Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mouseward Bound

Walkin' on the World

We are at the Elks lodge in Brandon, Florida (map), just east of Tampa. We are here because it is the closest reasonable power outlet to Tampa, and we wanted to spend a few days in the area to regroup. The lodge has 23 RV sites, of which 14 are 50-amp, six are 30-amp, and three have no power. All sites are on firm grass and have water spigots, and most have a picnic table and tiny biting ants. Sites with power are $17.50 per night, a relative bargain in Florida, and the lodge even has a dump station.

There are just three other rigs here, but two of them are clearly just being stored. The lodge also has an RV storage area on the other side of the building, but these two rigs clearly wanted power. The third rig appears to be occupied long-term by perhaps an itinerant worker -- he's been gone all day every day, and so we have mostly had the whole place to ourselves.

We never did connect with our friends here. One couple was tied up with out-of-town guests, and my emails to the other were returned by a spam-bot, so his account has been hacked. We did, however, ride a half hour each way to our club downtown Thursday night -- they were doing a "lobster night" that I did not want to miss. On the way home after dark, Louise's blue ground-effect LED lights earned her a traffic stop by the Tampa PD (I have similar ground-effect lights on my scooter, but they are green). We are not the droids they are looking for, so after running her license and registration they let us move along after she promised to switch them off. I noticed he followed us for a few blocks to be sure. A second cruiser arrived during the stop -- can't be too careful with the bad-ass middle-aged scooter trash.

One of the tasks on my plate while we were here was to find some tires. Our tags are nearly bald, and over ten years old (they were old when I got them). Due to the way that they scrub sideways when we back up, chunks of rubber are now starting to come off the tread shoulders, and I was starting to worry that we could throw a whole tread at speed. Since our steer tires are also nearing end-of-life (at three and a half years and 48,000 miles), I decided to put new rubber on the steer axle, and move the steers to the tire-eating tag axle.

Tires on the steer axle need to be spin-balanced, and I called nearly a dozen tire places before I found one in Ocoee with the correct balancer mounting plate for our large-hub European wheels. They also had a good price on a pair of Sumitomo 727 all-position rib tires, which they have to order. We made an appointment for Wednesday and told them to order two tires.

Between here and Ocoee is ... Disney World. Now, regular readers will know that we were just at Disney in December, and so this would seem to violate our "once every few years" penchant for the place. We know that there are folks who go every year or even multiple times per year, but that's not us. However, this is the first time we'll be there in the summer.

When most people think of Disney World, two of the iconic theme parks spring to mind -- The Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center. We've been to those, of course, along with Disney's other two major theme parks, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Perhaps lesser-known, however, is that Disney also has two world-class water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. All of our previous visits have been in the dead of winter, and even though the water parks were open, we're just not comfortable at a water park when the outside air temperature is in the low 70s.

Now that it's in the 90s every day, we though this would be a great time to partake of water park fun, Disney-style. Plus, we have some time to kill, and need a power outlet, so Disney's Fort Wilderness is not a bad stop, albeit pricey at $51 per night (AAA rate). Still, it's the cheapest way to stay on Disney property and get all the benefits thereof, such as extra hours at the parks and access to the Disney Transportation System.

So in a few minutes we will pull up stakes here and head to Bay Lake. I booked three nights at Fort Wilderness and a one-day park pass with two water park add-ons, which ought to keep us busy the whole time. Mindful of how hard it has been to get into the resort restaurants, I also made dining reservations all three nights. Wednesday we will check out and head to Crawford's Tire in Ocoee.

Photo by Samantha Decker, used under a Creative Commons license.


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