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Sunday, June 04, 2017

We Took The Long Way Home - From Palma Maria - We Toured Custom Coach Creations

This was our route home Altamont Springs - DeLand -
Ocala Forest - Palatka - Starke -
Lake City - Tallahassee - 285 miles
On Friday we drove from the Palma Maria back home the long way. We wanted to visit a few places we never were - and also wanted to visit Custom Coach Creations. We like touring in camper vans and this place in DeLand makes them from scratch. You tell them what you want - and they fit it altogether. They start out mostly with Mercedes Sprinter or Dodge Promaster vans. Then they add bathrooms - beds - kitchens - batteries - generators - and anything else you want.

DeLand's pretty downtown and
Stetson College surprised us
Our first stop was DeLand - a beautiful small city that is the home of Stetson University and also the county seat. It has a wonderful walking downtown - an old working theatre - and an opera house. It reminds you of Tallahassee a bit but with much better developed downtown. 

CCC builds great van campers from scratch
Custom Coach Creations is about 10 miles west of DeLand on a 5 acre ranchette. The owners are Robert and Lois Murphy - they live on site. It looked like they had about 10 workers and they produced about 3 vans a month. The vans we saw are very plain on the outside like I prefer. Inside they had the latest electrical technology. Wade handles most of the electrical work - and he gave us an outstanding tour. If we ever do get another camper - this might be the best way to go. 

This old home sits on the banks of
the superwide St Johns River
Our last stop was Palatka. We visited there before when we traveled from Philadelphia to Kissimmee on Amtrak Trains - when we took several groups to Disneyworld. Palatka sits on the St Johns River which is one mile wide at this point. We crossed the bridge to the east side to visit Corky Bell's - a famous seafood place. They had an extensive menu - thankfully it included ribs. 

St Johns River at one time was the major highway to Florida starting at Jacksonville - one could sail all the way to near Orlando. Large paddle wheel steamers brought the first snowbirds to this orange blossom paradise. This is the largest USA river flowing true north. 

Between DeLand and Palatka is the Ocala National Forest. Florida recently passed New York to be the 3rd largest state by population - but there are still places in this state where you can drive 40 miles and not see a house or get a cell phone signal. The Ocala National Forest is one of them. We passed right through it south to north. This area is Gator Country - both from real alligators - and the blue and orange football fans. 

We got home before sundown - UPS delivered our electric bikes from Seattle while we were away. On to the next adventure. Oh yes - Sunday morning we had the greatest French Toast made from Italian bread from the Palma Maria. 

Building a camper kitchen
Giant battery pack and inverter
turn 12 volt DC to 120 volts AC
That area will be a queen size bed
¾ inch plywood floors - foam insulation 
This one was going to be a mobile office
Plywood floor to be covered with laminate
Refrigerator and Freezer 
Cutting area for plywood - carpet - lining 
The whole shop was out in the middle of
Gator Country
Our Honda van did not miss a beat
the whole trip - got 28 MPG
Downtown DeLand Athens Theatre

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