Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Gulf Coast

No news is good news. We’ve been having so much “fun in the sun” that the blog has remained silent for awhile. So here’s a quick catch up.

After spending our last night in St. Augustine in the pouring rain, we discovered that we had a leak at the back window – Sandra awoke in the morning to find her bed sheet strangely wet where the bed meets the back door. So after we arrived in Daytona Beach, we looked for a Dodge dealer to see if they could fix us up. Also the roof air conditioning wasn’t working. The dealer sent us off to Ormand Beach (about a 20 minute drive) to Giant Recreation World, a large RV dealer.

The folks at this dealership were very helpful (Pam even lent us her car so we could go out fopr lunch) and, after adding some additional rubber moulding, managed to fix the leaky back door. The roof air conditioning we were told would likely require a whole new unit to be installed as it is a sealed unit. We settled up for the door repairs and headed back to Daytona Beach to comfort ourselves with some outlet mall shopping.

The next morning, I spoke to a couple who were also travelling in a Roadtrek. They had their roof air conditioner replaced about a year ago. He confirmed that the unit is a sealed unit and his had to be shipped in from Kitchener, Ontario. We decided to deal with all of this later – after all, I hadn’t needed the roof air since I bought Bessie. Naturally that night was so humid that we longed for some cool air so I resolved to get the air fixed when I can reasonable manage it. I have an extended warranty which should cover the work. (I checked the policy.) I figured that we did have an air conditioner in the dash and that would keep us going.

After we spent Saturday morning at the World’s Largest Flea Market in Daytona Beach (it is humongous), we headed to Madeira Beach on the Gulf Coast just outside St. Petersburg. The sun was streaming in the through the windshield as we drove and no matter how I adjusted the dash air conditioner, I couldn’t get it to emit cool air. We sweated uncomfortably. We said some nasty words. Now we were down to no air conditioner at all! What to do? We headed for beach – miles and miles of white sand and ocean water that’s warm enough to swim in! We also requested a camping space under some trees….

The Gulf coast is comprised of a series of beach communities that are separated only by an arbitrary dividing line decided on by civic authorities. On Sunday we stumbled on a Seafood festival at John’s Pass, a conglomeration of restaurants and shops strung out along a boardwalk. Along with tents set up to sell seafood (I had coconut shrimp), were rows of small tents featuring work by local artisans and craftspeople. The weather was perfect, the crowd clearly enjoyed the free entertainment and we were entranced watching the drawbridge come up – all four lanes of a major highway – to let the boat traffic travel between the intercoastal waterway and the Gulf of Mexico.

Another day, we came across a small “main street” with interesting little shops to satisfy our shopping urges. Sandra managed to find a gorgeous two piece outfit (skirt and top) for the summer clearance bargain of $12.50. Who knew?

Today we headed into St. Petersburg, parked the car and walked out to the end of the Pier in downtown St. Pete’s. At the end of the Pier is a five-storey, inverted pyramid filled with shops and restaurants. I succumbed to the charms of soft leather hand bag and blew what was left of my budget. It is gorgeous, though, and I know I will enjoy it. This is the third purse I have bought since arriving in Florida. What's that about? It's not like I have a lot of money to carry around especially with the dollar shrinking.

Tonight we are spending our last night at Madeira Beach. Tomorrow we’ll be heading to Orlando. And the next day (Thursday) Sandra heads home. How quickly this time has gone.

I’ll have a few days in Orlando on my own before flying back to Calgary on Nov. 4. I am equipped with the name of a Roadtrek dealer and will be going there to see if they can arrange to have the roof air conditioner replaced and the dash air conditioner fixed. Oh, yes, and I need another oil change. I have put 20,000 kms on Bessie since I set out on this journey. And we’re still having fun!

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