The Push Home
We left Texas with our sights on Florida before returning home to the Carolinas.
We had a slow start and had only crossed the Texas/Louisiana state line when the setting sun told us it was time to pull over. We exited at the first rest area and walked Annie, the dog. As we started to prep for spending the night we realized how unbearable the traffic noise was from I-10. A quick check revealed a Cracker Barrel in Sulphur, LA so we moved on. Good call. It turned out to be much quieter other than the neighbor that ran his generator past our 10pm bedtime. (Who am I kidding? When you travel in an 84 sq ft van you are essentially IN the bed three steps into the van so it’s almost ALWAYS bedtime.)
The next morning we grabbed a couple coffees and hit the road. That’s when I had words with our GPS. To say we’ve had a contentious relationship is an understatement. “She” is constantly telling me what to do, correcting my every move, or incessantly nagging me to turn. I asked Jenni if we would heed her advice more if it was a man’s voice and she said ‘no’. What if it spoke with a British accent? To that Jenni thought yes, we probably would give it more credibility! (because the British know our roads so well!) Anyway, this morning I could see the ramp to I-10 right in front of me but “she” insisted I go another way to avoid construction. For the record, we would have been fine but it did provide an opportunity to survey the town’s destruction from this past season’s hurricanes. Then, as we passed through Lake Charles, LA the number of blue roof tarps quadrupled. It was depressing.
Crossing the Mississippi River always seems momentous (and always seems to be MY responsibility). I just wish the backed up traffic didn’t make me stop first at the bottom of the bridge.
From Louisiana we toured Gulfport, MS and agreed it was a place worthy of a return. But our goal was the driveway of a relative in Pensacola, FL so we pressed on. That was a great night of connecting with more family and sleeping peacefully.
The next day we walked the white sand of Pensacola Beach and then took a nap parked beside the sand dunes and Gulf of Mexico at Ft. Walton Beach. Rains and wind moved in so we punted on our idea to continue farther along the coast and headed inland to Dothan, AL.
It’s important to keep up with the weather wherever you are headed when traveling in a van. We didn’t intend to be home for a couple more days but the forecasts were showing some bitterly cold nights coming up. We made one last big stop at Providence Canyon State Park near Lumpkin, GA. It is described as the “Little Grand Canyon” and did offer some beautiful canyon walls. But it was SO COLD and windy! After thawing our hands, we set our destination for home and moved on.
This became our longest, farthest trip thus far in Wanda at 2,883 miles and 15 days. It was complicated by the COVID virus and I must say we took it very seriously, using gloves at gas stations, preparing most meals in the van, wearing masks, and distancing around relatives. We tested ourselves before we left and two days after returning.
Wonder how long before we start dreaming and planning the next journey?