Part 5: South Toledo Bend, LA to Northern Florida


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The Trip

South Toledo Bend State Park was really nice.  We decided to stay several days.  On our departure we damaged a skylight over our bathroom thus exposing the inside world to the outside world.  Fortunately, the rain we had that night only dripped into the shower pan rather than over the entire bathroom.  But, independent of the dripping, an immediate fix was required as much more rain was in the forecast.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

A parting shot of Toledo Bend taken from the dock adjacent to our campsite.  The winds were calm and the high clouds presaged the coming storm.  The reflections of the clouds produced a dreamy pattern on the glass-smooth water.  We left Toledo Bend and headed towards Natchez, MS.

Kathleen found an RV site right on the Mississippi River and set up camp across from the levee.

The river tugs were pushing barge arrays up and down the river all night.  Above is a set of barges loaded with aggregate for construction.

Next morning we headed toward Hattiesburg, MS and found a campsite for the night.  The following morning, the cleanup from the rain forced us to find a solution. 
As it turns out, our campsite was very close to a large RV dealership with an extensive parts department.  While we did not find an exact replacement for our Lance camper, we did find something that would likely work and was good enough.  We rolled from Hattiesburg to Gulfport and found a place to stay for a couple of days while we executed repairs.  As we were turning into the campsite, we saw another Mercedes expedition camper coming down the road toward us.  This truck is a 1019, while Thor is a 1017A ("A" means 4x4).  We did not meet these people, but concluded they were European.

A photo looking up from inside the bathroom.  We have already removed the inner skylight dome revealing the extensive damage that the low-hanging branch did to the plastic dome.  Trees with Spanish Moss are visible through the hole in the roof.

The chosen replacement for the skylight was an industry-standard manual vent that has essentially the same form factor as the skylight and hopefully will be close enough to do the job and more easily available should more damage happen.

The gal at the RV place gave us good tips on getting the job done and one of the most important was the use of a strong solvent to remove the roof sealer.  The sealer, called "Dico" is a liquid rubber compound that is really strong and has high adhesion.  The roof of the camper has a special waterproof membrane that cannot be violated unless you want a leak.  So, special care was needed and the solvent helped make a really nasty job somewhat easier.  In this case "somewhat" is misleading as the repair took 4.5 hours to scrape off the adhesive from the flanges of a 14"x14" vent.  I discovered that the actual fixture was held on with some kind of hard-core silicone adhesive UNDER the Dico.  I could not find a way to remove it without damaging the membrane, so I elected to cut off the remaining plastic with my air-powered die grinder.  The plan was to attach the new fixture on top of the remaining flange. I was on the roof on my knees for the duration and it was not fun.  It was hard-dark when we completed and rain was in the forecast for that night so we had the required urgency to finish the job.  The rain came on schedule and the repair did not leak.

The following morning, despite breezy conditions, we took the EUCs to the Gulfport boardwalk for a ride.

The boardwalk goes for miles in each direction.  To the east, the tall buildings are casinos.

To the west is the center of Gulfport and the harbor.  Kathleen gives the "lets roll" signal.  We rolled the entire length of the boardwalk and then back to the RV park.  We arrived back at the camper just in time for rain.  When the rain abated, we walked to the nearby marina for dinner and cocktails.

The following morning, on our way out of Gulfport, we decided to return to the marina area to ride in Jones Park.  There were many miles of smooth sidewalks and we did them all in multiple iterations.  Around noon, we loaded up and headed east toward Mobile, AL.  We spent the night at a very nice place called Outback RV.  The place was owned by an Australian couple and was neat and clean.

Kathleen likes caves and decided that we should visit Florida Caverns as it was on our way.  It was a state park but only moderately interesting as a cave.  It was small with only minimal "decorations".  Above is a "drape", sometimes called "cave bacon".

My iPhone did a respectable job of taking photos despite the very dim conditions.

The walking surface of the cave showed patterns typical of sea bottom in shallow areas.

Several of the formations had varying colors of deposits.

Some of the alcoves were heavily decorated.

A rather large formation in one of the bigger rooms in the cave system.

We finished at the caverns and continued east, then south to Perry, FL.  We stayed at the KOA there and got a nice spot underneath a huge Live Oak tree dripping with Spanish Moss.

I really could have done without the roof repair.  It was hard and uncomfortable.  After 4 hours, I had blisters on my knees and no easy to avoid further damage.  The good news is that the repair was successful and hopefully will continue to work for the near future.

Tomorrow, we roll south toward the Tampa area to visit friends.

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