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Wednesday, 1/17/01 - Atlanta, GA

The CNN crew arrived in the morning and filmed me outside, walking the dogs, detaching my water hose, and working inside the RV. Then they interviewed me about my book and booktour, my RV travels, and about leaving New York City and "Silicon Alley" to hit the road. They also filmed the electronic gadgets I had with me on the road including a new SmartPhone I received from Qualcomm - it's a combination Palm Pilot and cell phone with Sprint PCS. It's the coolest thing!

The CNN segment should air in a week. Stay tuned!

Then the Berts and I headed over to the Chapter 11 bookstore, arrived early, so I took a nap then went to a nearby day spa for a half hour massage. Yay! The folks at the Chapter 11 bookstore were really nice but the evening was very slow. Still, I asked immediately if they were okay with me talking to the customers as they walked in and they said it was fine.

So the first woman to walk in the store turned out to be an author promoting her book about women in third world countries. I offered to build her a small website to promote her book if she bought my book. She bought it!

Then a woman who had recently joined the Webgrrls list showed up and we spoke for quite a while. Then I invited her to join me for dinner after my signing so she went book shopping while I talked to everyone who walked through the doors. After one man refused to buy my book, I was set on getting his friend to buy one. And he did and even had me sign it to him, not his wife.

Dinner was another Mexican meal at a restaurant called Jalisco which was great (and is the region where my grandmother was born). I am, however, looking forward to being in Texas and the Southwest for some authentic TexMex soon.

Returned to KOA for the night.

Friday, 1/19/01 - Atlanta, Again

I think I have a hard time "doing nothing." Even though I'm so much more relaxed on the road than I've ever been, I also have a compulsion to always be productive.

So on Thursday, my day off, I wrote, organized, emailed, and kept busy on the RV as cold rain drenched the campground.

On Friday, the rain continued, and I had to get to another part of town for a luncheon with Webgrrls members. I called the restaurant for directions, then headed out in the horrible weather.

As I followed the directions, I began to get a funny feeling that they were incorrect, so I called the restaurant again. This time, they gave me entirely different directions but I had gone too far to turn around. So they had to direct me the long way back to the restaurant to make up for the wrong directions that had sent me West instead of East of Atlanta.

I finally found the restaurant, about half an hour late, only to discover that there was no parking that could accomodate my RV. So I called the restaurant and they told me to go across the street to the Kroger parking lot. I pulled in to park and noticed a policeman sitting in the lot. So, being the good and honest RV Girl, I went up to him in the pouring rain and asked if I could park there for two hours while I attended a luncheon across the street.

"No." he said. I sweetly explained that I'm an author and was late to a luncheon in my honor and could he please make an exception just so I could get to the event. "No." he said. I held back tears of frustration and asked if he had any suggestion where I could park and he pointed to the Grand Hyatt hotel down the block.

So I got back into the RV, dripping wet, and drove down the block to the hotel, going to the back parking lot. I sent up to the lot entrance, got the parking ticket out of the machine and the mechanical arm went up. But as I drove through, it came down and "CRACK!" - the arm broke off and flew in the air. Great!

I pulled up to the parking lot exit where a man sat in a booth and told him what had just happened. "It is good that you are honest." he said, then told me to park and he'd deal with the damage later. Yes, just call me Honest RV Girl.

Leaving the Berts in the warm, dry RV, I put on a jacket and walked in the pouring rain to the restaurant. I finally arrived looking like a drowned rat, smiling at half a dozen perfectly-made-up women in business suits.

The luncheon was wonderful - organized by Gloria Moore, the Atlanta Webgrrls chapter leader - the food was delicious and the conversation with the entrepreneurial women was really interesting and inspiring. I soon forgot that I was soaking wet and enjoyed the afternoon.

Back at the parking lot, I was told that the damage would cost me $20. Thank goodness!

As I got back on the highway with the intention of driving to Charlotte, North Carolina that afternoon, I realized that I had left the dog ramp at the campground. The dog ramp is something my Dad made to help the chihuahuas climb in and out of the RV - a plank of wood with another piece of wood on one end to make a platform that fits neatly on one side of the RV stairs, covered with non-slip material so their little paws can grip as they climb.

So I decided to go back to the KOA to get the dog ramp and once there, I realized that I was exhausted from the day and decided I would stay over one more night.

Saturday, January 20 - Heading to North Carolina

We got an early start to Charlotte and the day was clear and sunny, although cold. On the way, I saw a dog on the side of the road, sitting right by the highway. It looked like an old beagle. My reflexes were not fast enough to pull over and as I continued driving, I realized that I had to go back to make sure he was okay or I'd never forgive myself.

So I decided to take the next exit which ended up being miles away. I did turn around, then headed back to the next exit to loop around again. I was thinking how I'd use my ice chest to block off an area in the kitchen, how I could use an old blanket as a bed and how I could feed him some of the Berts' food. But by the time I passed by the section of highway where I had seen him, he was gone.

I felt terrible, but knew I had done what I could.

We arrived at the KOA Ft. Mills/Charlotte in the late afternoon feeling totally drained, but I had made plans to have dinner with a woman I had met on the ClassicRV list on eGroups and she had agreed to serve up a homemade Southern meal. So I took a hot shower and headed over to Kathy's house. She and her roommate Ginger greeted me with a feast cooking in their kitchen.

The meal was outrageous - more than I could have ever dreamed of - fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, collard greens (something I had wanted and they made them even though they don't like them), fried okra and corn bread. I was overwhelmed by their hospitality and they topped it off with a superb pecan pie that Kathy made herself.

I was feeling a little feverish, so I took an Advil, enjoyed the meal, and took a tour of Kathy's RV. Then she and Ginger checked out my RV and ended up repairing my kitchen pantry that had been jammed.

I finally had to leave because I was feeling under the weather, but I left with such a warm and happy feeling as well, having met - in person - yet another wonderful person who I had originally met online.

Sunday, January 21 - Oh-Oh, I'm Sick...

Woke up with a fever of 103 degrees. Not good. Finally went to the KOA manager who gave me directions to the nearest hospital, and I drove to the emergency room of Mercy South in Pineville, NC.

Turns out I had the flu so they gave me Tamiflu and recommended bed rest and lots of fluids. I decided to check into a hotel. Luckily, I had recently purchased a book about traveling with dogs and was able to find a hotel that allowed dogs and that had room service so I didn't have to go foraging for food.

I checked into the Sheraton Airport Plaza and immediately ordered soup for me and steak for the Berts. Now I have to rest.

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