Hoping everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving, whether you were fortunate to be with loved ones or Solo…far from the ones that love and miss you the most.
Our two weeks at Pecan Park Campground in Jacksonville, Florida served its purpose. In surprisingly simple fashion, we established Florida residency and got drivers licenses and license plates for the motorhome and Jeep. We registered to vote, set up our new mail forwarding service and filed our declaration of domicile with Clay County. Lynn even got a library membership and is able to “borrow” e-books. Florida’s DMV was far nicer and more efficient than South Carolina or especially Massachusetts, so that was refreshing. And unlike South Carolina’s DMV, they correctly registered Lynn as a female…but that’s a story for a different day. As for the campground….how do I best put it? We were within eyesight / earshot of I-95 and directly on the centerline on Runways 8/26 at Jacksonville International Airport. Even the aviation geek that I am, I got sick of the constant arrival and departure traffic 1,000 – 2,000 feet directly overhead. The one fun part was the FA-18 military jets that would practice touch and go’s and steep / low patterns over the field. But, mostly I got over that too after the first fifty low passes.
Spangler did a one week kitty-prison stint at Pet Paradise, as Lynn and I enjoyed a cruise on RCCL’s Harmony Of The Seas to the Eastern Caribbean. We visited St. Martin, Puerto Rico and Labadee with the bonus of three wonderful sea days. The weather was perfect but rough seas forced cancelation of some of the shows we had hoped to see. We vacationed with Lynn’s parents, two other cruise-friend couples and a bonus for Lynn was that her best High School friend Erin and her husband Alan cruised with us too! I loved seeing them reconnect!!
Once back from sea and reunited with a very affectionate cat, we caught up on unpacking / laundry and got ready to hit the road for Alabama. Julie even got her first wash from me…quite a project compared to any car or SUV I’ve tackled as it’s 43 feet long and 13 feet tall…it felt more like washing a small house. Anyway, she got clean and I got a workout.
On Thanksgiving day, we did the normal thing (for RV’ers perhaps) – woke up early, broke camp and set off for our longest trip to date. The GPS says we drove 413 miles / 6 hours 59 minutes and 23 seconds with an average speed of 59 MPH and a lowest elevation of 1 foot and highest elevation of 486 feet. Despite my usual driving speed of 63 MPH in areas with 65 – 70 MPH speed limits, yesterdays long drive convinced me to set the cruise control at 70 MPH matching the speed limit. We stopped three times and on the first, found the small sewer hose compartment door had flipped open. For a mistake, that one barely moves the needle. We listened to Arlo Guthrie’s Alices Restaurant promptly at noon as I have done since the mid 80’s and I reminisced about Stockbridge, Mass and the rest of the Berkshires. In my years there, I fished for trout in practically every stream in the Berkshires. I thought about Sweet Baby James, ice fishing Pontoosuc Lake, crunching Macoun apples (better than your Washington State apples, Lance), meandering through the Norman Rockwell museum and Tanglewood Music Center (where I proposed to Lynn). That piece of my heart that forever lives in Western Mass was perfectly content while all 47,000 pounds and 60+ feet of us hurtled across I-10 West.
Passing the Niceville, FL exit, we thought of and prayed for our special friends…TYHMT… and pushed on West. We passed through a huge rural area of destruction by Hurricane Michael, the Category 5 storm of October 2018 that devastated Tyndall Air Force Base to the tune of of six billion dollars and caused a total of 74 deaths. Sustained winds of 160 MPH and a 65 mile radius of hurricane winds crushed the area. Even thirteen months later and 50 miles North of Tyndall AFB, there was a 30+ mile stretch of I-10 which was a mess. 90% of the pine trees in the area were snapped mid-height and some buildings remained flattened. It was quite a scene to witness.
As soon as we crossed into Alabama we passed a serious multi-car accident with one vehicle upside down. Soon after that, we left I-10 and headed south towards Gulf Shores, AL and pulled into Bella Terra Motorcoach Resort, our new home for ten nights. On the scale of Wal-Mart parking lot to a super swanky resort, this is 100% super swanky. We have a pull in site made of brown paving bricks facing a pond with a fountain, our own gazebo, gas fire pit and gas grill. The only bird I’ve seen besides ducks was a mockingbird and later today I’ll set up the hummingbird feeder and hope some hummers stop by for a snack.
On a personal note….Lynn and I had a wonderful / happy cruise vacation. and yesterday I kicked ass driving the rig seven hours and it was the first trip that I’d actually say that I drove flawlessly. Also, after the scope of my last post, I should say that after twenty seven days on my new “happy pill” it seems like my serotonin is behaving more like its supposed to. Not perfect, but better…We listened to some Jimmy Buffett yesterday on the drive, so I’ll close with some of his words…
“Don’t try to shake it, just bow your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On”
Lynn’s 2 cents – Well, this is a year of firsts and Thanksgiving is no different. No family, no friends and no turkey. But man oh man, am I thankful for the opportunity we have to live this lifestyle! We are excited to be here in our 10th state (Alabama) and to be heading West into uncharted territory.