Thursday, March 5, 2009

269 miles to go

I am waking up in a rest area in rural western Florida and see that there is a sign right in front of me that sez "Overnight trailer parking and camping prohibited."  Presumably that doesn't apply to Pirates.  Nor to the other folks who got here at about the same time that I did last night and who are still here.

Finding a place to park last night was tough.  My goal was to get to the Lucky Thirteen truck stop but I guess things haven't been so lucky for them lately 'cause they were out of business!


The ol' Bluebird is pretty tough to drive.  I am constantly reminded that I have my entire house right behind me and my SUV on a trailer, and that an accident is unthinkable.  As RV's go this one is quite road worthy but it's simply big - bigger than most trucks with the trailer attached. For a variety of reasons it's tough to see out of after dark.  Acceleration should be measured with a calendar rather than a stop watch, and the brakes meet specs but you definitely don't want to have to do a panic stop.  

Consequently a 350 mile day is usually a long day for me.  From what I have heard and seen that's about right for most RVs.  I can cruise around 60mph on level roads but I discover that the folks that pass me in other RVs spend more time on the side of the road resting than I do.  

A couple of days ago I ran into this couple with a newer Bluebird. They passed me three times that day. They were running quicker but stopping more often.


I am seeing bunches of folks on motorcycles who are carrying luggage and heading eastbound, so I presume that they are all going to Daytona Bike Week.  The Iron Butt Association also has a dinner in Jacksonville tomorrow (Friday) and I expect to see some of my pals riding in for that. (Note: obviously I wrote this a few days ago and for the folks that made it to the IBA dinner I apologize 'cause I missed it!)

Here is a group of Harley riders at the Pensacola rest area just after you cross the bay:


RV's are like boats.  They are all about maintenance.  The constant pounding and vibration when traveling breaks things and disrupts other things.  Sometimes it gets them working again, however.

The 'bird has three LP gas heaters, supplemented by built in electric heaters and a system that draws heat from the engine coolant when you are on the road.  One of the LP gas heaters quit in Texas.  It must have been some sort of debris in the intake, because it's working just fine now.

Wish that I could say the same for my computers.  I have two tower units, a laptop on a docking station, and a micro Sony that's about the size of two Palm organizers all mounted in or on my desk, and they use a switch so that I control everything with one keyboard, one mouse, and one LCD monitor.  Something must be loose because the computers seem to be booting but are slow to display on the monitor.  Sheesh.  And after the keyboard hit the floor yesterday for the 100th time the Control key doesn't seem to be working.


I have been showering every morning but after 4 days am getting short on water.  Thankfully I should be at our workshop tonight and I can fill the tank back up.  Still ... hot water and a real shower whilst in a truck stop parking lot or a rest area is pretty civilized.  I pinch myself with how well this stuff is working but when we originally bought the Bluebird the water pressure was low and we had leaks in the system, so it has taken quit a bit of work to get to this point.


On my first day of travel along coastal Texas I recorded a little bit better than 6.5 miles per gallon, which is considerably better than the 5 mpg that I had been expecting.  The old two stroke Detroits are reliable and powerful for their size but they are thirsty and smoggy.  They also have a reputation for spitting out oil and leaking, but I will have to say that mine is pretty civilized.

I fueled at a small truck fuel stop on the US side of the Progreso crossing and fuel was $1.93 a gallon.  That contrasts with almost $5 a gallon in Florida when we left last summer.  

One of the appeals to the Rio Grande Valley is that Mexico has kept fuel prices stable for years and while the exchange rate has varied quite a bit fuel at the Petro stations in Mexico has generally run about $2.20 a gallon.  I had planned to run across the border and refuel but as luck would have it diesel is actually cheaper right now in the States than it is in Mexico.


Folks just joining me on Facebook who commented that they were enjoying reading my travel tales are probably thinkin' "well ... he's going to be home tonight and that will end the series." Wrong Kemo Sabe ... I have a fair amount of material from Mexico yet to be posted.  Be scared!


Each cat has a different attitude when it comes to traveling.

As soon as the big diesel engine fires the Big Grey Cat dives under the couch and stays there until I stop for the night.  

Coyote sometimes sleeps on the bed but she usually rushes under the couch as soon as I get ready to move and hangs out with Greyness.  She comes out for a snack when I stop.  When we moved the 'bird around locally in Jacksonville she used to snooze on the dashboard but by and large she likes a more secure location when traveling.

The Siamese?  Sheesh.  She has wayyyyyyyyyyyyy too much energy and is fearless.  She walks around, and divides her sleeping time between the passenger seat and the bed.   Whenever I stop she spends her time starring out the window, bird watching.

Here she is, this morning, perched on top of the driver's seat head rest:


Here is a man that I really feel sorry for.  This is in a Florida rest area somewhere to the west of Tallahassee.


I got into Jacksonville safe and sound on Thursday night and parked in the large lot behind a friend's bar.  Deb was waiting inside and we just generally had a blast.  The next morning I fired up the 'bird and drove a few miles for a leisurely breakfast, then parked the motorhome and trailer back at my workshop.  

It's good to be home but y'know what?  I'm ready to go again, and I really miss Texas!


Ole Man Andy said...

Hey PJ,

Missed your blog for awhile........ of all things, I've been in Bellingham, WA (90 miles NORTH of Seattle and 19 miles south of the CA border)for the past, well since 2/10. Got a job out here working on refineries with a company called ANVIL CORP..... never heard of them until my phone rang in late January.
Anywho, it beats being unemployed and Jan will be flying out this weekend.
I did have an offer to go back to the big "M", but Jerry sorta-kinda pissed me off with his "offer", if you know what I mean.
The weather here SUCKS at BEST; the locals say that (of course), this has been the coldest and snowiest Winter that they can remember!!!
The money's good....... real good, but I do miss home.... you'd like this statement; Jan REALLY wants me to shed our condo in JAX Beach and buy a motorhome and travel the country job-by-job.... and I'm STARTING to listen to her!!!
take care and keep in touch and tell Deb we said HI!!!
Keep the rubber side down...... oh yeah, I still got the Wing and Jan has hers, but we'll probably be sellin' 'em. No sense in keepin' 'em if you're not usin' 'em.
Take Care and Best Regards,
Fellow ParrotHead, Ole Man Andy

PyrateJohn said...

Hey Andy! Good to hear from you. Drop me a line at or Alas, I have lost track of your private email address.