This is the sickening sight that greets me on Tuesday morning, our last day at Coleman Lake.
Suddenly the lack of cell service becomes more than an annoyance.
Joann immediately pitches in to work the problem. Turns out, she's great in a pickle. Soon our neighbor, Frank, camping with his wife in a nearby site, joins in. We soon discover the problem – a great big metal screw. It's really jammed in there.
I have some of that fix-a-flat stuff in a can but Joann is concerned that I would have to get a new tire ($$$$) if I use it.
Plan B: remove the screw, patch it with Frank’s kit, borrow an air compressor, and inflate. This would allow me to get to Heflin – 15 miles or so out of the forest. Good plan but it's a no-go. The screw will not budge, Frank doesn't have the kit with him after all, and the air compressor Joann borrows from a nearby work crew is ineffective.
BTW, the nearby work crew are plumbers who promptly proceed to turn off all the campground water! Not knowing how long I'll be there, I have just enough time to fill my water tank before the water source is gone.
Plan C: find some cell service and call for Progressive’s roadside assistance. Frank drives me the miles out of the forest to obtain a signal. The signal is poor and the call is dropped a few times. Oy! Finally I get word that a local service is on its way and will arrive at my campsite within the hour.
We drive back to the campground to wait. We talk for a while as Joann hitches up Zelda, her cute little house-on-wheels.
|Joann, Frank, and Zelda|
Then the thunder starts. Followed by – what else? – rain, of course. Frank goes back to his trailer as Joann and I scurry into the GDB to wait. After an hour-and-a-half, I have a sinking feeling. Joann, bless her, unhitches her truck and insists that I drive it to a cell signal in order to call the local repair place.
I end up going all the way into Heflin to get gas for Joann’s near-empty tank. I call the number Progressive gave me and the lady informs me that they can’t come after all (they don’t do ‘heavy-duty’ vehicles). She tells me that Progressive has dispatched someone from Gadsden, at least 90 minutes away.
While talking with her, Brian, the fellow from Gadsden, calls and needs to the campground. Oy again! Like most National Forest campgrounds it is tucked away down a series of forest roads.
I tell Brian I will meet him at the Texaco station in Heflin near the turn-off to the NF. By now the rain has stopped, I'm feeling frustrated, and have a need to pace around outside. I get out and a big work truck pulls in to the station – full of convicts! I haven't seen so much orange since the last Tennessee football game.
If I wasn't so hungry, wet, and irritated, I’m sure I would have laughed. I try to walk around but the blatant staring soon gets to me so I get back in the truck. All the while, I'm chanting my mantra: Itcouldbeworse. Itcouldbeworse. Itcouldbeworse.
Brian arrives sooner than expected and we drive to the campground. It takes him about 10 minutes to get me roadworthy using the patch kit.
The surgery is a success.
Brian is only able to inflate the tire to 40 PSI and the rear tires require 80 PSI. So Joann follows me into town and makes sure that I got some assistance at a tire shop before she heads home, some 4 hours later than planned.
So much for our anticipated leisurely morning! We were going to pack up at a slow pace, then drive into Anniston for some shopping at the RV dealer. As it was, I don't arrive home till almost 6 PM.
Lesson learned. I will think twice before staying anywhere out of cell phone range. Last time I stayed at a campground without coverage, I arrived home to find that John had gotten a GI bug and was sick.
It seems I have my share of mechanical glitches the past year but am cautiously optimistic that I am in for some trouble-free road trips in the future.
Many thanks to Frank, Brian, and Progressive! And especially to Joann for sticking it out with me!
Hey, it could be worse!