Tag Archives: I-75

Chattanooga Traffic Craziness

Today we journeyed from London, Kentucky, to Fort Payne, Alabama. We were in four different states, and traveled our longest day yet of this particular route: six hours and 254 miles. It was not exactly a fun travel day, with happy sing-a-longs and road trip games (not that even our fun days produce such cringe worthy activities, but I think you get my drift, wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

Out the windshield view of Smoky Mountains
The view of the beginning of the Smoky Mountains in Kentucky on I-75 from my seat.
The views from my seat were very pretty, I must admit, and I think they would have been even more beautiful a week or so ago when the colors would have been at their peak. There weren’t too many serious grades: one downhill at 4% was as high as it went. I-75 skirts the Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF) (FYI, Levi Jackson State Park is also in the DBNF) all the way down to the Tennessee border, and there were many attractions that caught my eye and have since been placed on the “places I’d like to see” list, hiking the Sheltowee Trace heading the list.

We went round the western side of Knoxville with a little more extra traffic than we experienced coming down I-75, but it was the kind of traffic we would expect in a metro area. There is a left hand exit from I-640 (Knoxville by-pass) to I-40/I-65, though. Things continued along, with the hills and grades gradually decreasing as we headed on to Chattanooga.

We hit the outskirts of Chattanooga about 2:00 pm, eastern. Traffic started to get very heavy around Cleveland, KY, with increasing amounts of semis and the dangerous behavior cars that are accustomed to a specific route exhibit when around them. The end of the route around Chattanooga on the south-east side terminates with a left hand exit, not a lot of fun in light traffic, but particularly difficult in heavy, semi-laden traffic.

View through windshield of Tennessee River just outside of Chattanooga
Don’t judge the traffic by this shot, Richard likes to give a lot of space in front of him. The Tennessee river is on the right hand side.
Then came the really fun part. In order to get to I-59 on the western side of Chattanooga, one must take I-24 for approximately 17 miles. There is a moment in this stretch where you break out ugliness and overlook the city nestled in it’s valley, followed by a beautiful curve bounded on one side by cut cliffs, and on the other by the Tennessee River. It is absolutely gorgeous. And absolutely not fun for the driver.

Traffic is still very heavy, the lanes are narrow, and the curve around the bend in the river is accompanied by a more steep slope than one would expect from an interstate in an urban area. Follow that up with the fact that to get onto I-59 you need to get into the far left lane, and you have a recipe for some real Chattanooga Craziness.

Craziness aside, Richard got us safely to our destination in Fort Payne, Alabama, at the Wills Creek R.V. Park. This park is great for an overnight stop, with tons of pull-throughs. Bonus, it’s not at all far from I-59. But there are little trees on either side of each site, many with low hanging branches, as well as narrow, dirt roads and tight corners. All in all, Richard and I are glad to be relaxing here and no longer in the congestion and headache of Chattanooga (even if we don’t have TV because we we’re too tired to set up the dish for one night and there’s no antenna reception here).

Road Data for November 13th

  • Traveled 254 miles in 6.1 hours from London, KY to Fort Payne, AL
  • Used 31.3 gallons of diesel and average 8 mpg
  • Cost of one night at Wills Creek R.V. Park $28.82 (with tax)

FMCA Campground in Cincinnati

Okay, so, everybody likes free stuff. I think I can say that with some degree of certainty. But Richard and I love free stuff. Any day we can get something on sale or deep, deep discount, or best of all, free, is a pretty darn good day.

Which is why we just absolutely had to stop at the FMCA campground in Cincinnati for our two nights per month free. We joined FMCA when we first started RVing, for some of the other membership perks: roadside assistance, discount at campgrounds, medical emergency travel and assistance program, etc. But getting $40 a month in free camping was certainly an awesome perk: even if you only do it once a year, it pays for the membership. And $20 a night beyond the two free is a great price for full hook-ups with cement pads.

All in all, in was a great place to spend a couple of days while we played more with the slide. You may already be familiar with the battle with the slide (if not, start the story by clicking here. Well, the day we left Bowling Green the slide struck back (I was afraid it was going to freeze us in carbonite after this) and got some of our freelance projects done. When you work on the road, sometimes you just have to stop for more than a day to get stuff done.

Actually, the side’s not that big of a deal. Richard thinks the spring probably needs some more tension on it. Right now it doesn’t have enough tensionto hold the aluminum cap up and roll under it. So Richard has to hold the cap up with our all-purpose pole (handy for many things, this originally was bought to wash the coach) while I bring the slide in. Compared to having the slide not work at all, this is nothing, folks.

Anyway, back to FMCA. Couple words of caution. The first is that getting to FMCA is no walk in the park. You’ll want to take I-275 E around Cincinnati, then you have a choice. You can either take several sharp rights to get to Round Bottom road from exit 59 onto OH-315. Or you can take exit 63A and take OH-32 down to a right onto Round Bottom Rd, with the campground only about a quarter mile on the right. We chose the second route and encountered a nasty surprise on OH-32: a steep downgrade combined with a sharp right. Not fun in either the coach or the car with the speed limit being 55 mph and locals screaming past. So choose carefully which of the two evils you’d like to take on: steep hill with curve, or multiple sharp right turns and a longer drive on Round Bottom Rd.

Second word of caution is that there are not that many sites at the FMCA campground (15 in all), so make sure to call a day or so ahead to find out if they have room for you. They don’t take reservations, so if it sounds like they might be busy, have a back-up plan for the night. FMCA makes this somewhat easier, since they have a parking area with lots of electric only hook-ups just in case. But if they’ve got a rally there, or are using the park for employee visits, they may not even have that over-flow area available.

And of course, it goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway) you can’t stay at the FMCA campground unless you’re an FMCA member. Also, your goose eggs (the black, oblong thingies with your FMCA member number on it) need to be in full display. And (bonus!) you can tour the FMCA Headquarters building on Clough Pike by calling and scheduling a tour in advance.

First Visit to Speedco

Today we left Bowling Green, Ohio, for the FMCA Headquarters Campground outside Cincinnati, Ohio. If you are a member of Family Motor Coach Association then you may or may not know that part of your membership includes two free nights per month at their campground, located at the shipping and receiving building on Round Bottom Rd. So, since we were going that way to begin with, we figured we’d check it out and get our two nights for November.

On the way, we needed to do a little maintenance, though, so we stopped at the Speedco in Beaver Dam, Ohio, right off I-75 to get our oil changed. We had originally planned on doing this task ourselves, but since we had extra work at our work camping job due to employees leaving early, we never found the time. Then we were thinking we’d have it done at the local Pomp’s in Montgomery, Illinois, when we got our tires changed. Plans are never set in stone, and these changed when we discovered we could combine a visit up to Richard’s sister in Wisconsin with getting new tires (at a cheaper rate!). Long story short (too late) we ended up having to leave Big Rock without having the oil changed.

Image of Filters in the Kitchen
All the filters our coach needs, including the massive air dryer filer (to the left) and the filters for the gen set (to the right).
We’d already bought the filters through Filter Barn. Richard spent many hours researching the best filters, then finding those best filters at the cheapest price available. He settled on Filter Barn, which is an online company based out of Wisconsin. We were also able to obtain seven gallons (yikes!) of Valvoline Premium Blue for diesel engines at Rural King on sale for a great price.

We called ahead to Speedco, and asked if they would do the oil change with our filters. They agreed, but we didn’t want to carry the oil with us so we put it in our climate controlled storage unit before we left. We’ll use it when we change the oil next year. We’re happy with changing the oil once a year, though Richard will probably get an oil analysis done before we do so, in case we can push it to longer. So we used their oil.

We pulled into the Speedco and were treated well, even though they usually cater to semis. They had us pull into the garage from the opposite side than the one the semis use because our engine is in the back. They allowed Richard to watch the entire procedure, which is great since at some point we plan to do this ourselves. I sat inside with Chloe to keep her from barking. Their filters were included with the price ($199 with chassis lube, plus the cost of the oil analysis), so now we have another set of filters for next time.

It’s a good idea when walking around one of these places to watch your step, or you’ll track oil or some other fluid into the coach. We were both very careful. To our surprise the oil analysis showed that the oil was still quite good, which is a good sign for the overall health of the engine.

We were both pleased with our experience at Speedco, I must say. We were happy and back on the road to FMCA in no time.

Travel Data

  • 404 – Oops! I guess I forgot to write down most of the travel data for today.
  • Cost of one night at FMCA Headquarters Cincinnati: Free! ($20 a night after 2 free nights a month)