I am more than a bit behind with blogging our transition to full time RVing, so I will strive to push out several posts in the next two days while I have internet access, limited though it is.
After four months at our RV renovators, we finally picked up the Big Kahuna from South Miami on December 23rd, and experienced a mix of happy satisfaction and undisguised disappointment. Though more than pleased to have the rig back in our possession, we were almost shocked at how little had been accomplished on our work list. It had become increasingly evident over the past few weeks that our man was way behind, but still, about the only thing he accomplished since the last check in was to install the new refrigerator, which he did with the doors obviously on the wrong side, and replace the toilet. No new shower pan, no conversion of lights to 12V DC, and certainly no forward movement on the bathroom and kitchen remodel. Ah well, its back in our hands and too late to change much now. We spent a week in the driveway of my incredibly accomidating inlaw’s, Xavier and Joy, packing the interior and bus storage compartments, moving our last items to the rented storage unit, selling off everything we could, making donation runs to the local thrift stores, and generally getting ourselves ready for departure.
Which we officially did on December 30, enduring a 7 hour ride to Key West, about twice what google suggested it would take due to extraordinary traffic at nearly every major island. Since we arrived at the Naval Air Station after dark we were not allowed to check in, even to a dry camping spot. We spent the night in the parking lot, and I took the time to try and get our brand new little Honda EU2000i portable generator working. Thank goodness for friendly neighbors in the same parking lot, one of whom had the same generator and helped me figure out the minor problem preventing start. Unfortunately our plan to power up lights and the refrigerator that night fell astray of an overdraw of power on the little Honda: something in the RV was demanding way more than the 13 amps it could produce. A cadre of retired military guys, several from electrical backgrounds, gave me a series of things to try once daylight broke, but for the night we were stuck in the dark. Thankfully, temperatures were quite tolerable.
The next morning we learned that the the RV grounds were nearly at full capacity, and only dry camping was available. This was not a big deal for us since we had planned a couple of days of that in Key West anyway, but we were surprised at how few spots were left available even for primitive camping. We selected one of the few remaining on Trumbo Point, which is much closer to Mallory Square than the other available area on Sigsbee Annex. We spent the morning setting up and pursuing the possible generator fixes suggested by the crusty former sailors and soldiers, and sure enough I found that my inverter/converter demands 22 amps to charge the house batteries. I found the breaker to isolate the inverter, and voila, problem solved, refrigerator running, with the only down side that we were not charging the deep cycle house batteries. No problem, they withstood the four days without a hitch, providing solid power to the lights, water pump, and roof top vent fans, while the generator took care of the fridge, coffee makers, hot plate, and random things we plugged it’s outlet.
We took advantage of the location, spending every evening in downtown Key West, particularly along the old marina and Mallory Square. Fantastic food, including a surprisingly good deal (for the Keys) on raw oysters, and excellent street performances every evening. We even ran into an old friend from US Southern Command, Chuck Dallas, who was maximizing his enjoyment of the Keys last we left him at a tiki bar overlooking the ocean.