The Atlanta Saga – Part 4

April 9

Today’s plan is to visit Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s residence. It’s 110 or 120 miles from the hotel. Using back roads, it would be nearly 3 hours or less than 2 hours via the interstate. I elected to violate Rule #1 and take the most direct route. The scenic route would make for a long day and a late arrival in Atlanta.

About an hour into the trip, I was cruising along in the right lane, taking it easy, when the fuse blew again. When it blew the first time, in Dexter, I was pulling out of the gas station. I didn’t have any momentum and I was worried I’d get stuck in the middle of the intersection. On the highway, it’s manageable. The RPMs modulate between about 4k and about 0. If you have momentum, you can get the car out of hazard.

I wanted to stop at an exit. If I needed somebody to help me, I wanted to be at an exit to make things as easy as possible. It wouldn’t matter which way they were coming. If you don’t get off the highway, it can be a real hassle. Luckily, there was an exit sign just ahead and I only had to go a mile. I limped along the shoulder of the road with the 4-way blinkers on and made my way down nearly to the stop sign at the bottom of the ramp.

There were no services available here – it’s just a country road. The road goes under the interstate, so I’m below grade. Nobody on the highway can see me. There’s no gas station, no McDonald’s, no nothing. Truly the middle of nowhere Tennessee.

I popped the boot lid to pull the bad fuse. I didn’t have another 7.5 amp fuse, but Michael said I could use a 10 amp (but no bigger!). I did have a spare 10 in the fuse compartment up front. I had not yet even gotten my Allen wrench out to open the panel when a car hauler pulled up next to me. He rolled down his window and asked if I was having problems.

I told him about my fuse situation. “Let me back my truck up behind you and see if I can help.” Once he got out of his truck, he dug through his tool kit and produced a small box with 5 or 6 7.5 amp fuses. We popped one in and started the car. The fuse blew immediately. He went back to his truck and came back with a box of 5 or 6 10-amp fuses. He opened that box, took one fuse out, and gave me the rest. I started the car and all was good.

The problematic fuse location

He asked where I was headed. I told him I was going to Atlanta. He said, if I needed, he could give me a lift to either Nashville or Knoxville, but not Atlanta. It didn’t click with me right away, but what he was saying was that he could take me and my car to Nashville or Knoxville.

I asked him what I could do for him. “Nothing. That’s the road!” Before we departed, he told me he’d be behind me for a while and if anything else happened he’d stop again.

Thanks, Reuben, you’re my hero.

It wasn’t until I was a few miles down the road that something else occurred to me. Parked at the bottom of the ramp, I couldn’t be seen from the highway. And Reuben didn’t go down that exit ramp because he was exiting the highway. He knew to come looking for me. No doubt, one or more truckers saw me crawling down the shoulder with blinkers on and did a breaker one nine. In Reuben’s world, “That’s the road!”

So: a change of plans. As von Moltke said, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” I would no longer be touring Hermitage. I’d stay on the interstate for all but the last hour of the drive and get to Jayne’s place as soon as possible. I arrived at Jayne’s without further incident, although, between the fuse issue and having to deal with truck traffic on the interstate I was fairly stressed out.

As it was Easter Sunday, Jayne and Dan were entertaining guests. I had a nice ravioli dinner and a couple of tasty beers and made some new friends.

The day could have been much worse. But I best not let the godz hear me thinking like that…

The rest of the plans are now in jeopardy. Can I do Road Atlanta tomorrow? Am I doing any damage to the car by blowing fuses? I can’t troubleshoot it, so I have to find somebody that might be able to. The fuse lasted about five hours of operation. What will it do at the track?

I’ll go to Road Atlanta and see what happens. It’s paid for, may as well go.