After the Month of Monsoons in Georgia, by some miracle I managed to pick a sunny day to escape to Florida. Perhaps it’s being 300 miles or so further south, perhaps it’s coincidental with arriving in Florida – “The Sunshine State” – and experiencing the first two days of sunshine in a row, perhaps it’s for the first time in eight months having the same license plates as everyone else.
Perhaps this is the first destination that is actually ‘living the dream’, I have come here not because I have something I must do, I am here to see a part of America that interests me greatly – the Okefenokee Swamp. It sure did feel good to see this sign.
I got stowed away, hitched up and underway in good time the other day, pulling out at 10:30. I had mapped out a route that was mostly two-lane highways over almost 300 miles. I did not want to come the most direct route because that would take me through a surprisingly mountainous part of Georgia where, even with Overdrive disabled, my transmission spends half its time hunting for the right gear. The way I came successfully avoided those hills and made for an interesting drive through many towns and whistle stops.
Being on two-lane roads made little difference as I seemed to have most highways to myself; I recall being passed only twice. I did have to circle the block through some tight, old residential areas to get back on track as what the GPS was telling me and what I was seeing appeared to be two different things. It’s all good experience in pulling a trailer, though.
I read the RV Forums with great interest. One topic is stopping for gas. I look for Pilot or Flying J when I’m on an interstate. Even their automobile pumps are designed far enough away from the building to give travel trailers enough room to drive in and – more importantly – drive out. In a typical station, there’s not enough room between the pump islands and the cars parked in front of the building to be able to drive out, you have to back up in very tight quarters amongst hurried, less-than-considerate drivers. If I can’t find a ‘truck stop’ style gas station, I watch for service stations where the pump islands are parallel to the road.
Some of the more veteran RVers – cowboys – claim they can gas up anywhere, they just back out. Right. If they can, what they fail to mention is that they are truck drivers by profession with thirty years experience who can back up a trailer a quarter mile, perfectly straight while texting their wives. I’m like one – normal and honest – driver who confessed being so low on gas and unable to get in and out of the last possible gas station, that he pulled round the block, stopped, unhitched the trailer then drove just his truck into the station to fill up.
For some reason, it felt really good to cross the state line and see “Welcome to Florida” signs in brilliant sunshine and heat. Right where the GPS said it would be, was the Winn-Dixie grocery store, where I quickly stopped to buy some pre-made Southern-style potato salad to go along with the chicken breast that I had shaked-and-baked the night before. Then four miles further down the road was Kelly’s RV Park in Callahan, Florida.
Tupelo had been a trooper. After wanting his head rubbed for Blessed Assurance during the first twenty minutes after being put in the truck, he settled down in the back seat and barely moved. But he knew ‘home’ when he saw it.
Mr. Kelly offered to guide me while backing into my assigned spot. “Roll down the passenger window,” he said, “and I’ll talk you into the spot.” Great idea. With the passenger window down and Mr. Kelly’s hand on the sill, I began to back up. The open window had caught Tupelo’s attention and he moved from the back seat to the front passenger seat.
The trailer was on about a 60º angle to the truck as I swung into the spot. Tupelo could see the side of the trailer and that was all he needed to see. Out the window he jumped, past Mr. Kelly, down to the ground and away he went. I was stunned. I figured I would have great difficulty finding him in a strange, partially wooded area, that is, if he didn’t become dinner for an alligator.
I stopped the truck and got out in a panic, though he wasn’t hard to find. He was sitting on the cement patio pad, beside the trailer door, meeowing. I opened the trailer door and in he jumped. It seems that even he feels that Florida is home.
I had a casualty! Usually, I stuff pillows and cushions into my cupboards to keep things from shifting as we bounce down the highway. This trip I forgot to remember. When I opened up a cupboard, like the Walls of Jericho, my most favorite, much used and much traveled, ½-inch thick, ceramic, over-sized, hot tea, Rooster mug fell to the floor and now has a hairline fracture.
Pert near irreplaceable, this mug was purchased in craft-type store in a tiny old Texas settlement town south-west of San Antonio. My hot tea might never taste the same. Ahmoan have to either plan a trip to Texas or hold Memorial Services.
That is, if Tupelo recovers from the strain.