Today we left Cedar Key, FL and headed back out that 25 mile stretch of highway to get back to the nearest road going north out of Florida. CampTel where we stayed was one to write home about. The whole Cedar Key is one to write home about.
Camptel is has every make and model of Tiny Homes accounted for inside it’s perimeter. Container homes, Tiny Homes, RVs, DIY Homes and one Skoolie, ours.
We travelled north and made it to the panhandle of Florida. Tropical Storm Claudette was still lingering North and west of us, but that did not deter us. What we really wanted to see was Apalachicola. We have unforgettable memories of this place. These memories are from a different time in our lives. This was our first overnight sail, actually 2 nights. We were unprepared and inexperienced. Neglecting to look at the weather or understand the land layout in the ocean, we set sail from Panama City, FL to Clearwater, FL. It was an eventful night. While we were rounding Apalachicola cape the winds were racing around the cape, the waters shallowed up and the waves increased. We both remember looking at the knotmeter and reading 0.0 kph. It was a long night.
Nevertheless, we wanted to see it again but from a different vantage point. Much less terrifying being on land.
We drove along the outer islands of Alligator Point to San Blas Cape. Stopped along the way to enjoy the beach and coffee. Claudette did not forget to rain on us, but it was still nice. Why is it always raining when we are trying to find the bathrooms walking outside.
Off we go again, it’s early afternoon and we are headed another couple hours to our stop for the night. Traveling through Fort Walton Beach, FL and all seemed to be going well. Until a distinct odor of antifreeze/coolant filled the cab of the bus. Hmmm…that seems odd, maybe it’s someone in front of us. We continue to drive and monitor the temperature gauge. The smell does not subside and the temperature gauge starts to climb. Uh-oh. Houston, I think we have a problem. As the temperature gauge continues to climb, we don’t have much room for error on the temperature gauge, for the bus runs warm the way it normally runs. We quickly pull into an abandoned bank parking lot where someone is pulled in the one time drive through listening to the car radio really loud. That seems odd too.
Pop the hood and sure enough, our 3rd coolant hose has sprung a leak and we lost 6 gallons of coolant. Check for nearest auto parts store, 6 miles, too far to walk, call Uber, Marina waits with the bus while I Uber to the O’reily’s for a hose that this store does not carry. We will just have to find one that is close. An hour later and 6 gallons of coolant later we are back on the road. NASCAR would have been proud of our repair performance.
We made it to our RV Park before dark, but without planning ahead we were stuck with the choice of $100+/night or the $200+/night choices. We choose the prior. Albeit, it was a nice park
Concrete, level parking spaces, tree lined privacy from your neighbors, kids playing in the streets, oh our neighbors won the award for kindness. We were eating our dinner, chicken again, of course. Our neighbors spotted us and proceeded to offer us about 2 lbs of boiled shrimp, still warm, they just purchased. So peel and eat shrimp and curried chicken for dinner it was.
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.
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.
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.
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. So..off 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.
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.
With 7.6 billion people in the world, it seems strange there are only few people we get along with this well. OZ!
We planed to finish our conversion by the end of the April, but that did not happen. We worked every day, including weekends, long hours, but.. we are behind. The weather in Florida is getting less bearable with every day. Temperature is steady 90s. It’s humid. The paint is not drying for 3 days. Our little apartment doesn’t have AC. We have to stay here for another month, May.
But we did a lot of interior and “under the bus” work. Our “skoolie” start looking like we can live there!
Our kitchen is almost ready – cabinets are done, the Unique fridge is installed and working, faucet and drain working, settees are done, bedroom cabinets are done, the ceiling is REdone and finally sturdy, shower drain installed and working, the air system is fixed and we feel confident about the breaks.
Marina has been hard at work staining and varnishing the walls. After hours and hours of thoughts and trips up and down the aisles of Home Depot, we decided to keep the walls “au natural”. This decision, or there lack of, gives us the most flexibility. For when we tire of the natural look, we can stain it another color, or paint them, or spread some wall paper on them. The choices are endless and that is what got us into this current situation.
We added some shelves give the bed to hold our all important items we bring with us. The doors are yet to be manufactured, but I am sure that will happen in the next week or so.
But we are getting closer to being finished with the bedroom. I suppose we will never be “finished”, just done enough.
Marina has forbidden Kevin to touch any of the walls with his dirty hands. This will be fun to enforce