Island Hopping

Off we go to the Florida Keys and Key West!

Of course getting there is half the fun, right? Slow start getting out of Atlanta (traffic), but we made it to Ocala area and stayed a night at Silver Springs State Park, a really nice campground that could have been the start of some nice hikes and paddling down along the river. But we were just here overnight and set out the next morning to bypass west around Orlando and get to the Pompano Beach area. Hmm, not such a great choice, since most of the local road was a retail area filled with traffic lights. And we seemed to get them all. We probably spent an extra hour and a half to two hours heading through Howey-in-the-Hills, Clermont and Winter Garden until it finally broke loose near Yeehaw Junction and we got onto I-95 south.

And of course, when you travel in your home on wheels, there is always a little maintenance. It seems one circuit of three wall outlets in the kitchen is out and the culprit seems to be the GFI outlet. A quick stop at Camping World for a replacement outlet (yikes, $24!!) may be the solution, when I get a chance to change it out.

Of greater concern was the annoying beeping from our “jacks down” alarm in the dash. When you travel along, the heat will sometimes make the hydraulic jacks extend just enough to set off the alarm. Pushing the “store” button usually fixes the problem, but this time it wouldn’t stop. Naturally it was during a heavy Friday night traffic rush hour on I-95 outside West Palm Beach, where shoulder space was lacking. Finally found a spot to pull over and check, only to be greatly surprised to find NO retraction springs and NO foot to the leveling jack in question! When and where did they leave us?

Since everything was fine when we left camp in the morning, I think the culprit was a chunk of debris I ran over earlier in the afternoon. That happened at a time when I had cars tight behind me and a motorcycle just to my left, so swerving to miss the debris (it looked like a piece of firewood!) was not a safe option. I figure it must have bumped up under the chassis and dislodged the foot and the springs happily departed the ship.

So not much further down the road (beeping all the way) we pulled into a Home Depot lot and I went in search of a solution. A ratcheting strap seemed likely to help keep the jack tightly in the “up” position, so I bought that, we drove to our campsite and I installed it in place of the springs and foot.

We leveled on the front two jacks for now, but it was luckily a very level campsite. By the way, we are camped in a nice Broward County park area called Easterlin Park. Real close to the interstate, (real close) as you can hear it all night, along with the trains. No complaints: clean, level, convenient. Before we head out this morning I am going to replace the GFI outlet and then check to be sure the jack is fully retracted … or else disconnect the warning buzzer! Ah well, the life of an RV adventurer is always fun. Off we go to the Keys and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

UPDATE: We are now in camp on Key Largo and all is well. The jack is not beeping, nor is it being used, but the RV is level and just fine.  Replaced the GFI outlet and that fixed the circuit problems.

In John Pennekamp St. Park on Saturday they were having a tournament to collect the invasive lionfish. Coolers full of them were being turned in then a ceviche of lionfish was offered as samplings. You spear these guys while scuba diving. Actually good eating but a tricky fillet.

We paddleboarded through the mangrove canals in search of manatee, but none so far.
Sunday we took a 4 hour snorkeling trip out to three reefs. Amazing fish and coral.  Barracuda, tang, parrot fish, sergeant major, angels… lots of fan coral. Well worth it – just amazing snorkeling.

So much more to see, but once again limited WiFi so most pictures will have to wait til later. Onward to Key West!

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