Georgia Florida September 20 - December 11, 2013

Click to enlarge photos with borders.
Our first cross-country trip in the M380. This is our fifth trip to the East Coast. Back in 2008 we thought we might be making our last trip to the Southeastern US, but it turns out that it wasn't the case.
We headed east through Susanville to Reno, then I80 to Salt Lake City.

On Interstate 80 we saw these tunnels being built - they are for wildlife crossings. We have only seen them before in Canada.
It has become somewhat traditional for us to stop at the rest stop overlooking the Bonneville Salt Flats and get a picture of the motor home with the raceway in the background.
In Salt Lake City we visited with Jim Pendleton at RFMogul, and had a look at the workings of their next TV antenna, below left. We stayed in North Salt Lake at the new Pioneer RV Resort for the first time, and when I went down to photograph these two Newells the one on the right turned out to be Tom from Newell Gurus. We had a good visit over at our coach that evening.
Because there was snow predicted on I80 in Wyoming, we decided to take I70 across to Denver. We have traveled that route once before many years ago in a car, and also took the Denver Rio Grande railroad once, also a long time ago.

On an overnight stop in Fruita we went up on the plateau of the Colorado National Monument; these pictures were taken from the visitor's center.
These are a few pictures taken from our dash cam on the I70 route. Haven't been to 11,000 feet in a long time!
In the picture below left, Joy and Nikki are at the base of a copy of Van Gogh's '3 Sunflowers In A Vase' in Goodland, Kansas. The photo to the right is a dashcam shot to prove that not all of Kansas is flat!
We spent a couple of days in Tulsa Oklahoma visiting with a High School friend that I hadn't seen since about 1970, and then it was off to Tennessee.

We stayed at Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis, a place we've visited before that is right on the river. Tugs and barges move steadily past in both directions.
Another visitation stop was in Shelbyville Tennessee, where one of my college roomates lives. Then another Tennessee stop in Loudin, where we were offered the use of a pit by a fellow Blue Bird owner. The picture on the left below is the bridge over Fort Loudoun Dam.

On the right is the M380 over the pit. I replaced all three ride-height valves and one suspension dump valve. One of the three failed later and I replaced with an old one in Georgia.
I-40 through eastern Tennessee is a very scenic ride, through gorges and tunnels. Our last Tennessee stop was an overnighter in Newport, where they had this still displayed.
In North Carolina we stayed with fellow M380 owners high on a mountain above Saluda. Our coach is on the left, theirs on the right in the photo.

Nikki is always happy to make herself at home in a house that doesn't have wheels.
Nancy, one of our hosts on the mountaintop, took us for a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville. Fall colors were starting to show up pretty well.
Heading south we stayed a couple of nights at Stone Mountain, just east of Atlanta.
In Pine Mountain Georgia we spent a couple of days visiting the folks who bought Blue Thunder, our 1990 Blue Bird. Among many other things he is a blueberry farmer, and these are some of his bushes.
We spent the next week-plus at Pine Mountain RV Park, where more than 100 Blue Bird owners came in an annual get-together (we attended in 2008). Here's a handful of pictures. The guy in the red shirt is Randy Dupree, who runs the website that sponsored the rally.
One thing we needed fixed was a leak in the Diesel-fired boiler that provides hot water for our coach. With the help of others who had been-there, done-that, I got the unit out far enough to get inside and replace a leaking hose. It was a difficult project.
About a dozen of us went to an after-rally rally at Randy and Carol's place in Bainbridge, Georgia. It is a home built inside an ancient brick warehouse, and the pictures only begin to show how unique it is inside.
From Bainbridge we headed down into Florida. Here are a couple of pictures taken in Tallahassee. The left one is the state capitol, and the right is an example of the colorful downtown architecture.
Our next stop was Rock Crusher RV Park, in Crystal River. Nikki had a lot of fun tearing up a bunch of Spanish Moss that was on the ground.
While staying a few days in the Clearwater area we visited Fort Desoto, at the north side of the entrance to Tampa Bay. Besides the fort, there is a huge fenced dog park and a dog beach. Nikki got a good swim, and then chased frisbees after we rinsed her off with a provided hose.
A staple of each of our trips to Florida has been a visit to the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. It was teeming with wildlife in 2003, but has not yet returned to that level following Hurricane Charley in 2004. Still lots of birds, though.
A primary tourist pastime on Sanibel is shell collecting, and the behavior is referred to as the 'Sanibel Stoop." Nikki was able to swim from one of Sanibel's dog-friendly beaches.
The far end of our trip was the Florida Keys. We stayed at the south end of Marathon, about 40 miles from Key West. Pictures include a draw big on the Overseas Highway, a fishing boat coming in to our campground at sunset, looking south at the Seven-Mile Bridge, and those fishermen cleaning their catch.
Heading north we stayed at a County Park just below the levee for Lake Okeechobee. The lake itself is seen here on the other side of the levee, with very low water levels.
During our trip we had an unexpected offer to buy out the import/distribution business of one of our suppliers, Nekton-Produkte of Germany. They have had a company-owned distribution office in Florida for 20 years or so, but with the pending departure of the sole employee they decided they would rather sell that part of their business. We stayed in Tampa for 3 weeks getting the details worked out, and our Sales Manager Chris flew out for several days to inventory and pack everything for shipment to California. This is a picture of Chris with the 7 pallets of goods ready for shipment. We will continue to operate the business as Nekton USA somewhat separate from Arcata Pet.
Finally it was time to go home. We stayed a few days with our friends Michael and Georgia Day in Austin, then headed directly home. This picture is of a fairly new RV park in Fort Stockton, Texas.
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