We packed up and were pulling out of Springfield, MO on Friday, September 8th. Our final destination was sunny Daytona Beach, FL. However, our plans had a problem…Hurricane Irma was bearing down on the Florida coast. We contacted the hospital where Kevin was supposed to start working the following Tuesday and we were advised to stay away and make it down to Daytona when it was safe to do so. So, what shall we do with our time that has become free, but without a definite end-date? Go exploring! The nice thing about living in an RV is that one is open to change itineraries almost with no advance planning. We decided to wing it, as they say.
We left Springfield on Friday as planned and headed east through Saint Louis, then on to Mammoth Cave in Bowling Green, KY. We took a tour of the cavern, enjoyed the woods, and the kids made some new Fulltime RV friends also staying at the Mammoth Cave campground. We opted to stay for two nights, which allowed us the time to make a side trip to Louisville, KY to get Heather’s iPhone fixed at the Apple store and explore the Louisville Slugger factory & museum.
From Mammoth Cave we trekked further east, keeping a very tight watch on the storm predictions and path, to Spartanburg, SC to visit a friend who Kevin worked with in Ohio (prior to traveling), who is now a Nurse Practitioner. We visited, ate together, and the kids enjoyed playing on our friend’s X-Box Kinect while the adults visited and the dogs investigated the house.
We had paid for two nights at the last spot in the campground in Spartanburg with no idea when we would be leaving. By Tuesday morning the storm had passed and the sun had come back out. We had only lost power for part of the night and had barely noticed since we had not been hooked up to the electrical grid since before leaving Missouri. We tried contacting the campground where we had planned to stay near Daytona Beach but were not able to make contact. Kevin also contacted some of his friends in the Daytona area to see how they had fared. It seemed that power was spotty and some places had flooded but it was mostly ok. We had been worried since the prediction was that some places would not have power again for more than a week. After that, we contacted another campground that was fully up and running and had a spot for us. Great!
To hopefully avoid some of the crazy amounts of traffic that we had heard were flooding back into the Sunshine State, we got up early in the morning (3am) and were on the road by 3:30. The night traffic was not bad at all and really neither was the early daytime traffic. Traffic was not too crazy and we made our way steadily down toward Daytona. We were a bit surprised when quite a few I-95 exits in southern Georgia were blocked by State Patrol cruisers and/or Army National Guard Humvees. We had plenty of fuel and were able to top-off in northern Florida after waiting in a quickly moving line. We topped everything off in case we were not able get fuel closer to Daytona. Enroute to Daytona we saw many convoys of power company trucks, tree trimmers, and emergency relief organizations. We even got passed by an official FEMA convoy in Northern Florida.
We arrived at our destination shortly before noon on Wednesday, and after getting all hooked up, we went exploring instead of going straight to bed. We viewed some of the damage, visited the beach, and enjoyed dinner at Outback Steakhouse before returning to our campground for an early bedtime. As we were enjoying our Bloomin’ Onion we noted that we were feeling kind of badly since we were eating dinner at a restaurant while Kevin’s sister was still without power and had been taking cold showers for the past 3 days on the west coast of Florida.