Gators In Gator Country

Hey y’all!  We were stopped for a few days at the Love’s truck stop at exit 314 off interstate 75 in Florida.  In truth, this truck stop appears to be no different than any other Love’s truck stop, except maybe a classier looking women’s restroom, but otherwise, the same. 

The difference between this Love’s to any of the others we’ve been to isn’t on the inside.  It’s on the outside.  This place is quite literally surrounded, not by swamps, but by swampy areas.  We parked in the very back, farthest corner of the trucking parking lot, and right behind us was swampy turf.  To each side of us was swampy turf.  They were like swampy ditches out skirting the entire parking lot.  Closer to the actual store is a very alga caked pond that may as well be called a swamp.  The surface of it is so green, I don’t know that anything could live in it, though I did see a crane or two, peck from it. 

The entire pond looks like this caked segment.
I think the crane knew it was being photographed.

Right in the middle of the entire Love’s truck stop operation is a large pond, completely fenced in, and every few feet there are signs to warn you of dangerous alligators.  Now, these signs aren’t just there because the employees think their cool.  No.  There are actual alligators in that pond.  I don’t know exactly how many live in it, but I’m pretty sure there are at least two given what I’ve seen. 

Can you spot the alligator in the background?

The first day we were there, we walked all the way around the fenced in pond, commenting on the signs posted literally all the way around the pond, but we didn’t know any better.  However, after making the full circle, nearing the end, near the truck stop mechanic shop, there I spotted what looked like a 4- or 5-foot alligator sunbathing on the bank.  Talk about feeling blown away because I physically spotted it, from several yards away without any direction!  The next day we took another walk around the pond, this time, on the same bank I spotted another alligator, a different one… or maybe it was the same one. I really couldn’t tell.

Even more fascinating is to see them in motion. Thank goodness it’s fenced in.

It’s fascinating to see these alligators not as residents of a zoo, but in real outdoor life.  What’s even more fascinating is all the birds we see walking around inside the fence, with these alligators.  I’ve seen them skirt the alligators, and don’t think they aren’t fearful of those alligators attacking for a quick snack.  No, these cranes may tiptoe around, at least a good foot away, but they rush their steps the rest of the way once they know they’re clear.  These alligators may be following those cranes with their eyes, but not once do they move, not even a twitch.

The Love’s truck stop celebrity.

It’s interesting because we weren’t even going to stop here at this Love’s truck stop.  Since we’ve been traveling, we’ve stopped in at several truck stops.  We’ve also stopped and stayed overnight in the back of Walmart parking lots, we stayed one night at the back of a Big Lot’s parking lot, but it was located in a strip mall, so in reality we stayed overnight in a mall parking lot, but we bought needed things from places in that strip mall.  We were aiming for the truck stops at exit 341 off interstate 75, but no sooner did we get on the road, after stopping at a Publix grocery store for food supplies, I saw the enormous billboard advertising this Love’s truck stop at exit 314.  My husband was still hesitant to stop because he wanted to get further up the road, but after a little research to find out how big it was, we decided on it, and to confirm our decision, just as we were pulling in, it began to rain.  I don’t like my husband driving the motorhome in the rain.  The motorhome is older, and I don’t trust weather-wet roads.  Given how hot and humid the weather is in Florida, the rain was invitingly refreshing.  The wind that day was quite strong, so that also had my nerves on edge, but now that we’ve discovered the alligators living in the Love’s truck stop pond, it was totally worth stopping in for a few days! 

See ya later alligator!

TravelChat: From Thomaston, Georgia to St. Augustine, Florida

Hey y’all!  It feels like it’s been too long since I last posted, yet it’s really only been 2-3 months.  I’ve wanted to write and post, but with us just starting out on the road, we’re still working on our lack of Wi-Fi.  With any luck, next month we’ll be able to fix that.  This month we’re striving for a generator.

We left out October 3rd for a campsite called Beaver Run in Metter, Georgia.  Since then, we’ve been to Tybee Island and swam in the Atlantic Ocean, and I saw Tracy Byrd walking the beach. Before you ask, I did not walk up to him, mainly because I didn’t know what to say, since he was sporting turquoise / seafoam- colored swim shorts and no shirt, he was obviously on vacation.  Otherwise, I would have found, both the words and the courage, to have approached him.

After we left Tybee Island, we found a place and parked overnight in the back of a Publix parking lot.  That was an experience, but we were all very comfortable.  Finally, the next day we found another place and parked, this time staying in Savannah for the remainder of October, in what appeared to be a mostly Hispanic community.  A trailer park called Water’s Edge.  You can imagine my reaction when I knocked on someone’s door, trying to get help in contacting the landlord upon our arrival because my free phone service only works with Wi-Fi, to receive the response, ‘No English’ in Spanish.  My eyes were wide once I realized my surroundings.  I know very little Spanish, but thankfully my husband knows keywords.  Again, this place was also very comfortable as well as an experience.

I learned quite a few things during our stay in the park.  The kids all wear uniforms and masks to school, for one.  On Halloween, I was looking forward to handing out bubble gum lollipops to the trick or treaters while dressed in my own costume of the Deranged Easter Bunny from ‘A Christmas Story’ pajamas, but that didn’t happen.  I didn’t get to pass out candy or admire costumes, but I did dress as the bunny, and I took a walk with hubby to the Kroger which was just up the road from where we were staying while wearing it.  That was an intriguing experience!  I was hysterically laughed at by a Hispanic sitting in his car, beeped at by a passing truck on the main road, received many looks from vehicular passerby’s, and I got a compliment from a shopper inside the Kroger.  I admit, the experience was entertaining.  Funny thing is, I almost chickened out of wearing it to the store, but I’m glad I didn’t because I would’ve missed out.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a photo appeared online.  Someone might have taken a one because how often do you see a 5’7” pink bunny walking along the side of the road?  LOL!  That’s the only fun we had for Halloween because apparently, Hispanics don’t really celebrate it with costumes and candy, but Halloween aside, everyone was ever so friendly, helpful, and though there was a language barrier between us and our neighbors, it didn’t stop us from communicating and making friendly acquaintances. 

My favorite part was washing laundry.  Obviously, we don’t have a washer and dryer in our motorhome, so I’m either washing laundry by hand or stopping at laundromats.  Since I’m not stopping in and using laundromats, I’m handwashing our laundry.  The first time I washed our laundry, I did it on a Saturday afternoon.  Washing our clothes wasn’t an issue.  I used the time to wander into my own thoughts, shutting pretty much everything and everyone around me out, until one of the neighbors walking around, greeted me in Spanish and then asked if I spoke Spanish.  I know a little Spanish, so I was able to greet him in return and say ‘little’.  He seemed to understand me, but also not understand at the same time.  He saw I was washing clothes by hand and proceeded to offer me the use of his washer and dryer.  He kept saying, ‘This America, this not Mexico.’  I just kept on washing our clothes and chuckled whenever he said something.  Just so you know, he was drinking, as the label on the glass bottle he was carrying around drinking from read Sangria. 

While staying in the park, we were also able to fix a couple things dealing with our home with some help from the landlord of the park.  First, we discovered our plug was actually a dryer plug, but the landlord was extremely helpful going to Home Depot to pick up the right plug and an additional connector.  We reimbursed him for the parts, so now we’re able to plug into a 30amp or a 50amp for full electric, including air conditioning.  We were also able to, per say, fix our plumbing/sewer issue, so now we no longer need to worry about that.  All in all, things have been bumpy, but nothing is perfect right off, and we’re learning as we go.  Fixing things as we go.  Last month we fixed our electrical plug, this month we’re hoping to find a generator, and then next month we’re aiming for proper phone service with Wi-Fi accessibility.  One step at a time.

Now it’s November and we have since left Savannah, to go further South.  It’s a good thing to because in listening to the local radio stations, we’ve since learned of some coastal flooding taking place in Savannah.  We left Savannah two days ago.  Now I’m happily writing this from a spot in St. John’s RV Resort in St. Augustine, Florida.  Before now, I’ve never been to Florida, even though I do have family who live in the panhandle.  I guess it was just never the right time, but here we are and I’m still pinching myself. LOL. 

The drive to Florida wasn’t bad.  We’ve come to realize that the interstate is much easier to travel in a motorhome than any backroad, simply because the lanes are wider.  Normally I’m scared to death to be on the interstate and surrounded by all the big trucks when I’m in a rinky-dink car.  So, I normally prefer the backroads.  Navigating a backroad in a 24ft motorhome is edge-of-your-seat stressful with narrow roads and tight curves.  I’ve found the interstate to be much easier because now I feel like equal to the big boys of the trucking world.  To ride in a car on the interstate, feels like walking with giants; scared of being stepped on, or in this case, ran over.  The most stressful I’ve been on this trip, so far, has been when hubby was driving our way through the heart of Jacksonville.  We were going to bypass it and go around using the Beltway instead, but just before we left Walmart in Yulee, Florida, where we stopped and parked for the night, we were consulting our road atlas, and hubby decided our best chance is going straight through the heart of Jacksonville rather than fight with the constant merging of traffic on the Beltway.  He called it ‘one large rotary from hell’.  Needless to say, I spent the ride calling out when lanes were clear for lane changes, when to slow it down around certain curves, and silently telling myself to breath while clutching both sides of my passenger seat with clammy hands as the traffic around me continued to move at a very fast, very tight pace.  It was like being caught up in a stampede.  Keep moving or you’ll get run over. LOL. 

So, now we’re in St. Augustine, Florida, and the weather today is calling for sporadic rain.  We were going to continue on down the coast taking I-95, but we’ve decided, due to the rain, we’re going to bebop around St. Augustine for a couple days and once the weather clears, we’ll continue our road trip down I-95. 

I apologize for not including photos in this post but do know I’m working on video uploading as well as photo uploading, and it’s taking extra time because of our lack on Wi-Fi accessibility.  There is a lot to do, and it takes time. 

Well, y’all, I will close out for now.  With luck and proper planning, next month I’ll be able to start posting on a weekly basis and share loads of photos and videos.  We have a video that you can take a walk with us around the lake at Beaver Run, another short video that includes the Tybee Island water tower, and another one I may or may not post where I’m telling y’all about how my cat Carlee scared me near tears.  To give you a little hint, she found herself a nice tight hiding place in our home while we were walking around the lake.  Until next time, thanks for reading and following! 

Home Sweet Motorhome

Hey y’all!  So, the last time I posted, it was a piece my husband wrote about scammers on Facebook Marketplace falsely advertising top-notch motorhomes and RV’s for ridiculously low pricing. 

Today, I’m writing because we finally made it happen.  Yes, we bought our motorhome!

This week has been so anxiety driven and action packed, I’m simply glad we were able to accomplish the enormous task. 

Hubby and I have been scouring Facebook Marketplace for what feels like months.  I swear to y’all, I was checking the site 5, 6, 7 times a day just to see if anything new had been added, and I was rechecking motorhomes and RV’s which we’d already read over deciding not to inquire.  Well, last week, hubby found this one, a 24ft with 2 sleeping areas. 

So, through the weekend I enquired with the seller, first making sure it was still available, exchanging numbers for better communication, and finally, arranging it so that we had a ride to go and look at the motorhome. 

On Monday, my dad and his wife agreed to take my husband, daughter, and myself to go and look at it; just under an hour to get there, and the same to get back.  The motorhome looked just as it did in its pictures, the interior is needing some work, but no more than we can handle, and my husband started it up.  It cranked over like a beast on the first try. 

On Tuesday, the guy selling it was nice enough to help us out a little further, and personally drove the motorhome to us though Hurricane Ida was making her way through.  I was browning some ground beef to make chili when I happened to look out our kitchen windows and saw our motorhome drive by on the next road over from ours. 

The only detail I don’t like about the motorhome interior is its carpet.  I hate carpet.  I hate carpet.  Did I mention, I hate carpet?

On Wednesday, after I finished with my scheduled classes for the morning, my husband and I tackled face first into the next project… ripping the carpet out.  We spent that afternoon and Thursday afternoon ripping carpet out and removing the trash accumulated and left behind by previous owners. 

Sorry, it’s not the best, clearest photo of the carpet before I tore it up, but you get the idea that it had to go.

On Friday, I admit I didn’t do anything with our motorhome.  Instead, I taught 3 scheduled classes, took a nice long nap, and then proceeded to do very little through the rest of the day.  Everyone needs a day off from working and I was more than exhausted. 

Same general area as previous photo, but after I ripped the carpeting out. We’re going to put down water resistant wood laminate.

I’m hopeful that next week we’ll be able to get it properly tagged and titled as well as install new flooring in it.  Once the new flooring is in, I can properly scrub everything inside, from top to bottom, then proceed with the details of minimizing our belongings.  We’re not hoarders, but we do have a lot of things, most of it being in the media department.

I said we had a lot of books.

So, everything has been a process, but we’re getting there… one day at a time.  I know it’ll all be worth it once we’re moved in and settled. 

As always, thanks for reading y’all!