So we finally made it to the southeastern terminus state of Florida. Well, I say “finally,” but in having spoken with more RVers since beginning our trip, our hoppin’ across the eastern seaboard has been more accelerated than most folks. We are starting to feel the urge to slow down a bit as we’re feeling more and more burnt out by the road, so obviously there’s something to it. We are going to be doing some long hauls within the state, but we’ll be here for the next two and half weeks.
Our first stop is the Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, owned and operated by the City of Jacksonsville. Getting here from South Carolina was rather easy and somewhat familiar as we re-traced our path down to Savannah, GA for the first stretch. It is amazing how crossing into the Sunshine State, even its northern parts, has its own feel. The first whiff of the humidity brings back fond memories of family vacations from my youth; the aroma I lovingly refer to as “Florida smell” – very creative, I know, but I started calling it that when I was like 10 so cut me some slack.
Approaching the park, it seems we are just in some small suburban enclave of the city. Jacksonville being the largest municipality in the lower 48 by space certainly has the room to go from urban, to suburban, to rural all within its city limits. As we get just outside of the park, we cross some small bridges that seem to make good on the promise of waterfront and wooded areas that we’d about this particular campground. “Jungle” was the description many reviewers gave the park, and man, pulling through the gate suddenly it’s apparent why. Lush, dense green surrounds our rig and we navigate the narrow, curvy roads of the designated camping areas. Palm trees and fronds intermingled with Spanish moss hang low over the paved pathways. We also notice that this place is PACKED compared to any other campground we’ve been to yet.
As we settle in we realize the reason why we have so many neighbors is because it’s a long weekend for the working crowd in honor of our nation’s veterans. We had no idea coming from both colder climates and being a number of places midweek how much a three-day weekend would affect an RV park’s population. We introduce ourselves to our neighbors, who we learn all live within a 30 minute drive of Kathryn Abbey Hanna and are here for only 1-3 nights as part of the weekend warrior crowd. One neighbor seemed like he was there literally to watch a University of Florida Gators game and head out. We also chat at length with our friendly hosts, Mike and Darla, after I mistakenly believed our site’s electrical hookup was on the fritz. It turns out it was our EMS system giving us false readings because of a factory error that resulted in some water from S.C. getting into the unit. [Side note: The folks at Progressive Industries were super helpful and easy to deal with and sent us out a replacement unit very quickly after filling out a short warranty claim form.]
Sadly, our technical difficulties didn’t end with the EMS as I also discovered during our camp setup that one of our propane connections had sprung a leak. Yikes! Liquefied propane is no joke and while out situation was safe and manageable here, having a second connection and no need for the furnace, I wanted to get this issue taken care of ASAP. This turned out to be a major killer on our time in the area though as we spent about 3 hours getting a “fix” that didn’t work, then spending a good chunk of the following two days trying to fix the fix. I was able to finally get the correct replacement parts from Camping World, after having been to 4 other RV parts dealers and 3 big box hardware stores. Ugh! Who would’ve thunk that getting a 30 psi LP regulator and a simple 22-24″ pigtail connection would be such a nightmare? Oh well, at least it gave me a reason to use our power drill and buy a decent little wrench set.
What we did get to enjoy of Jacksonsville was great- a trip to the municipal arboretum and the beach located at our campground! The arboretum was a little introductory slice of the Floridian tropics, nothing like the one back in Boston. It was not only free, but dog friendly, and offered several trails we got to enjoy a couple of hours exploring.
The beach at Kathryn Abbey Hanna was our first chance to actually go for a dip in the ocean since August up in New Hampshire, and I got to get a little northern style body surfing in. The waves were extremely rough; Ash got rocked by one both literally and figuratively when one took her down and across the seashell and stone laden shoreline. Jackson seemed like he wanted to join us but was a little too scared to go near the crashing surf. It was probably for the best as I’m not sure I’d be able to rescue our little pooch if he got caught in the rip current. The water and sun were super warm to our New Englander bones and we only wish that our stay hadn’t been so plagued by un-fun, real life RVer problems. Oh well, we knew they’d come sometime!
Our next stop is Miami, but of course there’s a tropical storm developing. We keep a wary eye to the weather reports and decide we should give it a go. Let’s hope Patty stays unnamed officially and either way comes nowhere close to southern Florida. Until next time! (Yes, we’re already through there if you’re looking at our map. We promise we’re trying diligently to catch up!)