Not really; as it turned out the rain forecast for overnight never developed. But around 5:30 AM we got a blast of colder air, probably the downdraft from a thunderstorm, which was the first sign of the approaching frontal boundary. It started raining around 5:45 AM and rained heavily off and on from 6 AM on. The Weather Channel radar showed an unpleasantly large band of heavy rain just to our west stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to our southwest northeastward up the western side of the Appalachian Mountains into the mid-Atlantic states and beyond. The whole line was training from SW to NE while moving to the east, portending a long rain event in Cartersville, Georgia once it started. The southern edge of a severe thunderstorm watch box was just to our north, but we only had a little lightening no thunder. As route would take us south to southeast, there was a chance we could get ahead of the advancing storm line if got started early enough.
I had to unhook in the rain in order to get us on the road at 7 AM; not something I would normally choose to do, but it was OK. There is often an upside to most situations, and in this case there were two. One was that I finally got to use my new REI raincoat and rainpants, and I am happy to report that I finally have raingear that keeps the rain on the outside where it belongs. It was also an opportunity to test whether the leaks in our roof had been found and sealed. So far, so good. Indeed, we ran in and out of rain for most of the drive today, heavy at times, and no leaks appeared.
Besides trying to stay ahead of freezing temperatures, another reason for leaving Michigan a day early was to stick with our plan to drive through/around the Atlanta, Georgia metro area on a Sunday. The Cartersville KOA is about 50 miles north of Atlanta, so leaving at 7 AM allowed us to deal with Atlanta traffic between 8:00 AM and 8:30 AM on a Sunday morning. We did not have the road to ourselves, and traffic was probably slower than normal due to the rain, but this proved to be a good call on our part. We had been told that we could take the bus straight through downtown Atlanta on I-75, and our Rand McNally GPS routed us that way, but in the end we were persuaded to take the I-285 by-pass around Atlanta to the west by a sign that said “All trucks with more than 6 wheels use I-285 by-pass.” I-285 W paralleled I-75 a few miles to the west and I-285 E returned us to I-75. It did not add that many miles, and there were fewer entrance ramps with less traffic merging onto the highway than on I-75 through the city.
By the time we got south of Atlanta it was past sunrise. The rain had let up and the sky was noticeably brighter. We did not manage to outrun the storm front, but the rain became lighter and intermittent until we got into Florida when it finally ended.
We had also been advised to stop in Georgia just before the Florida state line and top off our fuel tank as the price of diesel fuel can be 20 to 25 cents per gallon higher in Florida. We have a Pilot / Flying J discount card, so we tend to look for Pilot Travel Centers and Flying J Truck Stops first. We checked their website the night before and found that they had a Pilot Travel Center at exit 11 and a Flying J Truck Stop at exit 2, both conveniently located to I-75. We have also gotten comfortable with how to get in and out of these truck stops and use the truck pumps. Even when they have “RV pumps” we never use them as access is often a problem and they usually have automotive size nozzles that take longer to fill the tank. We ended up stopping at the Pilot Travel Center at exit 11 at 11:45 AM and were back on I-75 S by 12:10PM. Upon crossing into Florida we did not see a significant difference in the price of diesel fuel, but perhaps the stations near the border try to keep their prices in line with the border stations in Georgia?
Yesterday was the first time I had driven any type of vehicle in Georgia and the first time we have had the motorhome in the state. It was not the first time either of us had been here; Linda was in Savannah once with our daughter’s Girl Scout troop and I was in Atlanta many, many years ago on business. Today was also the first time we have had the coach in Florida. Again, it was not our first time in the state. We had heard about the I-75 Florida Welcome Center, but having just stopped for fuel in Georgia we passed it by. They allow you to stay for up to 24 hours to “rest”—no slideouts; no awnings; no bar-b-cue pits; no lawn chairs—but you can definitely spend the night if you need to and are able to boondock.
We pulled in to Williston Crossings RV Resort just after 2 PM. They had opened a new entrance on SR-121 which caused us a moment of confusion when we saw the sign as the address we had put in the GPS required us to travel another mile through Williston to get to the entrance. The entrance gate was closed, with no room to turn around, but there was an office building with an illuminated OPEN sign, so we turned it. A woman came out to greet us and explained that this was a new entrance and we were welcome to use it. She called for an escort and let us through the gate to wait for the golf cart to lead us to our site. They assigned us a great full-hookup (50 amp electrical service, of course) pull-through site with lots of shade trees. Most of the sites here are paved, and ours was close enough to level to make leveling the coach easy. It is also a very long site and would easily accommodate a 45 foot motorhome with a 25 foot trailer behind it.
Once we were settled we walked up to the office to register and get our packet of materials. There was a white board on the front porch of the office building with the names of all of the people arriving that day. Ours was listed; a nice touch. The resort is a “gated” community. The gates are open during the day but closed at night, so our packet included the gate code. Unlike most RV parks, the resort does not issue stickers or hangtags for the RVs, tow, or towed vehicles. Beside the usual rules, emergency numbers, etc., our packet also included a newsletter and calendar of upcoming events. The resort has an activity building with a workout room, a clubhouse, a pool and covered pavilion, and nice laundry and restrooms. The office has a billiards table, library, reading area, a small kitchenette and dining area, a gift shop, and mailboxes. (See photos at the end of this post.) If we want to it appears there are plenty of things to do here.
Williston Crossings RV Resort was one of several places that had been recommended to us by fellow GLCC member Ed Roelle. Ed and Janet have stayed there in the past and thought it was one of the best RV parks around with reasonable rates for a really nice park in Florida in the winter. We had checked out the website, which always makes a place look good, and described the variety of amenities and activities. We also checked the satellite imagery, so we knew that the park was large and had some nice tree cover. But none of that research gave us a complete or accurate picture of what is here. It is, quite frankly, nicer than we expected.
We scanned for OTA TV channels and found quite a few, including the usual trio of PBS stations. Score! The local ABC affiliate was showing The Sound Of Music, so we watched that during the evening.