Monday, March 31, 2014

NC and Tenn. Heading home

The Charleston weather was warming!  The sun was shining!  But – more rain was in the forecast.   According to the weather news from the norther’ regions – temps were rising for the weekend but more of the white stuff was on the horizon.  Time to go!  Gotta’ make it home before more precipitation hits us – the wet kind or the white kind!

Not a good camp spot
The route across SC, thru Columbia was good.  We had gone from the Low Country with all its history, and expansive salt marshes that changed from one mucky brown to another depending on if the tide was in or out, to tall sweet smelling pine forests that came right up to the highway in places.  My dear friend Sue, in Conway NC had warned me about all the ice damage that we would be seeing along the way – and we did!  All the way to Columbia the road crews were out in force trying to get all the broken limbs and downed trees cleared from the roadsides, but the lane closures caused only minimal delays and traffic was fairly light.  From the dense pine forests we moved to NC and her rising mountains!   Up and up!  Round and round!  The wide 4-lane ribbon of road took us higher and higher – and H’s big blue truck buckled down and did his job well!  We slid on past the sign that said  “Blue Ridge Parkway” and fond memories of riding the motorcycle on that beautiful road came flooding over me!

Good gas mileage the hard way
Up at the top of the mountain we passed a scenic overlook and I sighed.  I wanted to see over the edge!  And it was time for a butt break!  There was another turnout up the road and H pulled off and parked on an almost level spot near the stairs that led up even higher.   As he removed himself from his seat and walked back past the truck and attached “condo”, he immediately noticed the smoke coming from one of the wheels on the trailer.  Ouch!  It was way too hot to touch!  Black greasy stuff was splayed all over the wheel.   The wheel bearing had gone out – and we were stuck on top of a NC mountain with no towns other that Johnson City Tennessee which was 40 some miles to the north.  And there is NO cell phone service on the tops of mountains!  When the tire cooled enough, H struggled but managed to wrangle the wheel off of the axle and got it into the back of the truck.  There was a sign that said the Tennessee Welcome Center was a mile down the road.  With 4way flashers on and with only 3 tires on the “condo” we limped slowly down the berm of the road to the very welcomed visitor center!  The folks there were wonderful and bent over backwards to help us!  (Not so for the people at State Farm’s “Emergency” Road Service number tho)  With the assistance of the visitor center’s phone and their good advice, a tire and truck repair company was contacted and they ordered a semi truck with a flat bed trailer to come and scoop us off the mountain.  Before we could be “scooped” tho, H had to slowly and cautiously back his 3-legged trailer up the awaiting tilled truck bed.  The biggest concern was the height of the trailer with air conditioner on top being able to pass under the overpasses! For the first few, our thoughtful tow driver pulled off the exit ramp and down the entrance ramp on the other side.  Other times, he would put on his flashers, slow down and move to the berm to creep under each viaduct with us following closely behind.  Thankfully, our “condo” was safely carried down the road to the “Free Service Tire Company” where we would spend the night attached to an extension cord they had left out for us. 
 We were awake early Saturday morning and there were lights on inside the building, so, by 7:30am H had the truck and trailer pulled into one of the large bays.  Fresh hot coffee and a clean bathroom awaited us inside the spacious waiting room/office area!   What a great bunch of men work for this company that was started in 1919!   They had the bearing and tire we needed and the price charged was fair and very reasonable!  We were on the road by 10:30 that morning!

Across the rest of east Tennessee and the corner of Virginia and on across Kentucky to the Ohio River, we kept pushing on north.   One more cold night was needed to be spent before we could pull in our own driveway and sigh a sigh of relief!   H set the GPS for the Great Seal State Park near Chillicothe Ohio, but she took us up and around narrow hilly roads where the truck tires sent gravel flying as it tried to get traction.  No state park was found and H’s nerves were sparking with tension so we moved on.  Deer Creek State Park just west of Circleville was our second option and we parked just before dark.   We put the slide out and plugged in the heater – one more time! 

Sunday afternoon we hit the Michigan state line!  We were home!