Monday, June 1, 2015

Chapter 2 - Estero to Citra to Savannah

Estero to Citra:
Our adventure began at 8:30 AM on Tuesday morning on May 26th.  It was sunny and humid and the temperature in southwest Florida was already nearing 80 degrees.  Our destination this first day was Citra, Florida located just north of Ocala. We were scheduled to spend the first night in the highly rated RV park called The Grand Lakes Resort located about five miles west of Citra.  This area of Florida is filled with eye-poppingly beautiful horse ranches with green pastures, white fences, and beautiful rolling hills. A wonderful spot to visit. According to Mapquest our first day of travel would cover around 250 miles and take us just under four hours, all well within our daily travel goals. Unfortunately, as John Steinbeck knew so well, the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. Nothing went as planned.

For one thing traveling 250 miles in four hours suggests driving over 60 miles per hour non-stop for four hours which for us was an impossible dream. Furthermore, the traffic was much heavier that we ever anticipated particularly with what seemed like thousands of 18-wheelers passing us every few minutes, that had we even tried to increase our speed even slightly, the other trucks and cars on the road would have backed up behind us each time we tried to pass the few slower vehicles.  So we resolved to be happy just driving between 55 to 60 mph.  And then of course we were determined to take a short break at rest areas every two hours plus as it turned out the load of our new home that we pulled behind us reduced our miles per gallon down to just 12 such that we had to stop for gas well before reaching our destination.  We quickly realized that our plan of averaging 250 per day meant that we would be driving five hours per traveling day and not our planned four hours.  But this change of plans was not the worst part on our first day.

On Interstate 75 about 60 miles south of Ocala there was a terrible accident that shut down traffic in both lanes and backed up traffic for at least 10 miles to where we were "parked," at a dead stop.  It remained this way for about a half hour until our lane gradually started moving forward.  At this point our gas gage indicated that in 30 miles we would be out of gas.  Fortunately the reason that our line was moving was that we were close to an exit and when the opportunity arrived we quickly exited despite having no idea where we were or where we were headed. Our Garmin immediately demanded that we turn around.  We continued forward however with Garmin finally helping us find a gas station and subsequently sending us through the most beautiful country side to the next exit that fortunately was past the accident.  Our delay due to the accident was around an hour making our total drive time this first day around six hours.  We were tired but delighted to arrive at such a fine RV park and be offered a choice "drive thru" spot to park our car and trailer.  By three-thirty in the afternoon we were parked and all hooked up and ready to relax.  The photograph at the beginning of this chapter shows our little travel trailer in place at our first stop at the Grand Lake RV Park.  We quickly forgot the delays of the day and talked only of the next leg of our trip to one of our favorite places, the City of Savannah, Georgia.

Citra to Savannah

We were up early the next morning, Wednesday May 27, excited about the drive to Savannah.  Kathy and I joked the night before about the tiny Airstream trailer parked across the street from our trailer and we started referring to it as our "Expensive Cousin" since while smaller than our Gulf Stream Ameri-Lite, it probably cost its owner at least 2-1/2 times more than our little home.  Before we left for Savannah, I saw that the owner of our expensive cousin was out-and-about so I stopped over to say hello.  He introduced himself as Stephen and told me that he and his wife had been living and traveling in their trailer for almost a year and a half.  They were soon to be headed back to Michigan to visit his wife's parents before heading out to Washington State.  Wow!  I thought that we were adventurous with our plan to spend three months on the road to Oregon and back.  Apparently not.  We pulled out of Grand Lake headed for Savannah, Georgia at 9:00 AM.

Our drive up to Savannah was essentially trouble free but for the heavy traffic on the interstate which is something we are just going to just have to accept.  One thing that does bother both Kathy and I is the amount of construction taking place on the interstates.  The Democrats and President Obama are constantly crying about the need for more spending on infrastructure like road building, although based on what we are seeing spent on the interstate road system, if anymore work is done on these highways, traffic will come to a standstill.  In any case our drive to Savannah and to the Skidaway Island State Park took us about five hours and we arrived in the early afternoon. This state park is absolutely gorgeous what with its many large oak trees laden with Spanish moss and its large RV spaces.  Kathy and I are both familiar with Skidaway Island which is located just outside of the City of Savannah since we lived on the island in a large gated community called The Landings between 1998 and 2002. Very little seems to have changed since we left although they did open a large new Publix on the island located only a few minutes from our campsite. This was perfect.

The next morning Thursday, May 28th, we hopped in our car early intent on exploring Savannah's famous historic district. Here again, both Kathy and I were very familiar with the historic district as before we moved out to Skidaway Island, we had lived downtown for two years. The photo above shows Kathy and Cabo at the front steps of our old home at 322 East Harris which not surprisingly had not changed one bit. Savannah is very proud of its historic district and any upgrades to its old buildings are tightly controlled. We spent the entire morning revisiting many of our old favorite spots within the city including some of Kathy's favorite stores, a visit to the old Catholic cathedral located only two blocks from our home, walking down River Street, strolling through some of the many Squares within the historic district, and visiting its very famous Forsthe Park and its beautiful fountain.  We returned to our campsite by early afternoon and spent the rest of the afternoon just relaxing. Fortunately the weather so far has been perfect although with temperatures in the afternoon rising to the high-80s we have had to run the air conditioner in our trailer to avoid it becoming a hot box.  The next morning we are scheduled to drive to Stone Mountain Park located just east of Atlanta. Minutes before we left our RV space in Skidaway State Park, one of our fellow RVers came over to our trailer to confirm that we were leaving.  He recognized our excellent location and he wanted to move to our vacated space as soon as we had departed.  We headed out by 8:30 AM now headed northeast towards the Oregon Trail.   More to follow.

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