Our favorite place to spend the winter is the Sigsbee Island RV Park – part of Naval Air Station Key West. We enjoy the warm weather, water activities, and the community of friends that we have made over the years.
This year didn’t start off very good. We arrived late on December 29th and set up in “dry camp” where we have no hookups and have to use our generators for electricity and fresh water tanks for water. This is normal and was not a problem. However, we soon discovered that our generators didn’t want to run very well and our water pump was broken – not the kind of thing you want to discover at 7:00 at night. But the next morning I was able to trace the electrical connections to verify that it was the pump that was bad and we ordered a replacement. Then I turned my attention to the generators. I was surprised to have problems with them. We have owned our two Honda generators for over seven years without any problems. They are almost indestructible, you can fail to perform scheduled maintenance and they still run fine. I drained the carburetor bowl, and changed the spark plugs. I watched several YouTube videos and took the carburetor apart to clean what I could, and still had problems. Finally I contacted a nearby small engine repair guy and had him tear the engine down and give it a good cleaning. Eventually I discovered that a switch on the fuel cap had been turned to OFF and that was preventing air from entering the fuel tank and, eventually, smothering the engine. I hadn’t touched that switch in seven years and it never occurred to me to check it. Well, while it was a frustrating two days, I learned a lot more about these generators and they should run fine for another seven years!
All of this did not prevent us from participating in a Sigsbee Island tradition, the New Years Day Polar Plunge! A large group of hardy campers braved the “freezing” 76 degree water temperature and simultaneously plunge into the “bone chilling” waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This is followed by clam chowder and mimosas as we celebrated a new year in Key West.
A couple of days later our pump arrived and it was simple to install as I ordered the exact same pump, I didn’t even have to replace fittings. However, while it was simple it was not easy. The pump is installed in a very small space with an even smaller access hole. This required me to wedge myself into one of our storage compartments and twist and stretch like a contortionist to get everything hooked up. The good news is I was successful and we could now use our fresh water system. Frankly this is the only major system we have had to replace in seven years, so not too bad.
We discovered that we had friends from previous years on either side of us and we quickly became engaged in the local social scene. A friend of mine from my National Guard years in Michigan was in the park with his wife and we made plans for a sunset cruise on the Appledore Star, a two-masted schooner. The Appledore Star is our favorite sunset cruise and we wanted to share this experience with Ed and his wife, Ruth. It was a perfect night with clear skies, smooth sailing, and plentiful appetizers and drinks. We even saw a green flash on the horizon
A bunch of us musicians (yes, me too) enjoy going to Open Mic night at the Geiger Key Marina and have a lot of fun practicing our musical skills before a live audience. The Marina bar is right on the water and offers good food, making it a great night out.
Key West offers an annual Half-Marathon as a fund raiser for local charities. Our small military community embraces the military value of “selfless service” and supports this race with a host of volunteers that work in the registration process, as course marshals, as bicyclists making sure that racers with problems get help quickly, and manning water stations along the route. Last year the weather was cold and windy and this year it was wet and windy, making it a challenge for both racers and volunteers.
There is always something going on in the park, one example is the Sigsbee Shuffle. In the past this has been groups of forty campers moving, as a group, through four or five sites to share food and drinks and meet new friends. Because of some changes in the management this didn’t happen last year, so this year a bunch of campers put it together on their own. There was no forty person limit this year and approximately 140 campers moved from site to site. The organizers did an outstanding job and it went without a hitch. The finale was a performance by the No Name Band, a combination of campers and Key West locals. I was fortunate to be asked to open for them while they were doing their final set up. I’ll let you know when I get my recording contract, but don’t hold your breath!
We have more than a month remaining on our stay and we are looking forward to even more opportunities for fun and enjoyment.