Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Trip To Forget - Part II

We arrived in Mobile, AL frustrated, but all in all, we were okay. Our trade show was at the Convention Center right downtown, and it went well. Our next show was in Austin, TX, so we packed up and headed back west. I convinced myself that just because I-10 was really bad going east doesn’t mean that going west through Louisiana wouldn’t be okay.

Well…..wouldn’t you know, I-10 was just as bad going west as it was in the other direction. In a car, you probably wouldn’t think a lot about it, but in a truck with a long wheel base and hooked to a trailer, it causes a constant jerking so the back of the trailer is up and down. I slowed down as much as I dared to, being on a freeway. I thought we were doing pretty good.

As we approached the bridge that crosses over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, we are in the center lane because about 3 or 4 lanes go over the bridge, and that would put us into the slow lane once we got onto the bridge. The rest of the lanes go to the right. Just seconds after we had entered the zone where it was too late to pull over for anything, we had the same experience. People were blowing their horn and waving their hands at us and pointing at the trailer. There was absolutely no way to pull over. Those of you that have been there know that, in fact, it was approximately 3 miles before there was a place to pull over.

It was hard to believe, the bumper on our trailer was missing, along with the spare tire that was mounted to it. Can you imagine what that must have been like for those people behind us? We have no idea if it caused an accident or just what did happen. You have to know the area to know that there was no going back. It was the first time we have ever been in this area so we had no idea what it would take to go back. We were now on the west side of the Mississippi, and to find an entrance to the freeway, go back east to another exit to turn around and come back west to find out what happened just didn’t seem to be in the cards. So we stood there in the road and prayed for the situation that no one was injured, and we went on. Between Austin, TX and our next stop, we bought a new rim and a new spare tire.

We did have a good time in Austin seeing things and going to restaurants. This one restaurant was exceptional, called the Oasis. It had a gift shop, etc. and sits 500 feet above Travis Lake on a cliff overlook. What a view! This was a pleasant highlight of our trip.

Our next show was in Myrtle beach, SC. So back on the highway heading east again! Our adventures continued as we pulled into Myrtle Beach, SC. Ann’s cousin and his wife winter there, so we were not only doing a show, but it gave us a chance to see family. We picked Myrtle Beach because of the nice weather everyone says they have. "Wow," they said, "you should have been here last week. It was in the 70’s." We didn’t want to hear that, because the present temperature was 18 degrees, and it stayed that way for 3 days, with 30 mph winds making the wind chill 9 degrees. It did warm to the 20’s and 30’s and even got up to 50 degrees one day.

On the second day, our pipes froze, and the blower on the furnace went out. $437.00 later, we had it fixed and were back in business only to find that the valves to the black water and grey water tanks had frozen and broke. I decided that I could change them myself to save some money. The next question was, how do I change the valve with the tanks full? My only answer was....VERY CAREFULLY. What a mess, Yuck!!! But I did get it done.

Ann’s cousin gave us a place to stay while we had the trailer serviced. I know it sounds like this trailer was a piece of junk, but it wasn’t. It was the roads we were on and the extreme cold that caused all our problems. We did have a great time while we were there, so it wasn’t all bad.

Have you ever been to Rochester Hots in Myrtle Beach? It’s in the Myrtle Beach Mall, and the hot dogs were great. They have a ground beef sauce that is really good. We bought a cup of the sauce and a few of their hot dogs for later, only to find that the sauce had mold on it when we went to use it. Oh well, it was good the first time.

Keeping an eye on the weather, the TV said it was going to be pretty decent, so we went on to Charlotte NC. The park we found was actually in SC but still in the outskirts of Charlotte. It was raining when we got there, and the forecast was for more rain turning to ice and then snow. For once, the weather report was right, and we received all of the above! We were scheduled for 6 days there. By this time, we were not happy campers, and we were heading further north after this.

Charleston, WV was one of our business stops. We left Charleston heading north on
Interstate 79, stopping in Weston, WV for a tour through a crystal glass factory. We started looking for an RV park in WV, then in Maryland, then in PA. What’s going on here, there are no parks open? We managed to find a Wal-Mart to spend the night in.

Our next show was to be in Worchester, MA in 3 days. We will make it to Albany, NY by tomorrow and get a park there. Again, there are no parks open, and, again, we had to find a Wal-Mart to spend the night in. It’s April 4th, every park should be open by now. Being from Arizona, we never gave it a thought that there would be a problem finding a park open because of the cold weather. Our holding tanks were full with no place in sight to empty them. We called several parks in Worchester, MA to no avail. What are we going to do? We have a show to do in 2 days, the tanks are full and can’t get a park? Long story made short, we pleaded with Pine Acres RV Park until they finally agreed to at least let us empty the tanks. While on the way into Worchester, they called us back and said they would plow out a foot of snow and put in a winterized water hook-up and let us stay there. Their normal opening date is April 15th.

God really answered our prayers. What a beautiful park, right on a lake, nestled in the tall pines, and a breathtaking view of the ice breaking up. Worchester is another problem all of its own. If you have never been there, it’s one of those places where you can actually see the building you want to get to but can’t get there because of all the streets that change names and go ever which way and turn into one way streets, etc. We were there for 10 days, and it took every bit of that time to finally get familiar enough with the city to get around. Even when you ask someone who lives there how to get to some place, they have a hard time telling you.

The next trade show was in Saratoga Springs, NY, and the same thing was true there, finding a park open. They don’t open until May 1st or the 15th. Just another struggle to find a park, but we finally did.

The rest of the trip went well, seeing friends and relatives along the way home. We were on the road for 4 months, zigzagging back and forth across the US doing 10 shows altogether and covered a total of 23,500 miles. We were more than ready to get home!

Stay tuned for further adventures in 2008. Thanks for dropping by!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Home Sweet Home...Here We Come

Hi everyone!

We finished our last show in Atlanta and headed home to Arizona yesterday, the 12th. I have been told that some of you have requested another post from me. As soon as we get home and get settled in, I will have more time to write, but all I will be doing for awhile is driving and sleeping. We are so anxious to see our family and friends again.

I thank those of you who have read my blog and posted comments. Once I get home, I will have more time to read your blogs and leave comments, too.

So keep checking......I shall return soon!


Friday, May 30, 2008

A Trip to Forget - Part I

This is my first attempt at blogging, and the hardest part of this whole process will be figuring out where to start. So here goes.....

For the past 5 years, my wife and I have criss-crossed America from every angle. We have been in every state except North Dakota and Alaska. What a country! We are SO very proud to call America "home."

Our travels are made possible through the generosity of a company we used to work for. We do trade shows for them all over the country, and our free time is ours to do with as we like. For example, this year we spent almost a month in Florida. Between working the shows, we got to spend time in PA with relatives, saw some friends in NC, and then more relatives in SC. Well, you get the idea. It’s a job that most people can only dream about. While on the road, we live in our fifth wheel, which is almost like taking your home with you. We have all the comforts of home this way, get to sleep in our own bed every night, and don't have to live out of suitcases. We travel in our 34-foot fifth wheel with triple slides, which is pulled by a Ford F350 truck. Below are a few photos of our current rig, as they are so called.

We are transplants from the Rochester, NY area to the state of Arizona since 1969. We spent the first 30 years in and around the Phoenix area. Yes, it is hot in Phoenix, but it's a dry heat. In 1999, we moved to the White Mountains where we built our dream home at an elevation of 6600’ and loved it. Three years later, we had to move back to the valley for family reasons. It pays to be flexible. We moved back to the mountains in 2004; however, this time we are in the Prescott, AZ area, and again, we love it!

I really intended to start out with our current trip; however, I have since decided to start with an experience we had on a previous trip while traveling in a 26-foot travel trailer. Photo below:

Our first trade show in 2004 was in Mobile, AL, which meant travelling I-10 East out of Arizona. We really had our trailer loaded, because we were going to be gone for four months. Our bicycles were securely mounted to the back of the trailer with a new bike rack. Finally, we were ready to go! So we set out for our journey, leaving behind our home and friends for a long time. By the time we got through Texas, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves, everything was going great.

Still on I-10 and now in Lousiana ,the road began to really get bad, kind of like a roller coaster, up and down, up an down. All of a sudden a car pulls up beside us with their window down and arms waving at us. At first we just waved back, thinking that they were more than likely from Arizona, seeing our license plate and were just being friendly. But they kept it up and pointed to the trailer, motioning us to pull over. We're on a busy freeway now, and you can't pull over just anywhere. Up ahead, there was a wider shoulder, so I slowed down and came to a stop so that we could investigate their concern with our trailer. A quick glance back didn't show anything wrong, but after walking around to the back of the trailer, we saw, with disbelief, what they were waving about. We had been dragging our bicyles for who knows how long down the freeway. They were beyond repair, I mean totally ruined. Fortunately, we had them chained together. That constant back and forth movement is what did it. I got off at the next exit, and it was close enough to the woods that I just threw them both into the edge of the woods and drove on. I know, I know, but what was I supposed to do with them? I didn't have room to pack them in anywhere.

This was only the beginning of the trip we wanted to forget. I'll tell you about the rest of the trip in my next post, so stay tuned! Thank you for visiting my blog, and please do come back!