Filed under: Gadget Reviews, Historic Places & Landmarks, Preparation & Readiness, Roads & Routes, RV Campgrounds, Safety on the Road, State & National Parks, Taking Along the Family Pet, The RVs We Drive
BIG WHEELS KEEP ON ROLLING -Friends, Family and Funerals
After a long and difficult illness, Nancy’s Mom died peacefully Sunday night. While it is always sad to lose a loved one, especially a parent, it is also a relief to know her human suffering was over. Born in 1920, she would have been 92 next week.
We had been planning on joining a group of our friends in Florida on the Gulf Coast beginning March 1st for a couple of weeks – then suddenly, plans changed. The funeral was to take place in Bryant, Arkansas, some 1,200 miles away, on Saturday. We could fly, drive a four-wheeler or take the RV. We decided to take the RV to Arkansas and then to slowly work our way down to Florida after the Funeral.
We found ourselves in a real frenzy preparing for a memorial service in our hometown on Wednesday and de-winterizing the RV for the trip. Somehow, we got it all together and pulled out Thursday morning a little before 5 a.m. It was raining. As most of you know, it is no fun driving in the rain – especially with a big RV. It rained and then rained some more – all the way across I-64 to I-81 and then down into Tennessee on I-40. Somewhere just north of Nashville we got out of the rain and decided to stop at a campground in Lebanon – Countryside RV Park.
I was whipped – 624 miles in the rain was no fun. It was really too long of a drive for a single day and will not be repeated. But, Carol at Countryside greeted us with a smile and open arms. IMHO, the greetings of the person or people at a campground registration desk have a lot to do with how you feel about the park. Just as I was leaving the desk Carol said, “I’m sorry I won’t be there to turn down your bed sheets tonight.” I was somewhat taken aback by the statement and was at loss for a reply. Then, she held out her hand and dropped two chocolate mints into my hand along with a dog treat. “This is for you, your wife, and your doggie.” At that point it really did not matter to me what the park looked like – we had found a new friend and I knew our night would be just fine.
Our site was a long pull-thru – thank goodness because I was in no shape to maneuver a back-in site. We hurriedly set up for the night, fixed our dinner, and hit the sack.
Our 6:30 a.m. start the next morning was uneventful and we managed to get around morning rush hour traffic in Nashville without any problems. I was following the Rand McNally RVND7710 GPS’s instructions. The unit had performed beautifully the day before from Richmond to Lebanon, warning me of every speed zone change, sharp curve, and grade. The dashboard feature showing average speed, current speed, mile marker, mileage, ETA, elevation, time and even more was awesome. It was right on the money for every maneuver and speed change. When we wanted to make a pit stop to rest, I just tapped the screen and we had a list of every available area where we could park our 65’ long rig and walk the dog. I have come to love this thing – it is indeed a well designed RV GPS. The addition of the Woodall’s Campground Directory to the Rand McNally’s database will make the unit even more RV friendly. I can hardly wait for the opportunity to download the new campground software.
The run from Nashville to Memphis was smooth sailing over recently paved Interstate. If I could figure out a way to have the RVND7710 steer the truck, I could have crawled into the back and taken a nap – maybe some day – but for now it was eyes ahead and hands on the wheel.
Memphis was another breeze with great routing from the RVND7710 to get a big rig in the right lanes well ahead of the exits. We crossed into Arkansas and headed on out I-40. Again, smooth sailing until we hit the area where the Interstate had been washed out by the flooding last spring. The westbound lanes and bridges were literally gone and we were routed onto a shared lane with eastbound traffic for about 5 miles. Fortunately, we did not encounter any backups westbound – but eastbound was a mess. Traffic was backed up almost 8 miles. We listened to a few drivers on the CB – no one was happy but most all were enduring the situation with understanding. Still, I made the decision right then and there NOT to go back home thru Memphis. We will be following another route.
We finally landed in Benton late Friday afternoon and checked into I-30 Travel Park. Once again, I was greeted by an extremely friendly and kind person. Her name is Linda and she made us feel comfortable from the very beginning. She assigned us to a long pull-thru with a concrete patio near the back of the park. The location is both convenient and clean. It is a nice place to stop if coming out of Little Rock.
Grandma’s funeral was today. It went extremely well and I met family members I did not even know existed. It is sort of sad to only meet everyone when there is a loss – it would be nice to gather under happier circumstances.
Now that the funeral is over, we have 10 days to explore before heading to Florida. We are already planning a jaunt to the Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro for a few days. Hopefully we will find a big rock that will make us rich and famous – (right ). A visit to the Clinton Library in Little Rock, off to Hot Springs for a massage and soak and then down thru Mississippi and into Alabama before hitting the Florida panhandle. We have some time to wander and explore – this is what I love about the RV lifestyle. It is also what Grandma would have wanted us to do.
Sorry to babble on as I have in this blog but this week’s events have left me tired and somewhat uninspired to write something different and more helpful. Now I am looking forward to finding some sunshine, warmer weather and new adventures of a more pleasant nature. I have the inflatable Zodiac boat and outboard packed on the bed of the Volvo and plan on doing some fishing for Flounder, Spot and whatever while on the Gulf. I’ll share our adventures and discoveries with you in future postings.
It is great to be back on the road again exploring this great and beautiful country and enjoying the RV lifestyle. The heck with fuel mileage and the cost per gallon of diesel – we will just keep the big wheels rolling. Long after the money spent on fuel is gone the memories of our adventures will remain and provide comfort and smiles.