May 14, 2023 Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. I hope your day was extra special! Our trip will take us to some new places we’ve never seen before, with some stops at some familiar places that we enjoy. We will also be stopping to visit some friends along the way and my brother will be joining us in Maine for a week. We have purchased two e-bikes that are being carried on a bike rack behind the bus and we hope to do some longer distance riding in some of the national parks and other areas that we will be visiting. We started loading the bus yesterday and finished this morning. John and Mary helped Bob load the e-bikes onto the rack and get them covered. We hooked up the Jeep and were on the road at 10:40.
It was a partly cloudy day with a morning temp of 81. Auggie had been anxious, standing by the door watching us take things out of the house, but he is the always the last thing to be loaded. Once he took his place in the bus and was belted in, he relaxed and went right to sleep.
We had 190 miles to go today to get to our destination near Starke, FL, northeast of Gainesville. When planning our trip, we made this our first stop to check out Kingsley Lake. I read about it in a magazine and it peaked my interest. Kingsley Lake is an almost perfectly circular lake of about 2000 acres. It is the oldest and highest lake in Florida. The lake is thought to have formed as a sinkhole and is about 100 ft. deep inside the sinkhole. There are about 180 docks around the western 1/2 of the lake. We hope to be able to get an closer look at the lake tomorrow.
We decided to make our first day a shorter drive because we knew we’d be tired from loading the bus and the bikes. The bus will also need a little reorganizing inside over the next few days to find the best place for the items we brought along. We operate by the “300 rule”–no more than 300 miles a day and arrive at the campground by 3:00. Traffic wasn’t bad on I-75 for this Mother’s Day Sunday. We noticed right away that it is “love bug season” as they splattered themselves all over the windshield and the front of the bus. The e-bikes and rack are a new addition on this trip. We had to decide whether to carry them behind the motorhome or the Jeep and then buy and install the parts to make it work. We decided to carry the bikes behind the motorhome and lots of adjustments had to be made. Bob worked on that for the last 2 weeks until he was satisfied it was a good, safe working system. We are looking forward to using our new e-bikes on this trip. We stopped at a rest area as we usually do when we start off on a trip, to check the hitch and bike rack. Bob discovered there was an issue with one of the locking pins on the hitch that holds the Jeep towbar to the motorhome. The pin had started to back itself out of the threaded nut inside the towbar. Bob took a hand wrench and tightened it up as tight as he could get it. We went to the next rest area about 40 miles away and stopped again only to discover that it was loose again. Bob got out a socket and ratchet and tightened it up again. We went to the next rest area 30 miles down the road and it was loose even more. If the towbar had come loose, we would have had a catastrophic failure and the end of the trip. Bob decided to remove the threaded locking pin and replace it with a traditional hitch pin. This involved disconnecting the Jeep, moving the towbar, getting the internal locknut out, and reinstalling all of it using a non-locking hitch pin. Problem solved! We were on the road again with only an hour to go. We arrived at the Starke/Gainesville KOA Campground just before 3:00 for the next two nights in site #18.
We set up camp, let Auggie stretch his legs, and we all relaxed a little before dinner.
We started making the plans for this trip in February, so this day has been a long time coming. It is good to finally be on the road for the start of a new adventure, even with the “hitch glitch” that we had, causing a little extra stress at the beginning of our drive today. Tomorrow is a new day.