Our fridge died. And I’m pretty sure we killed it. Turns out we aren’t able to boondock without hookups for quite as long as we originally hoped. Let me elaborate on how we arrived at this point:
Two days before we’re planning on leaving the free campground, an alarm on the inverter begins to sound. Our house battery systems were indicating that we were running low on power, and the inverter alarm was telling us we were reaching a point where it would no longer deliver power to our appliances. Meaning: if we run out of power juice, our fridge won’t run and all our food will spoil. No bueno. So on Valentine’s Day we planned a totally unnecessary long drive back to the coast for coffee and dinner to charge the batteries a bit (we did enjoy round two of sushi for dinner). Sadly we were only able to buy a few extra hours, as I was woken up around 3am by the inverter alarm again. God bless the sun rise – once the solar panels started charging the batteries the inverter kicked back on and crisis was averted for another day, but not for as long as I would have liked.
Thursday we drove down to Fort Lauderdale to meet up with some of Greg’s family. They were incredibly hospitable, and despite the fact that they all live in condos, they were able to find a willing family friend with an empty driveway to host us for the couple of nights we’d be in town. (Shout out to Greg’s Uncle David, Uncle Matt, & Andrew for being so wonderful). Unfortunately it was while we were here that our fridge kicked the bucket, first by making a weird knocking noise on Friday morning and then by simply refusing to turn back on. I have a strong suspicion that running it on limited, insufficient power contributed to it’s death (the inverter alarm had continued to sound nightly but was usually temporarily staved off with a reset of all the equipment), but we may never truly know the cause; it was an old fridge after all. Its untimely demise turned what was supposed to be a literal day at the beach into a stress-filled day of mini-fridge diagnostics and eventually replacement shopping. (Side note: to the people who built a Home Depot basically inside of the world’s smallest parking garage, I hate you). We did find a shiny new replacement though. It’s black, it matches our other appliances, and though it is a little small for the existing fridge compartment it has more storage space inside and is a little more energy efficient. So, not a total loss.
After the fridge fiasco I decided we couldn’t wait until the next state park reservation to charge up the batteries. We were looking at five more nights of boondocking, and I didn’t want to risk killing our new fridge too. So I booked us an (expensive) last minute reservation at a RV “resort” in Homestead, just south of Miami. This place cost nearly three times as much as most of the state parks we have frequented, and it SUCKED. The campers were packed in like sardines, the bathrooms looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in weeks, our parking space was weirdly angled and the hookups were placed strangely and far apart, and the entire staff took an hour lunch just minutes before we arrived, so we had to sit around in the South Florida heat waiting for them to show back up. For the price I paid, I expected something a little closer to luxury. The only upside is that we did get a full charge on the batteries before we headed for our next destination.
The gigs we played in Miami were…. eclectic, to put it concisely. We played a cafe/bar/clothing store in an outdoor mall, a secret hipster venue in a remodeled warehouse, and a wine & jazz bar in the heart of downtown (about a dozen cop cars and the fire department showed up to this one to deal with a still unknown issue, that was fun). The general reaction was that people surprisingly enjoyed our stuff and that they “really don’t have much music like this down here.” From what I can tell, Miami has a music scene for EDM, jazz, and Latin music and not a lot else. For a lot of people I think our sound was refreshingly different rather than out of place. Definitely the most unique city we’ve played so far. An added bonus was that the driving and parking was slightly frustrating at times, but not the actual hellscape I expected it to be.
The highlight of Miami? Fritas cubanas. Cuban food is something I had never tried, and Miami definitely seemed like the place to do it. Fritas are chorizo/beef hamburgers in a red sauce/marinade topped with onions shoestring potatoes (and also cheese on the variety we ordered). I cannot express to you how delicious these things were. Go to Miami just to get one of them (or five). Fun fact: there is a Little Havana downtown and that is where we accidentally ended up for this meal, so I’m pretty sure we got the most authentic version possible.
While in Miami we were lucky enough to find a casino just outside the city that offers free overnight RV parking, so that’s where we spent the majority of our downtime. Our last night there we went inside to take advantage of the reasonably priced buffet and the free $30 in gameplay credit that the casino offers new patrons. Surprisingly we both came out with some actual cash – I walked out with about $20 and Greg made out with almost $40. We basically got paid to stay at this place! And it was great having a place to stay outside the city that was well lit and secure.
Back on the negative for a second – we need to talk about the bugs again. There are SO MANY. And we can’t seem to get rid of them entirely. The ants went away for a time, but the spiders came back in full force. And if that wasn’t bad enough, we also had a spider egg sac hatch on the passenger side of the cab two days ago. We’ve killed like a hundred baby spiders, and the ants made a reappearance the same day in an old cereal box waiting to be thrown out. Why did nobody tell me that bugs were such a huge part of RVing?? It’s been annoying at best and painful at worst – I’m always covered in mosquito bites from these little flying pieces of garbage that seem to always get inside the van at night. I have been thoroughly enjoying the Florida weather but if cooler temps means the bugs will dissipate, I’m happy to head for it.
We rounded the tip of the Florida peninsula yesterday and drove through the Everglades, which was a gorgeous drive – we’re currently at a state park just south of Naples on Florida’s west coast. It’s been nice to have a couple days off after playing three nights in a row. We’re here until 1pm, and then we’re heading into Naples to see some of my family, which I’m looking forward to!
Overall, things are still going well despite the occasional day-to-day issues that arise. The bugs and the highways and the battery challenges are all part of the adventure I suppose. And whenever it isn’t stressful it is a whole lot of fun. It is hard to believe we’re still in Florida, and will be for another two and a half weeks. Long way to go still!