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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dodge Ball with a Snow and Ice!

Today, Saturday, January 3, 2015

Here, sitting in my sunroom, with the outside temperature at 9.1 degrees (F) or 12.72 (C), I am facing a decision on our departure time for our extended stay in Key West, Florida. A plow-able snow and ice storm is looming just hours away. Yesterday, on I-93, a major traffic accident involving dozens of cars. It closed the Interstate for a good part of the day. Snow is forecasted for this evening into Sunday morning. This followed by ice and then freezing rain.

Break in time….

It is now Jan. 4th Sunday 2pm

Looks like we will have a small  window of opportunity to get our adventure started before a frigid “Polar Vortex” comes racing down with fierce winds and a predicted ice storm.

Break in time….

It is now Jan. 5th Monday 3am

Time to roll out of bed! We were on the road by 4am with a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for that caffeine wakeup. Not especially windy or extremely cold. It wasn’t until we were about a hundred miles away from home that we started to notice tree limbs scattered along the highway. If only we could beat the predicted freezing rain. We drove further south and soon the northern mountains were mostly behind us. I drove exactly 550 miles on this first day. We also had preplanned not to stay in the camper that first night. Comfort Suite hotel in Grantville, PA was just what we were looking for. The temperature that day didn’t warm up at all, as a matter of fact it dropped to 18 degrees -7.77(C) I must also back up my story a little and explain that Sunday night, I started coughing and came down with a bad cold. In any event, the Comfort Suite held up to its name. The hot shower and bed was appreciated. The next morning, 5:30am I was up as usual. We would get another early start and try to beat the weather. I looked out the window and it was snowing! Breakfast was there in the Hotel and soon after we were on the road. I knew that I-81 paralleled the Appalachian Mountains and the trace of snow would be with us for awhile. It was! I drove the next 500 miles with snow covering the Interstate. The traffic was going about 45 mph and we saw a total of six slide offs’. The second night would also be in a hotel. A quick note here about the camper. It does have a wonderful furnace that can keep you warm, but the problem here is with the type of coil spring thermostat that must be used in a vehicle that doesn’t have a  perfectly level platform to use a more sophisticated thermostat. The coil spring must expand to shut the furnace down and contract to start the furnace. This expansion and contraction takes time. Consequently…too hot or too cold!

Our second night, January 7th, in a town called Johnson City, TN would find us tired and staying at a Red Roof Inn. The weather here was still cold with possibility of snow coming to the tops of the Appalachian Mountains. We were on the Western side and tomorrow would be climbing over to the Eastern side and finally to lower warmer elevations.

3rd night January 8th

We met with our sister-in-law Peggy in the afternoon, after she got out of work.  Her mom chatted with us from late morning until she arrived. The weather in Hendersonville was sunny, but very cold. It was time to move on to Colombia, SC for our next visit and a little warmer climate. We arrived at Chris, Sandy and aunt Simone’s home around 7pm. They cordially invited us to sleep inside, but now the temperature had moderated and we had a good night sleep in the camper. Our visit with the Marcotte family is always a warm family get together. They had lost their family dog “Higgins” to sickness and amazingly, they found a replacement that not only resembles Higgins, but also has the character and temperament. They named her “Harmony”, a well suited name.

4th night January 9th

Our next night stay was in “Navy Station Mayport” in Jacksonville, FL. Pelican Roost campground was full, but Jim the camp host found us an emergency full hookup site. We now filled our water tank, fully recharged everything including us with hot showers. This was just a quick overnighter, but it was a welcomed stay after the rush to get out of the winter storms.

From Jacksonville, we stopped for a short visit with cousin Larry who was originally from Burlington, VT and now lives in Winter Springs, FL. Larry is one of the few relatives on my side of the family. He is doing very well considering he is getting up in age.

Next stop in Leesburg was to Helen’s cousin Georgette and significant other, Bob. We had dinner with them. Bob did the cooking and hasn’t lost his touch! We parked down next to the clubhouse for the night. We are now out of the cold! Again we experienced a good night sleep in the camper.

Saturday, January 10th

This morning I am catching up on the blog at McDonalds and actually waiting a few minutes before we visit our friends Sam & Joan, who we might travel with to Italy on a military “Space A” flight next fall.

We had a wonderful day with Sam & Joan. They took us for a ride up at the “Villages” (our first time to really visit that area). Later that afternoon, we had a long chat about the “Space A” flight and viewed slides from their previous trip to Italy. It looks very promising for an upcoming overseas adventure. We spent the night at their Methodist Retreat RV Campground complex. I must say it is a very large tract of land with many function buildings on Lake Griffin shoreline.

Sunday January 11th

A quick early departure was in order to catch a 7am mass on our way out of town. We made the decision not to linger around the middle of the state any longer. Next stop was Stuart, FL for one final visit with fellow truck camper friends, who had just been up to Alaska this past year. Bob & Cathy had plenty to talk about their exciting trip way up north and we were anxious to hear about their adventures. We stayed parked in their driveway for the night and again headed south for Key West in early morning. It was a long haul especially going through Miami traffic. We landed in Key West in late afternoon. We logged 2,350 miles since leaving Berlin, NH

Sorry for not having any pictures, but I should get off my butt and be clicking away soon!

That is what we did and saw!












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