With snowmageddon in Browns Summit starting on the night of December 8 (a sad, sad birthday for me with the tragic “sniff, sniff” Navy loss to Army), we hung out around the house for several days. In addition to the previously mentioned shopping, I did a bit of wrapping, preparing packages to ship, and dare I speak the evil word, work. We didn’t venture out until December 12 when we headed to Mac’s Speed Shop in Greensboro to enjoy our annual combined birthday celebration for Ryan (our son) and me. As always, it was good to laugh and enjoy family. Ryan’s friend Ben came along, too.

Towards the end of the week it looked like there would be a break in the weather, so we saddled up for Petunia’s shakedown cruise. We were both ready to be GONE! We did find one issue while loading and prepping to leave. The plastic battery box had a split in it, and Bill Plemmons RV ordered the replacement. It was secure enough to travel, though, so we hit the road on Sunday.

We headed south to Morrow Mountain State Park for a couple of nights. The only real difference in towing on the road is the track when we turn. On a 90-degree turn, Petunia’s tires track about five feet or so inside those of Brutus. That means a wide swing for right turns. (There is also a slight tail swing issue, but it will only come into play on turns in VERY tight traffic, which we try hard to avoid.) We are still practicing backing with the different response time, but as with Penelope in the beginning, it just takes a little practice.

Morrow Mountain is a pretty large park with lots of trails, a swimming pool, fishing, and a really nice clubhouse. When we stopped to check in, the rangers had just finished baking cookies for an event! Bonus!! How can you not like a place that gives you fresh-baked cookies when you check in?!?!? It is very wooded and the sites are nicely spaced. Facilities are warm and clean, too, and Uwharrie National Park is nearby with more trails and things to do. We selected our site, and MW worked on getting Petunia backed in. (There was a stump in the exact wrong place, which made his job a little difficult.) Set up was fairly quick, and the hitching/unhitching process is very similar to Penelope except for the hitch location. (We use an Anderson hitch, which gives us easy access to the truck bed when not towing, too.)

Next we met Kate (my sister), Patrick (brother-in-law), and Peyton (nephew) at Five Points Public House in nearby Albemarle, North Carolina. They live in Indian Trail about an hour from the state park, so we were able to get together for our annual Christmas meal. We shared the Sloppy Joe Fries and Pimento Cheese Dip, which were both VERY good. Chazz’s Meatloaf and the Spinach and Goat Cheese Burger ranked pretty high, as well. We had a good, long visit, then they followed us back over to see Petunia before heading home.

That afternoon we had an unwelcome surprise…a drip in the enclosed underbelly. (Thankfully MW was outside in the right spot at the right time to hear it.) We did a little troubleshooting and found that it only happened when the pump was on with the lines pressurized. We decided it was probably a loose fitting, but to be certain we contacted Plemmons the next morning and arranged to have them take a look on Tuesday. To nurse it through, we just turned the pump off and released the pressure on the lines when we weren’t using water. The up side is that it was a manageable problem, and there are so many that aren’t. After getting that figured out and emailing our Plemmons contact, we spent the rest of the evening arranging all of our stuff and exploring. You wouldn’t think there is much to find, but there are cubbies, lights, buttons, and switches everywhere!

On Monday morning our first stop was the post office in Albemarle to drop off a few Christmas packages. Then we headed over towards Charlotte to meet Kate at Target. It is always nice when I get to spend extra time with my baby sister! We spent the afternoon having lunch at McAlister’s Deli and running errands. MW’s “no cell phone” rule threw her for a loop when she lost him in traffic for a few minutes, and I believe “stupid” was bandied about. It all worked out in the end, though, and we had a fun time. Mid-afternoon we headed back to Petunia and settled in with a little “Dark Shadows”. (Yes, the gothic soap opera from the sixties. MW gave me the entire boxed set a couple of years ago, and we are about half way through watching the 1200+ episodes.)

We were up early on Tuesday morning and headed for Rural Hall to drop Penelope off for her checkup. This time I took the helm to get some practice. It really does handle almost the same on the road as Penelope, although you do notice the extra weight on the hills. The drive was uneventful, and we made it home just after lunch. Plemmons called late in the afternoon to say that it was just a loose fitting as we suspected, so MW planned to pick her up the next day.

A shakedown cruise is designed to flush out any problems so that they can be taken care of before they crop up in the middle of nowhere. Ours worked exactly as it should, and for that, we are thankful. I’m sure as with all vehicles, both large and small, issues will arise in the future, but we will handle those down the road.

Stay tuned for the next step…what to build on the farm in Tennessee. Change is good!