Updated: May 4, 2022
CONVINCE EVERYONE WE'RE NOT CRAZY
Well, we did it! It took about a year of planning, researching, and doing, but we are officially retired and on the adventure of our lives.
April 8 - 19, 2022
Total Miles: 1400+
West Chester, PA to Fort Myers, FL
STOPS ALONG THE WAY
Camp Meade RV Park, Ft. Meade, MD * Castle Glen Winery, Doswell, VA (Harvest Host) * Erich Buckenmaier, Glen Allen, VA * Crossway Community Church, Charlotte, NC (Harvest Host) * Dobbins Lakeside Campground, Marietta, GA * Dan and Susan Hoffman, Atlanta, GA * Horse Creek Winery, Sparks, GA (Harvest Host) * Bethesda RV Park, Seffner, FL * Carolyn Buckenmaier, Punta Gorda, FL
After a full day of purchasing, orientation of our new RV, and spending even more money at the RV store on "must haves" (who knew sewer hoses and surge protectors cost so much?), we had an unexpected restful night in the parking lot of the dealership. The excitement of our adventure was palpable.
Since we closed on our home early, we still had appointments in the area so we spent a few nights at Ft. Meade Military RV Campground (called FamCamp). We learned how to work together by cell phone to back into a site. We learned how to hook up sewer and water connections. We learned how to drain our gray and black tanks (I'll save you the details, but it's not as horrible as it sounds). We sold our last car (the thought of being car-less was a bit unnerving) and did last minute prep work: where would we stay? did we need reservations? is Harvest Hosts membership all it's cracked up to be? (Hint: it is). Harvest Hosts is an annual membership (under $100) where businesses allow RVers to stay on their property/parking lot for free for a night. Harvest Hosts suggests that visitors spend about $20 during your stay.
The Castle Glen Winery was a lovely Harvest Host stop. The roads were quite narrow and winding, but Trip navigated it like a pro...even when the school bus came at us (there was only room for one of us on the road). We slowed down and the bus kindly pulled over onto a grassy area so that we could pass. The winery was quiet and beautiful. We loved the owner who gave us a private tasting (he was closed that day but ask us if we wanted to do it and of course we were enthusiastic). Our free overnight cost us $100 in wine (totally worth it).
Next stop was to Trip's brother's house. We had stored all the RV necessities in his garage and needed to pick them up (kitchen stuff, clothes, electric bikes, tools, etc). Imagine the sight we were - a 31ft long, 12ft high beast coming down the cul-de-sac! His neighbors were patient and kind, and didn't mind that we spent the night at Erich's with the RV parked in the street in front of his house. Erich was the perfect host - cocktails, dinner, lodging, love and laughter. Thank you, Erich!
Next up was a visit to Atlanta to see Susan and Dan. It was too far to drive in one day, so we used Harvest Hosts again, this time at a church in Charlotte, NC. It was Good Friday, but they allowed us to stay despite evening services. The pastor was gracious, and we made a donation to his church. We walked the grounds and walked to the grocery store for some provisions.
Up to this time, Pam had not driven the RV. It take a great deal of concentration and trucks appears oh-so-close. (See a video here)She kept saying "tomorrow" - and decided that today was finally the day! We were on our way to Atlanta and after a stop for gas, she hopped in the drivers seat and took off - right into construction traffic and jersey barriers, truck passing inches away. She held her breath for the entire 40 mile stretch of construction while Trip gave kind words of encouragement. Finally there was a rest stop and she willingly gave up the driver's seat. It would be 2 more days before she tried again (much more confidently).
We spent one night at an Air Reserve Base in Marietta, GA. Susan and Dan picked us up and we spent the night at their condo in Atlanta. It was the first time we had seen it and we are so proud of the life they have made there. We had a delightful dinner in with their friends, played several hilarious rounds of Telestrations (if you've never played, you should), and enjoyed watching Bosun and Snoopy "play"(Susan and Dan's cat - they also have Patty but she was nowhere to be seen). See the videos here. A walk to breakfast in the morning rounded out our all-too-brief time in Atlanta. We will be back!
One more Harvest Hosts stop at another winery was a perfect rest. It was Easter Sunday, so the winery was closed and no one was around, but they still allowed us to use their parking lot overnight.
Quick overnight at a small campground outside of Tampa so we could empty and flush our tanks before putting the RV into storage in Fort Myers, FL. We will store for a couple of weeks so that we can get our Florida residency paperwork completed and the RV registered.
Arrived in Punta Gorda, FL (Burnt Store Marina) - and a warm welcome by Trip's mom, Al Short, and Schatzi.