Leaving Gulf Shores Alabama for Florida – Plenty of RV Maintenance Completed

We are finishing a two month stay at Island Retreat RV Resort at Gulf Shores Alabama and heading towards central and north Florida for at least five weeks. We have enjoyed the stay but its time to move on. The weather has been okay at Gulf Shores but a little cold for a winter spot in December and January. Locals say this has been a colder winter than normal. We had hoped for consistent temperatures in the mid-sixties without luck. Karen and I briefly discussed next winters plans and wonder how the weather and wind would be near Brownville Texas at Port Isabel? Last year we stayed on the Texas gulf shore around Rockport and Aransas. It’s doubtful we will ever return to the Alabama Gulf Shores but it was certainly worth the first time visit. Judging by the winter vehicle traffic this certainly is a popular winter spot. It must be insane around here during spring break with all the hotels that line the shore. If I had to plan a visit to Gulf Shores Alabama again, I’d think February/March would be a good winter time to stop on the route.

At the time of writing I had no Gulf of Mexico beach photos to post. I can hear the waves at night from the park and we might still make it down to the 3.5 miles of shoreline at Gulf Shores State Park, especially now that they have reopened part of the long fishing pier that was damaged during the last hurricane. Folks take boating very seriously here. So many fun restaurants to visit both by car and boat, many of which are dog friendly if you eat outside. The entire area is very bike friendly with miles of trails. You can even book monthly stays at the Alabama Gulf Shores State Park campground if you are able to plan months ahead which we don’t. I should also mention we were not able to find a single Florida State Park along our next route that was open with spots our size within three months of our visit. So it looks like we will be staying at (expensive to us) commercial campgrounds in Florida.

I’m not wanting to confuse this blog post, which is mostly intended to describe the visit to Alabama, but friends and family want our Florida itinerary which is as follows:

February 2nd – Arrive at Triple C Campground near Chattahoochee Florida.

February 4th – Arrive at Suwannee River Rendezvous Campground near Mayo Florida where we will meet up with new friends we first met in Alabama.

February 11th – Arrive at Wilderness RV Resort near Silver Springs and Ocala Florida. The roads inside the park are a little narrow in the short-term camping area but worth it to see the beautiful springs and forest. This may also be one of several opportunities to visit one of my best friends, Bill Weiler, who moved to Florida years ago and has provided great advice about touring the state.

February 15 – Arrive at our destination for a month at Stagecoach RV Park in St. Augustine Florida. We will be staying off I-95 about 45 minutes from the Jacksonville Airport in case family wants to sleep on our couch. This will be another opportunity to see our friends should we meet in St. Augustine or take an overnight trip to Merritt Island.

Now back to photos from Alabama:

A wonderful seashore day trip to Florida, 20 minutes away, heading to Perdido Bay. If you have not been to the coast but studied it from a map then just image those bits and pieces of land curving just off the mainland are tied together with a system of bridges. Seems like they have figured out how to get to any ground that is usable. However, the entire coastline is federally protected. In the 1960’s Florida gave Alabama a couple miles of the above shoreline in exchange for building a bridge.
Flor-Bama Marina/Restaurant is a very popular must-see. Located right on the Florida Alabama boarder. We parked in Alabama and walked over to eat on the dog friendly beach in Florida. Make sure and order ONE bushwhacker drink while you are there.
Another dog friendly beach/restaurant is Pirates Cove. Locals boat here to the marina, like so many other places. Beware, friendly dogs may visit your table unless you eat inside the bar area. A longer drive to get there but the scenery is worth it.
Tacky Jacks – Another popular local hangout and dog friendly outside. You can get some colored tape and post a message with the others scattered on the structure. Across the canal is Lu Lu Buffett’s restaurant which looked amazing. Lucy is the sister of Jimmy Buffett who frequents the area. Folks say don’t be surprised to see Morgan Freeman running around these parts also. Both must be avoiding us because we did not see them:)
Tape scattered around Tacky Jacks with some interesting notes from visitors.

Again, Gulf Shores Alabama is worth the stop to see at least once. A fulltime RV family we first met in Platte City Missouri, north of Kansas City, have been here three times. One day the dad and two young girls were walking down the street in front of our camper when Wyatt went nuts barking from is pen outside. I was inside and came out to investigate, finding Karen talking with the family. It has been months since we met the family and believe it or not Wyatt remembered the girls who loved playing with him – six months ago. Small world.

Speaking of Wyatt – y’all know we pet owners have to throw in those photos. Wyatt loves every place he goes and is always happy.

Wyatt sits at the back window looking for his friends in the campground dog park to bark at. We are learning to not select spots within view of dog parks or leave the shade closed.
Charlie – Wyatt’s bestfriend – for now. He also liked Zoe, the huge Bernice Mountain Dog. He did not like the Pitbull that got ahold of his ear at the fantastic Gulf Shores Dog Park. He is fine with a healed ear puncture. We are now more selective when visiting dog parks. I later researched getting a dog to release a bite. Some say spray water in their face if available, some say use a stick pried into rear of jaws, some say grab it from behind just in front of the legs and twist the dog. Neighbor says his friends use Pit Bulls to hunt ferial hogs and best method is to stick your thumb up their ass – that’s a good one I hope never to try.
Wyatt must have heard about the Covid mask order. He needs to get his own and leave mine alone. Boy, at nine months old he sure is looking good. When we eventually leave Florida he will be leaving his balls behind. Although Karen thinks we should just have a vasectomy done. I’ll have to see the research on that before I vote.

A Few Important RV Maintenance Tips.

I completed quit a few of my annual preventative maintenance items as well as fixed a few things. I tell folks if you don’t have a dozen things to fix on an RV it’s because you are not using it enough. I bet I could come up with 10 sub-topics, but to save space I’ll just discuss a couple water leaks. If you want my complete preventive maintenance list just send me an email at mseneker@hotmail.com. I’m proud of the list which was assembled with much guidance from others. I’d rather email the list then post it here as I frequently update it and don’t want an older version posted that later might be out of date.

Check for Water Leaks: Yes, you can find them before they fill the underbelly of your RV. Check the lines by moving them around to see if they start leaching water. Especially the hot water lines. I’m going back into my basement and zip tie a few water lines so they don’t move around so much when traveling. I replaced three hose clamps and now carry temporary clamps that one can use a screw driver to tighten. Our RV has excellent water lines that can take high pressure. The connections are the weak points.

Our RV uses two kinds of clamps that must be applied with a special tool. Check these suckers, especially the hot water lines to include where they connect behind the hot water heater.
Ordered this set of tools on Amazon. Used to cut PEX water lines and crimp on new connections. Our water lines are 1/2″ but the actual clamp is 8.5mm. Can’t find 8.5mm at hardware stores so order a few to have on hand. What happens on hot water lines is they swell from the heat where they attach to valves. Remove the clamp, using the special tool or a screwdriver, cut a couple inches off the hose and reattach. Some have even gone as far as to change out valves and water lines to something more sturdy.
Here is a part I’ll bet you never knew about. Its called a Vacuum Breaker Assembly. Its placed inline with your black tank flush water line and is used to stop sewer water from backing up into the fresh water supply through a hose. Ours was conveniently located behind an access panel outside the RV. Many are behind cabinets where you might be able to remove a few screws to get at them. I noticed ours had gone bad when water started dripping beside our utility bay. I might replace it again later because the factory part looked more substantial than the one I replace it with. By the way, I no longer fill my black tank to clean it with fresh water from the black tank flush while leaving the gate closed . Check in the area of your black tank flush connection and I’ll bet you will find a warning sticker to never leave the gate closed when flushing the tank. Personally, I drain the black tank all the way, then start the black tank flush which will have a chance to wash out whatever has then settled at the bottom of the tank after draining.
Go outside and look above your tires. The photo above has a yellow arrow pointing at some Flex Seal Tape I used to repair damage from rocks months ago. The underside of your RV might have nothing but a thin cover on the underside above the tires to keep the insulation in. Get some Flex Seal Tape now for emergency use! It permanently repairs all kinds of stuff. But don’t use it on the roof!
Related to the last photo, this is the same area above the tires on a Heartland Landmark. I’ve seen it on a Grand Design travel trailer as well. They are now installing a think metal plate on the bottom of the underbelly above the rear tires to stop rocks that fling off the tires and tear the underbelly. I’ve read on forums where during heavy rains people have actually had water pool in the underbelly through holes above the tires.

Take time to read your particular RV owners forums. Read what problems people had and how they fixed them so you will know how to handle it when they occur. There is already too much stress from living in these things without being unprepared.

One final note before I sign off. Thank you Patty, our new friend from Washington State, for the Nuwave Oven. Karen loves it. Cooks in half the time of our convection oven and she thinks fried food comes out better as well. Although it is a big machine, Karen was able to clear out part of a shelf in the pantry to store it when not in use. Cleans up easy and creates no odors when cooking. We are looking forward to seeing Patty and Mark in Mayo Florida soon.

9 thoughts on “Leaving Gulf Shores Alabama for Florida – Plenty of RV Maintenance Completed

  1. We’ve been in South Padre for the last two months. Overall weather has been pretty decent overall, not as warm as in South Florida. We’ve had a few chilly days and quite a few windy days. Mostly the windy days are nice as the temperatures are in the 60’s. Occasionally we get a very windy day (25mph or so with gusts higher). We are on the island where temperatures are usually about 6-8 degrees cooler during the day and about 10-15 degrees warmer for the lows. We will likely return for another winter in the future at the same park.

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    • I was hoping you would chime in on this one as I knew your were down there. I’m reading your blogs with great interest. We also might be heading north from Florida and I’m planning to go back and take a look at your route. We did fine with the winds out of the Corpus Cristi area all the way to Goose Island State Park. I was hoping South Padre would be no different. We could see heading west next year out of Brownsville at some point.

      We decided to go ahead with the higher prices in Florida this year as the Canadians were not coming so we could find spots which turns out to be the case – other than the state parks 🙂

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      • They start taking winter 21 reservations on the 15th after 8pm. Only $50 to cancel. Sites are highly variable from some that are like in a state park to some so tight you think you are in the Florida Keys.

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  2. We spent the 2019/2020 winter season (Nov thru Feb) in New Mexico and Arizona, which included stops at City of the Rocks SP (NM – 1 week); Rockhound State Park (NM – 4 days), Catalina State Park (Tucson) 10 days, Usery Mtn Park (Phoenix) 5 days, Why, AZ at Coyote Howls East for 3 weeks (modified boondocking) and the Yuma area (5 weeks). This year, we have been at Escapees Sumter Oaks in Bushnell, FL since Nov. 1.
    I can say with complete confidence that we will winter in Arizona most every year going forward. Granted, we are probably a little further north for the warmest FL winters, but considering humidity (our neighbors have run their dehumdifier every day and empty it quite often), bugs, rain, sand and chilly weather, it is no contest. Arizona is far, far superior. Warm weather, no humidity, no rain, no bugs makes it an easy choice for us. I also went to college in Tucson, so I know last year’s conditions down there were no fluke (70’s and 80’s just about every day with little rain). About the only thing you have to put up with in AZ is dust and some windy conditions in the spring (which we had already left before windy season, so can’t speak to that, though we did hit some wind in NM on our way back east in March). Plenty to do there as well, especially if you enjoy great hikes and mountain scenery.
    We are already planning our Arizona stay for winter 2021-2022.

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  3. You will be in our neck of the woods when you’re in Mayo. We are developing a piece of property in Branford. You will enjoy Suwannee River Rendezvous though it is a bit chillier (mostly at night) in northern Florida than you might think. Be sure to visit the beautiful natural Springs that will be all around you. Convict Springs is located at the campground. I would avoid Ginnie Springs as it is a private spring and typically full of college kids partying. Branford has some great restaurants though only one has outdoor seating – The Branford Gathering. There’s not much in Mayo as far as restaurants but it’s a cute town. Hope you enjoy your stay and let me know if you have any questions. If I can answer them, I will. Your blogs were very helpful in our search for a full time RV.

    Lori Hempfling

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  4. We’ve had a few Bushawackers at Flora-Bama while playing Bingo. January has been a mixed bag here in Port Aransas TX, cooler and windy but then there are 70+ days, still like the AZ weather better but we love our beach time too. Wyatt seems to be taking to the RV lifestyle just fine. Enjoy your FL time.

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