It was a rainy, sleety day in late November when we bundled ourselves up and buckled in our three dogs and cat into “Windy” (our new nickname for the RV). This year, we told ourselves, would be different. We’d reset our expectations about the weather – yes, it gets cold in the winter, even down south. We’d fine-tuned our plans for travel, with shorter drives, longer stays, and better planning ahead for overnight stops. With prayers that this year the pets would stay healthy, the roads would be safe, and Windy would run smoothly, we began our journey south.

Would you believe that someone hit us before we’d even left New Jersey? Yep. Imagine you’re following behind a 37-foot motorhome that’s towing a Jeep. That makes us about 50 feet long! Now imagine that it’s raining, the motorhome has its right turn signal on, and it’s starting to merge into the lane for a toll-booth – the same toll-booth you want to use. Do you: a) Stay behind the 13-ton vehicle and wait patiently for your turn; b) Pull out and try to pass on the left or choose a different toll lane; or c) Hit the gas pedal and try to pass the RV on the right so as to get ahead of it before it completes the merge it’s already begun?

Well, he almost made it. (He chose C, in case you were wondering.) Fortunately, the damage to Windy was minor – just a couple of scrapes where he left some of his red paint on our green right-front fender. His car got the worst of it on his passenger-side door, but it was already a junker that he planned to get rid of. Neither of us was interested in filing insurance claims, so we exchanged basic information, took photos just to be safe, and continued on our way.

We were able to clean most of this off with a green scrubbing pad!

Not more than ten minutes later, another driver attempted the same thing! He could have slammed into the concrete barrier in his lane, but he was lucky enough to be going so fast that he managed to squeeze by in front of us. So much for day one.

Our first night of travel was also our first experience of staying overnight in a parking lot. Thank you, Cracker Barrel, for providing designated RV parking spots and a safe place to park for the night – and for a great excuse to eat dinner and breakfast at your restaurant. (We also tried out our first Walmart parking lot a few days later. Both these businesses usually allow free overnight parking for RVers.)

We’d been to Colonial Williamsburg before, so this time we visited the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and enjoyed the Christmas Festival of Lights. We also toured the Frampton Plantation House/Lowcountry Visitor Center and Museum in the Low Country of South Carolina. It’s a tiny museum but helped us get a better sense of how cotton and slavery shaped the southern economy before the Civil War. For you RVers who are Thousand Trails members, we recommend Thousand Trails Williamsburg as well as “The Oaks at Point South,” nice parks and conveniently located. Just don’t get your hopes up for the “cappuccino” advertised on the gas station’s sign near the Oaks.

In the category of “learning from our mistakes,” watch our video about what not to do if there’s no hot water, and how to fix it. Thank you, “The RV Geeks,” for helping us (meaning Jeff) figuring out what was wrong and how to fix it!

We invite you to watch our videos and travel with us down south and then westward to some incredibly beautiful, and sometimes harsh, places across the United States of America. Bon voyage and buen viaje.

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