Driving Day 2
USA 2014 Blog Day 15
Hi there to all back home. I’m afraid there’s not much to report today as it’s our second (and final) day off to relocate, so you’ll find the photos are a bit random! Well we checked into our hotel last night in Louisiana to be greeted at the entrance by what looked like shrimp soft toys on the doors, strange? Whilst waiting to get our room key from reception we noticed a Christmas tree in the foyer so asked the receptionist why they had put this out so early (or late) ... to which she replied ‘It’s NOT a Christmas tree ... it’s a Craw Fish tree’! Oh yes ... how stupid of us??? This morning a different receptionist explained that this area of Louisiana is actually the Craw Fish capital of the world, hence the decorations.
We had breakfast and took to the road early as we had a long 12½ hour drive to relocate from Louisiana to Tennessee ready for tomorrow’s park. The hotel in Tennessee is one of only 3 hotels on the trip that we actually stay in for 2 nights. We took our first rest break after a couple of hours and stopped off at Walmart where Adrian purchased a Batman vest for $12.99 that the Six Flags parks were charging £37.99 for - bargain! One thing that does become very apparent on the long drives is the amount of Americans that talk and text on their mobile phones whilst driving, they just don’t appear to have the strict regulations and enforcements that we have in the UK as yet.
We stopped a few times for coffee breaks to keep our caffeine levels topped up - McDonalds just do the best coffee! Another rest break took us to Best Buy where Adrian purchased a new Tripod for his Camcorder having snapped the legs of his existing one (not on purpose!). The temperature today just kept creeping up and up and peaked at 97 degrees. We had noticed a huge cloud bubbling up that we just knew was turning into a storm cloud (having been on storm chasing trips) and hey presto it shortly started to hail and rain – and boy did it rain along with thunder and lightning, and the temperature dropped from 97 to 70 degrees within 10 minutes. The storms here are just great – we love them.
During the afternoon we had a warning message appear on the car display panel that read ‘Change Oil Soon’ and the manual stated that we had 1000km / 600 miles to get the oil changed – GREAT! We’ve had this on previous trips and as we still have far more than 600 miles to go and another week - we have to get the car swapped out for another. We decided to divert to Birmingham International Airport in Alabama which had our nearest Dollar Car Rental Return (didn’t think we’d be back at Birmingham Airport a week early!!!). Now the fun starts. We pulled up to the Dollar kiosk and advised our issue with the car, but the lady advised that they were unable to swap the car out as they were just a franchise and just brought the Dollars name! We couldn’t believe it ... we rented a car from Dollar, have all the paperwork from Dollar, and the Dollar staff at the airport refused to help. All they could advise was to take it to another Dollar near the hotel we were travelling to which was still 4 hours away and closed at 11pm (which was almost the time we were going to arrive there) but they would definitely be able to help.
She gave us a number to phone as she couldn’t get through herself as she was put on hold, so told us to phone them ourselves on our mobile which would have cost us a small fortune – NOT going to happen. The customer service was just shocking. We headed off towards Knoxville to try and change it there, and whilst en-route the warning message changed to ‘Change Oil Now’ so we need to get this sorted ASAP before the engine ceases up! We arrived at Dollar Car Rental Return at 10:50 with minutes to spare, only to find that we needn’t have rushed as they were actually open to Midnight...AARRGGHH!. Exactly the same problem here and they again refused to swap the car out and told us to phone Dollar at Newark Airport where we rented it from (we are not back there for another week!). They couldn’t even give us a telephone number as ‘apparently’ they only have a number for North and South Carolina?
The service from Dollar is absolutely appalling and we would never use them again. We’re just heading to the hotel now to phone Newark Airport so more updates tomorrow...