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The RV finally gets to come home

October 03, 2008|By RONALD SNYDER, Mercersburg, Pa.

My wife and I enjoy traveling in our RV. My sister and her husband also enjoy the RV lifestyle. Together, we planned a weeklong vacation for September of this year. We planned on leaving on Friday, Sept. 5. We would spend two nights in the Charlottesville, Va., area, then one night in a North Carolina State Park, then three nights in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and then decide where to spend some time on the way home to fill out the rest of the week.

Gas prices had been rising for weeks leading up to our departure. When you get eight miles to the gallon you tend to watch the price of gas. Hurricane Hannah was headed toward the coast. Friends kept saying, "What will you do if the hurricane hits while you are there?"

But a few days before we were to leave, the weather reporters were predicting Hannah would hit the Carolinas and be gone before we arrived, and gas was going back down. We were determined to go and to have a great time.

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My wife and I had everything packed and ready to go by 10 a.m. on Friday morning. My sister, her husband and my youngest sister who lives with them were going to leave around 4:30 p.m. We would arrive at the RV Park near Crozet, Va., in early afternoon, check the area out, and greet them when they arrived around 7:30 to 8 p.m. I stopped at the Pilot Truck Stop on Halfway Boulevard to fill up with gas. Gas was "down" to $3.89 per gallon. I filled up, happy that the price had dropped this far.

We took our time driving to Crozet, stopping for lunch on the way. We found the RV Park and checked in about 2 p.m. Familiar with the Charlottesville area, we were happy to just hike on the trails at the campground, check out the facilities and wait for the others to arrive. They did arrive at the appointed time. We helped them hook up, built a campfire, drank some wine and planned the next day's activities.

On Saturday we all ate breakfast and then headed for Appomattox Courthouse to see the location where Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Virginia to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the Civil War. The park is rather austere, but we enjoyed the excursion. We arrived back at the campground in late afternoon and fixed ourselves a cookout meal, then participated in the free bingo games sponsored by the campground. We all won something, which was nice. We built another campfire and sat around it with another bottle of wine. It was a nice ending to a nice day.

Sunday morning we enjoyed the campground-offered breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, juice, coffee, sweet rolls, biscuits and sausage gravy for $6 per person. And it was great. We then headed for Kerr Lake State Recreation Area in North Carolina. We arrived and checked in about 2 p.m. We were surprised to find that we were the only campers in the campground. The ranger let us pick out the sites we wanted. We chose two sights next to one another right on the edge of the lake. The setting was simply beautiful.

"What is there to do around here?" I asked the ranger at the entrance gate.

"Nothing" he replied.

"Well, there is this big lake. Is there a marina where we can rent a boat?" I asked.

"There is a marina, but they don't rent boats" he responded. "You need to bring your own boat."

"How about horseback riding?" I asked. "Anyone rent horses nearby?"

"Afraid not."

"Any restaurants?"

"Nope. Well, there is one place down the road to the left apiece."

"OK. I have fishing gear. Do I need a license and where can I get one?"

The guard said I could get one at the end of the park entrance road, about three miles away, for $10, good for 10 days. So we went there, I bought a fishing license, went back to our campsites, and I fished.

The girls walked around the campground for exercise, my brother-in-law fiddled with his RV, and we all made the best of the situation. We ate at the one and only eatery, came back and sat around a warming campfire and then turned in for the night.

Tomorrow our vacation really started. We had three nights reserved at Ocean Lakes Campground on oceanfront campsites for $39 per night. We had all visited Ocean Lakes before and knew it to be a top-notch award-winning campground. Hannah had come and gone, the weather was supposed to be great, and we couldn't wait to hit the beach.

Things were about to change.

Monday morning was sunny as we loaded up and headed for the South Carolina border. At noon we pulled into a rest stop about 50 miles north of the border. We ate lunch onboard. At a quarter to 1 we pulled back out on Interstate 95 south, with me leading the way.

Suddenly as my transmission started to shift from second into third gear I heard a sound like a fanbelt slipping. It lasted about two seconds. Then there was a light popping sound and the engine revved up a lot. I drifted to the side of the road. I tried reverse, forward, every gear. Nothing. I thought maybe a universal joint had broken. But it hadn't. It was the transmission.

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