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Wandering USA: Chaos in the Carolinas

Following my stint of birthday partying in Myrtle Beach, I had an encore weekend with most of the same people in Atlanta. Of course, another country concert was the whole reason for the random 250 mile trip to another southern city. The single night line-up included Chase Rice, Brantley Gilbert, Eric Church and the one and only Kenny Chesney.

It was another weekend filled with music, alcohol, fun and surprises. I think my favorite part was finding people passed out everywhere.

And just in case anyone got lost… everyone got a temporary tat (seen in photos below).

In between Atlanta and Myrtle Beach I spent the week in Cornelius, North Carolina, where I found the first town I truly enjoyed being in. During the days I would sit at Starbucks to work and study, you know the boring things. There I met the town commissioner, who told me if I wasn’t careful, I’d get stuck there because I would just fall in love with the place. Well he was right. The city is beautiful. Lake Norman is beautiful. The people there are beautiful.

Anyway, I digress. The Monday following the concert in Atlanta I packed up my dog, my RV and everything I had and headed down the road to Starbucks for my morning coffee and work session… An hour and a half later, excited to be on the road finally after a week and a half of straight chaos, I put the key in the ignition and turned it.

Murphy tried with all her might to turn the engine over.. but she didn’t get past a slowly fading cranking noise. Again, I tried to turn the key. Nothing. She was dead.

One of my new friends from Starbucks was more than willing to help. He drove home to grab his jumper cables, and hooked them up to his ‘57 Chevrolet BelAir. No luck. It took another car, and many more attempts to get my engine running, but it ran and I went straight to NAPA.

I ran inside with the engine still running, asked the guy to test my battery, alternator and every other associated part, and he found nothing. So he asked me to turn the engine off. Still he found nothing to be wrong with it. “Start it again,” he says.

I turned the key. Nothing. I was stuck. Legedu whined and licked my shoulder. I put my head on the steering wheel. “So…” I said, “What now?”

The man scratched his head. “Um, well I think it’s probably your starter,” he replied.

To make a long story short, after 6 different men tried to help me get my engine going, no one could do it. It was unbelievably hot, and all of them had sweated, gotten on their backs and slid underneath my motorhome… all for naught. The bolt to change out the starter was warped, we didn’t have the tools and NAPA had just closed. By then it was too late to call Good Sam, so I waited until the next day to try again.

Good Sam sent me a mobile mechanic, who was able to get the starter switched out by the afternoon. The engine roared to life and I took the RV back to Zach’s. I was too exhausted to try to leave that night. It occurred to me how ironic it was that I got stuck in Cornelius. Everyone told me I would, I just don’t think anyone realized I would break down to do it.

The next morning I was afraid to stop at Starbucks again, so I just left. I got about 6 miles down the road and decided that the engine smelled funny, so I pulled into a McDonald’s. Scared to find out what would happen next, I went inside and had coffee while I worked for an hour. When I came back out, my suspicions were confirmed and the engine wouldn’t start again. I spent the entire day, from 9am to about 5pm, in the McDonald’s parking lot… calling Good Sam, texting Zach, calling Papa, texting Zach, calling Good Sam, sitting, waiting, getting stared at… I even went and had a beer at the bar next door. Finally Zach came to rescue me.

THIS time, I had Zach’s friend of a friend come look at my RV (after the mobile mechanic from the day before wasn’t able to fix it) and he successfully diagnosed and repaired the issue faster than Good Sam was even able to locate a mechanic for me, and for must less money… for those of you wondering, it was the ground wire.

So basically on Friday (remember I wanted to leave on Monday?) I finally left North Carolina and crossed the border into Virginia. My destination – The Shenandoah National Park.

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I'm a 24 year old writer and full-time wanderer. My dog, Legedu (Leg-a-doo), and I just finished a trip in my 23 year old motorhome wandering through half of the vast USA. Armed with an annual national park pass, a camera and my pen, I'm determined to see everything this country has to offer. Next Spring I will set out once more to travel through the rest of the states.As a Master's Graduate at the School of International Service at American University, I'm fascinated by culture and societal conflict. This is the story of my ultimate global cultural immersion. I'll get to know the culture of my own country intimately and then set out to meet the rest of the world.

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