Suncoast Designers Part Deux
Bushnell, FL - Events of Friday, Dec. 2 to Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2011
Last year we stopped at Suncoast Designers in Hudson, FL to have four of our dual pane windows repaired. Fogging of dual pane windows is a fairly common problem for RVs because bouncing down the highway tends to break the seal between the panes of glass. Once the seal is broken, moisture can get in between the panes. As the glass heats and cools, the moisture condenses on the inside surfaces creating a foggy appearance. The presence of moisture not only is unsightly, but it reduces the insulating value of the window. If left unrepaired, the moisture can also eventually etch the glass making the repair even more expensive because you will then have to replace the glass or possibly the whole window.
Over the past year, we noticed that three additional windows had shown a little bit of fogging at one time or another, so we decided to stop at Suncoast again to have them repaired before settling in at our winter roost at Blueberry Hill in Bushnell.
Last year, we made the trek from Summerdale to Suncoast in two days, a drive of a total of about 10 hours. That is certainly doable, but we usually like to keep our travel days to four hours or less. We have also been spoiled this year with so many short travel days, so we decided to break the drive to Suncoast into three days.
The first night, we stopped in Fountain, FL at Pine Lake RV, which is located about 15 miles south of the interstate and to the north of Panama City, FL. We stopped there in March, 2010 on our way from Bushnell to Summerdale. Pine Lake RV is a Passport America campground with half price camping. Even with the discount, however, our site was still almost $20 even before tax because there is an extra $5 charge for 50 amp that isn't subject to the discount.
The roads at Pine Lakes RV are paved, but the pavement is quite narrow. It doesn't look too bad in the view down the road past our site in the photo below, but there are some tight turns where it is hard to keep your rig on the pavement. Fortunately, the ground is firm so there's no chance of getting stuck, but you do have to be careful of several trees close to the road and a couple of rigs that were parked with their back ends sticking out.
The sites are a combination of grass and sand, and most are long pull-throughs. The sites are a little close together, but the width isn't too bad for a private campground.
Some sites have 30-amp electric and some have 50 amp. Pine Lake has full hook-ups with free Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi signal was fairly strong, but the connection was way slower than our Verizon 3G and way, waaay slower than the 4G we had gotten used to in Summerdale.
There is some highway noise from four-lane U. S. Highway 231 that passes by the campground on the way to Panama City. There is also a railroad track a few hundred feet on the other side of the highway. Fortunately, there weren't many trains because the one or two that did pass rumbled by very loudly. Fortunately, there aren't any crossings near the campground, so we didn't hear any train horns.
We headed out the next morning and had a drive of about four hours to our next stop at Palm RV in Worthington Springs, FL. Palm RV is another Passport America campground, and the price was $18 a night with the discount. Palm RV consists of about a dozen RV sites in the large side yard of the owner's home.
Palm RV has full hookups, and at least some of the sites have 50 amps. Although the entrance driveway is paved, it is quite narrow; however, there are no obstructions to worry about once you get through the entrance gate, and the gate is plenty wide enough. The rest of the campground is grass except for a few sites that have a small, concrete RV pad. Most of the RVs there were older, and some looked like they were permanent.
The two-lane road that passes by the campground is surprisingly busy (including quite a few 18-wheelers) during the day, so there is some traffic noise. Traffic diminished to almost nothing later at night, and the campground was pretty quiet except for the rooster somewhere in the neighborhood that started crowing about 4:45 AM. Since we had crossed into the Eastern Time Zone, it didn't even start to get light until after 6:00 AM. How do roosters know morning is coming that far in advance?
The drive for the last leg of our journey to Suncoast was a little less than 3 hours, and we pulled into Suncoast shortly after noon on Sunday. Since Suncoast has a limited number of RV spaces and since we were arriving on Sunday when Suncoast was closed with no one there to direct the parking, we wanted to keep our last travel day short so we could arrive fairly early in the day. That was another reason for breaking our trip into three days instead of just two. Some of the spaces face the building. Not only is backing into those spaces a little tight, the sites facing the building are pretty noisy during the work day. Fortunately, we arrived early enough to not only get a space facing away from the building, we also got one on the end so we had a little extra room to open our slides.
Suncoast is an architectural window manufacturer that has also built a niche business repairing RV windows. You can remove the window yourself and drop it off if you are local, you can ship the window to them for repair, or you can stop by and they will remove the window for you and repair it. The price is the same - $250 for large windows (like the ones in the cockpit area of motor homes) and $200 for smaller windows.
Suncoast has about 15 RV sites with water and electric (50 amp only - 30-amp adapters are for sale in the office if you need one). There is also a dump station.
There is plenty of hustle and bustle during the day with workmen removing and re-installing windows, with machinery humming inside the Suncoast building and with delivery trucks coming and going; but that is to be expected because it is a repair/manufacturing facility not an RV resort. Fortunately, it quiets down after 3:00 PM when the workers go home.
On Monday morning, someone came to our door at 7:00 AM to see which windows needed to be repaired, then Paul went to the office to sign the work order to get us into the queue. Workmen came back around 8:00 and removed the three windows that needed repairing and covered the openings with cardboard.
When we were at Suncoast last year, we reported on the process they use to repair the dual pane windows. Click here to read our post from last year and to see pictures of the process.
We planned on spending two nights at Suncoast Designers because they tend to be busy this time of year. Although they can sometimes repair and replace windows in one day, there is no guarantee all of your windows will get done that quickly.
As expected, none of our windows were finished on Monday. The first window didn't show up until about 10:30 Tuesday morning. By the time the guys got the last window in, and by the time we paid our bill, got packed up, and hooked up the toad, we didn't get on the road until almost 2:00 PM. Fortunately, it was only a little over an hour to Bushnell.
Last year, we had a problem with streaks and smudges between the panes of glass in 3 of the 4 windows we had repaired, and Suncoast had to do them over. This year, we are pleased to report there were no streaks and that Suncoast appears to have solved whatever it was that caused that problem last year.
After stopping at Flying J to gas up and to top off our propane tank, we arrived at Blueberry Hill RV Resort in Bushnell, FL a little after 3:00 and got registered and set up on our usual site.
Blueberry Hill has two sections. The front section has paved, pull-through sites that are fairly close together. They usually use the front section for rallies and for people who are staying less than a month. The back section where our site is located has extra-large back-ins that are all grass. The next photo is another view of some of the sites in the rear section.
Blueberry Hill has full hookups with 30/50-amp electric, cable and Wi-Fi. There used to be a fee for Wi-Fi, but now it's free. The campground Wi-Fi seems pretty fast, and there are numerous transmitters around the campground so the signal is strong. We do like to supplement our Verizon usage with campground Wi-Fi when possible because we have a tendency to go over our 5GB limit. Unfortunately, the connection at Blueberry Hill is spotty. It's sometimes hard to get online and we occasionally get dumped off. It will probably get worse once the campground fills up and there are more people trying to use the Wi-Fi, so we'll probably stick to our Verizon Broadband, which we have been very pleased with since we switched from satellite internet back in October.
Blueberry Hill also has a heated pool, a large club house, showers, a laundry, shuffleboard, horseshoes, and a rec center with pool tables, a library and a card room. There is a new activity director this year, and there are already numerous activities on the schedule.
We'll be hanging out here at Blueberry Hill for at least the next three months. We'll be doing a little sightseeing, we'll be working on some projects, and we'll be eating out a few times. Our life will be a little more laid back than it is in summer when we're traveling and doing a lot of sightseeing, so our posts may be a little less frequent; but there will be periodic updates on what we're up to so stay tuned.