April 4, 2016 – Annapolis, MD – Bristol, VA
The big land yacht adventure begins and it’s our first night on the road. We are spending it in a friggin Walmart parking lot in Bristol Virginia, surrounded by a who’s who of fast food restaurants (Taco Bell, Applebee’s, McDonalds and a Golden Corral to name just a few). The view from our door includes four parked tractor-trailer trucks, the Walmart automotive center and a Motel 6 across the street – at least he didn’t get us a room there.
After a quick walk around the lot he spots a non-franchised Mexican restaurant so he dumps me back in the trailer while he dines on tacos, enchiladas and a pitcher of margaritas (judging by his slurred speech upon his return). It will get better tomorrow, right?
April 5 – Bristol – Tuscaloosa, AL
After a brief walk around the Walmart lot he again locks me in the trailer while he goes shopping for a few groceries and some spare fuses. He returns gushing about the wonders of Walmart shopping “they have everything a guy could need under one roof – food, clothing, auto parts, beer and wine, plus there was a McDonalds right in the store!!!” Notice he didn’t mention doggie treats (he’s very self-centered).
After gassing up at the nearby Pilot station ($1.90/gal for regular – he uses the cheap stuff as the rig only gets about 11 mpg at 60 mph in the interstate). The day was sunny and cool and the east Tennessee scenery was right out of a picture book, rolling hills, old barns and blooming trees and bushes – things are getting better.
Five hours later, after several pit stops for my walks and snacks (I have to admit he makes sure I am a happy companion so all you PETA people can just shut up) we are rolling down I-20, 22 miles south of Tuscaloosa, Alabama (where Joe Namath played his college ball) and the trailer began to wobble. Of course he tried to ignore this by blaming it on the inferior Alabama interstate highway system, but when a car passed him with a guy hanging out the window shouting and pointing to our trailer he figured something might be wrong (what a genius) and pulled off the highway to discover a blown-out tire on the right side – as a bonus the force of the blowout destroyed the wheel fender which in turn took out the bottom of the trailer under the galley sink and destroyed three feet of heating duct, the water pump and two feet of water line.
I heard him mumbling something about having over 55 years of sailing experience and never once did he put a hole in the bottom of a boat; two days into the land yacht experience look what happens. I’m starting to get nervous.
After discovering that AAA Basic does not cover trailer tire damage he immediately upgraded to AAA-RV to avoid, in the future, the $180 fee charged by the “good old boy” who came to our rescue. We had to backtrack 20 miles to Tuscaloosa to find a reputable RV service shop that would enable us to continue to NOLA with running water – the hole in the bottom needs a new wheel well cover shipped from California so the journey to New Orleans continued with a well ventilated trailer (driving in rain would cause flooding so weather forecasting was important).
4/6 Tuscaloosa – New Orleans
On the road again bound for NOLA after trailer repairs and 4 new tires. I received many nice compliments from the RV repair staff and tire installers in rural Alabama (“what a pretty dowg, I betcha he’s a good hunter…”). I really appreciate all the positive comments as I’m not sure what my master has gotten me into and I may need to be shopping for another owner soon (Joyce is due in NOLA later today, she can’t come soon enough).