So where are we now, day 2? The days had started to melt together at this point. What with the drive down and the weekend in Florida and heading back and the bunk issues and delays and….. You get the picture. So we got up the next morning in Dalton, New Year’s Eve, and checked the bunk first thing. Sure enough, we had to tighten it up. Our next stop is Bloomington Illinois. 584 miles, should be 12 hours. Going to stay at a nicer hotel tonight as I figured we would be deserving after this trip. The Fairfield Inn Marriott.
This leg would take us in to Tennessee, past Clarksville where we stayed on the way down and through Kentucky to Illinois. All interstate this time as I had mapped our gas stops out online and budgeted 10 miles to the gallon with my Explorer. When we did this getting the O’Day, we averaged 9 so I figured it was a good safety margin.
We got on the road I think by 7:30am after tightening things up again. There was a thought in my mind on this return leg from the drive down. When you go through Chattanooga and in to Georgia, there is a nice little “Hill” you go down to get there. It is a bit of a windy 6% grade with runaway truck exits and the like. I was thinking as we went through there, “How the hell am I going to get the boat back up this??” Well as it would be, we actually went down a 5% grade on the way back with no real hill climbing. I wasn’t convinced we were clear of all that until we got to Nashville. Liked that drive so far. Nashville looks like an interesting town and besides the Grand Ole Opry, the do have a pretty good NHL team. Better than ours at the moment and we live and breathe hockey in MN. Anyway….. getting off track…
We got in to Kentucky just fine and the boat was doing what it was supposed to back there. The land was an uninspiring flat prairie so we were just motoring along… Then it happened… I started to her a rattling and I looked in the side mirror and sure enough, we blew the right side trailer tire. We were about 40-50 miles southish from Paducah. So we pulled over at an exit and I called 911 as we were kind of on our own out there. I had a jack and tire cross and spare but…. Was not too sure my jack was capable. Anyway, the 911 operator pinged my cell phone as I did not know what mile marker we were at or the exit number as we had stopped just after passing it. She said I was about a mile outside her county so she transferred me to Kentucky State Police and she dispatched someone out to me.
In the mean time I called Boat US as I have unlimited towing assistance with my membership. She took down all my information and I walked back to the exit sign and l let her know where we were. The state trooper showed up and we talked and I explained everything. He was a very nice guy and when we were talking about getting a spare he said “Well, it is New Year’s Eve. Most places will be shutting down soon and you are in the middle of Mayberry.” That made me laugh and he said it….. though I may have been thinking it. So Boat US called back and said it would be an hour and a half. Stu and I started to realize at that point we may be staying a night in Paducah. Oh hells….. So the trooper went to his car and called the Highway Helper he knew was on the road. He came back and said he could be here in a half hour. SOLD! So I cancelled the Boat US person and the trooper went on his way and the Highway Helper guy showed up about 20 minutes later.
He changed the tire for me. I signed a piece of paper saying he helped us. He gave me a card to an RV center up the road by Paducah and I gave the guy a call. They apparently have a gentlemen’s agreement on handing out the card. So it took 3 attempts but I got a hold of him. He said he was sick and so was his partner but seeing as I was in a bind, he and his son would meet me there in about 45 minutes. We drover there and there he was. A nice older guy that when I told him what I needed as far as a trailer tire and rim, he had his son pull one off of a camper he had for sale. I was very appreciative of this act and the fact that he came out even though he was sick. We took care of business and Stu and I were finally back on our way. 2 hours or so later.
We finally got in to Illinois and I started to feel somewhat better. We were back in the Midwest. We both started to just feel that all we wanted to do was get the hell home. As the sun began to set we came upon a fire truck in the left lane and everyone was slowing. I noticed someone in a yellow vest standing in the middle of the median and something that looked like bundles too. As we passed the fire truck I had a realization as the little Honda CRV or Jeep Liberty that had been in an accident was on it’s roof…. And the bundles were the white tarps over the former occupants. A sickening feeling came over me and Stu. Their families are going to have to deal with the loss and grief. Something I never want to see ever again. People, wear your seat belts no matter what. These two paid the ultimate price for not.
Night fell and the bunk seemed to have started to behave itself. I think it was around Champaign IL when I saw the flashing blue lights behind me. I thought, “What me? Why am I being pulled over?” So we pulled over thereby breaking one of my Cardinal Rules, No Cops No Hospitals. At least it wasn’t the hospital one. So the nice Illinois trooper informed me that only my blinkers were working on the trailer. So I pulled up the road a bit to an off ramp and we talked and I pushed the cord back in to the receptacle on my truck and wha-hoo, they worked! So he took my license and gave me a warning ticket. I am thinking of framing it. I told him to stay safe and hopefully he isn’t too busy the New Year’s Eve working and off we went.
About a half hour later a semi passed me and flashed his lights. I figured things had gotten loose again so I pulled in to a rest stop to check. Sure enough. Only this time, I couldn’t get them to work again no matter what. So I decided to drive with the flashers on….. Yeah awesome but I didn’t have much choice. So we drove the rest of the way to the hotel with the flashers on and no other incident.
We got to the hotel about 9:30pm, 15 hours later. As I was pulling in to the back of the parking lot I heard a loud thump and bang. I had cut the turn too tight and ran over the curbing. Thankfully nothing was worse the wear. We got in to our nicely appointed room, especially seeing we had been staying at Red Roof and Super 8’s, and basically went right to bed. What a New Year’s Eve eh? I decided to get up around 7am the next morning as I was very tired and a bit frazzled with that drive all things considered. Plus, we would be HOME the next day!