It’s been quite a while since the last post, in March, where we got to watch people blow something up. That’s hard to top on my playlist, but it isn’t why content has been thin (and thin is being generous!). We haven’t done a ton of camping, and what we have done has been unremarkable. But this last weekend, that changed.
Most don’t yet know this, but we are retiring (again!) in the Spring of 2022. Unsure where we wanted to retire, we took a few scouting trips and found a perfect match in Palm Coast, Florida (www.palmcoast.gov). Located on the St. John’s River along the northeast coast of the state, between Daytona Beach and St. Augustine (the oldest city in America), the weather is temperate, and the town and locals are amazing. Although we toured at least a half-dozen of the cities in the general area of the coast, we kept being drawn back to how clean Palm Coast was. We never saw any graffiti, or any blue tarp homeless encampments. Apparently between the excellent city services, and the strong church community, folks who have fallen a few pegs on their luck find services at the community, and sometimes neighborhood level, to keep them going. It’s very refreshing. And it doesn’t hurt that we could easily afford to acquire a home and live there on our retirement budget. We wanted to stay near a coast, and the West Coast didn’t offer a solution, but this East Coast locale is just right.
After a thorough search of the area, and with the luxury of months until we needed it, we opted to purchase a very affordable, buildable lot (a corner, about 1/3 of an acre), and hired a contractor to build a house to our liking. All in, it will cost about ¼ of the same house in our current location in Washington.
In the Spring, when we do finally hang up the spurs at work, we will make our way cross-country in our travel trailer to get to our new home, a trip of about 4,400 miles. It will take a month, and it will give fistfuls of opportunities to blog away at all the amazing things we plan to see. Stops at Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Carlsbad Caverns, Memphis, Nashville, Asheville, and Savannah, and many small cities in between. So, stay tuned.
But enough about next year. How about last weekend? For Christmas, we decided to find a nice destination for a trip with the trailer. We had been watching the weather and planning a 2-day trailer camping trip to Deception Pass State Park for Christmas day. It was forecasting “snow showers” and temps in the high 20’s, and we figured that wasn’t too bad, so off we went at noon on Christmas Day. We got set up in the campground with some flakes swirling, but no accumulation, and were very cozy all night. We both got an amazing night’s sleep because it was s o o o quiet. There were very few campers, to be expected. And we got a few snow showers, as we also expected. All very pleasant.
We woke up Sunday morning to about 3-4″ of accumulated snow, still not enough to change our minds. We’ve camped a few times in blizzards when we were living in our RV; this wasn’t anywhere near as bad as that.
We had come to relax, read, and do jigsaw puzzles, and that’s what we commenced to do.
However, about noon, our water pump quit. Since the mis-forecast temperature was below 20 degrees, I assumed the water lines or pump froze, or the pump just quit working. The State Parks leave the electricity hookups live during the winter but shut off the running water. So, we were at the mercy of our onboard supply and pump. Without running water, we decided to call it quits and packed up to head home. Our “winter camping trip” had a little too much Winter.
We scraped snow and ice off everything as well as we could, got hooked up, and headed out. 200 yards down the road we took a tight left turn and, not realizing how frozen the dirt road was under the snow, we got stuck climbing a small hill when I stupidly stopped to take off my coat in the now-very-warm truck cab. Only we didn’t stop. We slid about 20 yards backward down the icy grade and came to a stop at the curve at the bottom, luckily still in a straight line, and luckily not contacting any trees or other park infrastructure. But we weren’t going anywhere. Even with 4-wheel drive, we didn’t have enough traction to get the trailer going up the hill, and couldn’t maneuver to try and back down the road. It’s 1 PM, we’re stuck, on a freezing Sunday, with very few folks around.
I called one tow company on Whidbey Island, and the person who answered the phone (!!) said it would be at least 6-7 hours before they could respond. We called AAA, and waited 30 minutes for an operator, who, after 20 minutes of checking this and that, told us they couldn’t do anything for us. Just as that call was winding up, a camper who was one of the Very Few, walked up and tapped on the window. He had a truck, and a winch, and might be able to help. Since we were blocking the one-way road around the campground, he went the other way around, parked just over the top of the hill facing us, and unwound his winch line toward us. It came up 15 feet short.
Luckily, he had a 20 foot tow strap in his rig, which he fetched, and we got it hooked to my front towbar on the truck (another stroke of luck, because the strap wouldn’t make it around an axle). He winched slowly, and we gave a four-wheeled assist, and got halfway up the grade to the top. He then got in his truck and backed slowly down the other side, taking us all the way to the top on level ground. We undid all the towing stuff, and now free (and profusely thanking he and his wife), we were able to creep out of the campground and back onto the state road, which was plowed and de-iced. Our seemingly dire straits took about 1 hour total to overcome. We are truly blessed, and this is an excellent reflection on the RV community, who have never failed to help us just as we would never fail to help any of them in need.
So, all in all, Christmas went well. I’m still not sure how much damage the super freeze will do to the rig over the next 3 days, but I have plenty of time in the spring for repairs before we head East.
And now, Tippy would like to help us express our gratitude to our RV Community, everywhere, for being the best Stewards of The Road.