The past six weeks have not been kind to us. We are convinced that south Florida has it’s own Bermuda Triangle for RVs or maybe an undiscovered black hole. Or it could be we are having our own “Groundhog Day” where we just seem to repeat things over and over. Whatever it was we were stuck here. There were good times that we’ll get back too but the RV maintenance, repair, breakdown, repair, accident, repair cycle just seemed to go on forever. If we didn’t know how great this lifestyle could be, we’d probably have thrown our hands up and said “Forget This!”
We knew when we came to Florida that we’d need to have our bedroom air conditioner replaced and had made arrangements with North Trail RV in Ft. Myers to do the work in early February. Before we got there the inside control panel stopped working. Steve had to manually crank the rig up and down every time we moved. It was a “pain in the neck”, quite literally, for him. This control panel also operated the slides and stabilizing jacks but we were able to operate those with the remote control. So we added this to the list of repairs scheduled in Ft. Myers. They diagnosed the problem as a crack in the black (sewer) tank that had leaked onto the board. Now parts had to be ordered and a return trip scheduled. It would take about three weeks for the parts to arrive. At least this would be covered by our extended warranty. Otherwise the repair would have been $7,000-$9,000!
During our stay at Boyd’s Campground in Key West (a long story we’ll talk about later) we had our first accident with the RV that involved someone else. Just a note here to anyone reading this who might consider going to this park… DON’T!!! What happened to us could happen to you. The management at Boyd’s is not owning up to their responsibility. The result is in the hands of the insurance companies. When things are finally settled we’ll include it in a post. At least for us there was no damage or injury.
To make time for the first scheduled repairs, we cancelled reservations at Hillsborough River State Park then extended three days in the Everglades and spent two nights boondocking at the RV dealer. This left us with two nights and no reservations during the busiest time of the winter season. No state park anywhere nearby had room. We located a county park not far from Tampa, Lithia Springs, that operated on a first come, first served basis. So with our new air conditioner in place we headed off. We chose a site and Chari went back to the office to register while Steve took the RV to the dump site. Before getting back to the office someone else had picked the same site. Back over to the dump, get back in the truck so we could circle around and choose another site. There was only one short road connecting the dump to the campground. All other roads were one way heading in. We were about halfway down the road when “CRUNCH”. Our comments are not necessary here as you can imagine. There was a branch extending over the road and no signs indicating a height restriction. the branch was 12’6″ and we are 13′. Say goodbye to our less than 24 hour old air conditioner. Our only choice was to back up very slowly and exit the campground going the wrong way on the road. Chari walked ahead to check for any traffic but being midday in the middle of the week no one was on the road. We pulled over at our first opportunity to check the damage. A/C unit was demolished but it appeared there was no damage to the roof. Within a few minutes the park manager came by and we reported the accident. He and Chari went to the site of the accident while Steve cleaned things up. The manager immediately took responsibility and said Hillsborough County was liable, gave us information for contacting the Risk Management Department and had the offending limb cut down. We’d like to say here that Hillsborough County made every effort to work with us and resolve the issue. What a difference compared to Boyd’s Campground! However this meant another trip back to Ft. Myers so we could have the roof inspected to make sure there was no damage before filing the claim. They verified no roof damage. Now a new A/C unit had to be ordered and it would be installed when the black tank was done. So we leave with the damaged unit wrapped in plastic.
We keep our reservations at Rainbow Springs SP. From there we were to start heading to the panhandle and west. That’s the wrong direction for returning to Ft. Myers. So we cancel another reservation. As we pack up to leave the cable on the kitchen gray water valve breaks and we are unable to fully close the valve. Yet one more thing for the RV dealer to fix. We have ten days before our repair appointment and are lucky to find space at Midway Campground in Big Cypress National Preserve. This campground has electric hookup but only a common water source, flush toilets but no showers. So we’re on tank water with supplementary jugs and exist on sponge baths and “Navy” showers. Now a trouble light shows up on the truck dashboard. The closest big town with a Chevy dealer is Naples. We have the problem diagnosed as a faulty ERG sensor and valve. You guessed it. Parts have to be ordered. Since we knew that during the black tank repair we would have to be staying in a motel, we schedule the truck repair for the same time and plan to stay in Naples overnight. But wait, there’s more. Before we leave Midway a strong wind whips up and bends an arm of the awning so that we have to tie it to keep it from deploying while we are driving. Between the plastic wrapped A/C and rope holding the awning we look like Rednecks!
For the third time we return to Ft. Myers and another night of boondocking. We leave the trailer for the A/C and black tank repair and head to Naples to the Chevy dealer. Well, the one day repair is now two days due to a backup of work at the dealer. No problem as the RV work would be at least that long and the Chevy dealer provides us with a rental car. Then we get a call from North Trail, A/C unit and control panel are in. However the black tank didn’t arrive as scheduled and won’t be in until early next week! Good Grief! What next? With the truck fixed we head back to Ft. Myers. With another delay it has become obvious that our plans for heading west along the Gulf and through Texas will need to be cancelled.
We cancel seven reservations for New Orleans, Texas and New Mexico. We need a place to wait 6 days. With snowbirds still here and Spring Break starting all parks are full. The closest we can find is 1 1/2 hours away at South Bay. We know and like the park so off we go. We decide to wait for the awning repair and have it done by our dealer in NC. The new route will take us north through Tallahassee to Atlanta, on to Charlotte and Marion. After a quick trip to family in Pennsylvania we’ll turn west and take a leisurely route to South Dakota and Montana.
Our new motto is “The best things come to those who make the best of whatever comes.” Easier said than done!