East Coast Fall 2021 – Durham, NC, Part One

October 24-28

The six-hour drive to Durham went smoothly and we arrived at Nicole’s by midafternoon, ready to see what the week to follow would bring us, both with the car and Joanna’s Mom.  Anticipating that we might be leaving the Highlander at the body shop the next day after getting the estimate, we emptied it out completely, stashing most of the gear in Nicole’s garage. 

Windsor Mill to Durham

Later that day, while carrying an empty ice chest into the garage using just the flashlight on my phone (one of the garage lights was out and I didn’t know how to turn on the other one) I missed the last of three steps down and took a tumble, spraining my left ankle and twisting my right knee (the one that will need to be replaced some day).  Hitting the ground doesn’t feel good anytime and gets even less appealing as one ages and the hit my knee took would stay with me for weeks to come.

Out appointment with the repair shop was scheduled for the afternoon on Monday and trying to determine what our options might be, I drove to Fred Anderson Toyota, a large dealership in Raleigh to see if they would take the damaged Highlander in trade and to check out the nine Highlander Hybrids their website said they had in inventory. 

Fred Anderson Toyota

What I would find is that yes, they would take the car in trade and no, none of the cars listed at the web site were available for sale, all having been pre-sold.  It would appear that listing them as available at the web site was nothing more than a ploy to get the unwary consumer into the shop in order to sell them whatever happened to be on hand at the time. 

Fred Anderson Showroom

So, one potential solution appeared to dim and next up would be the estimate of the damage and that potential outcome.  One worry would be that if repairable, the fix would take weeks, if not months, to effect.  At the appointed hour I arrived at Hendricks Collision Center Hwy 55 to check off the next box on the to-do list.  I was pleasantly surprised when as part of his inspection the estimator opened the hood, inspected the engine compartment, and then closed it back up. 

Hendricks Collision Center

As he was finishing up with the car he mentioned to me that I should get the front end aligned as it would need to be done as part of the repair work and that I could deduct that cost, along with that of the mirror we replaced, from my $1,000 deductible when the car was finally repaired, which according to current conditions at the shop would take about two weeks, but, and this is a big but, they wouldn’t be able to take the car in for at least 30 days.

The Bottom Line

I left the shop relieved to know that the damage wasn’t as extensive as we feared, and the prospects of driving the car home were looking better each day.  The next day I took the car to Atlantic Tire and Service not far from the body shop and figuring I’d wait to have the work done, left the car there and gimped across the street (that messed up right knee slowing me down) to a McDonalds for coffee and a McMuffin to kill some time.  While there, the shop called to let me know that the left front strut was bent and needed to be replaced, which I authorized them to do. 

Atlantic Tire and Service

Yet another expense that would eventually be subtracted from my deductible, I later left the shop with the steering repaired and the car even more road worthy.  In the meantime, we could turn our attention to getting Joanna’s mom settled, a daunting task as many facilities seemed reluctant to house her.  We’d spend those first couple of days sorting through her current one-bedroom apartment working on downsizing the contents as her next home would likely be a studio with far less room for her accumulated possessions. 

During that time, we caught meals on the run including a remarkably good chili dog from a cart outside the Home Depot where we picked up moving boxes and packing supplies, and stops at Cook-Out for burgers and chicken sandwiches from Zaxby’s.  By Tuesday night the picture at the apartment was a bit brighter, as boxes full of stuff got stacked and remaining possessions dwindled to a few random piles. 

Growler Grlz

To celebrate Nicole took us to one of her favorite craft beer bars, Growler Grlz.  It’s a small place, just a storefront wide but features an extensive selection of local and other well-known brews.  I’ve mentioned in the past that while I like to frequent breweries, the next best thing is a good craft beer joint, with many choices available.  While I picked up the tab for our beers, Nicole got us a large Sausage Mushroom pizza from Randy’s next door and on a slightly chilly evening, we sat outside and did great damage to all the table could hold. 

The next day would bring more good news when I took the Highlander back to Fred Anderson Toyota for its scheduled 150,000-mile service (oil change, tire rotation and inspection).  As disappointing as my experience was with the sales side of the house, I was impressed with the service side, a modern facility staffed with knowledgeable technicians and advisors.  I waited for the car to be serviced and when it was released was knocked out by the inspection video they sent me that visually described the results one would usually find stapled to the back of the invoice that documents the work that was performed. 

Fred Anderson Service Bay

The positive report about the condition of the car bolstered our confidence that we could safely drive home and have it repaired there, a great relief that closed out a week of uncertainty.  I returned to Nicole’s place and was hoping I’d get a bike ride in on the nearby American Tobacco Trail, but between my knee issues and drizzling rain, that desire remained unfulfilled.  The rest of the day passed by in a peaceful fashion, with reading and watching some video on the laptop filling up the time.  Later we’d venture out to the Durham Food Hall, but we will save that story for another day. 

American Tobacco Trail Map


Fred Anderson Toyota: https://www.fredandersontoyota.com/

Hendricks Collision Center Hwy 55: https://www.hendrickcars.com/north-carolina/raleigh/hendrick-collision-center-hwy-55-durham.htm

Atlantic Tire and Service: https://www.atlantictireonline.com/contact-us/durham-5412-south-miami-blvd/

Inspection Video: https://app.truvideo.com/v/bHAWrrth?s=5KAHjJQCHgSecCC8kMQDMmllWB7Tqt9zaJ6lPYUKEB4=

Growler Grlz: http://www.growlergrlz.com/

Randy’s Pizza: https://randys-pizza.com/

American Tobacco Trail: http://www.triangletrails.org/american-tobacco-trail


  1. Dale Wayne Swindler · · Reply

    I really enjoy your posts and appreciate the effort that you put into them. –Dale

    1. Thanks – I really do them for myself as a way to cement places and people in my memory but it is really nice to know that others appreciate them

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