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10/28/00 - 10/31/00 - The Power Drive

So we are in our power driving mode and flipping radio stations, looking for the testorone-driven classic 70s rock that suits this drive across the country. The Route: I-39 South to I-74 South to I-57 South to I-24 East to I-75 South into Florida.

10/28/00 - Paducah, Kentucky; Campground: Fern Lake

When you are on a power drive, I think its really about the RV campgrounds because most interstates are pretty straightforward - they are what they are. In Paducah, the Fern Lake campground actually did have a lake on it, unlike the Driftwood campground in Edinburgh, Indiana that didn't have driftwood, or the ocean for that matter.

To get there, I went through all of Illinois, suddenly realizing it was a lot bigger than the impression I got from the map. The campground was off the first exit once I crossed the state line into Kentucky. Made a great dinner of corn tortillas with melted cheddar, sauteed zucchini & summer squash, black beans and salsa. RV life sure doesn't mean roughing it. Of course, I've switched from Sam Adams to drinking Bud Light - hey, it's cheaper!

The plan is to try to make it to Chattanooga tomorrow. Have to make sure the Apache doesn't overheat so that means 1.5 - 2 hours driving and an hour break, then another 1.5 hours - 2 hours and then finding a campground. ernie

10/29/00 - Guild, Tennessee; Campground: Camp by the Lake

Another campground by a lake. I didn't make my goal of getting to Chattanooga, but I'm about 20 minutes north of it and will be entering Georgia tomorrow. I was so proud of myself for getting on the road at 8:15am because I had forgotten it was daylight savings time.

The RV started running a little hot again, possibly because of things are heating up as I head South - a balmy 75 degrees today. Got to a mountain in Tennessee (at least it looked like a mountain to me) and slowed down to 40 mph and watched the RV engine temperature rise and rise so I pulled off at the next exit - a rest area - and waited about an hour and a half for it to cool down. I think the problem is also because of the exhaust leaks in the intake and possibly exhaust manifolds (I sound so "mechanico," don't I?)

Tomorrow - Georgia.

10/30/00 - Ashburn, Georgia; Campground: Knights Inn RV Park

I am a really good driver, and I'm not just saying that because the world is reading my RV road diary. Ask anyone who knows me and has been in a car with me behind the wheel. I drive within the speed limit - averaging about 65 mph even in the 70 mph zones I've been encountering as I head south.

I'm really into the driving interaction with big trucks. I always let them pass me and then blink my headlights so they can move in front of me. And then I wait for their return blinks of their brake lights in acknowledgement. They do that about 60% of the time, and it is always a thrill. I find the big rigs are always the most considerate while the smaller trucks often have less road manners.

Did I say I'm a really good driver? And I'm feeling pretty comfortable now with the 23 foot Apache. So imagine my surprise when I saw police lights flashing behind me after entering Georgia. While I feel great relief to see those lights when I'm broken down and close to tears, I don't get that same feeling.

I wasn't speeding - I hate bringing the Apache up to or over 70 mph. I didn't cut anyone off. I was just driving along. Heart jumping, nerves rattled, trying to remain calm, I pulled off the road and watched him in my side view mirror, gathering my drivers license and auto registration. He gestured to me in the mirror to get out of the car and come to the back of the RV.

"Do you know why I stopped you?" he asked.

"No sir," I answered.

Turns out I was "weaving" which I think referred to a slight swerve that happens sometimes when a big truck whooshes by me - it occasionally takes a moment to compensate. Same thing happens sometimes over bridges or on long, flat highways where the wind whips across the land.

He asked me a bunch of questions, and I told him what I did (writer, speaker, Internet expert), and he started talking to me about the Internet. Then he finally handed me a piece of paper.

"What should I do with this?" I asked.

"You can throw it out after you pull away - it's just a courtesy warning," he replied and explained that after speaking with me, he could tell that I hadn't been drinking, and he just had to write the warning to record everything he did during the day, that it wouldn't be held against me. It basically said that I "failed to stay in the line."

I thanked him, got into the RV, and got back onto the highway. Welcome to Georgia.

Decided to camp in a small campground behind a Knights Inn motel because of its very attractive price of $9.95. The Berts and I ran around the grassy campsite as the sun set, then settled in for the night. bert

10/31/00 - Tampa, Florida; Trick or Treat

Crossed the state line into Florida and stopped at the visitor information center, my new road trip habit, where I can get a free map and brochure on campgrounds in each state.

The Florida landscape, Florida drivers and Florida weather converged to create an entirely new driving experience, and all the reasons why I do not like Florida. Gone were the autumn leaves and crisp, cool air.

After a long day of driving and stopping for breaks to cool down the engine, including one at WalMart where I grabbed a hot fudge sundae at a nearby Baskin Robbins and another break at a Dairy Queen for a vanilla shake, I pulled into my friend Alison's clean, manicured neighborhood. I was hot, sweaty and cranky from eating so much sugar, and went straight into a hot shower at her house.

We spent the rest of the evening talking, eating dinner, watching her giant television, and giving candies to the trick or treaters that came to her door.

I made it to Florida in five days. The Apache was still alive and kicking. The Berts were almost as excited about the wall to wall carpeting in the house as I was about the hot shower. And as I have found as I travel, it is really nice to meet up with friends along the way.

11/2/00 - end of November...

Thank you to everyone who has emailed, concerned about my sudden trek to Florida. Everything is fine, I just had to handle a personal situation. Now, I have to devote the next three weeks to finish writing my 3rd book, something I haven't had enough time to do since I got on the road - and it is due in December!

In the meanwhile, I will be uploading some more photographs from the trip so far and writing about several weekend Florida RV trips I am planning to take. I'll resume my regularly scheduled road diary after Thanksgiving. Don't forget to Email!

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