Thursday, June 17, 2021

R.R.V. Florinada Captain's Log - Closing Entry


Having driven 2,600 miles in a Class C RV put onto a Ford F-450 Truck base, the Ship's Surgeon and I have some thoughts to share for anyone else thinking about trying something like this.

Class C vs Class A RV

The R.R.V. Florinada was a Class C, 30 foot RV.  It was put on top of a Ford F-450 truck base.  It looked like, felt like, and drove like a truck.  It was very loud, and very bumpy on the road.  We haven't driven a Class A RV, but those should respond more like a luxury bus.   I would expect them to be quieter and more luxurious.  It also comes with a heftier price tag.  A 30 foot Winnebago Vista starts at $147,000, compared to a Class C equivalent, the Winnebago Minnie Winnie starts at $110,000.

If we did this again, we would do one of the Class A rentals.


The campgrounds were all essentially equivalent: large parking lots.  The State Parks had more privacy but fewer amenities.  They were also setup to nickle and dime you.  Paid the entrance fee?  Great!  Want to swim on the inflatables? $5 dollars an hour.  Stay at a Luxury Resort, and that won't be the case.  Given that the parking fees range from $50 - $100 a night, plus the cost of the RV itself - close to $10,000 per year depreciation without financing charges.  Plus Gas at $100+ per fill up.  Plus monthly storage for when not in use - $100 to $200 a month.  It's really quite expensive.   If you only used the RV 10 days out of the year - that's a $13,000 vacation.  Not counting insurance nor maintenance.  If you used it over 3 months - I come out to a cost of $321 a day for each of those 3 months of use.   Not counting insurance nor maintenance.   If one were to do this full time, it comes out to something like $125 a day.  Not counting insurance nor maintenance.  

For between $125 and $321, it's quite comparable to airfare/auto gas, a car rental, and staying at decent hotels.  

Let me remind you again, that customer service was not a priority of the campground staff either.  They are setup to nickle and dime you.

Length and Trailers

30 feet is a very good size.  The space is cramped, but not unbearable.   Each kid, and each adult had room inside to spread out and claim a space as their own.  But, a giant 30 foot vehicle with 12-13 foot clearance is not meant for easy getting around.   We found this out trying to park in downtown Louisville and going up, down, and turning around on Lookout Mountain.  If I did this again, I would trailer a standard car behind the RV.  Use the RV to jump from campground to campground, and the car to get around once we were there.  This should be viewed in context of the cost of the campgrounds & RV and the concept that if you still have the car, why not just stay in nicer accommodations?

Before beginning the trip, I thought if I bought an RV, I would buy the trailer without the engine that they call a "Fifth Wheel".  After seeing them in action though, I wouldn't do this.  The cheaper cost of the RV is offset by having to buy a large truck to tow it.  At that point you are just in a car trip again, and the great utility of having a bathroom your passengers can use en route is lost.  


The kids had a blast.  The campgrounds had many activities for them, and the novelty of cooking outside, having a fire, cooking smores, and sleeping above the cab of a truck in your own little hideaway is pretty sweet for the kids.  

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, I'm happy with the experience even if there were some rough edges.  I most certainly would not rule out doing it again, but I would do it differently if we did - with a Class A RV no longer than 30 feet and towing a car.

The Ship's Surgeon would do it with a pop-up tent and do it at a normal camp site.

R.R.V. Florinada Captain's Log - Day 10


The extra long voyage even made our Ship's Surgeon seasick and tired.  We left Mammoth Cave at 11am, and arrived back at our Home port at 1am.   The ports of Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta were busy and delayed us by an extra hour and a half.  The entire crew was exhausted upon arriving back at our Home Port, and they promptly found their own bunks and crashed as quickly as they could. 

Despite the long voyage and the exhaustion suffered, the crew is best setup for a quick unloading and cleaning of the R.R.V. Florinada, before its return to its rightful owners.

Day's Log: Mammoth Cave to Home

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

R.R.V. Florinada Captain's Log - Day 9

On board, I'm the captain, so climb aboard...They said, Come Sail Away... 

I sang to myself as the crew crossed the Styx River.  Today the crew had a forced march across the Styx River, up the Green River, past Dixon's Bat Cave, and down and out Mammoth Cave.

Here the crew took a break before the descent into Mammoth Cave.

Mammoth Cave was very large and has an interesting history - including commercial use to grow mushrooms, which of course involved a Kentucky style inter-family feud and struggle for control, resulting in the destruction of at least the commercial venture.  I could see a modern Italian family deciding it might be a great place to make coal fired pizzas, and then arguing over whether the addition of coal to a saltpeter mine would result in explosive growth.  Since it's missing the sulfur needed to make gunpowder, I'm sure the pizza would flame out, but Mammoth Cave was really something else.

At the end of the march, the crew found a mammoth sized creature in the middle of a lake.  It was a frightfully playful creature though so we had no problems.

The crew member who's self chosen R.R.V. name is "Baseball", found a Captain's versus Crew Shaving Cream Wiffleball game to participate in.  The Captain flew out to Right Center Field.  "Baseball" flew out to Left Center Field, and "Imposter" had an infield single.  The Captains of course won the overall game.

The crew was also challenged to a race.  The results are obvious from this photo.  If you ain't first, you're last.

Tomorrow, we will be between Scylla and Charybdis.  We've chosen to double-time it back home and forgo the last overnight port as a result.   That will turn a 6 hour drive into a 12 hour drive, but is the best overall option.

Day's Log: Mammoth Cave

Monday, June 14, 2021

R.R.V. Florinada Captain's Log - Day 8


After a quick breakfast there was some leisure time for the crew.  One of them made paper airplanes, the second explored, and the third wanted to put his new Louisville Slugger to use.  He hits the ball well, but there were only two times that we thought a window might be at risk.

Today was the longest voyage of the trip:  allegedly 6 Hours and 15 minutes.  Add in the port traffic to leave Chicago and through Indianapolis, it turned into just under 9 hours.  All of the crew is exhausted from the tight ship the Captain runs, but the recent consecutive late nights have left the younger crew members in need of respite.   We re-arranged the watch schedule, and the younger crew took a well deserved nap.

Upon arrival at the Mammoth Cave, KY Jellystone park, the Ship's Steward made a dinner of Ham and Mac and Cheese.  The steward was upset because earlier we found a mid-voyage McDonald's.  It was the first McDonald's we'd seen en route - I'm told they are rare - and we ate there for lunch.   One of the crew described that lunch as the "Best day of his life", and the Ship's Steward has been a bit grumpy about it since.

Day's Log: Naperville, IL to Jellystone Park at Mammoth Cave


R.R.V. Florinada Captain's Log - Day 7


After the intense skirmish yesterday, the crew and our new allies began the day with a breakfast of smores.  After our goodbyes we took our leave, cast off our lines, and set off for our furthest destination:  The land of Chicago, to see the crew's great-grandmother.  

The crew member assigned to watch was caught sleeping at his post.  He missed the signs declaring that the plague still infested the lands of Illinois, and that foreigners would need to submit to mandatory quarantine.  We were later to learn that this new land was so well governed that the signs were out of date.  

Nonetheless we were able to meet the crew's aunt, uncle, and great grandmother.  One of the crew had to repair a part of the ship, and decided to work through his meal time.

After the libations, we commenced a raiding party where the crew was able to successfully commandeer their own ship without sustaining any casualties.  The one dressed in blue here was the captain of the raid, and he even rescued several of the women from the barbarians of the Naperville Paddleboat Quarry. 

Day's Log: Carmel, Indiana to Naperville, Illinois

Saturday, June 12, 2021

R.R.V. Florinada Captain's Log - Day 6


The family reunion was preceded by a quick assault on a sniper's nest.  Armed with our powerful water-cannons, the crew began the assault.  

The assault was fraught with danger, and saw a few casualties.  Some of the crew suffered wounds from several cannonballs and belly flops.

Luckily, a ceasefire was quickly negotiated and the crew and our former enemies enjoyed frozen, sugary drinks they called "Snow-cones".

The temporary truce was enhanced by friendly competition in some strange game including a table, paddles, and a small spherical ball.  Food and later ice cream were the signatures on what appears to be a lasting peace for the time being.

Day's Log: Shore leave.

R.R.V Florinada Captain's Log - Day 5


The day started with a sighting again of my nemesis's antagonist - the white whale.  Apparently this crew had turned the white whale into a "whale of a sandwich".  Captain Ahab must be seething others have found taming his great white whale so easy.

We then made way to the Louisville Slugger museum.  We inquired if there was parking for large ships such as ours nearby, whereby we were informed that a lot behind the museum would suffice.  The overhead clearance of the lot was 12 feet.  The clearance for our ship is 12 feet.  So the low clearance situation in addition to having to make a three point turn in the parking lot and then taking and paying 4 parking spots was a stressful adventure for this captain.  The dockage was successful, and we were able to take shore leave to visit the museum.

Inside we watched as these blank billets were turned into hitting machines.  It's been a particularly favorite dockage of mine so far, and being a generous Captain, I purchased each of the crew a custom Louisville Slugger bat.

After lunch at Luigi's Pizza in downtown Louisville, we departed for Carmel, Indiana to make an extended shore leave in order to reunite with family.  So far the plague only appears to be present in Atlanta.  Signs of it have been few and far between in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana.  In Indiana, the crew was able to find a species of  pool with a diving board.  This Captain thought those had become extinct years ago.  The Captain was also able to enjoy some shore leave with extended family, and somehow we found Margaritaville after a 2 mile hike into Carmel, Indiana.   

Leg 1 - Louisville South KOA to Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory:

Leg 2 - Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory to Carmel, Indiana

Thursday, June 10, 2021

R.R.V. Florinada Captain's Log - Day 4

The morning began with an answer to the ages old philosophical question, "If there's smoke in a forest, does a smoke detector alarm go off?"  The answer turns out to be: "Yes".  While cooking the crew's breakfast, the steward created enough smoke to trigger the ship's smoke detection units.  It alerted the crew and sent out distress signals to all the ships in our area.  All was well though, and opening the windows to the galley corrected the problem.

After this episode, the crew was sent out on a scavenging expedition, to explore and make claim to anything of value.  They were ambushed by some savages who raided their pockets for quarters to use in a Candy Crane.  Thankfully, the crew and the savages became friendly after this.  The savages were from Orlando, FL.  The mother was a teacher, and she and her son were making way to Chicago.

Today's voyage was one of the longer legs of the trip as we departed Chattanooga and made way for Louisville.  The ship's surgeon - the only learned crew member - did her best to educate the otherwise remedial crew.  

One of them showed some creativity, ambition, and technical skill by creating this video on some rectangular device he has as one of his personal possessions.

Finally arriving at our destination, the crew found a gigantic species of animal that was billowy, and seemed to enjoy them jumping on it.  They named the species, "Bouncy Pillow".


R.R.V. Florinada Captain's Log - Day 3

After an early departure, one of the crew made a design for some sort of device he thought would fly on the clouds like birds.  He called it a tri-plane, but to this Captain, it looked like he just stacked three folded pieces of paper together, and I have asked the Ship's Surgeon to investigate his overall health.  That we were up among the clouds seems unrelated.

Our first port of call saw the crew in great spirits.  Despite water falling from rocks in the sky, and a plank extending out into the ether, the crew seemed happy to walk the plank together, and as a result, I had to withdraw my complaints as to their behavior lest a certain mutiny result.  

By the time we reached Lover's Leap, the Ship's Surgeon had them firmly back under control of the ship's strict hierarchy, and the crew was happy to send greetings to their captain despite a lengthy shore leave in a beautiful place where one could see seven states.

Ruby Falls was our next port of call.  The crew seemed bewildered by a large waterfall 1,000 feet below a mountain in a large cavern.  One almost succumbed to hypothermia due to the constantly cold temperature below ground.  He slept for the rest of the day as a result.

The ship came into peril after our exit from Ruby Falls.  We travelled up Lookup Mountain where we came across Craven's House.  The Union artillery needed a target, and this house was it.  As a result, the road was torn asunder, and we had to make a very dangerous and very difficult three point turn on a destroyed road up the mountain in order to be on our way.  I'm happy to report we were on our way before the real struggle started.   Photos of the battle's aftermath at Lover's Leap are quite something.  I'm glad we were able to avoid that destruction.

Upon reaching our final dockage, the crew was excited to light a fire and make something they called "smores".  Now as it turns out, a proper Smore requires Graham Crackers, Hershey's chocolate, and marshmallows.  Hershey's - the wonderful company they are - sells a "smores caddy" through Target.  In case you were wondering, this is actually an empty box, and doesn't contain the crackers, chocolate, nor marshmallows required to make a proper smore.  For future captains, this item should be avoided at all costs.

Nonetheless, the crew was able to make due by setting many marshmallows on fire.  Luckily, the ship has avoided both artillery and camp-fire today.

Leg 1: Red Top Mountain Campground to Lookout Mountain, TN

Leg 2: Lookout Mountain to Campground

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

R.R.V. Florinada Captain's Log - Day 2

We were startled awake by a large, strange creature.  The smallest crew member appeared to know its species, calling it a "Garbage Truck".  I have no reason to doubt him.  After we recovered from the fright, we had a peaceful breakfast of pancakes and biscuits and gravy, buttoned down the hatches, and set out North for a port named "Lane's Orchards".

When we arrived, our smallest crew member had appeared to fall ill and mal-content.  Luckily, Lane's Orchards had an ample supply of peaches, and after a fried peach pie and some festivities, the Ship's Surgeon explained to me that we had narrowly missed an outbreak of scurvy.

Our departure from Lane's Orchards quickly found us joined by marvelous pods of all vehicle species on our bow, stern, and midships as we journeyed into Atlanta to stop at the Georgia Aquarium.  There we witnessed sharks, dolphins, otters, seals, and all manner of smaller fish.  Curiously, there was a large white whale there.  She appeared rather docile, and I'm not quite sure what my adversary Captain Ahab went on and on about.  I suppose I never liked him much anyways though.

The Aquarium though was consumed by the plague, and all the entrants had to wear the shield of mask.  The smallest crew member's looked ridiculous, and I'm still not sure how spilling our aerosols out the sides of the mask is any different than spilling them directly out the front.  I've been informed I'm just stupid, though.  The small crew member eventually gave up wearing one.  I'm magnificently happy that he was not stricken with plague. 

For our departure from Atlanta, the local constables joined us.  There were K9, swat, and many normal constables there.  Many were dressed in body armor carrying M4 rifles.  There were rumors that the plague had created Walking Dead in Atlanta.  We were happy to depart in haste!

After our hurried departure from Atlanta, we made way for Red Top Mountain, Georgia.  19 years ago Diana and I visited Red Top for a primitive camping trip required by a class she took in University.  After a long weekend of roughing it with heavy packs, little food, and little knowledge of the terrain, we stumbled ourselves into a Wild Buffet, where we gorged ourselves with our quarry's sliced prime rib, mashed potatoes and gravy, and many things richly southern.  Alas, it was the last known Wild Buffet and is now extinct.  We had to fend for ourselves this time in a primitive manner with poles and hooks.

Leg 1: Tifton to Lane Orchards

Leg 2: Lane Orchards to Georgia Aquarium

Leg 3: Georgia Aquarium to Red Top Mountain