Launch day- Aug 27- I was back in Nashville, patiently waiting for Mike to come pick me up in the RV (the “old girl”, as we called her) so we could take off. He called me to let me know he was on his way from Ohio and would be in Nashville by evening. He texted me a few hours later saying the headlights had gone out, so he replaced them with flashlights when he stopped at Wal-Mart. Not a great start, but at least he could see the road and continue the trip. He arrived at my sister’s house where we stayed for a few days, put in new headlights, and finished loading up the rest of my things. We said our goodbyes then headed down to my parents house 30 miles south. The old girl was rolling, and we were getting closer and closer to leaving town. Then 10 miles down the road, we smelled smoke. I thought we were passing a bonfire or a semi breaking down. But after a minute, the smoke odor was getting stronger. While Mike continued to drive, I started investigating the RV to see, if in fact, the smoke was coming from our vehicle. Nothing burning in the kitchen, no odor in the bathroom, no fumes coming out of the back…. Meanwhile, Mike did some of his own searching and popped the dash cover where he found some of the wires and fuses were engulfed in flames! He was able to quickly pull over on the side of I-65 and put the fire out with some water. The fire didn’t affect the drive of the RV at all so nothing else we could do except close the dash cover and continue on to the parents. So we were able to visit with them for a bit before we left town.
Our initial plans were to vacation in Key West, FL for a month as my recruiter searched for a traveling PT position in AZ. So we headed straight for the beach. The old girl was breathing heavy and running a little hot going up all the hills in TN, but she made it to Birmingham, AL the first day. We parked her for the night and let her rest.
The second day we made it to Flora Bama, a big beach bar on the Florida-Alabama state line. We made our way to the beach-view side of the bar, stayed at the beach all day, and later crawled up the RV ladder to take a nap on the roof. By the time we woke up, it was dark and I was sticky from the humidity. So we decided to cool off in the ocean. We walked out on the dock ready to jump in, but found a Tarzan boat at the end. We snuck onto the boat, climbed the stairs, and jumped off the top trampoline. When I surfaced, I realized I had somehow lost a contact. But my attention quickly went to the light that came on at the security shack across the parking lot and a person walking out the front door. So we quietly swam back to shore and jumped back in the RV.
We continued south, but quickly ran into another issue. We heard a noise and pulled over on the highway again. This time we lost our tensioner pulley and dash AC, but Mike was able to pull the belt out and get us going. Thankfully, we still had our central AC and the RV continued to drive just fine. He drove through the night and got us to our destination, Leo’s Campground on Stock Island- the southernmost campground in the U.S.
We had a great time in Key West. We fed nurse sharks at the Stoned Crab, rode our bikes to Smathers Beach, raced through Phil Peterson’s Poker Run, took a kayak through the mangroves, got invited out on our friends boats to the sand bar and reefs, snorkeled with a sea turtle, saw a few manatees, jumped off a bridge, and became good friends with the people we met. We will definitely be back.