After leaving Gainesville we headed nearly due east to the Atlantic Coast, having secured three days in one of Gamble Rogers’s limited number of ocean facing sites big enough for our rig. We first stayed at Gamble Rogers two years ago when we first brought The Big Kahuna down to Florida from North Carolina. Back then we secured a last minute night on a same day cancellation. We loved it so much we vowed to come back, but we never managed to get back; either our schedule or mechanical issues interfered.
But now we were on our way with nothing to stop us. Reservations secured and just a two hour drive to our last Florida stop on our way north. It’s never that easy, of course, and as we cruised slowly through the town of Palatka we heard a loud thump and a metallic ping, that sounded a bit like we had lost a hubcap. We pulled over immediately and spotted another flat tire, the outside left rear, the partner to the tire we replaced in the keys a couple of months back.
OK, could be worse, its the outside tire, so easier to replace, we are in a town big enough to have several repair shops, and we have cell phone service. We pulled over as far as we could and I began the phone an internet search for a nearby place with an appropriate tier while also working the insurance in case we needed road side assistance. But after consultation with the mechanic at Palatka Truck Center, the third place we called and the only one that had the right size tire in stock, we decided that we could drive Serenity the three miles back to them on the remaining good tire on that side.
We had no problems, and Palatka Truck Repair was able to get us back on the road withing thirty minutes at a cost of only $240, all in, for our new tire, and they even balanced the inside wheel from our previous roadside repair for free. During out backtrack to their facility, I spotted a Moose Lodge one block from them, so after the repair, and needing lunch anyway, we made a pit stop in their large parking lot for a cheap meal and a beer. In addition to nice staff and friendly members, this one was particularly cool in that it is the first Moose Lodge we have been to that had designated RV parking with electrical connections! At a suggested donation of $10 a night, we will definitely be keeping them in mind as we pass through the area in the future.
After a quick lunch and a tour from some of the lodge members, we got back on the road for the short remaining trip to Gamble Rogers. We checked in at the ranger station before crossing the road to the beach section of the park, and pulled in head first instead of backing in. This allowed us to have a nearly unobstructed view of the ocean from our expansive front windows, but it required careful positioning in order to connect power and water since they were now located on the other side of he rig. We managed to get deep enough into the spot and far enough to the right side, from our perspective, to cross the electrical shore power cable and water hose under the bus and make the connection with but a foot to spare.
Having spent the last three stops visiting a plethora of family and friends, it was nice to have this one with no obligations. We spent the days under our awning, exploring the trails, walking on the beach, taking a few short dips in the ocean, watching the shore and seabirds, and of course doing a bit of geocaching.
Since the weather involved very light breezes for some of our stay, we were lucky enough to watch a pair of powered paragliders making low altitude runs along the sparsely populated beach. Man that looks like so much fun! And apparently not that expensive or regulated either.
After three great days we packed it up and headed north to Georgia, having taken five weeks to get out of Florida once we finally left Key West. From here on things will move a bit faster, with on average about four days per state all the way to Maine.