Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Parakeet's wings clipped on flight to Atlanta

It's a long drive to Atlanta from Orlando on a Friday night after work. Especially when you only get as far as Ocala before disaster hits. I was reclining on the sofa bed reading a book when the Winnebago swayed. Thunk!! I thought maybe somebody had sideswiped us on the right side of the Winnebago. "What the hell was that?" Danny and I said at almost the same moment. "Did the awning blow off?" he asked. I looked outside and saw nothing amiss on the right. I dashed to the bathroom window and looked behind us."I dunno," I replied, "I don't see anything in the road back there." Then I smelled burning rubber, the RV leaned to the side, and we heard an ominous thump thump thump. "I know what happened," Danny said. "We had a blow out." He pulled off on the highway shoulder, stopped, and put on the emergency flashers before getting off and going out to check. A minute afterwards he reported that we had blown not one but two of the rear tires. We had one spare. It was eight o'clock and we had been on the road for two hours.

I fished the Camping World Roadside Assistance card out of my wallet and handed Danny my iPhone. He made the call for help and we sat down to wait. With the passing of every big rig on the highway, the Winnebago shook. I put the blinds down and worried that some driver would lose control and plow right into us. If I was going to, as my mother would have said, die dead, I didn't want to see it coming. Two hours later when I was nearing the freakout stage, the Roadside Assistance man called back and said he'd located two of the right sort of tires and a guy would be coming to put them on for us at a cost of $800.00. I sighed and pulled out my Discover card. "He'll be there by midnight the guy said." A short time later, there was a loud knocking on the hood and Ginny and Abby began barking. There was a man outside. Danny jumped up.

"They're here, "he said, opening the door and going outside. I looked out the window. There was no repair truck. Ginny climbed into the cab and began a weird rolling teeth bared snarl that plainly said "You are not coming in here," in any lingo.

"You okay?" the good Samaritan asked. Danny replied that we were waiting for Roadside Assistance and the man disappeared. Danny got back on board. "Where's his car?" I asked. Danny pointed across six lanes of traffic and a guard rail. Jesus!" I exclaimed. I'm still wondering if he was a recklessly brave and lucky good Samaritan or a potential robber who spotted a stranded Winnebago and hoped it was empty and full of loot. If so, it was probably a yellow-eyed snarling 'hoola that discouraged him. Ginny sat in the drivers seat, obviously on guard, for the next hour and a half.

The repairman arrived shortly after midnight and put on the new tires. We were roadworthy again by one am. All thoughts of going on to Georgia were abandoned. We went on about forty more minutes to Gainesville and safely boondocked next to Danny's ex-wife's house. We made the trip to Atlanta safely the next day.

What we learned:
1. having Roadside Assistance is essential.
2. never get off the vehicle to talk to strangers in the dark
3. having big dogs on board is a good thing, especially when they have strong bladders
4. watching Romancing the Stone while waiting four hours for help on the highway does not make the time go any faster
5. adventures that involve discomfort are better written about or viewed on film.

On the way home on Sunday night we encountered a lot of rain, a double rainbow, a microburst that knocked down trees and shut down I-75, and a creepy weird mist. I will post those pictures tomorrow. We made the trip home with only one stop for fuel and potty. This was too long to drive and arriving at three in the morning is the absolute pits. We do not plan to do that again.

We did have a great time visiting Danny's family in Atlanta though and it was worth the inconvenience.

Danny's Comments:
So glad Nancy opted for the Roadside Assistance plan. Otherwise, I'd have done lots of walking.

Driving up to Atlanta, I tried to keep the Parakeet at the 'flow of traffic' -around 70-75 MPH. While the Winnebago view has no trouble doing that, it's not a comfortable ride at those speeds, and the mileage is not great. Driving back to Orlando, I kept the view at 62-65 most of the time. Big difference! The ride is much smoother, and the Parakeet is much easier to control. Mileage is much better too.

Driving up during the day, we found that the cabin air conditioner could not keep the entire coach cool. The little 12 volt fan helped some, but not much. When we got back, I looked on the Yahoo View/Navion Group site, and found that you can turn the generator on while driving. That way, you can run the coach air conditioner. That will help a lot here in Florida.

Unless I have to do it, I'm going to try to avoid those 8-9 hour drives. 4-5 is much easier to handle.

1 comment:

Security Catalyst (Michael) said...

Amazingly, we've experienced a similar incident on I95 just South of Jacksonville. I look forward to trading stories with you when we finally connect.

However, if it helps, we all go through this - and you are doing great!