We woke to partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures, a pleasant morning as we prepared to continue our journey south………… deeper into Florida.
We pulled out of Old Town RV Park around 10 am, today’s drive should be short, about 2 hrs to Spring Hill, Florida and our next boondocker host the Katz family.
Shortly after pulling onto the highway Henry broke radio silence, his truck was overheating. He pulled off the highway into a vacant lot beside a gas station. A quick check of his coolant, the reservoir was empty, he carefully removed the radiator cap, no coolant visible.
Obviously, a leak had developed, we checked hoses etc and no indication of where the leak was. Henry headed to the gas station for coolant while the rest of us contemplated our options.
A break down far from home always comes with much stress and many questions. Is the vehicle repairable? How long will the repair take? Are the parts readily available? and of course the kicker……….How much will it cost?
Henry returned from the gas station with a gallon of coolant, as soon as he poured it into the radiator coolant it flowed out the front of the engine. A worn-out fuel pump was our guess. Now what? Sunday morning…….. unlikely a repair shop will be open today.
As we stood scratching our heads contemplating what to do next, Henry spotted a repair shop across the street and some movement. He walked over to check it out.
The owner of the repair shop was about to leave when Henry arrived, but he was able to make an appointment for 7 am the next morning.
Henry and Allyson’s truck although running couldn’t continue until repaired. Lucky the break down happened in a town and their truck and 5th wheel did not need to be towed.
They decided to fill the radiator with water and try to make it back to an RV park a few blocks away. The rest of us agreed to wait for their call. Ralph, Lois, Lynda and I debated what to do, stay with Henry and Allyson or continue.
Allyson called from the RV park it was suitable for a night or two, they would call us in the morning if and when the repair was completed.
Spring Hill, our destination was only an hour or so away and our boondocker hosts were expecting us, we decided to continue. If complications arise with the truck repair, we can return to help Henry and Allyson.
The reality of traveling in the southernmost state of Florida became apparent, the temperature jumped into the mid 80’s, a pleasant November experience for us northern dwellers. I can only guess how the heat and humidity would be in the summer.
We continued south on highway 19 with intermittent views of the Gulf of Mexico coast. We needed to stop at Walmart for supplies and a stop for fuel and propane before continuing to our destination.
Ralph, Lois, Lynda and I arrived at the Spring Hill boondockers early afternoon. The two and a half-acre treed property was perfect, the only issue, we needed to back in through a narrow gate.
The ladies visited with our new hosts as Ralph and I guided each other through the gate and into our spots.
Our new boondocker hosts were a young family, the youngest hosts so far, with school-age children two boys 12 and 15.
We had reservations for one night with the Katz family so Ralph and I did not disconnect our trailers and not too fussy on our rigs position.
Our hosts invited us to join them for happy hour at the backyard campfire. A real treat for us, not happy hour we did manage to carry this tradition with us, it is the first real wood campfire since we left Canada.
We enjoyed interesting conversations with our new hosts around a large bonfire that the boys continually fed with branches and brush from their undeveloped property.
The Katzy family are a modern version of the 60’s and 70’s era ‘beatniks’ and ‘hippies’. The wife is a stay at home mom and part-time photographer, the dad, who was of French-Canadian heritage is a casual entrepreneur who has his hands in many ventures which allow him to enjoy a relaxed schedule.
The family practices a radical education phenomenon called unschooling. The boys do not attend formal school. Instead, they learn from real life experiences, real situations without a specific curriculum. Children learn and are taught through exposure to their interests and natural curiosity. This link explains the concept in more detail http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/earl_stevens.html.
The concept sounded interesting, but in real practice one of the boys spent most days inside, playing video games and the younger brother although more active spent most of the day playing.
Ralph, Lois, Lynda and I spent the summer like evening around the campfire enjoying the company of our new hosts.
The Florida tropical weather is with us and should be for the next couple of months, our intended length of stay in Florida.
The initial plan was to spend most of December and January in warm weather and not venture north until most signs of winter disappeared.
Even though we are in the most southern part of the US, temperatures are not always balmy and winter can make a sudden appearance reminding us even in Florida there is winter.
Monday, November 13 – Day 76
An exciting morning for our group, we are headed for Crooked Hook RV Park in Clewiston, Florida and a much needed lengthy break from our travels.
The six of us have been on the road for the best part of three months, traveling every day or two with only a one week break. We are at the farthest point from home our trip will take us after traveling almost 15000 kilometers.
Crooked Hook is located at the southern end of the very large Okeechobee Lake in south-central Florida. Okeechobee lake is the largest lake in Florida and is said to be full of alligators and bass.
Crooked Hook will be Lynda and my home for the winter except for a two-week stint with Ralph and Lois to the Florida Keys.
The others of our group will leave and fly home for Christmas, Henry and Allyson will be gone for two months, Ralph and Lois one month.
When planning the trip we needed to find an RV park in Florida that had RV storage so the others could store their rigs without worry.
We talked with Henry and Allyson before we pulled onto the road through the narrow gate of the Katz family. Their truck should be repaired this morning, our guess was correct the water pump was the culprit.
The part was available and replacing the water pump on Henry’s Dodge was obviously not a complicated repair.
So far vehicle issues have not caused much havoc, each truck has taken its turn, my truck shedded a couple of tires, Ralph’s truck rejected its diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank and now Henry’s trucks water pump bit the dust.
Henry and Allyson should catch up with us at Crooked Hook later today, they plan to stay for a couple nights and then fly home to BC for Christmas.
We hit the road shortly after 9 am and traveled I-75 south for a few miles and then highway 27, in hindsight, we should have stayed on I-75, 27 is a milk run through several towns and heavy traffic with only red lights, slowing our pace. Not that we are in a hurry, but I can think of a thousand other things I would rather do than sitting in traffic.
Periods of rain hit us as we made our way south to Crooked Hook RV Park. The clouds parted early afternoon providing a pleasant afternoon drive.
We arrived around 2:30 pm to very warm sunshine, checked in and followed an escort to our RV sites next to the storage area.
Crooked Hook is an older well-maintained park situated on highway 27 in the middle of sugar cane fields. About two-thirds of the sites are occupied by permanent older park model trailers or RV trailers.
The amenities are decent including a swimming pool, rec hall with a well-equipped gym, craft room, library, card room and a main hall for dances, dinners, and other social events.
Near the pool is the Tiki bar with $1 beer daily at 4 pm, $1.50 hot dogs Friday afternoon and $2.50 hamburgers noon Saturdays.
Crooked Hook is not the Ritz but at $695.00 per month, a bargain compared to other RV resorts on the coast, which can run up to several thousand dollars a month.
Our sites next to the storage yard were unconventional but after checking out the other sites we were happy to have them. Behind us, a large green space provided more room compared to other sites in the park.
Ralph, Lois, Lynda and I are here for three nights before we head to Key Largo for two weeks on the ocean allowing time to take Henry and Allyson to the airport in Fort Lauderdale and their trip home for Christmas.
We just finished setting up our campsites when Henry and Allyson pulled in beside us. It was good to have them back in the fold. The truck repair went well and reasonable at a couple of hundred dollars.
After almost a week of steady traveling it was a relief to spend a couple of days relaxing and a comforting thought, we are finished with marathon traveling for a while.
The downside of this park cropped up as we sat enjoying a glass of happy hour wine, the traffic noise from highway 27 was evident. When I booked this RV park I had no idea this highway was a main route across south Florida. Hopefully, we will become accustomed to the noise and it will not be an issue.
Tuesday, November, 14 Day 77
Waking up to summertime temperatures and beautiful sunshine is not at all hard to take. The Sunshine State indulged us with daytime highs in the eighties and warm nights. Even though the weather throughout our trip has been great this is the first time air conditioning is necessary for a comfortable sleep and it’s the middle of November……perfect.
Allyson and Henry are flying home tomorrow, so they spent the day preparing their 5th wheel for two months of storage, emptying their holding tanks and cleaning out their frig. The rest of us were the grateful recipients of their leftover goodies.
The rest of us toured the RV park inspecting the amenities and enjoying a dip in the pool.
Allyson suggested a drive to Clewiston, the closest town, for dinner. It is their last night with us for two months. It didn’t take too much arm twisting for the rest of the group to agree.