The Battery Malfunction

Yesterday we made our way from Fort Boonseborough, Kentucky to the Meriwether Lewis campground in Tennessee. It was around 300 miles with the worst part being route 65 through Nashville. We had left 65 north of Nashville due to a 30 minute delay caused by an accident and I thought I could route around Nashville entirely. Unfortunately, all roads lead to Nashville. I can check “get stuck in a traffic jam” off my bucket list.

As soon as we got out of the city things slowed down. We found ourselves on the Natchez Trace Parkway. I had never heard of it before, but I am so happy we found it. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a highway that goes from Memphis, Tennessee to Natchez, Louisiana. The speed limit is 50, no commercial trucks are allowed and no bill boards. It is lovely.

We pulled into the Meriwether Lewis campground not really knowing what to expect. There were no fee stations or check in huts but there were bathrooms and water available. The site we chose was a little un-level but the view out the back window more than made up for it.

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Meeka chose to wait outside while Brian and I did the normal set up routine. She loved the leaves and wouldn’t come in even when invited. I had a little bonus work to do because something had jarred the trailer during travel and a couple of my bins spilled on the kitchen floor. One of Brian’s bins fell too, crushing my poor, defenseless seedlings. Brian had a little bonus work to do trying to level the trailer on a slope and make sure we didn’t take an unplanned nighttime trip downhill.

When he started the set up he checked the trailer battery, it read 2/3. That’s odd. After a full day of travel the battery should read full. When he finished the set up he checked again and the battery was showing 1/3. This is a problem because we rely on the battery to run the heater’s blower motor and keep us warm through the night.

We started trying to fix the problem. We plugged the trailer back into the truck and let the truck run for awhile. When that didn’t work we set up a trickle charger for awhile. Next Brian found a loose connection to one of the wires and we plugged the trailer back into the truck.

I did take time during this process to admire the view and watch the sunset.

 

We went to bed knowing that we wouldn’t have heat when we woke up.

We were up early and ready to go, it had started to drizzle making getting ready to go less than fun. One little problem though, with the trailer battery not charging, the front jack wouldn’t jack the trailer up to connect it to the truck properly for weight distribution and sway control. We drove the 7 miles to Hohenwald, Tennessee half jacked. Brian was able to get us properly hooked up and we hit the Natchez Trace Parkway with the idea of finding someone to look at the rig on the way to our next stop, Jeff Busby Campground.

In case I haven’t said already, the parkway defies words. The speed limit and lack of big rigs makes it a relaxing drive, I mean ride 😉 Even the bridges weren’t too scary for me.

We drove the rest of Tennessee, a small bite out of Alabama and before noon, we stopped at Parkway Visitor Center just north of Tupelo, Mississippi. The lady working there was helpful, selling me a “Passport to your National Parks” and some stickers as well as giving me my first stamp on the passport.

She also gave us the names of a couple of RV repair places, recommended more free camping sites, suggested an eatery south of the Jeff Busby campsite and when I mentioned Brian was starving, gave us directions to a Cracker Barrel. The best thing she did though, was give me a teacher’s discount on our purchase, even after I pointed out I was a “home school teacher.” That made me so very, very happy.

After a refueling at Cracker Barrel, we went to Sherman RV Center. By this time the drizzle had turned into a downpour complete with thunder and lightning. The gentleman who helped us checked a fuse under the hood of the truck. That was what was causing the issue. It took him about 10 minutes to find and fix the problem and he charged us $39.04. I’m logging that as ‘education costs’ because Brian now knows that this could be an issue and can fix it himself in the future for less than $10.

While the electrical issue was being worked out I checked the weather and found that this area, and by that I mean all of Mississippi, was in for a pretty good storm. Rather than drive through driving rain, I found a state campground just 10 miles up the road and we are currently holed up by a dry lake in Belden, MS. It is a pay for site, but full hook up so I will enjoy a hot shower before bed tonight. Tomorrow, or the next day, we’ll continue down the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Now for the next.

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Quick Update

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I saw one of these the other day, here in Fort Boonesborough Kentucky. I’m not sure quite what it is, maybe a groundhog? I have many, many more pictures and thoughts to share, but after shelling out $10 for uncomfortably slow internet and then fighting with it for three days, I’ve decided to let blog post writing wait for a time I have a more positive attitude. I did upgrade my AT&T internet, so the fight *should* be over.

We are heading south tomorrow. There is a freeze warning for this part of Kentucky and snow in the forecast for this weekend. The sketchy plan is to head south and keep heading south until the weather suits us or the ocean stops us. With the new data plan, I will be able to blog while Brian drives for double benefit. First, I’ll get caught up, and second, I won’t freak out about the traffic, hills, wind or whatever.

It would be really great if the weather in the United States would shape up. It is spring, after all. There are people I want to visit and places I want to see, but I won’t put up with rain/wind/snow/flooding/freezing/thunder storms and tornadoes. Just no.

Now, for the next.

T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

In a search for the sun, we lucked into a reservation at a Florida state park, not too far from where we had been staying in Georgia. A short 3 hour drive found us beach side in the sand. Brian had not even set up Nunc Pro Tunc before shedding his shoes and his shirt was close behind.

 

Our site was a little small, but it was the only one available, and we were happy to get it. The park itself is located between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph Bay offering both ocean and bay beaches. The bathhouses are clean and since there are four, they are convenient to every site. There is a nature trail winding from the campsites through the palm trees with branches to both the bay and sea beaches.

 

We got to spend quite a bit of time beach side on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

 

But we did have to drive to the dog friendly beaches of Cape San Blas so Meeka could join us. She was allowed throughout the campground and on some of the nature trails, but was strictly forbidden from the beaches within the park.

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We also visited the small town of Port St. Joe. It was 6 miles away as the crow flies, but 25 miles by car. The town was extremely dog friendly, including some restaurants.  We took advantage and brought Meeka with us for lunch one day.

 

By Tuesday, the wind had picked up and the temperature dropped. We still enjoyed our time, but mostly from inside Nunc Tunc. We watched the wildlife from the huge rear window.

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On Friday, we were ready to hit the road. May May supervised the proceedings from the back of the truck while we packed and hooked up.

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And we hit the road just after sunrise.

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Now for the Next

Taking a Morning Dump

One of the downsides to our current location at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is the sites are not full hook up. We have electricity and water but no sewer connection.

After 4 days, this morning it was time to empty the grey and black tanks. This process involves securing the interior and hooking the trailer up to the truck, hauling it to the dump station, emptying, returning to camp and setting the trailer back up. A time consuming process, but not hard.

We started a few minutes after 7 AM. We hit the dump site around 8, just after sunrise, allowing me to picture take while Brian took care of business.

We were back to our campsite and cooking breakfast by 9. And by ‘we’ I mean Brian.

Now, for the next.

Our First Repair Project (It’s Not Rocket Science)

Moving from Albany, Georgia to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Florida was supposed to be a cakewalk. It mostly was. There was one small hitch, involving our hitch. At one point in our travel, due to some confusing road layout and signage, we made a wrong turn. Being the excellent navigator I am, I plotted for a course correction a mere 5 miles away taking us a short 10 miles out of our way. Our captain had a different idea and pulled a U-ey using a gated driveway.

As we were about to re-enter the road way, we quickly noticed something was amiss. It felt, to me, like we were stuck in the sand. Brian popped it into 4WD, but that didn’t immediately solve our problem, nor did rocking the rig a bit. It seemed the brakes were locked. Brian went out to inspect. He pulled the pin on the break-away brake and replaced it. That yielded no results. I googled the manual and suggested turning the truck off and back on again (’cause I do computers better than vehicles). Nothing. He went out to look again and noticed, somehow, we managed to cut the trailering cable.

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As I’m trying to decide between On*Star and calling AAA, Brian jiggled the cable until the brakes released. Ever the cautious one, I questioned the safety of continuing, but by that time we were moving again.

I made a quick call to my mother because my data had literally just been throttled. She was nice enough to get us on the path to a repair shop. That shop, as well as 3 others we stopped at, were unable to help us.

So this morning, Monday, Brian decided to fix the problem himself. I was skeptical, but after googling the process, I see that it’s not rocket science. I took pictures, held important things and went to go get necessary materials and tools, therefore procuring exactly half the credit. Here is what we did:

  • Disconnected the battery and turned off the breaker for shore power.
  • We did the first, and realized the second when Brian cut the cable and it made that sparky spark sound
  • Stripped each wire, all 14, 7 on each side
  • Connected matching color wires to each other using butt connectors
  • Crimped the butt connectors
  • Wrapped each connection with electrical tape
  • Wrapped the whole shebang with electrical tape
  • Reconnected the battery
  • Checked to see if everything was working

And it works!

This experience has taught me several things, don’t rush to call for assistance, google stuff even more and marrying a handy man was a real good choice. Also, blogging about something sometimes takes longer than the thing itself.

Now, for the next.

Radioactive Water

Wednesday in Georgia was a perfect day for exploring Radium Springs. This natural warm spring was once called Skywater by Creek Indians who used the area as a ceremonial site. Later, settlers swam in the 68 degree water and referred to it as Blue Springs. In the 1920’s the cause of the luminescent glow was discovered and the name was changed to reflect it. The newly dubbed Radium Springs became the site of luxury resort called the Casino ~ though there was no gambling.

 

 

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A fire in 1982 followed by two floods in the 90’s caused the irreparable devastation of the Casino which was torn down. Only the foundation remains, now home to a garden. Although we visited in early spring, too early to see the flowers in full bloom, we look forward to returning sometime this summer.

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After Radium Springs, we followed a back road through groves of pecan trees. The 20 minute drive passed trees in rows in all different stages from newly planted, through mature, to the stumps of those recently cut down.

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It was a great day, and completely dog friendly. Meeka enjoyed some fresh air, new smells and plenty of walking.

Now, for the next…

It’s Not Homesickness

It’s not homesickness, though I imagine it could be misdiagnosed as such. We’ve been on the road for nearly a month and I find myself suffering from a certain kind of ennui ~ not bored, but mentally fatigued. Like someone dying of thirst being thrown into a lake. I longed for options, choices, self-determination in my daily life and for over 3 weeks I’ve had an overwhelming amount of that.

Like a prisoner released after a 20 year sentence, I imagine, the routine has a certain amount of comfort and a return to that comfort, at moments, is appealing. Yesterday was Monday, laundry day, and I did do laundry but the one time routine was fraught with challenges. Where is the detergent? How many quarters to wash? How long to dry? Where do these clean clothes now go? The not routine/routine left me feeling disjointed for the rest of the day.

Today, Tuesday, is/was garbage day. Here, the garbage is removed daily and the auxiliary sweeping up, washing down is a much quicker process so I find myself at almost 8AM facing a day of possibilities. Also decision fatigue.

Things I have long done from habit, the same way, with little thought, now require more attention. For example, dinner, which necessitated no more than a glance in the fridge, freezer or cabinet to formulate and execute now involves minutia such as do I have the right cookware? Ingredients? Flatware? Can I prepare that on a three burner stove? Which brand of canned bean is available locally? How much does it cost? On what aisle in the store will I find it?

Where did I lose the ability to choose? Is it like a muscle that you have to exercise? Or is it like presbyopia (old people’s eyesight) that is just a deterioration over time that you have to learn to live with?

Another issue we’re faced with is learning to live in a much smaller area. Intellectually, it’s a matter of storage and distilling possessions into only the most necessary. I was prepared for that. What I failed to prepare for was the reality of physically living in the space. I drop things, a LOT. I bang my knees, crack my elbow and hit my head. I stand and stumble into/against things. I am sporting numerous small bruises, most of which I have no idea how I got. I spill, everything.

The choice to stay here, in Albany, Georgia, for two weeks has been an overwhelmingly positive one. The weather has been perfect, cycling us through a little rain, a little warm, a little chilly and a little windy allowing us to get a real feel for how to stay comfortable in our new home. The nearest grocery is the perfect distance away, not close enough to run to for a forgotten item but not far enough away that we can’t make a daily trip. The town is big enough to offer anything we might need, but small enough that the traffic is not overwhelming.

The park itself is exceedingly comfortable. It has a mix of full timers (like us!) and over-nighters, the hookups present no problem, the individual sites are quite large, the atmosphere is relaxed and quiet and cable TV is provided. The pond and ducks make Meeka’s walks interesting and allowed Brian to spend a little time fishing. The laundry room is clean.

This is the perfect opportunity to relax into our new home and a new reality. A chance to work the muscle of decision making, to refine our ability to live in a small space, to spend a short time reflecting on where we were and preparing for what’s to come before heading north on Saturday.

Now, for the next.