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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

72 sleeps….

And only one more sleep ‘til we are home!

When we left Fort Walton Beach at 9:15am this morning, we had to take quite a convoluted route to get to Interstate 10 East. If someone had asked me to try and navigate my way back to Destin West RV Park, by the time we finally got on Interstate 10 East, there is no way I could have done it without a GPS. I’m normally pretty good with directions, but this series of roads and turns that we took to get to the Interstate, was pretty crazy.

As it turned out, our route was so crazy because we had to go around Eglin Air Force Base which is 5 km southwest of Valparaiso in Okaloosa County. The airforce base was created in 1935 when the U.S. Forest Service ceded over 340,000 acres of the Choctawhatchee National Forest to the War Department. I think we saw all 340,000 acres today, as we drove around the Air Force base, through roads in the Air Force base, and beside the Air Force base. Eglin is an Air Force Materiel Command base serving as the focal point for all Air Force armaments. Eglin is responsible for the development, acquisition, testing, deployment and sustainment of all air-delivered non-nuclear weapons. Severe-weather testing of aircraft and other equipment is carried out at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory on the base. It certainly was a lot of land occupied by Eglin that it took us exactly an hour to get onto Interstate 10 East!

Driving through the Eglin Air Force Base the clouds were very low and we started to get a few raindrops on Newman’s windshield.

That weather ahead of us looks pretty serious in EGLIN Air Force base.

We were never so happy to see the Interstate 10 East sign as we were today after an hour wandering around Eglin Airforce base.

We were trying to figure out why the GPS didn’t bring us through downtown Destin to catch the highway north of Destin, but since the GPS is for RV’s, there must have been a low bridge or something the GPS didn’t like, so we followed the GPS and finally got on the highway an hour later.

The drive today was really quite boring. There really isn’t much to see but swamps up in the Florida panhandle!

Swamp land in Florida. I tried to catch a picture of the Swanee River sign as we drove by it today but I just missed the sign unfortunately. You probably will remember the song I’m sure ‘Way down upon the Swanee River’ written by Stephen Foster, who never, ever did see the Swanee River, because he never visited the state of Florida. He only used the name Swanee, because of the way it fit the lyrics of his song!

We stopped briefly at a rest area for Richard to stretch his legs and parked next to us was this amazing looking speed boat being towed by a fancy truck, as well as a Class C camper towing another trailer.

Black Diamond race boat. I think there is some serious money invested in this rig!

The trailer and the Class C Motorhome had ‘Black Diamond’ racing all over them and the logo on the back of the truck says “Pressure makes Diamonds”! Woah! I think these folks are pretty serious about speedboat racing!

We finally got through Tallahassee, Florida, the capital of the State of Florida after we saw a small fender bender on the side of the road. Thankfully the police and tow truck were already on the scene removing the vehicle, so we didn’t have a long delay with this accident. It always amazes me how there are so many accidents in Florida with dry roads! It must be a lot of driver in attention, or speed that causes the accidents! The roads were very busy today too. We determined that a lot of people must have been gone for a couple of days for Christmas and were now on their way home.

We finally saw the signs for I75 and were never so happy to see signs to TAMPA!

Heading South finally! And finally we get off Interstate 10 East, which we have been on since California!

The good news is we are heading South to warmth and almost home, and not North or West!! I think we definitely made the right decision to leave Vancouver Island when we did. We saw other Class A Motorhomes yesterday in online Facebook Newmar groups, that were stuck in Seattle, Washington waiting to leave, and they couldn’t because of snow. Last night in Fanny Bay the temperature was -16C. Here is a picture sent to us by our friend Owen who moved into our spot in Fanny Bay, after we left.

The small bay is now freezing over in Fanny Bay. How on earth would we have stayed warm if we were faced with these conditions on the Island? We wouldn’t have had enough propane to last us more than a few days, if our furnace was working full time! My son Josh and his girlfriend Alicia both reached out to me today to tell me that they were freezing in Victoria where the temperature was -8C, since the houses are not built to be in such cold conditions as they are experiencing, and they also have snow on the ground in Victoria. I feel slightly bad as I write this blog, with our windows open in Newman. It was definitely the right decision we made to leave Fanny Bay, exactly 30 days ago today. What a whirlwind trip it has been though in the past 30 days! To do this kind of trip most people plan it out for a year or more, and we planned it in less than 3 weeks, and executed it flawlessly, hitting every campground we had booked, on the dates we had planned to stay at them. Richard has been a champion driver and Newman despite his ‘bo-bo’s’ has performed well too!

The CHampton RV driver of the year!

When we realized there is no way we could drive over 8 hours today to Plant City, I had booked us to stay at Casey Jones Campground, which is about 10 miles south of the intersection of I10 East and I75. The campground is right off the highway and is quite noisy with the traffic noise from the Interstate.

But at $29 for the night, with full hookups, and 2 minutes to get back onto the highway tomorrow for our last drive of the trip, and to be home, we’ll take it!

The rules for the RV park tonight. I just want to take a highlighter and correct the spelling and grammatical errors!

How many spelling mistakes can you find?

As we drove into Casey Jones RV park, we saw that there were some full time RV’ers living here. At $350 a month including wifi, I guess its a pretty good deal for a veteran.

Newman parked at Casey Jones RV park for the night. Richard was feeling pretty weary when he got here today. We aren’t sure why he was so weary, but I don’t think Richard slept well last night worrying about all of the things he has to do once we get to our home in Plant City. Usually Richard would arrive in Plant City a week before me to get everything in order, so he was up last night in the middle of the night thinking about everything that has to be done when we get home. We have one car with a dead battery, and of course that is the car that doesn’t have an expired license plate. The Mazda van that does work, has an expired plate. Anyway, these are first world problems that time and money can fix!

Newman looking fine in 23C sunshine in Lake City, Florida.

So now that we are finally close to our home, its hard to look back and believe that we left home on October 16th and 72 nights later, we only have one more sleep in Newman, before he goes into the storage facility in Zephyr Hills, Florida. I’m definitely looking forward to not ‘rolling’ everyday and to give Richard a big break from driving! Whoever could have imagined when we left home in October that the joke we had ‘if the border opened’ would be that we would just drive to Florida from Vancouver Island! And now the joke is on us, because that is exactly what we’ve done! We’ve got a lot of work to do on Newman once he is safely housed in Zephyr Hills at the storage facility. A lot of cleaning and fixing up things that don’t work, or have never worked, like Richard’s power window blind. Hopefully with St. Stephen’s help, Richard will have Newman all ‘spiffy’ for whatever the future holds for him!

We’re both so excited to finally be going home after 22 months away. WOW! RVing has been a ton of fun and something neither one of us had ever imagined we would do last February when we left Florida for the last time on Family Day weekend, trying to make a late connection through Detroit airport, and running like ‘banshee’s‘ to catch the late, last flight to Buffalo. Those were the days when I was still working and we would try and squeeze every last minute out of a long weekend, by taking late flights back to Buffalo, crossing the border, and then I would drive to my condo in Toronto, sleep a few hours and then be good to go, for work. I’m so glad those days are over now and we can finally after 12, almost 13 years of owning our home, we can stay and relax in Florida for an entire winter. Whoever would have thought a global pandemic would have closed the border and all of us would be scrambling to figure out were we ‘staying’ or ‘chancing’ it to go south or West as we did last winter. We’ll still be cautious and careful of course as we settle in for the winter, because there is no other way, but we’re happy that we can soon rest and relax for a few months in one place!

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