~Sunday, March 19, 2023~
Day 1,009 (Travel Day)
This morning, everything was going smoothly with our breakdown at Jolly Roger RV Resort until……Jeff realized that the trailer’s front driver’s side tire was way too compromised for our 375-mile drive. The wear was on the inside of the tire, with steel exposed. The other tires are becoming questionable as well and frankly,
we’re surprised that we even made it to The Keys in the first place. The bent axles are definitely wearing the tires down at an accelerated rate, hoping time will be a little more on our side until we can have the trailer inspected and repaired in Indiana (where the suspension manufacturer is). Having purchased a whole new set of the Goodyear tires in December of 2021 (before the Alaska trip), considering the many rough roads they’ve been on and about 20,000 miles of wear, they’ve hung in there considerably well. We even had the tires flipped on the rims to even out the wear that was happening on the inside of the tire. The plan is to drop the trailer off in Indiana sometime in May before we get to Illinois to visit our daughter, Devin and the grandkids. Being in Illinois for a month will allow them plenty of time to work on the rig and offer Billie Jean a free place to stay. With about 1,500 miles to go until then, we’re trying to put off having to purchase new tires before the suspension is fixed. In the meantime, we’ll watch the tires like a hawk, keeping a better eye on their wear; not just the PSI.
If it wasn’t for our Maasadam Power Lift bottle jack that we purchased in Fairbanks, the job of putting on the spare
tire this morning would have taken much longer. Gone are the days of having to use a tire ramp to do the job. Delayed only about an hour, we were able to switch the bad tire with the full spare that we had underneath the trailer (the one we had patched in Alaska). We never felt super confident about the patch job in the first place, even though we were grateful to have had camp host Mike’s skills in the remote place that we were. Even then, Mike offered no guarantees due to where the sharp rock had embedded itself in the tire (close to the sidewall). We hoped it would at least make a good spare.
Once we were ready to hit the road, Cindy and Blair came over to say goodbye before heading out for a little kayak time which turned out to be short-lived with the threat of lightning. Maybe they’ll actally have a day to relax. Lucky for them, they have plenty of opportunities to get back on the water, having 2 weeks left in The Keys. We wish them a fantastic remaining stay before driving back home to Delaware and look forward to our next meeting either in their neck of the woods or ours.
The sky did look a little ominous, so maybe it was the Florida Key’s way of saying it was sad to see us go 😉. We hoped that we wouldn’t run into any weather issues on our drive to Hillsborough River State Park, which will be part of our remaining 3 weeks in Florida. Bad news…..the patch job didn’t hold up. About 10 minutes into our drive, the spare we had put on the trailer’s front driver’s side started to lose air fast. And most of Highway 1 (the Overseas Highway) is a 2-lane highway with very few places to pull over.
Luckily we found a side road in the town of Layton, next to the main highway where we had enough room to pull over and safely inspect the tire. Never would we change a tire on the side of a highway. We’d have it towed before that would ever happen. We must have a guardian angel watching over us as each time we’ve had a tire issue, we’ve been able to get to safe spots. The tire pressure got down to 47 (normal is around 68 to 72 when the tires are warmed up). Luckily, we still had a 2nd spare from the Alaska trip. It wasn’t a top of the line GoodYear Endurance tire that we were used to, but one made in South Korea that we had to get by default due to supply chain issues. For today, there would only be 2 options….get the patched tire repatched, or put on the South Korean spare tire #2. However, being a Sunday, most tire places were closed. Hmmm…not sure why, but it seems most of our tire issues happen on Sundays. So spare #2 tire it was. After about another 30-minute delay, we were back in business by 11:30.
Our drive took us pretty much across the state, crossing Alligator Alley, then passing through Naples (hello again!) until we got just outside Tampa in a town called Thonotosassa. Once we passed the entry gates to our campground, we could tell immediately that we were in a very special place. This 3,383-acre park, popular for travelers and locals alike, is a densely wooded hydric hammock forest with over 7 miles of hiking trails consisting of live oaks, palmetto palms and even evergreens;
quite different from our scenery in The Keys. It’s no wonder this campground has won the National Recreation and Parks Association Gold medal Award and is a 4-time gold winner. Our campsite #28 seems to be the best site of all 3 loops, offering us complete privacy all around with the natural landscape partitioning us between our neighbors. The Hillsborough River is just steps away and offers a few kayak launch spots, right from the campground. It also offers 50-amp electric service, water hookups, and a cell signal. Yay! I can keep ya’ll informed after all. Plus, we have the convenience of the bathroom/showers and laundry facilities directly across from our site. With all this humidity lately, having the laundry facility right there will be oh so convenient. We are a good 2 miles from the park entrance, with no road noise whatsoever; only the pleasing sounds of families having a great time and the forest animals claiming their territory. Even though we enjoyed the busy atmosphere of Jolly Roger, it is nice to have the calmness that THIS campground offers.