Wherever the Road Leads

Waiting and Hoping and Thinking and Praying

With apologies to Dusty Springfield

As I sit here and wait for the RV mechanic… foolish me who was out of bed and tidying up for him at the crack of dawn… I thought I’d recount my trip from Canada to an RV site in a camper without power.

Seven o’clock Saturday morning it was hammer-down, headed for home.

I’ll never get used to the addiction to Tim Horton’s Coffee Shops, or the protocol. The first Rest Stop I went into, there were only three of us customers, one at each of two cashiers, then me. A fourth person joined, but he was a veteran Tim customer, because he knew that just like lining up to withdraw money at the bank, you have to line up between the ropes at Tim’s.

timmies

I dutifully fell into place behind him and got my coffee. A couple of hours later and nearing the border, I wanted to stop for something to eat before getting in the line-up at US Customs. I went into my second On Route Rest Stop of the morning. My local bank branch would kill for that many customers in line! It’s just an overpriced coffee and sandwich, folks, they haven’t discovered the fountain of youth.

Option number two was to join the line of zealous teenagers at a burger chain, perhaps entertaining but a line-up none the less. Option number three, the chosen option, was to get within a mile of the bridge for a great deal on a Wendy’s cheeseburger and a free senior’s coffee.

At US Customs, the line-up – apparently a ritual for Canadians – was considerable.

customs

My story was odd and I had an inquisitive Officer. He wondered why I had daytime running lights, a requirement in Canada, but Georgia tags. I showed him my Georgia driver’s license and he seemed happy enough.

“What’s in the box?”, he asked, looking at the cat carrier strapped into the passenger seat.

“A cat,” I explained and handed him Tupelo’s USDA form showing that he had the required shots. No issue.

“Did you buy or receive any goods while in Canada?” he asked.

“Only a new truck battery because I had to. Everything else is too expensive.” He laughed and handed me back my documents saying, “Have a safe trip.”

Tupelo had been perfect up to this point. The excitement of him being in the land of his birth, plus the absolutely torn up roads in Michigan rattled my fillings loose but affected his digestive system a little further down the line.

I could tell that he was getting close to an accident by the low guttural growls but I pushed it one exit too far to let him out of his carrier and into his litterbox. I was careless and he was fast and he was outside and under the truck in a heartbeat. We played cat and mouse going from side to side until he gave me a leg to grab onto, used none too ceremoniously to get him into the back seat where he lay, quiet as could be, all the way to Kentucky. The fleabag. But he’s my fleabag.

Even although I had the best trip through Ohio ever, I wasn’t making good time. Between stopping for the cat, stopping for a quick bite, then stopping for my physical condition, TB, – no, not tuberculosis, Tiny Bladder – it seemed to take forever to get to Kentucky. It was late in the afternoon and I was starting to fade.

Lexington was as far as I made it. I chose my exit by noticing the perfect combination of signs… Waffle House for an early breakfast in the morning, Days Inn and Red Roof Inn, but what sold the deal was Fazoli’s. Fazoli’s is ‘fast food’ pasta. I love their food but there don’t appear to be any of their restaurants in Georgia. They are all over Alabama and I enjoyed them, a great change from the typical on-the-road burger joint.

fazoli

Fazoli’s was great for dinner at 7:30 at night but at 4:00 in the morning, Waffle House was a bust. Their parking lot was filled with motor bikes, which is fine, but what it meant was that they were understaffed to cook meals for twenty-plus hungry bikers and their wenches. I sat at the counter where I was ignored for some time. I listened in on a fascinating conversation between two gentlemen who were ending up their marathon drinking session from the night before, having a stimulating conversation – rather one-sided as one of the two sat most of the time with his head in his chest, fast asleep.

The one feller who was more wide awake seemed to be having a contest with himself, trying to see how many times he could use the four-letter word “#$%^” in a single run-on sentence. I do believe that this was not his first attempt at this contest; in his younger years I’m sure he would have made the Olympic team.

One of the more pushy female bikers got bold and fed up and called over one of the two flummoxed waitresses, wanting to know what was going on. The waitress admitted that there were too many people for the staff that they had at 4:00am. She explained that she had not yet placed the order for the well-spoken Olympian and his dwarf-friend, Sleepy.

That was all I needed to hear. Waffle Houses are a dime a dozen off I-75 through any major city, I was going to find me a less-busy one. Two exits south, I became the lone patron in a different Waffle House and was eating breakfast in no time at all.

The waitresses even had time to come out to the parking lot to pet Tupelo. Thinking that he might be better settled in the back seat and not in his cage, as he had been the previous afternoon, I let him loose. But that didn’t work. The fool cat meeowed his head off and tried to get into every nook and cranny in the truck, especially under my feet. So after eating, I stuffed him back into his carrier. It didn’t slow his wailing any but I could concentrate on driving instead of his whereabouts.

Finally, I was making good time. I drove through Knoxville after about three hours, where I had hoped to make it the night before. I filled up in Cleveland, Tennessee, just north of Chattanooga, where, at $3.29/gal, gas was the cheapest I have seen it. It’s $3.49 locally. ($.92 per liter, converted at 3.785 liters per US gallon.) By noon, I was in the parking lot at Subway sandwiches in Bethlehem, counting pick up trucks.

My neighbor, Roger, who is to blame for this entire adventure, had been kind enough to pull the trailer from my other neighbor’s back yard. He had it sitting in his back yard, cover removed, checked for wetness and airing out. This being Sunday and Roger being a Sunday School teacher, he, his wife and the Sunday School class had all gone to a very busy IHOP – I wonder if there were bikers – for lunch after church. He called to say that he might be a while, but he had saved me so much time by pulling the camper early, pert near anything was forgivable.

Roger arrived and we ran through a few basics as we hitched up, put the safety chains on and adjusted the weight-distribution hitch without nearly slicing off a toe, as he had once done. I pulled the trailer from his back yard, out onto the road. we quickly eye-balled everything and I set off.

rogers

Yes, in the picture above, the rear end of the truck is too low. We noticed that but thought it was because I had stacked a lot of weight into the very rear of the truck bed. It wasn’t until I unhooked at the site that I realized the weight distribution bars hadn’t been adjusted properly and the entire weight of the trailer was on the ball.

I knew generally the way to this RV Park. I knew there were some county roads that I needed to drive on, much narrower than a typical State road. Lacking experience pulling the trailer, I could drive about halfway on decent, wide roads before turning onto the smaller roads. Tarred, hungry, short-tempered and with a cat who had been in his carrier for two hours in the shade of a tree but still pushing ninety degrees, I wasn’t about to let a little apprehension stand between me and this Campground.

Borrowing a line or two from the Waffle House Olympian, I said to myself something along the lines of, “to heck with it, I’ll get experience on wide roads another day.” The only place I had came close to having the trailer wheels where they shouldn’t be – in the ditch or the oncoming lane – was pulling into the narrow-ish driveway to the RV Park.

Not bad for 1,000 miles with a cat and thirty miles with a trailer.

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