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Our Virginia Beach Vacation

May 17, 2002 to May 26, 2002

Written by Clark Griswold

This was our third annual semi-southern vacation with our tent trailer. We always leave from Brockville, Ontario, Canada for a 9 or 10 day trip that will cover about 1400km (850 miles) one way. We head south towards Virginia Beach and warmer weather. This year we had our 10 month old daughter, Grace, and the three boys, Tim 7, Eric 6 and Sam 4 as well as Joanne and I. We've had our 1992 Dodge Grand Caravan that is blue with some really nice stick on WOOD siding for over 4 years. This year we decided the kids were old enough for bikes, so we brought 4 of them with us.

Friday, May 17, 2002
We left last Friday with our van and pop-up tent trailer, and as well, we were traveling with another family with 3 boys the same age as our 3 youngest. We were heading towards Virginia expecting to get to central Pennsylvania the first night....Well, we no sooner hit highway 401 when our trailer started swaying quite badly. I had a bike rack added to the back of the trailer just before we left (which is another story!!!) We assumed this was the problem causing the swaying. Well, by the time we reached the border 30 minutes away, I was ready to ditch the bikes! I tied them down with rope as tight as I could hoping that would stop them from causing the swinging that was swaying the trailer. It helped a little, but any bumps or corners at 100 km/h or higher seemed to cause BAD swaying. Somewhere in NY state, I ran into an auto parts store and bought a tie-down that was better than rope....This seemed to help a little, as I also took 2 bikes off the carrier and put them on top of the propane tanks on the tongue of the trailer. Things seemed a little better, but about 20-30 minutes later the drivers side trailer tire blew! Smoke and everything, with weaving and some grinding!!!! I pulled over next to the guard rail which got us about 6 inches off the highway. The other family stopped about a 1/2 mile down the road as we had radios to talk with. I managed to flag a state trooper after about 5 minutes, but he was going the other way, and it took almost 20 minutes for another trooper to get to us. Meanwhile, there was no way to safetly change the tire so close to the road, so just before the trooper showed up, we started driving at about 2 mph with the flat bouncing and grinding on the rumble strip cut in the side of the road for waking up sleeping drivers.....It was painful driving while trying to stay no more than about 10 inches from the guardrail and 6 inches off the highway.

Blown Tire I-81 South near Exit 6

Well, when the trooper showed up, he said it was too close to a corner to shut down a lane, we would have to try and drive the mile down the road to a spot with no guardrails...We did that and the trooper parked behind us, but the drivers still whizzed by only about 2 feet away. Everything rocked when the big trucks went by. Joanne and the kids played in the woods beside the road. We were glad we survived, and the trailer didn't do anything bad, it was daylight and not raining. We then stopped for supper and took a break and washed up then continued into Pennsylvania for the night. We were about a half a day behind schedule now. It started to rain about 10pm and never stopped until the next day about 10am. We packed up in the cold, cold rain and headed out when we realized it wasn't rain, but SNOW!!!!! Wet yucky SNOW!!!!

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