Monday, April 18, 2011

Stormin' Nashville and Beyond

Northgate RV Park
After last nights restful stay at Northgate RV Park in Athens, Alabama we headed out to cross Tennessee and Kentucky.

This was great park to stay in, and when we find a place like this, we really like to get the word out, as we know many of our fellow Full Timers would agree that a good nights rest is really what it's all about.
For those of you considering the Full Time lifestyle, perhaps I should pass on a bit of experience here.

The Rocket in the Woods at The Alabama Border
We all love being on the road, or we wouldn't be doing this. That said, there are a couple modes of traveling and each one has its advantages as well as its pitfalls.

The one mode I will address today  is "Point A to Point B" traveling, or the "Great Migration". This is where you are just moving from one area of interest to another. For most of us, this means getting up, packing up and getting on the road to the next pit stop. We generally only stop for gas, bathroom breaks and the occasional meal or shopping trip.

The RV is packed down to the point that only what is truly necessary is at hand, making the morning pack up easier. Nightfall consists of finding a suitable RV Park, setting up, eating and watching the News before falling into bed.

It is a grueling march, usually with the route planned out to take the Interstate for most of the trip, the only sight seeing is out the window at 60 miles an hour. 

It is not our preferred mode of travel. We would rather take the scenic route and spend some time looking around, but we usually linger too long in a favored spot, and must now beat feet to catch up on our itinerary and get on with life.
Entering Nashville

There are thousands of us on the road this time of year doing the very same thing. Spring has come, and for most, it means heading North to take advantage of the cooler climate and catching up with our Northern Kin.

Light traffic, The city Beckons
At every rest stop we meet, greet and exchange small talk that only Snowbirds can. "How far did you get today?", "Ain't that stretch of road a Bear?" "Where you stoppin?" and other such sundries that make us a loosely collected brotherhood of Nomads. We are all tired and resigned to the fate of bad traffic, thoughtless drivers and endless miles of monotony.

We admire each others rigs, check each others equipment, exchange email addresses and move on. It's really quite a remarkable experience.

Nashville Skyline
Our main focus while cruising along is consulting maps, navigator devices and the Internet looking for diesel fuel, rest stops, RV Parks, and construction areas to avoid. It's an obsession bordering on madness. This duty, of course, falls to the "Navigator", the "Driver" being otherwise engaged.

The Navigator uses every tool at hand for divining the perfect route while the Driver spends most of their time avoiding death. By death, I mean that there are a certain number of people we encounter on the road everyday who have no business operating a motor vehicle.

Merging is the worst. Every day someone tries to merge into the side of our 55' vehicle, thinking we can move over to the left lane easily. More often than not, there is a good reason we can't, like a 55' semi truck right off our left door handle.

These "merge happy" individuals never even look at us or our vehicle, they stare straight ahead and just begin to drift left without so much as eye contact. We have got to the point where we don't lock her up anymore, we just grit our teeth and pour the power on in a deadly game of chicken.

Hitting the brakes and causing a major pile up through jack knife or roll over is not an option any more. We would rather swap paint and run our adversary off the road than kill everybody packed around us. Driving aggressively demands you make some decisions to save the greater masses and take out those who have no business being on the road in the first place.

Luckily, no one has tried to beat us yet, they realize at the last minute that maybe getting there first is not as important as getting there alive.
So if your thinking of living full time on the road, it's not all State Parks and Beautiful scenery, some days it's a grueling drive through dangerous places. It's all a part of the package. At the end of the day you sometimes feel beat up, but the next morning you can't wait to get out there and do it again. Such is our way of life.

I'm writing this after just having passed through Nashville, Tennessee, one of the better designed interstate systems in this country. I still had to put down my laptop and ride shotgun, watching exits for idiots and scoping out problems ahead. It's a part of the package involves Tums, Tylenol and Nerves of Steel.

Gladly, we made it through without a hitch, it being Sunday probably made a huge difference. We have run through during the work week, but we always plan on running through before or after rush hours and make sure we are well rested. It is one of a handful of major cities we drive right through the heart of and if there was an alternate route that was safe, we'd take it.

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