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Six-Month US Tour Starts In Florida

Greetings from Fort White, Florida,

We did it.  Despite mishaps and some angst, I am still feeling some angst, we have begun our 2024 Travels.

Angst

Last year we traveled together but I had Big Blue (my truck) and Lilac (my camper) with me.  And though I moved stuff into Steve's trailer and stayed with him, on travel days I was driving Big Blue on my own, and I had all the stuff that I don't use very often in my truck and trailer nearby.

This is our first full season traveling with one truck and one trailer.  I am trying to adjust.  Steve is very accommodating and a good partner for this trip.  It's just me, worrying.

And maybe some of the angst is world news, the US 2024 elections, and some of it is worrying about my son.  

He just changed jobs and then in a few days he got laid off from the new job making him un-eligible for unemployment because he had not worked there long enough.  He will be fifty this year and I still worry.  So if you know of any jobs.  Here is a bit about him.  He went to school and has worked as a graphic artist, he has a lot of experience as a supervisor.  He has supervised in a union warehouse, in a small machine-tool manufacturing business, and in his graphic-design job.  He is a homeowner and resides near Janesville, WI.  I personally have always hated applying for jobs and interviewing.  It feels degrading to try to prove yourself to strangers over and over again.  To hand over a carefully crafted resume and still have to spend time filling out an application that gets put on a pile with all the others.  I commend him for treating the job search like a job in itself.  

Thinking Long Term Travel

Steve worked a lot the past months getting the trailer more convenient and comfortable for us. It is interesting to watch him work on stuff because he thinks long term and how to make things more efficient.  I am learning.  I have always just plowed through the current moment without thinking that I would be doing something over and over again and I should really make it so it will become easier and more efficient.

Steve added doors to storage areas so we could reach in and get things easier.  He put in new faucets that are really nice, so we can turn on the hot and cold with one handle and fit our hands and dishes under the faucets easily. 




These are really nice and have already made a big difference.

He beefed up the bumper so we could haul the bicycles behind the camper and put the tricycles in the truck bed.

Among the things he wanted to do was set up a camera on the back of the trailer to keep an eye on the bikes back there.  This was needed for his peace of mind.

 I put kitty litter in Lilac and removed all my bedding and pillows to ward off mold.  I parked Lilac in the storage area outside where Steve normally keeps his trailer. 

As our departure day got closer, we agree that it was a good decision to not travel far on the first day.  Steve has so much to do, I tried to help where I could.  I emptied and cleaned the fridge...

We didn't drive away until after 3:00 pm.  We only had a two hour drive to get to destination number one.


Our schedule for getting things done was challenged.  

First, Steve had new tires put on his truck and trailer a few days before we were leaving.   Then two days before we left, Steve got the trailer out of storage.  When he backed it into the drive we saw that one of the tires was flat!  He checked the pressure on all the tires and they were all low!  

So Steve had to take a big chunk of prep time to remove all the wheels and take them back to the Goodyear dealer to be re-done.  That concerned him because he had his long list of things to do before we left and this was not in the plan.  What is the saying? "We make plans and God laughs."

Second, I realized too late that I had made our plans to start our trip on May 3rd, which was the day that Steve's wife suddenly passed away two years ago.  So on top of having his mind busy trying to get the camper and the house ready for us to leave, he had that huge emotional and family thing pulling at him.  I felt so bad.  I got to get the date on my calendar so I don't launch something big at the same time next year.

Last Minute Preparations

We put fuel stabilizer and a battery maintainer on Big Blue, just to be safe.


We did a couple last rides with our bicycle group, and said goodbye to our friends.


Before we drove away, Steve said that I would need to learn how to drive his truck towing the trailer so we can take turns driving.  He said I should watch for a place I would feel comfortable doing that and let him know.  I said, "Our first day we are driving up Hwy 41.  I can do it then.  So he had me back up the truck when it was time to hook the trailer up.  It isn't hard when your truck has a backup camera.  Then I drove us away from Steve's Florida home and all the way to our campground, Moonshine Acres in Fort White, Florida, near Ichetucknee Springs and High Springs, Florida..  It was only about a two hour drive.

At Moonshine Acres, the sites and the drive are flat and bordered by grass without a lot of trees or posts, it was a great place for me to practice backing up the trailer into our campsite.  Steve stood in back and called me on my cell so I could hear him.  

YAY!  I did it!



We all agreed we like this campground.  It is high quality, well maintained, clean, close to the bike trail and rivers to Kayak.

Our friends, Christy (I just learned I have been spelling her name wrong, sorry Christy.) and Mark, had arrived before us.  They suggested we go out for supper and take in some music at a brewery in town.  Good idea!
 

The band was good, playing a wide variety of music.  "Billy Jean Is Not My Lover" and "I Want My MTV" are two of the songs they played I can remember. Christy and I and many other ladies danced a lot.

We didn't get back to the trailer until way past my bedtime (Bedtime is at nine). Since sleep is so important to brain health, I usually guard my sleep schedule.  But we were having fun, it was hard to end the day.

I was a bit tired in the morning.


The trail is right across the road from our campground.  It is the only trail in the state that goes from one state park to another state park.  Hence the name, O'leno to Ichetucknee Trail.

We went to O'leno State Park first.  There were lots of flowers along the trail.  We saw some bright orange hollyhocks.  We learned later they are peacock hollyhocks.  



We were up high overlooking the spring fed river in O'leno State Park when we saw this post with the flood levels marked.  





The river in O'leno just stops as the water goes back down under land.  I expected to hear water or see a whirlpool or something to show that the water was going back into the earth.  But all we saw was, on the left, a current, on the right, no current and lots of duck weed.

We stopped back at our campground and had lunch and ... oh my!  A nap!  I don't usually do that!

I felt better.  We rode the four miles to Ichetucknee State Park.  The river was closed!  They close access to the river, and everyone has to be off the river by six p.m.  The clerk in the General Store said the river was high and it was an eight-minute walk to the launch but we couldn't go look at it because it was closed.  There were lots of people returning from tubing on the river.

The trail continued a bit after Ichetucknee.  We rode to the end and then explored a neighborhood with dirt roads and came to some flooding.




Christy and Mark extended their stay a couple hours the next day and were able to kayak with us on the Ichetucknee.





We went in the morning and it wasn't that busy. We got to listen to lots of birds singing. 

Christy took these three pictures.




While I was writing this, Steve went to the store and got us some more groceries.

Tomorrow, we head further north but not very far.  I will leave you guessing until I write again.

I am smiling, I hope you are too.


Comments

  1. I know you will have a wonderful time. You have planned well. You are willing to adapt. Blessings on you

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  2. We are so happy you made this big jump and are travelling in one truck and one camper! Your time learning how to drive and park with Lilac is now paying off so you can give Steve an occasional break from driving. It looks like he has made wonderful renovations to the camper by upgrading the sink fixtures. We did that in our old motorhome and it made dish washing so much easier. Our new camper already had a nice high faucet in the kitchen sink.
    It was smart to make your first day short because getting ready was already so hectic. It really was too bad that the date overlapped Margaret’s death. He still needs some time to heal.
    Do have a marvelous 6 month adventure and we look forward to your posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And we look forward to laughs with you two in Minnesota in July. I know you will keep moving and smiling.

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  3. Cindy and I leave Monday the 13th with our 3rd Airstream just purchased, and new tires and wheel bearings packed, headed to Michigan. Shiny Dancer is on the road! Maybe see you somewhere down the road!

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    1. We got a laugh reading your message Regis. I love the name. I hope Shiney Dancer is the one for the rest of your travels. May you be pleasantly satisfied. Oooommmmm.

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  4. Enjoy keeping up with your adventures!

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  5. Happy Trails to you both. Be safe and be happy! ~ Audrey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Audrey. I hope your summer is full of joyfilled moments.

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  6. Tickled pink for u and Steve that y’all have found each other for everything including life’s adventures and loads of happy times together exploring! Enjoy these memories u are making for those of us no longer able to get out there and do it all!

    I’m very proud Sue, that u have learned enough towing, setting up etc to be a helpmate to Steve and have the energy to do it all! And u started this trip out right by proving yourself helpful from the get go!

    Enjoy the company, the journey, the activities, and the destination! I will continue to enjoy all ya’ll are doing by living vicariously through your adventures. ❤️ Charlotte

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  7. Be safe. We love reading your posts and this was a great way to start. Ruth

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  8. Sounds like you’re on your way to a great summer adventure. We’ll look forward to hearing more. Safe travels.

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  9. Clarification requested. Is this a new trailer? I recall you having a WeeRoll? This one looks larger. Enjoy your travels.

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  10. Is this a new trailer? I thought you had a small WeeRoll thing. This one looks larger. Have fun travels

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Thanks for trippin' with us, John. The bigger trailer is Steve's. We are traveling all summer in his truck and trailer.

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  11. The orange flowers look more like Gladiolas than hollyhocks. I'm sorry but we will miss you this summer. We are planning on seeing sister M. in the fall. Enjoy your travels, Love you, S & C

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    Replies
    1. Oh ya, I bet I got that wrong. Gladiolas, yes! I will fix. Thanks. We will be in Bemidji in July, then on to the Black Hills. Sorry we will miss you, but I am glad you made it through the health crisis and will travel to Wisconsin again.

      Sue

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  12. Love traveling with you

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