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March 16th 2010
Published: March 16th 2010
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Northwest Coast

We purchased an RV so that we could enjoy traveling at our leisure, no plan, no schedules. We didn’t purchase an RV so that we could fly at 80 mph down the interstate between the McDonalds and Cracker Barrels. Interstates should be avoided wherever possible. However, be that as it may, it is impractical to get from South of Venice Florida to North of Tampa without using Interstate 75, especially in an RV. If you choose to take Route 41, you must go through about 5000 traffic lights and dodge cars coming from every direction. If you take Route 17 through Arcadia, you will see beautiful old Florida; groves, pasture and lots of cattle, but it brings you too far east of the Panhandle. So, we begin our journey at about 12:30pm on Interstate 75 keeping right at 55 mph, sandwiched between the semi trailer trucks going 80mph to the left of us and those entering the highway on the right at 75mph. We travel to Exit 301, around Brooksville, where, with relief we leave the Interstate and head north on 98/19.

This gem of a road is a beautiful path through the quietest part of Florida. Quiet because this part of the coast doesn't have the beaches that make Florida famous. The coastline is mostly salt marsh, freshwater springs and streams originating with the Karst geology. Development is minimal, the road unraveled. Upland woods on either side demonstrate that spring is coming. Pink Redbud, yellow Acacia, and red Sweet Gum are just beginning to leaf out, but you can still see the Mistletoe on branches and trunks. Live Oak draped with Spanish moss is interspersed with the dark green and glossy leaves of the Magnolias. Pine Flatwoods under- storied by palmetto and scrub are adapted to the dryer upland conditions of the interior and have become a monoculture, with renewable trees destined for lumber or the pulp mills of Georgia. The roadside swales are covered with Blue Eyed grass and climbing Yellow Jasmine peaks through trees and fence rails.

It is difficult to find any place in Florida that is not beautiful; well, maybe the local Wal-Mart or a Phosphate Mine. However, even a phosphate mine is a great place to find fossils, especially shark teeth.

We travel through small towns, Chiefland, Old Town and Salem and cross the Suwannee River on the way to Perry where we will pull over at the KOA for the night. Believe the speed limit signs when they say 35 because if you are going 36 you will be stopped and ticketed. Speeding fines are a major source of income here about; that and barbecue (passed cool place called Bubbacue) - clever, yes?

It’s six-thirty and not yet dark - Daylight Savings. Paul backs into a really nice camp site. In his younger years Paul worked for a major Northeast Utility and learned to drive those gigantic trucks. He can back into anywhere. I do believe he could back the space shuttle back onto the launch pad. Not me, I don’t even use side view mirrors. RV’s don’t have rear view mirrors -which is why I don’t do a lot of RV driving. Hook up, literally, and cook dinner. I don’t know why they call this camping; this is just moving your house from place to place!


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