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Published: August 30th 2012
On the road again
Taking off from the Keys and driving through the rain...
Escape from Hurricane Isaak 08-2012
After spending a few months in the Florida Keys I had planned to leave by the end of August and head north in search of better “grazing grounds” . Since north Dakota was booming with the Oil industry I was considering moving up there for work. But first I had to fulfill my commitment here in the Keys.
I was working on a Trailer addition for the sweetest Lady I met here in Florida and I was still in the middle of enclosing it when we got the hurricane warning. All of a sudden the week got cut down to possible 2 days left before the Hurricane was supposed to be hitting the Keys. It was important to close the room so the wind would not have it easy to get into the room and just rip it apart. Certainly the weather situation was also a big concern for myself since my tall buss was not very save to drive in wind speeds above 40 mph.
The florida Keys had issued an evacuation notice for all tourists and Trailer parks. So the pressure was on and I had to hurry to finish my
project and get out of the Keys and head on to the mainland and head north as fast as possible. The prognosis of the storm was at least a category one hurricane with wind speeds up to 120mph. Nothing I wanted to experience in my little motor home. The weather was already getting nasty and wind and rain made it difficult to work. Every time one of the downpoors happened that was accompanied with gusty winds that took tree inch thick branches of trees I had to stop working and wait for it to settle down a bit before I could resume the work.
By Saturday afternoon I had enclosed the front and was ready to pack up my stuff and evacuate. My first turn from the Trailer park on to the old highway brought me a little surprise. There was about 6 to 8 in of water on the road and it splashed high in front of me on to the windshield and to the left and right. I had to slow down to a crawl just to be able to see in front of me. Luckily it was just foe a short section and the main highway
was raised higher and save to drive. I made it without further problems off the keys on to the mainland. It even stopped raining again and the wind was not to bad either. My sense of urgency dissipated a little and I was cruising comfortable through Homestead.
Wanting to say goodbye to some dear friends I was invited to a Hurricane Party just a few miles up the road. I heard about the locals rather like to get drunk and pass out and then wake up when everything is over, but for me that was not an option to consider. I was not in a save zone as of yet if the hurricane hit full force. I was very likely being chased up north for quite a distance. But for now is seamed to be not too bad and besides the heavy rain that started up again as I approached Miami I was fine. Certainly I had to miss a turn and got lost in the city. It took me quite a while to get out and I was getting a bit frustrated with all the lights and traffic soI made the decision to go west, further inland on
to the road that would be little traffic and bring me to lake Okeechobee. The hectic day however caught up with me and I was getting tired and had to stop for the night. Wind and rain was beating down and shook my little home on wheels all night long.
The next morning was still rainy but besides some debris on the road the drive was easy and I made it to the lake. I found out that the storm had turned toward the gulf and I headed in the opposite direction toward the east. While I still had to deal with heavy rain and some wind, my friends in the keys they were having blues sky and it was calm. Several local areas I drove trough had some flooded roads and debris. Everything felt moist and every time I had to go outside I was getting soaked but it was not at all the hurricane we expected in south Florida. People here that lived through lots of hurricane warnings still prepare for the worst and hope for the best. In my case it made me leave the keys and I was heading north.
With the storm danger
over I was focusing back on fun and headed to the beach to see if I could catch some wind to Kitesurf. The Ocean was still rough and since I did not have any wave experience I decided to leave the board on the beach and just take the kite and go bodysurfing instead …wow what a rush… being pulled downwind through the braking waves by my kite… as on e of the waves pulled my shorts down to my ancles and I was struggling to get them back up I was loosing control for a second and my Kite crashed into a braking wave. The force was just too much and a big rip in the Kite ended the fun. Nothing I could do or say would make it undone and I gathered up my lines and kite and headed back up the beach. Bummer, since I had a limited budget this was not the kind of things I wanted to deal with in a new place. But as I say …it always works out.
I was just about back at the spot I starded at a guy eating a sandwich waved me down and asked I I
Broken off bolt that changed some plans...
wanted to have my rip fixed professionally. It turned out that he was a Kite instructor and gave me a phone number of Antony who was willing to trade the repairs for a kite board that I was wanting to sell. On my way to his house I noticed some strange noises while driving. I finally stopped to investigate . To add to my luck I had stopped in time before my rear wheels fell off. All but one locknuts where loose on my right rear wheels and on bolt was already broken off.
That had happened before on the same side in the middle of the Sahara desert with two broken bolts and once in Switzerland where I noticed it before any damage. So I had this sinking feeling that I was supposed to change my plans. My bus was not agreeing with me to head to the Outer Banks and that was its way to tell me. In other to replace this bolt I had to have a place to stay for a while since I did not have the option of just driving to the next repair shop and have it done. So far I had not found anyone that would even touch my bus since it was from Europe and only a few Mercedes 608D ever saw the roads in the US. No parts available and no one new how to work on them. So all the repairs as usually fell back on me.
Since I had experience in this particular situation I also new that it would take some time to do it right and get the parts needed. The last time I broke down was when my differential broke in the Yukon and I was stranded there for a year and a halve. But that is a story for an other time…
For now I just tightened my remaining bolts back up and got my Kite fixed. I also changed my plans and will head cross country back to California where I will do the final repairs. I think with some extra precautions I will make it across and will have all winter to repair it and earn some money to get me back up north to Alaska.
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