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Old 10-04-2015, 07:53 AM   #1
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2006 25' Safari
Howell , Michigan
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First trip as a Snowbird, Mi to Fl in January 2016

I'M confident that the AS is ready for the trip, the tow vehicle too. Now if I could just find those places along I 75 South to stop overnight. I have no issue getting to Kentucky just after crossing the Ohio river for my first day of travel.

De-Winterizing most likely wont happen till I'M in southern Georgia. A dump station would be perfect then. Gotta get above those freezing temps. If you have been this route before during the winter I would like to hear your stories and experiences regarding this snowbird flight.

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Old 10-04-2015, 08:20 AM   #2
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We have been doing the snowbird thing for the last 16 winters - either Arizona, California, or Florida.

Maybe not for everyone, but here is the way we continue to do it ....

We try to get a really early start on day one - certainly on the road by 6am, (weather permitting.)

The purpose is to get as far south on day one as we can to get to as warm a spot as we can.

Typically we will drive until maybe 7 or 8 pm and waste as little time as possible en route.

I do some research in advance and look for Flying J truck stops along our planned route. I usually pick a few because even though one is a target, we never know for sure how far we will get - depending on developing rather situations, traffic tie ups, etc.

We then stop the first night at a Flying J. Initially I was a bit nervous about doing this as we had never done it before, and of course there are no guarantees, but so far we have not had the slightest issue at a Flying J.

Generally there is space to park the rig and FJ welcome it. The spots are separate from the 18 wheeler parking. The parking spots will not be too far from the pumps and so are well lit. Even though the lights are on all night and minimal traffic continues at the pumps, we are so whacked from the long drive that we never have trouble sleeping!

It will still be cold. Probably freezing or lower. We eat supper at the FJ and spend the evening in the trailer. I run the furnace during the evening and also overnight on our coach batteries - I disconnect the truck so as not to risk running the truck batteries down. I drop the thermostat temp to maybe 55F overnight. We have never had a problem doing this.

More recently, I started carrying a Honda gennie so we have all the power we need during the evening for tv, lots of heat, etc.

I lock the gennie to the trailer tongue - but once we retire for the night, I put it away in the truck and we run the furnace overnight on the coach batteries.

Staying overnight at the FJ and not unhooking the truck makes an early start in the AM easy. We grab a coffee from the FJ, have a quick breakfast in the trailer, fill up the truck and get on the road by maybe 7am or so.

Overnight, if we need to use the toilet (to pee!) we use the trailer toilet and flush with antifreeze since the trailer is still winterized.

Our planned distance for day two will be a lot less and we plan to stop mid to late afternoon at a commercial rv park close to the interstate. Upon arrival, I de-winterize the trailer and enjoy a gin & tonic or two!

We continue this way until final destination.

There have been times (usually due to bad weather / bad traffic jams) where we have made much worse mileage on day one and then have resorted to two nights in FJ truck stops rather than one. Not a problem, and FJ have showers ($) if you want.

This has always worked well for us and hopefully we will be doing it again next February. Plans already made for Florida and reservations booked!

Good luck and enjoy your trip!

Brian.
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Old 10-04-2015, 09:34 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for your quick reply Brian.

Your story has generated a few questions and if you have time let me know your answers. I never gave FJ a thought. I was sure that I would be stuck with Walmart and ghost stops. It's a great idea and I will check out their locations before we go.

1. Breakfast in the morning, FJ breakfast or are you serving up something from the AS fridge And stove?
1b. do you run the fridge while towing in the winter? If so any adverse effects?
2. On Our day 2 it will still be below freezing and might be on day 3 as well. So at what temperature are you De-winterizing? I would think above 32 degrees, no pun intended.
3. May I ask where your Home state is? Ours is Mid-Michigan. On a good day in the summer no AS I drive 12 hours to Tennessee. That puts me in Kentucky in 12 hours with AS, still freezing there most of the time..
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Old 10-04-2015, 10:05 AM   #4
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We leave Fairbanks in Feb with sub-zero temps and run both the heat and fridge while on the road. We stay in the AS and cook in it. Also use the AS toilet with RV antifreeze. We de-winterize when daytime temps go above freezing and dont worry to much above overnight low. But for us issue is finding open campgrounds with water where we can fill our fresh water tank. We have had overnight lows below zero with no problems, done this for several years.
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Old 10-04-2015, 10:41 AM   #5
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We run the furnace while on the road if temperatures are below freezing. Never had an issue and never had anything freeze up on us. If you make the run south from Michigan, you are going to run into more moderate temperatures someplace in KY unless you are unlucky, and don't keep an eye on the weather.
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Old 10-04-2015, 10:50 AM   #6
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We are Florida Snowbirds. We live in Illinois. We chose to stay on I 65 and go thru Bingingham instead of traveling on more hilly I 75 if there is snow up north. The Chattanooga hill is frequently bad in December. There are a number of campgrounds that stay open south of Nashville. There is a 4 lane highway to Maryanne and we take I 10 in Florida to get to the east coast or Florida 19 to take the Gulf route.
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Old 10-04-2015, 12:18 PM   #7
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Nice to hear other folks get out and travel in the winter. Your responses have been what I hoped for but wanted to hear it from others before going. My wife has suggested I bring plenty of LP, but we will be stopping and filling up for that. The I 65 route sound intriguing since I have always used 75. crisen, seems you could store water in the AS if the heaters going.
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Old 10-04-2015, 12:47 PM   #8
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We do add water when we de-winterize, we just don't have water in tank when we leave here since we regularly hit temps in -20's F. Don't want to risk damage if furnace should fail. Carry jugs of water to use until we get to more moderate temps.
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Old 10-04-2015, 01:18 PM   #9
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Cracker Barrel is another free option, if allowed at the specific location/town. Call ahead and ask the manager. Usually the answer will be; have a meal with us and you are welcome.
I like to find a state/federal park along the way, to get away from the traffic.

Keep an eye on the weather, even in GA and FL. The only time I have had a water line freeze and burst was near Brunswick GA, right on the FL state line. I did not have the heat turned on thinking I was beyond that necessity.
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Old 10-04-2015, 01:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeState View Post
Thank you so much for your quick reply Brian.

Your story has generated a few questions and if you have time let me know your answers. I never gave FJ a thought. I was sure that I would be stuck with Walmart and ghost stops. It's a great idea and I will check out their locations before we go.

1. Breakfast in the morning, FJ breakfast or are you serving up something from the AS fridge And stove?
1b. do you run the fridge while towing in the winter? If so any adverse effects?
2. On Our day 2 it will still be below freezing and might be on day 3 as well. So at what temperature are you De-winterizing? I would think above 32 degrees, no pun intended.
3. May I ask where your Home state is? Ours is Mid-Michigan. On a good day in the summer no AS I drive 12 hours to Tennessee. That puts me in Kentucky in 12 hours with AS, still freezing there most of the time..

Usually we don't like to have a big breakfast and so we generally just have a bowl of cereal in the trailer along with our FJ coffee!

We don't run the fridge certainly on them first day of our travels as the outside temp is usually below freezing anyway, plus we don't carry much food from home at all and usually stock up the first day we get to warmer climes.

After that, we do run the fridge on gas while travelling. Doing so is always a subject of debate among RV'ers but we always have run ours. With modern fridge having auto ignition, if the flame should blow out it re-lights.

I have to admit I don't even shut ours down when fueling the truck - probably I should!

As for when I dewinterize, I just watch the weather forecasts to judge as we travel, but almost always am able to do so on our second night out. Once dewinterized, I think you would need a fairly extended period at quite a bit below freezing to cause any problems, especially with heat on in the trailer. One tip if concerned is to leave faucet in the trailer running at a slight trickle to keep water flowing through - assuming your sewer hose is connected and gray tank valve open.

Our winters are probably not too much different than yours - we live in Burlington Ontario midpoint between Toronto and Hamiton, about an hour from Buffalo.

Hope I answered your questions!

All the best .............. Brian


PS - it just happens that we have not stopped at Walmarts or Cracker Barrels, many others do, and if we got stuck without a nearby FJ, we might give that a try. If really stuck we would just stop for our first night in a motel with enough space to park the trailer.

Whenever we do stop on the road to sleep in the trailer, i always feel better about it if there are other RV's present - pretty much always seems the case at FJ's.

FJ is now owned by Pilot. We have also stopped at Pilot truck stops but prefer the FJ's. Most actually have double length parking spots out front specifically for RV's.

If you go on their website you can find a map with details of all their locations and what facilities they have. Brochures available in the store as well.

A tip I have found handy when I am planning where we might stop is to look at the FJ on google earth to see what their parking setup for RV's is.

Most do have good accommodation for RV's but there are a couple we have run across that do not, so this avoids surprises you don't want to have!

If memory serves me, the FJ in Albuquerque has no RV parking. That might be the only one we have encountered.

The ones away from busy cities are best as they have much more land!
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Old 10-04-2015, 01:36 PM   #11
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I agree with the strategy to tough out the first day or so and get to warmer weather as quickly as possible, then take your time and enjoy the trip. See some stuff along the way; if your going to Florida head to Texas first.

We left Minnesota mid-winter for several years, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Calif destinations, then decided on a better solution. Leave mid-October, head back mid-April, and see some country taking the long way. Been doing this six years, take a flight back for the Holidays.

We're prepping the Airstream today, looking forward to the trip. Some of these winter resorts can be a blast, we meet up with a bunch of snowbirders, locals and relatives and have the time of our lives.
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Old 10-04-2015, 02:28 PM   #12
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<snip>.......decided on a better solution. Leave mid-October, head back mid-April, and see some country taking the long way ............ back for the Holidays......<snip>
^^^ the best answer^^^
That what we do now. We are in FL by the end of Oct. and back home the first week of April. Home with family on holidays.
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Old 10-04-2015, 03:46 PM   #13
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We go from Virginia to Florida each winter, with few exceptions. Going to Florida, we get to the coast ASAP, safe to de- winterize usually as night times are not horrible. When we go to Lake Havasue, we again head south to I-10, have yet to have any freezing problems on either route. First trip this year with our new to us AS (2007 classic) and hope our luck continues. Good luck to you, safe journeys.
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Old 10-04-2015, 04:32 PM   #14
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Being from Mich. too just pick a day the roads are dry. Far less salt pushed up in corners of the AS that will do its damage over time. Even if dry as soon as you get out of salt powder on the road, hit the car wash and do a good job and on its tummy and brake area. Good luck.
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Old 10-04-2015, 05:10 PM   #15
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We did a snowbird-type run south last year. It was cold when we left (5 above zero F). We did not want to burn a ton of propane keeping the trailer warm on the road, so we chose not to pack liquids and canned good that might be a problem if they freeze (we were probably over cautious about this). We had one box of liquids that we loaded into the car during the day and moved to the trailer at night. (We ran the furnace over night).

Our first night was at a KOA with electric hookups, parked in a foot of snow. We ate out for dinner and breakfast. Our second day got us to where it was well above freezing. We de-winterized there in a full-hookup campground.

We plan on doing it the same way this year. We aim to time our departure so that we leave home on the second of two sunny days so the highways will have minimal snow/ice/slush on them. We will not tow on the highway when the pavement has snow or ice.
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Old 10-05-2015, 02:31 AM   #16
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We live in Illinois, and snowbird to Florida every year. We used to take I 75 thru Atlanta. If there is snow on the ground we always use I 65 which is less hilly and snowy and avoid Atlanta. The Chattanooga hill can be particularly bad in Dec. and Jan. We continue on thru Birmingham and Montgomery and meet up with I 10 in Marianna FL. We stay on I 10 to the east coast or follow the coastal FL 19 to Naples. It is not much further than going through Atlanta and avoids the mountains.
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Old 10-05-2015, 06:23 AM   #17
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If the weather is reasonable I try to get to the Kentucky Horse Park at Lexington. Full days travel from Southern Ontario. If weather is too cold I stay at a motel the first night . We have a number of motels we have stayed in over the years along the I 75 in Ohio, so I just keep trucking till it seems its time to get off the road.

In January you will encounter freezing all the way through Tennessee, depending on the weather patterns, but we seldom ran into icy roads. Check out websites like the following.

I-75 Exit Services From Michigan to Florida | I-75 Exit Guide

Definitely agree you don't want to pull the AS through salt and slush if it can be avoided. 2 Hours of snow and salt here in Ontario one year did serious damage to the aluminum badges on the AS.

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Old 10-06-2015, 06:54 AM   #18
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SENIORYAKKER, We live in Rich Patch, VA, which is between Covington and Clifton Forge. We are headed to Florida this Jan for the Canopener Rally. I have a question for you. Where along the way are places you stop for over nite? And how much bad weather have you ran in to in your travels? We are pulling a 34 ft AS. This will be our first time pulling this far away and at this time of year. We are leaving here on Jan 6, hope to be at Topsail on the 7 or early the 8. And thanks for any help you can give.
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Old 10-06-2015, 08:09 AM   #19
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I'm watching this thread too....Going from Chicago area to the panhandle in a couple of weeks & wondered if anyone stayed at any Walmarts along I65 between Birmingham & Montgomery... We took I75 last year & Atlanta was horrendous!
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Old 10-07-2015, 04:40 AM   #20
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I'm watching this thread too....Going from Chicago area to the panhandle in a couple of weeks & wondered if anyone stayed at any Walmarts along I65 between Birmingham & Montgomery... We took I75 last year & Atlanta was horrendous!
WINGEEZER: REPLIED and suggested flying J. after reviewing their web site this is where we will be staying overnight. passing through Atlanta as a ghost is my best suggestion to you and all. time your overnight to be not far from Atlanta and get up real early and and fly through there before those folks get up. I go through there around 3 AM. buy the time i get to Macon it's time for a nap. hope this helps

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