From Memphis to Florida – Our Great North American RV Tour

A Florida Sunse
A Florida Sunset
Friday, November 10 – Day 73
It has been said ‘the early bird gets the worm’, by now we should have enough for fishing, another cool early morning.
Our mechanical issues put us one day behind we need to make up the time or make changes to other destinations. We decided to bite the bullet and put two days of driving into one.
Today’s route begins in Memphis, Tennessee then through Mississippi south to our destination another ‘Boondocker Welcome’ host in southern Alabama.
The group was anticipating warmer weather after a cool visit to Memphis.
The area we will pass through today is known as ‘The Heart of Dixie. There are a couple of explanations as to how “Dixie” got its name.
One explanation we found on google, the southeastern states east of Louisiana and south of the Mason/Dixson line (the northern border of Maryland) became known as Dixie, coincidentally also the border between free and slave states.
 Another theory,…….. Dixie began in the French Quarter of New Orleans $10 bills were printed in French using the word Dix, French for $10. English speaking people began calling the bank notes Dixies.
Whatever the reason we are headed for the heart.
My mind’s eye view of Dixie and the deep south was of dusty barren land dotted with dry brown cotton fields.
The image of 100 years ago in Alabama cotton fields
The image of 100 years ago in Alabama cotton fields
I was surprised to see a beautiful state of rolling hills, lush forests rich farmlands of peanuts, fruit and of course cotton.
Cotton Fields Today
Cotton Fields Today
Dixie and Dixieland of course also refer to the famous BB King jazz sound spawned in the deep south.
As we traveled the sun warmed the air to the high 70’s. Our destination is  Ariton, Alabama a small rural town in the southeast corner of the state.
The GPS took us off the interstate and through the suburbs where we encountered heavy stop and go traffic. Traveling through Montgomery south of Birmingham was an eye-opener.
We were surrounded by African Americans, all the vehicles, pedestrians, businesses, even emergency vehicles were black people. They starred as we had just landed from another planet, not a comfortable feeling.
As we drove toward Ariton the roads became narrower and windy with fewer houses like heading away from civilization into the backcountry.
It seemed we would never reach our destination. I phoned and left a message earlier in the day for our host Mike estimating our arrival time. Finally, we turned onto a dead-end road and hopefully our destination.
As we turned the corner I spotted a man leaning on his truck beside an open gate, it must be Mike waiting for us. The open gate leads into a lush pasture. No doubt our campsite for the night. He directed us to our spots.
Mike introduced himself and welcomed us as we chatted for a moment about our trip, he saw Buddy and recommended we keep him close, many beasts roam at night, wild turkeys, deer, and coyotes. He wished us well and excused himself, his dinner was ready. Mike retreated to the classy looking large home near the gate.
The guys set about readying our rigs for the night while the ladies made dinner.
The sun pushed an array of brilliant oranges from behind the distant dark hills. The group sat silently watching the show, mesmerized by the changing hues.  The tiring long day’s drive sent everyone to bed early.
Darkness fell quickly over the quiet pasture as a chorus of crickets serenaded. A perfect end to a tiring day.
Tomorrow we cross from Alabama into Florida, the sunshine state.
Saturday, November 11 – Day 74
Good morning its Remembrance Day or Veterans Day in the US. We give thanks to all the veterans and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom to travel and live full lives as they did not.
No one was anxious to leave this bright sunny morning; the previous day’s long drive had tired out the group. I took advantage of the slow morning to explore our host’s property. I walked to a small lake at the back of Mike’s property. The heavy morning dew soaked my pants as I walked through the knee-high grass.
As I crested the last rise before the lake a coyote darted from a small patch of brush near the fence and trotted cautiously toward the forest looking back frequently before disappearing into the forest.
A bit freaky, lucky Buddy did was not with me.
We left our boondocker host Mike’s around 9:30, he wasn’t there to see us off as his granddaughter was in the Peanut Festival Parade. After leaving Mike’s we headed south into a Saturday morning Peanut Festival traffic jam. It might have been fun to attend.
Soon we crossed into Florida and turned east on highway I-10. The rolling hills of Alabama disappeared replaced by swamps, jungle, and forests of Northern Florida.
We traveled east to Tallahassee, Florida and then south on state highway 19/27, our destination today was supposed to be another boondocker host near Old Town, Florida but a phone call to confirm our arrival brought bewilderment from our would be host, they were leaving for the weekend, opps I guess I got my wires crossed and cancelled our reservation.
We needed to find another camp spot for the night or maybe Walmart will be our destination. Lynda searched the internet for a campground, Old Town RV Park was her find. She called to see if there was room at the inn, thankfully enough for our three rigs.
The bright sunshine continued all morning pushing the thermometer into the 80’s before clouds drifted over bringing lite showers and cooler temperatures. Another lost hour as we reentered the eastern time zone.
Highway 19/27 is a secondary highway heading due south through sparsely populated flat rural countryside on the northwest side of Florida. The drive was pleasant and relaxing with very little traffic. There wasn’t much too see, pine tree forests, swamps and deserted businesses along the highway.
As we drove I kept watching the swampy jungle along the side of the road hoping to see wildlife, maybe even an alligator.
No alligators, just sleeping critters near or on the road some surrounded by a red color.
We arrived late afternoon at Old Town RV Park, a small old park under a canopy of large trees filled with old trailers, old buildings, and old people with old dogs. I guess this is how the town got its name.
Old Town RV Park, Florida
Old Town RV Park, Florida
The rate of $28 per night was reasonable for full hookup and free wi-fi. The spots were roomy although no indication of where your site ended and the neighbours begin. The ground was covered with a blanket of large brown pine needles.
 It was unclear if the needles were from a fall shedding or leftovers from hurricane Irma of a couple months back. Judging by the rest of the park the latter was probably true.
We paid the fee and followed an old grandpa in an old golf cart to our pull through spots, a bonus no backing in.
Old Town RV Park
Interesting tree carving Old Town RV Park
We settled in for the night and gathered for happy hour……surprise…another happy hour. After happy hour a group steak dinner, another surprise we rarely share dinner on a night before a travel day.
We enjoyed a twilight dinner around a propane fire. The Florida humidity was unmistakable as we toddled off to bed hoping for a cool night, another driving day tomorrow.

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Gord B.


2 thoughts on “From Memphis to Florida – Our Great North American RV Tour”

  1. Another interesting blog. We are so glad you came back through Old Town again. Butch still talks about the fun we had with ya’ll.
    Can’t wait for that blog.

    1. Hi Judy, my most devoted reader5. Yes, we all had a great time at your beautiful property on the river. A great ride down the river for lunch. We hope someday we can return the favor when you come to visit the great northwest. Summer has left us, we’ve had rain off an on the last couple of days and temperatures in the low 50’s and even 40’s, although this week the weather will improve to sunshine and 60’s.
      The summer people have left our lake we down to the full-timers and a few hunters. It’s very quiet and pleasant we love this time of year. Ralph, Lois, Lynda and I will head south for a month at the end of October camping in the desert. We will return home around the first part of December for Christmas and return to the desert for the early spring months. Maybe you can join us? you can email me direct Say hi to Bonnie.

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