Monday, October 11, 2021

Jacksonville

I took to the road by myself, not as a dry run but for one last van improvement appointment. I made the date in Jacksonville months ago when I was still employed and tried to fit the Monday into my schedule which now that I am retired means nothing. I-95. at 65 mph in the slow lane all day Sunday...I did think of taking an inland route up Highway 27 after I dropped off some boxes at the storage unit in Miami. However the time penalty didn't seem worth it for a road that I know pretty much by heart. I got on the freeway and got on with it.

The van goes about 400 miles or more between full and empty but all I need is gas. I took a break in Fort Pierce eating a snack from the fridge and sleeping for a half hour on the bed under the air conditioner. It is much more comfortable to travel like this than on a motorcycle...

There is a rest stop just south of Jacksonville where I've stopped before, on my last visit to Freedom VanGo I guess, and I have to say I Like rest stops for an easy place to sleep. The van is well insulated and traffic noise doesn't bother me, but I do like to park the van on the car side away from the rumbling truck area.

Monday morning I pulled in to the hotel and asked to drop off my bag but they said they had a room already available so up I went! A quick hot shower - van life not! - and I was ready to drive. five minutes to the shop.

I've never stayed at a Tru hotel before but Layne said it needed the least Hilton points for a stay which is fine by me. It projects a youthful informal air with bright decorations and simplicity the theme. Very Euro style I guess.

Let's not forget this is America and it meets all the needs of the working Millennial who is the target guest apparently. There is a proper buffet breakfast, there are lots of outlets for electronic gadgets and the water is hot in the shower! Thumbs up from this aged baby boomer, I'd be happy to stay again.

The purpose of the trip isn't to explore hotels but to leave the van overnight at the shop. They are installing Bilstein suspension, the last word in shock absorbers I'm told with Sumo springs in an effort to give the whole heavy package the least stressful ride on dirt, sand and gravel roads. We also ordered a skid plate to protect the engine and transmission from Van Edgeworks in Livermore California. Actually I introduced FreedomVanGo to the California shop as I wanted them to become the East Coast supplier for Promasters. I'm getting the first one and I hope more Promaster owners will see the benefit of the van as an adventure vehicle.

I don't want a $200,000 four wheel drive Sprinter or a lifted van which is a complicated and uncertain modification for the front wheel drive van, but I do like this van with the modifications I have had installed and I think it will do well in the modest dirt driving we want to try. A few months in Mexico and then Alaska will show us the wisdom of our choices as a final test before we head south.

I took a three hour walk meandering through the woods and nature trails of the University of North Florida campus which sits between the shop and the hotel. I'll post some pictures next on the woods. I stopped at Publix to get beer and food and a vaccination or two. They ended up giving me my 'flu shot but the pharmacist said I wasn't eligible for the Moderna booster as it hasn't been approved for healthy adults like myself. Weird thought I as everyone I know, who has the brains to get vaccinated, is getting boosters right and left.  Not today apparently, so I rejoice in being old and healthy!

The 'flu shot got done the shopping got done and a nap got done. Gannet2 is getting done. Mission sort of accomplished I guess.