Kack Rudloe, Jane Brand Misty, Rita and me with Dick taking the picture after our last beach walk of 2018.
We had a lovely nearly three month stretch in Florida. The first week was warm like spring with temperatures reaching the 80s (27C) every afternoon. We arrived to discover that Bugula neritina was in full bloom and Gulf Specimen Marine Lab had an order for 1000 pounds so everyone was busy gathering the purple stuff. The temperatures dropped in time for Christmas and everyone disappeared for their holiday time with family. We were privileged to join the Skye Rudloe’s in laws, the Haberfields, for a lovely dinner. As the weeks went on, we regularly feasted on special southern coastal delicacies like the award winning hot fish dip made with mullet, grouper and sheep’s head fish, fresh veggies (especially jalapino peppers) and secret herbs that make a literally award winning combination.
The cold came and with it the great turtle rescue. Soon after that the great turtle release. I am very glad we were able to be a part of that. After that, the heat came back and and humidity. We were soon gasping every afternoon and sweating without blankets at night, praying for a cross breeze. The Floridians laughed at our discomfort over heat in the mere 80s. We had several days with very heavy rains and the humidity stayed near 100% for days at a time and everything in the trailer began developing a dank smell. My asthma flared and I was mildly wheezing constantly and living from antihistamine to antihistamine. The no-see-ums and deer ticks awoke with a vengeance and I spent time walking the corral and sprinkling poison on the rapidly sprouting fire ant hills. Every day we went to one of the local beaches to walk and enjoyed the sun and fresh air but the climate had shifted to uncomfortable. While I hated the thought of leaving my friends, I was beginning to really look forward to heading north.
Monsoon time in the corral looking at the guest house.
March 1 arrived and it was time to hitch up and begin our trip home. We decided to repeat last year’s nice trip. We would take the trip in our now favourite long and slow manner. This means trying to not do more than 200 miles in a day and staying two nights at each stop. Before we could start our trip we had to make a side trip to Charlotte NC where my husband had a meeting over a business venture. So our trip began by breaking our own rules. Business is business after all. And so, with no small amount of sadness and a bit of relief we rolled down the highway and headed north.
For various reasons we decided to head south December 1 this year. We knew we were taking a bit of chance weather wise and we weren’t entirely lucky. We left Alonsa after freezing rain and our original planned path through Bismarck was quite literally shut down due to a heavy snowfall. So we were stuck trying to head south along the infamous I29 corridor. I say infamous for a few reasons. It is the most boring drive in the world. It bypasses just about anything neat fun or interesting in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Missouri. There are miles and miles of nothing but flat prairie. It is also infamous because in winter weather entire sections can be shut down. And if you are in a camper there is very little in the way of open campgrounds in December. It is also a major trucking corridor so you spend most of the drive wincing as the big truckers pass you by.
The first hour of of Alonsa was hellish because we were driving on sheer ice. I was so glad we had just put on new snow tires and had four wheel drive. Even then I could not go over 60km/hr (40mph) without the trailer starting to fishtail in a frightening way. So a drive we made many times over the summer in 20 minutes took over an hour. Once we got to McCreary the roads were wet not icy so we were finally able to hit 90k/hr (55mph). We made a pit stop to have our wheel re-torqued after the new snow tire installation and then we headed south. We took the Yellowhead into Portage La Prairie and then headed out joining up with with 75 in Morris. We arrived at the border about 4:00pm. To our delight, this time we were waved right through. You never know what you will encounter at the border. Sometimes we get searched, sometimes we have to produce paperwork. This time all we got was a cheerful “Have a nice trip” and we were over the border. The road was clear and we were eager to get further south so we drove until we reached Fargo. In Fargo we joined about 10 other RVers parking in the Flying J. Apparently we aren’t the only snowbirds to wait for December 1. I actually like staying on truck stops. Most truck drivers are polite and professional. Always fun new stuff to see. The time it was the biggest dump truck I ever saw. We had a nice big American breakfast at the Huddle House.
We then headed south to North Sioux City South Dakota where there is a year round KOA. We decided we needed an oil change before moving on so we had a side trip into Iowa to a service place before we continued south. It had still not gone above freezing so we arrived with ice and snow on our trailer. We rolled into another year round KOA in Kansas City Missouri about 8:00pm and finally it was above freezing. Our trailer began dripping as the ice and snow melted. We continued dripping and shedding ice and snow as we followed the I29 south and then veered off for a side trip through Oklahoma. It was a joy to finally leave the standard campground behind and stay at a state park. It was fun to see new territory in Oklahoma. I even felt a genuine Oklahoma earthquake, a gentle rattle and roll from a nearby 3.9. KOAs have their place in RV life and I do like them but not day after day. Plus the KOAs cost more and the campsite in Lake Eufaula State Park was huge, gorgeous and only $26 and we had a grand total of five other campers in the huge place. It rained all night. We woke up to find the ice and snow had finally melted away and the rain washed our trailer and truck clean. From there we travelled to Mt Pleasant Texas for a two day overnight break at another KOA. We had a breakfast meeting with a colleague, a much needed long walk on green grass with the dogs, laundry and quiet.
So that was it. Instead of a nice leisurely trip stopping to see sights along the way and taking our time, we did a straight flying trip south as fast as possible of 2300km running away from winter. And I woke up to news this morning that home has been totally socked in by a mega all out blizzard. So we didn’t leave ourselves a lot of room weather wise by leaving in December.
Will we do it again? I’m not sure. This part of our trip was not fun. It was all about getting south. We saved a lot of money by waiting an extra month and a half in terms of health care costs and our weak Canadian dollar against the American dollar. We got to enjoy our cosy home in Alonsa and the company of our friends for an extra month and a half. But it does take the joy out of the trip south. So we may not do this next year. We shall see.