Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thermal Underwear and a Bathing Suit

Bathing suit?  Really?

“Be sure to bring a bathing suit,” Monica, my daughter told my wife over the telephone, “they have a heated spa at the yoga retreat so you will need your swim suit!” The forecast, however, was for 19 degrees in Dahlonega, Georgia, the northeast Georgia town tucked in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We were driving up from Florida with our travel trailer on New Year's day for both a belated Christmas celebration, and so Monica could take her mom to enjoy a three-day yoga spa the following weekend. Just because it is freezing outside and we're staying in our travel trailer camper doesn't mean not to bring a bathing suit.

"Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines,"Hoagy Carmichael, "Georgia on My Mind"Well, maybe not on a cold, foggy Georgia night in January 

In all honesty, we started hauling our travel trailer up to Georgia because of a family feud. Not between us per se, but between other dear members of our families, our dogs.  As sweet and loveable as they both are, Taz, our Golden Retriever mix, doesn't always play well with others.  Taz tries to take over as dominant male head of household from our daughter's family protector, an old Black Lab known as Nick.  Nick will have none of it, so Taz has been banished from the premises.  We set up our travel trailer next to their house and everybody is happy.  Our dogs stay and sleep in the camper and everything works out just fine. We sleep in the camper, too, as that way everybody gets their space.

We have always split the 530 mile trip into two days, enjoying various campgrounds in northern Florida or southern Georgia for an overnight stay as a mid-point in the trip.   We usually leave home too late in the day to arrive in Georgia before dark in single, one-day trip as my wife, Ilse, often teaches a yoga class early the morning before we leave.   Since we rarely exceed 65 miles per hour, it is about a ten hour trip or so, depending on the rest breaks, if we try to do it all in one trip. This time, however, we decided to do it all in one day, and the best day to travel looked like New Years Day. We planned to leave very early in the morning and have the dark, foggy, empty highway to ourselves.

So, at Oh Dark-Thirty (that's old fashioned military humor meaning “very early”) on Sunday, New Years Day, we hit the road north from Port Charlotte, Florida, headed toward Athens, Georgia. Imagine our surprise at 4:00 in the morning when we found out half of the state's visitors also decided to head north at the same time as well.  Interstate 75 was busy!  It stayed busy with heavy traffic all day, with the only advantage being fewer of the big tractor-trailers on the road than normal. I expected a few hung-over stragglers from the previous evening's celebration, but not the hustling hoard of Hondas and Hyundais headed home. (I love alliteration! It's a lazy way to mix poetry and prose).

Foggy daybreak New Years Day, 2012, Sumterville, Florida.  The time was really 7:04am

We had one self-inflicted scare, right after we pulled back onto the Interstate after stopping for gas at Sumterville, Florida. Just as I got the rig back up to speed and merged into northbound traffic, my wife said, “Where's my purse?...


 It was ten miles to the next possible turnaround, and it was obviously quicker to pull off the Interstate, turn on the emergency flashers, and hoof it back the quarter mile or so to the gas station. We decided against parking on the side of the busy Interstate and just drive to the next turn-around and head back to face the possibility of a financial disaster.  As we sped up and anxiously headed toward Wildwood, the next exit, we talked about the sequence of events and realized we had also used the fuel stop as a chance to feed the dogs. We had pulled over to the side of the quiet, fog shrouded parking lot after tanking up and walked back to the trailer to get their dog food.  Possibly she had left the purse in the trailer!  

So, at a safe, judiciously selected spot, we pulled off to the side of the busy roadway, turned on the emergency blinkers and ran back and checked the trailer. Sure enough, the missing purse was laying on the bed.  After our heart rates finally fell back into the normal range, the rest of the trip was a piece of cake.  Ten and a half hours after leaving home, we pulled into our daughter's driveway, and less than an hour after that we were completely set up and had turned on the heat in the trailer.  Time for a glass of wine to celebrate the New Year!

This was the first time we used the trailer's gas heater extensively, and other than being louder than we liked, it worked well. That was a good thing as it was 24 degrees Tuesday morning and it barely got above freezing all day. Even Daisy, our Eskimo mix, had enough of the cold weather and wanted back in the camper.  As much as I dislike sweating in the summer Florida heat, I dislike being cold even more. Being cold makes me feel old.  Everything I have that can ache does so when it's cold. The colder it is, the achier, stiffer, and grumpier I become. Wednesday was even worse as the little heater worked overtime most of the night.  It was seventeen degrees when I let the dogs out, and as far as I'm concerned, that's reason enough to sell everything and head south.

Just because it's sunny doesn't mean it's warm.

I have come to the conclusion that people who say they live where it's cold because they like four seasons are either seriously demented or lack nerve endings anywhere near their epidermis.   Three seasons are enough for me.  I don't need winter.  Sometimes I'm not sure about fall or spring, either.   I'll take the heat any day.  In fact, I'd like to have some of it right now.

After Monica and Ilse finally got together later during the week and checked all the information about the spa, they came across an interesting tidbit: the heated spa or hot tub is outdoors!   There is a good chance she won't need the bathing suit after all.

The Apalachee River, North High Shoals, Georgia

Next: Seriously northbound next time, the prologue to our first, three month long road trip, at:

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