Oct 292010

For some reason, neither Terry or I sleep well the night before we hit the road for someplace new. I’m not sure why that is, but Wednesday night we tossed and turned most of the night, and only got four or five hours sleep.

We were up early, and while I answered a bunch of e-mails, Terry made final preparations inside the motorhome for traveling. Then I disconnected the campground utilities, we said goodbye to some folks who came by to see us off, we hooked the van to the Blue Ox tow bar, and pulled out of Raccoon Valley about 9:45.

We took Interstate 75 south to Interstate 640, then followed that east to Interstate 40, making good time all the way, with light traffic around us. We followed Interstate 40 as it turned south into North Carolina, and were treated to some of the prettiest fall colors we could ever remember seeing. Here are some pictures Terry took along the way.

Smokey Mountain colors 2

Smokey Mountain colors 3

Smokey Mountain colors 4

We had never been through this part of North Carolina, but we both said we’ll have to come back some time and do some exploring. It’s absolutely beautiful!

Smokey Mountain colors 10

The road had a few 6 and 7 percent downgrades, and a lot of curves. In some places the truck speed was only 50 miles per hour, which usually means that the truckers blow through at 70, but not here.

I 40 downhill grade 2

I 40 downhill grade

And what’s a trip without road construction, right? In several places the highway was down to one lane, but even though there was a lot of traffic, we didn’t have any delays.

Road construction 2

We even went through two tunnels! I don’t mind tunnels if the road lanes are wide and the traffic is not too heavy. These were no problem.

I 40 tunnel

Inside tunnel

In Asheville, we picked up Interstate 26 and followed it into South Carolina. We stopped at a Pilot for fuel, and I was reminded that Pilot is my least favorite truck stop. I think the employees must all hate their jobs, because they are always surly and never smile. And what’s with having to pre-pay a selected amount? I don’t know how much fuel I’ll need, but they won’t just turn the pump on, even with Terry standing there with her credit card. We bought $200 worth of diesel, and could have put in another $25 or so, but it wasn’t worth holding up other drivers while Terry stood in line to repeat the process all over again. I wonder how much money they lose every day because other drivers feel the same as I do? I could understand if they were worried about cars driving off without paying, but eighteen wheelers and RVs are not exactly fast  “getaway” vehicles.

We had a delay at Pilot because a trucker who was either very new and/or very dumb, had swung too wide when he pulled up to a pump, and was about to hit the concrete island. So we had to wait with several trucks while he carefully backed up, then tried to pull up to a different fuel island. This time he didn’t swing far enough, and wound up with the front end of his truck wedged kind of sideways in the island, but his trailer at about a 45 degree angle to it, blocking two fuel islands.

Than he just sat there contemplating his navel or wondering why he gave up his glamorous career in the fast food industry, until the trucker in front of us finally got fed up and yelled at him to get his attention, then  guided him as he backed out again. Actually, it took two guides to get him out without tearing up the fuel island. On his third attempt he managed to get into the island straight, but he kept right on going and didn’t stop. I think he feared the wrath of several of his fellow drivers who had to sit there blocking the road while he figured out which pedal was the brake and which was the clutch. Or, maybe he never did figure out which was which and he couldn’t stop. Who knows?

Back on the road, we passed Columbia, where I spent some time at Fort Jackson as a young soldier, and then out into the countryside again. We crossed the state and hooked up with Interstate 95, turned south, and just continued to put miles behind us. It was a nice day, the driving was easy, and before we knew it we were crossing the state line into Georgia.

We pulled into the State Welcome Center about 5:30 p.m., with 414 miles behind us this driving day. We parked overnight here last year when we came through, and I went inside to see if it was still okay. I think the same lady was behind the desk this year, and she told me the same thing as before – camping overnight is not allowed. But “resting” is just fine, and the police who regularly patrol the Welcome Center encourage RVers to “rest” comfortably in their beds until they are refreshed and ready to drive again.  

Yes, it was a lot of miles, and no, I’m not going to change my ways. When we’re in “get there” mode, this is what we do. I like driving my motorhome, and we don’t see any reason to stop early and sit around waiting until we’re tired enough to go to bed, if we’re just going to make a quick overnight stop.

Nick driving

Today we’ll have an easy run of about 275 miles, and we should be in Titusville by mid-afternoon. We’re looking forward to seeing our friends Peter and Connie Bradish, Tim and Ann Moran, and Walter and Amy Cannon, who all live in the area.

Thought For The Day – It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have lived with that sick, twisted psycho one more day!

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  18 Responses to “Putting Miles Behind Us”

  1. Nick I thought you had the VMSpc software. We’ve run into several of the “pay before pumping” situations and I was able to quickly estimate, within a few gallons, the amount of fuel we’d be taking on. At the Flying J in Winchester, VA I made the mistake of using the RV pumps instead of the truck pumps. They were restricted to a maximum of $75 with each credit card insertion. Had to insert the card a third time and it took a whopping 4 gallons on that one! Let’s see….Pilot and Flying J….same ownership. I’m seeing a pattern here!

  2. Nick,

    I feel sorry for that driver at the pumps. Once you get crossed up it just seems to get worse every time you try to straighten it out! I don’t blame him for going right on through – just to embarrassing!

    There were a couple of times where I tried to back the HDT and fiver into a slot at a truck stop and just gave up after the third try and went on my way. I’m a lot better at it now.

  3. Ditto for Pilot. And their prices, unlike the old Flying J, can not be relied on to be at least the same as the lowest in the area. We stopped in Oregon at one and found a small station a little down the road for 5¢ less per gallon. Drat, I hate when that happens especially when having to put up with$ amounts and unfriendly personnel.

  4. Spectacular pics of the fall foliage; thanks for sharing!

  5. The only disadvantage to seeing autumn foliage is that in many places snow will follow.
    When I read that Nick and Terry do not sleep well the night before they travel I realized that we were not alone. We thought it was connected to not being a seasoned RVer.

  6. Yes, I knew you would love the drive to and from Asheville. It is beautiful up there. Hendersonville is a nice area as is Asheville. Lots to see and do. Fall and spring are best!!!! Stop by again and enjoy the area.

    Looking forward to seeing you down here in Florida. The weather is warm and sunny and let the good times roll!!!!

  7. Having worked for a gas station in the past, maybe I can explain the prepay, even with Terri standing there. When the system is set for prepay, most cannot be overhiden.

    (READERS: please remember, you may be the most honest person in the world and have the largest limit allowed on your card, but that cashier does not know you and is protecting his/her job)

    Even if the cashier “could” override it, and then your card didn’t go thru for the amount you pump, the cashier’s job is in trouble b/c they allowed it to happen by overridding the system.

    As for the $75 limit and having to reinsert the card, at our station, our company did not set any limits, it was the banks that had that. One person could pump $150 before thiers shut off and another only $75.

    Hope that explains it for some.

    Loved the Fall pics!!!

  8. Hey Nick, Are you hanging around Titusville for the Shuttle launch on Monday? Only one more chance to see one after that. A friend of mine is taking off for Titusville today just to catch the last launch of shuttle Discovery. They say it’s an awesome sight!

  9. Not true about the credit card limits! I have used the same credit card for fuel at even the same brand gas station and had limits that vary from $75 to $150. It must be set by the station owner!

  10. These young drivers got to learn somewhere and I know it is frustrating when they do it in front of us old guys but unless we want a bunch of ancient folks driving the trucks the kids got to make a few mistakes. I think he was probably beating himself up well enough that he didn’t need any help.

    As for the service centres, up here in Canada we don’t have any Pilot stations, as yet, but we do have Flying J and they are consistently the best prices. I just got my new RV Rewards card yesterday and it got me 3 cents off of every Litre and in the truck lanes as there is no dedicated RV lane at that station. Now being as how there is 3.8 litres in every US Gallon I am liking that almost 12 cents a gallon of savings. By the way the cost for one of your gallons worked out around $3.26, so not to far off the price south of the line.

  11. Doug, That may have happened at the station you used, but the company I worked for, a large national chain, states they do not set the limits, that the banks do. I checked with my bank at one time and they stated banks do set limits on the cards, for the consumer protection. It helps keep you from being charged large amounts if the card is stolen. Each bank varies on what they do.

  12. BTW, our “pumps” would not pump more that $200 worth and they would automatically shut off. But he $dollar$ limits were the various bank cards.

  13. Beautiful pictures, I forgot how pretty SC can be. We have empathy for the poor trucker but he will get over it and will improve with time. Mike has put us in a similar situation at gas pumps, we are luckier than the poor trucker since we can unhook the tow car in less than 3 minutes. We use Pilot only if they are the only ones around. We know that they bought out some of the Flying J’s and we hope that they do not change them to much. We have not had a problem with them taking the limit off of the pump.

  14. Nick, that pilot station sounds like an old Abbot and Costello or Laurel and Hardy skit. I always found it interesting that in FL welcome centers or rest areas, the word Camping gets a negative response from most, but I mention having a migraine and they want to make sure I rest overnight. It’s funny how sometimes instead of simply changing a law slightly, they find ways to skit around it. Resting comfortably until you’re safe to drive the next morning, but NO Overnight Camping. Gotta love it 🙂

  15. Glad to see that you guys like your Winnebago MH, as we just bought a 2003 Ultimate Freedom ourselves. We enjoyed reading about your MCI bus conversion though–and I bet it was tough to part with it.

    Say hello to everyone in Titusville for us, as we used to live there. If you get a chance, grab some seafood at the Dixie Crossroads. They have incredible Royal Red shrimp!

  16. Nick,
    Today we had the pleasure of meeting your friends Orv & Nancy, They are parked across from us here in SV AZ. We said we should go meet the folks in the Phaeton. This AM we did and when she said they are Orv and Nancy we said Oh, we know you. That took her back but we said we read the Nick and at least feel like we know you.
    We had a good time and played Duffy some. They will come over this PM to visit and see our Eagle.
    You are correct, they are top of the line people.
    LeRoy Willis
    formerly of Wichita

  17. I agree with Doug. I had the same problem at the pumps ( doesn’t really matter what the station was) and was told it was my bank setting limits. I went to my bank and told them I’ll worry about my own protection and had them set the limit on my Debt card to my account balance. I still find pumps shutting off at a fixed amount SO who’s lying to the motoring public? I’ll put my money on both. Customer service in the US is overshadowed by GREED now days.

  18. Asheville is my hometown and, yes, it’s gorgeous around there.

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