*POOF* Plan B

Remember last May when I mentioned Jer and I were loading up the dogs and traveling the US? Yeah. So that didn’t happen.  We had the trailer, the fancy-schmancy truck, the dogs, the books and the maps…but Jerry had no feeling in his fingers on his right hand.

So instead of seeing the USA, we got to see X-rays, MRIs, and a lot of other tests. Jerry had surgery in November and a second surgery earlier this year. Jerry is finally starting to feel like his OLD self again.

It took me a while to recover as well. I was psyched and when Jer got hurt I felt like someone stuck me with a pin and I blew around the room like a popped balloon.

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Pelican Cottage and The Tin PeliCan was really busy – almost non-stop guests. That’s good. I didn’t really have time to wallow in self pity – a real shame because it is one of my best attributes. I knew eventually we’d go. I didn’t know when. But…we’d go.

TBC

Goodbye Millie, Hello Dottie!

Our poor groaning van and its inability to pull the Tin PeliCan with ease was a major setback in the planning of our trip. If it couldn’t handle driving up RTE 19 on a flat road going 55 MPH how would it ever make it over the Rockies??? We want to go to Devil’s Tower and sing the Close Encounters tune “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Hmmmmm.” We can’t do that with the van whining “I think I can, I think I can.”

The morning after the big van test disaster, I woke up, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed to Command Central only to find it covered with a multitude of automobile dealer ads. Jerry must have been up for hours! The good news – it was the week before Memorial Day – car buyers heaven! Ooooolala, you wouldn’t believe the sales, the discounts, the deals to be had. Loaded with all the deals, we headed over to our local Ford dealer to check things out.

My experience with trucks is somewhat limited. Jerry has had a couple of trucks. In Virginia, he had a cute, red Dodge truck that was fun and easy to drive. Then, when we lived in Connecticut, he bought this huge thing – I think it was a Ford F-250. The only thing that sticks in my mind about that truck was how hard it was for me to climb in. That dang truck was a million feet off the ground and even though it had running boards, they were half a million feet off the ground. Whenever I was going to go with Jerry in the F-250, I would stand outside the opened passenger door and reach my arms to Jerry and he would pull me in, sliding on my stomach, with my legs flapping in the breeze. It was not a pretty sight. Then, there was the problem of getting out. I begged Jerry to buy me a emergency escape fire ladder. I was nervous this would be the case with any truck we considered. And if I was going to give up my Beetle convertible, I, at the very least, wanted something a bit easier to enter and exit.

At the Ford dealer, we explained our situation and needs to Doug, our salesperson. He lead us out to the new truck lot to show us a Ford F-150. As we were walking up, he started the truck, with the keys, before we were even next to the truck. OMG. Who knew????? The truck he showed us was a pretty blue. It must have been really easy to get in – I didn’t really notice, so obviously it wasn’t hard. The truck had so many cool doodads. Of course the number one consideration: awesome cup holders. Check. But – this truck had something beyond my wildest dreams…back up tow assist. Get this, when you are pulling a trailer and want to back up, you tell the truck where you want the trailer to go and the truck drives it there! I sat there with a thought bubble over my head…Picturing Jerry giving me back up directions “TURN THE WHEEL TO THE LEFT! THE LEFT! LEFT!!! THE OTHER WAY!!! STOP! STOP!! STOP!!!!! I had to have this vehicle.

But. There was one slight problem. The truck, while a pretty blue, was not the color we wanted. We wanted white. We wanted to match the Tin PeliCan. We wanted to put dots down the sides of the truck to match the trailer. The blue would have clashed. We wanted a white Ford F-150 that had the exact same features as the blue. But of course, Doug just happened to have one coming in the next day.

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Meet Dottie. We are now proud owners of a brand new Ford F-150.

(dots to be added in short order…)

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Jerry’s happy as a clam.

For me, she’s going to take some getting used to. It is definitely bigger than the Beetle. It looks smaller than it feels when I am driving. All of a sudden Tarpon Springs roads seem a whole lot skinnier. And when did they shrink parking spaces? I think I am going to need to practice a bit.

I do feel like Thor driving a Transformer. Our old Raymond Elementary School playground game comes to mind – where a line of kids lock arms and go from one end of the playground to the other singing “WE DON’T STOP FOR NOBODY!

Goodbye Millie, you served me well.

TBC

Mapping

2016-05-31_20-33-48I have to believe I am not the only person who has this problem. The first leg of our trip is 3 full days of driving. Jerry and I have agreed to not much more than 400 miles a day. That’s about 8 hours of driving and then you have to add in the time for doggie pee stops, lunch, people pee stops (that never coincides with the dogs need to stop,) and of course the gas stops which turn into pee stops and food stops. There is also the worlds largest ball of twine…which of course we can’t miss.

Did you know that there are no apps where you can ask “what is the name of the city 400 miles from Tarpon Springs, Florida?” How can I plan for a stop, when I have no idea where to stop? I tried the AAA Triptik app. It’s very good. You can keep adding places to stop and they will recalculate your trip with directions. But, like I said, you have to know where you want to go and you can’t say 400 miles from here. I am using the  Kerrie-method. First I started picking cities on the map that I thought were 400 miles apart. When I finally found one that was as close to 400 as possible, I got a piece of embroidery floss and cut it to match the length of the road between mile one and mile four hundred. It’s not the easiest thing to do because you have to make the string follow the roads around cities and lakes and things like that. But, I have to say, it is a pretty accurate method, as long as you don’t change the scale of the map midway.

I’m ready to do my research. I shopped on Amazon…they have everything! I bought The Next Exit 2016, The Complete Guide of USA Interstate Highway Exit Services, the 2016 North American RV Travel and Savings Guide (with 437,465 campground updates.) Electronically, I bought the Free Campground and Overnight Parking Spots (over 1,000 places where you can park for free or almost free across the USA), The National Park Service Camping Guide and Camping with the Army Corps of Engineers. Oh! I almost forgot…the most important book of all…..The Rand McNally 2016 Road Atlas…LARGE SCALE…with 35% Larger maps! (I’m not too proud to admit that bigger print is my friend!)

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With my books and trusty string, I started measuring off 400 mile increments to find where we would stop between Florida and Chicago. My primary goal is to get to where we are going while it is still light enough to hook up the trailer. Also, we learned the hard way (in Ohio around 2004 on our first RV adventure-the one where we sold the RV immediately afterwards) that it is best to get somewhere before dusk, when mosquitos are searching for their supper. All I can remember is sitting in the RV watching Jerry outside in the dark running around, waving his hands wildly above his head, yelling “#£!?{#% mosquitos!!!!!” If we can avoid repeating this scene, I would like to, if possible.

After all the twists and turns, my string and I decided our first stop would be around Atlanta. I would like to go through Atlanta and stop on the other side. It is the Georgia version of the Indianapolis 500. Beyond Atlanta is over the 400 mile limit and that might be bad. Using the old 50 miles=an hour method which is pretty tried and true, we will have been driving for 8 hours. There is a limit to how many times one can sing “one hundred bottles of beer on the wall….”  I fear there may be a level of crankiness of which I would like to avoid. But, getting past Atlanta is a real plus in my mind and so I am going to look at camping possibilities on the far side.

The first day’s adventure may change everything. If we find 400 miles is too much, then I will have to readjust my mapping. I guess I could get a longer piece of string and stretch it from Tarpon to Chicago and divide it in thirds. That may work….oh! The pain and suffering of planning.

If all goes well the first day,  then our second stop will be Louisville, KY. I know nothing about Louisville. The only thing I know about Kentucky is the Kentucky Derby (my horse didn’t win, although he did win the Preakness.) And the clerk that wouldn’t give marriage licenses to gay couples. Neither of which have any bearing on campgrounds.

My string and I have a lot of work to do.

TBC

Multitasking

Not only are we planning where we are going, but we are also thinking about all the things we need to do to get there. One thing I really like is how things just naturally shake out between Jerry and I. We each have our strengths and definitely have our weaknesses. The good news is, most times, we rise to the occasion.

20160130_171000When we bought the Tin Pelican we had done the research…our Chrysler Town and Country would be able to handle towing the trailer. It has a towing capacity of 3600 lbs. The trailer, according to its mother ship, is 2900 lbs. dry. That leaves us plenty of pounds for clothes, food, and all the accoutrements of trailer camping. Or, so we thought.

Yesterday, Jer hooked up the trailer to do a dry run. He went around the block and said “it works great, this is gonna be a piece of cake, come for a ride!” I jumped in and off we went. We drove down Alt. 19, a local road, to get the feel. I have to admit, I was white knuckled the first part of the trip. Every clunk sent shivers down my spine. I kept thinking to myself, “this too shall pass, this too shall pass.” It did.

We decided to drive to Dom and Ruben’s house. It’s just down Alt. 19 on the Palm Harbor side of Dunedin. We figured we would stop in and say “hey” and then drive out to 19–the evil fast road I typically avoid at all costs. The speed limit is at a minimum, 50. Personally, I could have stayed at Dom and Ruben’s the rest of the day. There was something soothing about being on terra firma. Jerry was itchy. He was so happy about how well the van did, he was chomping at the bit to try it on a faster road.

Waiting at the light, we were both singing the praises of our wonderful van and how well it was doing. The light changed and we turned left onto the 19 Speedway. Jerry pushed on the gas and all we heard was “UUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” (please read that in a deep, throaty, straining sort of way) as the poor thing tried with all its might. I swear I heard “I think I can, I think I can.” burping out of the exhaust. We looked at each other with a bit of worry, but Jerry said it was just getting used to getting up to speed. At the same time he said that, he dropped the gearshift into a lower gear.

This was not very good. Florida is FLAT. We are going to places with really big mountains. There is nothing more embarrassing than being the person in the right lane going 15 mph up the mountain…People laughing and pointing at you as they pass. But, we still had faith. By the end of our jaunt, it was pretty obvious we were in big trouble. While the trailer has a lot of stuff already in it, our clothes are not packed and there is this water container under the bed that has to get filled up. Water is heavy. We were doomed. We agreed to sleep on it. Things always look better the next day.

TBC

Planning Stages

Our original goal for our very first Tin PeliCan Epic Adventure was to visit everyone we care about. We figured since everyone is spewed throughout the country, it would make for a great trip. And, since we would be BYOB (Bringing Your Own Bedroom) we were hoping that we wouldn’t be putting people out with our visit.

My first list of places was so long I thought Jerry’s eyeballs were going to pop out. Especially when he counted the stops and without any driving time included our trip would be 4 weeks long. He made me cut back. I did. Reluctantly.

My second list was significantly shorter – I cut out Nashville, Tennessee, the entire State of California and Yuma, Arizona. Not without great suffering. But I certainly could see Jerry’s point — we do have to head home at some point.

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As I started to consider each location, it dawned on me that since we will be bringing Lily, our 7-year old Basset Hound and Brinkley, our 1-year old, Yellow Lab with minimal manners, my desire to visit The Grand Ole Opry was probably out of the question. “X”out Nashville. Our first three days on the road will be aiming towards Chicago to spend time with Kate and Mike.

TBC…