Finally at the top and pull into position. Yep, there's no room to back in. It's well after dark, and screw it, I'm not driving off this mountain, until it's time to leave. The car stays in front of the camper. Andrew and George and whoever else shows up can drive. But I don't really care to come off this mountain.
But we must, for food and to go shooting. We go to a practical rifle match and I out shoot our host. With his rifle. I'm not sure if that's a faux pas or not. Wait? What?!?! There's no bacon? How can you not have bacon!! But despite that we had a lot of fun. We talked and laughed and told our stories to each other. Hopefully, they learned something from my mistakes and errors. They are really nice and good guys. I'm proud to call them my Friends.
But like all good things, they must come to an end. We managed to get the camper out and headed down the mountain. 2nd gear all the way so the brakes wouldn't catch fire and/or I go over the side to a fiery death. I get to the main road and onto finally onto the interstate (screw scenery, I've seen enough). The view from Ceasar's Head.
So after 140,000 miles, trying to push a camper uphill and then coming downhill in 2nd, the clutch decides to give up the ghost. Right on the SC/GA border. 88 miles from Atlanta and the nearest Saab dealer. Did I mention that it's 2am and I'm in the WE:COME TO GEORGIA! rest stop. So I call the nearest towing firm (I now love my Blackberry), and agree to pay whatever amount to get to the Saab dealer in Atlanta, and let the driver sleep in until morning (the dealership opens at 9am). So I settle in with the rest of the truckers and grab some sleep. I wake up at 7am and begin my wait for the tow truck. I forgot I'm on "Southern time" in which 7am means "When I git thar", which is 9am. Okay. I call the dealership and let them know I'm coming. They can't guarantee that they'll get it done today, but they'll do there best. Chad finally delivers, me, my car and the camper at around 10:30. And the dealership has the parts, a mechanic and a bay open. Things are looking up. So I begin my sitting and waiting. The service manager is nice and gives me a car to go grab lunch and tells me to keep the key, just in case I need to grab a room for the night.
Which it turns out I won't. The mechanic gets it done right around 4pm. $1700 less rich and I'm back on the road. Which I drive all the way to another rest stop in Kentucky, and I again spend a night with the truckers. Morning breaks and once more on the road and hey, Jim Beam Distillery tours. What the heck. Oh there's free samples (max three). And the Red Stag is not cheaper in the company store. Back to my folks by noon, and spend a couple of days there. Then back home to Chicago. Aside from the clutch, a good trip, only wish I had budgeted more time to see more folks I know in that part of the US.