Back to Charlotte
From Holmes County, OH, we headed back south toward Myrtle Beach. We had planned to explore another area of South Carolina before going to Myrtle Beach, but we needed to stop again in Charlotte on our way through. We are really getting a lot of practice being flexible.
Paul is very conscientious about checking tires and tire pressures. A blowout on a 24,000 pound motor home at highway speeds can be a real disaster, and that is something we want to avoid. This spring, Paul noticed some small cracks in the rubber on the sidewalls of the front tires. Exposure to UV light (sunlight) and pollutants in the air will eventually cause aging and deterioration of rubber. There are additives in the rubber to prevent this, but all tires will eventually deteriorate. Most car tires will wear out before this happens; but cracking is more common on RVs since they are usually driven less. Even though our tires are less than four years old, the rubber in the front tires seemed to be aging prematurely.
Since the tire manufacturer warrants the tires against defects such as premature deterioration for five years, Paul called Michelin while we were staying near Charlotte before the NASCAR race. As expected, Michelin wanted us to take the motor home to a truck tire dealer in Charlotte to have the tires inspected. Michelin sent us to TCI Tire Centers, which is a nationwide chain that specializes in truck and commercial tires. Some of their tire centers also sell automotive and light truck tires. We stopped by on our way from Ebenezer Park to stay at Yates Family Camping for the race a few weeks ago.
The service manager at TCI said, although the tires were still safe, they should not have cracked that soon and that Michelin would definitely make a warranty adjustment (the price of new tires would be prorated according to the amount of tread left on the old tires). Unfortunately, they did not have the RV tires in stock. When Paul called before we stopped by, they said they could get the tires the same day if they didn't have them. However, we found out once we got there it would take at least 5 business days to get the tires in because RV tires came from a different warehouse. We knew we would have time to stop in Charlotte again on our way back from Pittsburgh to Myrtle Beach, so we told them to go ahead and order the tires.
On our way back south after leaving Holmes County, OH, we decided to stop again at Fort Chiswell RV Park in Max Meadows, VA, where we stopped on our way north. The photo below shows the site we had at Fort Chiswell on the way back to Charlotte.
We ran into rain on our way to Fort Chiswell, and it rained off and on the next day. Our research didn't turn up many sightseeing possibilities, so we just chilled and did our weekly cleaning and a little laundry. We watched the NASCAR race on Sunday and flipped back and forth between the latter part of the race and the Steeler game. The Steelers gave away the game in the fourth quarter and lost to the NY Giants. :(
Fort Chiswell RV Park seems to be uniquely positioned as an overnight stop. Every day we were there, the campground would empty out in the morning, then begin to refill around 1:00 PM. During the peak arrival time between 3:00 and 5:00 PM, there would frequently be up to 3 rigs in line waiting to check in. As soon as one would finish checking in and move to their campsite, another rig would pull in from the road and join the end of the line. The campground is conveniently located about a half a mile from the interstate exit where I-77 and I-81 intersect. The pull-through sites at Fort Chiswell are also a plus for one-night stops.
The plan was to stay at Fort Chiswell and relax for the weekend and then travel the rest of the way to Ebenezer Park in Rock Hill, SC, where we stayed before the race. Because Ebenezer Park doesn't accept reservations and since the locals use tents to save sites for themselves and their friends, it seemed hard to get a good site. Therefore, we thought it would be best to arrive early in the day on a Monday.
When we got to Ebenezer, there was hardly any site available, much less one where we could get our satellite dish to work. As we said, the locals have it pretty well locked up. So it was on to Plan B.
Up the interstate a couple of exits was a KOA where we figured we could surely get a site. The good news was the KOA is closer to the tire dealer, but the bad news was it is considerably more expensive than Ebenezer. They did have sites available, and it looked like we could have found several where we would have had a clear view of the southern sky for satellite. However, they told us to stay away from the far right corner of the campground because that's where their haunted house was and it could be noisy until 11:30 PM or so. We're not fond of Halloween in the first place and we really didn't want to take a chance on crowds and noise, so we told them, "Thanks, but no thanks," and went on to Plan C.
Up the highway one more exit (and even closer to the tire dealer) was Carowinds Amusement Park, and they have a campground. The amusement park is only open during weekends in the fall, but Carowinds Camp Wilderness Resort is open year-round. The prices at Carowinds Resort are similar to the KOA in-season but their off-season rates were more reasonable at $30/night. With the park being closed during the week, the campground promised to be a lot quieter (except for being under the flight path for nearby Charlotte Airport). Since the campground was fairly empty when we arrived, we didn't have any problem finding a site that was good for satellite reception even though there are quite a few trees.
Camp Wilderness has some of the most spacious sites we've ever seen in a private campground. The sites are as big as in many state parks. Although the campground roads are a little narrow, they are paved as are the pads. There are full hookups and free Wi-Fi. The photo below shows our site at Carowinds Camp Wilderness Resort.
As it turned out, the tire warehouse didn't have the RV tires in stock either and had to order them directly from Michelin. Instead of taking 5 business days to come in, the tires took almost three weeks. But the tire dealer called and assured us the tires would ship to arrive in time to be mounted before we had to leave for our reservations in Myrtle Beach.
While waiting for the tires to arrive, we decided to take a drive up I-77 to nearby Mooresville, NC, which calls itself Race City USA, to see the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame. The NC Auto Racing Hall of Fame has items on display from other forms of racing, but they concentrate on the history of stock car racing since they are in the heart of stock car racing country.
Stock car racing has its roots in bootlegging during Prohibition. Cars would be modified to carry moonshine and to improve performance to outrun police. From the outside, they would look like regular cars so they wouldn't attract attention. When Prohibition ended in 1933, many Southerners still had a taste for moonshine. Drivers continued to deliver moonshine, and they continued to modify their cars to escape the "revenuers" who wanted to tax their product. The photo below shows how a car was modified to carry 'shine.
By the early 1940s, drivers were racing their cars for bragging rights and for profit. The stock cars were regular street vehicles that were lightened, reinforced, and whose engines had been modified for more power and speed. Stock car racing was great entertainment in the South.
Bill France, Sr., who was an auto mechanic, got the idea that more people might enjoy watching stock car racing; but he realized that to become popular, the sport would need more organization, uniform rules, and a more regular schedule. France met with other influential racers to discuss organizing stock car racing, and on Feb. 21, 1948, NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Racing) was born. Today, NASCAR racing is the second most popular spectator sport in the U.S. after NFL football.
The NC Auto Racing Hall of Fame has some very interesting displays of racing memorabilia, racing art, driver profiles, and cars. In the photo below, Margery is looking at some of the older stock cars on display. Today's stock cars are specially built for racing from the ground up and bear only a slight resemblance to anything available in a new car showroom. In the old days, regular production vehicles were stripped, reinforced, and modified for racing.
From the Racing Hall of Fame, we drove about 20 minutes farther west to find the Bird Brain Ostrich Ranch. The ranch showed up on a search of things to do on the internet, and we wanted to check it out because they supposedly had tours. We were also curious about the ostrich meat available for sale. Unfortunately, their "season" must be over because when we got there, there didn't seem to be anyone around. We did walk behind the house to take a quick look at the ostriches, though.
After the ostrich ranch, we drove to the quaint downtown business district of Mooresville where we stopped at D. E. Turner Hardware. Although there are lots of nostalgic items on display, they also sell many of the things you expect to see in any modern hardware. The store itself has never been remodeled and looks pretty much the way it did when it first opened in 1899. Margery is checking out some of the merchandise at the hardware.
From there, we drove a couple of blocks to the Mooresville Ice Cream Company. In 1914, the Mooresville Co-Operative Creamery was started by a group of local men to produce milk. In 1924, the Mooresville Deluxe Ice Cream Company began operation under the co-operative and continues today. They have about two dozen varieties of ice cream available that is made on site. Margery had low-fat black cherry and Paul had low-fat peach. Both were delish. :)
We finally got a call that our tires were in so we got up early in the morning of our last scheduled day in the Charlotte area and drove 17 miles into town to the TCI Tire Center. We got right into a service bay and they immediately began removing the front wheels.
The guys here really work hard wrestling the big truck tires around and muscling them off and back onto the rims. They obviously have had a lot or practice because they actually make it look easy. A swing with a sledge to break the bead free from the rim and a couple of pulls on the over-sized tire iron and the tire was off. A couple of more pulls on the tire iron and the new tire was on.
In about an hour, we were on our way back to Carowinds Resort. Paul thought the price of the tires at TCI was very reasonable. In addition, we got a discount from the already excellent price as a warranty adjustment based on the amount of tread remaining on the old tires. If you're in the market for tires for your RV, pickup, medium duty truck, or heavy duty truck, check out TCI Tire Centers. Because they specialize in commercial tires, call ahead to make sure they have or can get the tires you need. We don't know if the prices are as good at all their locations, but we thought the prices were great at their Charlotte tire center. All the people there were also very friendly and helpful.
We got set up again back at Carowinds and we puttered around the rest of the day and got ready to take off for Myrtle Beach in the morning.