A while later, traffic slows again. (This is supposed to be a 2 hour drive) Truckers maybe half a mile in front of us were yakking back and forth about bodies in the road - get in the far right lane. No emergency vehicles had arrived yet and they were concerned that any minute, when they did arrive at the scene, they would close all three lanes. Four or five ER vehicles barreled down the shoulders on both the east and west bound lanes, and we got this close and passed before they closed it down. Whew, that horrible accident cost us another 30 minutes.
Finally we found our exit, and I spotted the small sign to Freightliner Custom Chassis. We had added water and bleach to the fresh water tank to sanitize it while we rode on the highway to slosh it around real well, so we had to dump that by running it through all the taps to clean those lines. That took a while. Then we stopped at the water/dump station to refill our fresh water tank, and run that through the taps and dump it. Then we had to fill our fresh water tank to use as we had no water or sewer hookups for three nights. We were the first ones here, so we had our pick of spots. We chose a level spot, hooked up the power, opened our slides and set up house. By then other rigs were coming in and backing in spots behind us.
Yes, it's a parking lot with power. We were here for Camp Freightliner, a two full day course that explained everything about our chassis and transmission system that would make us dangerous. Our first class started at 8 am and so did our service. We were having them look at our fan hub as it's been leaking power steering fluid for over a year. (note: my brother said (and he drives huge road machinery) that adding fluid when low would be the only thing we needed to do forever, but Gary worried and worried, so we needed to get it fixed to keep my driver happy!)
We met the other couples and visited in another Dutch Star (2002) owned by George and Glenda from Charleston, SC. Bob and Ann came over from (can you believe it) Sarasota in their Tiffin Allegro and we started trying new cocktails made by George. Here I am two-fisting it next to Bob.
We said goodnights and set the alarm (booooo) for 6:30. And it came soon enough. We met our instructor, Mike Cody, a very accomplished technician, and he loves his job.
For the next 8 hours, (with a break for a catered lunch - BBQ) we studied our coaches with a two inch thick binder full of terms we had never heard of before, some we had, and some that actually made sense. Mike was very attentive to our questions, and made everything he taught related to each of our rigs. They fed us dinner around 5:30 and let us out. During our class, Gary was called out to talk to the technician about Bella, which was up on her lift:
They had discovered what they needed to do, and needed permission to proceed. (read: big bucks) We knew that, so it was, yes, please proceed. And please add this, this and this. The more we all learned about our coaches, the more we wanted done. Mike had discovered this, and had made up a "hall pass" for people to run out of the room, up to the receptionist, and ask to add to their list of fixits. We had no maintenance list from the previous owners, so we really wanted to have everything OK before we left. So after dinner, we went outside and she was parked in her spot. We releveled, hooked up and did our homework.
Tuesday was the same over again, however, the regional boss was around and had a film crew. He wanted actors, and asked us all to go out to the lobby. In exchange we would get anything out of the display cases of Freightliner branded items we wanted. Gary didn't want to be in the film, but I went out and was interviewed. They will be using this at all their plants and service centers to promote Camp Freightliner. It was fun. And Gary got a golf shirt.
Back to the books until 4:45 when we finished our binder, but then we got to go outside and inspect a Freightliner chassis parked in the rear to actually see how all these components worked. Amazing that our house sits on top of one of these!! It gave us a whole new comfort level to notice how everything looked so sturdy.
We asked our instructor for the name of a local pizza joint and six of us sat in the 'parking lot' waiting for the pizza guy. An hour and a half later, he showed up. He was looking for us at the plant, not the training center. But that pizza was hot and tasty, and we had a great time talking and swapping stories. By 10 pm, the skeeters were biting, so we hugged and went to our respective homes, exchanging info and leaving with different departure times. We heard George and Glenda pull out at 6:30 am, which woke us up (boooo) so we got ready to leave.
OK - here is the best part of this whole trip: Remember when I mentioned that our odometer had turned 60,000? Well, when we got our invoice, I noticed that the 'speedometer' field had 37,417 in it. I asked our instructor what 'speedometer' meant. He said it was interchangeable with odometer. Well, I said, in that case, the number was wrong. He asked me what it was supposed to be. I said 60,000. The class did some quick math, and discovered that 37,417 was approximately 60,000 kilometers. What??? Had the salesman that sold us Bella not catch that the odometer was in kilometers instead of miles? How could that happen? Well, right next to the odometer, there were two tiny arrows, one pointing to Miles and one pointing to Kilometers. Mike told us to rock the trip reset button with the engine running and see if we got our 60,000 'miles'. We could hardly wait till class was over, and he said he'd drive by to see if we were really that lucky. Engine on, odometer reading 37,417. Rocked that button, and sure enough, 60,000 kilometers. Holy cow, we just lost 22583 'miles' off our odometer. We still equal 60,000 kilometers, but we had thought those were miles. So now we KNOW we only have 37,417 on our 8 year old coach! Yippee skippee.
That made our trip up the Saluda Grade even more enjoyable, because beside having our coach all fixed, Gary wanted to find out from a professional just what our transmission could do and how to make it work to get up and down mountains easily and safely. We found that out, and even passed trucks with ease! Move over trucker buddy!
Here we are leaving Gaffney, SC with the giant peach water tower that we've seen many times before traveling to my parents' house in Columbus, NC.
Arriving with no incident in Sevierville, we noticed that they had received some rain. The river was really angry looking. We had checked the radar this morning and noticed thunderstorms over Pigeon Forge, but they were headed away from us and had dissipated by the time we got near home.
We pulled into our campground and noticed our river flooding the property next to us. But we just had a few puddles, and unhitched, drove to our spot, and I (alone, this time) backed Gary into our spot perfectly. It was almost unbearably humid outside, but we got everything set up and took another shower, relaxed and I got to work on the blog.
We loved moving Bella, even if it was a short trip. We made new friends, learned so much, had gorgeous weather and made it there and back safely. It's good to be 'home' again.
Tomorrow there is something new happening that I'm very excited about. I'll be telling you all about it. :)