SALT SPRINGS RECREATION AREA (FL)

This is our first repeat visit to a campground on our full-time journey, but it won't be the last! When we were here on a weekend last June it was packed full of parents with children on summer break. Camping and swimming in the spring is such a pleasurable way to escape the summer heat in Florida. This visit is entirely different! Mostly retired couples who I imagine are here to escape the colder temperatures in the north. Our temps are forecast to be in the mid to upper 70's this week and this time I doubt there will be much swimming in the spring.



MONDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #2

I'm sure nobody noticed but today's move was a new record for us, our shortest move between campsites. At a little less than 15 miles it erased the old record of 20 miles which we set in our first month on the road last year. Not exactly earth shattering news, but I felt I would mention it for those of you that are interested it that kind of data. If you do enjoy these kind of details there is much more we keep track of and post to our STATS PAGE.



TUESDAY

WORK DAY FROM THE POD
0 MILES DRIVEN TODAY

Tricia has a lot of work to do and I have several small projects to complete on ROVER today. I also have one large project but that will have to wait until later. The first small project is to replace the original radio antenna with a shorter more flexible one. When we visited the cities of Savannah and Charleston and had to park ROVER in their downtown parking garages. I didn't like the fact that the original antenna was four inches taller than the roof of the truck and was scraping the cross beams. I know it served as an early warning that I needed to watch the clearance height for the roof, but I'm well aware of how tall the truck is and the garage height is clearly marked at the entrance. So for 5 minutes of work and less than $20, off came the original antenna and on went the new short one. Tricia likes the new antenna because it doesn't get in the way of her taking forward looking pictures out of her side window while we are traveling down the road, win win!

The second small project is a tailgate assist shock install. This is standard equipment on the high end models of Ford F150's, but not on the lower end XLT model like I have. So for 30 minutes of work and less than $25, my tailgate no longer "drops like a rock" when I open it. It glides down gently so I can now open the tailgate with one finger while my hands are full. Why Ford doesn't make this standard equipment on all F150's is just plain stupid!

The third, not quite as small project, is to install some rather wide mud flaps to help deter rocks and debris from flying up and damaging the front of THE POD while we are towing. Fortunately we haven't sustained any damage so far, but the front of the trailer is always looking dirty, especially if we have to travel on a day when it's raining. So for a couple hours of work and $250 that problem has been resolved. It will really pay off when we start traveling on more unpaved dirt roads and poorer condition roads like we expect to encounter on our future trips.


The fourth project is a rather large one that we have been working on in stages, a little at a time. When it is finished, hopefully soon, I will reveal it to you complete with photos.



WEDNESDAY

WORK DAY FROM THE POD
0 MILES DRIVEN TODAY

Another work day for Tricia and I. Later in the afternoon I began the preparations of cooking dinner. With the cooler temperatures we have been experiencing this week a pot of chili seemed to be in order. Last week we had a pot of my red chili (recipe to come at the end of January) that I have been making for years. Tonight I will be tweaking a new recipe for green and white chili, but it still isn't quite ready for sharing!


I think most people I have shared my chili with in the past, whether it was on a camping trip with friends or people at work, found it tasty. I base this opinion on the compliments I received, but even more so on the fact that a lot of people always ask for a second helping. Some even go so far as asking me to share the recipe with them. That reminds me of a true story!

At one particular February camping trip several years ago, I made a big double batch of chili to share with the 25 or so people there, one person in particular went back for a third helping to help clear out the pot so it could be washed. He was going on and on about how good the chili was, but the next day he confided to me that next time he wouldn't be taking his second or third helping of chili. When I asked why he told me about how all night he was up tossing and turning, taking multiple trips back and forth to the Porta-Potty in the campground. I guess he loved the chili, but the chili didn't love him back. The whole time he was telling me this he was laughing and rubbing his big belly like it still ached, that's just the kind of personality he was.

I share this story now because sadly he is no longer with us, he passed away last year... Rest In Peace Daniel, I miss you!

A few of the people who read this blog have sampled my chili, what did you think of it, be truthful!
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THURSDAY

WORK DAY FROM THE POD
67 MILES DRIVEN TODAY

For Tricia it's just another work day, but for me it's all about errands and getting ROVER repaired. Shortly after breakfast I got ready to travel into Ocala where I have a 1:30pm appointment at the repair shop. Before my appointment I had time to go to Target to return a few items we picked up on Christmas clearance and grab some of their Market Pantry Brand Cheddar Cheese snack crackers we like to have on hand for our longer drives between campgrounds. On our travel days we sometimes skip lunch because it's too early before we leave one campground and too late after we have arrive and set up at the new one.

While in the area of the repair shop I dropped in to make sure I could find it later and inquired if they would have enough time to also finish up the installation of my mud flaps, I just don't have the right tools to finish it up. He said he could do that and then asked if I could move my appointment back to 3:30pm so he could finish up a couple of repairs on one of his commercial accounts, you know the repeat local customer who keeps his business afloat, who needed their trucks back out on the road. I said "sure, no problem", I'm retired with nothing to do today!

Next errand was to hit up Walmart for a cheap Space Bag to store our big fluffy bed comforter in, you know, the kind that you vacuum the air out of and it drastically reduces the amount of storage space required. Space and weight are two things you take very seriously when living in an RV. We'll see how it works out because we don't have a real vacuum, just an air mattress pump with a deflate port out the side of it. Who knows, maybe sitting on the bag while sucking the air out will help. While at Walmart I also grabbed some Tostitio's Brand Corn Chips to eat with the leftover Green and White Chili tonight, the saltines just didn't seem to go well with this chili, oh yeah and some paper towels.

Has anyone used these vacuum storage bags, do they really work?
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Next up lunch! I remember passing by a Sonny's BBQ, my second favorite BBQ chain behind 4Rivers BBQ. Earlier the parking lot was empty because they weren't open yet, now at lunchtime the parking lot is jammed full, it's going to be hard to find a space for ROVER is this tight lot. Guess I'll park next door and walk over!

What's your favorite BBQ restaurant?
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With a couple of hours to kill I cruised through a Home Depot and a Lowe's, which were right across the street from each other, funny how I see that more and more often these days. Not looking for anything in particular I managed to escape without any purchases. It's still early, but I'll just go wait at the repair shop until my appointment time. The owner was glad to see me 30 minutes early and was able to start work on my truck right away. The new compressor had arrived the day before and took no time at all to install, the problem was even though the loud noise was gone and things sounded back to normal the shocks still wouldn't hold air. I got back on the phone with the company in Michigan while the mechanic began finishing the installation of the mud flaps. After describing the operating symptoms of the air shocks it was determined the broken compressor had blown debris though the air line and lodged the manifold into an open position. This means I need another part and it would have to be shipped overnight, because the shop isn't open on the weekend and we are moving to another location on Sunday. Let's hope the part arrives before my 3:30pm appointment tomorrow so I can make the 60 mile round trip, again! Sometimes camping out in the middle of nowhere in a National Forest is nice, sometimes it's not!



FRIDAY

WORK DAY FROM THE POD
60 MILES DRIVEN TODAY

With a little luck and hard work, today Tricia will finish up her work and be able to take next week off to enjoy life. And with a little more luck, I will finally be able to get the air shocks repaired back to normal operation. There are only three major components to the entire system, the compressor (that blows air into the shocks), the manifold (that measures the air pressure in the shocks) and the shocks themselves. So far the compressor has been replaced and today the manifold is being replaced. Unless the shocks themselves are leaking I should be good to go.


UPDATE: Both parts are now in place and the shocks finally seem ready to carry the weight of the truck and trailer down the road. We'll find out for sure Sunday morning when we hook up to leave for a new campsite.



SATURDAY

LAUNDRY DAY
1 MILE ROUND TRIP

Today we treated ourselves to a breakfast out on the town. Right outside the gate of the campground sits a little shopping plaza with a great little breakfast and lunch restaurant called The Square Meal. We have eaten here a half dozen times over the years when we come up to tent camp in the summer. If you are ever in the area of Salt Springs you owe it to yourself to give them a visit.

Just left of the restaurant is a small U.S. Post Office and just left of that is the Salt Springs Laundry. While I highly recommend the restaurant, the laundromat is another story. Without exaggerating, more than half the equipment had out of order signs or simply had the coin slots taped over. The ones that appeared to be operational seemed to be OK to use. We were successful in getting two loads of clothes washed and dried, but we felt lucky. The next closest laundromat is 22 miles away near Palatka, next time we'll spend the money on gas or plan a little better and combine laundry day with grocery shopping day.



Who will be the first to correctly guess our next location?
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