Friday, August 1, 2014


Saturday, May 24, 2014
Once again we woke early had a cold breakfast and headed for Wal-Mart in Birmingham.  We were headed for one on the far side of Birmingham when I spotted one just as we were entering the city.  It was already pushing toward noon.

Once again only one tire was available and once again the guys used it for the spare.  At this point all they wanted to do was get on the road because we had reservations booked for St. Augustine, Florida for that night and the next night.  We all wanted to sleep comfortably so bad.

To help make the day a little more relaxed we decided to play travel games like we had when the kids were little.  The first one I pulled out the road atlas and using the info in it had the guys trying to figure out the nicknames of all 50 states, thoughtfully supplied by Rand McNally.  

A side note here about the Rand McNally Atlas’.  I know using an atlas seems so old fashioned in the age of GPS, but don’t get me started on the errors on a GPS, let’s just say we’ve taken many an adventurous side trip depending on first Fiona, our name for the one that we ran on my laptop when we were mystery shopping full time.  

And you really don’t want to talk to me about Dora, what we call the one on my dh’s phone that uses google maps.  Dora has a real love for taking us on little side trips through not so good parts of towns, and always where there seems to be the most traffic and construction.  You’ll hear more about Dora on the blog post about our recent trip to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri that we went on just recently—after I finish all the posts on the wonderful WDW trip first. 

Anyway, we usually purchase a new Rand McNally road atlas from Sam’s Club or Wal-Mart every 2-3 years.  I am a good navigator when I have good Maps and their maps tend to be very good.  But even more important is an index they have in them of all the Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs across the nation.  

This info is very important to us because the index lists which ones are 24 hours,  the ones where we can generally boondock, and which ones have fuel stations, even more importantly, which of those fuel stations have diesel.   So we had purchased a new Rand McNally for this trip and it turned out it was a very good thing we did.  Now back to my narrative. 

Once we were out of states I told the guys a story about when I was traveling the Rendezvous circuit with some friends and we’d played the travel game where you start with a city and the next person has to name a city that starts with the last letter of the city you named, the third person then has to use the last letter of the second city to name a third and so on.  The only rule being you could not use the same city twice.

The thing was the woman who seemed to being having zero trouble in naming cities was, well not someone you would think to be that knowledgeable of US cities. 
I happened to look back at her from where I was riding in the front seat during one of her turns to discover she was using the index of the road atlas to find cities.

Both men know the woman well, so they got a good chuckle out of it.  Ds suggested we play that game with NO road atlas.

I suggested a Disney twist in honor of our trip.  The rules were simple, play the game the same as the cities version, only we could use anything Disney, movies, songs, theme park attractions, actors etc.  The only exception ds made was we could not use Star Wars or Marvel because while Disney owns the franchise to them now, they were not actually Disney products, yet.

Folks let me say right here and now the game was MUCH harder than we expected.  We started with Minnie, moved on to Elsa, then Ariel, and so forth.  There are certain letters that are REALLY hard to think of after the first few. 

We played for about two hours and the highway flew by as we did. 

I know some of you folks live in and love Atlanta, Georgia.  Not so with our family.  Our first trip back in 1980 I was driving through on one of your tall bridges when a bird smacked into the windshield, scaring me silly.  Another trip we saw a horrific wreck, with a body we will never forget, other times it has been awful traffic (is the traffic ever good in Atlanta?) and this time we were tense about tires. 

We made it onto and off the loop headed down the highway without getting lost and through awful traffic and of course construction and just as we were just about to join back up with the main highway …

You guessed it tire #3 blew, taking out the bumper of the driver’s side of the camper.  I had absolutely had it.  I told the guys right then and there we were buying TWO tires come hell or high water and there would be four new tires on the ground or I wasn’t getting back in the truck.

This time they had to change the flat on the side of the road under a bridge and we were all really nervous because the traffic was whipping the trailer around and zipping by so fast  I was afraid one of them would get killed.

While they changed the flat I looked up Wal-Marts on our route and found two within 10 miles and a Sam’s Club as well. 

As soon as we were back on the road we went to the first Wal-Mart, ZERO tires available.  But the tire and lube guy was nice enough to call first the other Wal-Mart, no tires there either.  

I prayed as he called the Sam's Club and they had two, exactly the number we needed!  So we cautiously traveled the 9 miles to the Sam’s and then I ran in to pay for the tires,  while dh took the trailer around back and to start removing the remaining tire that could still blow out on us 

I shop Sam’s on a regular basis and generally the greeter doesn’t even look to see if you have your card.  The greeter at this Sam’s was determined I was not going in without her examining mine closely.  I was not in the mood for her nonsense, and no matter how hard I dug through my belt bag I couldn’t find that elusive card.

So when she got a phone call I slipped past her and went to the tire counter a few feet away, where I told the gal who I was and that I wanted to pay for the tires that the man from the Wal-Mart had just talked to her about.  All the time I was digging for my card and the greeter was fussing at me. What was that woman's problem anyway, I mean if nothing else I could have got a guest pass for free!

Finally I called dh and told him to bring me his card so we could get the tires.  Turns out my son had my card because he had used it to get fuel for his truck a few days before.  Duhhhh, I remembered that as soon as I saw ds coming through the door.
We had to wait for the two tires to be put on the rims before the guys could put them on the trailer.  The wait turned out to not be the few minutes we were promised, but HOURS.  Sitting in the truck on the hot asphalt waiting on the men to put the two tires on the rims was agonizing.  I just wanted to get to a campground, have a hot shower and a cool night's sleep.

With this final trailer tire purchase we were now down $700 of the cash we had budgeted for the trip, but knew we had it in savings where we could easily transfer it when we could get on a secure server. I had made arrangements with our bank for just such an emergency prior to leaving for the trip.  Always let your bank, or if you still use them, credit card company know when you are going to be traveling out of state.  You will save yourself a lot of time and embarassment by doing so.  Nothing is more embarrassing than having your card declined while traveling and knowing you have sufficient money available.

Prior to being on the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover program such a huge expense would have wrecked our vacation and forced us to use credit cards, even if we didn’t want to.  This was not an option for this trip at all because we had closed  all our credit card accounts five years ago and have never regretted it.

After being on the program and without credit cards for five years we are not only very near the end of the massive debt we started with, despite being unemployed 18 months of that time, but we have sinking funds for things like tires that we keep fully funded.  It is from the tire sinking fund this money came. I thank God constantly for the freedom we now have by not using credit cards and highly recommend that everyone check out the book Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, your local library probably has it and it won’t cost you a thing.

Of course Murphy wasn’t through with us and our tires.  When dh tried to put the spare back up under the trailer where it belongs the mount wouldn’t work, naturally. Disgusted he threw the old tire spare up into the bed of the truck, vowing to work on the storage mount later in the trip. 

We left Atlanta with four new tires on the ground on the trailer and an old spare we wouldn’t trust very far if we had to use it.  We’ll buy a new tire for a spare, as is our habit, once the tire fund is refilled after we get home. 

By the time we left it was almost dark.  We generally don’t travel after dark because if you break down, you are stuck.  After a short bit it became very clear to us we weren’t going to make St. Augustine that night.  I tried to call and cancel that night’s reservation, but the office was already closed. 

We ended up boondocking yet a third night, this time in the parking lot of the Valdosta, GA welcome center.  A nice parking area, security, and HOT!  Miserable hot, none of us slept well at all.

Murphy was really being a brat!

Jan who agrees with dh that we will never boondock in the hot weather again if we can help it either away or in OK


  1. We did Total Money Makeover a few years ago and what a difference in our lives it has made! Incredible. I recommend to everyone I can.

  2. I have to agree, I really wish we'd done it well before we hit our 60's. Dh would have retired MUCH younger if we had. Luckily we have changed our family tree. Ds has learned from our mistakes and is debt free and staying that was because of DR.