There are always two ways to look at things. It was a free camp site with electricity, security cameras, bright lights and an alarm system. There was a huge “campground” store known as Food Lion, a CVS drug store and restaurant just across the way. Now there were no facilities, such as a bathroom or shower, but like I said, I could view this as a free site.
The other way to look at my situation was I paid $390 for the site and the fuel pump was free. Either way, it was a deal after one long cold day in the mountains.
It has been an all day ordeal starting at 25 degrees this morning (who cares what time it is when it is that cold). It was hard to believe I slept all night; even went to bed with the chickens.
The key to staying warm is not to go to bed cold. When you do half the night is spent getting warm and the other half is spent keeping warm. Wedged between two cats I was toasty. I let the hot flashes sweep through me and praised the Lord for their arrival.
When Diablo perched on the pillow I used to ward off the cold near the window it was still dark outside. My best guess was 2 am, but there was no light from the waxing gibbous moon which had been filtering through the curtains. It had to be later. I fumbled for the flashlight, finding the metal battery cylinder cold enough to adhere my tongue if I had accidentally been drooling. The bright beam pieced the darkness. It was 5:45 am. Sunrise would cast its rays in the valley of Davidson River in about a half an hour.
I was in no hurry to scramble out of bed, unlike two days ago when I got up in time to catch the sunrise and warmer breezes come over the Atlantic. I fixed a bowl of oatmeal, a cup of tea and crawled under the covers bringing the hot pot in which I boiled the water to bed with me. Not much sense wasting the heat as it cooled on the stove. The pan offered a bit of heaven tucked in my sweatshirt. Diablo slipped back underneath my sleeping bag contently purring in the crook of my arm. Phoenix plopped on my chest redefining physics by turning a nine pound cat into what felt like nineteen pounds of feline.
My plan was to poke around the Pisgah National Forest. With my trip winding up, I wanted to spend a little time in the area where Mom and Dad served as campground hosts for the Davidson River Campground in 1988. North Carolina was a special place to Mom. It was also the place where Mom and Dad took the Sunrader on its maiden voyage twenty years ago. Last week I followed the coast of the Outer Banks as they had done; now I was trying to retrace their path in the mountains in North Carolina.
I wanted the opportunity to spend a couple of days visiting the place where over 1509 waterfalls cascade over the countryside. A place where Mom once picked blueberries and made a pie for me in the RV when I came to visit them at the campground. When their summer duties were over they received a letter of appreciation from the US Forest Service. Mom and Dad framed that letter and proudly displayed it in the RV where it still hangs on the refrigerator.
Shortly after leaving the Ranger Station, the RV coughed, hesitating slightly. Thinking the engine was just cold, I headed north on 276 deeper into the National Forest toward The Cradle of Forestry. But the hesitation grew more frequent. Being cautious I turned around, but soon lost all acceleration and coasted to a stop on a curvy mountain road.
Cell service has not found the nooks and crannies of the mountains. I was dead and stranded along side a clear cold stream full of trout the same size as a two cats. Here I threw away my backcountry survival skills and did not stay put. I am capable of running four miles, so I locked up the RV, told the cats to hold the fort and trotted off down the road with my useless cell phone, my Good Sam Card and the RV’s license plate number. The RV wasn’t totally off the road and I feared two cars meeting on the curve would have to suck their guts in to pass safely.
I flagged two Wildlife Guys down and they gave me a ride to the Ranger Station. Three hours later the tow truck showed up. I am not very good when I lose control of a situation. Waiting on the tow truck and not able to get back to the RV because I would lose communication with my “rescuers”, I worried about the cats. I feared someone would break in, and steal my camera and computer. Then having no regard for my property they would let the cats out. For three hours I paced the visitor center reading about trail etiquette, how leaves turn colors, and when bear hunting season is over – sometime in December.
My guardian angel in a wrecker from Fates (honest, that was the name) finally showed up along with a North Carolina State Trooper. It was close to 2 pm when we arrived at the garage. I settled down on the overstuffed couch in the waiting area, got on line, and tried my best not to get too engrossed in the family dramas played out on afternoon TV: the Guiding Light, Judge Judy and finally the news.
Heith said they would do their best to get me back on the road before they closed. If not, I could plug in to the shop and spend the night. Another hard freeze was expected. I did not want to spend another night without electricity.
I have camped in the mountains of Nepal on nights so cold frost forms on the outside of the sleeping bag. I had to be careful to lay down my goose down jacket so the frost would coat only the outside. And when the sun finally broke over the highest peaks in the world, the sunlight forced me out of the tent as the frost clinging to the ceiling began to melt sending a cascade of water down on me. But during those adventures cold temperatures are expected and I have the gear to meet the challenge. However, I have come to expect my accommodations in the RV to be more comfortable. After all, it is an RV, not backpacking across the Himalayas.
There is a shop in Horseshoe, NC on 280 north of Brevard called Waycaster Tire and Auto Service. The Toyota Dealer in Hendersonville would not touch the RV, despite having a Toyota chassis, but they recommended these guys to Good Sam. Roger Waycaster is the owner.
Repairs were done and I was set to be on my way, but Heith said he could not let me go out into the cold for the night so he offered to plug the RV in just outside one of the service bays. I had called a campground nearby, but discovered they closed October 31st for the season. Since the sun was setting, I accepted Heith’s offer.
If you are ever in the Brevard, NC area with a troubled vehicle or in need of a set of new tires give the friendly, courteous and compassionate staff a call. 828-801-7023. It is located at 4180 Haywood Road at the intersection of Hwy 280 & 191.
Before I left, I autographed a copy of The Last Voyage of the Cosmic Muffin and gave it to the guys at the shop. Well done guys, well done.