As winter inches closer, the northern tier states go through a beautiful transformation. The nights get longer and colder. Maples, oaks, aspens, and other hardwoods display a beautiful rainbow of yellows, reds, greens, and browns across the landscape. Nature’s artwork will give way to barren trees and a carpet of dead leaves just before the north wind blows soon to be met with snow. Yup, time to get out of Dodge!
Enjoying a beautiful fall day in Maine before heading south.
And so it is as we begin our trek south for the winter. On October 17th we “hooked up the wagons” and started our version of “The Oregon Trail”. But instead of heading west, we headed towards the Florida Everglades. The trip is a conglomerate of camping at pristine campsites, state parks, National Forests, and of course, Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores. Here’s our story of getting there.
Leaving Maine in a fall Nor’easter means driving with a pelting rain and temps in upper 30’s. Heading south, by the time we get to New Hampshire the sun is shining, traffic was moderate, and life is good. Still cold, we enter Pennsylvania at nightfall. Here is where Schitt hits the fan.
Almost 2000 miles – And away we go!
Warning! Lights on my dash indicate a trailer disconnect. I notice none of my trailer lights are functioning. I pull over and check my connections. A loose connection so an easy fix. Great! The lights are working! We continue but now I get another warning. My right trailer blinker is malfunctioning. Is that related to the connection issue? Since we planned on staying at a Cracker Barrel/Walmart in Wilkes-Barre, I’ll purchase a light there.
I few more miles… then my TPMS monitor blast away! Oh no! I’m losing air in my right rear trailer tire! That is not good but seems to be slow. I have to drive 3 more miles until the next exit. With my pressure down to 30 psi we pull into a convenient store in the town of Promised Land. Thank goodness I have Good Sam Roadside Assistance. A quick call and help is on the way!
An hour later coming from nearby Lord of The Valley (I didn’t make these towns up, they actually exist) my help arrives. I swear to God, it’s Roland Schitt! (If you have seen Schitt$ Creek on Netflix, you know who I’m talking about). So Roland has a rust bucket of a truck that seems like a 1999 vintage dodge. He fashions this makeshift ramp from a 6X6 block and a 2’ long plank and instructs me to drive the trailer up on it with the good tire (my trailer has a tandem axle so one tire was not flat). In good “John Rose” fashion I don’t question Roland and after some maneuvering we have the flat off the ground.
Roland grabs my spare and determines that it needs air. How? Does he have a gauge? An air compressor? No! He bangs on it with his hand. That’s how they do it in the Promised Land. Fortunately, the store has an outside air pump. Roland reaches into his pocket and finds 2 quarters …and asks me for a couple since we need a dollar. Roland and I do some small talk but I have trouble understanding him. It’s that Pennsylvania accent. After getting the spare on, Roland and I part ways. If you are ever in Lord of the Valley or the Promised Land, be sure to say hi to Roland Schitt!
Finally in Wilkes-Barre, we settled down for the night. Let’s hope the next day is better. On a side note, all my lights, including the malfunctioning blinker are now working. Go figure! Our next destination is a Cracker Barrel in Staunton, VA.
Heading to Mayberry RFD (Mt Airy, NC) from Staunton we had a little excitement but this time we were spectators. A box truck in from of us went into the breakdown lane (driver fatigue?) and he over corrected and crossed both lanes and hit the median strip. Going up on 2 wheels he miraculously got it under control. Thank goodness traffic was light. He did pull over. Everyone in my truck felt he probably had to change his underwear after that.
Mayberry is the campground we stayed at and the town was Mt Airy. Andy Griffith’s hometown and the star of Mayberry RFD is a quaint little tourist trap. The show was a model sitcom from the 60’s. Many of the old stores from the show are on display in town. It is worth a stop if for no other reason, nostalgia.
After two nights in North Carolina, our trip continued to South Carolina and Myrtle Beach. Here, we have several friends who retired to this beautiful seashore city. And my grand niece is attending Coastal Carolina University, which is in nearby Conway. Short visits with my friends and several days with Sydney showing us the campus and spending time at the beach it was now time to continue our trek.
As we continue south, we did an overnight in Savannah GA before landing in Ocala National Forest (ONF) in Florida. ONF has become a favorite of ours especially the campground at Salt Springs Recreational Area. Warm salt water bubbles out of the ground creating exquisite swimming holes. This is a beautiful area.
And teeming with wildlife! Down by the swimming hole was a young black bear in a tree. Early in the morning I spotted an otter frolicking in the saltwater bubblier. White tail deer are plentiful as are lots of waterfowl. Several Red Shoulder Hawks greet us daily and one day a Bald Eagle spent time in the oaks around the salt water pool. We haven’t seen any on this trip but alligators and snakes are quite plentiful as well. We love exploring this country.
Finally, we are on the last leg of the trek. It is 300 plus miles to Big Cypress (western Everglades) and we arrived there on the afternoon of October 29th. Traffic in Florida is horrendous but finally we arrive at our campground. It is great to be away from the hustle and bustle. It is always an adventure on any road trip if you are with the Deckers!
Coming soon, more tales from the Campah!
… Next adventure; “Views from home”
STAY TUNED! More “tales from the campah”!
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