It’s not the journey…

This is going to be one of those day-by-day blogs, started early as I felt 100% positive that this jaunt would be worth documenting – and if not, well, just scroll quickly. As you know from previous posts, we’ve had this genius Barlow Break planned for months – leaving Friday, February 19th and returning two weeks later. We started ramping up a few weekends ago, my darling husband submitting to my request to make sure the RV was in perfect working order sooner than later. And it was – other than the last minute stuff such as air in the tires, propane in the tank, and water in a different tank. Those items would be saved for the last minute – what’s a vacation without some last minute scramble, after all?


Okay, bring it down. Yes, that says Wednesday – not Friday…as in, two days early. Cupid delivered to us a Valentine’s Day ice storm – which was no bueno. Lots of power outages, schools closed, debris all over the dang place. It was a super rare occurrence – so much so that it was our local National Weather Forecast office used “Ice Storm Warning” for the first time in our history. The tag was not new – it was put into the weather warning verbiage dictionary a few years ago, we’d just never had the opportunity to witness its use as, previously, all storms in the months of January to March were simply called “Winter Storms.” I didn’t even actually now they’d laid out new labels for our storms – I suppose in today’s world, even the storms want to feel seen. The Ice Storm came and went as advertised – thank you very much, rare occurrence. I’m fairly sure that Rich and I even high-fived at least once that this rare occurrence did not rare occurrence within our vacation departure window.

Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned the ongoing issue I have with the universe laughing at me?

Two days after the first rare occurrence, the National Weather Forecast was at it again… Ice Storm Warning. What the what?? Had I not refreshed the app? Was it frozen (haha)? Nope. Another ice storm was looming. Did you guess already that it would be scheduled exactly in our vacation departure window? Yes, yes it was. Rich and I started stalking the weather sites – including my favorite for information, assuming that in the usual fashion, the storm would be dumbed down after a few days. That was not the case. The storm was dumbed up. By Tuesday evening (T-Minus 4 Days to Departure), we realized that we really might have to pack up and head out early. The bulk of the weather was coming in on Thursday, we had reservations at Disney on Saturday – that left a HUGE question mark on our ability to depart the Ville on Friday. We handled this stress by staying up all night Tuesday making guesses at what might or might not happen. Why not prepare for a potential scramble by getting zero sleep? As we read the latest predictions through bleary eyes on Wednesday morning, we saw that yes, it was written in ice…we were going to scramble.

Because we were both working and Zack was at school – that meant mad dashes from our underwear drawers to the camper between meetings. It meant huffing blankets and sheets and two weeks worth of various weather appropriate clothes from one location to another. We’d completely emptied the RV in a massive cleaning spree in July – we had zero ability to tally what was usually in there while under half-asleep packing pressure. The new mantra became we’ll just buy it on the road! The other new mantra was We don’t even know where we’re going! It’s just going to be south! We’d sent Zack off to school with a very vague Oh, hey, we may leave tonight. But we don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll text you (we didn’t). He basically got off the school bus and into the family bus. Nothing sparks panic more than a spontaneous announcement to a fifteen year old boy that he’s going to get three extra days in a thirty foot box with his parents.

And so, at 11pm on the 17th, we arrived in Nowhere, North Carolina – well south of the ice, but well into a monsoon. We opted out of our normal we’ll just camp at a random Walmart adventure protocol – finding a real campground with real water pressure and real electric and a real ability to have heat. Next stop, to be determined, in both the where, when, and the what of we’ll just buy it on the road!

Thursday: The weather had been predicted to be ugly all the way down 95 on Thursday, so we made no specific plans (we see you, universe) lest it was as advertised. It was as advertised. We sat in our campsite all day – two adults logged into work, one teen logged into anime – watching the Lumber River out the front window and analyzing the chances of it coming over the bank (fifty feet away? or was it five?) and into our campsite. Approximately two seconds before the camp office closed, we called to ask that very question. We were assured to be fine and not in any danger and to sleep soundly. We did not sleep soundly. We took turns waking up and peeking out the window to ensure that the RV wasn’t wheels deep. Camp Office was correct. We were fine. Except after two nights of weather watching, the adults were reaching a cranky level.

Friday: Did I mention we stayed up all night looking out the windows? Rich and I both logged in for one last run at work before officially signing off for vacation. As we pulled out of stop one, my mother rang to tell us that the local news was reporting flooding on the Lumber River. Oh boy. As we took the short jaunt to the highway, well, oh boy. Water everywhere. It was crazy. And it continued the entire way down 95 out of North Carolina and well into South Carolina – it was if we were getting a preview to our upcoming drive down the end of Highway 1 into Key West with water lapping both sides of the highway. Except for the part where it was not clear water and there was no sun. We arrived in Savannah, also reporting flooding. What we found was a blinding glowing ball in the sky that we hadn’t seen for how long? We’d lost count. Maybe Mother Nature was finally done being mad at us. We stumbled into a second Walmart because our we’ll just buy it on the road! list was growing. Actually it wasn’t – our next stop would be the Disney resort where restaurants abound. But I already needed some me time, so I asked for a private shopping trip while the boys waited in the RV.

Saturday: Finally. We did it. We got to where we were headed, four days after the scramble. Don’t mind me while I toot my own horn – the lone member of the family who prefers organization and spreadsheets and schedules. My shining level of flexibility while we took the long route to Fort Wilderness was a thing of my husband’s dreams. The long route? Yes. We’ve yet to figure out the RV-GPS matrix where you type in your destination, check the length of trip, and then watch as the arrival time increases for unknown reasons. We really tested this theory today, Savannah to Orlando: 3.5 hours. No dawdling. Two gas stops and a lunch break: 45 minutes total. Total travel time: 9000 hours. Why? Why, GPS? When we left Savannah at 10am, we figured we’d pull into Orlando at 2:30pm, max. Try again – it was after 4pm. Why, GPS? By the time we arrived we were clocking the time needed to set up the campsite and get to our 6:30 dinner reservation. We had some minor hiccups on the way – first clipping the check in booth with our RV mirror (I love Disney, they didn’t even wince), then discovering that Fort Wilderness spaces their electric, sewer, and water hookups miles away from each other and from the parking pad forcing a series of reverse then forward then reverse moves in order find the sweet spot to enable connecting all utilities. We also discovered that in order to get into your second park of the day, you had to check into the first one, per Covid protocols. We did not make the first park (see GPS, why??) and were therefore turned away for our dinner reservation at park two. Which is when I lost my stunning flexibility streak. God bless Rich and his word magic. By explaining to Guest Relations that his hangry, exhausted, and previously super chill wife was likely about to make his (and all of Disney’s) life a living hell, Epcot made an exception and shuffled us to our table.

Sunday: if you’re not sure you’ve maintained a healthy activity level over the last eleven months, here’s an easy (yet expensive) way to find out: head to a theme park for the day. Anticipate hours of fun. Hours. Two hours in, your feet (and ankles and knees and hips and back) will tell you exactly how (un)well you’ve managed your Pandemic Exercise Plan. Our plans of two parks a day (last year’s pace) was thwarted mid-afternoon by the very loud and begging call of the RV couch. My poor husband’s body was so upset with him that he actually suggested having a laundry day mid-vacation. I swear I saw him sneaking clothes from other people’s RVs just to make our bin look extra full.

Of course, we don’t have detergent.

No worries though.

We’ll just buy it on the road.

Preview to next week: I just told the boys (ages 15 and 50) that on Friday we’ll be taking a long day trip to a land with zero cell or internet service (Dry Tortugas). Please pray for them.

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