After leaving Nashville, we headed south to Melbourne Beach, Florida to spend the next few months. We knew that once we were done working at Amazon, we would need to recharge, relax and get warm. On all three counts, we were correct! In hindsight, we were glad that we left Kentucky when we did, as the weather turned much colder after we left (it is 15 degrees in Campbellsville as I write this, as compared to 72 degrees here in Melbourne Beach). We’ve toughed out a winter in Michigan and know what it takes to do it. Even if it was just until Christmas, we really didn’t want to do that again. On top of that, Diana’s back is better, so we are both very happy about that.
On the way down, we logged our very first ‘Wallydocking’ experience in Cullman, Alabama.
For those of you unfamiliar with this term, here is what it is all about: If you’ve ever driven by a Walmart, you’ve probably seen RV’s and trucks parked out at the far end of the lot. Where local ordinance allows, Walmart allows people to park overnight. It’s best to check with the store manager, and it is only proper to buy your groceries from them in return. We popped out our bedroom slide room (it only extends 21 inches) and slept just fine. The best part for us is that we didn’t have to pay a campground fee that night, since we were just traveling through. We had plenty of water for our showers, our furnace kept us warm, and Diana was even able to bake blueberry muffins in the oven! Although we had overnighted off-grid at several Harvest Hosts locations in the past, this one stop really hooked us on the idea of boondocking more in the future. Many of our fulltime RVing friends spend significant amounts of time off-grid in beautiful locations in the western U.S., and we would like the capability to be able to do that. More on that later in the post.
Later in the trip, we returned to Golden Acres Ranch, a Harvest Hosts location in the panhandle of Florida that we have visited twice in the past. We loaded up on their Mayhaw and blueberry jelly, as we had run out about three months ago of our purchase from the previous visit. While we were there, a couple of their goats gave birth…one to twins!
They were adorable…standing up to nurse and falling back down, as their wobbly legs wouldn’t support them. 😃
It’s always good to see their Great Pyrenees dogs that roam the property and protect the livestock. They remind us so much of our Golden Retriever, Dakota. We are convinced he must have had some of this breed in his bloodline.
We also used our Passport America membership and saved 50% on four nights worth of camping at two locations on our way down. Those were both full hookup sites spaced between our Walmart and Harvest Hosts sites, so our battery was able to be recharged and our tanks were able to be dumped. While staying at our last location just south of Ocala, we visited with Diana’s brother and also our niece and her family.
We arrived back at Melbourne Beach Mobile Park on December 11. Instead of fighting Orlando traffic, we tried something a little different.
We went north 15 miles to Silver Springs, then straight east to I-95 near Ormond Beach, then south to Melbourne Beach. Except for a little traffic near Daytona Beach, the route was a breeze. It definitely beat going through Orlando!
Oh, it is so good to be back in Melbourne Beach! The wild and wonderful Atlantic Ocean on the east side of the park…
…and the peaceful Indian River Lagoon on the west side.
It’s a great place to catch not only sunrises and moonrises, but also sunsets and moonsets. 😃 This was the full moon rising over the Atlantic the other evening.
So I spoke earlier about doing more boondocking (camping without being connected to electricity, water, or sewer) this year. Let me go into a bit more detail on that. Our rig is currently set up as it came from the factory, meaning the off-grid electrical system consists of one 12 volt deep cycle battery powering most of the lights, the water pump, and the furnace blower. All of our light bulbs are incandescent or fluorescent. When off-grid, the refrigerator can run off propane, as can the water heater. Our fresh and waste water tanks generally last a few days without any conservation efforts. In essence, we wouldn’t really need to do anything different if we were alternating between boondocking and full hookups. But, as many of our fulltime RV friends have done, we want to enable ourselves to stay off-grid a bit longer. Our first thought was that we would be limited by our tanks as to how long we could boondock, but there is nothing saying we couldn’t go service our tanks at a dump station and head right back to our same boondocking campsite. That makes our limiting factor electrical. First and foremost are replacing those incandescent bulbs. We bought 10 pack of T-10 LED 12 volt bulbs for $20 at Amazon. We also replaced the bulb in our 120 volt lamp near our recliners. On top of that, we bought a Kill-o-watt 120 volt meter and a Bayite 12 volt multimeter to allow us to do an energy audit to see just what our needs are. Our battery is the same one that came with the rig when we purchased it in 2011, so it is definitely near the end of its lifespan. The energy audit will allow us to figure out how big of a battery bank we want to get. After that, we want to string some days together off the grid before we decide what future upgrades we want to make. We would like to run our computer, charge our iPhones and iPads, and maybe watch a little TV. Not a lot more than we currently are able to do, but enough to warrant some sort of upgrade. We also purchased an Oxygenics shower head to conserve water.
We plan on doing a bit of traveling after we leave here, so we are also using this time to do some maintenance. I definitely want to pull all the wheels off on our vehicles and check the brakes and bearings. The fifth wheel also hasn’t been waxed in a while, so I’ve started on that.
Look at that shine! We use Meguiar’s Marine/RV Fiberglas Restoration System. With our rig being a little older, the oxidation remover really does the trick on the dull, chalky look. The secret is to work in the shade, as direct sunlight tends to leave an uneven finish.
Besides…we have other things we want to be doing in the direct sunlight. 😎
So that’s a little review of our trip to Florida and a peek into what we have planned the next few months. Diana has been busy mailing Christmas cards, and I have put up lights and other Christmas decorations. As they say, “Home is where you hang your lights!” Wishing all of you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and an adventurous New Year!
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