Travelin Tiger Archive

Jauary 31, El Paso, Texas

Today was pretty much a travel and maintenance day. We drove into El Paso did some shopping at Costco to stock up food for the rest of the trip, then moved on to a RV park in a dirt lot behind a Camping World where we washed clothes and Scout. This place takes two dubious honors, the most expensive place we have stayed and the least charming.

Having stayed away from cities for almost a month we both got a little shock when we hit some serious traffic near El Paso. Can’t say I miss traffic. El Paso was having a serious wind storm with blowing dust. Winds gusts were up to 50 miles per hour and Scout was blowing around quite a bit for the last 15 miles until we arrived.

Ton figured there must be good Mexican food in El Paso and while we washed clothes she did some research and came up with a local restaurant called Pepe’s. She made a great call as the food was truly outstanding and it was nice to see a family restaurant doing well. If you are on the west side of El Paso I highly recommend Pepe’s.


January 30, Big Bend NP, River Road

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Today we finally got to try out Scout on the kind of road she was designed to cover. We drove the River Road from Rio Grande Village to Castelton. It is a 54 mile dirt road that runs parallel to the Rio Grande. The Malayan handled the road very well, over the course of the 54 miles we ran into washboard, loose rock, soft sand, and some pretty good holes in the road. I was very impressed with the ride and the handling over some pretty tough roads. We covered the 54 miles in about 6 hours with frequent stops for photos and lunch.

The desert along the road was quite beautiful. We were a little early for the flowers, but Ton did get some nice shots of cactus and a few flowers.

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There are some more photos of the trip in theBig Bend National Parkphoto album.

January 29, Big Bend NP, Rio Grande Village

Arrived in the afternoon at Big Bend NP. We would have been there sooner but we had to do a 60 mile detour when the needs Diesel Exhaust Fluid light came on, Ron is still learning how to manage the truck, now there is an extra gallon in the back of the truck so it does not happen again.

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Tonight we stayed at the Rio Grande Village Campground. They had a great nature trail along the river. It took us thru an unusual wetland, a very interesting microenvironment along the river. It was full of birds, ducks, and a rare fish called a mosquito fish. Hard to believe the picture on the left is from a desert. We then walked up the hill to get a view of the river. Borders are always interesting to me, a line on a map can have such a major impact on people’s lives. We looked over at a village in Mexico and the traveler in me wanted to go.

Here is a nice picture of a Great Blue Heron we saw on the way back to the truck for the night.

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January 28, Kerrville, TX

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Today we were planning to head to Big Bend Texas but when we woke up this morning we found that the 20% chance of freezing rain had occured and exceeded expectations. So we decided to take our time moving out and instead visit Fredericksburg Texas. Frederickburg is in an area of the Texas Hill Country settled by Germans in the 1860’s. It is a cute little town commercializing its German heritage. It is the childhood home of Chester Nimitz who is probably one of the most underated American military commanders in history. His father and grandfather were prominent citizens of Fredericksburg owning the main hotel in town. After the war the town decided to construct a museum to honor Nimitz. The Pacific War Museum is a very impressive museum documenting the war from its origins to post war recovery. If you are anywhere near Fredericksburg I highly recommend it.

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It seems that it is a tradition to name your Tiger so we have been waiting for some inspiration for a name. Today Ton came up with the name for our Tiger it is Scout. This is how she came up with it, Tiger in Thai is Seua (may not be the official transliteration), our Tiger is small so it is a young Tiger, Leuk Seua in Thai, Leuk Seua is also the Thai name for the Boy Scouts which brings us to Scout, and since a Scout is someone who explores our Tiger is Scout. The original plan was to drive without using the interstates, but we are running out of time so it looks like tomorrow we will be heading Scoutwest on I-10 to Big Bend National Park.













January 27, Llano, Texas

Not much to talk about today. Driving across Texas enroute to Big Bend, Ton commented that when we were at the Jack Daniels distillery they said that California was the number one consumer of Jack Daniels and Texas second. Texas is certainly trying hard to take the title from California. Today we stopped for fuel in a small town that consisted of one gas station and 5 liquor stores in a quarter mile stretch of road! Tomorrows plans may be flexible, there is a chance of freezing rain tonight.

January 26, Red River Texas, A difficult encounter with the Arkansas State Police

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Today we left Little Rock and began heading South West towards Big Bend National Park. Our first stop was to visit Hot Springs National Park. It is a different type of National Park as it is set around a bunch of 19th century bath houses. Hot Springs Arkansas has over 40 natural hot springs. In the 19th century the Hot Springs were developed as a place to take the waters, much like the famous Spas in Europe. Over time the springs were recognized as a national asset and the government became involved. This has led to claims that it is the first National Park, however it was not designated as a national park until much later and is in fact the 17th National Park.

After the visit to the Hot Springs we decided to head towards Texarkana Texas. We decided to take the back roads as we really want to see the US from the smaller roads, we want to experience the small towns of our states and try to get to see the country on a more intimate scale. Today we came up behind an Arkansas State Trooper near Camden Arkansas. He was following another vehicle who was running below the speed limit. He pulled over to the shoulder and allowed us to pass. He then pulled up behind us with his lights on and stopped us. I was not completely surprised, the Tiger is a unique vehicle, and our South Carolina Temporary plates are worst for the wear as a result of the two monsoons we went thru earlier. Initially I produced my liscense and proof of insurance as well as the temporary registration South Carolina provides. He asked me to step back to his car with him so I could answer any questions he might have. Back there initially the questioning was standard, where were we going, where did we come from he wanted a great deal of detail on our itinerary. Then the weird questions started, did we have any drugs, guns or large sum of money. At first I thought he was kind of joking around, but when I realized he was serious my tone changed. At that point he said that his training indicated my answers indicated I was being untruthful. This he said was a Red Flag, he also said that a RV like ours traveling on the backroads was a Red Flag. At that point he said to wait there and he went and questioned Ton. Later I learned he put her through the same questions. He then returned to me and said that Tons itinerary did not agree with mine and he believed we were concealing something in the Tiger. At this point I could see where this was going so I offered to have him search the vehicle. At this point he frisked me and moved me to the front of the Tiger and moved Ton to the rear near the patrol car and told her to stand in front of the camera in front of his patrol unit. At this point he searched the vehicle concentrating on the front of the truck and the engine compartment. After spending about 45 minutes going through the vehicle and looking over the outside, he came to the cabin door which was locked. I told him the key was on the key ring in the ignition. At that point he came to me and said that he was going to let us go, even though he had not finished searching the truck. At this point while unsettling I was only mildly annoyed and chalked up the encounter to a young State Trooper on a slow Sunday afternoon in rural Arkansas. But then the guy really frosted me when he ended the encounter by saying that though he did not find anything he was still convinced that we were carrying contraband and were being untruthful with him. I offered to let him continue to search the vehicle until he was content, but he declined.

When we were thinking about buying the Tiger we read many blogs about encounters with the police some unpleasant and most routine. So despite driving a brand new RV, and despite the record check on both of us coming up clean we were subjected to a full search of our vehicle, and left with the final comment from the only representative of Arkansas we ever came across that he expected we were running drugs despite his inability to find any after a thorough search of our RV. I never expected to have it happen here in the US. The funny thing is just a few minutes before the stop we were talking about how Arkansas had been a pleaseant surprise and that we may need to return to explore the Ozarks in detail. Now we will never return.

The moral of the story is if you are driving a RV in Arkansas, do not leave the interstate as it is a Red Flag to the State Police, insure that you and your spouse can recite your previous 20 days destinations in detail both as to location and chronology or it will be a Red Flag to State Police, and make sure that when encountering the Arkansas State Police that you answer all questions promptly and with the same tone of voice or that may be a Red Flag.

Let me end today with a picture of the beautiful sunset we enjoyed in Texas.

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January 25, Little Rock Arkansas

Today we are back on the road. The week in Elizabethtown was incredibly cold with overnight lows near 0 every night. When we arrived I thought about bleeding the water out of the truck and putting in anti-freeze, but figuring we were in Kentucky I thought it would have to warm up, I was wrong. We really tested the Webasco Heater, and solar system in extreme conditions and they came thru well. We were able to keep the heater going for 6 days with below freezing temperatures.though it cost us nearly one half tank of diesel.

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Our plan to stay off the interstates ran into a snag today as it was snowing hard and blowing snow when we left. We decided to head due west towards Paducah Kentucky instead of south towards Nashville. The first 80 miles were in pretty heavy snow and the parkway had not been plowed for about the first 50 miles. After some white knuckle driving we finally drove out of the snow, but decided to push on on interstates as we did not know the conditions of the backroads.

After a long day we ended up in Little Rock for the night


January 19, Elizabethtown KY

Today we traveled to Elizabethtown so Ron can work for a week there. Enroute we stopped at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. While neither one of us into Corvette’s the museum was interesting. One very nice opportunity there is to have your new Corvette delivered at the museum instead of at a dealer. Monday they had 10 cars scheduled for delivery. The museum is located adjacent to the GM assembly plant that builds Corvettes, though the museum is not affiliated with GM.

January 18, Granville TN

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This morining we began moving north so Ron can be in Elizabethtown Kentucky for work on January 20. Ton discovered a cool concert in Granville we could go to. We told the navigator to send us on backroads only. About halfway to Granville we came across Lynchburg Tennessee which for you whiskey drinkers is the home of Jack Daniels. We swung in and took a tour of the facility. Interestingly the biggest selling whiskey in the US is in a dry county and can only sell limited addition bottles, and only give 1oz of tastes to each customer. We opted for the free no taste tour as $10 seemed a bit much for 1oz of Jack Daniels.

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Tonight we attended the Sutton Ole Time Music Hour in Granville Tennessee. Granville is a little village on the Cumberland River, it is far off the beaten path and was slowly dying after the best farm land was covered by a dam in the 1960’s. However, the town did not die. While it is still small it has revived itself through tourism. The lake on the dam generates visitors at a couple of marinas near town. They also converted the old general store in town into a museum and visitors center. On Saturdays they host a bluegrass music concert. An old southern tradition is the live weekly concert broadcast. This is how the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville got its start. The Sutton Ole Time Music Hour is broadcast every Saturday on 15 radio stations and on the web. Everything is live including the commercials. We enjoyed the experience tremendously. Ton really enjoys bluegrass music and the music was excellent. The live experience was very interesting and enjoyable. So far one of the highlights of the trip.


January 16 and 17 Huntsville AL

Thursday was taken up with taking care of a maintenance item on Leuk Seua (Baby Tiger in Thai) and a long days driving. Pretty boring drive without much interesting to see. Once we arrived in Huntsville we decided to spend the next day exploring the area.

On Friday we decided to go to Muscle Shores, and Tuscumbia Alabama. Enroute we passed General Joe Wheelers home. He is one of my favorite soldiers as he is the only person to serve as a General in both the Confederate and US Armies. He was a boy general in the Confederate Army reaching Lt. General. Then during the Spanish-American War he was commisioned as a Major General of volunteers in the US Army. He is famous during one battle during the Spanish-American War for shouting at his soldiers to “Come on Boys, we’ve got those damn Yankees on the run!”

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Ton at the famous water pump where Helen Keller spoke her first words

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In Tuscumbia we visited Helen Kellers childhood home and birthplace. We saw the famous water pump that Helen Keller said her first word at “water”. In Muscle Shoals we went to the Alabama music hall of fame. Muscle Shoals during the 60’s and 70’s was a center for recording of rock and R&B music. Artists as diverse as the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Buffet, and the Commodores recorded at the Fame Recording Studio in Muscle Shores. When the Stones recorded here (Brown Sugar was recorded in Muscle Shores) they had to sneak into town, not because they were famous, but because they did not have a work permit. If you see Muscle Shoals you would never believe that at one time it was a source of some of the great music produced in the US. Unfortunately it has seen better times. The museum has just recently reopend after being closed for nearly a year due to lack of visitors. Hopefully, they will manage to keep it open as the story of Muscle Shoals is a great cultural story in the US


January 15, Gulfport MS

We moved west to Gulfport to complete our tour of the Redneck Riviera. US 90 was billed as a scenic highway, but unless you enjoy miles of strip malls it is not very scenic. Biloxi was interesting because you can still see the impact of Hurricane Katrina, even though there is considerable construction of high rises there are still large areas without anything on it. Building high rises on a stretch of cost that has been wiped out by 2 Class 5 Hurricanes does seem to be tempting fate.

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The coast here does have the most beautiful white sand beaches. They really are quite incredible.

January 14, Destin Florida

Today was an easy day. We started out by walking down to the old lighthouse in Pensacola.

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The beach was incredibly white and we had it to ourselves. After a quick stop at the Naval Exchange (Department Store for our non-military friends) we headed east. We stopped at Naval Oaks National Seashore. It is a small park. We learned that it was one of the first nationally controlled forests as it was a source for the wood for the early naval ships of the United States including the famous frigate USS Constitution. This wood is nearly 30% denser than other wood which made our early men of war very strong.

After arriving in Destin we decided to treat ourselves to a nice seafood dinner. Ton had a great grouper, and Ron had lobster and etoufee, we really enjoyed the meal.

January 13, Pensacola FL

Today we drove down to the Redneck Riviera as the Florida Panhandle is referred to. The plan is to write about the sites and scenes we see on the road, but frankly so far South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama are a little underwhelming. Pine forests and farms, the only break in the monotony are some small towns with nice old houses.

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Today we ran into another monsoon on the last couple of hours of the trip. Any chance of going out to see anything was lost as it was raining cats and dogs. When we arrived at Pensacola we visited the Naval Aviation Museum. If you are an aviation buff and are in the area do not miss the museum. It is very well done with a great collection of aircraft from all eras. The museum is free and staffed by volunteers who are often former aviators. We met a very interesting gentleman who was trained by the Luftwaffe when he was young to fly the ME-262 jet. It was fascinating to listen to his story and how he came to be a volunteer in Pensacola Florida.


January 12, Ft. Benning GA/AL

Today we left Columbia. Enroute to Pensacola we realized we were within 50 miles of Ft. Benning and decided to swing in there for the night. Today we covered over 300 miles over back roads through Georgia and South Caroilina. The Tiger handled very well and is very comfortable to drive. Despite being a bigger looking vehicle it actually feels smaller than the Sprinter. We are able to fit comfortably into any parking lot and quite often into a single space. We are getting spoiled with the XM radio and will have to see what we do once the free trial is over.

We arrived at Ft. Benning and after checking into the campground, Ton noticed that there was a Brew Pub on base so of course we had to check it out. Ton had an Infantry Stout, and Ron had an Armor Ale. To keep with the tour of the south we included boiled peanuts with the beer. The beer was OK, and the boiled peanuts were not up to the standard of Thailand, too salty and mushy.

Tomorrows plans include a visit to the PX and Commissary on base, and then onward towards Pensacola.

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Ron enjoying his Armor Ale and Georgia Boiled Peanuts.

January 11, Columbia SC

Woke up to an absolute monsoon in Asheville. Looked like the weather was going to be atrocious for the day. Ton came up with the idea of heading into Provan for a final run at our punch list before heading west. We were able to arrange an appointment and took care of a few minor problems on the rig.

January 10, Asheville NC

We ended up spending another day in Asheville to plan some changes in our itinerary. Ron recieved a request to work a week in Kentucky so we needed to figure out what we are going to do next week. The current plan now is to head to the south east and explore Georgia, Alabamba, Mississippi, and the pan handle of Florida, before heading up to Kentucky. So tomorrow we will be heading south.

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The day was not a total waste. Asheville is reputed to be the beer capital of the US with the most breweries per capita. To put things in perspective there are 12 breweries in Asheville compared to over 60 in Portland. We visited 4 of the breweries. They were all good, but none of them knocked our socks off.

Still trying to figure out the Tiger. We are very happy with the handling and the ability to manuever in the city. We were able to park downtown in a standard parking spot. There are a few things that Ron is still trying to figure out. At this point all of the major systems are working well, there are small things that are not working, but this could be an operator problem as much as a vehicle problem.

January 9 Asheville NC

Today was dedicated to getting prepared for the trip. We visited AAA to stock up on maps, Ton likes to follow along the route with a paper map, it has been a good backup when the electronic nav does something weird. We also visited Costco to load up on food. Before leaving Sparanburg we stopped in the BMW visitors center to check out the museum there. From there we took US 278 to Asheville. It was a nice drive as we climbed into the Appalachians. The waterfalls as we climbed up into the mountains were frozen due to the severe cold. We stopped at Ceasars Head State Park in South Carolina, and the ranger there said that the low the night before was -5 degrees.

After arriving in Asheville we checked out a couple of local breweries to see if there claim of being the new beer capital of the US had any merit. So far we haven’t seen anything to convince us that Portland is not the place to be for beer. However, we are going to give them one more chance tomorrow.


January 8 Spartanburg SC

Today we returned to Provan to take care of a couple of punch list items. We finally said goodbye to Mark and his team at about 3:00. We decided to go to Croft State Park in Spartanburg SC. We arrived there just before 5:00 and were the only guests in the campground. Going to be another cold night with lows in the low 20’s.

January 7, Ft. Jackson SC

Finally received the Tiger at 6 pm today. Took it to Ft. Jackson campground to spend the night so we could tryout the truck and be able to go to Provan to correct them before heading down the road. We picked a great night to tryout the Tiger as it was 12 degrees. On the whole the Tiger performed pretty well. Ron turned the heat too low and it got cold, but otherwise besides minor problems it performed pretty well. Tomorrow we will hopefully be on the road and enjoying our trip.

January 6, Columbia SC

Drove down today from Maryland expecting to pick up our Tiger. When we arrived at 2 PM today, this was the status of the Tiger.

Ready for delivery?

Frankly I was shocked into silence. I expected to see a shiny new Tiger sitting in front of Provan. Instead we were presented with this. When we left on December 23rd we were under the impression that there was very little work left to be done and that they would have no problem at all meeting delivery on January 6. When we arrived today the water tanks were still not installed, some electrical work was still being done under the hood, and much of the cabinetry was not completed. In addition the airbags were not installed and parts were still on order and as of this writing are not on hand. None of the systems had been tested, but at 2 pm we were told they would have it ready by 4pm so that we could camp in it. At this point the credibility for them was very low and I was not going to risk sleeping in an untested camper in 12 degree weather. So once again we are in the County Inn and Suites, and not in our camper.

Provan has a great reputation for customer service but right now I am not feeling the love. Just to give a quick history. The order with deposit was placed in April with a promised delivery date of June. In June Mark said there were some issues with development of the Malayan and some upgrades he wanted to do and could I wait for the delivery until September. I agreed. In September Mark again asked to delay delivery until late November or the first week of December. After some back and forth Mark agreed that he would deliver the truck on December 19, so we booked flights and as I have said above it was not ready for delivery.

I heard a list of reasons that they were not ready, but I also saw a nearly completed Bengal in the shop that is heading west for the winter shows. The two major issues that were cited as the reasons for the delays (cabinetry issues and wrong brackets for the airbags) were know issues when we departed on December 23rd.) So for them to find out that they again had the wrong brackets on January 5 and the fact that the plumbing system was still being installed today, leads me to believe that finishing up our Malayan may not have been the number 1 priority during the 6 work days between our departure and arrival today.

I hope this is an anomaly and does not reflect future service or the quality of the product, but 3 production delays and 2 missed delivery dates are not acceptable and I hope Mark and his team at Provan will make sure that this does not happen again to any customer.

We will update our status tomorrow.


ducksksr@gmail.com travelin tiger 2013