t seem like there is any hurry any more.  By the
time we do leave, we might as well go north from Utah and catch the good August weather in Idaho and
Montana before it gets too cold. 

Eebe:   Then we can go see Joe and Marian in Washington and then drop down south to California.

Deni:   Is the newfound freedom of a mobile home going to our head?  Are we crazy?

Eebe:   Maybe.  But so what?  What’s happening tomorrow?

Deni:   We have to see Wade and make sure we’re on the list to get the closet changed around.  We have to see
Chris at Bay Diesel and find out when he can repair the tag axle bearings.  We have to talk to Charles and
see how long it will take for him to do all of this custom work.  We have to see Trevor about making that
ottoman and doing the leather upholstery cover.

EeBe:   Is this freedom?  Or are we being held hostage here in Red Bay?  We have all these unexpected repairs and
additions.

Deni:   It’s all in your head, kid.  It’s all in how you look at it.

Evening:
Deni & Eebe enter with dogs on leash.

Eebe:   I don’t believe it!  What came over Rudi?

Deni:   How did you manage to drop the leash?

Eebe:   I was trying to get a cute photo of Rudi looking at the cow through the fence.  He jerked it out of my hands.  Who knew he was going to drag the leash and run under the fence to herd a cow?

Deni:   How can a small dog decide he can push around a huge animal that’s hundreds of times heavier than he is?

Eebe:   Well he did!  He chased that cow clean away.  Good thing he came back when we called him or he would have had that entire herd of cattle in an uproar.  Rudi!  What came over you?

Rudi:   I thought he was Tiffin.  I saw my shot at glory.  I had to go for it.

Mogo: Fool dog could have had his head kicked in.  Wish it had been me….

Eebe:   Saint’s Preserve.  We’re all losing it here in Tiffin Land.

Deni:   Be strong.  We could have another one or two weeks of this.

fini

Elsa Walton, Allegro Campground, Red Bay, AL, Monday, July 9, 2007

Elsa Walton, Allegro Campground, Red Bay, AL, Monday, July 9, 2007