Having completed about two thirds of our trip from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Central Florida while Rosemarie spent family time in Norfolk, I departed Arnold AFB and headed to Atlanta to pick her up. Though decent RV parks in the area are rather pricey, the Dobbins Air Force Base has a small campground just north of the big city in Marietta. The place is mildly notorious for having extremely long term residents, which means availability for everyone else is quite limited. Such was the case when I called for an opening. No worries, they have overflow drycamping, and a space might open up on a cancellation.
Of course, Dobbins is one of those bases where large vehicles have to use a commercial gate, and google maps has no idea where those are. My less than three hour drive turned into a four hour saga involving two very tight maneuvering situations as I struggled to find the proper entry point. Eventually I prevailed. Meanwhile, the first leg of Rosemarie’s flight developed mechanical problems after they pushed back from the gate, eventually forcing her to rebook a later flight with a different connection and a downgrade in class. Horrors!
Ah well, we would soldier through. Then Serenity’s phantom entry stair failure reappeared, meaning sometimes they stay out when they needed to come in, and sometimes they stay in when I needed them out. Arghh, what else could go wrong?! And then I got locked inside the RV. That’s right, inside the RV. No matter of fiddling or hard shoving would get the thing to budge; something was clearly jamming one of the bolts in place. After disassembling the lock from the inside (which involved climbing out and then back in the passenger window to retrieve the necessary tools) I discovered a broken piece of metal that looked like it was part of the door bolt, but even after pulling it out I could not get the damn thing to open. I beat on it, kicked it, removed every screw I could get to, and yet the door remained resolutely shut.
I eventually had to give up and drive to the Atlanta airport to pick up Rosemarie, which involved it’s own drama due to the incredibly crowded arriving flights zone. We sorted it out and got on our way back to the base, where I boosted my fortunately petite wife through the window before following through myself and pulling the step ladder up behind me.
The next morning, clear headed and with renewed vigor, I tackled the door lock, this time assisted by my trusty power drill and a set of carbide bits. Having tried everything else, I could see no other recourse but to drill through the plate that was covering whatever had the door jammed. Once I got the 1/2″ bit involved, the door sprung wide. Turns out that the standard latch bolt had sheared, and the piece closest to the striker plate had wedged in place. My drill bit had dislodged it, and once open I was able to fully disassemble the lock and remove it.
A bit of experimentation revealed that the dead bolt would still lock, so we had a partially working door latch, and I ordered a replacement for the entire assembly from ebay at half the price that TriMark wanted. Hopefully I can get that installed with minimal additional drama.
Next post: on two Florida with return visits to two great RV resorts.
5 thoughts on “To Atlanta, Dobbins Air Force Base, and getting locked inside the RV.”
Interesting saga about finding the commercial gate at Dobbins. I am also retired military and swear by the site: http://www.militarycampgrounds.us They usually have great directions to the gates that will support an RV. Did you try the Navy site at Altoona?
Yes we use that site a lot, but there was some confusion between what was written there, a sign near the main gate, and two similarly named roads, and I took the wrong one. Have not tried the Altoona campground, but I will look into it, thanks.
Hey Jack! Where are you headed to in Florida?
Bob, BLUF: We only know the plan from now through Christmas, beyond that we are just keeping our ear to the ground re Key West and alternatives. Longer answer: right now we are in Central Florida, north of Orlando, splitting time between Wekiwa Springs State Park, Lake Monroe County Park, and possibly Blue Springs SP or Trimble CP depending on when they fully reopen. We will stay in this area until right before Thanksgiving, then we have a week in SE Florida near Coral Springs, followed by 10 days in SW Florida (Naples, Fort Myers, and Sanibel Island). Then we return to Central Florida for a couple of weeks around Christmas. After that….
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