Friday, 8 August
Pelican Roost RV Park — NS Mayport, Florida
Temps: Lo78F / Hi 87F [feels like 94F] (25.5C / 30.5C [34F])
When I clicked the “post” button on yesterday’s blog entry, we were about to pull into a Flying J in Georgia to fill up the Phaeton. Little did I know then that our heretofore uneventful drive from South Carolina to Florida was about to take a slight turn towards becoming worrisome!
Our travel day had been dry up to that point, but just as we were approaching exit 29 on I-95, the skies opened up in a downpour. Good timing, we thought — we can wait out the rain at the truckstop. Turns out the canopy over the diesel pumps was leaking like a sieve! No biggie; we’ve fueled in the rain before. Except that when Mui finished topping off the tank this time and came inside to set the wheels rolling again, we got a much-dreaded alert: ! WATER IN FUEL. Oh sh*t!!!!!
Mui drained some fuel from the filter and tried the engine again. Same result — the amber light blinked on and off, but the text alert remained. So, we vacated the truck lane we were in and found a parking spot amongst the semis. Out came the phone and Mui dialed the number Mike Cody had drilled into our brains at Camp Freightliner — 1-800-FTL-HELP. After discussing the problem, we were advised to get back on the road since the amber engine alert had gone off and all that remained was the text alert in the dash display. It was strongly suggested that we head to the nearest Freightliner Service Center to get things checked out. Turns out, that was in Jacksonville, Florida — our destination.
After filling out an incidence report with Flying J in case a claim needed to be filed, we got back on I-95 South. We’d been told that water in the fuel would severely impact our speed, so Mui kept a close eye on the speedometer. That we were able to maintain a speed of 60-65 mph (96-104 kph), and the Phaeton wasn’t handling any differently, gave us some comfort that perhaps the problem was minor after all.
Shortly after 4:00p, we pulled into the Tom Nehl Truck Center. Mui had already spoken to the manager of this 24/7 Freightliner service center and had been assured that they would somehow fit us into their already packed service calendar … if only to verify the extent of the problem. So, we completed the paperwork, unhooked the toad, found a spot out of the way of the trucks buzzing around, turned on the generator to get the A/C units humming, and settled down to wait. Long story short, it was 9:30p before we got our turn at a bay.
The tech drained some fuel and then hooked the Phaeton up to a computer to run diagnostics. The result: replacing the fuel filter and sensor should clear the problem. And it did. We both heaved a huge sigh of relief when 30 minutes later Mui turned on the engine and the text alert was gone.
It was nearing 11:00p by the time we were ready to pull out. We had already driven more than we had planned for the day and debated staying overnight in the parking lot of the service center. In the end, we decided to push on to the campground instead. Of course, had we known that the exit we needed to take for the most direct route to NS Mayport was closed for construction, we might have reconsidered that decision.
What should have been an easy 338-mile (540 km) day,
turned out to be a not-so-easy 381-mile (610 km) day.
So, with Murphy striking a second time, we found ourselves taking a convoluted route to get to the base. The good news — the roads were sort of familiar from our stay at the on-base campground last December, so we weren’t freaking out about getting lost. Once we turned onto Mayport Road and saw the NS Mayport gate ahead of us, we heaved our second huge sigh of relief in as many hours.
Not so fast. Murphy had another hurdle for us to jump — namely, the barriers that you find at the entrance to every military facility these days. During the day, the barriers are easy to negotiate, but they place them in a tighter formation at night. They’re OK if you’re just driving a regular vehicle; it’s more of a challenge when you’re 40 feet (12 m) long … and you’re towing to boot. Anyway, another long story short, they had us go around the barriers, but the turn into the gate lane was just too short. So, we had to hurry up and unhook the toad before we could make it through.
Finally, we were in the clear. Despite the dark roads on base, we had no problems finding our way to Pelican Roost RV Park where we had reservations. Of course, at 00:30a, there was no one around to check us in. As luck would have it, however, one of our preferred waterfront sites was sitting empty. We pulled in without wasting time, hooked up the electricity, opened the bedroom slides, and called it a day. Dropping the jacks and completing the rest of the set-up chores could wait until morning.
Put on the breaks! Murphy had one more trick up his sleeve. I’d been reading in bed while we were waiting to be called into the service bay at Tom Nehl’s. When the tech knocked on the door, I didn’t give the cup of water sitting on the ledge next to the bed another thought. Yes, you guessed it. It had fallen on the bed when we put the Phaeton in motion and there was a great big wet spot right where I was about to lay myself down! So, to top off everything else, I got to sleep on the sofa last night. Too tired to mess with making the sofa into a bed, I just put a spare sheet on the cushions and fell into bed. Good thing I’m short enough to fit on the sofa ;-)
Despite the late bedtime, we were both up before sunrise this morning. The perfect time to be out enjoying the cool morning and the light breeze. We were too tired to head to the beach, but we did go out for a walk around the campground to take a look at the available waterfront sites in the light of day. It didn’t take us long to realize that Site 11 was the best of the lot — FHU with more patio space than most of the other sites, and a clear view of the boat basin, which is surprisingly empty of vessels this time. (Daily rate of $21.)
Once quiet hours were over, we unplugged from the electric pedestal, pulled in the bedroom slides, and properly positioned the coach on the concrete pad. Before long, we were settled into our site, ready to make the most of it for the next two weeks. While we got the afternoon sun at our site at Lake Greenwood, here we get the morning sun. So a shift in routine is going to be essential.
View from the front of our site.
When the sun is out, it is hot, hot, hot. But we knew that would be the case when we made the decision to return to Florida for a couple of weeks before our off-road adventures, which will commence on 25 August. The good news is that we’re in full shade in the afternoon, and a lovely breeze makes it possible to sit outside in comfort. In fact, I’m writing this post on the patio and loving every minute of being outdoors on a beautiful blue-sky day.
Not bad … not bad at all!
The beach is just down the road from the campground. We skipped it today, but I see daily beach walks as part of our routine here. There were a ton of birds on the beaches when we came here in December; hopefully they are still around. I guess I’ll find out. In the meantime, we’ll just let the dolphins in the boat channel entertain us.