Contessa & The Toad finally “got hitched” for the first real adventure with Captain Bill & Admiral Jann on Monday morning, July 3. After months of anticipation, preparation and some frustration, the 42’ Motorcoach and her “red dinghy” pulled out of the storage facility at 10:30a. The exit from the facility, hook up and journey down the mountain went flawlessly with Captain Bill at the helm. While this is the beginning of the real first adventure, we brought Contessa from Florida (3 days of relatively leisure travel), took her to Mountain Falls RV Resort at Lake Toxaway with great friends, Bob & Sue Grote, and traversed the mountains to and from the Carolina Caterpillar & Camping World. After a horrendous beginning at LazyDays in Tampa, we are so thrilled to have such great service facilities with people that really care about their work and the result of their efforts.
But I digress, the journey on Monday commenced under cloudy skies and the promise of rain during the day. We had loaded most of the coach on Sunday afternoon, so Monday was primarily refrigerated foods and closing up Dry Dock for two months.
While we enjoyed the primary but non-interstate roads for the majority of our travel from Florida, our first few days on this adventure dictated interstate travel. Beginning on Monday of a four day holiday, however, afforded us less traffic and a relatively easy slide through Asheville.
As we approached Asheville, a pass a “Tiny House” on the move!
Our destination for Day 1 was Wytheville VA (231 miles), where Admiral Jann’s Sister Sue and Brother-In-Law Rik have their retirement home – which at this stage is a vacation getaway from the Maryland Eastern Shore until retirement can happen.
From Asheville, we journeyed north on I-26 headed for the Tri-Cities region of eastern Tennessee (Johnson City, Kingsport & Bristol). It is a gorgeous journey over the mountains – until the “bang”, the Captain says “what was THAT” and Contessa slows to a crawl. With minimal traffic, moving to the shoulder was not a problem or a risk. A quick physical check of The Toad eliminated any possibility of a problem there, but while the engine was running fine, Contessa was NOT going up that hill. So, there we were – 6 miles from the Tennessee border.
During the purchase process in January, we had elected to purchase “roadside assistance” coverage – but we should have known that if it came from LazyDays, we would be less than satisfied with the service. Their only “solution” was to be towed 55 miles to Johnson City. We made the first call at noon, with a commitment arriving by text about 1 ½ hours later that a tow truck would be on site at 3:00p.
Captain Bill’s conversations both with the RV facility in Johnson City and our trusty contact at Carolina Caterpillar confirmed that a Mobile Repair Service might be a much better Step 1. One of the wonderful things about our part of the world is the network of people willing to help – and such was the case on Monday. Mike said to call Marty, Marty said Willy could help us, Willy sent Steve – and in the pouring rain, Steve repaired the suspected issue of a turbo coupling failure in about 10 minutes. So, long before the tow truck arrived, we were on our way to Wytheville.
While we have a long way to go in defining our preferred traveling structure, many have recommended a 3-3-3 Plan – 300 miles, arrive by 3p and stay 3 days. There are others that subscribe to a 2-2-2 Plan (200 miles, arrive by 2p and stay 2 days). Our plan for this adventure is a combination of the two approaches – but we certainly didn’t make our target on Day 1, with a 3 hour delay in the middle of the day. Regardless, we arrived Wytheville long before dark and settled into a lovely campsite. Family would arrive from MD Eastern Shore (Rik & Sue), Nashville TN (Niece Christy) and Blacksburg VA (Nephew Jim) the next days for a couple of days of great family time.
We couldn’t help but reflect on Day 1 of our Great American Loop Adventure in the Spring of 2014– when we were not away from the Marathon Yacht Club by more than an hour when Ivory Lady developed issues, we returned for repairs (with the assistance of great friends & service technicians) and still made it to our Day 1 destination. And it didn’t go without notice that it was Willy’s Mobile Service that saved Day 1 of this adventure!
We’ll stay in Wytheville for 3 days (remember 3-3-3!) and then head up I-81 to Gettysburg PA.