Now I know what it feels like to be Indiana Jones.
We’ve had enough close calls and narrow escapes in the past 36 hours to fill an action adventure movie.
We’re on our way home from Florida to Illinois, and we woke up yesterday morning in Savannah, Ga., bound for the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia.
We edged out the morning St. Patrick’s Day parade by leaving at an eye-popping 5:30 a.m. We got on the road late enough, however, to miss the mixture of smoke and early morning fog that caused a car accident on I-16 bad enough to kill two men and close five miles of interstate. We took a winding detour around the closed road and found ourselves in Atlanta about noon.
We have heard a variety of horror stories about driving around/through/near Atlanta in an RV, and of course, we’re driving a 38-foot motor home with a Durango-mounted 23-foot trailer. It was a harrowing, video-game-like 45 minutes, but the traffic was light. Well, I say “light” knowing that we sometimes had 16 lanes of traffic going both ways. We took only one wrong turn (don’t tell Tyler — I was the navigator at the time, and honestly, it was only about 3 miles out of the way — he didn’t even know the difference) and escaped the experience unmolested.
When we arrived at our Amicalola Falls State Park, we all breathed a sigh of relief.
The guy at the front gate welcomed us and waved us by to go “up” to the campground to register. So we followed the signs. Up. And up. And up.
We caught the “25% grade” sign as we were passing it.
Tyler literally had the pedal to metal pushing our 454-cubic-inch, 375-horsepower 1983 Chevrolet engine up that mountain, pulling about 7,000 pounds of fully loaded SUV on a industrial-type trailer. And that doesn’t even include my mother-in-law’s sewing machine and serger, which are loaded in the motor home. And my shoe collection (just kidding).
No flat spots. No turn offs.
It was scary. Tyler thought for sure she was gonna blow: “Scotty! I need more power!”
When we made it to the top, we stopped and let the engine cool. Then we unhooked the Durango and trailer, and drove them separately to our campsite, which was built like a deck overlooking the mountain.
Now we come to the interlude in the typical action movie where viewers take a breath. At this point in “Terminator,” Sarah Connor coupled with her time-traveling savior to spawn the child the Terminator was sent to kill. In “Die Hard,” Bruce Willis’ character took this moment to bond with the doughnut-eating cop who told him the story of accidentally killing a kid on his beat.
Here, we shall bask in view of the Amicalola waterfall we climbed the mountain to enjoy:
My mother-in-law and I walked down the nearly 700 steps alongside the falls, and it was magnificent. The steps were easy, but the steep grade of the sidewalk made it a little taxing. We’re both feeling it today (one of us more than the other).
My Beloved gallantly agreed to meet us at the bottom (in the Durango, of course) and bring us back to the top. Here he is, waiting at the park bench overlooking the placid pool at the bottom of the falls:
We got up this morning facing the prospect of driving down the mountain. Tyler drove the motor home, and I drove the trailer-hitched Durango.
Some of those hills and curves were fast moving, but the brakes did their job (we know it because we could smell the brake dust).
We re-assembled the show in a gas station parking lot: Bikes came off motor home and were hooked to the Durango. Trailer was hitched to the motor home. Durango was driven onto trailer and battened down.
Off we went, bound for Nashville this time.
About an hour shy of Nashville, a cannon went off!
Well, it sounded like a cannon.
One of the back tires on the motor home blew out. You’d give into the pressure, too, if you’d been toting a 1983 motor home around for 10 weeks. It’s quite remarkable, given the old girl’s age, that the worst thing to happen to her on this 5,000-mile journey is a flat (it was the tow dolly that fell apart in Louisiana, not the motor home).
Our guardian angels were watching over us even then. As you well know, the heroes always make it in an action movie. There are four tires on the back of the vehicle, so we didn’t even swerve. We were a mile from the next exit and a half mile more from a tire store. They mounted the spare while we ate lunch inside the RV. Total cost:$27.
Finally, we’ve arrived in Nashville and are preparing for a feast of sushi with a friend of Tyler’s and his wife.
Sushi in Nashville? Is that a surprise ending?