As I was sitting across the table from Joe – my salesman from General RV – he said, “your deal is approved, but you need to bring your RV here.” I had a moment of silent panic as I quickly considered all the moving parts involved with getting Myrtle to Florida – let alone the 831 mile drive I would need to take in an RV I really did not like driving. I looked over at Tim (my brother) he was smiling and happy his idea of coming to General RV had resulted in my new RV. He had no clue what conversations would ensue on the way home.
Leaving the RV dealership, I was a bundle of nerves. Instead of taking a few moments to celebrate the new RV purchase – I was deep in thought trying to figure out the next steps for getting mom home, the RV to Florida in less than 7 days and getting my truck back to Florida because I would be driving the RV. Tim looked over at me as I was driving back to Sarasota and said, “you seem awful deep in thought there Manny – what is up?” For the next hour we talked about all the planning and things that needed to happen over the next few days. Worst of all, my poor mother would need to cut her vacation short because we needed to leave to head back to Louisiana the very next day.
Tim and I had a million iterations of what I needed to do. At one point he said he would drive back with mom and me and would drive the RV to Florida; which would allow me to drive the truck back … but none of these plans seemed to settle with me. Once we arrived back to my brother’s house – I called mom (she was visiting with a dear friend) and I told her we needed to leave early the next morning. She was not happy, but understood the reasons and readily accepted the end to her vacation. I felt so bad about this, but there was simply no choice unless she decided to stay and fly back to Louisiana – which would definitely cost more money.
The next morning came very quickly – mom and I strapped into the truck and made the journey back to Louisiana. We arrived at mom’s house late – around 1AM … quickly went to bed and woke early the next morning. I headed off to Myrtle to get her ready to travel and let the RV Park know I was leaving. I was staying with Bayou Wilderness RV Park in Carencro. The owners were friends of my mother and were great people. As I was driving back to the RV park, Tim called me and told me he had arranged for a transport company to pick up my truck later that morning …. the cost was reasonable and they would deliver my truck to Florida is 2 days.
It seemed like the initial plan was working – the truck was headed to Florida, mom was home, and I was getting Myrtle ready for a long drive! Looked like things were working out. As I finished up preparing Myrtle to travel and sat in the driver’s seat getting ready to start the engine – I noticed the battery was dead. I had just purchased a brand new ignition battery less than a year ago. I knew my old house batteries were draining the new battery so I went to Walmart and purchased a battery charger and proceeded to charge the battery. After a few hours – Myrtle started right now. With the slide powered in and the outside maintenance done, all I had to do was finish some odds and ends inside and would be ready to leave for Florida in the morning.
I remember talking with my brother the night before I left and said, “I am ready for all this to be done – have a few weeks pass and sit around the pool talking about how crazy this experience was.” He laughed and said it will be all done soon enough.
The morning of my departure came very early – Myrtle was ready to go and so was I. She started right up and we were on the road. I am sure if you have been reading my blog you know how much I have complained about the roads in Louisiana … well driving a large RV on these roads is 100 times worse than driving a car or truck. It seemed like we bounced and swerved all the way out of Louisiana. Of course – as we were crossing the state line into Mississippi – a big storm started brewing and it was not long before the rain was so heavy – I had to pull over at a rest area and wait out the storm. My windshield wipers were not working very well and it was difficult to see with the volume of water. At the rest stop, I dried off the windshield and applied Rainex. What a great product … I was able to drive in the pouring rain without even using my wipers – and that was nice.
I arrived in Robertsdale, Alabama late in the evening around 9PM at the Hilltop RV Park. I had stayed at the Hilltop before and it was nice to be back – even though it was only for a night. The park looked the same and many of the same long term people were still there. I did not have time to visit as I was on a mission to get to Florida. Woke up early the next morning to the typical Summer storm … pouring the rain. I wondered if I should wait to leave until the storm was over … looking at my weather app on my iPhone – the storm cell was large and would be situated over Alabama for the rest of the day – I needed to get out of dodge and head to Florida.
Back on the road – pouring the rain – but the Rainex is still working. I am a nervous wreck the windshield arms are going to break because they are old and needed to be replaced when I purchased Myrtle. I could see and was safe driving on the road because of the intermittent use of the wipers and the Rainex. Getting into Florida, my initial plan was to overnight in Ocala … and then make the rest of the trip the following day … I would arrive in more than enough time, but I wanted this trip over with! I drove past Lake City and then Ocala. By this time – it was getting to be dusk … the clouds had cleared and there was a beautiful sunset off to the west.
The orange, pink, and blue colors of the clouds as the sun set over the horizon helped me realize how free I was … to travel the country, see amazing things and not be beholden to anything but exploration. For the first time since I had been full time on the road, that spirit of discovery had re-emerged. All of my fears from driving Myrtle were gone. She had performed flawlessly – driving through terrible roads, torrential rain, and other challenges without so much as a skipped beat. Myrtle was really a great running beast and I would definitely miss her.
As my mind wonders in thought … I realized it was 11:00PM, driving in the dark with patches of rain, and I was almost to my destination. What a crazy few days it has been I thought to myself. Despite all the challenges, despite all the fears of driving Myrtle so far – it had all worked out. I arrived at the RV dealership at 12:10PM. Parking in the RV section at General RV in Plant City, Florida, I turned off the ignition key and gave Myrtle and myself a little rest. We had made it and Myrtle would be traded in the next day.
The night flew past and before I knew it, the technicians from General RV were at my door and ready to do the trade-in inspection of Myrtle. They were impressed she made it 831 miles in two days without any mechanical issues … quietly, I was impressed too. As the inspection came to a conclusion – my new travel trailer was moved from the lot and transported to where Myrtle and I were parked.The technicians placed General RV stickers on Myrtle and asked me for the keys … leaving me one so I could move out and then lock her up. It was time to say goodbye to Myrtle and thank her for always having my back and getting me safely to my destinations over the last 2 years.
My ownership of this wonderful RV was over … what a ride for the last two years … I will miss Myrtle! And now my new adventure starts. You see from this point – everything had changed! I will leave you with this parting picture. It represents the ending of the old and the starting of the new. If a picture paints a thousand words than this picture tells the whole story. Thank you for spending the time reading my adventure and I hope you subscribe to my You Tube Channel – The Paddy Wagon and this blog and join me for more fun to come.