With an odd twist of fate, our Valentine’s trip and the first outing in our new VW camper “Primrose” included a side trip to visit an old friend and fellow ex-space worker’s old family cabin. Driving along in the pouring rain, we called Dennis just before reaching the edge of the Ocala National Forest, where we knew our cell phone service would vanish. These were our instructions, to give him time to drive out to the highway to meet us. There is no mail box, no markers, and really not much of a road, as we would soon find out. Thankfully, by the time we saw Dennis along the side of the road, it had stopped raining.
It’s a mile and a half long driveway, he told us. Keep close, but not too close and follow him. I should have suspected something when he said that I’d need to keep up a good run when we came to the soft sandy places. Did I mention our VW is not a Synchro?
Off we went, down a narrow sandy path. I wouldn’t really call it a road. After a short run we came to the first soft spot, including a sharp right turn in the middle of it. With a running start we hit the sand. I turned the wheels hard, but it took a couple of seconds before they gripped the soft sand and kept us from crashing into the woods. There’s nothing like the feeling of bouncing along, with only your seat belts holding you in place, as you try and stay on a twisty and narrow road.
About halfway there we spotted a forest road marker. It’s official! My first time driving our camper van, I’m driving it on a Jeep road, the kind normally reserved for little four wheel drive Jeeps. I told Sandy that I had never driven any of my vans down a road like this. She replied, “Heck, I’ve never driven my Jeep down a road like this!”
Yes, it was a bit unnerving, but with me holding tightly on the wheel and gear shift, we managed. I’m sure that we were the largest vehicle to be down this road in a very long time. One and a half heart pounding miles later, we came to the peaceful setting of the cabin built by Dennis’s grandfather in the 1940s, overlooking a lake.
Hearing that we were going to stop by for a visit, Brian, a Scouting friend from the 1970s and another ex-space worker stretched his stay another day to join us. After burgers on the grill and hours of talking old times, we called it a night. Being well after midnight, Sandy was already fast asleep.
I fell asleep with a smile on my face after spending time with two old friends. And only a little worry about that one-and-a-half-mile drive back to the paved road in the morning.