Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Monday, May 16, 2005

Panama City to Palm Coast

Today, we had to make it all the way from Panama City to Palm Coast, as I had to start class the next morning. It would be a long day of driving, and I wasn't looking forward to it, but Sandy decided to cook breakfast in Homer anyway. This was exciting, as it was the first time we had used any of the appliances. She cooked bacon, eggs and toast with jam, and it was just wonderful. We had read on the internet that it would be a good idea to bring along a toaster oven and an electric skillet. Luckily, we had acquired spares of both through the years, and it was in the toaster oven that we made the toast, although we cooked the eggs and bacon on Homer's propane stovetop. All worked fine, and we loved the convenience of having our food and appliances handy if we were in the mood to dine in. The little refrigerator is a wonder; we just set it on "auto," and forgot about it. When we're hooked up at a campsite, it runs on electricity; when we're traveling down the highway, it runs on propane, switching itself as needed.

It was in my preparation to take a shower in Panama City that a learned another little lesson. Now, the tiny bathroom and shower in Homer took a little getting used to, as it is a challenge for someone with my outsize dimensions to negotiate gracefully. It's a little like doing the watusi in a sleeping bag! It's necessary to turn on the water before entering the shower, lest you freeze or boil yourself once you get inside. The space is so small, there's no place to go to avoid the temperature shocks while you get the water temp set just right. So, while I dutifully set the water coming out of the tub's downspout at just the right temperature, I neglected to look up to see where the shower head was pointing. This is one of those little nozzles on a flexible hose that hangs in a receptacle on the shower wall, and it was pointing, unfortunately, toward me, as I pulled the little plunger up. There was little I could do but let out a yelp as I lifted my eyes to the direction of the shower head just as the stream gushed out and splattered directly in my face and on the bathroom floor outside the shower. Memo to self: Make sure the shower head is pointing inside the shower before pulling up the plunger. Since I'm talking about the shower, I should mention that the amount of hot water available—six gallons—was a significant concern for us as we embarked on this journey. We had heard from other RVers that, in order to have enough hot water for a shower, it would probably be necessary to turn on the water to get wet, then turn it off to soap up, then turn it back on to rinse. We were astonished to find that we had all the hot water we needed to take normal showers! I'm not sure how the hot water systems work in other RVs but, in this one, there are two water heaters—one AC electric, and the other, propane. You can select either or both and, if you select both, the propane heater fires up automatically if the demand for hot water is greater than the AC can provide. I couldn't be more pleased with this unexpectedly positive experience with the water heater.

Leaving Panama City, we encountered the mother of all traffic jams. U. S. 90 was under construction in this area, and we had no recourse but to creep along at 5-10 mph for most of an hour. During one of the many times we came to a stop, I took a closer look at the map. It appeared that I had significantly underestimated the distance we needed to travel that day, so we abandoned U. S. 90 in favor of another, more boring, route. I really, really hated doing that. The drive to Palm Coast consumed almost eight hours, including the time wasted in the traffic jam! Could I have been more careless in my trip planning? I don't think so. We were absolutely exhausted when we arrived at the Bulow Plantation RV Park just south of Palm Coast at around 9:30 p.m. We had called ahead to tell them we were arriving late (what else is new?), and they told us just to pick a spot anywhere. The park was large and uncrowded, so I picked a space where there were no other RVs alongside us. Our parking spot was near a little bayou, and there were tall moss-laden trees all around us. As we were unhooking Homer and attaching all its lifelines, Sandy was holding the flashlight as I went from chore to chore. I noticed that she seemed distracted, occasionally diverting the flashlight beam away from what I was doing and toward the bayou. I didn't know it at the time, but Sandy was terrified that an alligator or snake (she's deathly afraid of both) might come up out of the bayou and crawl toward Homer. She was using the flashlight to make sure that we were not going to be attacked! As she confessed her fears several days later, I asked her why she didn't mention her phobia before we arrived, and she said that a good friend had told her that, in Florida, bayous, lakes and ponds had fences around them in RV parks to protect campers from these reptiles. We now know that her friend was just trying, in a kind way, to help allay her fears about RV travel in Florida.

Spacious Bulow Plantation RV Park
It was in Bulow Plantation that we first had to level ol' Homer. The little plastic pads we bought before the trip did the trick nicely. We just placed the pads in front of the wheels on one side and pulled Homer on top of them. No big deal. We had a quick sandwich and dropped into bed. I've resolved to be more careful in my trip planning from now on.

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