Saturday, July 16, 2016

Introduction to life in an RV

We departed San Juan, Puerto Rico for Miami, FL on Nov 17th then drove straight through to Green Cove Springs, FL.  After renting an apartment for a week and visiting 4 dealerships in the area, we drive towards Orlando to continue shopping.

We find Odin the Winnebago at Camping World in Bartow, FL.  We leave a deposit on Friday the 24th, but couldn't do a test drive because the slide wouldn't go in.  Yep, RV's are just like boats.  A disadvantage of a house that moves--waiting for parts!  We take a day off.  Then it is errands (laundry, switch over cell phones, run back to Green Cove Springs to pick up a few packages and get our voter registration verification...). Check out of our rental in Jacksonville and drive BACK to a hotel in Bartow. (Princess Amelia is NOT be happy!  She liked that apartment.)

"The Ultimate Behemoth.  It has it's own satellite!"

Princess Amelia and her posse check into a hotel in Lakeland, FL for the weekend.  The good news is the part is in and the slide is working.  The bad news is our test drive isn't until Monday.  What do we do while we wait?  I'm watching RV videos on YouTube and making road trip mixes.  The Captain is sketching paint schemes and binging on Netflix.  The secret to living together in small spaces?  EARBUDS!

Link:  YouTube Janis Joplin, Me & Bobby McGhee

We pack up everything and checked out of the hotel on Monday.  Amelia goes along on the test drive and sits through the closing, but when we arrive at the campground the RV is HOT!  90F inside.  "It takes awhile to cool down.  At least a couple days but definitely overnight."  OK.  I start unpacking the new sheets, towels, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, some basic dishes and our clothes.  After 3 hours, the temperature has gone UP to 93F.  We're out.  Grab the cat and head back to the hotel.  We spend the next day at the service center and we are finally able to spend the night on Tuesday the 28th, eleven days after landing in Florida!

Back into our land yacht just in time for our first storm...

Our first sunset

Amelia has discovered she can't get under the bed, but has found 2 cabinets to crawl into instead. She's also likes curling up in the driver's foot well, "The last place I want her to be..."

The Colonel has been to the hardware store and I make one more grocery run before returning the car.  Odin the Winnebago is our sole source of transportation.  Here goes nothing!

Our nautical touch
RV life vs boat life:  ice cream for lunch, because we can!
The Clampett sun shades
The copilot chair spins around--perfect spot for my nest.

Another day spent in the customer lounge while they work on the a/c. The cat wearing a harness is the talk of the store...

Amelia taking over the Camping World customer lounge.  

At one point, Princess Amelia was sitting in the beige chair in the background.  She gave a man the stink eye when he acted like he might want to sit there.  Another customer in the next recliner over, was laughing so hard she was crying.  All the employees did a double take and stopped to say hello.  "I remember when we would be plucking her off the ceiling if we tried to take her anywhere..."

"Daddy, are they done yet?  I need a nap."  She loved being carried into the shop to say hello to the mechanics. 

We spend 4 nights in the Camping World campground (30-amp power and water hook-up) while the service department does their thing (relying on our portable air conditioner from Lowe's in the evenings).  On our way out, we stop to pump out and The Colonel learned why you don't wear flip flops for this task (also not good for refueling, ie. standing in diesel fuel).

YouTube Link:  New RV Drivers Confidence by Lazy Days

We considered taking a driving course.  The Colonel, just like on the boat, wanted to make sure we were both comfortable driving this behemoth.  But, just like the boat, we got a little antsy and headed north, before completing a class.  He had only driven a short distance on the test drive and a few back-and-forths to the service center.  Surprisingly, this 40-min YouTube video gave us some very useful tips.  We successfully backed into a spot on the first attempt!

Day 1 on the road, departure Tweet (on my birthday):  "Off like a herd of turtles!  Another RV clogging the highways on a holiday weekend. First stop?  The gas station!  Eek!"

Like the sailboat, bridges are exciting (not in a good way). This is the lowest documented but I swear I saw a 14 footer.
Our first truck stop.  Haines, FL

We have to use truck stops because of our height (12+ ft) and we turn like a Mack truck (actually a Freightliner!). Luckily, we had 1/2 tank, so it was only $131. Now, through Orlando & Daytona on the 4th of July weekend...#idiots #goJR #justcantwait

A quick WalMart stop for lunch, grocery shopping & to wait out the afternoon thunderstorms.  (Love the signs for "truck route" that led us to a pull-thru parking spot & an easy exit!  Who knew?)

Stop & go traffic

Sunset over Pecan RV Park.  Jacksonville, FL

AND we're here!  Our first RV park, just like a marina:  "Where do you want us?  Electric, water, wifi, laundry, pump out?"  Good thing we planned a half day the first day. That took ALL DAY!   #OdinTheWinnebago #WeDidntHitAnything

Stats:  215 miles

Day 2 on the road, departure Tweet:  "Showers, laundry, pump out. Back on the road!  Day 2:  I-95N for 200 miles"

Day 2:  Cruise control on wide open highway with light winds.

Prevost #4 pulling a truck with a golf cart in the bed. Flew by--speed limit 70 mph!  Hmmmm. Daytona maybe?

And Amelia wasn't happy about being blocked out of a favorite napping spot yesterday.  We put her bed next to the driver's seat and she went straight past it. I know, I know. Not safe. I know, I know. He's driving in flip flops.

Destination number one is family in Jonesborough, TN so we continue north to Orangeburg, SC.  A flat, wide open day on the highway, passing many stops we made in the boat.

Sweetwater Lake Campground

AND our first campground!  No concrete pad. No, we're not level.  No wifi but we have 50 amp for the a/c, water and a view of a lake for $30/night 😎

(And yes, Princess Amelia is still asleep...)

Sunset in Sweetwater
Stats:  247 miles

Day 3 on the road, departure Tweet:  "On the road again. I can't wait to get on the road again..."  Short hop on the way to visit family in eastern TN. 100 mi to Spartanburg SC"

Today's lesson:  Speed control on continuous rolling highway.

"We're using Google Maps for navigation along with multiple campground & truck stop apps. When The Colonel asked what state we're in, I had to crack out the road atlas. When is the last time you've used a road atlas?!"  One friend looked at this pic and commented how long it has been since I wore socks?!  (May 2015)

Hanging with the big boys.  Truck stop #2. 552 miles/64.4 gal=8.6 mpg ($152).

Another bonus of rv life:  There's a Subway, but the boss would rather kick off his shoes & make a sandwich at home 😎

Pine Ridge Campground.  Spartanburg, SC
AND we've arrived at campground #2. I thought I got us in a pickle when we turned onto the winding, hilly, single-lane black top!  (I even forgot to take pics!)  Then we popped out in nirvana!  People waving hello. Owner escorted us to our site and directed us in. Concrete pad & fast wifi (50 amp, water, sewer, showers, laundry, pool, game room) for $35/night!  Happy place...

When I went to the office the next morning, they had seen our FB post and had already blocked us out for another night, then invited me into the office to see their vacation on his brother's sailboat in Sint Maarten!

Cue the ducks...
We' finally poked our noses out of the Winnebago (it's been HOT!). After deciding to stay another night, the awnings are out and a picnic table drug over. Between the breeze, the shade trees & the awnings, I get to enjoy the view until almost noon!

Twitter:  "Goodbye, Pine Ridge Campground​!  We're getting faster--off by 9:30 am. Headed for our first driveway. Stay tuned!"

Stats:  117 miles (fuel stop: 552 total miles/64.4 gal = 8.6 mpg.  $152/64.4 = $2.36/gal)

Day 4 on the road:  Headed into the Smoky Mountains.

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