Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Snowbird Journey South

This is the first time I've left for Florida in December.  In prior years, I've always waited until after Christmas.  But last year, the waiting around really got to us so we decided to bolt early this year.  I'm so glad we did.

Prior to leaving, we had only one major snow storm.  Before we left, we still had snow on the ground but just 30 miles south of us it was all bare ground.  And all the roads on our route were clear.  I remember last year having to snow blow the driveway the morning of our departure and there was still snow on the ground until we got to Maryland.

The traffic was light on our way down.  I counted only a handful of RV's heading south.  Also, the hotels at our key snow bird stop overs were pretty empty.  In some years, when we left right after Christmas, traffic is been horrible and the hotels were jammed packed with snowbirds.  This time we used hotels for the nights in Edgewood, MD and Lumberton, SC.  I was going to stay at Camp Walmart in Lumberton, but the temps were going to be down close to freezing and I had no water in the RV.
Anastasia State Park

Our third night was at  Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine Beach, FL.  I was able to de-winterize the RV at the state park and take on water.  It felt good to be camping again and to hear the roar of the surf from the RV.  The state park was about 2/3 full and it was still cool in the up 30's at night.

On our way down, the dreaded Check Engine Light came on again.  It happened in Virginia just after a fuel stop.  It can sometimes go out after a few restarts, but after two days and 8 restarts, it was still glowing.  I decided to get it checked out in Daytona as there's a Mercedes Benz dealer right off I-95.  They took me right in without and appointment.  They found no real problem (just pending codes that would eventually clear themselves) and suspected I had a batch of bad fuel and/or a contaminated fuel filter.  I gave them the go ahead to replace the fuel filter.  Two hours later and $326 charged for the replacement had us on our way.  The fuel filter was due to be replaced in about 7k miles so it was just getting done ahead of time.

RV Getting Checked out at Mercedes Benz
The next stop was to get the RV annual service done at Lazydays RV in Seffner, FL.  We had bought the RV there last year and it was due for in annual checkup.  Lazydays RV is a huge RV dealer.  We spent the night at their RV park right behind the dealership so we could drop off the RV first thing in the morning.  It was a whole day affair.  Luckily, Lazydays has a large cafeteria and they gave us free meals.  I also got to tour (and drool over) several new RV's and take a free class on RV Electrical Systems.  Wife got to hang out by the pool at the RV park and take a water aerobics class.  Not a bad way to hang out while waiting for the service to be completed.

Lazydays RV Park

All the appliances and the propane system got checked out.  The bad news is that in checking our AC unit they found an internal relay problem and will have to replace the unit.  They were able to put on a temporary bypass for the problem so we could still use the AC but we'll have to come back in January to get the new unit installed.  The good news is that it's all covered by warranty.

We spent an extra night at Lazydays as the RV didn't get out of the service area until 4 pm.

A summary of our trip south is as follows;
  • Miles driven to FL:                1,230
  • Cost of fuel:                            $298
  • Cost for food and lodging:      $303
  • RV repairs and maintenance:  $602
Getting out of New England for the winter:   Priceless!

Day of Departure and a Week Later in Siesta Key


  1. Yikes 326 to replace the filter, more than the fuel cost.

    1. Well, it was an unplanned stop and I felt it needed to be done. It was $130 for labor and $160 for the part and the rest misc and taxes. The filter was gold plated and came delivered in a stretch limo. Or perhaps they thought it was a government purchase. Just kidding. Thanks for reading.
      J. Dawg

  2. I like the before and after pics. I will have to catch up with past blogs. Very windy here today. Noisely so. Hope the rest is good minus repairs. I think repair places up here should have a place to stay over and a pool and stuff for family and kids to do. Then the $120 an hour charged wouldn't seem quite as bad.