Blog Posts

It’s A Surprise!

Thanks to Tropical Storm Nicole and a service bulletin from Airstream, we had to modify our travel plans somewhat. Our original plan was to kick off our retirement travels by attending a Carolinas Airstream Club rally in Myrtle Beach, SC. An Airstream rally is a gathering of Airstream owners and their rigs where we all get together and share meals, and maintenance tips, and attend special events in the area. We’ve met some great people with the club and always try to rally with them, when possible. This was the last rally of the season and we were looking forward to it.

However, every model we saw of the storm’s path seemed to take it closer to Myrtle Beach, SC. We had already sat in the rig for a couple of days during the last tropical storm (Ian) and the thought didn’t appeal to us this time. In addition, there was a service bulletin for our rig to fix two controller boards related to the heating units and we knew we wanted to get that sorted out before heading west this winter.

As we started discussing our new route I remembered that our friends, Marnie and Elizabeth, were due to be camping on Lake Eufaula down in Southeast Alabama. We had all been wanting to RV together at some point and, with us going full-time, it wasn’t clear to me how that was going to happen for a long time.

So we started to formulate a sneaky plan. We’d modify our route to head west away from the storm, spend the night in Blacksburg, SC, and then drive the rest of the way to Lake Eufaula and surprise them at the campground.

Cherokee Campground, Blacksburg, SC

The weather through South Carolina and Georgia was pretty awful. Lots of rain and wind to drive through, and we missed the 285 bypass around Atlanta. That caused us to be in bumper-to-bumper traffic in downtown Atlanta. Our steady driver (Duffy) and our big Chevy (the Beast) did a great job of navigating the Airstream (Silver Slugger) through the weather and the weather finally broke on the other side.

We arrived at Bluff Creek Park in Pittsview, AL on Friday evening. As we entered, the route to our campsite went right past Marnie and Elizabeth’s site. Fortunately, Marnie’s back was to us and she didn’t have any cause to know something was amiss.

We pulled in and went through our unhitching routine and then grabbed a couple of beers and walked to their site. As we approached them, they were sitting around a fire with their backs to us. I made some comment about us being there to address a loud noise complaint about ‘Bama fans and, when Marnie got up and turned around to give whoever it was a piece of her mind, her face was priceless as she tried to process the fact we were standing there.

There were big hugs all around and it couldn’t have felt like a more perfect way to kick off our trip. Marnie and I have been friends since high school and, as Duffy pointed out, it was a full-circle moment to be with her at the beginning of my employment and the end.

A Surprise Reunion! Elizabeth, Marnie, Tuck, and Duff

We had a great visit with Marnie and Elizabeth and their friends, Tom and Sally, for the weekend. It was a weekend filled with laughs, rides on e-bikes, great food, and time by the campfire. As always when you’re having fun, time went by too fast and they had to get back to work on Monday.

We took our Sunday afternoon and drove an hour to Auburn, AL to see our nephew, Tucker. It was so good to get to have lunch with him and have him show us around campus. He seems pretty happy there (an 8 out of 10 according to him) and that’s all we can hope for.

We spent our remaining time at Bluff Creek checking out Fort Benning, GA for its campgrounds and base shopping and were completely blown away at the size of it. It dwarfs most other bases we’ve been on.

We finally heard from the dealer in Atlanta that our repair parts were in, so we knew we needed to beeline it to Georgia to get that sorted out. We got all set up for our departure the night before and took off bright and early to get to Atlanta at a reasonable time. We pulled in around Noon (forgetting the time change) and everyone was at lunch. So much for our plans of getting there at a reasonable time!

After a few hours, and some back and forth with the vendor of the units, it was all sorted out and we got back on the road for Alabama at four in the afternoon. Big lesson learned here. We left Atlanta late, in rush hour traffic and rain, to drive hard to get to Alabama that same day. We knew we needed to drop off some stuff in our storage unit and we wanted to get a chance to visit my sister and her family while there.

We wound up driving mostly in the dark and pulled into our site around 9 p.m. pretty tired. Looking back on it, we realized we should have just stayed in Atlanta and not pressed so hard. But, it is hard to get out of that work mindset that your time off is limited. All we can do is learn from that moving forward.

Tucker with his proud Aunties

We had a great time visiting with Jennie and David, even if it was only for a few hours over dinner. But, it was time to prep for our departure to Apalachicola, FL for the week of Thanksgiving with my Mom and Dad and the Lee family. We had always figured that Apalachicola over Thanksgiving would be the spot that kicked off our travels west, so it started feeling pretty real that we were on the road and living the adventure finally. Until next time, peace out!

Route for this leg of the trip

Miles driven this leg: 986

One thought on “It’s A Surprise!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *