Florida to California
5/17/18 to 5/25/18
Our long drive across the country
Thursday 5/17/2018 The next eight days are going to be nothing but driving and camping with no chance to stop and see anything. We have to be near Yucca Valley, in southern California for Danny's workshop on May 26th. I calculated that if we drove approximately 320 miles a day we could be in California in seven days. So I mapped out places to stay every night that was close to that mileage range. Some days will be a little more and other days will be a little less. We left Woodsmoke in Fort Myers around 9:30 in the morning and headed north. We traveled 341 miles to Suwannee River State Park which is in the panhandle of Florida. It is the river from the famous song, although the spelling of the song title is different. It rained heavily on and off today and when we got to the campground it was still raining a little. We just set up camp and stayed inside the remainder of the night because of the rain and the very high humidity.
Friday 5/18/2018 Today we drove 328 miles and stayed at Johnny's RV Resort in Theodore, Alabama. It also was raining on and off all day. I guess if you could imagine what an RV park named Johnny's in Alabama would be like, this would be it. I would say at least 95% of the sites were for permanent residents. They were older, smaller trailers and not all of them were well taken care of. The school bus even makes a stop at this park to let off children who live there. We had a decent sized site but it was at the front of the park right next to a busy street which made for a very noisy evening.
Saturday 5/19/2018 Today we drove 304 miles and stayed at Quiet Oaks RV Park in Kinder, Louisiana. This was another RV park that has mostly permanent residents. I feel in the future more and more people will be choosing to live in their trailers in RV parks which will make it even more difficult for the traveling RV'ers to find a place to stay. No one was in their office when we arrived so we had to call a phone number and get our site number. We were instructed to put a cash payment for the site in an envelope and leave it in the door. It was just a simple, gravel pull-through site but at least quieter than the previous night. Once again all we did was sleep and then get up in the morning and start driving again. Driving the truck and trailer all day is exhausting. We didn't even take any pictures of this campground.
Sunday 5/20/2018 Today we drove 328 miles and stayed at River Shade RV Park in Seguin, Texas. After setting up, we drove the truck to fill up with fuel and saw a Pizza Hut in the plaza next to it. Decided to order a pizza and just wait for it. The RV park was nice, it was shady and we were able to walk around and see the river. There were also quite a few permanent residents at this park, in fact, our neighbors even had a little greenhouse set up. Not sure why you would need a greenhouse in hot Texas, but there it was.
Monday 5/21/2018 Today we drove 344 miles and stayed at Fort Stockton RV Park in Fort Stockton, Texas. This was the first park that really felt like we were in the desert. Of course, it was extremely hot in the sun but we ventured for a walk around the park anyway. It was a very nice park, filled with mostly overnight campers or short time campers. They did have another separate section of the park that was for permanent or long-term campers. They gave us a campground map that showed a walking trail called Six Shooter Trail which we began to take. It turned out to be just a sandy, dirt road that led us to an area that looked like a dumping spot. It was also very windy so we just turned around and went back to the trailer. This park had a small restaurant that was only open a couple hours for breakfast and then a couple hours for dinner but we didn't try it. The prices were fairly high and we had leftovers to eat.
Tuesday 5/27/2018 We drove 346 miles today and stayed at Rockhound State Park in New Mexico. This was a very nice state park out in the middle of the desert with lovely picturesque views. The site was well maintained with some landscaping (as much as you can have in the desert) and even a little roof over the picnic table and patio to shield you from the intense sun. We were brave enough to try a hike even in the intense sun and heat. We decided to walk about a mile to the visitor's center instead of taking the truck. We passed the visitor's center on the way in and wanted to visit it after we set up the trailer for the night. We took our walk and arrived at about 3:45, never thinking that they would be closed that early but they were. Even the restrooms were locked up for the night and we could not find the hours posted anywhere. We decided we would stop again at the visitor's center on the way out in the morning. We headed back to the campsite, had something to eat and decided to walk again later when it was cooler. We began our evening walk but couldn't go too far as the sun was beginning to set, so we walked closer to the beautiful mountains in the distance and watched the sunset. In the morning we stopped at the visitor's center and once again they were closed. They did put a placard out this time that said the hours were 10 am to 4 pm. I guess they skipped out early the previous night. Unfortunately, it was only 9:45 am and the doors were locked so we just jumped back into the truck and continued on our way. Sorry, we missed you, Rockhound State Park Visitors Center - your center looked really nice.
Wednesday 5/23/2018 Today's drive was 286 miles and we stayed at Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona. This too was a great park in the desert with beautiful, scenic views. The trailer site was very nice and private and well maintained. We ate some dinner and planned a walk later on when the temperature was down. It had a very nice trail that encircled the campground. It was also a mountain bicycle path. You could continue on and hike to the mountains but it was too late for that. We found a very nice bench with a poetic message which we relaxed on and watched the beautiful sunset. As the sun was setting, many bats began flying overhead and they entertained us for a long time. It really was a lovely evening and we were wishing we could stay at this park for a longer time. At this time of year, being it's so hot and the children are still in school, the state parks in the desert aren't full. I would imagine that in the cooler months they would be booked up.
Thursday and Friday 5/24/2018 & 5/25/2018 Today we drove 303 miles and finally arrived in California. We stayed two nights at The Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA. The campground is actually located in the town of Desert Hot Springs which is between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park. It's very large but there weren't too many campers there when we pulled in. They gave us a nice site on the end of one row that had a big tree for shade and a row of flowering bushes to separate us from the next site. The roads are wide and the staff was very nice. Since we were near a large town we went in for fuel and had dinner. You might as well call Desert Hot Springs "Windy City". The wind here is constant with gusts that blow so hard the truck moves. In fact, if you look at this place on a map, Desert Hot Springs is a valley between two small mountain ranges. The wind is always blowing through the valley. It's a great place for wind power and there are hundreds of wind turbines all over the place. After dinner, we stopped at a Wal-Mart to pick up some food for the next couple of days. Once back at the campground we took a walk to check out the KOA property. It really is a nice place with lots of room, very well maintained and we enjoyed our time here.
We really didn't do too much the second morning or afternoon. We washed a couple loads of clothes, took a stroll around the park again and basically just relaxed. It was especially great not to have to pack up and drive anymore. Danny and Rebecca invited us to join them with the Thai students on a field trip to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and we were to meet them at the base of the tram station at 5 pm. You have to drive 3 1/2 miles up the mountain to ride the tram all the way to the top. Danny drove one white passenger van and Gian was driving the second one filled with the students. We all were able to take the same tram car to the top. The tramway travels over 2 1/2 miles up the mountain in a rotating car so everyone gets a great view of the valley floor below and the steep cliffs along the way up. Elevation at the top is 8,516 feet high. Once there everyone just roamed around the visitor's center and the surrounding grounds, enjoyed the views from the observation decks, visited the gift shops or watched small films. Included in the ticket was a dinner in their buffet which we enjoyed. There were four courses of main dishes to choose from, vegetable, salad, bread, and dessert. After dinner, we joined up with the students and took the tram ride back down. They were staying at a hotel in Palm Springs and we went back to our trailer.
This was Memorial Day weekend and as we pulled into the RV park we realized it wasn't going to be our quiet little oasis any longer. It was now filled with many other trailers and tent campers. So, it really wasn't that sad to move on to the site of Danny's workshop the next morning.