Saturday, October 20, 2012

The fall color drive that almost was

The road trip that we tried to take yesterday was to be our fall color drive into the mountains. Our plans were to drive up to the Appalachian Powerhouse in Southeast Tennessee, photograph the fall color scenery, take in the clean mountain air and cap it off with a picnic dinner before heading home. We had no way of knowing that our dream trip would end at the Dollar General Store in Benton, Tennessee. How that happened is a tale to be told.

Our road trip began innocently enough. Hubby tossed the picnic table and chairs into the pick-up truck while I packed a cooler of drinks and a couple of snacks. We ran a quick errand before officially beginning our fall color drive. Then we headed over to KFC for a chicken bucket and off we went. The sky looked a little hazy but we didn't think anything about it.


We got halfway up Waterlevel Highway when we heard the strangest noise. Hubby pulled off the road as quickly as he could. One glance confirmed our fears. His tire was as flat as they come. I dutifully looked up the number for AAA while he started moving gear to get to spare. We laughed it off (just our luck right) but little did we know that this was only the beginning.

I grabbed my camera from the truck to take a photo. It immediately read “internal memory full”. Rats! My memory card was on the kitchen table at home. No worries though. I always carry an extra one. Actually, the spare card that I was supposed to have is exactly like the one I loaned my daughter a few weeks ago. Signing,I looked down at my camera while wondering who might carry SD cards out here on Waterlevel Highway.  That's when my camera shut off. The batteries were as dead as a doornail. My disappointment showed.

Hubby knew how much I wanted to photograph the fall color. We weren't anywhere near a Wal-Mart but there was a Dollar General on up the road a piece. He assured me that it would be no problem to pick up an SD card and batteries there. Cheered, I took a swig on my bottle of water to soothe my developing cough  and looked forward to getting back on the road.

The AAA tech was as nice and as friendly as he could be. He up in the shiny company pick-up truck, grabbed the air compressor and whipped out this fancy battery-operated thingie-bob to remove the lug nuts. Then he asked my husband for a tool to lower the spare tire. We had it. The tool was safely tucked away in the cab of the truck under my bag, the cooler, camera gear, tablecloth, our dog, his bag of supplies and our jackets.

A few minutes later the AAA tech finished up. It was almost like the night before Christmas. Visions of our fall color drive danced in my head. I finished repacking the truck while Hubby signed off on the paperwork. The tech took one look at the card and handed it back to my husband. It had expired in 2004. Hubby never changed it out and my card was inside the neatly re-packed truck. My consolation was that after one stop at the store, our fall color drive would resume. I dug around for my valid AAA card as quickly as I could.

We found the Dollar General Store with no problem. Hubby commented on a strange smell as I got out of the truck. Liquid was pouring from beneath it. He looked at me apologetically as I looked forlornly toward the mountains. Instead of a camera card and batteries my purchase was of electrical tape, two gallons of bottled water and mints to soothe my developing cough.

He wrapped up the hose as best we could we headed home. We stopped at the auto parts store on the way. Neither of us were surprised to find out that the part was out of stock. It wasn't a s seemed to make sense after all that had happened.

We did get filled in on the possible connection between the haze and my cough. Unprecedented sand storms were blowing in from the midwest. The haze was a result of the dust that was floating in the air. I'd like to say that the news surprised us but by this time, we were numb.

In fact, our only surprise now was that we made it home from our "almost" fall color drive without any further problems. The road trip wasn't what we had in mind but, at least we can say that the fall color drive wasn't boring.