Saturday, February 11, 2006

Downtime for maintenance

Thursday morning I dropped Louise off at the airport. I called ahead to find out where I should go to avoid overhead clearance problems, and I had to speak to three different departments. Ultimately, it was the sheriff's office that instructed me to use the commercial bus lane on the departure level. As it turns out, the clearance pretty much everywhere else is 13'-0", so we could have made it, but the bus lane was another two or three feet taller, which was a much more comfortable fit.

From the airport, I came straight here, to John Prince County Park, in Lake Worth (map). The campground here is adjacent to Lantana Field, which is Palm Beach County's civil aviation airport -- I've been watching helicopter lessons for two days.

When I booked this spot, I took the only site they had available. The woman at check-in, after seeing me drive up, thought I wouldn't fit. The space, it turns out, is plenty big enough for Odyssey. It's a crappy space though, less than ten feet from neighbors on three sides, and hemmed in by a palm tree and a telephone pole. The palm keeps me from opening the awning more than a couple feet, and the phone pole supports a street light that shines right into the bedroom and remains on all night. Nevertheless, I was able to get the satellite on-line, and the motorcycle bay doors open, and I'm happy to have a space in what is normally a sold-out park.

This park permits stays up to 100 days, and, although there are some sites designated as 14-day maximum (mostly along the lake), I am in the long-term area. Unsurprisingly, I am surrounded by people who have been here since sometime in January and are staying until March or so. Many of them are Quebecois. It is a convivial group, with ongoing socializing and parties well into the evenings. After watching me working all day yesterday, someone invited me to drop by the big Friday night get-together, so I showered and spent an hour or so socializing. I'm afraid the number of new names exceeded my capacity to recall them here.

Thursday afternoon I got the bikes unloaded, pressure-washed, chain-lubed, and mine started. The battery on Louise's bike was flat dead, a condition it has bee progressing towards for months. Since the bikes haven't been out of the bay since before our ten weeks in Baton Rouge, I opted to simply run over to Wal-Mart and buy a battery rather than try to eek out enough from the old one to get the bike to the local Suzuki dealer.

Yesterday was spent installing the new battery and getting Louise's bike running, and going through all the miscellaneous motorcycle bits that have been kicking around the bays. I finally installed a couple of accessories on my bike that have been languishing, including the power cord for the GPS unit, the lack of which has been a source of much frustration as we navigate around unfamiliar places.

Today's main project was intended to be the repair of the upper cables for the satellite dish, a project left unfinished in the bitter cold of the northeast. I may yet get to that, but around 8am the auxiliary air compressor came on and never shut off, so I now have another project on my list. It seems, sometimes, like I can never catch up. Also, why do these things always have to crop up before I've even had my first cup of coffee?

My first thought about the compressor was that one of our air leaks has finally gotten so bad that it has completely overwhelmed the compressor, or maybe the short hose that runs from the compressor to the coach, which is subjected to a lot of motion stress, sprung a leak. It appears, though, to be a problem with the compressor itself. After completely disconnecting it from the coach, I switched it on to discover that pressure builds to about 120psi, then never gets above that. Since the cut-out is pre-set at 150psi, the thing just runs and runs. I'm mystified, since spraying soap solution on all the fittings does not reveal any leaks. The thing is less than two months old, so it looks like I will just bring it back to Lowes (if I can find the receipt). That ought to be interesting, strapped to the back seat of the Suzuki.

I've made arrangements with the Suzuki dealer in Del Ray Beach, a few miles south of here, to completely service both bikes Tuesday afternoon. I will load them back onto Odyssey before checking out, take Odyssey down to Del Ray and drop them off, and then head up to the airport. Louise's flight does not get in until close to midnight, so I am figuring to just park in the remote parking lot (which Palm Beach calls a "park-and-ride" lot -- "long term parking" is actually adjacent to the terminal, one of the joys of smaller airports) and hang out there until her flight arrives. With luck, we will be able to just stealthily spend the rest of the night in the lot, since I will end up paying for 24 hours anyway. Actually, at $5 per day, the airport park-and-ride lot may be an underground urban-stealth-camping discovery. If we get shooed out, the Elks lodge is just a few blocks away.

On Wednesday morning, we'll drive to Del Ray Beach and load the bikes back up, on our way down the coast. We have reservations Wednesday night on Tavernier, between Key Largo and Islamorada.

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