Traveling the U.S.A. Chapter 5 – Rookie Mistakes

On Sunday, June 6, we left the St. Louis area and took our RV, car and us to Paducah, Kentucky.  Everyone who knew we were traveling, and that I made quilts said we need to stop at the National Quilt Museum, and while in Paducah, we should also make a stop at Hancock’s of Paducah (a very large fabric store).

We pulled into our RV slot, and kicked back for the evening.  We disconnected our car and took a drive to see where the museum and fabric store.  Since we would have our RV with us, we needed to make sure there was room for us to park at both locations when we visited the next day.  The museum had plenty of parking on the street and a very large lot across the street.  Hancock’s of Paducah had a huge lot, so we could feel free to park our big rig out of the way of other vehicles.

Monday morning we headed out for our site seeing.  I don’t even know how to explain the National Quilt Museum.  I thought I would see quilts made throughout history.  Instead, this was more of an art museum with very creative quilts.  That’s where I learned there really are no rules or quilting police to say how to make a quilt.  Some of these quilts had only three borders.  One had fringe on one border, and none anywhere else.  Most of these quilts were made by artists who happen to use fabric as their medium.  It was amazing and inspirational.  Not that I will ever have the talent to make quilt look like a painting, but I learned here that anything goes.

When we left, we walked up the street toward buildings that we could tell have been rehabbed.  There were a couple restaurants and decided to have lunch.  Unfortunately, the quaint little restaurant had mediocre food, but stopping there gave us an opportunity to explore the area.  We were just a block from the Ohio River, and Paducah has a rich history along this river.  We walked down and walked through the opening in what I assume had been flood walls, and took a good look at this large river.  Then we came back and walked along the walls that were painted with murals telling the history of Paducah.

One fact I did not know was that William Clark, the partner of Meriwether Lewis who led the Lewis & Clark expedition, founded the city of Paducah.   He named the city after the Indian Chief, Paduke.  

Next on our list was to go to Hancock’s of Paducah.  When I put it into my Apple Maps, it came up saying it was closed.  Closed?  I called, and sure enough, it is closed to customers on Mondays.  As much as I wanted to see it, I was feeling good about moving on to our next location.  

Now, here is where the story gets interesting.  Dennis has been using an app on his phone for GPS.  It is called, “RV Wizard.”  On this app, you put in the dimensions of the RV and weight.  The GPS is supposed to send you on RV safe routes.  I questioned this RV Wizard GPS when we were in New Mexico.  When we left Las Cruces to go to Carlsbad, the RV Wizard sent us on a route northeast, although the Carlsbad is due east of Las Cruces.  I didn’t question it a lot, because maybe there are some obstructions on the highway going directly east.  We ended up driving through the mountains.  That really surprised me, and made me a bit anxious, but I am still feeling okay with the app.  It was a really pretty ride.

Now we are in Paducah.  There is an entrance to the highway right near Hancock’s of Paducah.  As we drive toward it, we see signs that the entrance is closed.  Dennis makes a big U-turn to go the route we came from by our RV park.  But then . . . RV Wizard told him to turn right.  Okay, it’s a different way to get to the highway.  We were driving down this road, and it appeared to be residential.  Then it told us to turn right, which is a road that leads to the highway, but it’s still residential.  As Dennis attempts to make a right turn on these narrow roads, a car is in the left turn lane, and we see there is not enough room to execute the turn easily.  Instead of backing up a couple feet (which was possible for the car), the driver of the car moved forward making it really impossible to move, so Dennis turned the wheel tight and we felt a bump, or should I say, a drop.  Dennis asked me what it was, and I couldn’t tell from where I was sitting, but I said it felt like we were too close to the curb, and the back wheel fell into an indentation, which I assumed was a sewer drain.  Dennis gave the RV some gas to pull it out, and he put the brakes on abruptly.  He said we were in trouble.  As we exited the RV, we saw that we had indeed hit a curb at the sewer.  Our tow vehicle was just inches from taking out a utility pole.  We knew we had to disconnect.  I learned to be ready to grab my purse with driver’s license, and hop into the car, ready to drive separately.  

Once separated, I backed up into the lane we were coming from, and made an easy turn around this intersection.  As I followed Dennis, I noticed many trees were hanging low , and a railroad overpass we drove under just missed our RV top by inches.  It was a pretty frightening drive, although it probably wasn’t more than a mile.  As we neared the entrance to the highway, there was a services station, so we pulled in to gas up the RV.

I pulled the car into a parking spot and walked over to the RV to inspect with Dennis any damage we may have had.  There was a cut in the sidewall of the rear tire.  Our hearts sunk.  Knowing that a damaged sidewall could cause a blowout, we knew we couldn’t go any farther until we had the tire replaced.  The brochure from our Paducah RV park had many services listed including a Paducah RV tire service.  We called.  The guy said that he did not have that tire in stock, and even if he got one, it would be two weeks before he could get a certified technician to come to change that large of a tire.  Oh boy, are we in trouble?  Somehow I found a Michelin tire dealer to call.  Don’t ask me how I found this number, because in all that stress, I cannot recall.  A lovely lady named Kathy, gave us the name of two places to call.  No one had the tire.  We called Kathy back and she gave us a couple more names.  Long story short, no one had the tire in stock, but a tire shop in Clarksville, TN said he could get one in by Wednesday morning and change it for us.

Clarksville is a bit over 90 miles away.  It would be two days to get the tire.  I suggested to Dennis that we call the RV park in Paducah to see if we could come back.  We needed to stay put, and go to Plan B.  They only had a back-in spot left, and we gladly took it.  I was already driving the car separated from the RV.  We settled in, and Dennis started looking for RV parks in Clarksville.  We decided that Tuesday we would make our way to Clarksville by driving slowly and with me following behind in the car.  We wanted the least amount of strain on the RV.  Dennis made a reservation for two nights in Clarksville, and canceled wherever we were to be after Paducah.

It was brilliant!  We got to Clarksville, and the RV park was just off the highway. I fell in love with this RV park.  It was quaint, well maintained, had a pool, cute play area, and a very clean laundromat with more than two machines.  Oh, and what was a mile from our RV park?  A really cute little quilt shop!  We drove over there in the afternoon, and I loved this little shop.  The people were so friendly.  

The next day, Dennis took the RV to the tire shop.  I took the car to the quilt store.  I told the lady that I could work in the RV for this particular quilt because I was using precuts, but I had a drawer of purchased fabric that would have to wait until I returned to Arizona to cut because they were large pieces of yardage.  This kind shop owner told me to feel free to bring it into the shop and use their classroom to cut.  How gracious of her.  I told her we were leaving in the morning, but appreciated her offer.  She told me any time we come to Clarksville in our RV, feel free to do what I need at her shop.  If you ever travel to Clarksville, Tennessee, stop by Beyond Stitches.  

We got the tire changed, and the following day, we headed to Riverside, Alabama for our next RV stop.  We are learning to investigate our RV parks better.  Our park was mostly full-time RVers.  The park sat right on the Coosa River, and there is a really nice dock and boat launch.  Other than that, they had nothing to offer.  We didn’t even have a picnic table.  The slots were narrow and no room for that.  It was our time for R&R anyway, and we could do so without amenities.  One day I worked on mastering the RV oven by baking chocolate chip cookies from scratch.  Three things you need to bake in an RV oven:  1) an oven thermometer (don’t rely on the dial—it lies!); 2) a small square pizza stone (it distributes the heat evenly); and 3) air bake pans.  The only place I could find small air bake pans was from Target, and only online.  I am proud to say, the cookies were baked to perfection, and now are stashed away in the freezer for future desserts or something to feed guests as we travel.

We are now finished in Alabama and on our way to Georgia.  We will be spending a couple weeks throughout the state.  

This was surely an exciting week, although I would not like to repeat what caused the excitement.  We are back on track to our original itinerary.  We found a lovely park and quilt shop in Clarksville.  Rookie lessons are learned.

Oh, yes, our GPS solution?  I posted on the RV Quilters Facebook page about our GPS on RV Wizard.  So many kind people responded and said they use the Garmin RV GPS and have had good results.  We went online to find one.  Thank you, Crutchfield, for helping us out.  They shipped immediately, and two days later, as we arrived in our RV park in Alabama, the office had our package waiting for us.  Today we are using it for the first time.  Fingers crossed that this is our solution.

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