Our first long distance road trip with the camper was in July. I’d like to say it went smooth as silk… but that’s hardly the case. While we didn’t experience any real trauma, it certainly was a little nerve-wracking to say the least. At only 26′ our camper is small in comparison to some on the road. But in small towns, heavy traffic and tight parking lots it seems massive… to me anyway. Joe seems to not have any issues with towing, parking and just plain maneuvering it in general. Good thing because I still have not to this day driven while we are towing it. (I know. It’s on my to-do list… honest)
We left from Freeport, TX heading north to Tennessee for the next assignment. We only had a few days to get there and naturally pulling our new home-made traveling much slower. But after the disappointment we felt after seeing the condition of the beaches in Freeport and even up into Galveston, we decided to take a few hours out of our normal “only stop for bathroom breaks” mode and park our behinds on the beach… a clean beach.
We headed out of Texas via the Galveston ferry where we got to see some dolphins (sorry no pics) and then followed the Gulf Coast shoreline into Louisiana. We went through a few of the well know cities like Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, and of course New Orleans. We lucked out as we went through New Orleans at the perfect time to see a bit of fireworks displays for the 4th of July celebrations. (again… no pics )
The Horace Wilkinson Bridge (photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the other hand, as bad luck would have it, we had a little automotive scare while crossing over a very high Horace Wilkinson Bridge (shown above) coming into Baton Rouge on I-10. It doesn’t look that big in this picture but it seemed almost insurmountable at the time! While climbing the grade of the bridge we felt/heard what I can only describe as a “POOF”. Joe figured it was something to do with the baffles in the muffler/exhaust on the truck.
All I know for sure is that while trying to climb this mega bridge we seemed to loose most of our horsepower while pulling our home. Did I mention there was crazy bumper-to-bumper traffic everywhere? And that it was the evening of July 4th? And that by the time we limped off the bridge we ended up in a less than desirable neighborhood… ok down-right sketchy neighborhood?
I have to admit I was in a state of panic, albeit an inner-self-contained attack, as I’ve learned over our several thousand miles of traveling together, even without towing the camper, that Joe processes emergencies much better without my twenty questions. Thankfully, once we maneuvered through the dilapidated streets things seemed to have purged themselves out of the muffler (or whatever/wherever it was) and we seemed to have our horsepower back… oh… and a new metallic rattle coming from regions unknown.
We stopped to do a vehicle check and have dinner in a Cabela’s Outfitter’s store parking lot in Gonzales, Louisiana. Not very romantic you might think… but quite the contrary. While Joe was checking out the truck issue I hopped in the camper and made us each a ham and turkey wrap, with muenster cheese, fresh spring mix, cucumbers, oil and balsamic vinegar. I grabbed two bottles of diet coke and some sun chips and we had our dinner by a little man-made pond on the Cabela’s campus. We watched a beautiful sunset over Baton Rouge. That’s pretty romantic if you asked me. (I know… you didn’t.)
This was one of the perks we had been looking forward to. Being able to throw together a quick meal in our home, instead of eating on the run in the fast food joints was a welcomed change of pace. After resting a bit and getting fortified with a yummy dinner, not to mention relieved that there seemed to be nothing seriously wrong with the truck, we hit the road again to get some more miles in before we stopped for the night.
We traveled through Mississippi where the towns of Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula stood out. We ended up spending the night in a Super-Walmart parking lot. This was a first for me. I have to admit it was something I had actually laughed out loud about when I first heard that people did this while traveling. But, it turns out it’s not as bad as you might think. It certainly beats shelling out anywhere from $30 to $50 for a campsite that we would only use for a few hours. It’s hard to believe but even after just about five hours of sleep we woke up ready to hit the road again.
Next state, Alabama but just for a few miles (a few miles to us is anything under 150 these days) through Mobile and then on to the highlight of this leg of our journey… Florida and Pensacola Beach!!
Casino Beach, Pensacola, Florida
Heaven on earth… did I mention I love the beach?!?! As soon as our feet hit the sand we could feel the stress melting off our shoulders. After only just a few short hours we were stress free and ready to hit the road again.
Of course there was another SNAFU on the next leg of our journey, and the next as well, but I’ll only bore you with one at a time.