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Mad Dash to Florida
Posted On 10/22/2009 14:53:28

We left Missouri with the intention of driving for two days and stopping in Fall Creek Falls State Park on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. It has been voted one of the best state parks in the southeast. It is also the largest state park in the area with more than 20,000 acres, 3 waterfalls and 30 miles of trails. Sounds great, right? We pulled in on a Sunday afternoon, and immediately were worried about hitting the trailer on the large trees all along the campground road. The website said they could take trailers up to 45 feet, but it didn't mention how tight the roads were getting to the campsites. Due to the leaves changing, the campground was packed with people. There were sites available, but we would have been sitting in a dark forest, with neighbors 5 feet from us, during a cold spell. The cell phone service was iffy. Since Dan is still very busy working right now, it didn't seem like a good idea to stay. We seem to have followed a cold front all the way across the country. Missouri and Tennesse were both experiencing record lows. This was not what we had in mind when we left Colorado. We decided to keep driving. Our first priority was to make some lunch, we get cranky and stressed when we go too long without eating and learned early on to just pull over when that happens. The cat was stressing us out also. She still wasn't happy in the truck (much whining), plus all the trees in the campground made us tense. This is our house we are pulling behind us, after all. We needed to stop and mentally reset.

The first sunny spot we found was a school parking lot. It was Sunday, so we pulled over and made lunch and tried to figure out where to go next. Dan asked how far Jacksonville was and then pulled out the map to take a look. I knew he was thinking of Huguenot Memorial Park. We spent two weeks there last year camped next to the Atlantic Ocean and the St Johns River. It sounded great, but it was over 400 miles away and we had just driven 700 miles in two days from Kansas City. We decided to just keep going and look for a sunny spot. Sunny spots are hard to find in the south. All the campgrounds are set up for summer use. In the summer you really need the trees to deal with the heat, it's the opposite in the winter, you really want the warmth of the sun, especially during the cold spells. Since we were experiencing a cold spell, we hadn't seen the sun or temps above 40 since before we left Colorado. It was starting to get to us. We both like to be outside a lot. If it's too cold, we tend to hibernate in the trailer. That's why Jacksonville was whispering in our ear. We were remembering biking and kayaking in shorts last December. We kept driving and about two hours later, the cat relaxed and started dozing. That was the deciding vote for heading straight on through to Florida. We covered several hundred miles while the cat was mellow. We overnighted in a Walmart parking lot and continued on the next morning to Jacksonville.
We are now camped next to the St Johns River. It was 80 degrees yesterday. We are both relaxed. The cat is happy. There are a lot of birds for her to watch and she has sun patches to snooze in. I have already gone for a long bike ride and been swimming in the river. We don't have to move for two weeks.

The moral of this story for us is, stick with what works. We knew that trying to get to Florida in 3 weeks with only short stays wasn't our style. We did it anyway, and stressed ourselves out. We have learned that if what we are doing isn't working, to try something different. That's why we changed plans, skipped Tennessee and headed to Florida. We have reservations in the keys for November and December for five weeks. That was the whole reason we were trying to hurry to Florida. It is almost impossible to get reservations in the keys, we've had these since January and didn't want to give them up. Dan was so busy at work that we couldn't leave any earlier. We also knew that there are a lot of trees in the south, and that doesn't work if it's cold. We should have just planned to drive straight to Florida from the start. Once we got here, we relaxed. We are a days drive from the keys, and we will move in two weeks instead of every week. Two weeks is our usual length of stay somewhere.

We have already decided that next year, we will not make any reservations in the fall. That way, we can leave Boulder when it is convenient and slowly head somewhere at our own pace. Dan is always busy with work at this time of year, and we aren't fulltiming to create stress. The beauty of this lifestyle is we can change and adapt to our moods and circumstances. We aren't used to feeling stress, and when we do, we try to figure out how to remove it. It isn't something we have to just put up with. We are in control of our own happiness. Everyone is, but it's a little easier to remember when you are wandering around the country in your RV.

Tags: On The Road




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