Saturday, December 21, 2013

South of the Border

Since I got a rare 2 week Christmas Break this year we decided to plan an RV trip!  This was our chance to get to Dry Tortguas!  We made the reservations back in April and even then we were a little late – barely securing campsites in the Keys! 

I’d been worried about this was going to work with winterizing & un-winterizing & re-winterizing, as well as the threat of a snow storm showing up on my travel days.  So far I’ve been lucky in that respect – it was 60* in DC yesterday and didn’t go below freezing last night so I was able to fill  my fresh tank before I left home and un-winterize at the 1st rest stop today!  Here’s hoping for the same luck on the return! 

I knew 95 was going to be an issue with traffic so I got on the road early – 6:30 this morning I was off!  I figured as soon as I got past Fredericksburg it would be smooth sailing…and I was somewhat correct.  I made great time getting to NC and across about 1/2 of it…around noon however, I started hitting traffic.  Little spurts of stopped traffic – a mile here, 2 miles there…slow, but not stopped in places.  This continued the rest of the day and got worse the further along I went. There was an accident just before Lumberton, NC and that ate up an hour.  Part of the trouble is that 95 is 2 lanes (in each direction) from 295 south of Richmond to the Georgia border!  One slow moving truck, RV or a lot of cars on the road and bam! huge back ups.   It took 5 hours each for NC and SC – both states are just under 200 miles long! Early on I noticed that most of the cars on the road had either FL plates or plates from northern state – VA and everything north, including Quebec and Ontario.  I knew that we were all headed to the same place and it was gonna take all of us forever to get there.   Thankfully, whomever built the road in Georgia was smart enough to build 3 lanes! Rumor has it it’s 3 lanes the rest of the way.  Thank you!!!!  Hopefully that will help. 

I stopped for fuel in the middle of North Carolina.  I wasn’t especially in need but I wasn’t sure I’d make it to South of the Border and there was a Pilot and I get a 3c/gallon discount at Pilot/Flying J so I decided to just seize the fuel.  Even though I stop at truck stops I usually use the car lanes as opposed to the trucker lanes.  The trucker lanes work differently and my little RV would be laughed at by the big truckers!  However, this Pilot had the auto diesel with the truck lanes in a trucker style pump.  When it was my turn I put in my credit card & my loyalty card and then it asked for my “unit number”?  I was able to skip that since I’m not part of a fleet, then it wanted to know if I wanted “tractor fuel” or “reefer fuel”?  Hmmm…neither?  I wanted ultra-low sulphur highway diesel. What exactly was “tractor fuel”?  or “reefer fuel?”  I’m thinking farm equipment and Bob Marley here… I was actually going to go for the “reefer” because I was thinking tractors on a farm might run on Off road diesel or some other concoction.  Finally I went in and asked.  Turns out I needed “tractor fuel”.   And, in actuality they are the exact same fuel (yes, ultra low sulpher highway diesel).  The “reefer fuel” is for the big trucks refrigeration units – to run the generators. I’m guessing that this “tractor” means the part that pulls the trailer, which is the part that needs fuel – tractor-trailer trucks! Not green & yellow John Deeres.  I didn’t ask her why there was a difference, but tonight my Dad explained it – there’s a different tax on the different types of fuel – not sure what that means to me as the RV driver, but that’s why there was a choice. 

I did finally stop at South of the Border in South Carolina!  It was just as tacky and dated and cheesy as I’d expected!  The one dispointment was that there really wasn’t anyplace to walk around – I’d been hoping to move around a bit and get in some steps, and that didn’t happen.  I did browse the “Mexico Shop West” and picked up a small neon bumper sticker to go on my table for 5c! I spent all of 20 mins there – 10 of those minutes were in the van eating a snack!  It was good to see it and check it off and now I can say I’ve been!

The real highlight of the day was meeting up with my friends Russell and Amy when I arrived in Pooler, GA!  We’d been in communication all afternoon about the traffic and such and they were waiting at Carey Hillards when I arrived!  Our resteraunt choice was perfect – great food (a Savannah local chain) and perfect location, just a few feet from the Wal-Mart I’m staying at.  I pulled in about 7 and picked a choice spot – there were already 5 RVs here when I got here – 4 more have shown up since and rushed off to dinner.  We had a great conversation about public radio and road geek stuff and yummy food! 



It’s getting late – well past my bedtime – and the Wal-Mart is starting to quiet down – here’s hoping I get a decent nights sleep and can be on the road at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning to beat the crowds!  500 miles to Homestead!

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