After a fun and exhausting three days at the Tiny House Festival, it was time to head home for the holidays. Sunday night, after the festival ended, Zack and I headed to Anastasia State Park to spend the night. We couldn’t stomach the idea of driving all the way down to Florida and not getting to see the beach.
All the seashells
We didn’t arrive until well after dark so after parking, we called it a night. The next morning Zack went out to take pictures of the sunrise while I slept in. Over the past week and a half, we were always arriving to our camping spots late and not exactly sure what we are going to be waking up to. It’s kinda fun to get up in the morning and see where we ended up.
Wish we could have stayed longer in this spot
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to spend any time here. It was already Monday and we needed to be home by Wednesday for Thanksgiving. Also, I don’t think we accurately estimated the amount of time it takes to get from one place to another in a bus. We top out at 60 mph and we seem to have to make a lot of stops (less now that we have the fan fixed). Before we leave any campsite that has hookups, we dump our grey water, empty our urine tank, and take out the trash. If we know we won’t have access to water hookups for a while, we fill the fresh water tank with what we think we will need. Driving with full tanks affects the gas mileage so we try not to drive these long distances with more than we need.
We wanted to take a more scenic route home. We drove up Highway 1 until Jacksonville, then took 10 West until Greensboro. We then made our way South to Highway 98 and took that to Mobile. We stopped at a few more beaches along the way, some on Highway 1 and some on 98.
Walking from the beach back to the bus
Lola loves the beach
Monday night we camped at a beach off of 98. We use the website freecampsites.net to try and find free boondocking places. It pointed us to the area we decided to stop in and with no signs saying overnight parking, we stayed for the night.
It was a really nice spot (main picture is from this camping spot) without a lot of traffic. There was no one out on the beach and late at night we could see plankton washing up on shore. I think this was my favorite place that we have stayed thus far.
While hanging out in the bus (and it was pretty late) I could hear a car pull up and a bunch of noise. I was a little worried that it was going to be the police or someone to ask us to leave. Turns out it was just a group of high schoolers working on an astronomy project. But while Zack was out there talking to them, a ranger pulled up. The Ranger informed Zack that even though there were no signs, it was illegal to overnight camp. Not to worry though. Zack used his charming (ha!) personality to convince him to let us stay for the night. He said he was the only one patrolling so it wouldn’t be an issue. He made sure we were self contained and Zack re-assured him that we would be leaving first thing in the morning.
The next morning, Zack and I got up, let Lola go run out on the beach a little before leaving. Except when we went to start the bus, it wouldn’t turn over all the way. Zack tried everything he could think of to get it going based on past issues we’ve had. We weren’t sure what was wrong with it. The key turned over, it would try to start, but just never could get itself going.
I wouldn’t say we panicked. We have been down this road a few times now. But when it happens, there just seems to be a feeling of dread and ‘here we go again’. We called a 24/7 diesel roadside service we looked up in the area but they didn’t answer at first. The next thing was AAA since we have RV insurance through them. I cannot tell you how unhelpful they were. I mean they tried, but they called over 20 tow companies and couldn’t get us one. It may be time to rethink our insurance with them. Sammy from Diesel Pro, LLC ended up calling us back about 30 min into this ordeal.
Zack, trying to pick up as much knowledge from Sammy as he could
He came out and not only fixed our issue but humored Zack as he asked a million questions and taught us a few things. Once he fixed the issue, he made sure we knew how to fix it if it were to happen again. We asked and he was very blunt in what he could and couldn’t do for us. He got us running again but told us that we would need to go into a shop to find the root of the problem. If you ever happen to break down in the Destin/Pensacola area, we highly recommend him for roadside assistance on diesel vehicles.
Our issue was that we were getting air in our fuel lines. With the issue fixed and a few hours after we were slated to have (sorry to the Ranger who let us stay) we were back on the road. Our hiccup in the morning meant for another long day of driving. Later, using that same free camping website, we found a spot near where we thought we could make it to for the night. This time we boon docked in the Delta National Forest.
Once again, it was completely dark when we got there. In the morning we woke up to some pretty fall color by a swamp. Once we are no longer on deadlines, we are hoping to enjoy the places we camp a little more. And maybe stay for more than a night.
Sadly, the next morning we had the same issue and the bus would not start. Since Sammy had told us what we would need to do if it happened again, Zack loosened the fuel hose and pumped the air out. I had to keep trying to start the bus until it would kick over. It took a while and there were moments where we were worried we wouldn’t get it going but it just took a while. Because of our long haul the day before, we only had a few hours and we were back home. We were glad to be back in familiar territory AND to have made it back for thanksgiving.
We had a great Thursday spending the morning and having Thanksgiving lunch with Zack’s family and then dinner with mine. It is hard to imagine not spending holidays in the future with family. That is why it was so important to make it back this Thanksgiving and Christmas.
After spending the weekend with Zack’s sister’s family we found a shop to take the bus to. We are hoping to get some more permanent fixes done on some of our makeshift work we did while on the road. The bus is still in the shop, so fingers crossed it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and we can get everything done before we head out west!