Bye Bye Burlington
So most of you know by now that as of Jan 28 2017 we started our journey. It still feels quite surreal, but we've now managed to turn our house over to the new owners, stored our belongings in a container for when we get back, bought a 31 foot travel trailer, bought a Dodge Ram 1500 to haul it and are making our way south as fast as possible to get to some better (warmer) weather. We've now landed and settled in Santa Rosa, Florida (near Destin) after four days driving as we had to break up the 18+ hour drive into four days so the kids didn't go completely nuts!
1st Stop Bluffton Ohio! (ummm where?)
The first day on the road was the shortest one mainly because it took us longer to pick up our trailer, cross the border and just get used to driving it safely and securely. Our Grand Design Imagine trailer has plenty of amenities but it sure is a beast to haul! We planned our departure accordingly as we didn't want to have any snow during our travels as hauling a 9000 lb trailer is bound to give you some trouble if you try to pull it through the snow! Lucky for us it was only cold and no snow so we made our way safely and slowly from Burlington, Ontario to our first stop in Bluffton/Findlay, Ohio KOA. We decided to go through Windsor along the I75 as opposed to Buffalo since we felt the bigger highways were better maintained during inclement weather. Boy was I not expecting the absolutely brutal road conditions of Michigan! Likely the worst stretch of highway roads I've ever been on. As a result, it made our ride very bumpy and I had to slow down to around 80km/hr otherwise the back end would fish tail. There were so many potholes i literally could not believe it. Almost like turning a switch, as soon as we passed the "Welcome to Ohio" road conditions returned to normal. Regardless, we arrived late at night to our campsite in Ohio and it wasn't too much fun trying to find our pull through campsite in the dark. When we booked the site online they never mentioned that the campsite is basically "un-manned" in winter so there was virtually nobody there apart from a few big class A motor homes that some snow birds used to stop over on their way south as well. Nonetheless, we managed fine and the furnace and fireplace in the trailer worked over time as it dropped to around -7C overnight. Surprisingly, the trailer was quite warm although I think I went through half a propane tank trying to maintain a cozy warm temperature inside. We didn't want to use the water tanks for fear of freezing so we were all a bit stinky and smelly that day.
Next Stop Sweetwater, Tennessee: "Backing Up is Hard to Do"
The drive from Bluffton, Ohio to Sweetwater, Tennessee took us another 8 hrs to complete as we needed to stop numerous times for gas, pee breaks, snacks etc. The drive was largely uneventful with the exception of when we finally arrived at our KOA site. Sweetwater KOA is off the highway in a rural area near a meandering farm road that isn't really marked well with the GPS. Again, we arrived late at night so visibility made it tough to see which driveway was the right one to enter into the campsite and the GPS was no help at this point. Unfortunately for us, I drove past the driveway and realized that my only choice to rectify this was to back up the RV in the dark, on a single lane farm road around a blind corner slightly downhill. Not the smartest of ideas but we really had no choice and I only needed to back it up 30 feet or so. Well, let me tell you this took us the better part of 30min just to back it up to where we needed to be. Trying to maneuver the trailer around a blind corner at night going BACKWARDS was quite the ordeal. Did I mention this was my first time backing up the trailer? Nice. Eventually we managed to get the trailer in the right spot and we pulled into the KOA and into our site. It was later that night that we decided to break the drives even further so we didn't end up getting to camp sites at night and we didn't feel as stressed. As a result we added another quick stopover just south of Birmingham, Alabama (South Birmingham Campground) the next day as opposed to traveling straight to Florida as originally planned.
Welcome to Destin, Florida!
We arrived in Florida at the best state park ever Topsail Hill Preserve State Park! A quaint little campground surrounding a preservation area that's right on Santa Rosa Beach. The people here are fantastic and the kids and us all met some fun friends to hang out with and get to know over the next week or so. We loved it so much, we extended our stay a few days to enjoy the gorgeous weather before we headed to our next stop in Louisiana. Surprisingly, we met a few other families that are currently on their own little adventure around the US and Canada and we made plans to meet up again when our paths cross later in the year. Everyone in the park was so friendly and it made our first stop on this journey a great one as we all felt right at home. Even our friendly RV neighbours Jan and Bob from Tennessee baked the kids some home made cookies the night before we left. Can't ask for more than that! Check out more pics of our Destin adventure. Love this place, but tomorrow we are moving on down the road...next stop Louisiana!