And we are off!

Posted: July 11, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
Tags: , , , ,

It has been a trying past couple of weeks. You know from following our progress, all of the things we were trying to pack in with the trip preparations. The good news, we have completed everything that is going to get done. It seems, every turn there were three more things popping up that needed to be handled before going. At the last-minute, Bernard called me and said “I have some good news and some bad news”. Nothing much ever good starts with those words. So, he says, ” I got a discount on my tires, however, they will not be in until Monday,midday.” Yes, the Monday we were scheduled to leave on! One thing I have learned on scheduling a big trip, even life changing event, is flexibility. The flexibility to roll with the punches and even appreciate the delay offering more preparation time. So we took full advantage of the “extra day” as it turns out we needed it… My brother, Chad and his wife Ginny, printed our slogan and website on vinyl that we put on the vehicles.

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It is a reminder to slow down and enjoy life, not rush it along.
Last minute packing was going well. I even naively, imagined I had room to spare. Boy was I in for a surprise!

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Some how after staying up past 1 am, getting up at 6 am, a stop at the bank and the office, we were off! We met Bernard at the Pilot gas station in Augusta at 9 am. Only one hour after our intended departure.

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We took off rolling down I-20 toward Atlanta to a nice sunny day, around 80 degrees. In light of my new-found desire to take it slow and easy, we settled in at about 65 mph to test things out. About 30 miles down the road in Thomson, Ga., Angela and I decided we wanted breakfast and a coffee. So we pulled into McDonald’s where my Aunt Gloria works. I decided we would get out and tell her “good-bye”. Well contrary to her telling me that they work her from sun up, she was not there!
We continued on again, putting our backs to the wind. When all of a sudden, we noticed a Toyota Tundra pulling a mid 90’s Mercedes on a UHAUL tow dolly. The reason we noticed it first, because having owned a UHAUL dealership recently, we tend to notice these things. But more importantly, we noticed it because the car on the dolly was whipping like a tail on a wood Pekkah, or at least that was the first thing that I blurted out when seeing it. Angela laughed at my analogy, and then turned her concerns to the car that was being tossed side to side behind the truck. We quickly passed it hoping Bernard would make it by before it let loose. Disaster diverted….at least for us. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture, as I was busy driving defensively. I wouldn’t be surprised if that guy didn’t make the news tonight.
Traveling on I was determined to enjoy the journey, forget about time lines, and just relax. I noticed the blue skies, the fluffy white clouds. They were almost 3D in appearance.

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The trip was going great! We somehow found ourselves in the middle of a military convoy of Hummers on semi trucks. Of course we felt right at home driving our big rigs, even giving that knowing wave that only the military and big rigs share, like “yeah, it’s just us against the other four wheelers out here on the highway”.

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Somewhere around 290 miles, in Montgomery Alabama, we needed to stop for fuel. I was very apprehensive about checking my fuel mileage. First of all, Land Rovers are not known for good gas mileage. Secondly, I had added so many modifications, weight and wind resistance, that I felt like I would be lucky to get 10 miles to the gallon. And to top it off, it requires premium gas. Well, to my surprise, we actually managed to get 13.5 miles to the gallon. I know this sounds terrible, but I was even a little excited. I packed every square inch of the vehicle and performed all of the modifications, so I know what is in there. So to get 13.5 mpg, I was happy!

All of a sudden, the skies turned gray and the opposite traffic began showing up with their headlights on. Not a good sign. Then the bottom fell out. It began torrentially pouring rain. It was so heavy, the semi truck disappeared in front of me. It is an eery feeling not knowing if someone has panicked and stopped right in front of you, or not. I slowed to a safer speed and continued forward progress. Checking my rear view mirror, I noticed Bernard had also disappeared. I searched with little success, just to see the white lines on the road. Everything was a gray fog and sheets of rain.

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It was also with the first rain drops that I regretted not replacing my windshield wipers! It was more of a smear than a clear. Eventually it let up enough that I could see cars again. In checking my mirror again, I saw that Bernard was definitely not in my range of site. We pulled off to the side of the road and waited a few minutes. Fortunately, he came along and flashed his lights that all was ok. A few more miles ahead and we pulled into a rest area to compare stories and take a much-needed bathroom break.

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After getting back on the highway, I began to feel a little hungry. I knew I had packed some chocolate covered almonds within my reach. So one hand on the wheel, I reached for the spot the can of almonds was. I felt it and began to pick it up from behind the seat. As I raised it up, it became wedged between the seat and the storage box I had built for the back of the vehicle. I pulled and tugged and twisted, to no avail. I tried again. No luck. I wanted those almonds! I wouldn’t let go until I had them up front. All of a sudden it occurred to me that I was no smarter than the monkey, when given a handful of peanuts through a hole, will actually trap himself by making a fist to grip the peanuts. And he will not un ball his fist to set himself free, because he wants those peanuts. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself for not letting the almonds go….

We arrived in Mobile Alabama around 4:30 pm to overcast skys, but no rain. We were determined to get wiper blades from the Land Rover dealership, as it required a special kind.
We first went to our hosts home. Bernard had been in contact with a host from http://www.couchsurfing.com This is an online community of people willing to share their “couch” or other accommodations with like-minded travelers. Genevieve, offered to let us park our vehicles in her yard and pop up the tents. As we were turning into the driveway, another couch surfing host, named Robyn that Bernard had been in contact with called and said “Hey! Where are you guys at?” She decided to stop in to meet us and chat awhile. This is a testament to the remarkable online couch surfing community. They are all friendly and enjoy meeting new people. After meeting our host, Angela and I excused ourselves to try to make it to the dealership, for wiper blades, before they closed. We made it with 15 minutes to spare. Ken, came out to look at the blades. He said “well here’s your problem, there is no rubber left on the blade”. They installed them for free, reduced the price even lower than they quoted on the phone, and gave me a large roll of paper towels free, just because. Now that is customer service. I highly recommend if you are ever in the Mobile Alabama area, and need help with your vehicle stop in and see Ken in the parts department.

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I am lying here in our roof top tent typing all of this on my android phone. So please disregard any typos or incorrect grammar. I need to make use of the internet that was also graciously provided by our host here in Mobile. Wow! What a first day on the road!
Bernard’s in his tent, we are in ours, and our host went to pick someone up at the airport. She promised coffee in the am, and then we will be off to explore Mobile, before heading to Lafayette Louisiana. If every day of our trip consist of the roller coaster of today, we are in for a treat!

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Comments
  1. Don and Eva Cooper says:

    Scott and Angela, Wow, you are finally ‘on the road’. Wonderful! I like Chad and Ginny’s quote on your window. I ran across this quote this morning and though how appropriate for you two.
    “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. — Marcel Proust
    Wishing you the best! Love, Mom and Dad

  2. Bud & Cheryl says:

    Sounds like the trip of a lifetime & we look forward to following your journey. Thanks to Eva for sharing the info.

  3. Great post! Glad you guys are on the way!

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