The main commercial street in Forest is US-221. We found out recently that it terminates six miles away in Lynchburg. That led us to wonder where it begins. We learned that it begins in Perry Florida, near the Big Bend. So we decided to take US-221 all the way from Perry to where it passes half a mile from the farm. This done, we will have driven its entire length.
Since we were already on the west coast of Florida, we just needed to head up the highway to Perry. We couldn’t make it in one day (at our usual rate of travel), so we stopped for the night in Homosassa Springs. We spotted the sign at the entrance to our campground too late to turn in, so we had to turn around. As we turned around in a tacky-looking campground nearby, we realize that we had done the exact same thing a couple of years ago — Déjà vu all over again. We have been doing this enough now so that we occasionally find ourselves staying at the same campground, not necessarily on purpose.
We were now within striking distance of Perry, but Jean wanted to have one more plate of oysters at Ouzt’s Too, where we had eaten on the way down to the wedding (and who had given Gene two checks for free beer). The same people who had told us about the restaurant also said that there was a campground nearby. So that’s where we spent the night. We decided not to walk the busy highway to the restaurant for dinner.
The plan was to have a light breakfast, go to a nearby beach for a short while, Ouzt’s for lunch, and head toward Virginia. Unfortunately, we could not find the Florida map which showed where the beaches were (it eventually turned up in the storage area under the sofa). Jean inquired of the campground host, who had no idea where there were any beaches. Then, to add to the problems, Jean’s stomach started acting up, and she reluctantly felt that oysters would not be the prudent thing to do. So we headed the thirty miles back to Perry.
We found the beginning of US-221 and headed north. Now we just needed to stay on the right road (not generally a problem). We shortly got into Georgia, which looked a lot like Florida. We spent the night at a very pleasant city/county park campground. In the morning we took a walk around the almost deserted campground and went down to look at the Altamaha River. This is a substantial river; there is a water trail on it for canoeists and kayakers that is over 100 miles long.
The fuel tank registered half when we started, so we kept an eye out for gas stations. The road leads through rural countryside, with few towns, and few gas stations. When the gauge read 3/10ths we got concerned. We pulled into a station but it didn’t have diesel. We talked to a local there, who told us of a truck stop about ten miles away. It turned out to be more like twelve miles, but it was a small, new truck stop and very pleasant. We wondered why they put a truck stop so far from an interstate, but we didn’t argue, just filled up.
The road for the most part goes through small towns with few cities. This is the way we like it. On this trip, Gene started collecting old county courthouses.
|Brook County, Georgia|
Though there were some other municipal buildings we just couldn’t resist.
|Uvalda Police Station|
In northern Georgia, we started running into hills. The motorhome would slow way down on the uphill, though it seemed okay on the level (which we had been on for most of the trip). It just didn’t seem to have any power. We crossed into South Carolina at Strom Thurmond Lake, and found a Corps of Engineers campground. We got a great campsite right next to the lake.
|View from the campsite|
The sunset was beautiful enough to help us forget the problem with the motorhome.
But next morning we needed to do something about the motorhome. We found that there is a Mercedes Benz dealer in nearby Augusta, GA, that handles Sprinters (not all do). We managed to get a service appointment that same morning and drove down the hill into Augusta. After extensive analysis, they said that the non-functional EGR valve (which we already knew about) had somehow over time (I never understood how) caused the turbo to stop providing sufficient pressure. They had one in stock, so they replaced it at a cost of $1,000 (nothing is cheap at Mercedes Benz). Subsequent road testing showed no improvement, so they took another look. The now full-power turbo had blown out a hose. Unfortunately, they did not have that hose in stock, but they could get a new one by tomorrow. So after spending the day in the dealership, we spent the night in their parking lot.
They put the hose on next morning, and this time the road test was successful. The service manager worked some magic and got our total bill under $1,000 and they even washed the rig before turning it back over to us. As we headed back up the hill, the rig was back to its old self. Apparently, the loss of power happened over a stretch of time, and since we had been mostly on level ground, we didn’t really notice it. It really felt good to have the old girl back in top shape. We even found fuel at a good price.
We found a campground not too far off our route and set the GPS to lead us there. As we exited the interstate, the GPS lady said, “Turn left, then right.” We passed under the highway, but the only place to turn right was a freeway off-ramp that split Medusa-like into three outlets.
I thought I saw a stop sign in the background, so I picked the middle outlet and turned. I was immediately confronted by three cars exiting the freeway. I jumped a curb and got out of the way. Then I pulled into a nearby McDonalds and watched the scene. Shortly, a local car came down the road and turned into what would have been the first outlet (as I approached it). He stopped briefly, then crossed the exit ramp and went down a road on the other side. I followed his path and found myself on the road to the campground. So what kind of a highway engineer terminates a road in the middle of a freeway off-ramp?
We had a spot in a small campground, next to a babbling brook. It was a pleasant end to a challenging day.
For a while next day we kept seeing these interesting route markers.
Tuesday was our last day on the road. We got an early start and at mid-day we crossed the line into Virginia. Jean called a cousin that lives on our route, but he didn’t answer, so was probably at work. There were no cars in front of his house when we passed. As usual, we approached the only big town on this route (Roanoke) at rush hour, so since we had traveled the last part of this road often, we got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and bypassed it. We got back to Forest in time to meet Jean’s brother for dinner. A pleasant end to a good trip.
Total trip miles – 4,817
Days on the trip – 50
Days on the road - 32
Average days run – 150.5 miles
The longest run, 346 miles, was the first day, the next longest, 283 miles, was the last.