Today our new friends and neighbors Gary and Nancy will be starting the build out of their newly purchased home here at Deer Creek Motorcoach Resort. We visited them last night at their temporary parking spot on one of the beautiful lots here (they are all beautiful actually) We talked about their plans, took a tour of the lot, which at the moment is grass, and then we sat and swapped war stories for awhile. Stories about the times when things just didn't go well: for us motorhoming folks. Here is an old story about one day that provided me with a couple more chances to practice my rule number 2.
We have all had them, those moments when we are so overjoyed to be motorhome owners and those other moments, the ones where you take a deep breath and ask yourself:
"Why did I ever buy this big blasted thing?"
Part 1: Stuck!
A few years ago, when Diane and I were still Bounder owners, we spent Christmas with my parents and my daughter Christine's family. We took the rig down to their home in Lexington, N.C., and parked it in their backyard. It was not a bad place to camp. Dad provided power and water and he told us we could dump our gray tank down the side of the hill that we were parked on.
We had room to set up our patio, and a nice lighted path through the woods led up to the house. Behind us was a shuffleboard court. It was a fun holiday. I roasted a turkey, we played games and other members of our extended family showed up to see the coach and join in the festivities.
The first couple of days the weather was a bit chilly, then on Christmas Eve it warmed up and started to rain hard. It poured all night and most of the next day. The day after Christmas, our last day, it was nice again, not warm but comfortable. We played a lot of shuffleboard, ate leftovers and enjoyed ourselves a lot. That night Diane and I started packing up the rig to leave the next morning.
The morning of our departure it was really warm. It hit the seventies in the sun and everyone was outside to say goodbye to us. I had to back the rig down the driveway past the shuffleboard court to a downhill point off Dad's driveway where I would then pull forward and make a right turn to exit. So with Diane guiding me I backed up, but a bit too far to the left and backed off the road onto the spot where my Dad's vegetable garden used to be.
Now, before I started to back up Dad warned me I needed to keep to the right, close to his grape arbor so that when I left the driveway I would be on hard ground rather than on top of his old garden, which was now a lot of mud. While backing up I heard his grape vine scraping along the side of the coach. Worried about a damaged gel coat, I eased over to the left, which turned out to be a big mistake.
The passenger side of the coach missed hard ground; the driver's side was on rock. The passenger side started to sink; the driver's side didn't.
My heart dropped to my shoes as the coach listed to starboard. I jumped up from my seat and tried to go out the door. My steps wouldn't open because the ground was in the way.
Dad was standing on his driveway, that place I longed to be, just looking at my muddy predicament.
"I guess you didn't hear me tell you that you were too far to the left?"
"No, all I could hear was your vines dragging down the side of the coach!" I said with some emphasis. "Now what do we do? It looks like it's about to roll over!"
"We can get it out," Dad said. "I'll be right back."
He took off at a fast walk for his workshop. Diane, Mom and I just stood there looking at my mud-covered coach, the steps stuck open. I was thinking very big expensive tow truck, if one would even come out this far, and I doubted that would help anyway.
"A tow truck can't pull it out of that hole," Dad said.
He was standing there with an armload of boards while reading my thoughts.
"Here's what we are going to do," he said. "We put some boards under the jacks, lift the coach and then dig the mud out under the wheels and put boards down. One rear wheel is on rock so we should be able to move it, once we get it upright."
We gave it a gallant effort. The jacks lifted the rig, we dug and put down boards, but as soon as we raised the jacks the coach pushed the boards back into the mud and couldn't make it out.
Now I was starting to panic.
"Don't panic." This time it was Diane reading my thoughts.
"I'm not panicking," I lied. "I just don't know what we are going to do."
"Yes, you are. Just take a deep breath. We will figure out something."
I think this is the point where I took a deep breath and asked myself, "Why did I buy this big blasted thing?"
We all know the answer to that: Because I wanted to.
I heard Dad talking on his cell. He hung up.
"Well, I just talked to Marion and he is sending help."
Marion was my cousin who owned a construction company in the area. He said he would be over and not to worry because if he couldn't get it out no one could.
That didn't make me stop worrying.
While waiting for Marion and his solution, whatever that was, we leveled the coach again. Just as we finished I heard a loud vehicle coming down the driveway from the road. Marion was heading our way with a bulldozer.
He told me his plan of attack. I told everyone that I only wanted directions relayed from Diane, because I knew everyone would want to help and I was scared and confused enough already.
I got in the coach and pulled up the jacks. Marion, with a chain connected under the coach and attached to the dozer, yelled, "Ready!" and started to back up. He dragged the coach until the front wheels were on solid ground and then yelled "Hit it!"
I punched the gas pedal and with the roar of the motor and mud flying everywhere, and to the sound of cheers from my family, she came loose. Up on the driveway she went.
A good motorcoach moment: Coming out of the mud.
Part 2: Road Rage
Joel, Diane and I said our goodbyes to my parents and we were on the road again. For miles we could hear mud coming off the sides and the undercarriage of the coach, but other than my normally shiny coach now looking rather shabby, we were not bad off. My nerves were a bit shot, but I expected them to settle down while driving home. We had one stop to make first. We had planned on visiting Diane's cousin Elaine in Raleigh, North Carolina, spend some time with her including dinner together, continue on home and arrive around dark. Due to our muddy misadventure we were now running late. We would have to shorten our time with Elaine, but dinner was still on the agenda. We had plans to meet at the Cracker Barrel not far from the Raleigh Durham airport just off I-40.
After about an hour on the road we found ourselves near the busy intersection of Interstate 85 and 40. We made it through the intersection. Diane and I were chatting about the confusing directions coming from our GPS when this small dark car zoomed from directly behind and came up next to my window. I looked down at the driver. He was leaning over to the passenger side of his car, yelling at me. I had no idea what he was saying. He started waving his right arm around, then both arms, yelling even louder, but with no clarity at all.
"Diane what does that guy want?"
"I don't know, but he sure is acting strange." She got up and leaned over my seat.
Suddenly he speed up. As soon as he was way out in front of me he headed over to the shoulder of the road. I glanced over to my right so I could keep an eye on him as we passed. Then I watched him in the rear view mirror. I figured that was the end of it, but it wasn't. A couple of seconds after we passed him, he took off. He crossed the right lane, coming up on my left again. This time he was practically hanging out of the passenger window yelling like a mad man, arms going like a windmill. I still had no idea what he was doing or trying to tell me.
"What does he want? Do we have a flat? Are we on fire, I don't get it?" I said.
"I don't know" Diane replied as she opened my window in an attempt to understand what he was yelling. "I can't understand him at all."
Joel, one to never miss life's little comparisons made an observation.
"He would make a good trunk monkey."
That could have been funny except for the fact this guy was weaving in his lane. I was beginning to think he might swerve over and hit us.
I found myself edging to the far right of my lane. I hit the zipper. I moved over. This was getting scarier by the moment, then the guy zoomed off in front and moved over to the shoulder again. Something told me he wasn't going to stay there. I was right.
The third time was not charming. He zoomed up even faster this time, with a new tactic. He hit his horn, adding the noise to his arsenal of gestures. We could see that he was still yelling but we couldn't hear him over his horn. I resisted the urge to push my horn in return.
"Why is he so mad? Did we cut him off or something?" I yelled.
"Maybe we threw mud at him and he suffers from road rage" Joel responded.
I almost believed that was possible, but I figured we lost the last of the mud off the coach fifty miles behind us.
He was swerving and most likely swearing a lot now. It was getting harder to keep my eyes on the road in front, and keep my eye on him at the same time.
Diane saw an exit sign.
"Pull off there" she pointed to the distant off ramp just to the right of an overpass. "Maybe he won't follow us."
"MAYBE he won't follow us? What if he does?" I asked.
"Well, we will be safer off the interstate that is for sure."
I had to agree with that, so I was going to signal a turn, but something told me don't. I decided that I didn't want this person to see my side blinker. He would then know what I was going to do. If we exited at the last moment, hopefully it would leave him no time to get over, follow us, then shoot us all, or whatever it was he wanted to do.
He made it easier to get away because for the third time he zoomed ahead. He passed the exit. Now was our chance to get away. At the last possible second I moved to the right, punched the gas and headed up the ramp. The light at the top was green so I took a right turn. We headed for a shopping center.
"Did he follow us?" I asked no one in particular.
Joel, from his position on the couch, responded first.
"I think we lost him."
I parked the coach. I sat there for a moment. Then I opened a console drawer and pulled out my tire gauge.
"I'm going to check outside."
I left the coach for a quick walk around. All the basement doors were closed. The awing wasn't open, the antennae was down. My Crossfires showed proper rear tire pressure. The fronts looked normal, but I checked them anyway, just to be sure. They were fine but I wasn't. That diver had really scared me. The reason for his behavior was a mystery that would not be solved, which may have been a good thing. I really didn't care for my family to be part of a headline.
I went back in the coach, used the bathroom, threw some water on my face. We were back on the interstate again in about ten minutes.
We didn't talk much for the rest of our trip. I put on a Frank Sinatra CD and tried to calm down. It had been a rough day so far.
Diane was trying to call Elaine to tell her we were still on our way, but would be arriving a bit late.
We would arrive later than any of us realized because we missed a turn and ended up at the Airport.
I was not happy with trying to drive a large vehicle past all the gates with their confusing traffic of taxis, cars, buses, and people with suitcases but we managed it. We got back on the right path to the Cracker Barrel.
Elaine was waiting in the parking lot. She visited our coach for awhile. We retold the story of our stay in the mud, and gave her our account of the mad driver.
"Well, it seems you have had a rough day today."
My whole family practices the art of understatement.
Joel summed the day up best.
"We are here now, lets eat!"
We did. We walked in to the restaurant, had a good meal, told some funny stories. Elaine told us about the things going on in her life.
It was good moment but it was also late. I was exhausted so I told Diane that I was not up to the drive home.
We already knew that the area had no campgrounds close by so she made a great suggestion.
"I bet they will let us stay here."
We asked the manager if we could spend the night. He agreed.
A good coach moment: Having a place to sleep after a good meal at the end of a very rough day.
We left, said good bye to Elaine, and went back to the coach. We moved it to the far end of the parking lot. I put out the slides over the curb side. I started the genny so we could unwind with a movie. It was not long after the movie (I don't remember what it was) ended that we were all in bed.
I hoped I wouldn't have crazy dreams about mud holes and trunk monkeys.
I was so beat that even the planes flying directly over head couldn't keep me awake.
I didn't dream at all.
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