TRIP OF A LIFETIME 2012 travel blog

We decided the best way to give our RV a "shakedown" trip was to pack up and head to West Virginia for Bob's Family reunion and surprise him. It looked like if we took SR250 off I77 South we could cut off a whole corner and get there in no time! SR250, we learned the hard way, is a winding, zig-zagging, up and down, hilly, s-curvey, u-curvey very narrow two-lane highway... suitable for a small car... not a 36 foot long, 10 foot wide RV! But we didn't know that until we were trying to maneuver the road, or, Russ was. We forgot to tell you that it wasn't too long before we learned the generator for the rear of the vehicle was not working, and it was hot, hot, hot! Four hours later, after doing only 35 MPH on this road, we arrive in Wheeling (still 10 miles from our destination) and we're smelling a strong burning smell. "The brakes feel kind of mushy", says Russ who is driving. "We better find a gas station and see if we can get someone to look at the brakes." We headed around the corner and lo and behold, not only was there a service station, but there was a mechanic on duty. (We lucked out, since he only comes in for 15 minutes a day!) After sticking his head into the wheel well until only the bottom half of him was visible, he declared the brakes were fine. We rested there for 20-30 minutes. It is now 5:00 traffic. We're right on a busy, well-travelled two-lane road. Traffic zipping by. Russ hopped into the driver's seat; we all took our seats. We had to turn right onto this two-lane street, but because the street was so narrow, we had to swing wide into the on-coming traffic lane, with cars coming at us from both sides. As Russ rolled onto the road from the gas station, he yelled, "I GOT NO BRAKES! I GOT NO BRAKES!" He's madly turning the steering wheel to the right... a quick glance to the left and there's a drop-off we narrowly missed going over... and there we are in the wrong lane, with no brakes, facing a car and driver wanting to continue but we're in the way! We motioned him around us, and manage to ease onto a parking lot on the left side of the road. We sat there trying to compose ourselves, wondering why we didn't hit anyone or why anyone didn't hit us; how we managed to stop, and how we avoided going over the drop off. Relief and gratitude flooded us. We were all shaken by the narrowness of our escape. I'm convinced, as never before, that guardian angels do exist. Because I am equally convinced that the guardian angels for each of us Durakee combined their skills to keep us alive that Friday in July. Now somehow Russ maneuvered into traffic with the help of a stranger on a motorcycle who saw our dilemma and stopped the traffic in one lane so we could enter. We knew the route we had to get back on, but...we couldn't get there from here. Turned down one tiny street only to find cars parked on both sides, and frankly, I didn't want to look. But mighty Russ pushed on. We started out, and...screwed up again. It was so easy to make the wrong turns and so difficult to correct them! Russ needed to turn around. He headed for the only possibility, anV area filled with cars that looked like an underground parking area, only it was not too far underground! He couldn't turn tightly enough to evade a cement pillar, so he decided to back up. Except...we had no reverse gear! At this point, if I had known where the vodka was stowed, I would have had one helluva slug and passed it around! But, once again, Russ rested our RV and, like magic, we were able to reverse. Vicky had been on the phone with Bob, and he was giving directions to help us reverse our road and get back to where he could meet us. The trouble was the traffic! Not so easy to break into a lane when you are driving a 34-ft. RV. Somehow we managed to get where we needed to be and headed to where we were to meet Bob. Finally, we spotted his gray pickup, and if I say there was a collective sigh of relief inside our RV, I would not be lying. However, that sigh was a bit premature, as we were soon to learn. What followed was a grueling 15 miles of ess curves, double ess curves with sharp right and left turns, and small nasty hills and large nasty hills. In some cases, Bob would go widely out of his lane, so that Russ would know how to manage a turn. And he did a great job! As Bob described it, "I've been saving Russ's ass for 40 years, and I'm not about to stop now!" When we got to Pam and Sam's home, a lot of people were there to greet us. Bob directed Russ to back into the area parallel to the sidewalk so that we could then connect to their water and electricity. We piled out, introductions began, and Pam was kept busy keeping us supplied with strong drinks...the only thing we wanted! All of a sudden huge drops of rain began to fall, and we decided we had better move into the house. By the time all 15 of us got in, it took 3 people to manage to pull the screen door shut. Then the biggest "wind" I've ever seen blew through...and did quite some damage, we were later to learn. So there we were, safely in the house, when...the electricity failed! So, we couldn't see to move until Pam rustled up all kinds of lanterns and flashlights. The dining room was pretty small, but it seemed to expand to accommodate people as they moved in to find a seat. Pam began to haul out all manner of pots and pans filled with magnificent foods, any one of which would have been a feast alone.

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