Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No snow, eh?

Largo, Florida. It is 9:40 am and I’m have had breakfast, a shower, have a load of laundry in dryer and done stretching exercises with the snowbird contingent in front of the recreation hall. (Exercises Monday to Friday at 9 am). People here are friendly.

The campground I’m in is mostly people who come for six months of the year but there are a few places saved for weary travelers. A lot of people have permanent mobile homes here with the undersides nicely boarded in, screened porches and nice landscaping. Others have pulled in large fifth wheel trailers with multi slide outs. The people to my right and immediately behind me are from Ontario. Everyone comments on how far I’ve come but the truth is I am a five-hour, direct flight from home.

I spent the night before last in a beautiful campground outside Orlando just six miles from Disney World. I stopped there after finally getting my van back from the Chevy service centre that worked on my dash air all day. But I now have ice cold dash air and sort of cold roof air – which I will need today as it’s supposed to go up into the 80s this afternoon.

Yesterday afternoon I looked at several potential places in Clearwater Beach but didn’t find the ideal spot for a Christmas stop. I will continue the search today and then head to DeSoto Park just south of St. Pete’s Beach. At least that’s the plan.

By the way, I filled up the gas tank yesterday for $50.00 Canadian - when I first bought the van last February, it cost me $130.00 to fill the tank. Gas here ranges from $1.51 to $1.69 a US gallon.

There is no free WiFi here although several secured networks show up. And one unsecured one which I've connected to with a weak connection. But it works!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Meanwhile, back in Florida....

How did five weeks in Calgary go by so quickly? It seems a blur of catching up with family and friends; appointments with the doctor, dentist and optometrist; birthday dinners and early Christmas celebrations. I met my new “roommate” and she became a friend. Who knew? If this wasn’t my year on the road, I might have easily stayed in Calgary and been quite happy about it.

In any event, I am glad to be in Florida today: I checked the internet and it’s – 39 Celsius with the wind chill in Calgary. I’m sitting here in Tarpon Springs in the 75 Fahrenheit heat! I think I timed my departure perfectly!

Last Thursday when I arrived in Orlando, I picked up a rental car and drove to Winter Garden. After a night at the Best Western, I dropped the car at the Enterprise office and picked up my van. Cost was $591.00 US for a new roof air conditioner, repair/recharge of the dash air conditioning and the replacement of the sewer hose. (Part of the roof air was covered under warranty.)

I immediately headed for the Gulf Coast – and the fun began. I discovered that the dash air wasn’t working. Then I stopped to pick up some groceries and when I went to fill the fridge, I discovered that ugly, fuzzy stuff likes to grow in places that are dark and warm. I pulled into a rest stop and spent an hour cleaning and disinfecting the fridge. This required water. So I turned on the tap and discovered that my water tank was virtually empty. And what water was there smelled like rotten eggs. I certainly didn't want to drink or even wash with that stuff. Having seen what was growing in the fridge, I could only imagine what might be lurking the water tank.

So, when I arrived at the campground I armed myself with Clorox bleach and began the process of sanitizing the water system. This meant that I had to dig out my manuals and learn how to do it. It didn’t seem too bad: mix the bleach with water and then fill the tank. Let it sit for at least three hours, empty the tank and refill with water. Empty that water and refill again. If this tank smells of bleach (it did), then add a mix of vinegar and water, fill the tank and drive with it full for two or three days to let the vinegar and water mix slosh around a bit. Then empty the tank, fill it again and hopefully it will be OK. I’m still at the driving around with the vinegar mix in it. And keeping my fingers crossed.

I usually use the water from the tank so I had never hooked directly up to city water. So out comes the manual again while I figure out how to do that. (Actually it was pretty easy.) So if all goes well, I should be able to empty the vinegar out late tomorrow or Tuesday and be self -contained again.

I have to back track to Winter Garden tomorrow to have the dash air looked at again. When I phoned Chip, the friendly service adviser at Leisure RV, he reminded me that the Chevy dealer who had worked on it warned us that there might be a second leak so they had added dye to the coolant so they could find that leak if the coolant disappeared again. I will pick up Chip tomorrow and we’ll head to the Chevy dealer together.

On the bright side, I drove to Clearwater Beach yesterday and it was gorgeous. The view as you drive over the bridge to Sand Key is amazing. I will return there on Tuesday and find a place to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

So now it’s four o’clock and I think I’ll have a swim in the heated pool before dinner. Life is good. Sorry about the snow, Canada.