Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stealth boondocking in Orlando

We are parked in a gravel lot in an industrial park in Orlando, Florida (map).

Orlando, of course, being the home of Disney World and numerous other tourist attractions, is notorious for disallowing any kind of stealth camping, but we have an inside track. This particular lot goes with a vacant building next door that the Red Cross, in it's zeal to get a large HQ fully operational in advance of Hurricane Ike, leased through the end of the year. We only wanted the place for a month or two, but the landlord was insistent. We won't even discuss what this place cost, and regular readers here will know that we occupied the building for just a single week before packing the entire operation, lock, stock, and barrel and sending it to Texas when Ike veered off in that direction.

Considering we do some work for the Red Cross nearly daily, there is some legitimacy to us staying here, and we certainly knew the place would be here and available. We'd turned all our keys over to the local chapter when we left back in October, so we can't unlock the gate to an even stealthier parking spot, or access to power and water (included in the pre-paid rent).

Long-time readers also know that I generally do not post map links to temporary Red Cross HQ facilities. They are not state secrets, but no services are available to clients at HQ, and, when word about an HQ gets out in a disaster, clients tend to show up anyway, creating problems -- the clients need to be directed elsewhere, and staff resources need to be diverted to that purpose. But there are literally only ten days left to our lease here, we are out of hurricane season, and all Red Cross assets have been removed from the property (one of the things I checked on earlier today; sometimes these things get forgotten about, and I was ready to call tomorrow in case we needed to get keys and a truck over here to clear it out).

After we arrived last night, we had dinner at nearby Carrabas, and then went to the mall, just for the fun of watching people shop on the last Saturday before Christmas. If there's a recession, you could not tell from the mall parking lot, which was full all the way out to the periphery. Fortunately, the Florida Mall allocates space for motorcycle parking right near the entrances, and we snagged a spot for Chip right by the door.

Today, other than the aforementioned excursion to check that everything's been cleared out, we basically sat around the house and got caught up on email and paperwork. I meant to drop by Northern Tool, just a few blocks from here, to pick up an air brush for touching up the paint on the scooter as well as the bus, but it was past closing by the time I remembered it. I'll have to run over there in the morning before we pack up.

Tonight we'll have dinner at Olive Garden nearby, and tomorrow we will be checking in at Disney's Fort Wilderness. I expect Disney to be a zoo this week; yesterday I called to make holiday dinner reservations, and the pickin's were slim indeed. We're booked for Christmas at Shula's Steak House on a very early seating, and the night before we'll be at the Flying Fish on a fairly late seating. We'll just take pot luck the other two nights.

This may actually be our last post for a while. Fort Wilderness is quite heavily wooded; the last time we were there, we managed to get on-line courtesy of a fortuitously located but very narrow slot in the trees, and I am not counting on similar circumstances this time. Although with the trees at least partially denuded, we might just get lucky...

We are booked at Disney through Friday morning the 26th, and we might well end up right back here that evening -- we're hoping for dinner one night at the Citrus Club downtown, which is just nine miles north of here and an easy scooter ride, but they were fully booked last night when I called. In any case, we should be back on-line Friday evening, if we don't manage it sooner. I'll still be getting email and tweets on my BlackBerry, in case anyone needs to contact us.

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