Chasing Tropical Storm Claudette

Looking out into the Gulf during Claudette

Moving from a sailboat to an RV, we never thought we would have to wait for a weather window again. Well, on day 2, we were proved wrong.

This morning we were putting the bus together to leave. The typical stuff, velcroing the cabinet doors shut, velcroing the drawers to the cabinet doors, tying the closet doors together, tying the pantry door shut and the bathroom door. That bathroom door still slams on every turn we make. Not to mention disconnecting the power cord that supplies the power to our air conditioner. We love that air conditioner down here in Florida.

We were watching the news in the club house last night and it was showing this Tropical Storm Claudette that was bringing wind and rain to Panama City, exactly where we wanted to head to next. So, we had a slight change of plans. Even though the weather man was dodging heavy rain and wind on the beach near Tallahassee, we want to stop near there anyway. So off we went.

Back out highway 24. Twenty-five miles to get out of Cedar Key. Why is the return trip is always so much faster? Turn north and drive for a few hours to Ochlockonee Bay. This is our staging point for the tomorrow so we can visit Alligator Point and Cape San Blas.

Marina found a nice RV Park Holiday Campground on Ochlockonee Bay. We pulled in, registered and Rudy directed us to our spot near the back. The back was favorable tonight because Claudette was supposed to bring heavy winds and rain. We didn’t see much of either.

Day 1 Complete!

We made it out of Stuart, FL after spending much more time there then we could have possibly imagined. Nevertheless, while we were there we visited many cities in FL, sold our boat, Lucky 7, purchased Lucky 8 from Miami Bus Deals, completed the build at Airport RV Indian Street and started a new adventure on Lucky 8.

The trip was uneventful, which is just what you hope for. Considering our bus speed is somewhere around 55mph, we stayed off the the interstate, the infamous I-95, where 95 is the speed they drive. So we headed west and north toward an unknown destination. We are unsure how far we can travel a day in our new bus, for we have never done this before. The bus motored along, noisily I might add, but faithfully. Marina studied the RV apps for where to stay. After reading many discussions online about how many places don’t accept Skoolies, we are a bit concerned about being able to find a place to stay.

Marina was diligently searching HipCamp, KOA and The Dyrt for a nice stop for the night. And wow did she find a beautiful, remote spot. This is one of those places that you don’t just happen to drive by, you really have to want to get here. Cedar key is a small chain of islands north of Tampa and about 25 miles due west towards the coast on a lonesome road. There is only one way out of here and one way in, maybe two if you want to make the trip longer. Camptel Cedar Key.

We didn’t play chess, but we did get a lot of looks as we came in. When we pulled into our RV park slip, the neighbors came over and wanted to see what we have done to the inside of this bus. This will turn out to be a very common theme as we move around.

We walked to town, a little over a mile, and had dinner at a typical sea side restaurant. Wall of windows exposing the Gulf waters. The overcast skies were brought on by Tropical Storm Claudette was moving into this area. A quick walk around the town and back over three bridges to our RV Park where we spent the night and listened to our neighbors party into the evening.

Day 1, again

Six Goodyear tires are on, engine’s not smoking, drives straight down the street, ICP sensor replaced. twice, coolant leaks fixed, EGR hose that blew while the mechanic was driving is replaced, coolant reservoir replaced. All should be good, right? What could possibly go wrong now.

Now that the engine is not smoking, let’s get an alignment

We spent the night at a hotel in Fort Pierce as we waited for our bus to get fixed. We didn’t have a car, so we walked from the mechanic to West Marine and then out to the hotel, about 5 miles. Luckily it was overcast. The next morning we walked back to the mechanic and got our bus. And off we were, or so we thought.

We had to go to St Lucie Tire and Battery and get the an alignment, for we just got new tires and that put everything out of align. So we went over there and they said they didn’t have time today to do it, but could get to it tomorrow. Oh Boy. We have to get Marina to Boston for her shots and her flight leaves tomorrow from Orlando. we go again. Rent a car, drive to Orlando and get her on the plane for her monthly trip to Waltham, MA. I spent the night in Orlando waiting for her return the next night and we both stayed again at the AirBnB for the 3rd night.

Now it’s back to Fort Pierce to pick up the bus from the alignment shop. Of course it’s never just an alignment, we also had to replace a long arm metal arm that connects the front tires together and the tie rod ends. It’s only money.

We pick up the bus, drop off the rental car at Enterprise. Do we dare try again. Off we go.

Stuck in Florida

Our hope was to leave Stuart in June. The sun is really starting to heat things up here in Florida, summer is coming. It’s getting too hot to work outside on the bus so we must be leaving.

Or so we thought. We brought the bus to our apartment in Stuart. Our plan was to load up our things and leave in the AM. Well, on the 3 mile drive from our build location the exhaust was blowing so much black smoke that James Bond would have been impressed.

We had no idea why this was happening, so we decided to go to the mechanic. Stuart is more of a quaint little town with nice shops and a marina, where we stayed for quite some time too. Stuart is not a place to get a heavy duty truck fixed. Fort Pierce is a much better location for that, so we drove 15 miles to Rechtien International Trucks to let the professionals figure it out.

Near the end of the day Rechtien called and said they could fix it. But it will take a bit. We need 1 fuel injector, ICP sensor, fix a coolant leak, and replace one sensor that has the wrong sensor in its place. I must have done that one.

Luckily we had a rental car for the week and we were able to drop the bus off, spend the night back at our apartment and come the next day to get it.

Our hosts at Riverview apartments, Veronica and Armond, were very flexible with us and allowed us to stay longer than we had a originally planned. At this point we were in the weekly notice schedule and moving towards the daily schedule.

Lunch in Poplarville, MS. You just never know who you will meet

As we tend to do, we stop at local parks and have lunch. Today was extra special. We pulled into Poplarville, MS City Park and when we stopped we were greeted by Amy. Amy was part of the skoolie community. She was so excited to see a skoolie in Poplarville, fore she mentioned they don’t get many skoolies there. But she did say one of her friends was building a skoolie near there and wished they could have seen ours.

A/C woes

The story is familiar.  We purchased a Coleman 15k btu air conditioner from a mobile RV mechanic near West Palm.  He said it worked an was 4 years old.  To his credit, it may have worked when he pulled it from the RV in which he placed a new A/C.  But we are not having much luck getting it to give us any cold air.

Yes, I watched the video.  I watched several videos. Lots of good, and bad, stories out there. Nevertheless, I ordered the infamous capacitor, a small price to pay for fix. The problem is I don’t think that’s the last price I will have to pay. It may also be the control board. Luckily Amazon Prime will have that capacitor to us tomorrow and the truth will be told.

Cleaning up the wires.

How many lights do we really need? Life is not always about needs. Nevertheless, we are running enough wires to light the place up like a Christmas tree. On the last vessel that we owned, Chief Yoga guru used to turn all the lights on and go outside. With the added lights on this new machine it will take her a bit longer to turn on the lights on. My mom would not be a happy camper to if we did such a thing in our house growing up. To make matters worse, we can now turn on all the lights, the air conditioner, open the windows and then go outside.

There is lots of talk about the correct way to run wires. Don’t do this, do that. One rule is don’t run 12v and 120v wires parallel to each other. This is a tough rule to follow on a small bus.

We purchased electric panels from the Marine Connection Outlet in Fort Pierce. This store sells used boat parts. We spent about 2 hours in there “shopping”. We used to shop here for our boat supplies.

The electric continues. Maybe tomorrow we will install the distribution panels.

The Plumbing Maze

Well, I don’t want to be a plumber someday. There are so many connections, pieces, parts and sizes. We have been working on the plumbing for quite some time now. It seems that we are getting it done, but there is always another fitting that we need. So we go to Home Depot, nope, they don’t have it. So we go to Lowes, they have one of the fittings. Next stop Peter’s Hardware, formerly Ace Hardware, they typically have something close to what we need. Last stop is John’s Plumbing, a real plumbing supply shop, nope, we don’t sell barb fittings. So we end up back at the bus with something that might work. It certainly now looks like I did the plumbing. We have a blend of pex, nylon, PVC, stainless, bronze and brass. I am sure that goes against some code somewhere. With that mix we are able to make 1/2″ barb, 3/4″ barb, 1/2″ npt, 3/4″ npt, 3/8″ npt, 1/4″ connections and we are not done yet. No metric yet on this project, but the rest of the bus is littered with metric as well. We have not even tested for leaks yet. This project is far from over.

So many barb fittings, so many places to go.

Who is the bunny?

Marina is utilizing her amazing cleaning skills and getting dirty. It seems our bus has not been to a car wash since about 2005. This gives Marina plenty of opportunity to exercise her skills. The front of the bus engine seems to have some oil seeping down the passenger side. We are trying to find the leak as well as just clean up. Marina was blessed with the job of doing a bit of cleaning. The magic we are cleaning with is mainly dishwashing liquid and Krud Kutter. Well, we are also using scrapers, scrub brushes and toilet bowl scrubber.

Marina likes to get dirty…her is proof