Cheryl and I have just returned home from the 2nd trip in our Escape. Our 1st was the trip from Chilliwack that began January 10, 2014; sixty-one days and 5,700 miles later we were home. Our 2nd trip lasted ninety-four days and covered 6,098 miles. Actually the trip was a month longer than we had planned; turns out we are really enjoying Escapin' in our tiny house on wheels!
The first part of our journey was through parts of Alabama, northern Florida, and Georgia before turning northeast to Elizabeth City, NC for Thanksgiving with our daughter and her family. Beautiful fall weather for the most part but also a few days of the coldest weather we saw while we were gone with lows in the mid 20's for a few days. The cold weather didn't last long and didn't create any problems with the Escape.
The next part of the journey was down the Atlantic coast with stops at Huntington Beach SP, Edisto Beach SP, and Hunting Island SP in South Carolina as well as Skidaway Island SP in Georgia.
My pre-trip "plans" were more or less blank after we left Skidaway Island just before Christmas. So, just because we could, we headed south and a couple of nights later we were at Flamingo Campground in Everglades NP. We ended up spending the next eight days in the Everglades and a total of 5 weeks in Florida.
Our last minute decision to go to south Florida without reservations at the busiest time of the year for camping led to some interesting choices for campsites after we left the Everglades. Too many times I heard, "campground full," "no space available," we're booked until March," or variations of that message. But we managed, met some great Floridians, and got some helpful tips on where to camp in Florida.
We were spotted by Exploring/Carolina at Huntington Beach State Park. What a surprise to check the Forum and see a photo of our Escape just after we had set up. Missed the chance to meet Bill but maybe next time. We also saw an Escape across the campground from us as we arrived at Highlands Hammock SP, David (Double D) came over to chat for a few minutes and it was great to meet him. That was all the sightings in a campground or on the highways but we had a tremendous amount of interest and questions about the Escape most every place we stopped. In one campground, we had 4 different people come up to ask about the Escape before we even got setup. I think we gave tours in every place we camped in Florida, including one in a Wal-mart parking lot.
How did things work?
Our furnace quit during the coldest part of our trip. The blower would run but the furnace would not ignite. I emailed ETI for advice to find out if there was something I could do to fix the problem. I was quite surprised to get a call from Reace on a Sunday morning with a few suggestions on things to try. Unfortunately, his suggestions didn't pan out so we worked out a stop at a repair shop near Augusta, GA. After two days there, we left with an operating furnace. But, two days later, the same problem was back. Consequently, we planned in another stop at a shop near Statesboro, GA and this time the correct sail switch was installed and we were back in business. No problems for the rest of the trip. The full cost of both services was covered under the furnace warranty.
We have the standard Dometic 4.3 cu. ft refrigerator that ETI was installing when our trailer was manufactured. At the coldest setting, the refrigerator generally maintained 40 +/- 3 degrees and the freezer 12 +/- 3 degrees. Temperatures were read from the upper shelf in the refrigerator door and the bottom of the freezer compartment. Of course, we were generally in areas with outside temperatures below 75 except for our time in the Everglades. At Flamingo we did have temperatures near 90 and the refrigerator temperature would get near 50 during the hottest part of the day. We never had a concern about food safety, didn't have to throw anything away, and certainly didn't become ill from eating any food that was in the refrigerator. We did have a problem with the refrigerator interior light, sometimes it worked, most of the time it didn't. Has anyone else experienced that problem?
Never would have thought we would use the air conditioner in the last week of December, but we did. It worked great and cooled down the trailer very quickly. Sure glad we had added that option.
We have the 95 watt solar panel that ETI was installing in the past. As I had expected, the 95 watt panel is adequate if the primary power use is lighting and occasional furnace or fan use, but it doesn't support the way we travel. We don't have a television, microwave, coffee pot, blender, or hair dryer to operate but we do carry two laptops that are used quite a bit. I collected more than enough data to know we couldn't go much more than two days before needing to be plugged in to recharge the batteries. Not sure of the solution yet but we will either need to make significant changes in our power use, or add additional solar capacity before we head to parts of the country where it's harder to find public campgrounds with electrical power.
I tow with a Honda Pilot and use the Anderson hitch. I am pleased with its performance, both in weight transfer and sway control. I did not see any additional wear on the hitch ball beyond what had occurred on our trip from ETI. I still heard an occasional squeaking or groaning noise on some tow days but it was minimal and didn't bother me near as much as it did on our initial trip; probably just me having a better idea of what to expect. I did bore an additional pin hole through the bar that fits into the receiver that moved the ball two-inches closer to the bumper. Kind of hard to quantify since it had been 7 months since I last towed, but moving the ball closer to the rear axle appeared to reduce the amount of up and down pitching that occurred.
Wow, this really got long (or maybe not so long if I look at it as 13 words for every day we were gone). We discovered we are travelers more than campers, staying at one location for at least 3 or 4 days and exploring the surrounding area before moving on. The Escape has made it possible to comfortably be on the road for weeks rather than days; we like that more than expected. We enjoyed the places we visited, the great people we met, and showing off our Escape every chance we had. It truly was a great trip for both of us. More long trips are in the planning stage for this year and early 2016; for sure the next time we go to Florida in the winter, I will make reservations!
Many photos and information about where we stopped can be found at the website listed below.