Saturday, August 19, 2006

Free hookups in Spartanburg

We are parked at the Camping World store that is co-located with the Holiday Kamper dealership here in Spartanburg, SC (map).  Our guidebook said there was free parking here with a handful of electric hookups, and we managed to snag ourselves 20 amps for the night -- enough to run one air conditioner, make hot water, and top off the batteries for the first time in weeks.

Actually, the guide suggested there were four pedestals here, each with two 30-amp circuits.  We only found two pedestals, and ours has two 30's and a 20.  Unfortunately, both 30-amp breakers are kaput -- so we are on a 20-amp breaker connected to a 30-amp receptacle.  So there's plenty of juice in the box -- we just can't access it.  This has happened to us before, and I am seriously considering carrying a selection of circuit breakers with me for just such occasions.  Too bad these campground pedestals are not more standardized -- I've seen at least three different types of breakers in use.

In any case, we were happy to have the juice, and I can't really complain that a business providing free hookups does not consider it a top priority to replace bad circuit breakers.

We had a low-mileage day yesterday:  we're only about 80 miles from Concord.  The day got off to a rough start -- while I was washing the coffee maker's thermal carafe (done by swirling the sponge around on the end of a wooden spoon handle), the glass vacuum bottle imploded.  The resulting adrenaline in my system made me jittery all day.  Beyond that, one of the awnings refused to deploy, and, since it had self-deployed and self-retracted the previous evening, I was guessing that we got water in the control box, a problem we've had in the past.

So, after relaxing for a while to let the chaos of departing coaches dissipate, we packed up and drove Odyssey over to the "service center," an area set up for vendor service teams to provide service during the convention.  We were hoping to find the Girard people still packing up, so we could snag another awning control board.  After wandering around the remains of the service area and exhibit tent, with no sign of them, we learned that they had left the grounds at 6:30 that morning, and were already in Texas.

Our next stop was the Concord Mills Mall, just a mile from the speedway, where I had discovered a Black & Decker outlet store, one of only a handful around the country, and the only one on our route to Atlanta.  We were hoping to find a replacement carafe, or maybe just the vacuum liner, for our coffeemaker, but, of course, no such luck.  Not really surprising, considering the thing is three years old, but we were quite fond of it.  We bought a newer, smaller model, this one with a steel vacuum bottle that won't implode in my hands.  (The fact that we are almost always running on batteries when we make our coffee mandates a thermal-carafe model, as opposed to one with an energy-hogging warming plate.  Besides, we think the coffee tastes better that way.)  We ended up having lunch at the mall.

Thus we got a very late start out of Concord.  We also had a slight traffic delay from rubberneckers as we approached the South Carolina border on I-85.  I say slight -- traffic on our side of the road slowed to perhaps 50 or so.  The northbound side was stopped dead for four miles (and counting):  A FedEx Freight double apparently fishtailed at high speed, slamming the rear trailer into a bridge abutment.  The trailer was literally ripped in half -- the front part still attached to the dolly and the front trailer, and the rear part in a twisted wreck nearly a quarter mile behind it.  In between the two pieces, and all over the roadway, were hundreds, if not thousands, of packages.  So if you are in the northeast expecting a FedEx from the southeast, umm, check your delivery carefully (if you ever get it).  The force sent the front trailer rebounding into the tractor, which had substantial damage to the top of the sleeper area.  All in all, one of the most spectacular wrecks I have ever seen;  I'm sorry we did not get the chance to snap a photo.

We also ended up stopping for fuel, since the cheapest diesel on our route was just south of the state line.  By the time we were approaching Greenville/Spartanburg, we were both ready to call it a day, and we cracked open the guidebooks.  This Camping World is a couple miles off our route, and I did not hold out much hope for an available power outlet so close to the FMCA rally, but we thought it was worth a slight detour, with a fall-back option at a Wal-Mart back the other way.  We were surprised to find only one other coach here.  As usual, we paid for our "free" parking privilege with a few purchases in the store (even though we eschewed buying anything at the giant Camping World booth at the show -- go figure).  The recalcitrant awning was also working again by the time we parked -- presumably, the control box dried out, and I'm hoping there is no lasting damage.

We will leave here shortly, and I expect to be in Atlanta's gravitational zone tonight.

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