We were booked to stay four nights in Mississippi, to see our friends and to let things melt more at home. Well, that changed when we learned that Kevin would be away at work and I got looking at weather forecasts. We had paid through Sunday night but a system was due there Saturday night into Monday so we ate two days fees and just left before sunrise on Saturday morning. In hindsight, it was a good move because we avoided tough weather and got our "let’s get home" juices flowing. Here’s how the weather looked Sunday afternoon with heavy T-storms listed until mid-day Monday. We got out of Dodge at the right time.
Driving on an early spring Saturday morning in the south is enjoyable, in spite of the good ‘ol boys in beatup pickups going to town at their pace. Try to get around them hauling an Airstream.
We got past Tuscaloosa, Birmingham easily but had a rougher time as the traffic got the frenetic "got to get to the mall" pace to it. We were aiming at Harrison Bay State Park where we have stayed in the winter. (I had checked availability and it looked to have lots of slots – but, I had forgotten that it was for Monday, our original arrival date.). We showed up after a long drive about 2:00, having lost an hour entering EDT, to find it completely filled. We snaked through the windy roads looking for a vacancy but all we got was stares. Let me just say that the typical camper was a local yahoo who smoked, drank, probably was on meth, with a pickup full of relatives and firewood. It was out of a Grade B movie.
We got out of there, a bit shaken with no plans. I remembered a little church with a big parking lot so we headed there, caught our breaths, and pondered next moves. I have an iPad app called All-stays that shows a lot of campgrounds, fuel stops, rest areas, even Walmarts on a Google map. The only thing that I could see on our route was a KOA campground about 90 minutes away. I called them, found that they had room, so off we went to a good experience – our first stay at a KOA. What a save – we kept thinking, as quiet settled in, of the circus we had run away from.
So I did some checking and found another KOA in Virginia and booked Sunday night. Then I checked the distance and realized that it would be another eight hour day on the road. So off we launched and enjoyed two or three hours of easy travel, before the truck traffic hit. It was easy getting through Knoxville for a change and I-81 was busy but moving ok. We stopped for some lunch at a Subway franchise and leaving the store, I encountered some serious potholes in the access road.
Just a few minutes later, I got back into the moving stream of trucks and was just up to speed when I noticed blue smoke in my left mirror. At first, I thought it was the engine but as I pulled over to the shoulder and shut down, I found one of the trailer tires had blown. (There are two on each side.)
It was scary working right beside the road with 18-wheelers flying by, shaking the trailer. I got the lugs loosened, the trailer elevated, and the still-smoking tire removed. I rammed it in the truck and checked my iPad to see if there was an off-ramp up ahead because I knew that I’d have to unpack the truck to get to the spare. There was a road about a mile ahead so after waiting for hundreds of trucks to pass, I found an opening, drove gingerly on the one wheel, and found a quieter spot to extricate and mount the tire.
The last two hours were just grinding it out but we got into another rural campground where we are going to take a day off and just get rested and caught up. Then, a rather easy day into Pennsylvania where we will winterize the rig against late freezes and then pperhaps we’ll make another long haul to Vermont.
In the military, we used to describe flying as hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark raving, terror (or something like that.) This long-distance travel seems sometimes to be like that. We’d like a little less drama – give me some boring driving for the rest of the way.