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St George Island, FL

Our departure from Barry’s was slightly delayed by a maintenance item. An aluminum flange that helps support the dump valve plumbing came loose. The flange is attached by two small screws in the belly pan aluminum, and they have torn out of the thin aluminum over time.

Tampa broken flange.jpg

I hadn’t noticed this gradual loosening until I went to close the gray valve in the morning and the entire flange popped loose. In my opinion, the flange should have been attached with a pair of “buttonhead” rivets, which are less likely to pull through the aluminum skin.

Tampa flange rivets.jpg
The rivets and the screws they replaced

Fortunately I travel with a pair of the appropriate rivets in my toolkit, and of course a rivet tool. Replacing a rivet is very easy and if you don’t know how to do it yet, get a friend to show you. It takes just a minute. For those who want to stock a few of the right rivets for belly pan repairs, check out Marson product # ABL6-4A, or equivalent 3/16″ diameter rivet, “buttonhead”, “large flange”, grip range 1/8″ – 1/4″, hole diameter .192-.196″, aluminum rivet with aluminum mandrel.

Tampa flange repair.jpg

Of course you’ll also need a rivet tool, which can be found at places like Sears and Harbor Freight. The other tool you need for rivet replacement is a cordless drill with an assortment of small bits. In my experience, most frequent RV travelers already have one.

Between packing up and this little repair, we got a late start. The weather here turned mixed and occasionally rainy, from the southern edge of the same huge storm system that dumped a couple of feet of snow on Denver. By nightfall, as we were towing the Airstream along the coast on Rt 98, it was increasingly foggy and our progress got slower. At 8:30, when we reached St George Island, the fog was so dense that we could go no faster than 20 MPH along the main gulf beach road.

The state park closes its gate at sunset, so after making an inquiry at the local gas station, we parked in a beach lot near the center of town. The beach lot has signs: “NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING OR TRAILER PARKING” but on this evening the island was virtually deserted, most of the motels were closed, and all the parking lots were dead empty. Our local contact told us that the overnight parking ban was more for the summer season. So we took a chance and spent the night a few hundred feet from the surf, which we could hear all night long.

Eleanor and I sat up until 2 a.m., talking in the dark. Once in a while we need to really have a deep conversation about everything: what we are doing, where we are going (figuratively), our goals, our worries. We both have concerns and the occasional loss of confidence. Airing it all out is the way we make sure we are still on the same program, and make mid-course adjustments as needed. After hours of talking, we have reaffirmed our commitment to finding a low-maintenance home base soon, so that we can settle into a community for next winter, while maintaining the option to travel in the Airstream frequently for business and fun.

At 7 a.m. we woke to watch the sun rising over the Gulf of Mexico, and we knew it was time to get out of the parking lot before we attracted the wrong kind of attention. It was one thing to park after dark in the fog in an unlighted parking lot, but quite another to be obviously there with the morning sun gleaming on our bright silver tube. One downside of our decal-festooned Airstream (complete with web URLs on all sides) is that we do not blend in very well.

St George El Jalisco.jpg

Fortunately, the Mexican restaurant next door opened at 6 a.m. for breakfast, so we pulled the trailer one block over to a side street and popped into El Jalisco. By 9:00 a.m. we were drawing up to the Ranger Station at St George Island State Park, and that’s where we are now. This will be our Christmas stop.

3 Responses to “St George Island, FL”

  1. Dr. C. Says:

    Eleanor-7, Rich-0;
    She wins by a touchdown and an extra point.

    Now have a Merry Christmas.

  2. John Says:

    Happy Holidays, to the Luhr family.Great tip, I will get a rivet kit before my trip southwest, Jan.7 2007.Pss I hope to meet up with you in Arizona,Maybe Mexico.

  3. adam Says:

    This is a riviting post in many ways! Glad you have found a good spot for Christmas.

    These are indeed interesting times. 2007 is going to be remarkable.

    Talk soon and have a great night.

    Adam y Susan

  4. ปั้มไลค์ Says:

    Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest.

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