Cross Country Journey: Florida to Waveland, MS
We set off for California from Palm Beach, Florida on October 2nd. Anyone close to us or that has been following along for long enough knows that our last attempt at life in California had it’s ups and downs. But that’s another story. This is a story about a trip. I will however, detail some backstory. After a couple years of dreaming we finally found ourselves with the means to purchase our new home, a 1978 GMC 4905 bus. The type that was used by Greyhound in it’s era. It’s 40 feet long and powered by a two stroke Detroit Diesel engine, the sound of which is now indelibly marked in my mind. This chapter of our lives is marked once again by the blessings of family. And friends so dear that they too are family. We left Savannah, Georgia with cash in pocket for Atlanta where we had found a bus that suited our wishes and was close enough to our budget that we wanted to see it for ourselves. The next morning I got behind the wheel, appreciated that the envelope in my back pocket was now noticeably thinner and much more comfortable to sit on, and flipped the toggle to start up that old two stroke. Renae and Townes followed behind in a cloud of stale diesel smoke in our SUV. And I for the first time in my life drove a vehicle that kept the engine in the rear and the driver’s seat forward of the front axle.
The portion of our journey contained in this tome can be summed up as follows:
Palm Beach > Shell Station > Pilot Truck Stop > Red Coconut RV Park, Ft. Myers, FL(Hi Joe and Alex!) > Quail Run RV Park, Wesley Chapel, FL > Love’s Truck Stop>Arrowhead Camp, Marianna, FL > Pilot Truck Stop > Buccaneer State Park, Waveland, MS.
My opinions of each and every place we parked for the night aren’t really the purpose of this missive. They are, however, recorded for posterity at Campendium if you should be interested in that kind of thing.
Our first day on the road was marked by the occasional torrential rainfall common to the pre landfall stage of an inbound hurricane. I bought a bottle of Rain-X and kept dousing the windshield because the windshield wipers didn’t work. It turns out they work fine, a previous owner had messed with the controls for the air actuated wipers and once I straightened things out after the fact, all is good with the wipers and there was of course no more rain. We enjoyed a night literally parked on Gulf Coast sand in Fort Myers and were blessed with an evening with friends we hadn’t seen in many years. We burned locally caught fish on the grill and the kids ran wild. Fast forward to Marianna, Florida. It turns out that Florida Caverns isn’t open for cave tours while we’re in the area which is disappointing, so we show up at Arrowhead Camp after dark and plan on an early departure in the morning. The lake view I woke up to in the morning was nothing short of stunning. Crystal clear spring fed water and the dawn sun made up for missing the caverns. I think.
Onward to Mississippi. We’re aiming for Buccaneer State Park, 282 miles away and right on the Gulf in Waveland. I realize that this seems like a mere four hour drive. And when I’m behind the wheel of our daily driver it most certainly is. You’ll pick up on the fact that somehow travel in a 1978 bus involves a yet unexplained time warping phenomenon that more often than not guarantees an after dark arrival. As tent campers I always liked to arrive at a destination with time to set up camp, get a fire going, and have some time to explore before dark. The benefit of entering the luxurious world of RV “camping” throws that out the window. All you have to do is roll in, connect water, electric, and sewer and you’re golden. But then again your 12 volt system can start getting moody and your headlights might go out right about dusk. What do you do when you’re in Waveland, Mississippi at dusk, 14 miles from your destination with no headlights? If you’re me you pull into an emptying Lowe’s parking lot, grab a handful of tools, a flashlight, a multimeter, and start sorting through relays and wires. But then you might realize there’s some kind of classic car rally and there are vintage vehicles of all types cruising up and down the main road and that your bus wouldn’t stick out too much in their midst. And then a couple good ole boys pull up and ask if they can help. When it’s obvious that they’re three sheets to the wind and out on the town, driving a bus 14 miles through country roads without headlights suddenly might not seem like something that the local law enforcement will pay much mind to. So one in that position might just button things back up and move on down the road amongst a tapestry of rat rods, GTOs, el Caminos, and long bed four door pick ups. And arrive safely to find a State Park with campsites separated from the Gulf by only the two lane road that leads into the park. Goodnight.