This is Day 371 of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve. Deb and I are well, once again situated in a campground that doesn’t require masks indoors or out.
Our Monday began simply enough, with a smooth departure from our previous digs by the river (which had receded to normal levels overnight, by the way). Several miles into today’s short drive we swung by a Kroger to pick up some odds and ends.
The parking lot was packed, which presented something of a challenge to a greenhorn Class A driver like me. I was able to navigate the busy maze without incident, though, eventually parking Ernie parallel to the curb at the far end of the lot. Deb went inside while the dogs and I waited in the coach.
After she returned and we got the groceries put away, we buckled up to tackle the stop-and-go traffic that’s typical of tourist traps everywhere. Slowly we made our way toward our turn-off onto a wide and more lightly traveled road.
Only a couple of miles more. We had no clue about the challenge that awaited us.
Just a half-mile from our destination, our GPS called for a left turn and named the road. I signaled, eased into the left-turn lane and slowed, spotting the name on a small green sign. Once oncoming traffic had cleared I deftly guided the bus onto a narrow paved road — a road that went nowhere.
Well, technically it went a hundred yards, ending at a fork. Beyond that were two gravel tracks that appeared to go damned near vertical up a minor mountain. I brought Ernie to a stop. There would be no more forward progress.
Deb and I discussed what our options were. We settled on backing halfway to the main road and pulling into a small parking area on the right. It was impossibly tight and, thanks to all the rain that’s fallen on the area lately, muddy.
We had no other choice.
I positioned us for what would become a five-minute pirouette, back and forth, reverse and forward, cutting the front wheels to their extremes each time. I consciously avoided spinning the rear duals, and I knew that I couldn’t let the 16-ton bus sit still for very long between moves, for fear it’d sink into the soft ground.
At one point the right front dove into a muddy depression and I thought we were done for. With a little coaxing, however, it freed itself and we were on our way back to the main road.
The entrance to our campground was a hundred feet past that wrong turn. We pulled in, checked in, parked on our site and shut the big diesel down.
Stepping out of the coach, I looked down at that right front — tire and wheel were caked with mud. Later I found that the right-rear jack’s foot pad had become dislodged, apparently from dragging on its way out of the same ‘sippi hole. It took some wrestling, but I wrenched it back into place and we got on with our setup this afternoon.
We’re now settled at a wonderful, woodsy campground in the Tennessee foothills. No permanent damage was done during our little misadventure. Everything in our American Life is working as it should.
And for the first time, the Stars and Stripes wave over Ernie. ‘Merica.
So we dealt with a little stress today. Shit happens. That’s life. Every GPS will screw up sooner or later. We didn’t panic and we didn’t clench.
And y’know what? That turn wasn’t the only thing that “went wrong” today. But we fixed what was broken, tightened what was too loose, loosened what was too tight, picked up what fell down and all that. Approaching unexpected adversity with calm resolve isn’t half the battle — it’s pretty much the whole deal.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.
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