Snow in Virginia and heading to Florida Winter 2014
Our plans were to leave for Florida on Wednesday, February 12, but the weather had other plans. Even though it did not start snowing until 1 pm on Wednesday, the frozen precipitation arrived earlier in Georgia and South Carolina.
In anticipation of the heavy snowfall forecast, we packed the van and pod camper on Tuesday and Wednesday morning and moved it down the driveway near the road. Original plans was to take the new Coachman Clipper travel trailer, but things went a rye to keep this from happening. First of all, a coolant leak was discovered in the engine of my truck when I took it in to have the cooling system flushed. Of course, the second thing was the thirteen and a half inches of snow in the driveways.
Even with the van and camper parked within 100 feet of the road, we still had to have the neighbor come over with the front end loader on his tractor to clear the three foot berm placed there by the DOT snow plow. Then there was the removal of the more than the one foot of snow from the top of the van and pod. The weather person was forecasting another 1 to 3 inches for Saturday morning, so we finished loading and pulled out of the driveway before 2 pm on Friday, Valentine's Day The road was surprisingly free of snow and ice, even dry in nearly all places out to the interstate. Our DOT crews really do a great job. They have the roads in good shape not long after a snow event.
We stopped for the day just outside of Columbia, S.C. In Blytheville. My trailer lights were not quite working right, so I wanted to stop before dark even though I have plenty of reflectors on the rear. There was considerable cloud cover so it was not suppose to get below freezing, but showers were in the forecast and we really didn't want to look for camping. We found a reasonable priced motel and then went out for a romantic Valentine dinner at KFC.
At 10:25 we were in bed and we felt the bed and the room vibrating significantly. There were train track near the motel, but we did not hear a train. The next morning, we discovered that there had been an earthquake somewhere in South Carolina.
After leaving the motel and filling up with gas, we stopped at Walmart just down the road to get a wiring harness and some stick on letters to make a license plate. At the motel, I realized that I did not have a plate on the trailer. I had used the plate on my utility trailer and forgot to move them back to the camper. We hoped to get by for a month on hand made tags.
A ways down the highway we saw a sign for an artisan center in the town of Walterboro. It was in the heart of town and was well worth the side trip. We spent about thirty to forty minutes looking at the four or five rooms of very high quality artisan crafts and art of fabric, wood, glass, clay and metal. One of the most impressive items was a had crafted canoe made of mahogany and some exotic African wood and it was priced at over one hundred thousand dollars.
We stopped in Richmond Hill south of Savannah when we saw a sign for Smokin Pig Barbeque. Wherever we travel, we always try to give the local barbecue a taste test. It met our standard. The pulled pork and brisket was very good and they had four sauces to put on it. We can now add this to our list of great barbeque we have eaten across the country.
We made another stop at the South Newport exit, about a mile from the interstate. The location was the site of America's smallest church. This is the spot my friend got the inspiration for Wytheville's smallest church. As soon I got in the parking lot and entered the church, I began to see the various things that inspired its replication for the little church in Wytheville. There was one couple there when we arrived and another came up while we were inside.
Our evening's camp was west of Palm Coast outside of Bunnel, Fla. It was a private campground with a restaurant and nightly entertainment called the Thunder Gulch. It was mostly permanent sites with a mix of snowbirds. We had a good supper of spaghetti and meatballs along with green beans and apple sauce.
Sunday morning we headed up to Palatka to find a relatively new trail being developed between Palatka and Lake Butler. One day they hope to connect St. Augustine to Lake City. I failed to bring much information on it, so we had to do some searching around and asking a few folks. Parts of the , trail paralleled Florida Route 100 so it was easy to spot. We drove to Keystone Heights and I rode seventeen and a half miles back to where the pavement currently ends outside of Palatka. It took me two hours with a short lunch stop in the middle. I packed a can of tuna fish salad, crackers, an apple and some trail mix along with a big bottle of water.
After reuniting with Rhonda at the trail head parking lot, we headed over to Salt Springs in the Ocala National Forest to get a campsite for a couple of days. The campground was extremely nice. When we registered, there were only two sites remaining. After setting up camp, we rode the bikes down to the very large springs. I wasn't quite up for a swim in the 72 degree clear water. There were a number of canoes, kayaks, and small boats out on the lake fed by the springs.
In the campground, as usual, we had a number of inquiries about our little pod. The sun was so warm that we actually had to seek out a shady spot to place our chairs to read. The temperature was about 75 at its peak for the day. Rhonda fixed a Mexican style hamburger helper for supper along with corn chips and mixed greens and we finish it off with some fruit cocktail.
The 21” flat screen I borrowed from the other camper picked up about 16 channels. I fell asleep early watching the TV series “Elementary”.
Monday morning was cold (about 38 degrees) and it was difficult getting out at seven o'clock. We had waffles with baked apples, smoked sausages and coffee. By the end of the week, the day time temperature is suppose to be around 83 degrees and about 60 overnight. I should be ready for some snorkeling in the springs by then. Mid-morning, we decided to check out the Cross Florida Greenway up the road about 10 miles. We found an empty camping area along side one of the locks of the barge canal that connects the Rodman Reservoir with the St. Johns River. It was quiet with no one else around. We hiked, had lunch, and read some. I hung up my hammock and Rhonda practiced here clarinet. Before leaving the area, we went to the dam of the reservoir and watch people fishing but not catching for about 30 minutes. One guy was using a long pole with a net on the end to catch something he called stinking shad. He said he used them for crab bait. By the amount he was hauling in, he must have had a lot of crab traps.
When we returned to the park, we rode the bikes down to the springs and on the roads all around the campground. Later we had meat loaf, mash potatoes and gravy, three bean salad finished off with lemon meringue jello pudding.
The next day started off about 41 degrees, but was warming up as we sat at the picnic table for breakfast of eggbeaters, fried spam, and french toast sticks. We packed up camp mid-morning and headed down to another Ocala National Forest camping area at Juniper Springs. This facility was very nice. We stayed there one night last year before the Disney adventure with Karissa and Dustin. There were fewer sites, but with lots of space between each one, unlike the ones at Salt Springs. Most were shielded from each other by natural vegetation. There were no hookups (electric or water) only a bathhouse. With our Federal Public Lands Golden Passport the sites were only $10.50. Here we wanted to hike some of the Florida Trail, canoe down Juniper Run and swim in the springs.
After getting set up and having lunch, we walked out of the campground to the trail crossing and hiked only about three or four miles of the trail. The temperature was up around 80 degrees. We just wanted to see what the trail was like for possibly planning a longer hike later. We decided that starting early in the morning would be best. Some places the trail ran through just head high scrub brush thus not providing much shade and blocking the little breeze that was blowing. Just a few days earlier we were in thirteen inches of snow.
Upon returning, we sat and read some before heading up toward Silver Springs near Ocala to get some fresh meat for grilling and some parts to work on the trailer lights. After we got back, I discovered that the wiring harness was not compatible with the van even thought the package said it was for Toyota. I was able to get the left brake and turn signal light work, so there is hope to get the right side also.
We had a good supper of grilled steak, barbecue shrimp, sweet potatoes, and Cole slaw. In the bath house we found the spray nozzle on the shower to be much better here and the hot water was more consistent that the last two. I tried to do a crossword puzzle while lying in the pod, but I kept falling to sleep.
Wednesday morning the temperature was 49 outside and 61 in the pod. I got up and made coffee, started heating a Hormel container of eggs, potatoes, and ham breakfast casserole and got out the fixing for pancakes as Rhonda was trying to force herself from under the cozy covers and get dressed. We planned to rent a canoe and paddle down the seven mile Juniper Run through the swampy forest of the Juniper Wilderness to Route 19. It was described as a four and a half to five hour trip. The park had hourly pickups at the take out point from one to four o'clock.
We rented a canoe and had to wheel cart it down a boardwalk for about 50 yards. The flow came from the springs and it was so shallow where we put in, it barely floated the canoe because of so much sand in the creek at that location. The stream flowed through a wilderness area, so they were insistent about not taking anything disposable. For a good ways, it was very narrow and winding. The terrain on either was swampy and jungle-like. It took steady attention and diligence to navigate the course with brush and fallen trees jutting out into the stream, both above and below the water. The tributary's bottom was mostly white sand. In some spots there were aquatic vegetation growing on the bottom and other places the bottom hard clay and a few large rocks, but mostly white sand. With all this said, it was a wonderful excursion. It was a fabulous nature experience for a little over seven miles. We put in at 10:30 and took out at 1:30 with a 15 minute lunch stop in the canoe along the bank (the shuttle van was provided in the rental price). The day had warm up nicely and the sky was almost cloudless; perfect for outdoor activity.
When we returned to the park, we were ready for a swim in the 72 degree clear spring. There were a half dozen or so in and out of the water when we arrived. I walked in to my waist and then made the dive. It took Rhonda a little longer to make the commitment. We both agreed that it was quite brisk and refreshing.
Rhonda made a delicious stew of chicken, veggies and dumplings made from canned biscuits. Afterward, we split a can of fruit cocktail along with graham crackers. It is very pleasant eating all our meals outside at a picnic table. After dark, I lit the propane lantern and tried to get a fire going, but the fire wood I scrounged was not cooperative. By the time I got it going halfway decent, I was about ready to turn for the night. I did get some reading and a crossword puzzle done while coaxing the fire.
After breakfast the next morning, we walked down to the Run to watch folks that were launching canoes and kayaks. I took a picture of one couple from a boardwalk platform about 50 yards down stream. I joked with them that they could view and purchase their photos and the end of the trip (this is often done at the amusement parks like Disney, Carowinds, and Dollywood.
We made a trip to Silver Springs to return the wiring harness, get some ice, find a library to send and check email, get the photos printed and fine some wire to repair one of our folding canvas chairs. Rhonda also found some discounted reading material at the Dollar General while looking for a big cap. She discovered that she had failed to bring along her traditional outside excursion hat.
Back at camp, I changed into my swim shorts for a refreshing swim in the springs. While there at the springs, we talked with a fellow who told us some interesting stories about his work with the Forest Service and the US Fish and Game in Alaska. He was back in Florida to spend time with his 90 year old mother who had just passed away.
Later, when I gave the photo to the couple we had seen in the kayak, I discovered that they were from Asheville. They were camping in a new Casitia Travel trailer. It was one we had been considering, but changed our mind because many of the features we got on our camper as standard was extra on that one. He came by later to take a look at our pod. He was a bike trail rider also and we invited him to come up and ride the New River Trail with us later this spring.
The next morning we packed up and moved down to Alexander Springs; still in the Ocala National Forest, but about 30 miles south. The day was overcast and rain was in the forecast. We rode the bikes down to the spring, stayed a short while and return to our site for hot barbeque and slaw sandwiches. Just after we finished eating, it started raining (big time). We had put up the tarp over the pod so it would provide good shelter. We spent the next couple of hours reading in the van. Later, we decided to drive to Astor eight miles away and get some postcard stamps, go to the library for email and look at a satellite weather map on the internet. Both the post office and the library was closed, but we were able to connect to the Web from the parking lot of the library.
Saturday it was overcast as we drove over to Barkersville to look for some Aztec tiles at a very interesting place that had a great deal of yard art and Mexican ceramics. We had stopped there the year before. They had life size animal figures and statues made of cast aluminum some for eight or nine hundred dollars. On the way back to the campground, we stopped in Astor for some ice, bread and chicken thighs. When we returned, we rode the bikes around the area and then I when in snorkeling in the springs. These springs were larger that the previous ones and the large cavity feeding the lake was about twenty feet deep at its deepest point and the size of a basketball court. I charcoal grilled the chicken and we ate it with herb pasta and green beans.
Sunday morning, we packed up and headed further south to Clermont south west of Orlando. We had friends (Don Martin from high school) and his wife were staying at a high class RV park (membership only) in their motor home. We met them at the entrance parking lot at around 10:30 and rode with them back to their site. After a couple of hours, we left to find a place to camp and returned to have supper with them. They came by where we were camped on Monday morning and we went to a GIANT flea market in Webster that is open just on Mondays. I would say it is as big as Hillsville with a lot more variety. We me some friends of theirs that they met on the road Rving that lives in Clermont. We met them at a Hardees, but we had already had french toast and ham, so I just got a coffee. After spending several hours roaming through the flea market, we came back to Minneola for some good barbeque at a place call Jacks.
Tuesday morning we were off to Lake Okeechobee to ride the trail around the lake (about 110 miles). We found a RV park in our Woodall's directory in the town of Okeechobee and it turned out to be right across the road from one of the trail accesses. The RV park was Zackary Taylor RV Resort. When the word “resort” is in the name of the place they usually have a lot of extra amenities and charge about fifteen to twenty dollars a night more. The guide book said $25 to $60 we found out when we checked it that the $25 was the off season rate (summer), We did get the Good Sam Club 10% discount. It did have a very nice pool and excellent shower facilities.
After lunch, Rhonda dropped me off on the west side of the lake about 32 miles from town. The trail was rougher than I had expected. Come to find out that most bikers take the highway route though this section. The trail was dirt and small rocks and in some places, grass. The rougher surface was slowing me up and tiring me out. Early in the riding season, conditioning is not the same after one has had time to ride more often. This winter has been especially cold. By 4:30 and 26 miles, I had had enough so I call Rhonda to come pick me up.
Wednesday morning, we rode out of the campground to the trail and went down about six miles to where the pavement ended. We made good time on the asphalt as oppose to the gravel and grass. When we returned, we went into town for lunch. (I had eaten enough sandwiches and wanted a break). We will save them for when we are out away from camp or a town. I worked on the right brake light again, but I still could not get it to work.
Around 2 o'clock, we drove east along US98 to a trail access area about 10 miles away. I told Rhonda to wait for me to check out the trail surface before she left. When I saw that it was paved, I sent her on her way. As I reached the Taylor Creek access, I had logged 12.4 miles. Back at camp, Rhonda was dressing to go to the pool, so I decided to join her. I carried the new swim fins I had bought at Walmart a few day earlier to adjust them to my feet and give them a try. It turned out that on of the fastening snaps was not holding, so when I return to the site I boiled some water to heat the plastic, wedged a coin under it and let it cool, then removed the coin. When I tried it later, it worked perfectly.
Walking back from the pool, I stopped to talk to some folks sitting around getting their fishing gear ready for the next morning. I told them I was not much good at catching fish but I was real good at eating them. As soon as I said that, the lady in the group got up and went inside and came back with a with a frozen bag with ten crappie filets in it. When I told Rhonda, she quickly changed the evenings meal menu. She pull out some Martha White's cornbread muffin mix and after thawing the fish in some warm water, we battered them and fried them to a golden brown using some margarine. They were delicious along with French cut green beans and macaroni and cheese. We thought about making corn bread muffins with remainder of the mix using Rhonda's handy dandy electric muffin and cupcake baker. We had so many things going at one time in the Pod galley that we decided against it. It was good that we did not make the muffins. We ate all but two of the filets and with the sides it was enough.
The next morning we headed down US98 and Rhonda let me off at where I started north the day before. It was a 15 mile ride to Canal Bay. Just a few miles down the trail I spotted a large bird off to the side swoop down and grab a fish out of the water. It landed on the trail about 50 yards in front of me on the trail. It was a bald eagle. As soon as it realized I was coming toward it on the bike, it flew off to the left, but returned to the trail further down. This time I stopped short so I would not scare it away, got out my camera and zoomed in for a pretty good shot.
At Port Mayaca, a construction worker stopped me and advised that the trail was closed to Canal Bay and I would have to go around on the highway. I was a ways down the highway when Rhonda came back to pick me up after seeing the work on the trail. In Pahokee, I rode back to where the trail was closed in Canal Bay and then return for some lunch and headed to South Bay. We had checked ahead to be sure the campground at South Bay had a site. When I arrived, Rhonda had already backed the camper into the site. That was a real accomplishment for her. The campground was operated by Palm Beach county and was one of the nicest we've stayed.
It rained during the night and it was still heavily overcast as we had breakfast of corn beef hash cooked with eggs and pancakes on the side. We gassed up and bought some can veggies before leaving town and headed to Key Largo to check out the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail and do some snorkeling at the state park (Pennycamp). It started clearing as we approached the Miami area and was most sunny when we arrive at the campground in Key Largo. We got misdirected by the GPS device, but luckily it sent us to another campground near by and we got reservations for Saturday night. The Key Largo Campground did not have a space for Saturday. We had also made a reservation when we were back at South Bay for a campground in Key West for Sunday night.
We went over to the state park after lunch and snorkeled, checked on a boat trip out to a reef and visited the aquarium. Afterwards, we tried to locate the trail going out of Key Largo and found out that it was the paved side walk on the east side of US 1 running through town. Saturday morning, we rode the bike east and west on the “trail”. We had to vacate the site by noon, so we packed up and move out at 11:30. We had one of the slow smoked brisket sandwiches at Arby's for lunch and topped it off with a piece of Key Lime pie from Publix grocery store. The manager in Arby's said it was the best around and it without doubt was most delicious. I can now check off one of Rhonda's request. Our campsite across the road was not as nice and was more expensive. There was no shade and no friendly neighbors, but the pool was nice.
We left Key Largo early the next morning and stopped down the road at a McDonalds in Tavernier for breakfast. Our next stop was Knight Key so we could ride the historic Seven Mile Bridge built by the oil man Flagler as part of a railroad to Key West. The first big hurricane came along and put an end to it. It was used as a highway bridge from 1935 to 1982. It is now use mainly for bikers and walkers and to service the small island of Pigeon Key between the new bridge and this bridge. We rode the two miles to the point where there is 100 ft. section missing and then returned.
We arrived in Key West around 10:30 to see if we could get on the site before the 12 o'clock check in time. The site had been vacated so we were able to get in early. It was tent site and it barely accommodated the pod and van. We had to unhook the pod and back it in by hand and then park the van perpendicular to it. There was a picnic table and we were able to park the bikes. We ate a mid-morning snack put some lunch items in our bike bag, grabbed some water bottles and headed out to see the town of Key West. Our first destination was the monument that marks the most southern park of the US. Words on it said it was 90 miles to Cuba. We got someone to take our picture and we returned the favor. We rode out to Zackery Taylor state park to see about snorkeling, but discovered that the wind was causing the water to be a bit choppy, making it not ideal. After going to St. John's in the Virgin Islands five times, most everything else snorkeling wise is hard to measure up. As we were coming into the area, we saw a huge cruise ship at its dock and went by Hemmingway's home. We rode back, stopping at some beaches along the way. When we had got back to the camp site, we had ridden 14 miles plus the 5 miles at the Seven Mile Bridge. We saw on the TV at the camp office that temperature for the was 79 and there was a nice ocean breeze blowing all day.
Monday,we arrived back at the Key Largo Campground around 4 o'clock after leaving Key West around 10 o'clock. I rode 13 miles on the Florida Overseas Heritage Trail right after breakfast and then Rhonda dropped me off north of the Seven Mile Bridge so I could ride another 12 miles. We met up again at a pull over. When I called, she just happened be about a quarter mile away and was at my location at Tom's Harbor by the time I put the phone away. The trail runs right beside US 1 and there are only a few places north of mile post 60 where it is on the same pavement with the highway. There are a couple of long bridges where the trail is right beside the traffic lane. Other than those bridges and some stretches of highway, they are doing a good job of building it far enough over to be comfortably away from traffic.
I changed into my bathing suit, took a shower up by the pool and went for a relaxing swim. While Rhonda checked on email. After returning to the camp site, we rode our bikes up to the Publix grocery to get some goodies for supper. We got a half roasted chicken from the deli, some large Florida Keys shrimp, a tomato, a wonderful salad mix of sweet kale, chopped broccoli and Brussels sprouts, purple cabbage, also included in the mix was roasted pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and a package of poppy seed dressing. Of course we got another slice of key lime pie. It was a great and filling meal after a day of activity.
Tuesday morning I got up early and rode the bike up to John Penneycamp State Park and was there when they opened at 7:45 am to go out on a snorkel boat. The boat went out about five miles into the ocean to a coral reef. It was also the location of a very large coral formation and the Christ of the Abyss statue that you could see while snorkeling. It was in about 25 feet of water. The boat captain told everyone that if they had not seen Jesus, now was the chance. He said not to touch the statue unless you wanted to have a religious experience, because the statute was covered with fire coral. The boat got back to the park a little after noon and rejoined Rhonda at Arby's for a very good fish sandwich. (Alaskan pollock 2 for $5)
We headed back to the mainland and to the Everglades National Park after lunch. We visited one of the excellent wildlife viewing areas and the visitor center. At one place, I counted more than a dozen alligators lying in the mud sunning. I wanted to camp in the park, but there were no showers and Rhonda wanted a hot shower. We drove across US41 (Alligator Alley) to Collier Seminole State Park just inside the National Preserve and just east of Naples. I called my uncle and aunt who winters in Florida from Connecticut. We stopped by at 10 the next morning and had a nice visit and took them out to lunch.
The evening's stop was Highlands Hammock State Park about a 150 miles northwest of Naples. The park was right outside of Sebring. It was interesting in that it was a hammock preserve. A hammock is a geographical area like a desert, swamp, sand hills, savannah, and such areas that are characterized terrain or type of vegetation growning in the area. I this case, it marsh, swamp, palm, cypress and other native trees along with palmettos and marsh plants. The area had been donated to the state about 75 years ago. There was and small abandoned orange grove, a 1000 year old tree (not alive), and wonderful hiking trails in surroundings that folks further north normally do not experience. There were some lush ferns one another trail and a long boardwalk through a cypress swamp, a bike trail and some nice campground roads. We checked it out on Thursday morning until the rain started around 11 am. We stopped at the very interesting and educational CCC museum. We met a couple that were from Charlottesville who volunteers at the park for three months each year and have been doing it for thirteen years. Since it had started to rain, we decided to go to town to get lunch and check out a shopping areas until the rain stopped.
Later back at camp, the rain had stopped and there was some signs of clearing so I pulled out all the wiring from the trailer and replaced it with some new wiring I had bought at Kmart. There was some improvement, but not a total fixed. The tail lights were now working along with the left turn signal and left brake light. It appears that the remaining problem is in the vehicle's trailer wiring harness. Rhonda did a load of laundry after supper.
Friday morning, we when back down to the trail area to take pictures of some of the areas we had walked in on Thursday. We did not dally long because we wanted to get to Juniper Springs back in the Ocala National Forest where we had been on February 19th and 20th. Sometimes, the campgrounds get busier on weekends when local folks come out to camp and add the fact that spring break started for some schools. We took one of the toll roads near Orlando to hasten our trip, but we did not realize that the tolls would mount up to about eight dollars.
When we arrived at the campground, we were glad to find out that we had a choice of about five or 6 sites. We backed into the site and fixed some lunch, of some hot cheese burger soup. The temperature was about 55 and there was a cool breeze blowing. This was a significant change from the 80 degrees we had in the Keys. After supper, I helped a college student who I observed trying to figure how to put up a large tent he recently bought new. He had two more fellow students coming in later. He thanked me and I told him I had been putting up tents for 30 or 40 years and had some experience.
The next morning Rhonda dropped me off at a trail head of the Florida Trail and I walked about five miles back to the campground. We spent the sunny and 70 degree afternoon reading and then checked out the other big spring (Fern Hammock) that we had not seen before.
Sunday I wanted to go back to the Palatka to Lake Butler trail and ride the opposite direction from Keystone Heights. We stopped at a little local cafe in Salt Springs to get a good breakfast and was very pleased with the good food. While we were eating a man came over to our table asked if I remember him, but I didn't. I am usually pretty good with faces. He had camped next to us when we were at Salt Springs on the eighteenth. He then had a newly purchased small camper. He came over to tell me that he decided that the camper was too small and decided to trade it on a larger one.
Rhonda dropped me off in Keystone Heights and headed to the next town. In less than a mile, the pavement ended. I called Rhonda and told her I was going to try to ride the rougher trail for a ways, but it soon got even rougher with a lot of gravel. I got off the trail and went back over to the highway and rode the twelve miles to Starke. About a block from getting to Rhonda's location, the seat bolt broke when I bumped over an uneven spot in the side walk. It did not come off all at once as it had done back in Reed City, Michigan in the fall. It is hard to figure what is making the seat post bolt break. I know I weigh almost 200 pounds, but it is suppose to hold up. We stopped at a fruit stand south of Jacksonville for several bags of oranges before leaving Florida. We checked the map for a state park to camp and headed for Fort McAllister State Park on the Ogeechee River south of Savannah.
Monday, morning we checked out downtown Savannah, stopped in Columbia for some barbeque at Maurice's for lunch after one o'clock. It was a mustard based recipe which originated from Pawely's Island near Charleston. The waitress also let us sample some pork hash on rice, but I prefer regular barbecue for lunch. It was kind of like corn beef hash, but using pork instead of the beef.
We arrived at home around 5:30 and went through the task of unloading after traveling a little over 2800 miles and I added two more trails to my inventory. Since we had to change to the pod because of the mechanical problems with the truck and the snow, it actually worked out better because of all the miles we covered and the running around we did. It was another great trip with beautiful weather and rained only twice.