Sunday, January 29, 2017

#19 - Sunday, 29 January 2017 | Lake Park, Georgia

Happy Sunday Funday from the Georgia/Florida state line. I'm sipping my coffee from the cozy comfort of The Wheelhouse where I spent my first night last night in an RV park in Lake Park, Georgia. I intend to stay here again tonight before heading into Florida for a four night stay in Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. A bit of a cold spell has hit the southeast, but it's still a lot nicer here than back in Chicagoland and I'm finally in my new nomadic home on the road. The temperature is 44ºF /7ºC in the predawn dark of morning, with a high today of 62ºF/17ºC predicted.

I ended up in this park in a random, care-free sort of way. I had pre-booked my time in the central Florida state park, and knew I'd have to stay in hotels for the first two nights of the journey south. With my stuff covering the floor in the RV I needed to get someplace comparatively warm and comfortable for the first campsite set-up and organizing everything. So, with stops in Bowling Green and Macon, I ended up in southern Georgia. I drove along completely chill and with no worries or destination.

In Tifton, Georgia I stopped for a late morning Starbucks. The only coffee I had had was foul and dismal murk drank early in the morning in my Macon hotel. As I pulled into the adjacent restaurant's lot, which would provide for parking my rig, I noticed a hawk perched on a low-hanging wire above a wood fence nearby. I got my super telephoto lens out and captured a few images. It swooped down towards the ground behind the fence and I took advantage of the cover to move closer. As I did I noticed that there was a little creek that the fence had blocked my view of. I snapped a couple more exposures as the hawk sat on the bank of the canal.

Inside the Starbucks I flipped through my Good Sam RV Travel Guide, a phonebook-sized directory to RV parks nationwide. I phoned a few in central Florida to inquire about weekend availability, but to no surprise everyone was completely booked during this snowbird season. I ended up hanging out at the Starbucks for about an hour and a half, taking advantage of the wi-fi to stay connected. Still with no destination in mind I continued toward the state line.

I mentioned before how your view while driving in southern Georgia and northern Florida becomes inundated with a barrage of billboards, and how many of these are religious and "pro-life". As I approached Valdosta, the last significant city before Florida, the conservative propaganda became accompanied by an increasing assault of tourist advertisements and signs for local businesses. One billboard of interest was for a tire repair company that specialized in RV and trucks. With a tire still to have repaired I paid attention and exited I-75 to find it. Unfortunately, the south is largely closed on the weekends, something that I recalled from my time living in Nashville. Back on the interstate and barreling toward Florida, I saw the billboards for Camping World. This is a national chain of RV dealers and camping supplies and I remembered from my recent truck-only trip south that it had its own RV park right next door. When I drove by a couple weeks ago I had noted that it looked very nice and was it a great location for a respite before reaching Florida. I quickly thought that it had the added benefit of being somewhere I could buy supplies or parts should I need to do anything during my first set-up of The Wheelhouse.

I pulled in and saw a sign to register at the main Camping World building back up the road. I walked up to the store. Camping World owns Good Sam and I am a member of this discount and benefit club. They said if I paid the $27 to extend my membership for another year I would get a free night's stay. Pretty sweet deal for a full-hookup site (water, electricity, wi-fi). I entered the park and saw swans a beautiful pond and big old trees draped with Spanish moss. I liked it. I found a pull-thru site long enough and got to work setting up camp while trying to remember everything I was told during my orientation during my delivery of The Wheelhouse back north at General RV. I would be filling tanks, connecting power, dropping stabilizer jacks, extending my two slide-outs and more. Once everything was good to go I noticed a leak in the rear of the RV. I had turned on the pump and water heater and it was hot water dumping onto the campsite in a steady stream. I grabbed my toolbox to tighten the fitting. Apparently when General finished their testing and blew out the Wheelhouse plumbing to void it of water for freezing conditions something wasn't properly tightened. A neighbor came by to investigate my leak.

front slide-out is the head of my full queen bed
rear slide-out is the sleeper sofa

front door enters the bedroom
rear door is main entrance - kitchen is in rear, bathroom is just behind bedroom

"Goose", the General RV employee who had conducted my orientation gave sage advice. Always introduce yourself to your neighbors even if you, like me, prefer to keep to yourself. You never know who might be your best friend in a time of need. Jim, as the pony-tailed and grey-haired and bearded guy introduced himself, wanted to re-crimp the attachment and inspect the fittings for me. He builds motorcycles and is one of those guys who is only happy when he has a wrench in his hand. It turns out he had lost his wife less than a year ago and was headed to Florida three weeks ago when he stopped at this park and never left. He now is the new owner! Amazing story and I got many more details, but that's the synopsis in a couple of sentences. I returned to my work of unpacking boxes and tubs and filling the cabinets of The Wheelhouse. Jim and I would chat again later when an amazing coach pulled into the site beside me. We introduced ourselves to the Georgia businessman who got out and stood slack-jawed looking at what basically was a rock star tour bus style camper pulling a brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee car behind it for shuttling out to dinner and errands. He was happy to revel us with details of his posh glamping vehicle and we discovered that it cost ... brace yourself ... $520,000.

A half a million dollars worth of glamping coach
The other side is a full-length slide out
This rig sold for almost seven times what I paid for truck and RV

As I continued putting everything away, I used my nice little three-burner stove to heat up some lentil & vegetable soup. Later I had canned dolphin-safe tuna on crackers and was a happy bunny. I searched for local TV channels and ended up watching some X-Games snowmobile tricks while carrying on with my work. I had a serene first sleep in my new bed. I had intended to put my own Sealy mattress in The Wheelhouse, but it came with a nice firm pillow-top mattress and a comforter that matches the bedroom curtains. I set the thermostat low at about 60º because I am camping after all :) I love sleeping when it is cool and I am on crisp sheets beneath a few blankets. Today I am going to extend my stay here for another night and finish putting everything away. 

All the best! M

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