FL: Bunnell (Dead Lake/Crescent Lake) – 11/23/2016 – 12/04/2016

Parking: Bull Creek Campground
Rating: 9

Bull Creek Campground
Campsite

Can you make a turkey in an RV oven? Yes, you can! The trick is to cut it into leg quarters, wings, and breasts and roast it in two batches. The bigger trick is getting the turkey, the green bean casserole (yes, I know that’s cliche), stuffing, and rolls all done at the same time.

With Thanksgiving, all of the state/national parks were, of course, booked months ago, but once again, a regional park came to our rescue. This little park had about five or six other RVs for the holiday weekend, and then only one other RV (but no occupants – weird) the rest of the time. Nice and fairly quiet. It has canals that go to each site, and we kept the Porta-bote there, with the sailboat in the marina. The marina had a surprising number of sailboats there, but they were some very sad boats that looked like they got a little beat up during the hurricane, and no one came out to protect them.

The sailing was probably the best fresh water trips we have ever done. Dead Lake is a tiny lake that empties into Crescent Lake which is fairly large. Each day we went out, we put the sails up about 20 seconds after motoring away from the marina and sailed through to Crescent City. On one return trip, there was a little squall, and Eidolon sustained speeds in excess of 6 knots over ground (against the current) – that’s about 10% over her maximum hull speed. It was SWEET! The channel between Dead Lake and Crescent Lake is fairly narrow, so we usually had to tack a lot one way while floating on a run the opposite way (see the GPS track below).

One unpleasant thing about this part of Florida – the water. We didn’t realize it at the time because we arrived with full tanks. When we refilled the tanks, it coincided with a new bag of coffee, so we blamed the beans. I drink normally drink coffee black, so good taste is important to me, but even dumping sugar and eggnog into it did not make it drinkable. If you’re ever in this part of Florida, do yourself a favor and use bottled water.

Crescent City
Restaurant Marina
Crescent City
Tacking

FL: DeBary (Lake Monroe) – 11/09/2016 – 11/23/2016

Parking: Lake Monroe Park
Rating: 10

Lake Monroe Campground
Campsite

This is a great park. The bathrooms are all private and very clean with plenty of hot water. The cycling/walking path has a lovely wooden boardwalk and leads to two other parks, and the sites had privacy vegetation.

Although we got the new Porta-bote in Carrabelle, we never got around to actually putting it in the water, so we decided to try it out and scout out the lake for sailing. It rides remarkable well for a foldable boat. It’s a strange feeling standing on the floor; it’s like standing on a water bed. We went out with the electric outboard (~3hp), and it pushed it pretty well although with two of us in it, we couldn’t get it on a plane, but it will probably work when we try it with the gas outboard (6hp).

We wanted to put the sailboat into some freshwater before going back into salt, and this was a good location to it. The boat ramps and docks are very nice, but once again, we had to deal with power lines across the ramps, so we had to raise/lower the mast on the water. Fortunately, we’re getting almost as quick on the water as we are on land. Sailing was fantastic – the weather finally turned a little cooler, and it was nearly perfect for our Pacific Northwest adjusted bodies (the rest of central Florida is pulling out the jackets).

One negative: we had our very first theft. One of the wheel chocks on the boat trailer was stolen. They weren’t fancy, but I had modified them to be exactly what I wanted, so I was fairly miffed. Who steals a wheel chock?

Lake Monroe Campground
Boardwalk
Lake Monroe Campground
Cycling/Walking Path

WI: Calumet (Lake Winnebago) – 08/03/2016 – 08/10/2016

Parking: Columbia Park
Rating: 10

Calumet, WI

In the PNW, we’re used to trees that are tall and straight – Douglas fir, black cottonwood, alder, western hemlock, ponderosa pine, cedar, etc. Even our travels so far have only added trees such as redwood and palm that are of similar build. In Wisconsin, we started seeing oak, maple, and ash – the kind of trees that have big trunks and fork off to make a wide canopy. At first it was just a few at a time, but by the time we arrived at Lake Winnebago, we were seeing forests of them, and their shade was very welcome. Our campground had a five-story observation tower, and from the top, the forest looked like a bunch of broccoli with at least 80 windmills (yes, I counted) waving their arms as if ready to harvest it all.

Lake Winnebago is different from the places we usually sail. We’re used to Puget Sound (900′ deep), Lake Washington (200′ deep), and Strait of Juan de Fuca (900′ deep). On our trip so far, we’ve sailed Pend Oreille (1100′ deep – they test submarines in there!), Flathead Lake (350′ deep), and some smaller but still reasonably deep lakes, but Lake Winnebago has a maximum depth of only 20′ despite having a large surface area. We had to be a little more vigilant being without charts (bad sailors!). Sailing down to Fond du Lac at the southern end of the lake was excellent – fair winds, and the marina there is adorable with an old lighthouse and an adjacent park with canals around the ball fields.

At the campground, we were able to keep the boat in the water which makes it nice to quickly be able to head out when there is wind, and it’s not too hot. The camp hosts were nice enough to let us stay in a slip instead of on the sea wall (which gets crowded with weekenders), so Eidolon was extra protected.

They had a nice shower house, but the city water supply smelled massively like sulfur. It’s safe to drink, but it’s rather off-putting initially. On the plus side, my hair has never been so detangled and smooth.

Calumet, WI

Calumet, WI

Calumet, WI

Calumet, WI

Calumet, WI

Rant:
We’ve kept the TV tuned to NBC since the start of the opening ceremony. The tape-delayed finals for the team competition of women’s gymnastics was going to start in about 90 minutes (since NBC won’t show gymnastics live on TV), but at the time, the NBC Nightly News was on. Lester Holt said (with a little smirk) that since the results have already been announced all over the media, he might as well let us know that the US women won the gold. First, nowhere else on NBC had that been reported because they were going to broadcast the event, so we were unspoiled (especially with no internet). Second, if it was already all over the media, then anyone watching the Nightly News was either already spoiled (so, Lester, you weren’t actually reporting anything new to them), or they were deliberately NOT seeking out the results so as to stay unspoiled for watching the competition. Either way, there was NO POINT for you to report the results before the broadcast of the event. Lester, you are a giant jerk, and I will now make it a point to turn off the NBC Nightly News whenever it comes on.
[edited to add: the jerk did it again a couple of days later within five seconds of starting his broadcast before I could change the channel. Of course, he had his usual giddy demeanor that he sports whenever he is reporting really bad news since he knew he was about to spoil gymnastics for millions of viewers.]

WI: Menomonie/Poynette – 08/01/2016 – 08/03/2016

Parking: Menomonie – Motel 6
Rating: 7

Parking: Poynette – Jamieson Park
Rating: 9

It has been really hot this summer, and the mosquitoes have gone through many more breeding cycles than usual, so it can sometimes be a little uncomfortable. My partner decided he had enough of the Northland and wanted to make tracks for a while. So, these past two days have been pretty much just watching the world go by my window – there’s Minneapolis – there’s St. Paul – there’s the exit for the Wisconsin Dells – not much fun for me. I picked up a few brochures at a rest stop just to see what the Dells actually looked like and to read about its geological history. I could have had the same experience by printing some images of the Midwest I found on Google and driving I-5 from a few miles north of Olympia to a few miles south over and over with the heater turned all the way up.

ND: Hannaford – 07/19/2016 – 07/29/2016

Hannaford, ND

Parking: Clinton A. Brown Memorial Park
Rating: 10

The Isuzu blew a nasty puff of smoke and threw a code about cylinder 2 misfiring. Back when we got the truck, we had the fuel injectors for cylinders 1 and 4 replaced, but we had left 2 and 3 alone as they were still working at the time, so it was likely that the injector was going. Of course, being in the middle of the nowhere, there are no Isuzu specialists around, and we knew from prior experience, that we were probably looking at about a week in the shop. When we chose our rig, one of the advantages was the ability to drop the pods and take the truck in for service, so it was time to exercise that option. We had hoped to be able to get to Duluth, MN, so we could sail Superior during the shop time, but it was clear we needed to get it to the shop as soon as possible. We found a little city park in the small town of Hannaford where we’d be able to leave the pods (most private RV parks will not allow a truck camper to take the camper off the truck) on the way to Fargo.

Dropping the pods does not have to be a big deal, but once again thunderstorms with high winds were expected, so leaving the pods high on the jacks was not going to be a good idea, so it turned into a much bigger job, but since this was such a private park, we were able to get them off with no one coming over to gawk and bother us.

We then loaded the motorcycles on the flat bed, and the next morning headed to Fargo. At RDO Truck Center, we left the truck and geared up for the 100 mile ride back. Unfortunately, ND was in the middle of a serious heat wave. Most motorcyclists in ND don’t seem to wear a lot of gear – no helmets and shorts are common. I think they are crazy especially since the speed limit is 80 mph on most roads (and merely 65 mph in construction zones), so we wore full gear despite the heat. About 25 miles into the ride back, I started to feel light-headed and was getting tunnel vision because I was so hot. There is absolutely nothing but farmland once you’re about two miles outside of Fargo. On this stretch of road, there weren’t even any trees for shade. We rode a few more miles when there was finally a tree-lined driveway, and we pulled over. I stripped off all my gear and drank some water taking in the breeze under the shade of the trees. I unzipped the side zippers of my pants from hip to ankle to let in some more air, and we set off again. Fortunately, either the water or the extra air did the trick because I was fine for the rest of the ride. I did end up with a nice tuxedo stripe sunburn from where the pants were unzipped on the sides of my legs (I don’t think my thighs have even seen the sun in 10 years).

This city park was a very nice facility. For $12 / night ($200 / month), it included electricity which was nice because we kept the air conditioning blasting the entire time. It was also very quiet. There were five or six RVs that had no tow vehicle on site and that we never saw a single person enter or leave. We figured that since it was so cheap (the full hook-up sites were only $15 / night and the same $200 / month), some folk were just using it for RV storage. There were also some folk there that were staying there to work in the area which is what the point of the park seemed to be since it was sponsored by the Griggs-Steele Empowerment Zone.

Hannaford is a very small town, but nearby Cooperstown had a lumber yard, a hardware store, and a grocery store, so we were all set. It’s a nice area to motorcycle with paved roads and dirt roads. Also, it’s nice riding through the incredible wind farms.

RDO replaced the fuel injectors for cylinders 2 and 3 (we weren’t going to wait for 3 to go bad down the road), did our yearly service, and updated the firmware (which would fix the velocity sensor code we would occasionally get while idling). They needed to order parts for the fuel sender (the fuel gauge didn’t read below about a half-tank) and a secondary fuel filter (recommended by Isuzu to protect the injectors for the future), so as expected, the truck was in the shop for about a week. RDO did an excellent job at an incredibly reasonable price.

We rode back to Fargo (which was a much nicer, cooler ride), loaded up the motorcycles on the flatbed, and drove back to Hannaford. The next day we loaded the pods back onto the truck, and then we were ready to continue on our journey.

Hannaford, ND