Travel dates: January 2-3, 2017
We’d originally planned to drive home from Disney all in one day, but it’s a nearly 500 mile drive: way longer than we like to do under any circumstances, and even more so towing the new trailer a long distance for the very first time. So, on the recommendation of Keith from Soulful RV Family, we decided to stop overnight at the RV park adjacent to Carroll’s Sausage and Country Store, in Ashburn, GA right off of I75.
They have 20 full hook up pull through sites, all laid out in a big field right next to the store. Easy to get to the campground and easy to get in and out of the sites. Sites are $30/night, and they give you a $10 coupon to use in the store. We called while we were driving up, and the woman on the phone told us we didn’t need a reservation. This always makes me nervous, but there were only maybe 5 or 6 other RVs there when we arrived in the early evening. We took a site off by itself, and it was plenty long enough for us to leave the trailer hitched up. This was a new and exciting development for us….something about the hitch set up with our old trailer made it really glaringly unlevel when it was hitched up, so that we always unhitched, even for overnight stops.
This is clearly more a place for an overnight stop than anything else. There are no amenities, including no access to bathrooms after the store closes (this will become somewhat significant later on in the post), but it’s a super convenient and pleasant overnight stop, and there are some perks like the store (and the $10 credit to use there) that make it extra appealing. Also, it’s right next to this peanut monument; you can walk across the field and see it up close:
So we got all set up (but not unhitched!), did some shopping for dinner and breakfast the next morning at the store, ate, and settled in for the evening.
And then weather happened.
We had known there would be rain and maybe storms that night, but I hadn’t really thought that much about it. It was January, after all, which is not tornado season. But then the weather app on my phone started looking pretty alarming, with a tornado watch that would last pretty much all night.
You know where you don’t want to be in a tornado? In an aluminum and plywood box on wheels in the middle of a field. And remember how there was no bathhouse or other facilities open once the store closed? Yeah.
Dave and I decided we’d sleep in shifts so we could keep a close eye on the weather. And that we’d unhitch after all in case we needed to get somewhere safer quickly. And then, a couple of hours later, the sirens started going off as the watch turned into a warning (for those who don’t live in tornado territory, a “watch” means the weather conditions are such that it’s possible or likely tornadoes will develop; a “warning” means an actual real life tornado has been spotted).
We had already decided on a plan of action should this occur, which was to take off and hunker down in the (open 24 hours) Waffle House right across the street. This wasn’t the most fabulous plan in the world, since Waffle Houses have giant windows on two sides…but it was the best we could come up with on short notice. So we woke up Abe, loaded the kids and dogs into the car, and went over for some hash browns. And watched the storm get really nasty out the windows as the power flickered on and off inside.
That wave of storms passed and the sirens stopped blaring, but we were looking at the radar and seeing a lot more scariness headed straight for us throughout the night. We finally decided that rather spend the night sleepless and running back and forth between Waffle House and the trailer, we should stay in a hotel for the night. And in our first stroke of luck of the evening, there was a Days Inn right next to the campground, and they had room for us, and they allowed dogs. We had to get two rooms, but we still paid under $150 all together, because Days Inns in Ashburn, GA just aren’t that expensive.
We joined a parade of people in the lobby who had all decided it was time to get off the road for the night before their cars got blown away and who reported scary stories of tons of trees down and other damage an exit up the road. There were no more ground floor rooms available, but we got two rooms right next to each other upstairs, and I set my alarm to wake me up when the next line of bad storms was due so that we could get downstairs to the lobby if we needed to.
And then I thought I’d take advantage of being a hotel and take a nice long shower. Except it turned out our shower made an obnoxious, high pitched squealing sound, so I took the quickest shower I could instead. Oh well. And then by the time I went to sleep, the radar had gotten much less scary, so I felt okay turning off the alarm and just sleeping right on through until morning.
We headed back to the trailer first thing in the morning, and everything looked fine, with one notable, mysterious exception. You will need some background information. We had bought a big, heavy piece of foam to supplement the thin, crappy mattress in our old trailer. And when we traded it in, Dave wanted to save it and reuse it somewhere (we’re pretty happy with the new trailer’s mattress). So we’d been hauling it around with us since Tampa, putting it in the van at night and in the trailer during the day. When we had to evacuate during the night, we’d dragged the foam out of the van and put it underneath the trailer, knowing it was going to get ruined in the rain and figuring we’d find some way to get rid of it the next day. So this queen sized, super heavy, waterlogged piece of foam was no longer under the trailer when we got back, but had somehow been tossed a good twenty feet away in the middle of nowhere. Nothing else had moved. It was weird. Fortunately, the folks at the store let us put it in their dumpster, so we were finally rid of the big ol’ piece of foam, just like I had wanted all along. We went back in the trailer and celebrated by cooking up the bacon we’d bought at the store the night before.
And then we went home. There were no more storms. It all went very smoothly. A little anti-climactic after our harrowing tornado adventure, but, really, that’s how you want things.