Homeward bound – part deux

Mireille worked in the CCU at a hospital in Oklahoma City for 20 years. In that time she came to know a lot of people. One of the people that she knows is still her doctor. When she was in seeing him the last time the subject of Charlie and our impending adventure came up. As it so happens, this doctor also owns an RV and was very excited that we should stay at a place called Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park.

Before we left to go to Alabama to pick up Charlie, I called and made reservations for a night there the Friday of Valentine’s week. Once events transpired as they did for us in Montgomery, we called to let the friendly people at Tom Sawyer’s know we would not be able to make it. They volunteered to change our reservation to Saturday night and still kept us on the banks of the Mississippi, so we were all happy.

As I said before in an earlier post, we left Gunter Hill RV Park around 9:30 or 10:00 Saturday morning and had almost 400 miles to go to reach our destination for the night. I know on the screenshot that Google says it would only take a little over 5 hours. However, Google doesn’t plan on someone traveling 5 to 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. 60 mph was the speed I was planning on maintaining as I had read that this was about the right speed for optimum fuel economy. At 60 mph, the trip would take almost 6 hours with no stops, and I wanted to get there before dark.

I have only been to Alabama twice, both times to Montgomery and back. Once when we ordered Charlie, and the second when we picked him up. That is not a vast amount of experience, but in my experience, Alabama has super highways! Smooth roads, broad, clean shoulders, well-marked exits and interchanges, and three lanes each way which makes for miles and miles of low stress driving when you are a newbie in your brand new 36 foot RV.

Oh, and rest stops that are like parks. A few hours into the drive we decided to pull over and activate the Sirius radio as neither of us thought it was a good idea for me to play DJ on my phone connected via Bluetooth to the receiver as I drove. We pulled over at a nice rest stop, and while I talked to the Sirius salespeople, Mireille fixed us a sandwich and some chips for lunch. We sat there and ate, I on the sofa and she in the booth. A nice break.

Back on the road again it was a relatively uneventful trip. I kept a watch out for trucks as they passed us but did not have to fight too much thankfully. There was one patch where it was a little windy, and I got to experience what it’s like driving a giant sail down the road in a cross-wind, but it wasn’t too bad and didn’t last too long.

It was about 4:00 PM or 5:00 PM when we got near Memphis and crossed the bridge over to West Memphis. Since lunch, we had been trying to figure out some way to get some barbecue.

We both love Memphis and have a couple of favorite spots. When we were taking our first RV trip to Canada with the kids, on our way back, we went through Memphis for the sole reason of stopping at Tops. On that first trip, when I didn’t know any better, I parked that big RV on the side of the road near the Tops restaurant across from the hospital. I didn’t know when we went if I could get in, and once there we didn’t have a good plan on how to get out. We just wanted those sandwiches!

Anyway, barbecue was on our mind as we crossed the bridge over the Mississippi to West Memphis and Arkansas.

I had my phone in the cupholder on my side showing me the way to the RV park. Mireille was looking for barbecue places on her phone. We came to a stoplight, and I was asking Mireille about barbecue. The light turned green, and before we were through the intersection, I realized that was where I should have turned left.

No worries, Google reroutes!

I drove a few blocks further, and Google said that I should turn left at the next street. Like a lemming, I turned left. Now let me say this as delicately as I can. The area around the Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi RV Park is somewhat “economically challenged.” The main road on which we came into town was not bad, but when we turned left we were instantly in a neighborhood that just got more depressing the nearer the river we got.

Trees hung low over the roadway, and I was weaving left and right down the road to try and avoid branches. This was when I wasn’t threading a needle between cars parked on either side of the road. To top it off every single person we saw looked at us as if we were driving the Lunar Rover down their street. I waved at some of the people, and they waved back, a stunned look on their face, more out of reflex than anything else I suspect.

We were following a car or truck; I do not remember which now, about a block ahead of us. I will be forever thankful for whoever that was because I saw them go over a railroad crossing. It was one of those railroad crossings which is built up, so you go up a short, steep hill to cross and back down to road level immediately after you are over the tracks. I saw that vehicle disappear on the other side of the tracks and knew we could not go that way or we would wind up high-centered.

Fortunately, there was an industrial building on the right with a big parking lot in which I was easily able to turn around. “God protects children and fools” being applicable in this case. Having avoided catastrophe once, I kept following Google, because you know, what didn’t work before is sure to work this time!

We drove around in that neighborhood several times, getting looks, dodging parked cars, hearing small branches bounce off the radio antenna and some squeaking down the length of the RV as we passed under them. No matter what, Google, not knowing we were 36 feet long, was insistent that we go over that railroad crossing. Finally, ready to get off the merry-go-round, I went back to the street we were on before we began our adventure, passing the same group of men standing out in front of a business talking, and getting the same stunned looks we got from them when we went in.

Back to the turn where I had been worrying about barbecue more than what I was doing. We both agreed that salad or whatever we had in the fridge was fine, and made our way to the RV park.

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