2 weeks out of the RV found us appreciating our own bed at home, our full-sized (very comfortable) bed in the RV. Following the off-grid, primitive camping, we spent 2 weeks vacationing (mostly) on Florida’s west coast enjoying warm weather (over 60 deg), wearing shorts, working on our tan and just being outside.
We stayed in Largo at an UNBELIEVABLY cute trailer park as relatives of friends from Marshfield (Thank you Lynne Ann); I know cute and trailer park don’t sound like they go together, but trailer parks abound in Florida and this one was well-kept, full of nice people and only ½ mile (over the bridge) to Indian Rocks beach. From there, we had a previously arranged rendezvous with our youngest at an Airbnb at Indian Rocks Beach; we stayed in a nice, 2-bedroom cottage with a very private backyard garden for a long weekend. We had been to Indian Rocks before visiting former Hullonians and we were able to find their house again (4 years hence and a few miles of walking to get our bearings) and spent a day with them. From there we proceeded to visit neighbors from Highland Ave in Hull (Thank you Bob & Patti) who have a wonderful vacation home at Clearwater Beach, Florida. We had so much fun these two weeks; seeing people and spending time with folks we hadn’t had the opportunity to see; mostly due to the pandemic. In Florida, as you have mostly heard, there aren’t many “Covid-19” rules with the choice of being able to be outside with the nice weather. While we still follow the mask mandate to keep ourselves safe most others we encounter, other than our fellow Massachusetts citizens, don’t. Its all good; people are nice, respectful and we wear our masks and keep our hands sanitized.
When Amanda, our youngest came, she rented a vehicle so we could explore a bit. We go to see a boat-builder Sean has been following for years on-line and through magazine articles, in Bradenton, FL. Dave Lucas, of Lucas Boatworks and Tiki Hut fame, has a several acres full of boats in various stages of construction which he took time out to give us the tour of. It is also the center for other retirees who pursue the same interests in boatbuilding. He has a wonderful spread and there is one rule, “Don’t even think about trying to help me.” All these fellas are building boats and figuring it out along the way, and that “way” may be different than yours; there’s a certain freedom in that. I want our next boat to be the Lurlyne; an enclosed cabin with a 60 hp engine for cruising in any weather.
Upon leaving our two weeks of land-loving in “homes” we cast off and head West. We choose (again) to take the scenic root and have our first major mechanical issue with the RV. About 20 minutes after leaving Clearwater, FL, the oil pressure gauge drops to zero and we are spitting out oil on the exhaust; I pity anyone following us. We do stop to see if we can get help (we have truck/RV) so it can’t be just any mechanic. We find one in the early afternoon, but they can’t see us until first thing the next morning. We opt for buying 3 gallons of oil and head north and west 300 miles to the Apalachicola National Forest where we have reservations for the night. I get on the phone to see if I can find a mechanic that can help us; 3 phone calls later, we have an appointment for 7:30 am the next morning. We increase our speeds to over 60 mph and find we don’t have to stop as often to replace the oil. For some reason I’m not worried about the RV, however Sean is. it usually works out for us; our concerns differ and therefore we can support each other and persevere. We fix dinner and get to bed early and set the alarm for 6 am so we can be out of here by 6:30 and on time and ready for a 7:30 am appointment; this was a demanding day.
We set off at 6:30 am as planned and arrive at the auto repair garage by 7:15. We had no idea that we are in the middle of changing time zones; it is actually 6:15 am at the garage, we are over an hour early ;-). This gives us plenty of time to clean the oil off the motorcycle and back of the RV. The mechanic arrives promptly at 7:30 and Clinton, proprietor of Mears Auto Repair takes over. He diagnoses a bad oil pressure switch, no major repair required. He tells us where to go for breakfast and says it will be fixed by the time we’re done. WHEW!! For $187 we have our RV back in good running order and we head to a state campground for the night in the area. We can’t say enough about the many nice people we have met during the last 24 hours here in Florida’s panhandle in Blountstown, FL. From the gal on the phone who said they’d do what they could to get us back on the road, to Clinton, the mechanic, Ron Johnson, the 80-year-old retired auctioneer we met at the diner, to the park ranger we met at the campground. All the conversations, though, bring up a common theme: Hurricane Michael. This area is just recovering from a hurricane that happened 3 years ago. The evidence is in the landscape; all the big trees either are gone, or the tops broken off. We go for a hike at the campground and see the destruction first-hand. The kindness we have been shown reflects the resilience of the people here and their perseverance through adversity.
This is what we know to be true; by keeping love in your heart, perseverance through adversity and letting go of the past as we all have pain, but choose our suffering, there is a unique way forward for each one of us and it is via our own choice that we find our way.
Heading west with love and playing “Go West” by the Pet Shop Boys (Thank you Davio),
Sean and Kelly