The Return to Montréal: Days 9-14

Intro Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 The Return
3308km home

Day 9

Leave New Orleans, LA


Crossing Lake Pontchartrain on the very, very long causeway:

Memphis, TN as seen from a paddle steamer on the Mississippi:

7.5lb burger (4lb patty) at the Kooky Canuck restaurant in Memphis. I was reasonable and had a poutine (yes, there's poutine in Memphis and the cheese is actually squeaky!):

Day 9

Camp in Memphis, TN


Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN:

Bison on the prairie road in Land Between The Lakes NRA, Kentucky:

Day 10

Camp in Land Between the Lakes NRA, KN


National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY:

Mammoth Cave National Park, KY (World's longest cave):

Day 11

Camp in Mammoth Cave National Park, KN


You get to crawl through little passages like this one if you take the 6+ hour Wild Cave Tour (don't forget over the heel boots and rugged clothes!):

The Colonel Sanders' first restaurant in Corbin, KY (aka the birthplace of KFC or rather PFK in Québec):

Day 12

Camp in Cumberland Gap National Park, VA


Cumberland Gap National Park (KY/TN/VA):

Day 13

Unscheduled service stop in Tazewell, VA


While enjoying the twisty roads of Appalachia just North of the Cumberland Gap, a nagging but subtle vibration in the front right axle suddenly became a major vibration. I stopped to check that the wheel was on securely and the tire properly inflated. Yes and yes. This didn't look good. Under power and in compression, the vibration was severe enough that I did not dare drive faster than 80km/h. Luckily I found a friendly garage in Tazewell, VA. The Levin went on the lift and it was easy to identify that the driveshaft was on its very final leg. Unfortunately however, the driveshaft is not a standard North American part and there was no way any of the local Corolla parts would fit. So I asked: "Can I make it home?". And the reassuring answer was: "Well, you can try".

I checked the GPS, and the shortest route home using interstates was 1418km long. I thanked everyone at the garage, told the Levin I'd be eternally grateful if it at least made it back over the border, and headed off at 70 to 90km/h on I-81 with my 4-way flashers on.

Of course, mountain driving was great going downhill. In neutral, there was no vibration. But climbing was not at all fun. I was happy to find trucks as slow as me going up, but over the long run, I don't recall passing a single vehicle.

1400km at 75km/h comes out to almost 19 hours. I decided to drive straight through, taking a break at every rest stop to let the abused parts cool down, and occasionally to take an hour long nap. Fortunately, driving at night meant irritating less other road users with my super-slow speed. I apologise to everyone who I inconvenienced by driving so slow, especially the truckers.

On the morning of Day 14 (about 20 hours after leaving the garage), the Levin crossed back into Canada in the Thousand Islands. This border crossing went much faster, but judging by the agents' reaction, I don't think too many right-hand-drive cars cross here. And then, some time later, the Levin crossed the border back into Québec.

Day 14

Arrive in Montréal, QC


1445km and 24 hours after leaving the garage in Tazewell, VA, and 7608km after leaving Montréal two weeks earlier, the Levin and I made it back. What a great trip, what a great car, what a great time. One other interesting little fact is that the Levin got 5.8L/100km fuel economy (over 40mpg) on those last 1500km with the busted driveshaft! Not many 2010 models can even boast that! Of course, the lower speeds helped, but I didn't even use 5th gear.

It was good to be home. Now finding a replacement part, that's another story!

Click here to see the full size photo highlights from the trip. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed!

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