Sunday, March 8, 2015

Home again

We had spent the night at Cracker Barrel parked next to a gaily painted school bus --- which we thought of as the "hippie bus". We never saw any evidence of people in or around it. It was still parked there when we left.

Parked next to the hippie bus
Checking our supply of anti-freeze, which we use to flush the toilet now that we are winterized again, we saw we were about out. No problem, there is a Walmart a little over a mile from where we were parked. So off we went.

On the way we saw that the return was seriously backed up with traffic due to road construction. We found the Walmart, but they were out of anti-freeze. Not wanting to plunge into the traffic back-up, we turned the other way and fumbled our way through the outskirts of Savannah. The unanswerable question was, which traffic was worse, the way we went or the way we avoided? We decided we were probably better off the way we went. We got clear of traffic after about half an hour.

On the way up the interstate we spotted a Camping World at an exit. Guess what? they were out of anti-freeze too! This was looking serious.

We headed up 17 and had a pleasant drive to Walterboro, where we had lunch. There we found another Walmart next to the freeway. Good luck! they had some anti-freeze left. They also had diesel at a good price. By now it was getting a bit late and Florence was still 125 miles away, so it was back onto the interstate.

We made the Cracker Barrel in Florence (an old friend) shortly after dark. We ate supper in the Roadtrek to finish up some of our supplies. Next morning, we had breakfast in the restaurant and checked out the rig to hit the road for the last leg. The weather was sunny and cool but not cold. We had managed to avoid any bad weather on the trip home.

Shortly after pulling onto the highway, we heard a strange, creaky sound from the back of the accomodations. We should have recognized the sound because we had heard it before, but we didn't. A short time later we heard the same sound, followed by a thud. The door had come off the refrigerator! The lower hinge, which I had repaired with epoxy last year, had broken. After working with it for a while, we finally got it back into position and held on with duct tape. Never go anywhere without duct tape.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful. The weather was good and traffic (outside of Greensboro) was light. We stopped for fuel and food at Tightsqueeze, Virginia. (That is not important, I just wanted to be able to use the name.)

We got home about 3:40 and were unloaded by dark.

Trip statistics: Total mileage, 2,706; days away, 22. Now it's time to make reservations on the keys for next February (and hope we are not too late).

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Creeping home

Well, the weather up North is frightful, and the South is so delightful, to misquote an old song. We are on our way home, but studying the weather there and enroute as best we can, we decided to advance slowly. We are adding another day to our travel time in hopes that the current bad news will push offshore by the time we are approaching Virginia.

After spending half a day (and a bunch of money) at Leisure Time, we headed toward the ocean. I had studied the map and discovered that Lynchburg is actually slightly east of Charleston, so I-95 is the most logical route, even from the Gulf coast of Florida. Being in no hurry, we bypassed the interstate and turned north on A1A, which runs along the shore. We stopped in Ormond Beach so Jean could get another beach hit.

The beach there (at least at low tide) is broad and flat. The sand is fine and very light, except by the water where it is reddish. There were few people and few birds on the beach. Also, to Jean's disappointment, few shells. After about three-quarters of a mile, we spotted RVs parked just beyond the dune line. Investigating, we found a combination hotel/cottages/campground. We inquired and found the price higher than we hoped, but tempting. However we elected to press on. After a long stretch where you can actually see the ocean from the highway (rare for A1A) we found some more campgrounds. Unfortunately they were either full or way overpriced. So we carried on and checked in at the same campground we had stopped in on the way down to de-winterize.

Next day (today) we decided only to go through Georgia. We drove up US 17 and quickly saw the effect of building I-95. The new (at the time) highway took most of the traffic off 17. There were a lot of abandoned businesses and things looked sort of run down in general.

Along the way, we passed a sign for Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation Historic Site. We were in no rush, so we turned around and drove in. It turned out to be well worth our time. The site is park-like with lots of 400-year old live oaks bedecked with Spanish moss and Resurrection ferns. It is the last remaining of the rice plantations that were the basis of the economy of the Low Country.

Don't think Tara, the house itself is little more than a substantial farm house. There are lots of outbuildings, mostly from the years as a dairy farm after the price of rice fell. It stayed in the family for five generations, and was finally given to the state by the last surviving family member.

Hofwyl-Broadfield plantation house
We were fascinated by one huge live oak that was spread well out on the ground.

Pressing on, we ended the day at a Cracker Barrel on the outskirts of Savannah. The temperature is dropping and it is raining off and on. Tomorrow we don't expect to get much farther than Florence, SC, where we will sit tight and wait for a break in the weather so we can head north for Forest.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Winding down

I'm sitting in the waiting room at my favorite RV dealer, waiting for some work to be done on the Roadtrek. That work will include re-winterizing since we will be heading back north from here. Now's the time to catch up on the last couple of days.

Leaving Chokoloskee Island, we stopped for breakfast at a Cuban cafe just down the road. Good food! Then we headed north, taking back roads to avoid Naples and the subsequent urban madness for as long as possible. We finally headed back to I-75. Since we didn't have far to go, we swung off to Venice so Jean could have one more day at the beach. Circumstances prevented her from having much beach time this trip.

After about an hour we were back on the road for Seffner (east of Tampa). We were low on everything, so we pulled in to a Publix and went shopping. So far, we have been eating Skillet Meals for supper. They are quick and easy to prepare and require little clean-up. Surprisingly, Publix had no Skillet Meals at all. So we went to a nearby Walmart --- which didn't have any frozen meals of any kind! Empty shelves. So we were all set except for supper.

Jean found us a campground near Seffner and we went out for dinner.  Then backed in and set up after dark. Next day we visited Jean's sister-in-law, Chris. After a while we went out for strawberry shortcake since Seffner is in the heart of strawberry country (there is a Strawberry Festival going on now). Once stuffed with strawberries, Chris took us down to a nearby power station which has a manatee-viewing pier (with associated gift shops, etc.)
Big Bend power plant
There must have been two dozen manatees milling about and partying. They were surprisingly active for manatees (we think this is mating season).

Back to Chris's house for more visiting, including with her daughter, Maria, and granddaughter, Kelsey. Finally, went out to a Greek restaurant on a back alley. A place only the locals know about.  By the time we got back to the campground it was dark again.

When we woke this morning we discovered a pair of downy wookpeckers nesting in a dead tree next to the campsite. 

We pulled out and headed for Winter Garden and Leisure Time RV. Basically back roads all the way to Cleremont, a small down in the lake district that we like. We pulled in and parked by one of the three lakes in the town. After lunch in the rig we strolled along the lake shore and relaxed for a while.

Jean watching a woodpecker in the tree

After Cleremont, the road toward Orlando got wide and busy. We pulled in to Leisure Time just before closing. They ran an electric cable out for us and we settled in. Once the work is done we will really be heading for home. Three days of just laying down the miles.