The Way South

We have now made a few bookings for our trip south. We will be leaving from Sherkston Shores RV Resort — identified as point 2 on the map above. Point 1 is where we are living right now.

The plan is for Lorraine and I to take the coach over to our dealer mid-August. We have a bit of a punch list:

  • Side radiator lower grill guard almost disconnected from body of coach
  • Oasis hot water heater pump failure — this one is a known defect by the manufacturer
  • Full wall slideout uneven — literally rises up a quarter inch or so after slides are deployed — this was not resolved during warranty by the dealer and is still outstanding
  • Full length of Girard Awning Casing on top of passenger side of coach overhangs coach body by about an inch
  • Levelling jack leaking hydraulic fluid (passenger side front)
  • Small puncture in roof membrane requires repair
  • 483 RSB – Recall 17V 420: Driver Passenger Shade
  • 486 TSB – MCD Remote Shade Motor Replacement
  • 488 RSB – Recall 17V 497: Battery Cable May Rub Against Frame (potential fire hazard)
  • 493 PIB – Freightliner Lightbar: instrument panel odometer value may reset and not match the engine ECU odometer value

We also need to get our towing system in place for our new toad. For the towbar we are installing a Blue Ox baseplate, a Blue Ox KarGard, a Blue Ox Towbar, and a Patriot Braking System.

The dealer wants the coach for about a month. We will pick it up from the dealer mid-September and head over to Sherkston Shores and hang out there until the end of October.

We then make three stops over five days on our way down south. Point 3 on the map above will be at Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park. Looks like a nice place. The first drive will be 6 hours on the road not including breaks.

Point 4 on the map is our next stop. We will spend two days at the Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort. I suspect that this will be a stunning place to rest up after a second long day of driving. Roughly 7 hours between Stonewall Jackson and Mountain Falls without including any breaks.

After a two-night layover, we will head over to point 5 on the map above: Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort. Another 6-hour drive without including any breaks.

From there, we take a longer drive over to Myakka River Motorcoach Resort. A little over 8 hours on the road without including any breaks.

And then? A whole month in the sun and warmth.

Why take the drive down so quickly? Well, we want to enjoy as much of our time as possible in the south. 4 relatively long days behind the wheel will be worthwhile once we pull into our site in Florida.

Making Travel Plans

We continue to work on our travel plans for our first trip south.

We have two options under consideration in terms of how we will start the journey.

Our first option is to stay in our condo until the end of October and then take three days to get to Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort for our first brief layover of a couple of nights before making the final leg to Myakka River Motorcoach Resort in Florida. We would pick up our coach from Gan 401 Storage and head south crossing the border at the Thousand Islands.

The trip down to Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort would look something like this:

We have been told that if we take this path down we should make a few changes to our route.

Follow I-81 South to Syracuse and take the 481 Bypass around Syracuse. Then continue on the I-81 South through the rest of New York State, and on into Pennsylvania through Maryland, and West Virginia and on into Virginia.

Just south of Middleton Virginia take the I-66 East (the exit will be marked as Front Royal and will be a left-handed exit off the I-81). Drive I-66 until it is intersected by I-17 South. Then follow I-17 until you connect to I-95.

Google Maps and GPS programs will advise you to head towards I-95 sooner on your trip and they’ll take you closer to Washington DC which can be overcome with traffic. So much better to do this bit of detour through Virginia’s very scenic horse country.

By doing this routing, you will have avoided all of the major traffic for the biggest cities on the US Eastern Seaboard. The only time that there is even the slightest issue with traffic in this by-pass around Washington DC is if you happen to hit during rush hour and then only for a short distance down the I-95 towards Richmond Virginia. If you plan your timing right, then here shouldn’t be any issues at all.

The I-95 will lead you south thru the rest of Virginia. Take the 295 By-Pass around Richmond and continue on the I-95 on thru North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia on into Florida.

Take the 295 By-Pass around Jacksonville. If headed to the Gulf Coast area you can take the I-10 Westbound and connect up to the I-75 for places such as Tampa, Clearwater, Fort Meyers or Naples.

Heading to Orlando take the I-4 just south of Daytona Beach.

Heading further south to Fort Lauderdale, Miami or The Keys, stick with I-95 thru Florida.

This was great advice and we modified our route and planned our two overnight stays to break the 17-hour drive to Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort into more manageable 5 to 6-hour daily drives.

And then came option two.

Rather than staying in our condo until the end of October, we stay until mid-September. We then head over to Sherkston Shores RV Resort, which is very close to the US border by Buffalo, New York, and live in our coach until the end of October.

We then would make our way to Hilton Head by following I-77 and I-79. The trip is shorter and we might be able to get to Hilton Head Motorcoach Resort in two longer days. Or, if we keep to three days driving, we would certainly be less than a 5-hour drive each day.

That option looks like this:

I’ll need to do some more research to see if there are any tips for doing this route. Given we are driving in the first week of November, I wouldn’t anticipate any severe winter weather. I do prefer the border crossing at the Thousand Islands as it is usually pretty quiet.

Norway

A little break from all of our planning for the first year of travel in our motorcoach.

With the countdown app on this website now showing three months to go before retirement — it is a touch longer than that but close enough — I should let you know that we have also decided on taking a special cruise to mark this particular transition in our lives.

5 days after retirement, we will be flying out to Hamburg Germany and from there we will board the Norwegian Jade and take a nine-day cruise of Norway. And yes, on one of those days, we will be taking a trip on the world’s most beautiful train journey, the Flam Railway.

This is our itinerary for the cruise:

Initially, we weren’t planning to do anything at all as part of the start of my retirement other than a small family gathering.

Lorraine had other plans. Her view was that after 39 years of working and supporting our family, a special trip was in order.

How could I disagree?

We have thoroughly enjoyed planning this particular trip to a part of the world that we have not seen before. And once we return, we will only have a few weeks to get ourselves ready to begin our travels in our coach.

Everglades Isle Motorcoach Resort

Booking out past January 2019 is proving to be a bit challenging. For our final month in Florida, we are still deciding between three motorcoach resorts: Pelican Lake Motorcoach Resort, MotorCoach Resort St. Lucie West and Everglades Isle Motorcoach Resort.

We are waitlisted at Pelican Lake and MotorCoach Resort St. Lucie West. Not because they are sold out this early. It is because they are not ready to accept any new bookings. We’ve been told that there won’t be any issues booking us into these resorts however we wanted to make sure that we had our first few months in Florida confirmed.

Everglades Isle was able to take a booking and we reserved a site with them from January 5, 2019 to February 1, 2019. A waterfront site, site number 15. We might change our mind however we do like the resort and its location.

Everglades is a Class A restricted resort where coaches need to be ten years or younger and in excellent condition although I suspect that they would allow older coaches provided they are in excellent condition.

Large pads topped with brick pavers. Even the roads in the park are topped with brick pavers. Free cable at site, free WiFi at site, full hookups with 100 amp service. And some nice amenities at the clubhouse.

Andy, the Gadget Guru, did up a full review at his website which you can find here.

This is his short video on a tour of the park:

We now have our first three months planned out although we are still debating the drive down to Florida from Canada. We are intending to take 5 days for the drive down. One approach is to take two long days and hang out at the Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort November 2, 3 and 4th and then leave early on the 5th to arrive at Myakka River Motorcoach Resort. Another approach would be to take a far more leisurely drive and not spend more than 5 hours a day on the road and try our chances at whatever RV park might be handy in that range.

Hilton Head looks nice though.

More to come on the plans for the journey out from Florida over to California.

All this planning does take my mind off the bitter cold temperatures we are still experiencing here in Canada.

Riverbend Motorcoach Resort

For our second month south, we will be moving from Myakka River Motorcoach Resort to Riverbend Motorcoach Resort. Riverbend is located in Labelle Florida and it is only an hour or so drive from Myakka.

We will be checking in on Wednesday, December 5th, Lorraine’s birthday. We are there for one month departing January 4th, 2019.

Here is a satellite view of the property. From this perspective, the place looks huge with 315 sites.

Our lot, should it hold, is located at the top right of the property. Here it is from a closer angle.

It is a pull-in site facing the water. Lots of shoulder room on that site.

50 amp service and, hooray, Internet service (DSL) to the coach for $30 per month — only available for stays of one month or longer.

Shifting into the peak season sees a pretty steep increase in monthly pricing. We have spoken to a number of Class A parks in Florida and they have all told us the same thing: they pack things out in the first three months of the year. The market is clearly willing to pay.

Canadian dollar is dropping these days so our first year out is going to be a bit more expensive than originally planned. I just hope the loonie doesn’t crater to 65 cents or so.

I remember going into the states many years back when our dollar was basically a peso. Not much fun.

I found this video about Riverbend. No sound but it does provide some excellent visuals of the property.

We will be spending one more month in Florida and it looks like we may not have a confirmation for the next park for a few weeks yet. We are on some waitlists as some of the properties determine which lots are available to rent. We have been working through a list of 8 motorcoach resorts. Some really nice properties to consider.

And then we make our booking for our stay in Indio, California.

Where will we stop on our travels from Canada to Florida and from Florida to California and then back to Canada?

Still figuring that one out.