|The Chronicles of
© 2009 Gail Hunter
|Note: Click all photos to enlarge. Click the back arrow to return to page.
Looking for a specific topic - try the Topic Index
|"Next: Heading to the land of ice and snow...
via the Outer Banks, taking every ferry and bridge/tunnel we can find."
If you care to read about our 2006 auto trip from Burlington, VT to visit
New Orleans and return via Florida's Big Bend and Venice, click here.
|These were my last words on April 10th, 2009
|Well, to call it The Trip From Hell might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by far - more like
Murphy's Law Personified. Without going too deeply into the details, here is a recapture:
1. gas clip - a recall notice from Workhorse Chassis - something about fires in the engine. Stopped on way
out of town at RV World in Venice - Quick Fix!
2. Thermostat - Controls heat and air conditioner; gas and electric. LED display went blank and the buttons
didn't work. Better fix as we're heading towards the cold. Stopped at Rivers RV in JAX. They put us in their
delivery campsite (nice!) Next a.m. they came to tell us the Thermostat was O.K. but our microwave controls
were shot. Because of our insurance coverage, (Easy-Care) they had to send the defective panel back to the
factory. By now, it was Friday afternoon, as usual, and it would take four business days. So once again, we
spent a week in Jacksonville. Result: New controls installed.
Rivers has a lovely customer lounge, complete with comfy leather sofas, digital cable TV, table and chairs, plus
plenty of outlets to power our laptops (of which there were four - our two and two belonging to Al and Melanie
Simpson from Ottawa. They were parked near us, along with their Chihuahua, Little Feller.
The weather being pleasant, and with nothing going on repair-wise, we also enjoyed their
company at Happy Hour beneath a brilliant Florida sky and towering pines, discussing our
favorite books, movies, travel. The Simpsons were veteran RVers, therefor had quite an
extensive collection of DVDs and books that they generously loaned us. Oh, yes, I forgot,
we lost our TV Antenna to a "canopy road" back there in Georgetown, TX.
I don't remember what book I gave Melanie, but she gave me two that I've really enjoyed. One, with great
references to lobstering in Maine, is The Summer I Dared. I didn't like it at first, but became totally engrossed,
and felt quite akin to the characters. The other, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, was also hard to latch onto.
I didn't particularly like the writing - too much jumping around, changing tenses, repeating forced flowery prose,
but the story was riveting and believable, so I plowed on through, pleased with the bitter/sweet end.
3. Refrigerator/Freezer - At last, breezing along I-95, delighting in the views of my cherished marshes, we
pull into a Rest Area for a cup of coffee. "What's that beeping?" Oh, no! The microwave is fixed, but now
it's the Fridge! The light keeps flashing "no co," meaning just that, no cold. We could not reignite it
(something we learned from last summer) and of course, this again is Friday afternoon!
We call Pete's RV and learn there is a Route 66 dealer in Fayetteville, NC, a bit beyond Florence, SC where
we had planned to stop. Before leaving Florida, I had used the Publix gift card Abby had given me for
Christmas to fill the freezer with extravagant nummies. So on we went to Fayetteville. We followed the GPS -
way off the beaten path - to Myers RV. Closed, but we decided to pull up to the fence and be first in line for
We searched high and low for dry ice, but could not find any, so continually repacked the fridge with bags of
ice cubes, having to use the turkey baster to remove the melt as we went along. This is not fun.
I went up the road and turned around as Cor jockeyed into position at Myers' gate. We wear Bluetooths
when driving. We're both on Verizon Wireless and are not charged for airtime (family plan) so we keep them
open all day; sometimes sharing observations, sometimes chatting; sometimes harmonizing; just as if we
were in the same vehicle. Anyhow, I heard an "S...!" "Huh?" I grunted. "There's a sign on the gate. Not
open Sunday or Monday." This was now late Saturday.
Quick regroup. Checked with Route 66 - no more service between us and CT on our preferred route.
Checked with our Easy Care insurance: it's OK to go to any RV dealer who services refrigerators, so after
Googling the area, we came up with one in Rocky Mount, NC. This was very familiar to us from our years of
driving New England to Florida - a good one-night's stop.
Van and RV Sales wasn't exactly on our way, but thinking of all that good food going to waste, we made it
so. They fit us in quickly, putting two men to work on the controls. An hour later, "Can't do it. It needs a new
control panel. I can sell you one, but I won't guarantee it. $50 for the work done and you're out of here."
Instantly, Cor and I agree: "Forget it, forget all our wonderful plans to go up the Outer Banks, to see
Assateague, go to my brother Gib's birthday party, see my kids in Connecticut. Head straight for Pete's!"
During our days in JAX, we managed to go to a Lowe's to buy a new kitchen faucet and shower
for the toilet (it has a hose to accentuate the flush.) These came under our $250 deductible with
Easy Care, and since the kitchen one was kaput, we had them replaced while we were there.
We also found our way back to The Donut King! Mystically lured.
At least we had visitors the last day - Kris Teply and Patty Griffin stopped by for lunch with us at the local
MacDonald's. They were en route from Bonita Springs to Vermont.
Next day, as we left for VT also, we swung by the local gas station to satisfy the beast's enormous appetite. I
hovered nearby in the wagon, playing with the GPS while Cor manned the pump. Next thing I know, here comes
Cor sloshing a big bucket of water on the pavement under the bus. Then another, and another? Seems the
automatic stop on the gas pump failed to stop. I just sat and prayed some jerk didn't come in and toss his
"That's easy for you to say," a favorite quote of Cor's. This new route takes us through
some lesser-known areas of VA, but we do happen upon a Flying J Truckstop. They are
clean, give us a discount and have excellent food. We spend the night there, safe and
sound, nestled amoung the mighty 18-wheelers. In the morning, determined to put miles
behind us, we swing out into the driveway, look to the right, OK, then look left and see a
camouflaged army vehicle coming around the bend. Then another. "Oh, no, not a convoy! Oh, yes, a
convoy. Plenty of time to pull out the camera and catch the passing show. What can you do? Wait.
By this time, we were too far north for Hatteras and our cinnamon doughnuts at Duck, NC, but we could still
swerve a little east and get to Elizabeth City, VA. I wanted to go here to get my rose! The ladies of Elizabeth
City give roses to all the women boaters who come to their town dock. Every time we went through there on
Ambler, our Albin 36 trawler, we either arrived too late, or one time, we didn't dare go to the dock because we
were leaking oil (No, that was aboard our Irwin cutter, in September, 1998.) Ambler had other problems, but
not an oil leak.
It was memorable in '98 as it was my birthday and being a sentimental fool, I WANTED MY ROSE! i pouted,
unheeded, ate my dinner like a good girl and went to bed. A piece of paper fluttered on my pillow. I turned it
over and there was a crayoned drawing of....A red, red ROSE! I admit to tears. Dear Cor.
With luck, we could still make our reservation at Assateague Island, so we bypassed Elizabeth City (no rose
this time either) and drove on into a dark, rainy night. As we approached Emporia we realized we had better
stop before getting into Norfolk traffic. We also wanted some food. We found a Food Lion open and pulled
into the rear of their parking lot. I drove around in the car and picked up Cor. The lot was almost empty and
none other than employees were in the store. A very friendly cashier said, "Sure you can park here
overnight. Just move near the edge of the lot." We bought a few groceries - and MORE ICE - went to bed
and arose fresh for our trip through Norfolk to the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel/Bridge.
A bittersweet day - a little sun, a little cloudy, bad traffic, confusing even with the GPS (or maybe it was
because of the GPS.) It never seems to keep up with us even though we know we're to turn in "point three"
miles. And the pronunciation of some road names is kind of obfuscated. But we persevere, finally reaching
the entrance to the bridge where Cor must pull over to turn off the LP gas tank. In the Hampton Roads
tunnel, he had to do it while the guard watched. They were more casual here, "Pull over, we trust you." I
guess Cor couldn't look like a terrorist if he tried.
Turning off LP gas
The gathering storm
Viisibility 50' & rain
A Ship! A ship!
|Rainbow at the end
of the tunnel.
I get a little foggy here. Day has run into night, I think we can make Assateague - and I desperatly want to, but
Mr. Murphy sitll has a few tricks up his sleeve. I cancel Monday night, but we could still be there Tuesday and
Wednesday, still making our Connecticut engagements.
If we had been able to find dry ice, I think we could have gone on as planned, but this cube ice routine was
getting mighty annoying. We could still take the Lewes to Cape May Ferry and salvage some of our dreams,
but once again, we were heading towards a weekend and unless we wanted to wait forever to ship out parts to
be replaced, we had better just cut and run. Which we did.
Just to make sure we didn't get too cocky, we screwed up. By the time we realized we were moving further
inland, we had left the road to Lewes sixteen miles behind us. GPS straightened us out this time. Our ferry
reservation was for 12:45 and we made it with time to spare: time to have a bowl of the most scrumptious
crab & corn chowder, freshly made by the ferry terminal staff.
Can you see Cor waving from the window? It's lucky we
didn't have a lot of "stuff" on the roof.
We sat in the lounge on the top deck and even though it
was cloudy, we enjoyed reliving all our trips up and down
the Delaware. Ah, sweet memories!
To our surprise and delight, motorhomes are allowed on the Garden State Parkway. Even having to stop at
toll booths often, I think it is a lot more peaceful than the Jersey Tpk. Instead of the old 25 cent tolls, they are
now $1.00 per axle, $2.00 for the motorhome per axle. As Cor often says, "Money isn't everything, 10% is
Predictably, we were unable to maneuver into the open toll lane at one point. They have a sign: "If you have
trouble paying the toll, honk your horn, wait 10 seconds, then move on." Or something like that. We did.
The following photos are just some of the signs of Spring that greeted us, and made us realize what a treat it
is to see this awakening after a season of snow and bare trees. How we love the changing seasons!s
|Dare I predict the next episode? Unwisely, I'll try:
Next - On to Burlington, on to our friends at Pete's RV who manage,
with a twist of the wrist and a reference to the Norcold manual, to
Fix the Damned Refridgerator - in ten minutes yet!