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Lessons Learned on Our Southwest Trip

1. 3,000 miles is a long way from home.

2. Going 3,000 miles with touring stops along the way is nice. Coming straight home, not so much.

3. Six weeks is a long time to be away from home.

4. There is quite a difference in air when you live at 43’ above sea level and your destination is at 8,000’.

5. Be sure to put the cap on your makeup securely if you don’t want it to run out all over everything when going up in altitude.

6. When going up in altitude be careful when opening the mustard, catsup, etc., anything with pressure unless you want to be sprayed with it.

7. Release air in the sleep number mattress as you change altitudes.

8. Remember to check the bicycle tires too!

9. Hiking at a high altitude is quite a bit different than hiking at home. Breathe!

10. Remember to make sure the bicycles are securely affixed to the bike rack especially after we have gone over awful roads.

11. Check water lines, fuses, etc., anything that may need to be tightened after going over horrible highways.

12. Don’t overload your fuses.

13. We can dry camp for three days and nights.

14. We don’t need to try to save propane by using space heaters and letting everything underneath freeze up.

15. We have three hydraulic slides and one electric slide.

16. We can put a slide in manually.

17. Everything that is on a receptacle goes through the house battery.

18. You shouldn’t buy a cheap bike cover from Walmart. It won’t even last 100 miles!

19. Communicating with family is difficult when you are in different time zones.

20. National parks are so much fun!

21. We love state parks.

22. We love hiking but 7 miles is our limit.

23. I now know what a face plant is.

24. We like hikes that start with the ascent and then end by going down. Makes it a lot easier!

25. Sunset happens quickly. Have the camera ready.

26. Believe the campground reviews. Read in between the lines.

27. Love the Southwest.

28. Can now identify a saguaro and a cholla and can even pronounce them correctly.

29. The best part of any trip is always coming home.

30. There’s no place like home.

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Home At Last

My sister had asked me to pick up some BAMA sweatshirts for her so after we pulled out of Coaches Corner we headed to the local Walmart which was only a couple of miles from the campground. Unable to find anything at Walmart we headed over to Sam’s and found one long sleeved t-shirt. All of the short sleeved t-shirts reminded me of merchants putting out Christmas decorations in October. Think they all are rushing the season a bit.

It was nearly 10:00 when we headed out of Tuscaloosa but our plans were for a shorter driving day today. We had once stayed in Augusta on a return trip home so we had hoped to do that again. Unfortunately they were unable to accommodate us so I began AGAIN to locate a park. Since it was our last night on the road we needed a park with full hookup. I finally located The Barn in Lexington, SC. It was a nice park just a couple of miles off of I20. As we rode in Jerry spotted a Bojangles and said that was where he was going to have breakfast the next day. What a fateful statement.

We got settled in at The Barn, had dinner and watched some of the Olympics. When I awaken Tuesday morning about 6:00 I immediately realized that it was completely dark in the coach AGAIN! Jerry woke up too and began to assess the problem. Unfortunately it was bigger than we thought. He got the tanks emptied and then told me to pull in the slides. When I pressed the button to pull in the passenger bedroom slide nothing happened. Oh no. I later found out that three of our slides are hydraulic and one is electric, standard for most RV’s. The electric one would not come in. After trouble shooting Jerry finally called Newmar and they were able to instruct Jerry on how to pull in the slide. It was determined that we had an electrical issue that was causing the fuses to blow so that is something that will have to be dealt with by an authorized Newmar repair center. It would probably be helpful if we understood how the electrical system works and that may be a seminar in the future. As Jerry said, if we keep having problems he will soon know how to solve them. Needless to say it was very upsetting and a bad way to end a wonderful vacation. We did finally get the slide in and got on the road and yes, we stopped at Bojangles for a biscuit and some coffee.

We finally made it home by 3:00 and we were mighty glad to see Autumn Drive. As soon as Jerry turned off the ignition we turned to each other and bowing our heads thanked the Lord for safe travel and a safe return home. Although we did have some bumps with the coach along the way we never broke down on the road and we never had a problem we were not able to deal with. 6200+ miles on the coach and I have no idea how many on the car, probably at least 1000 and home safely. It was indeed a trip of a lifetime, a trip of learning and a trip of sharing and being together with my best friend!

Home, North Carolina

The Same Question Arises

As usual the question arises – are we going or not? To preface this entry let me say that the weather in eastern North Carolina has been unusually cold. In fact when I get up this morning and it is below 10 degrees it is definitely not typical weather for us. I don’t ever remember it being that cold before. In fact, the entire week since we had brought the RV home to prepare for the trip had been frigid. I was uneasy about bringing it home because of the forecasted cold temperatures but Jerry wanted to bring it so last Wednesday, December 27, we went to the warehouse and brought it home. Since we have a 50 amp hookup at our house we could plug it in and have the heat and heat pad running and not have any difficulties – or so we thought.

Jerry got a new tool for Christmas, a skill saw and was anxious to get to the river for a couple of days to try it out but wanted everything in the RV and ready before we left we spent a few days at the river. Thursday and Friday were spent going from the house to the RV taking things in. I don’t like to do it that way because by the second day I’ve forgotten what I’ve put in so this time I listed each item before I took it out. Hopefully that way I’ll have what I need. (Quite frankly, I am not sure I left anything home). By Saturday morning we felt that we were mostly prepared to leave on Wednesday, January 3 for our first extended stop, Morrilton, Arkansas. With two auxiliary heaters running in the RV Jerry felt comfortable enough to leave so off to the river we went for a couple of days. The weather continued to be bitter cold with temperatures in the teens and brisk winds. Our return home was hastened Monday morning when we woke up to frozen water pipes – no water so we dressed, closed up the house, turned off the water at the street and headed home.

On Tuesday when Jerry went to fill the fresh water tank he couldn’t get a reading on the level plus he couldn’t get the water pump to come on. Uh oh – He also realized that it appeared that the heat pad was not working. He called Howard RV in Wilmington and they thought that the water pump was frozen. They told us to have the motor home in Wilmington at 8:30 on Wednesday morning and they would see if they would resolve the problem so we could continue with our planned trip.

Well, that precipitated a new problem. Jerry had a scheduled doctor’s appointment at 9:40 on Wednesday morning. As he was calling to reschedule I said to ask if they had anything that afternoon and amazingly, they did, 3:40. That presented another problem though. Jerry had a 5:00 appointment for a badly needed haircut. Unfortunately he was unable to reschedule that so he may be taking a trip to Great Clips! If so that will be the first time in over 30 years that someone besides his regular guy has cut his hair. He is threatening to wear it in a pony tail – Not!

In the meantime while Jerry was at his doctor’s appointment I went on out to program the GPS for Wilmington only to discover that the radio/GPS would not come on. Oh yeah, the battery was DEAD. To make a long, cold story short suffice it to say we eventually got the battery charged enough to start the RV. We left it running for a while so hopefully it would start on Wednesday morning. The monitor for the holding tank was still not working though and with the fresh water tank problem we still needed to go to Wilmington Wednesday.

We finished the day by getting everything else in the RV. We both admitted we brought too much and we were not even sure we were going!

Home, North Carolina

Is Our Arizona Trip Going to Happen?

As usual the question remains – are we going or not? To preface this entry let me say that the weather in eastern North Carolina has been unusually cold. In fact when I got up this morning it was a real feel of 10 degrees. I don’t ever remember it being that cold before. In fact, the entire week since we brought the RV home to prepare for the trip has been frigid. I was uneasy about bringing it home because of the forecasted cold temperatures but Jerry wanted to bring it so last Wednesday, December 27, we went to the warehouse and brought it home. Since we have a 50 amp hookup at our house we could plug it in and have the heat and heat pad running and nothing would freeze – or so we thought.

Jerry got a new tool for Christmas, a skill saw and was anxious to get to the river for a couple of days to try it out but wanted everything in the RV ready before we left. Thursday and Friday were spent going from the house to the RV taking things in. I don’t like to do it that way because by the second day I’ve forgotten what I’ve put in so this time I listed each item before I took it out even down to the freezer food. Hopefully that way I’ll have what I need. (Quite frankly, I am not sure I left anything home). By Saturday morning we felt that we were mostly prepared to leave on Wednesday, January 3 for our first extended stop, Morrilton, Arkansas. With two auxiliary heaters running in the RV Jerry felt comfortable enough to leave so on Saturday, December 30 off to the river we went for a couple of days. The weather continued to be bitter cold with temperatures in the teens and brisk winds. Our return home was hastened Monday morning when we woke up to frozen water pipes – no water so we dressed, closed up the house, turned off the water at the street and headed home.

On Tuesday when Jerry went to fill the water he couldn’t get a reading on the level plus he couldn’t get the water pump to come on. Uh oh – He also realized that it appeared that the heat pad was not working. He called Howard RV in Wilmington and they thought that the water pump was frozen. They told us to have the motor home in Wilmington (two hours away) at 8:30 on Wednesday morning so that was the plan.

Well, that precipitated a new problem. Jerry had a scheduled doctor’s appointment at 9:40 on Wednesday morning. As he was calling to reschedule I said to ask if they had anything that afternoon and amazingly, they did, 3:40. That presented another problem though. Jerry had a 5:00 appointment for a badly needed haircut. Unfortunately he was unable to reschedule that so he may be taking a trip to Great Clips!

In the meantime while Jerry was at his doctor’s appointment I went on out to program the GPS for Wilmington only to discover that the radio/GPS would not come on. Oh yeah, the battery was DEAD. To make a long, cold story short suffice it to say we eventually got the battery charged enough to start the RV. We left it running for a while so hopefully it would start on Wednesday morning. The monitor for the holding tank was still not working though and there was the fresh water tank problem so we still needed to go to Wilmington Wednesday.

We finished the day by getting everything in the RV and we both admitted we had way too much! Ironically we didn’t even know if we’d be leaving on our trip or returning home tomorrow only to unpack!

Home, Home Away From Home, North Carolina

Planning, Planning, Planning

Jerry does the driving and I do the planning. Well, I help a little bit with the driving if I have ideal conditions like a four lane highway with NO traffic! I do spent a great deal of time researching for our trips trying to see everything we can because we rarely return to a previously visited place. There is so very much to see in our country and having a motor home has allowed us to visit many new places.

After our trip to the NC mountains and Virginia we stayed home for the rest of fall except for a couple of trips to Raleigh for the NC State football games. We went up for the State/Clemson game and stayed at the NC State Fairgrounds. When we arrived around lunch time on Friday it was obvious that the campground had been overtaken by the Clemson Tigers as there were orange flags flying everywhere. The Clemson group came in early and were ready for victory – yeah, they got it! Oh well. We had a great week-end anyway.

Saturday after Thanksgiving was the annual rivalry game between NC State and UNC. Remembering the crowded campground at the Clemson game we decided to take the RV up on Wednesday, get our site and then return home for Thanksgiving. We arrived early afternoon and quickly set up. After lunch we ran errands and then settled in for a rather cold night. Since neither of us had brought a coat we had a quiet evening inside. Being in a motor home when it’s cold outside and the fire is glowing inside is just the coziest feeling!

We got up Thursday morning and returned to Kinston (leaving the RV in Raleigh) and had Thanksgiving with our family. By 8:15 that night everyone was gone and I looked at Jerry and said “want to go to Raleigh?” Well, “yes”. Since we didn’t have to pack anything we just jumped in the car and were back at the campground shortly after 10:00.

We woke up Friday morning to a frozen faucet outside but no worries as it soon thawed. I had looked at the weather forecast the night before and it didn’t indicate freezing temperatures so we were a bit surprised. Unfortunately I had left our two mums outside and the pretty yellow mums were now brown. Of well, it’s almost time to put away the fall decorations. It was a fun week-end. We saw some friends we had met at the Clemson game, had fun tailgating and to top it off we won the game!

Back to Kinston, back to the warehouse for the motor home and back to the computer for me to begin in earnest researching for our big January trip. Before Jerry took the RV to the warehouse he got the oil changed, filled up the propane tank and the gas tank so it’s ready for the next trip. Although we know it will be cold and possibly snowy we are planning to go to Northern Arizona and Southern Utah with a stop at Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton, Arkansas. After a couple of days in Morrilton we know the rest of the trip will depend on the weather and the wind. Because of that I have a Plan A, Plan B and possibly a Plan C! I have learned a great deal about the area and am looking forward to some beautiful scenery. Because of our vague plans I have not made any reservations as I will do that along the way. Surely hope we don’t run into any problems with that. We can always boondock if we need to but would rather not if the temperatures are freezing. It should be quite the adventure.

Home, Home Away From Home, North Carolina

In Limbo at Neuseway Park, Kinston, NC


Up and about early today as our “touring” trip was ending and we were headed to Fletcher, North Carolina for the Blue Ridge Classic Horse Show, an annual event that we always try to make. We spent several days and nights there at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center located just outside of Fletcher. It’s a little pricey for what you get – full hook-up and close access to everything horsey but no internet, no cable, no pool, no amenities and it is $45 a night.

Saturday morning we left for a short overnight visit with David and his family in Clemmons. Of course we stayed at Tanglewood. Every time we have stayed at Tanglewood I have asked for the pull-through but it’s always been taken. When I called to make a reservation for Saturday night I was told that she had two sites, #10 and #14. I couldn’t remember where they were so I just selected #14. Wouldn’t you know it was the pull-through, the one time we really didn’t need it? It was nice though! I’ll remember Site 14 for future reference.

We knew our house was in disarray due to the construction on the sun porch so we just decided to go on to Kinston but instead of going home we went to Neuseway Park, a nice quiet park on the edge of town and it’s only $15 a night. When we got there the office was closed and would reopen on Tuesday so we just pulled in and found a spot. When I did get there to pay they told me that they were often paid on the honor system as they have a deposit box for checks or cash. They do not take credit cards. Our site is right on the Neuse River, a nice spot to sit outside and relax. It’s a little strange to be camping in our home town but it has been convenient to be able to run over to the house when we needed to. I will be glad though to get settled somewhere!

We are still in limbo about the sale of the house as the lady who is supposed to be buying it may be changing her mind. Since her realtor is out of town we have no answers at this point but Jerry and I have had a real peace about it and we attribute that to the Lord. If the house sells we are 80% packed and ready to move. If she doesn’t we’ll gradually unpack and reclaim our home. At least we have cleaned out the attic and we’ve generously donated many things (including furniture) to either the Salvation Army or the SPCA. Whatever happens we know we belong to the Lord, that he has not been surprised at any of the events and we want His will to be done in our lives.

Update: The house did not sell as the lady backed out the day before closing! We are still in our home and still gradually unpacking.

Home, North Carolina, Tennessee

Goodbye Chattanooga

All good things must come to an end so on Saturday morning we were up and out of the campground headed for Clemmons. It was an uneventful trip back with good weather and light traffic. Emma has been really good about staying belted in during the trip to and from Chattanooga. Being in a Class A motor home gives one the advantage of getting up and moving around but that is pretty much a no-no for us. I get up occasionally to get Jerry a snack or something to drink but for the most part we are belted in.

We were staying at Tanglewood Campground in Clemmons again. I guess we really should apply to be workampers there since we are there so often! I thought Emma would want her parents to meet us at the campground but no, she wanted us to go to her home and surprise them so after we got set up we headed out again. No one can ever accuse us of letting grass grow under our feet!

Needless to say everyone was happy to be reunited and we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon outside with all of the family. After a quick dinner out Jerry and I headed back to Tanglewood for the night and then Sunday morning we headed home to Kinston. It was a grand trip, such the right length of time but as always the best part is coming home.

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Braking Systems

After ordering the Air Force One braking system for our coach I was surfing the web and was on the RVillage site. Someone asked about towing so I added our experience with the tow dolly and said that we had ordered the Air Force One system. As is usual with social media several of us began to “chat” and someone asked me if our coach was gas. Well, yes it is. He responded that he didn’t know a gas coach could use an air brake system. Oh my – I began my research. Jerry had researched the different braking systems but somehow had missed that air brake systems would only work on a coach with air brakes – well duh – we should have figured that one out. We immediately called Campers Inn and were able to change the order to the SMI Stay-In-Play system with no problem and were still scheduled for the following Wednesday for installation. Whew – dodged a bullet finally.

We brought the coach home on Tuesday and headed out Wednesday morning for Campers Inn Jerry driving the RV and me following in the car. We arrived at our appointed time, 10:00 and then got the good news plus the bad news. The good news was that the system was less expensive. The bad news was that it took longer to install. Probably a wash either way. We ended up spending the entire day in the area. Since they were installing the system on the car we drove the RV to the local outlet mall and wandered around there for a while and then had some lunch. We eventually went back to the dealership and waited while they completed the installation. I cannot say enough good things about Campers Inn of Raleigh. They were most courteous and even invited me to a birthday party they were having for an employee.

Finally everything was completed, the car was attached to the RV, we had gotten instructions on what to do so off we went. Fortunately we had a very uneventful trip back to Kinston because when we got home we encountered yet another problem. Jerry detached the car from the RV and I began to back it up and realized that I had very little braking power. Oh my, what now? It was after 5:00 so we parked the car and the RV and called it a day.

On Thursday after talking with Campers Inn they sent a technician to our house (55 miles) to go over the installation to see if they had done anything incorrectly. This was the first time they had installed this system so it was a learning experience for them as well. He couldn’t find anything wrong so our next call was to the local Jeep dealership in Greenville. They told us to bring it over. I still can’t believe that Jerry drove the car 30 miles to Greenville at 4:30 in the afternoon with no brakes. I was so worried about him and tried several times to call him as I was too far behind him to see him. When he didn’t answer my calls I began to get more anxious and when I got to the dealership and saw him my first words were “where is your phone”. He often has his ringer turned off and I assumed that was the case this time but no – the phone was home.

He got to the Jeep dealership safely and we left the car. They ran a diagnostic on it and discovered that the vacuum switch had been put in backwards during the installation of the braking system. They repaired it and we picked the car up on Saturday. Campers Inn has graciously opted to pay the bill since the mistake was on their part.

The car is home, working fine and now we will get to see if we can get everything together for a trip! Time will tell.

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Shopping for a Car to Flat Tow is NOT Easy!

When we began RVing we did not have a car that would flat tow (four wheels down) so we opted to buy a tow dolly and tow my Toyota Avalon. Until Saturday, April 15 we had never had a problem with it but watching Jerry hook the car to the dolly was tortuous for me. Rain or shine, hot or cold he had to put a tarp on the ground and then crawl under the front of the car to hook the chains and tighten the straps. I had the easy part. I drove the car up on the dolly. It seemed during those first few trips it was always raining when we got ready to hook up. I began to wonder if he could do it in good weather! It also took a few minutes to get it done so if we were leaving from home we’d try to do it the night before because not only was it just a bit time consuming it was hot(or cold), sweaty and dirty work. Hooking up early gave Jerry a chance to shower and put on clean clothes. When leaving a campground we had to either find a designated place to hook/unhook or block the lane. At some campgrounds we had to put the dolly in a location away from the motor home and Jerry didn’t like doing that. In other words towing with a dolly was not fun, however since neither of our cars would flat tow we surely were not going to buy another car. After all we had just bought an RV! We’d make it work and we did for three years.

After the dolly and car burned up on April 15 we knew we would have to buy another car and I hate car shopping especially when I have a long list of requirements. One sales person I talked with said to me “Whoa Girl, you’ve got a long list” and she was right. There are only a few cars with automatic transmission that will tow four down and I’m not about to begin shifting gears again at this point. Fortunately as members of FMCA we have access to lists dating back to 1999 of suitable cars and believe or not the cars on the list change from year to year. We knew we didn’t want a new car to tow behind the motor home and possibly get dinged by debris but we also knew this was going to be “my car” and I didn’t want a clunker.

So the hunt began. Our first stop was at our local Toyota dealer to talk with our favorite salesman. We knew that Toyota no longer had any manual transmission cars that would flat tow but wanted to know if possibly our Forerunner could be adapted. Possibly it could but not without a lot of modifications that we were not interested in. Toyotas hold their value and we would really like to have stayed with them but was not to be.

Our next stop was a dealership that carried Honda, Ford, Jeep, Chevrolet and Buick and possibly some more. We looked but didn’t see anything of interest so we went to another dealership and looked at some more. They had a jeep but when we opened the doors Jerry and I both said “no way”. It smelled horrible. They said they were going to have it fumigated in the next day or so and would call us when they did. They never called. We drove a CRV –EXL but the salesman was clueless about the details of the car. In fact he told us that until last week he thought RV was a motor home and had never heard of a CRV. Maybe he needs some work on his selling tactics.

Our friend at the Toyota dealership suggested we try the website “Car Guru” so when we got home we began the search. We finally narrowed it down to either a Jeep Cherokee, Honda CRV, GMA Terrain or Chevrolet Equinox. In addition to using Car Guru I posted on a couple of RV message boards asking for suggestions.

The next day we had to go to Durham to the salvage company to sign papers to release the car to the insurance company. When we went in the head guy just looked at us, laughed and said “Yeah, I think it’s totaled”. Gee, you think! We got a few more things out of the car but they smelled so badly that they’ll probably be thrown away.

Our next stop was a CarMax lot in Raleigh. Boy, they have a lot of cars. We looked around for a bit, eliminated some cars due to weight (we needed to stay with a car that weighed about 4,000 pounds) and then some I just didn’t like for various reasons. We found one CRV that we kind of liked and we test drove it.

Our next stop was the other CarMax in Raleigh, a smaller lot but it had a pretty bright red jeep. Being a NC State fan Jerry has always wanted a red vehicle. Actually he wanted a truck but life is about compromise. We drove the jeep and liked it a lot but we asked the salesman if it was possible to get the CRV transferred to this lot so we could drive both them one right behind the other giving us a more accurate feeling for the two cars. He said that he could so we told him we’d return on Friday to try both of the cars out.

Our next two stops were the Honda dealer and the Jeep dealer. We saw a nice CRV at the Honda dealership and thought we’d also return there on Friday. And then we went to the Jeep dealership where I found my car. It was a white Jeep Cherokee Limited with every bell and whistle that I wanted. We didn’t test drive the car since by that time the 5:00 traffic was in full swing but we said we’d be back on Friday.

After returning home I hit the computer and found out that a Jeep Cherokee had to have Active Drive II in order to be towed. We also found out that there aren’t many of those around. Both Jerry and I searched the web for hours and hours and then I finally took over. We didn’t see any descriptions that listed Active Drive II but if we looked at the gear shift (if there was a picture) we could see if it had a neutral button there which indicated it had the Active Drive II. Can you even imagine how many pictures I looked at stretching them as best I could to get a clearer picture? I found out later that there is a tag on the back of the car stating Active Drive II. That surely would have made things easier. In searching I put in a filter of 400 miles so we were contacting dealerships as far away as New Jersey and Pennsylvania with no luck in finding the right car. We were receiving e-mails and calls quite frequently but either the car didn’t have Active Drive II or they didn’t know what it was. Jerry finally called Jeep headquarters asking what Jeeps could be towed. The lady put Jerry on hold for about five minutes and then came back on and said that the only Jeep that could be flat towed was a Grand Cherokee. Wrong answer!

Thursday we headed out again and ended up at a dealership in Wilson, NC. Although they did not have a Jeep with Active Drive II anywhere in their network he knew what it was and was eager to help find one though it would probably take time. We then went to the Honda dealership right across the highway and looked at a CRV. Interestingly enough Honda quit making CRV’s that could be flat towed after 2014 so that limited our selection as well. I didn’t really like the CRV. I should never have seen the white Jeep in Raleigh!

On the way back home we stopped at the grocery store and Jerry went in while I sat in the car using the iPad to continue my search and voila – I found a silver jeep with the neutral button and it was in North Carolina! I can’t tell you how excited I was. We called the dealer and made arrangements to go up on Friday. A bit later I found a red one with the neutral button at AutoNation in Johnson City, Tennessee. Oh boy, we had two to look at!

We got up early Friday morning and our search began. On the way to Gastonia to see the first car I called the dealership in Johnson City and made an appointment for that afternoon. In the meantime I found one at the Mercedes dealership in Charlotte which was only about 45 minutes from Gastonia and it was white, fully equipped just like I wanted. Hot dog, three birds with one stone. We soon got a call from the Charlotte dealership telling us that the car was actually in Birmingham, Alabama and they couldn’t transfer it unless we bought it first. I know in these days and times a lot of people buy cars sight unseen but not us so we nixed the idea of Charlotte.

Upon arriving in Gastonia we immediately saw the Jeep and yes, it had Active Drive II. It was a nice car but it had two things going against it. One, it was four cylinder and two, it was silver. Guess what color our Forerunner is. Don’t think I want two silver cars but we’ll see. They made us a terrific offer but we told them we were going to Johnson City to look at another one and would let them know what we decided.

On the way to Johnson City I continued to search the web and found a white jeep at a dealership in Charleston, SC. I called and although the Jeep was indeed in Birmingham they would transfer it to Charleston without us having to first purchase it. Things were looking up. A bit later though we received another call from the Charleston dealership saying that the lady who told us we would not have to pre-purchase was “dead wrong” and since it was transferring from one state to another we would have to buy it sight unseen. Nope, not for us. Obviously we were willing to travel to get the right car but when I looked up the distance to Birmingham from Kinston it was 660 miles and too far for us so no white Jeep in the picture.

Johnson City is not as far as one would think as it’s not far from the North Carolina border. In fact on the way we passed several places that we had visited two years ago when touring the North Carolina mountains.

Not a very good picture but won’t Jerry love going to the State games driving this?
Just to make a very long story a bit shorter – we bought the red Cherokee. Jerry has always wanted a red car and though white would have been my first choice red is fine and heck, I’ll be inside! We will pick the car up next Friday. In the meantime they will have a tow package and a Blue Ox Tow package installed. All we will have to do is get the brake system installed and we’ll be ready to travel again!

We finally left the dealership around 7:00 knowing we had at least five hours of travel ahead. Unfortunately we ran into the heaviest rain we’ve ever been in. In fact in all the years of marriage I have never know Jerry to pull over but he finally did along with several other cars. It was a treacherous and long drive home. Although the heaviest rain lightened it rained all the way home. Our house was a pretty sight to see at 1:30 am! And just think we get to go back next Friday to pick it up. Hopefully it’ll be a sun shiny day!

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Our trip to South Dakota Goes Up in Flames

Up early and on the way to South Dakota via Clemmons to visit with our son and his family and celebrate his younger daughter’s first birthday but that was not to be. Almost 2 hours after we left we were traveling down a four lane highway (fortunately) when someone pulled up beside us constantly blowing the horn and pointing. Not knowing what was wrong we pulled over on an overpass, jumped out of the RV and then saw flames coming from the tow dolly and then the car. I grabbed a fire extinguisher and Jerry tried to put it out while I was trying to put it out with towels. Neither worked so we just stood there in horror watching it burn. A couple stopped, called 911 and cautioned us to stay away from the car and the motor home. Then a fireman from the Wendell NC fire department stopped and told us to remove the dolly from the RV. Jerry frantically searched the trunk, found a jack and the fireman actually jacked the dolly up enough so the motor home could be moved away from the flames thus saving the motor home and its contents.

After the motor home was moved
I have heard the words “goes up in flames” before but never quite pictured it like this as I watched my little Toyota burn up. The firemen arrived and it took a few minutes to get the fire out. Raising the hood of the car to wet down the motor proved to be very difficult and they finally had to pry it open. Jerry said there was one small bit of humor that day. Since all of the electronics burned they couldn’t get the doors open so the very kind fireman asked Jerry if it was OK to break the window. I understand why he asked but at that point what was a broken window?

I can’t say enough good things about the Efland Fire Department. They were efficient, courteous and caring realizing that we were probably in total shock. Interestingly enough neither Jerry nor I thought of calling 911 as we were so busy trying to extinguish the fire. Fortunately the first couple that stopped immediately did that.

What can I say?
After the fire was out and I could get closer to the car I noticed the burned tires and they was nothing but strings. Parts of the inside of the car were melted and my sunglasses were melted to the floor. We were able to get some things out of the car but they are heavily smoked damaged and I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to use them again. Regrettably we had put more than we usually do in the car. Because the slides were already pulled in Saturday morning the last minute items that were in the house were put in the car. Things like our king-sized comforter, three shams with pillows, Olivia’s birthday gifts, the special Easter cards with money for our three grands, Jerry’s camera case, camera and lens and MY PILLOW! Do you have that special pillow that you take everywhere? We had also put our heavy down coats in the trunk since we thought we’d possibly run into some cold weather in South Dakota. They take up a lot of closet space so we just stuck them in the trunk. We were able to retrieve those items but they absolutely reek. In fact, later at our granddaughter’s birthday party I put the camera up to take a picture and it smelled so strongly that I couldn’t even use it to find out if it would work.

With help from everyone we got the items that were in tact out of the car and then sadly watched my little car be towed away. I’ve had that car several years and if you know anything about Toyota’s you know they last a long time. I was hoping for another 150,000 miles. Buying another car was not in my plan or budget!

When we finally arrived in Clemmons we stopped at a grocery store and Jerry got some large garbage bags to put the retrieved items in to try to contain the odor until we got home. (Obviously our trip was canceled and we would be headed home after the week-end.) We checked into Tanglewood Park RV and quickly got the electricity hooked up so we could turn on the water heater as we both desperately needed showers. We had stopped at a Rest Stop afterward and I realized that not only did I smell like smoke my face and hands were covered with soot. It was a pretty pitiful sight! Luckily we have a washer and dryer in the coach so after our showers we immediately threw our smoky clothes in hoping that they would be smelling a lot better after a good washing.

David, our son, came out and picked us up and we spent the rest of the afternoon at his home and with his family. With difficulty we put on our smiling faces and tried to enjoy being with our family and celebrating Olivia’s first birthday.

I don’t sound very grateful do I but indeed I am. First of all to the Lord Jesus who saved our lives, to the people who blew the horn to get our attention, to the couple that immediately stopped to help, to the fireman from Wendell who probably saved our RV and to the fire departments that came to our rescue my words are so inadequate to express my gratitude. As I sit here with tears streaming down my face I realize that they are tears of thanksgiving, of sadness, of confusion, of being overwhelmed, of fear, or relief – yes, a jumble of emotions, some I can’t even express but again most of all to our Lord and Savior who not only kept us safe yesterday but whose resurrection we celebrate on this Easter Sunday as he died and rose again to give us eternal life.

You know – it’s just a car and it could have been oh so much worse. The thought of being on a two lane road and possibly no one to alert us to the fire has been so frightening. Had we not known it the fire could have crept up to the motor home and yes, we have an 80 gallon gas tank plus propane on board. That thought alone is enough to make us realize how very blessed we were. Like I said, it’s just a car. Hopefully our insurance will help with the purchase of another car and replacement of the contents. We’ll see. Although we’ve never had a claim before they will raise our rate and I doubt they think our things are as valuable as we do! It’s kind of a darned if you do and darned if you don’t! Oh well, the Lord put the necessary people in place when we needed them and we are safe and that is what is most important.

I am sure there will be people wondering what caused the fire. We really don’t know for sure but think it had something to do with the brakes on the tow dolly or the bearings on the dolly. After we got out of the RV we heard first the tow dolly tire pop and then the car tire pop so we know it was not a tire problem.

When we bought our first RV we didn’t have a car that would flat tow so we decided to tow with a dolly. Since we now have to buy another car we will be looking for one that can be flat towed but that’s a story for another day!