Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back in the RV-unfriendly East

We are at a familiar stop -- the Wal-Mart in Bristol, Virginia (map), where we stayed two winters ago on our way to New Jersey.

This is really farther than we wanted to come yesterday. After fueling at the Flying-J (which took forever at the RV island, now that the truck islands are off-limits) and crossing through Knoxville on I-640 (I-40 was closed downtown for some reason), we had a very pleasant drive along US-11W, which more or less parallels I-81 but several miles north. We figured to stop somewhere in the middle of that stretch between Knoxville and Bristol, Tennessee.

Louise consulted her vast library of travel guides, but we came up empty on state or local parks, Elks lodges, or other bonafide camp sites. We settled instead for the Wal-Mart in Rogersville, which showed as a 24-hour supercenter. It was in exactly the right place for our end-of-day stop, and was not listed on our "no-no" list of Wal-Marts that don't allow overnight parking.

Unfortunately, as we pulled in to the lot, we spotted the red-and-white signs forbidding overnight parking, complete with graphic of a tow truck hauling you away, and so we decided to move along. That presented a problem, as we still had few other alternatives, and the Wal-Marts in Kingsport and Bristol, Tennessee were both on the no-no list. I remembered that we once stayed here in Bristol, Virginia, though, so we ended up driving about an hour past our intended stopping point to get here.

It is just as we remembered, and there is a plethora of dining choices within easy walking disatance, including Outback, O'Charleys, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, Chili's, Golden Coral, Logan's Roadhouse, and even a bar and grill in the Holiday Inn. We ended up walking to the closest choice, Chili's, which was fine after a long day on the road.

From this point forward, convenient stopping places will be harder to find, one of our principle issues with traveling in the east. Also, it's getting quite cold as we move further north -- I'm hoping for conditions dry and pleasant enough to try out the scooter I've purchased in Maryland. Fortunately, Odyssey excels in the cold weather, with our Webasto diesel-fired boiled providing more than enough heat to keep us warm and toasty well below freezing.


  1. "Flying-J (which took forever at the RV island, now that the truck islands are off-limits)"

    Sean when did Flying-J change there policy and say you understand it is it in force through out the country?

  2. First, let me clarify my comment: the truck islands are still open to anyone (so long as the filler on your rig will accommodate the much larger diameter truck nozzles). What has changed is that your Flying-J RV ("Real Value") card will no longer garner you the "Cash" price at those dispensers if you choose to pay by credit card. Since the cash discount (or credit surcharge, as I prefer to think of it) is now 9 cents per gallon (gulp), that's as much as $20 when we fuel.

    This is, apparently, a nationwide change. I can't say exactly when it was enacted, other than that we fueled up at the truck islands in July and still got our cash discount.

    This is a real pain in the butt for us. It used to take us under 20 minutes to put 200 gallons in at the truck islands, where we could also simultaneously fill our water tank and add air to our tires, if needed. Now we need to spend a full hour at the RV island to put in that much fuel, and twice that at a car island (the RV island, at least, has nozzles on both sides), then spend fifteen minutes or so at the truck islands anyway, topping up the tires and adding water. So basically, this adds an hour to every fuel stop.


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