Author

Amy Foster

Browsing

After leaving Ormond by the Sea, we were driving south toward Jupiter Island, when Max suddenly noticed he had four inches of play in the steering wheel…not good when you are towing a 6,500 lb trailer!  So we called several Chevy dealers to see who could service it the next day and provide a loaner vehicle. Luckily, we found one near Jupiter with an opening and they were able to fix it in half a day as it had been caused by a single loose bolt.

Our new campsite for this leg of the trip was at the Dupuis Campground in the South Florida Water Management District on the east side of Lake Okeechobee which was FREE! It was a 45 minute drive from our daytime destination of Jupiter Island, but the price was right. In researching for this trip, we found that prices for places to stay with an RV vary greatly from expensive RV Resorts ($60-$100 per night), to mid-range State, National & County Parks ($25-$40 per night), to inexpensive/FREE Land Management Areas, BLM land & various boondocking options (FREE to $15 per night). Granted the more you pay the more amenities you typically have (water, sewer, power, laundry, proximity, etc.), but if your RV has enough power and tank holding capacity you can still camp very comfortably “off the grid”.

Our goal is to spend less than $100 per day on gas, food, & campsites, so if we stay at an expensive RV Resort right on the beach we try to offset it by staying at cheaper places other nights. For being free, this place was fabulous. It had fire rings, picnic tables, hot showers, water, an RV dump station and horses!  However, we didn’t spend a lot of time there other than sleeping as we wanted to make the most of the beaches Jupiter Island had to offer.

Dupuis Management Area Campground

Jupiter Island, Florida was made famous in recent years by celebrities building mega mansions such as Tiger Woods and Celine Dion. It definitely has an upscale vibe to it, but the public parks and beaches are open to everyone and should not be missed.  Our favorite beach was Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island. The parking lot is really small, so it’s best to get there early.  The beach has what’s called the Anastasia Rock Formation visible along the shoreline which makes it uniquely beautiful.  We loved the fact that due to the small sized parking lot, we felt like we had the beach almost to ourselves.  We also enjoyed Coral Cove beach just down from there which has ample parking, beautiful white sand and gentle waves.

To cap off the day, we wanted to do a little paddling. DuBois Park is a great spot as its right on the Jupiter Island inlet connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian River. It has everything from beaches to shaded grilling and picnic areas, a kayak launch area and public boat docks.  Since we brought pack-rafts along with us on this trip, we thought this would be the perfect place to try them out. A pack-raft is similar to a blow up kayak, but much lighter and more compact; making it easy to put it in a backpack for a hike and blow it up when you want to cross or paddle down river.

My plan was to paddle down river to see the mansions that line the shore, however; after paddling for an hour and not getting very far Max suggested we turn around to make it back before sunset. Really glad we did, because paddling up river in pack rafts is not for the faint of heart.  There were several points where we were paddling as fast as we possible could and were still going slowly backwards!  Finally, after finding several breaks in the current, we were able to inch our way up river until we made it safely back to the park.  Jupiter Island was definitely worth the three days we had there and we wish we could have stayed a day or two longer, but our first month on the road was already booked in advance so we had to keep on moving.

Anastasia Rock Formation

At this point in the trip, just as we were getting more comfortable with day to day living in Big Red, we were faced with the challenge of short battery life in our RV.  We found that with basic usage of LED lights, water pump, fridge, etc. our single RV/marine lead acid battery was lasting us only one day.  After that we would have to get out the generator to recharge it which gets to be a pain after a while. So the plan is to hookup a second battery for the time being so that we can get at least two day’s worth of power before having to recharge…more to come on this later.

After 1,500 miles on the road in freezing temps, we were thrilled when we finally made it to our first destination at Coral Sands Oceanfront RV Resort – a resort right on the beach in Ormond by the Sea, Florida. We arrived after dark and got to work hooking up Big Red to electric, sewer and water.  Knowing we needed to de-winterize Big Red, we pulled out the RV manual to find the instructions and start the process.

To our surprise, the only thing it mentioned was sanitizing/flushing the tanks, but there was nothing about de-winterizing. Thinking it couldn’t be too hard, Max went ahead and hooked up the water to start flushing out the tanks. Immediately, water starting shooting out of tubes underneath our trailer! Max then tried the city water hookup option (instead of the fill tanks), but water continued spilling out everywhere. Slightly concerned at this point, I grabbed my phone and did some quick internet searching on “How to De-Winterize Your RV?”.  After all, it couldn’t be that hard, right?  We quickly learned that RV plumbing is very model specific, so internet instructions for a different RV aren’t going to help us decode ours.

Coral Sands RV Resort

After trying and failing for over an hour to figure out a fix, we decided to throw in the towel and call an RV repair shop to de-winterize it for us the following day. At 9PM on Friday night, we called RV Tim’s mobile repair shop to leave a message and to our surprise he answered the phone.  Not only did he answer on Friday night, but he spent the next hour walking us through step by step on how to de-winterize our trailer. Thanks to RV Tim, we learned that there are eight different hidden valves behind wood panels that need to be turned on or off during the de-winterizing process. What a guy…would highly recommend if you need any RV assistance in the Daytona Beach area!

It was past 10PM when we finally settled into our RV that night and we still hadn’t eaten dinner. Exhausted with a completely empty fridge, we went to the closest open restaurant nearby, IHOP, and finished the night with some comfort breakfast food.

Ormond by the Sea is a quiet little beach town, just 20 minutes north of Daytona Beach.  It was the perfect spot to relax and adjust to living in our new tiny home. I’d love to say the adjustment was a breeze, but there were lots of things that still took some getting used to like cooking with a travel sized stove and limited counter space. After bumping into each other 50 times while making dinner, we realized only one person can be in the kitchen at a time due to the tight quarters. So now one person makes dinner while the other is on dish duty as we definitely do not have a dishwasher. We had a great four nights there and continued our journey south towards Jupiter Island, Florida.

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since we left on our 14 month road trip across the USA driving from Minnesota to Florida.  A lot has happened that we want to fill you in on, but first and foremost – yes, we are still alive and no, we haven’t gotten sick of each other just yet. 😉

As we sort of expected the first month presented a few obstacles, starting with winter weather.  We had originally planned to leave on Monday, February, 5th, but woke up that morning to a forecast for 6 inches of snow in Iowa.  After a little deliberation, we decided we’d rather be safe than sorry, so we pushed out our start date until the following day.  Good thing we waited!  When we drove through Iowa the next day, we saw more than 25 cars stuck in the ditch from the previous day’s snowstorm.  Luckily, we made it through to St. Louis, MO with no problems.

Neither Max nor I had been to St. Louis, so we were fortunate to have family there to stay with and be our tour guides around the city.  We did the obligatory Gateway Arch tour which provided some amazing views of the city, then ate lunch and had a few cold ones at the Anheuser Busch brewery.

Our plan after leaving St. Louis was to spend a couple nights in Nashville and mosey our way down to Florida; however we scrapped that given our delayed start and seeing that Nashville temperatures were still dipping below freezing at night.  Our Winnebago travel trailer “Big Red” is a 3 season trailer, so the furnace doesn’t work so well when it dips below freezing.

From St. Louis we drove to Atlanta and boondocked at a petting zoo/animal farm for our first night in Big Red.  It was in the mid-40s when we arrived that night, so we piled the blankets on our bed, turned the heat on and hoped for the best.  When we woke up the next morning it was freezing inside as the heat had stopped working due to the low temps!  We made some coffee and oatmeal to warm ourselves up and then hit the road for Florida.  Somewhere on the interstate between Atlanta and Jacksonville, someone may have found a nice little present as we realized our bumper caps (that hold our RV disposal tube inside the bumper) had fallen off and along the way our sh*t tube flew out…time to get a new one!