On Friday, July 3oth, we left Montello, WI and began our journey to Knoxville, TN for our August 3rd service appointment at RVs for Less. Our first day took us 255 miles to Secor, IL (near Champaign) where we spent the night at Hickory Hill Campground. Since we were only overnighting, we decided to keep hitched but ended up making multiple adjustments to get level. It started drizzling as we prepared to leave on Saturday morning and we drove through rain for much of the 298-mile trip to North Bend, OH. With the time zone change, it was after 4:30 pm by the time we arrived at Indian Springs Campground, where we had planned to spend two nights.
However, after getting set up, Phil checked his emails and found that he had one from Karen Burson, owner of RVs for Less. She informed Phil that they were going to reschedule our service appointment until August 24th, three weeks later. Karen had just learned that her daughter, Amber, had scheduled us for the week that General Manager Ken Rife was going to be on vacation. Phil had called Ken in early July about our hydraulic leak and leg issues. Ken had told Phil that he would be on vacation the week of August 3rd but that his staff would be able to take care of us. Ken had instructed Phil to send Amber a list of our service needs and she would get us scheduled. Phil sent the list to Amber, with a copy to Ken, on July 9th and Amber replied that she had scheduled us for August 3rd.
Phil responded to Karen that the delay was unacceptable, since we had cancelled several reservations and backtracked from Wisconsin to make the August 3rd appointment. Although Karen stuck to her decision that we shouldn’t come when Ken was gone, she did agree to get us worked in on August 10th. Although we were still very unhappy, a one-week delay is better than three weeks.
The next challenge was to find reservations for the extra week, especially with early August being a peak vacation time. We were able to book two more nights at Indian Springs Campground, to give us time to explore our options and we also had no problem pushing off our August 2nd reservation in Heiskell, TN for a week. We were able to book Wednesday and Thursday nights at Grand Ole RV Resort. However, when we tried to find reservations for the weekend, we couldn’t find any vacancies anywhere in central Tennessee. Finally, we found a site at the KOA Nashville North despite their website previously showing no sites available. Although the rate of nearly $90 per night for Friday and Saturday nights is higher than we have ever paid (and the KOA Nashville North definitely doesn’t warrant such a rate), we were just happy to have some place to park.
On Tuesday, August 3rd, we visited the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, KY. This replica of Noah’s ark is the largest timber-frame structure in the world, standing 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet wide. Although they acknowledge the need to take a lot of artistic license with the design and furnishings, due to limited details in the Bible, it is nonetheless an impressive creation. The three decks of the ark are filled with exhibits that are designed to answer questions and skepticism about Noah’s ark and the biblical flood.
After we’d explored the ground floor and the first deck, we were both starving so we headed to Emzara’s for a huge buffet lunch. We then needed to walk off our lunch by visiting the animals in the Ararat Ridge Zoo. We especially enjoyed watching a two-toed sloth that was more active than its reputation.
We next returned to the ark and completed the second and third decks. On the way out of the park, we attended a portion of a gospel music concert.
On Wednesday, we drove 267 miles to Goodlettsville, TN. The first 90 miles were slow due to delays caused by road construction. After getting set up at Grand Ole RV Resort for two nights, Jason arrived with a carload of Amazon purchases we had had shipped to his house. We watched a female musician perform for a while, then headed to O’Charley’s for dinner. Jason joined us again for dinner on Thursday and Phil grilled us some steelhead trout.
On Friday, we had to make our 4-mile move to the Nashville North KOA. Since the posted check-in time wasn’t until 2 pm, we stayed at Grand Ole’ RV Resort until their checkout time at 11 am. Nothing was said when we arrived at the KOA at 11:07 am.
We really didn’t do much during our three days at the KOA. Jason was able to join us every evening. Unfortunately, Phil developed a fever of 101.1 degrees shortly after dinner on Saturday. Phil’s fever broke overnight and his temperature was closer to normal for most of Sunday.
We had learned that the scarcity of available campsites in the Nashville area was partially due to the Music City Grand Prix being held that weekend. 140,000 race fans were expected to attend the three-day event. Rather than pay over $80 a ticket and sit outside in 90+ degree temps, we opted to watch the race on TV from our air-conditioned living room. It was interesting to watch Indy cars race through the streets of downtown Nashville.
Unfortunately, Phil’s fever returned late Sunday afternoon, hitting 101.9 degrees. This was to become a pattern over the coming days.
On Monday morning, Phil’s temperature was somewhat lower and he felt well enough to make our 205-mile drive to Heiskell, TN. We made it safely to our site at Raccoon Valley Campground and were able to relax for a while before Phil’s temperature shot up to 102.6.
Once again, Phil’s temperature had dropped to a non-fever level by Monday morning so we were able to make the 20-mile drive to our dealer, RVs for Less, in Knoxville. We were pleased to get immediate attention to our list of repair items, unlike most of our future visits.
We managed to get some lunch at O’Charley’s, make a Sam’s Club run, and return home before Phil’s temperature starting climbing again. This time, it peaked at 104.0 degrees. After four days of increasingly high evening temps, we decided to get some medical attention.
Phil scheduled the first available appointment for a COVID test, at 10:15 am on Wednesday morning, at a Knoxville Urgent Care. Although we had an oil change scheduled at 1 pm at the Knoxville Mazda dealer, we figured there should be plenty of time for both. We were almost wrong! Phil had requested a COVID test just to be safe, despite having been vaccinated and the fever being the only real COVID symptom. This test was advertised as having 15-minute results but, apparently, that depends on when they start the clock. While he was waiting, Phil tried postponing the oil change but was told that the next opening was over a week away. Finally, at 11:45, the PA entered the exam room with the expected negative COVID test result. After asking a number of questions, she prescribed a broad-spectrum antibiotic and Phil exited at 12:15 pm. Under their COVID protocol, non-patients were not allowed in the waiting room. Given the temperature being in the 90s, Jan had needed to find shelter for most of the over-2-hour wait at a nearby Starbucks. We managed to pick up Phil’s prescription at the nearby Walgreens and make the 30-minute drive to the Mazda dealer, arriving right at 1 pm.
Continuing the trend, the oil change took longer than predicted. During our wait, Jan discovered that Knoxville has a large used book store not far from the dealer, so that became our next stop. The store, McKay’s Knoxville, was amazing and we both found a lot of books to buy.
Phil took his first of 10 daily antibiotic pills. However, the warnings of potential side effects were rather sobering. The most common appears to be tendon swelling or snapping, especially for those over 60. The warning also advised users to consider whether the risk of this injury was potentially worse than the illness you were trying to treat. Very comforting!
The fever did return, as usual, that afternoon but was not quite as high as the previous day. We were hopeful that we were finally turning the corner.
On Thursday, August 12th, we were told that we would need to be out of our rig for about four hours so the dealer could repair our issues with our hydraulic lines and our front legs. The plan was that this would complete the list of needed repairs and we could expect to be back on the road by Friday morning.
Since we hadn’t anticipated our stop at McKay’s Knoxville on Wednesday, we had had no books to exchange. We remedied this with a return visit on Thursday when we used exchange credits on a few additional books. We now both have more than enough books to last us through the year.
With stops at a couple of additional retailers and lunch at Panera, we had managed to kill the four hours. As we returned to the RV dealership, our rig was being moved back into position. Although we found a few minor issues than needed to be addressed that afternoon, it clearly looked like we were really going to be out of there on Friday morning, in record time.
Phil’s fever returned again Thursday evening but, again, was slightly better than before. Phil spent much of Thursday evening working our travel plans, with a goal of reconnecting with our original itinerary in South Dakota.
Since we had anticipated a much longer stay, Jan had booked a hair appointment for Friday morning. While Jan headed to her appointment, Phil booked us a campground for Friday night, refueled the truck at Sam’s Club, and did some grocery shopping at Walmart. We were both working around a schedule of hitting the road around noon.
The first sign of trouble came when Phil received several text messages from Ken Rife, the GM at RVs for Less. He learned that, when Ken had contacted our vehicle service contract company for reimbursement, they had balked at the size of the bill and decided they need to inspect the work themselves. However, they wouldn’t be able to do so until Monday; Tuesday at the latest. Although an additional three-day delay took another bite out of summer travel plans, the benefit of the delay was that it would buy Phil more time to recover.
Phil’s temperature reached 101.0 on Friday night but broke overnight. He woke up soaking wet but his temperature was down to 96.0. It never went back above 98.2 the rest of the weekend. Phil continued to take the remaining antibiotics but we were optimistic that the mystery illness had passed.
On Monday, August 16th, the CoachNet rep came to RVs for Less to inspect the work that had been done. Per Ken Rife, the rep had no knowledge of RVs and simply took a lot of pictures. He was unable to provide an authorization for the bill until he had a chance to review it with his supervisor. Rather than hold us up any longer, Karen told us Monday afternoon that we were free to leave. We made plans to get on the road early Tuesday morning. The remnants of Hurricane Fred were forecasted to hit the Knoxville area all day Tuesday so we stayed hooked up Monday night. We were rather unlevel all night, which made it difficult to walk around in our rig. We hit the road early on Tuesday morning in a light drizzle.