With the kids all gone back to the state of Lunacy (AKA: California), we stayed just a bit longer in the Nashville area but moved over to Two Rivers RV Park which was just a few hundred yards down the road from the KOA. We had a chance to meet with our friend Dava who was one of the Rock Island State Park Rangers we had worked for when we camp hosted there about 3 (!) years ago. We had a nice breakfast visit, catching up on all things Tennessee and beyond. We also took the time to go visit the Hermitage. That would be the former home of one Andrew Jackson and now a historic park in the heart of downtown Nashville. It also contains Jackson’s burial site. This is why I like the south, you get non-stop history in any direction you look.
Our stay in Nashville was not without RV issues. The temps got pretty low (not topping 20 degrees some days), and even with proper prep work, we awoke one morning to a frozen solid water pump. That just started our problems. With water restored, our Precision Temp tankless water heater stopped producing hot water, only putting out luke warm water at best. I popped the cover on the water heater and noted the interior flame, when activated, was about a half inch high (supposed to be about 3”). Not being the sharpest marble in the drawer (AKA: mechanically inept), I referred to the Tiffin owners web site to research the problem. Several posters on this subject advised to call “Gary” at Precision Temp, so I did. He talked me through a diagnosis and came to the conclusion that my LP regulator needed replacing, that it was widely known that Tiffin had used a bunch of defective regulators in the past. Bada-bing, bada-boom we just happened to be next door to an RV repair facility. I got them to replace the regulator and test pressure. Still no hot water. The RV facility seemed to be at a loss for a resolution, and we were already on our way to Red Bay for some other minor fixes, so we toughed it out until we got to Red Bay. Another Griswold Family Moment arose during our travels south. We heard some slight banging around in the back of the bus, similar to the occasional chair tipping over or bag falling off the bed. Upon stopping for the day we found the bedroom wall mounted TV had popped off the wall and fallen partways on the bed, thankfully no damage (It is a pretty large screen TV). There is a bracket on the back of the TV and to hang the unit you lift the TV up and over the wall bracket, then hook the lip over the wall bracket. The bottom of the TV bracket has some holes for screws to anchor to the wall, but apparently nobody had done that. I guess we lucked out for the past 3 years, not having any TV-falling-off-the-wall issues. Note to all you RV owners…check your wall mounted TV’s.
This visit to Tiffin we were able to use the Express Bay (less than 3 hours of work needed). Their tech could not solve our hot water issue either, so we ended up replacing the whole dang water heater. But boy howdy we got hot water now!
You just can’t get out of Red Bay, Alabama fast enough. All fixed up, we raced southbound for the sunny state of Florida. One quick over-niter at the Walmart in Opelika, AL, then on to a couple of days at the Wanee Lake Golf & RV in Ashburn, GA. Not a particularly happening place (their high point for the year in Ashburn is the annual Fire Ant Festival), we motored into neighboring Valdosta, GA to look around. Another happening place…not!
Next stop—St. Augustine, FL! We caught a few days at St. John’s RV Park and were able to explore St. Augustine Beach and Vilano Beach. Our NP pass got us into the Castillo de San Marcos Nat’l Monument, a historical fort at water’s edge. And finally, OUT OF THE COLD WEATHER! We actually took Woody on a short hike at the 12 Mile Swamp Conservation Area. For the life of me I don’t know who named this area, about 3 miles of hike never showed any sign of a “swamp”.
Daytona Beach came next. We were able to get a week at the KOA. This, despite we are in the heart of the busy snowbird season for the whole state. Anything a week or longer is next to impossible here, we are holding out for a few days here and there as we can get them.
Daytona Beach touts itself as the “world’s most famous beach.” Personally, there are beaches I feel are a little more famous—Waikiki, Malibu, West Palm, Saint-Tropez, Monaco, etc. And the beach area of Daytona is not real “deep”, just stretched out. But it was cool being able to drive along the sand and just park at the spot you want. The boardwalk here leaves a lot to be desired, nowhere near the quality of other boardwalks like at Virginia Beach or Myrtle Beach. But definitely LOTS of motels…
Being on the road going on 5 years now we have been a wee bit lax in church attendance (OK, a whole lotta lax and no, the church roofs do not cave in when I walk into them!) Without being anchored down, we kinda gotta hit on a style of “salvation-to-go”. And wouldn’t you know it, Daytona Beach just happens to have the Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church. We took the opportunity to attend on the Sunday we were here and it happened to be a communion service, so bread & wine (OK, grape juice. You didn’t really think they would pass out alcoholic beverages to drivers operating motor vehicles, did ya?) were passed out at the gate. It was a rather unique experience.
We wanted to see some manatees, so it was off to Blue Spring State Park. The manatees do a seasonal run on the St. John’s River to this Blue Spring area, the whole area designated a manatee refuge, November through March. Several hundred animals are usually present during the run and can easily be viewed by a nice boardwalk area running along the river. We were definitely not disappointed. Got to see lots of critters. And the Spring is a very interesting place. A small “crack” in the river bottom descends over 100’ down to an underwater cave, a popular spot for SCUBA diving. Also on site is the Thursby house, a restored historical site built in the late 1800’s during the steamboat era on the river.
Smyrna Dunes Park is a county park at Smyrna Beach. They have a 2 mile boardwalk path that winds over the protected sand dunes with views of the ocean and is big for naturalists, ecologists, and students to come and observe animals and vegetation in natural habitats. We strolled the boardwalk and got to see some turtles hanging out at the dunes.
We took a couple of days to lollygag on the beach. Florida really has goofy weather, one minute you can be baking in intense sunshine, then next covered in black clouds. But the sand was fine and the water starting to warm up. It sure has been nice in these 70’s temps. And what trip to Daytona Beach would be complete without at least a stop off at the raceway. We not being big time race fans, $50 for a tour at the track just did not appeal to us. So we settle for pix.
That’s it for now. Catch you on the next post…