March 1, 2006: The Road to Edenton
I planned to leave Baton Rouge at about 5:00 in the morning. You see, the dirty secret about traveling East from here is that if you leave Baton Rouge at 7:00 or 8:00, you hit Atlanta right in time for evening rush hour. Yuck. But I didn't get up as early as I expected, and I got on the road an hour late.
I got to the boat, and started to connect the trailer. The gnats were un-fucking-believable. It did take me a little while to get the trailer on the ball correctly, but when I was done, it looked like my legs had chicken pox. There was also a small gray cloud of them inside the car. What a mess.
The Road to Edenton
I decided to back the car down the ramp to see if I could get the boat further forward on the trailer. I went down, tried to move the boat forward, went back up, decided to try again, went back down, fiddled with straps, etc. Then I noticed a couple of guys who were trying to get to my ramp just to go fishing. There was an empty ramp next to me, but for some reason, I think they thought I was using up the only one. They were understandably pretty hot by the time I got out of there.
I was a little nervous about hauling the boat using the Infiniti. I did get bounced around a little when I hit bumps while accellerating, but there really wasn't too much problem. Before I made it to the Interstate, I missed a turn and got to practice doing a donut in a parking lot. No problems.
The car accellerated okay when I got on the Interstate. By this time, it was 9:00. Ouch. Looks like I'm pulling a trailer through Atlanta during rush hour.
My first stop was at a gas station that had a big patch of grass for Lily. Our typical stop went like this: I pull up to a set of pumps. I walk Lily to the grass and chain her to something or other. She goes about her business as I pump gas, use the bathroom, and buy junk food. I pick her back up, and she's ready to go.
My diet for the whole day consited of plenty of Diet Coke, some sugar-free Twizzlers (just as tasteless but pleasant to chew as the sugared-up ones), some beef jerky (I like the flat pieces with the Indian on the package), some nuts, and some raisins.
Just as expected, I got to Atlanta as traffic inched through the city. I took the loop, which moved no faster, but meant less lane-weaving with the trailer.
At 7:00, we stopped at a rest area to play, serve dog food, have a snack, and take a quick nap. Since I had that big trailer, I got to use the cool side of the rest area with the 18-wheelers. I stuck around until dark, partly for the break, and partly to conceal the fact that I was cruising through South Carolina without a plate on that trailer.
I finally stopped in some town about 60 miles short of the North Carolina border. Driving carefully in and out of hotel parking lots with not much turn-around room, I got turned away time and time again. The fourth place I tried -- a tired looking Super 8 -- had a room for me. By the time I went in, it was midnight.
Lily isn't a good roommate in a hotel. Any time anyone would walk by outside, she would let loose with a beagle barking fit. Something like "BARRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOO. WOOOFFFFF WOOOFFFFF ARRRROOOOOOOOOOOO!" She had slept in the car all day, so guarding our room in this manner seemed to her like a better way to pass the time. I let her go while I gave myself a fast nasty shower.
March 2, 2006: The Road Continues
Lily got me up with a 6:00 wakeup call, as she heard other hotel guests who were up and about. I rose slowly and went out to check the car, boat and trailer.
One trailer tire looked a little low. I went to a nearby Citgo. Their air pump was broken to the point where it wouldn't put air into the tire. It did, however, manage to let out a lot more air. At this point, the tire could safely be described as "pretty flat."
I drove to a couple of other stations looking for a pump that would work. 90 minutes later, I was in line behind an 18-wheeler in a truck lane at a truck stop. I aired up the tire without problem, and finally got on the road.
The trip to Edenton was easy. I got a quick plant tour. I went into town to relax for a little while, and grabed lunch. We shook hands, and around 3:00 I started for home.
I drove to some point around the South Carolina/Georgia border. I stopeed around 10:00 at a Quality Inn. It was much, much better than the Super 8.
March 3 2006: Homeward Bound
Since I got to bed so comparitively early, I asked for a 6:00 wakeup call. I thought I would treat myself to a fancy breakfast (Waffle House is what I had in mind -- a big step up from gas station food), and have an easy ride home.
I stopped for gas early, and as I am apt to do, got back on the Interstate going the wrong way. It was a fateful decision.
Once I got back on in the right direction, I was riding merrily along. All of a sudden, something either fell off the undercarriage of an 18-wheeler, or it hit something big in the road. It was right in front of me, and the underside of the truck was suddenly full of fire. Then, before I could do much, the fire was in the middle of the road, and I was moving toward it very fast.
I pulled to the left and went up on the shoulder. I hit whatever had caused the flame, and still didn't manage to avoid driving through fire. It gave me a shakeup, but didn't seem to do any harm. Until I heard the flat tire.
I pulled over and changed the real tire out for the donut spare tire. I was in the middle of nowhere, and even if I thought the donut would have made it all the way home, I wasn't about to drive all that way at 50 mph. I crawled along the Interstate, slow as molasses, while the roadside assistance woman tried to figure out where in Georgia I could possibly be. She kept naming towns and I kept seeing signs for different towns. We never did get on the same page.
I got off at a smallish town. They had two tire stores, but neither had a tire that I could put on the Infiniti. Even though breakfast time was over, I treated myself to my Waffle House before getting back on the road.
It took another hour and a half to crawl down to the next decent town, which was by that time a far-out suburb of Atlanta. I found a big national tire chain, caughed up an obscene amount of money, and waited another hour and a half to get my car back with a new tire.
And all because I got on the Interstate going the wrong way.
We made it the rest of the way home without mishap. We should have been home by 2:00, but it ended up being after dark.