RV’ing-Does it make sense? Days 2-3-4 Jekyll Island

 

The trip up to Jekyll Island is pretty uneventful.  The F250 easily handles the 5’er it’s hauling, and even though there is significant wind shear courtesy of a named storm, it’s as solid as a rock on the road while returning about 10 MPG in the process.  As a memo, my old truck was an F150 gas motor and it got 8 MPG under similar conditions.

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The only drawback I can see right now is that I need to search for the “right” gas station, which is kind of like finding the right girl.  Most of them do have what you want, but easy access without drama is a big concern. 

I’m reminded of the time I had to actually back out of a pump station because my trailer wouldn’t clear the awning.  So it certainly isn’t a given that just any station will do.  Now I’ve trained myself to look for the truck stops because they have parking lots like the deck of an aircraft carrier to turn around in.  Trouble is, finding the right station cost me time and fuel on the way to Georgia.  I had to pull in to four different exits to find the perfect place.  I keep telling myself I’ll get better at this, but that’s what I said about finding the right girl, and that took me 40 years.

I set up at the Jekyll Island Campground, which is nice enough.  They don’t have a pool or level parking, but they do have an abundance of trees, and I’m reasonably removed from my neighbors.  This time the set up is only about 30 minutes.  I’m not exactly ready for a NASCAR pit crew, but still I’m much better than my usual level of unsafe incompetence.

Of course, the hot water still doesn’t work, so my wife has to use the facility restrooms, which last sparkled when they were new in 1972.  She tells me they’re similar to what she encountered at summer camp in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and I remind her of whose idea this all was, which I’ve always thought of as a great way to communicate with your spouse.  Of course, I’m on my third marriage now.  Your mileage may vary.

Nonetheless, I’m impressed by the peace, quiet, and nature that abound here.  All I can hear in the morning are the birds chirping, which is a nice contrast to the angry incessant roar of the Interstate at our first stop.

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I’ll tell you about Jekyll Island itself a bit later, but for those only interested in the dollars and cents, here’s RV travel the damage so far:

  • Fuel           -$71
  • Entry fees  -$22
  • Tours         -$37
  • Food          -$68
  • Drinks        -$28
  • Dining        -$92
  • RV site       -$139

Total               -$457

Now, you may ask, how did you spend so much money on food?  Are you a blimp?  Well, yes, I am, thanks for asking, but also I am not willing to say that I traveled through an entire region of the country without sampling the cuisine.  To deprive myself of Georgia pork BBQ or shrimp and country grits because I have a kitchen in the RV would be like going to Paris and eating at McDonald’s.  Not going to happen.

So yes, throughout this trip, I’ll occasionally dine out just as I would when traveling by car.  Sometimes I’ll have a drink at a bar, especially when it’s in an intimate setting that just oozes old money ambience like the Bar at the Jekyll Island Club resorts.  It’s worth it to have the experience.  After all, if you don’t think food and drink are an integral part of traveling, you’re reading the wrong blog.

So throughout this series, I’ll splurge occasionally and sure, it may not seem fair, since I could have saved the money and eaten in the RV vs. the absolute certainty that, had I traveled by car and “hotel hopped”, I would have dined out nearly every time, and it would have cost more, relatively speaking.  All I can say is, if that is the mentality at work, I could have just saved a bundle by staying home!  No, the idea is to experience the culture, and that includes food and drink.  So the RV has to compete with the car travel on that basis as well, even though there will be savings on most nights because we will eat in the RV.

OK, glad we got that settled.  Here’s the estimated travel cost by car:

  • Fuel             -$25
  • Entry Fees   -$22
  • Tours            -$37
  • Food            -$0
  • Drinks          -$28
  • Dining          -$270
  • Hotel Room -$450

Total             -$832

Now, a word about expenses while traveling by car: 

  • I will automatically assume I could easily get two and half times the fuel economy with a car, and that gas always costs less than diesel.  Therefore, I will assume fuel bills of approximately 1/3 of the amount of my truck/RV.  
  • I will also take a look at the median hotel price for an area and take that as a good rate. I’m not looking at staying at the Westin, which costs $200+ for a night here.  I’m looking at something more modest, like the Holiday Inn here, so I’m figuring $150 a night, and I’ll assume breakfast is included, which it is at most hotels these days.
  • Speaking of meals, I’ll generally assume about $90/day for food for two.  That should provide pretty good eats (and some drinks) in most areas.

All that said, car travel, to my surprise, seems quite bit more expensive so far.  But of course, the trip is new, and I’ve already pointed out many of the pitfalls of trailer travel. 

Here’s a few more RV travel notes:

  • As previously stated, you can’t just pull over to any old gas station to see.  You have to plan your breaks around truck stops.
  • You need a forward observer to park this thing.  Suffice it to say that it’s harder to maneuver than my old F150 Supercrew, which was 22 feet long.  
  • You mount this beast like a horse rather than just hop in.  I’m 6’1” and it’s a big step up for me.  The drill is to hang onto the A-pillar grab handle while hoisting yourself vertically using your left leg on the running board.  Then you stand up on the board and twist while you sit down and in. Done properly, it’s an aerobic exercise.
  • On the other hand, you are really, REALLY tall in the saddle up here.  You can see out over just about anything except a class 8 tractor.  
  • It’s nice not to feel the pressure to exit a hotel to dine out every night at a strange place in a city you don’t know.  

So that’s it for the RV notes.  Read on for a quick overview of Jekyll Island.

First, it’s a beautiful place, and since it’s only 8 miles long, everything is easy to see.  Spanish moss drapes southern live oaks that frame the mansions of the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age.   High dunes hide gorgeous beaches along the Atlantic side, while the Intracoastal Waterway provides a way to dock your boat or take a quick fishing trip on the landward side of the island.  The state of Georgia has owned the island since WWII, so all the grounds look manicured like a park.IMG_2243

It has an interesting past.  The historic district is infamous because the idea for the Federal Reserve system was hatched here.   That’s why it’s known as the lair of “The Creature From Jekyll Island”.  Back in the day, it was said that 1/6 of the world’s wealth was represented at the dining table in the Jekyll Island Club…and that was without Andrew Carnegie present, who owned Cumberland Island to the south!  Membership in the club was like a who’s who of America’s richest: Rockefeller, Goodyear, Vanderbilt, Pulitzer…they all had winter homes here, and many of their “cottages” are still standing.  

But today, it’s a laid back vacation destination that caters to just about anybody’s interests: beaches, golfing, fishing, etc.  

I’d highly recommend the following:

  • Take a tour of the historic district and its old preserved homes
  • There’s a magnificent Tiffany stained glass rendering of the “Adoration of the Magi” in the Faith Chapel-don’t miss it!
  • Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center
  • If you’re beach lover, hit the Great Dunes Beach Park
  • See Driftwood Beach-like the name says, it’s chock full of driftwood and it makes for a great photo op even if the beach itself isn’t so great
  • If you’re a drinker, do not miss the Bar at the Resort during happy hour.  It’s truly an atmospheric experience made lively by the patrons, who are in a class by themselves.  Yes, the bar is a replica from a Matt Damon movie.  So what?  This is America, after all.

Tomorrow, I head for Boone, NC!  Hope to see you then.

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