S L O W L Y heading home.
The trek home is going much slower than the trip down here. Left Polk City yesterday morning around 8:00. Had planned to drive a little over 300 miles and into the Florida Panhandle before stopping for the night. All was going good during the morning except it was cooling down as I drove north. About 11:30 we stopped at a rest stop on Interstate 75 so the dogs could stretch their legs and do other things. I also took the time to change from shorts and sandals to jeans and regular shoes and socks. At this point we were just about 35 miles south of Gainesville.
Back on the road we topped an hill and saw traffic, three lanes wide, had come to a complete halt. The signs showed it was just over three miles to the next exit. Just over three hours later we arrived at that exit where the Florida Highway Patrol was forcing everyone off the Interstate. They had closed the highway, in both directions, for a 30 miles stretch starting at Gainesville and going south. Earlier there had been a major accident, involving several cars, semi trucks and one tour bus. Apparently this was caused by a mixture of smoke from a nearby wildfire and morning fog. Later they reported on the news that at least 10 people had died in the crashes with another 18 taken to local hospital. After three plus hours sitting in traffic to advance that three miles it took another hour to get the 30 miles to Gainesville on the back roads. By stopping time for the night we had only advance to Lake City, less than 200 miles from where we started. That has really set us back in our advance toward home.
This morning we rolled out of bed early and had planned to hit the road by 8:00 AM. Knowing we would pick up an hour when we crossed back into the Central Time Zone we should have plenty of time to make up some of the time lost yesterday. Got everything unhooked and ready when we found the slide lock on the large, living room slide would not go into place. The slide had not come all the way in. Turns out the fabric of the slide topper was coated in about a half inch coating of ice. As the slide came in the ice would not let the fabric roll up on the roller. Spent the next 45 minutes working at getting the ice cleaned off enough to get the roller to turning. Of course it did not help that the ladder I carry in the coach is only six feet tall. By standing on the next to the top step, on my tiptoes, I could just reach up over the top of the slide to peal the slabs of ice away. (Who would have thought that it would get below freezing in Florida?) Anyway, got enough ice off to where all the mechanisms started working properly and the slide moved all the way in. We were on the road by 9:00.
The drive across the Florida Panhandle and the lower portion of Alabama was uneventful. We are now set up in a campground in Theodore, Alabama, just a few miles west of Mobile. Drove about 360 miles today. Hope to get an early start tomorrow since I've laid out a route of 395 miles. Original plan was to be home sometime Wednesday afternoon. Now it looks like we won't be there until Thursday. (And, I plan to pull in the big slide tonight before I go to bed.)
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