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  • Bob Dylan said Don't Look Back, and really I didn't much. Except for halfway through the trip when I pondered if it was possible that one of the cats had actually been INSIDE the house when we locked up. I pictured him tearing through a window to get out, or ransacking the catfood that was left in the house. But, no, seriously, that couldn't have happened, and if it had, what could I do about it from New Mexico? (Don't worry, everything was just fine when we got back:)

    That first night was pretty thrilling. Getting the hang of driving a 30 ft vehicle. Driving west into the sunset, literally. Naturally, I was trying to get as far as I could the first night, so we would have more time to spend in New Orleans on day 2. So, I pressed on across Georgia on a very dark and lonely, but well paved, hwy 96. Through Junction City and Geneva, on to Columbus and crossing the Alabama State Line (and into central time zone) at Phenix City (yes, that IS how it is spelled).

    Now, I knew we weren't going to be spending much time wherever we slept, and driving past 9pm in most cases means that the campground gates will be closed, so I was seeking out an alternative before we left. I had been told that Walmart Stores welcome RVers to stay overnight in their parking lots. Sounds inglamorous, but cheap and effective. The only problem is, that upon further investigation, it turns out that many of the Walmarts can't allow it (because of local ordinances) or have stopped allowing it because of abuse. So I found another option! Flying J/Pilot travel centers welcome RVers to park overnight in their "special RV spaces". These are typically truck stop/gas station/restaurant/convenience stores and my experience is that they are well lit, busy places at all hours of the night.

    I had it all planned out (famous last words). When we reached my planned stopping point, we pulled off the interstate south of Montgomery, and I noticed truckers parked on the side of the off ramp with only their parking lights on (a sure sign that they were sleeping there). Hmmm. Then we turned into the Flying J, and it was very full. In fact, the truck stop side of the plaza, which is supposed to be separate from the rest of the parking was completely filled up, and Truckers had taken about half of the spaces designated for RVs. The rest of the RV spaces were pretty full, but we managed to find one, nice and long. I pulled in, satisfied to be done with our driving and thinking we could get some rest. But there was no way to extend the slides that make the RV a really comfortable, roomy living space. So, we crammed into the beds as is and tried to get some shut eye.

    I wonder if I am the only person who finds diesel exhaust to be completely nauseating. I tossed and turned with the sounds of truck engines rumbling around me and at around 3am another engine close by growled to life. Now I can smell it, and my tired mind is envisioning all 7 of us perishing from its fumes. I keep looking out the windows for the offender, assuming it's those darn truckers who invaded the "special RV spaces". Finally, sleepless and ready to lay into the inconsiderate sod who would dare to poison my family with diesel exhaust, I got up and exited the RV on the passengers side. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was the RV parked 16 inches from our door that was running it's nasty engines at 3 am. That's it, I say to myself, I have got to move. Without many options, I started up the RV and relocated across the parking lot in the "car" side of the lot outside Denny's. There I spent a luxurious three and half hours snoozing away exhaust-free. In fact, I woke up the next morning and took the doggy for a walk with scads of honeysuckles blooming along the bottom of the little hill next to the parking lot.

    So, you live and learn. You get what you pay for. And you stop and smell the honeysuckles whenever you can.
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