Storms & White Knuckling it to Savannah /// Vanlife in a Storm

In our last post, we left off on the Outer Banks, NC, where we had just spent New Years with our friend Elias. Our plan was to leave on January 2nd for the Francis Marion National Forest, SC. We were itching to get south to some warmer weather but before we could leave, a big nor’easter blew up the coast and held us on the Outer Banks for !!4!! extra days – ugh! I’m not a patient person when it comes to delays but on the bright side, the extra time did give Marc a chance to do some fine-tuning on Sally. It also meant some R&R (I can’t remember the last time a read a book cover-to-cover for fun) and more time binge watching YouTube Sailing videos with Elias.



Being Canadian, we thought the few inches of snow predicted in the southern US was no big deal. But let me tell you, they experience winter differently down here! The cities in the south have very little ability to deal with snow and ice and the houses are not built with cold in mind. On the Outer Banks, that meant flooding, very icy roads, cold indoor temperatures and frozen pipes.

A full two days after the storm, we left the Outerbanks to head south figuring the roads would be clear and it would be smooth sailing. The I-95 was in good shape but all the little secondary roads were treacherous. We spent at least 3 of the 10 driving hours crawling along and white-knuckling it through black ice and every other kind of ice condition. To add to our growing anxiety, there were abandoned cars strewn in the medians and along the roadsides – I’ve never seen anything like it. Presumably, their owners either slipped off the road or pulled over in defeat, deciding to pick up their cars another day. That our chosen campsite was deep in the Francis Marion National Forest where the roads are just shaded enough to allow a constant freeze-thaw cycle did not help matters. Despite Sally doing a brief toboggan slide in the National Forest, she handled the conditions impressively.

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We were rewarded for our difficult drive the next day with sunny, warmer conditions upon arriving in Savanna, GA. We’ve been to Savannah once before and it never disappoints. Little pocket parks and tree-lined streets are everywhere. The architecture lends the downtown a very ‘mainstreet’ feel, the locals are kind, many of the shops are dog-friendly and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes… all the things that make a destination great in our minds.

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Eager to catch-up on some lost time and find some warmer weather, we’re “speed sight-seeing” in Savannah and then continuing south for some beaches and palm trees!

Lessons Learned

  • We Canadians are totally spoiled when it comes to snow removal.
  • When the roads are bad, it’s best just to suck it up and camp at Walmart.

Pro-camper Tips

  • The Francis Marion National Forest was a beautiful place to camp and it’s free!
  • Camping at the Savannah Visitor’s Centre is $8 – cheaper than a couple of lattes 😉

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