Here’s how we roll, with the Cool McCool’s Garage Mobile World Headquarters. On our recent trip to the Smokies and Blue Ridge Parkway, a late start on Thursday afternoon (somebody has to work around here!), meant we couldn’t drive to Ashville NC in one day. So, we planned a stop around Dayton Ohio as a good afternoons drive. I’d looked up a couple of Wal-Mart stores on line, called and asked if it was OK to park overnight in their lots.
Yes indeed it was, so we made it here, and set up “camp”. I did feel a little wierd setting in a lawn chair outside the trailer with a Gin and Tonic, so we stayed inside for the evening. I’m not a big fan of shopping at Wally World, but they do have a nice camp store, and the campground is level and well-lit. It wasn’t too busy, we slept pretty well, and got a good start on the rest of the drive the next morning. Sadly, I couldn’t find a light pole with a power outlet at the base, so we couldn’t toast our bagels for breakfast, but I did buy orange juice and couple other things I’d forgotten to get.
Leaving the next morning, the car ran AWFUL. Missing, stumbling, bucking and coughing, I thought we must be out of gas. There was a gas station just about half a mile down the road, we limped and filled up, which turned out to not be the problem, as it only took 8 gallons. By then, it was running a little better, so we set out. All day long, it would occasionally stumble and miss, I wondered if it had been some bad gas we got, or maybe a bad injector, plug wire or spark plug. It ran fine at wide open throttle, where it spent a LOT of time, hauling the trailer up steep grades as we got into the mountains, so it was a perplexing issue, but we were rolling, so I figured we were OK. We were able to keep up with semi’s, big diesel dually’s pulling giant 5th wheels and traffic in general going up steep grades with passing lanes, so it wasn’t bad, but it was a little worrisome, hundreds of miles from home.
We got to our campground just outside of Ashville early in the afternoon, despite a monumental 2 hour-long traffic jam about 30 miles out, which turned out to have been a terrible accident, leaving a semi tractor and trailer wadded up into the side of a mountain, burned to the ground. Pretty grisly, we were glad we weren’t there when it happened.
“Mama Gerties Hideaway” however, turned out to be beautiful, and despite the steep grade (the address, “Uphill Road” should have been a clue), was great. We ended up staying two more days, and doing day trips from there. The place was right up the side of a mountain, 30 sites, with another 20 under construction even further up the hill. We almost got stuck pulling the trailer onto our site, I stopped just as the car got onto the gravel, but we made it. The hill was so steep that standing about 20 feet down from the camper, one could see the entire underside, as if it were up on a lift, and the camper next to us looked down onto the roof. The sites are terraced up the mountain, hence the flat rock retaining walls between sites.
The next morning we went to the Biltmore Estate, a spectacle of conspicuous consumption if ever there was one. It’s hard to wrap ones head around the idea that the place was built as a summer retreat for one wealthy guy, and that the estate included almost 70,000 acres. The grounds immediately around the mansion (castle?), thousands of acres, were landscaped by the guy who designed central park. To the credit of the owner, he did much for the area, not only as an employer, but as far as re-foresting the clear-cut hillsides around, reclaiming over-worked and depleted farm land, and many charitable works. Still, it was staggeringly extravagant
The grounds were amazingly pretty, the dam at right was built on a small stream, after extensive excavation, with ponds and water features upstream. The scale of the project, which included its own rail spur, a village for workers and employees to live, was hard to imagine. But, it made a visit for us. Thank-you, Mr. Vanderbilt!
That afternoon, still worried about the car not running right, and prospect of a week of mountain driving ahead, I found an Advance Auto store near the campground, and spent $150 on plugs, wires, a new fuel filter, and some other stuff. Back at the campground, I discovered that there is no way to get to the little 4.8L LS engines coils, plug wires, plugs, or injectors. The 331 Hemi valve covers I used to hide all that technology are neat, but the left one can’t come off without first removing the master cylinder and power brake booster. That wasn’t going to happen that far away from home with the few tools I’d brought, nor was the fuel filter going to come off easily. Scratching my head, and for want of anything else to do, I pulled off the upper portion of the engine cover, which hides the intake manifold and its wiring, and discovered the fuel evap recovery system solenoid at the front of the intake was unplugged. I plugged it’s wiring harness back in and…BINGO! The car stopped missing, stumbling and hesitating. I must have disturbed this while looking for a vacuum source for the new heater and A/C unit before we left, causing the problem. I kept the parts I’d bought, figuring that now that we’re home, I can take some time and replace all this stuff, and figure a way to access things in an emergency on the road.
Aside from the reservation at the campground from Hell, and subsequent car trouble upon leaving (which, I believe now to be an act of the Lord of Darkness, or at least some devilish influence by one of his Imps), the rest of the trip was spectacular, and happily, uneventful. I’ll say right now that one of the highlights of the trip was the visit to Chateau Morrisette, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, followed closely by the Friday night show at the Rex Theater in Galax. Driving the Blue Ridge is spectacular, and while we had some foggy mornings, the trip overall was fantastic. Rather than bore you with more details, I’ll let some of the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy.
So, there you have it. 11 days, just shy of 3,000 miles, a couple minor problems, lots of wine, and even more fun, another Cool McCool’s vacation is in the books. The fun’s not over yet, there’s a trip to Las Vegas coming right up, the garage is cleaned up, there’s money in the Hot Rod Fund again, and we’re about to tackle the ’48 Diamond T, and put a new interior in the ’48 Pontiac convert. We won’t say what that’ll be, but “Blackwatch” should be a hint. Stay tuned!