We left Lakewood, New Mexico and hit the road running toward Florida. After overnight stops in Fort Stockton and Junction, Texas, we pulled into a nice campground in Columbus, Texas for a three day rest. We planned to leave Columbus early on a Sunday morning to avoid the weekday traffic nightmare around Houston. So much for that plan. We got up early and had everything ready to go. Bill got in the driver’s seat, turned the ignition key, and NOTHING happened. We had a broken starter. Of course nothing is open on Sunday, so we had no choice but to tell the campground we would be staying another day. We were SO lucky this didn’t happen somewhere along the road when we stopped for gas or at a rest area. We were so thankful to be in a nice campground with helpful people offering us any tools we might need and plenty of advice. This bad starter was just one of several bad luck events that happened to us, beginning back in September when a passing truck threw up a rock and chipped our windshield just as we were getting ready to turn into a campground. At our next stop in Phoenix in early October the motor on the large motorized windshield night shade broke and the shade would not go up. So while in Phoenix we had the windshield fixed and a new motor installed in the night shade. Now the starter! Whew!
Luckily we have roadside service on the RV so the next day the RV was towed in the rain to a repair facility in a nearby town. It kind of makes a big lump in your throat to see your home being towed away. Ford was able to get right to work on the warranty replacement of the starter. By late afternoon we were back on the road. That was the good news. The bad news was it put us going through Houston at rush hour. It took a giant margarita to get me through that without freaking out.
We stopped for the night at a casino in Vinton, Louisiana. We had a nice boondocking spot in a back parking lot with several other RVs doing the same thing to keep us company. By the time we got there it was late and we were pretty exhausted so it was a very easy, safe spot to stop for the night.
The next morning we headed to a campground in Livingston, Louisiana, passing through Baton Rouge which had some traffic back up due to an accident. We originally had planned to drive down to beautiful Palmetto Island State Park for several days, but since we were now on a fast track east, the state park was too far off I-10 for just a couple days. Another place to add to our growing list of future places to visit. We were not thrilled with our campsite at this Livingston campground. The site they put us on backed up to a busy road and traffic noise was a problem day and night. While we were there we had heavy wind and torrential rain and the bad luck continued when one of the windows began to drip water. Not a big deal since Bill could fix the problem with some additional caulking once everything dried. Just one of those nuisance problems.
Next stop was a nice campground near Gulf Shores, Alabama for a two night stay. While there we drove down to the beach. Our first beach in quite awhile. The beach was surprisingly deserted. We don’t know why except it was a weekday in late November. We enjoyed the views but the biting flies were terrible.
While in Gulf Shores we celebrated Bill’s birthday (NOV 22). I bought a birthday cake at Publix and we had dinner at Longhorns, one of Bill’s favorite restaurants. The steak was exceptionally good!
We enjoyed our stay in Gulf Shores but were anxious to get back on the road and see the Florida border. Bill honked the horn as we passed from Alabama into Florida. We were back after 877 days on the road. I think Bill was especially happy to be back in his home state.
Our first stop in Florida was a week at Rocky Bayou State Park in Niceville. We had a great campsite except for the oak tree towering above us which deposited acorns on the roof of the RV day and night, sometimes waking us up with loud pinging as they hit the roof.
While in Niceville we enjoyed visiting Bill’s cousin June, her husband Randy and their family. June fixed us two really delicious meals and we enjoyed watching the Alabama/Auburn football game with them. We can’t wait to see them again next November!
Our next stop was a COE (Army Corp of Engineers) campground called Eastbank, just over the border in Georgia.
We left Niceville early and stopped by the Florida Caverns State Park on the way to the campground. Who knew Florida had caverns! We took a tour of the caverns with a great guide. Some of the places on the tour had really low ceilings so Bill had to do quite a bit of bending over while walking. It wasn’t equal to Carlsbad Caverns, but still a great place to visit!
The Eastbank Campground was on a lake overlooking a dam. We enjoyed views of the lake with ducks and birds splashing in the water. It was a very quiet and peaceful campground and we enjoyed our time there. So far Florida has been pretty chilly and the mosquitoes are biting!
We left Georgia and were back in Florida, heading to Osceola National Forest for a three day stay in the forest. We had hoped to get one of the electric sites in the Ocean Pond Campground, but since hunting season has begun and snowbirds are migrating back, all the electric sites were taken at this nonreservable campground. No problem since we were able to get a site with water hookup and open sky for our satellite TV and solar panels. The solar panels we had installed in Phoenix are really coming in handy.
We are enjoying our time in the forest. Tomorrow we head to Jacksonville to see family and friends. Remember earlier in this post I mentioned the bad luck we experienced? All of that is behind us and we feel really blessed to have made it safely back over those 1,800+ miles and back in Florida!!