I had decided last night to postpone my departure an extra day because the weather was supposed to be stormy. It is cloudy this morning but most of the bad weather is passing well to the north. I'm parked behind the Savannah Elks lodge, dry camping except for electric...I ran an extension cord to the lodge for power with their permission. I've been taking Navy showers and eating off paper plates to minimize water consumption. My fresh water is holding out fine. I spend a little time looking through the camping directories and decide where to stop next. There's a Passport America park near Unadilla, GA and that's about halfway to Atlanta. I'm going to stop at Stone Mountain for a few days but it's further than I like to drive in a day. I tend to drive less than 200 miles in a day as a general rule. I run the route program using Street Atlas and its about 135 miles to South Prong Creek campground traveling all on state highways... looks like a good run. Cost is always a factor, so I try to take advantage of cheaper / free camping spots, often adjusting my course to take advantage of them. Passport America is a good deal, offering 50% off camping at selected parks. I also spend some time compiling and printing out the bi-monthly travel log that I mail back to my friends at the Elks lodge in Tehachapi. After lunch, I roll the bike back up onto the back of the rig and change the oil and plug. Just normal maintenance... this is a good place to do it, as lots of campgrounds frown on vehicle maintenance. Later in the afternoon, I drive over to a nearby grocery store and stock the fridge, then relax for a couple of hours with a book. After dinner, I watch TV for a while, then take a walk around the grounds. I make my journal entry for the day and hit the sack.
I crawl out about 8 and shower, then make breakfast. Then I wash all the accumulated dishes in preparation for getting underway. I walk through the rig and stow all the stuff that's laying around. Then I start hooking up. I pull the power and stow the cords, switch the fridge to gas and take the satellite dish down and stow it. Then, the jacks come up and I back the truck to the rig and hook up. After all the jacks are up, I check the lights and brakes. Then I take my walk around the outside of the rig checking that everything is secured and stowed, then I do the same thing inside, closing all windows, etc. I do this all by a checklist... that way I'm certain that nothing gets missed. Once the checklist is complete, I put the laptop into the truck and hook up the GPS. Once the steps are up, I'm ready to roll. The preparation usually takes about an hour, but if I hurry, I can do it in 30 minutes. I light off the laptop and let the GPS get a fix, then I'm rolling to my next stop. I usually roll about 11am and am usually stopped by 4pm. I don't like to spend long hours driving.
The drive is all on good 2-lane and I pass through a lot of little towns along the way. Sometimes there are stoplights, and usually lower speed limits, but I'm not in a hurry. As I drive through Vidalia, I stop at a roadside stand and get some onions...real cheap, too: about 25 cents a pound. The drive takes me through a lot of very green countryside with farms and stands of pines along the road. The last leg to the campground is on a fairly narrow, winding road, but there's no traffic so it's no sweat. Meeting semi's on narrow farm roads requires a steady hand on the wheel and close attention to lane position... it's definitely not relaxing! I spot the sign for the campground and pull into a big area near a building that must be the office. There is no campground in sight, however, and I begin to wonder if I'm in the right place. The owner, Tom, comes out and signs me up for a spot. I tell him I'll be here 3 days and inquire about hookups for email. He offers me a parking spot close to the office with a phone line, but I decide to go on down the hill into the campground where the trees are. He doesn't have any hookups with sewer available, so on the way down I stop and dump my tanks. I get into my spot and unhook, plug in and open all the windows. Soon. I have a glass of Jack Daniels in my hand and am sitting out looking at my new, temporary front yard. I make dinner and eat on real plates (water hookup), then after it cools a bit I take a walk around the area. It's a big park, but there are only a couple of other rigs here. I stop and talk for a while with a couple who are sitting out, then come home and set up the satellite dish. I watch a little TV and relax until bed.
It's a beautiful day today... blue sky as far as you can see. After my morning routine, I walk the 1/4 mile up to the office with my laptop to plug in and get my email. Then I sit on the office porch and chat with Tom for a couple of hours. There's not much happening around here and that's nice, as I am glad to be out of the noise and bustle of the city. It's nice to be able to just sit and chat with nothing else to do! Later in the afternoon, it starts to get really warm and there is no breeze, so I decide to unload the bike and take a ride to cool off. I ride the seven miles or so into Unadilla and gas up the bike, then strike out on a back road to see where it goes. Along the way I stop to take some pictures of some farms and then decide to try a shortcut back to the road that the park is on. I turn right on a fire road, dirt, and follow it a few miles into the woods. Way back there, I come across an abandoned farm. All the buildings are falling down and assorted machinery lays rusting in the weeds. I continue on the fire road but it peters out and disappears, so I have to backtrack. I ride a few more miles until I hit a numbered, paved road and turn right again. Let's see if this will connect to the road I want.... after a while it does, and I ride back to the park. The sun is going down and it's starting to cool off. After dinner, I decide to walk up and call my sister and on the way back I see the most amazing moonrise... the moon is just past full and looks deep orange as it clears the trees.
I can tell when I get up that it's gonna be a hot one today. I gather up all my dirty clothes and walk to the laundry. While the laundry is going, I sit down and spend a couple of hours answering my email and saving it for later transmission. After the laundry is done, I walk back up to the office to send out my email and make a couple of phone calls. I find some info on Amsoil up at the office and spend some time reading through it. I really should consider switching to Amsoil next oil change... with the extended drain interval, it wouldn't cost any more than what I pay now for conventional oil and I wouldn't have to change it as often. I come back to the rig and decide to lay in the sun and read a while, but it is just too damn hot... no breeze. I get so hot that I come inside and take a cold shower to cool off. I'm only on a 20A circuit so I can't run the A/C. I turn on the fans and it isn't too bad once the shade from all the trees covers the trailer. Later, I sit down at the computer and pay bills, balance my checkbook and plan my next stop, which will be the Elks lodge in Decatur, GA. It's just a few miles from Stone Mountain and should be a lot cheaper than staying at Stone mountain park. Later in the evening I spend some time chatting with the neighbors and walking around the park. I find that I spend a fair amount of time just sitting and watching the world go by... I also do a lot of reading... something I never had time for when I was working.
I get up and go through the standard routine for getting underway. On the way out of the park I stop and dump the tanks... man, it's not even 11 and already getting hot! The best route to Stone Mountain looks like I-75. I usually try and avoid interstates, but when passing through or near a big city it can be the best way to go. I start up I-75 and stop for gas at a truck stop. I pay the lowest cost for gas so far... 84.9 cents/gal. The trip up I-75 is a bitch! The road is in poor shape and the traffic is heavy. About halfway along, I look in the mirror to see the refrigerator compartment door trying to blow off. I manage to get pulled over before I lose it, but on a narrow emergency strip with the trucks screaming by only a couple of feet away.. I fix the door quickly (the latch had come apart) and get rolling again. I follow the tripmate's directions and find the Elks lodge in Decatur, but the lodge is closed and I can find no spots marked out for RV parking. That and the heat, it must have been near 100 in the asphalt lot, decide me in favor of the park at Stone mountain. It is just too hot to stay here at the Elks... I want air conditioning! I drive the extra miles to Stone mountain and get a spot in the RV park down by the river. It is a nice park and it sure feels good to turn the A/C on and escape the heat. The first thing I do when I pull into the space is run the electric and get the air turned on. That way it will have a chance to cool down the trailer while I finish setting up. The park is kind of expensive, $19 a nite, but sometimes it just costs what it costs.... After dinner, when it had cooled off a bit, I try to set up the satellite dish but heavy tree cover prevents me from getting a signal. No biggie... there's enough to do around here to keep me busy, but I'll miss the weather channel for a few days. It has been a trying day, so I go to bed a little early, planning to get up early and go see the sights.
I get up and get some breakfast and a shower, then unload the bike and ride out for a day of playing tourist. There are details of the attractions at Stone Mountain in the May Travel Log, so I won't repeat them here except to say that I am busy all day. I come back to the rig for lunch and dinner and go to the Laser show at 930pm on the bike. It's been a hot day, so it feels great to ride through the cool air. The parking lot is full so I ride down close to the entrance and find a little spot that the bike will fit in. A motorcycle is great that way.... there's always somewhere to park it up close. After the show, I wait out the traffic and ride back home, getting there about 11pm. A full day! I write my journal entry and crash.
After a shower and breakfast, etc., I decide to take a drive into town and get some groceries. I take the truck as I don't like to ride the bike in city traffic. I drive out the west gate of the park and through a residential area. I'm kind of checking the road out to decide which direction I want to leave the park when I pull the trailer out. A lot of low hanging trees make this route a bad choice, so I will leave the park the way I came in.... off the freeway at the east gate. I find a food store and stop for the groceries I need. Returning to the park, I unload the goodies and kick back and read a bit. A little after noon, I ride the bike over to the carillon tower for the live concert at 1pm. I walk down to the carillon tower and around the lake, enjoying the scenery. I stay and listen to the concert and then take a leisurely ride back around the park. I'm rolling tomorrow so I spend some time deciding where to stop next and route the trip. I will go up to Chattanooga, TN and see some of the sights. I picked up some brochures previously that describe some of the neat things to see in the Chattanooga area and I think I'll go have a look around. It looks like I will have to travel some more interstate since it's the only way out of the Atlanta metro area.... If I stay on I-75, there is a welcome center just across the Tennessee border that I will stop at. I like to hit the state's welcome center when I first enter a new state because they are a great source of brochures, free maps and information. I've found out about some of the best stuff to see and do this way. The rest of the day, I relax and read a book and then take a walk around the park after it cools off in the evening. I think about going to the laser show again, but decide to stay home and sit outside in the cool. I can hear the fireworks going off, and then watch the surge of traffic in the park as folks come back after the show.
I get up and go through the routine of preparing to roll. Loading the bike is a bit of a hassle, as the ground slopes away behind the rig, but I manage. I'm a little concerned by the steepness of the road I have to drive up to exit the campground. It wouldn't be so bad if it was smooth, but it's real bumpy so I can't just storm up it... I will have to go slow. I start up it and am relieved to find that the truck pulls it with no problems. There is a limit as to how steep a grade you can pull, and if you can't make it up the hill, you may be forced to back down it and that can be really hairy! I managed a 15% grade for about a mile in South Dakota last year, but I was barely crawling when I got to the top of it. There's a limit to what any truck can do, and my truck is geared pretty high. Anyway, I go up it with no problems and then stop on the way out of the park to dump my tanks before continuing on out to the highway. Once I get north of Atlanta, on I-75, the road smoothes out and becomes one of the best pieces of interstate I've been on. Nice and smooth, newly paved. Traffic is fairly light and I relax and begin to enjoy the ride. I start climbing a bit as I approach the Tennessee border... not big hills but a perceptible grade. The scenery is pretty and very green!. Just over the Tennessee border, I pull off at the welcome center and park behind another RV. I spend a while in the center and come out with a big pile of brochures. I'll read through them later, but one thing that I discover is a flier for a RV park that is closer to the things that I want to see than the park I had originally planned to stay at. I decide to go there first and check it out. I jump back on the freeway and take the I-24 bypass around Chattanooga. Holy shit... this is now some of the absolute worst road I've ever seen! The pavement is all torn up and I have to slow way down to keep everything under control. Lucky that I only have to travel a few miles on it! As I begin to leave the city behind, the road improves a little.. what a relief! When towing a heavily loaded trailer, a really rough road can damage the trailer suspension, as well as cause stuff to fall out of cabinets and fly around inside. I always try to be as easy on the rig as possible when the road gets really bad. I bent a spring on a bad stretch of road in Louisiana last year and had to replace it. I spot the exit I want and proceed to the RV park and pull up at the office. It's a nice place and the manager is a friendly fellow. They offer the SKP discount, so it saves me a little money. The manager escorts me to the spot in a golf cart and "helps" me back in. Actually, I have gotten pretty good at doing it by myself and I sometimes find that helpers are more distracting than helpful. Once I get everything where I want it, I shut the engine off and immediately become aware of a strange sound... it's the buzzing of thousands of Cicadas in the trees behind me. The manager and I stand and talk for a while and he tells me the Cicada story. When he leaves, I get set up and unhooked, then make a beeline for the swimming pool. Boy, does that feel good! After a couple hours, when the shade has gotten to my site, I return and mix a drink and sit outside and check out the front yard. As the evening comes on, I become aware of how good it smells around here! There's a lot of honeysuckle back in the trees and the breeze is bringing the scent to me as the evening cools off. Sure is nice! I set up the satellite dish and make dinner, then watch TV for a while before retiring. It's gonna be a busy day tomorrow!