Day 20: Sometimes Things Go Wrong — Terribly Wrong

If I haven’t said it before, not everything in these cross-country trips goes according to plan. I’ll state our family motto again:

Plan your trip. Work your plan. Be flexible.

On Friday morning, the plan was to make a leisurely drive from our home in the Keys up to the Everglades. The drive was only about 4 hours, so we planned to stop a few times along the way.

Before we left the Keys, we had a very bold morning visitor. With a few more Cheerios, I bet we could’ve gotten her to come inside.

I think the girls would gladly give up the dream of having another puppy if they could have a pet deer instead.

When we finally made it onto the road, I knew I wanted to taste some key lime pie before we left the strand. Success, thanks to the Blonde Giraffe.

Next up, we knew that we wanted to visit Biscayne National Park. It was a fantastic little national park. When we arrived, blue land crabs were frantically skittering across the pavement. About a half-dozen iguanas threw a welcoming party as well. The girls were ecstatic. There were the red-tailed Agama lizards, an invasive species of territorial lizards. There were the two lizards I caught in the act of love. Biscayne was a success.

Our little Junior Park Rangers.

Then, with about 2 hours before the sun went down, we were on the final leg toward the Everglades.

Before we left Friday morning, I discovered that the campground I had on schedule didn’t have electric hookups. On this trip through 102 heat index in some places, we didn’t want to spend the night without air conditioning. So, we re-routed to the one Everglades national park with electrical hookups.

By the time we arrived, it was raining outside — not so much that we couldn’t setup — just enough to be slightly wet outside.

When Things Go Wrong…

We had the camper about 75% setup when I decided to plug in the AC to pre-cool the camper. The AC came on, then promptly died. We tested some other outlets as well, and they weren’t working.

We reset the breakers in the camper — no luck.

We reset the breaker on the campground electrical box — no luck.

The person next door was a local and said that the electric boxes at that campground short out sometimes when it rains. So, we tore down the camper and moved to the spot next door. It was annoying, but would be worth it if the electric worked.

We setup the camper and turned on the AC. Nothing.

Defeated, we knew we were going to endure the Everglade weather for a night and then move down the road after the next morning’s activities.

We went to bed in the muggy, 90-degree Everglades with no AC. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well.

The air felt thick and moist. I hugged the unzipped windows most of the night to draw in some of the outside air which was at least a couple of degrees cooler, but not getting close enough for a mosquito to suck my blood through the screen. (When I woke up this morning, there were mosquitos swarming the screen trying to find a way in.)

Plus, I was restless because I went to bed defeated. I didn’t know what the problem was in the dark of night, and I knew the day would bring new challenges.

Because of the circumstances and the Everglades lack of proximity to any real town, we opted to head north toward St. Petersburg a bit early. I’ll post separately about the day’s activities. But, I spent most of today’s trip obsessing about what could be wrong with the camper. It could be the fuses. It could be that the AC went bad. It could be the inverter. It could simply be that the electrical hookups at that campground were bad. I hoped it was the latter.

The first campground we tried to snag a site at was full. So, we had to push further north.

When we finally arrived at a suitable campground, we popped up. I waited to plug in the electrical until the last moment to put off my sadness.

Still — I was sad. The AC didn’t come on at the new site either.

So, methodically, I stepped through the electrical systems of the camper.

Then, we made our trek into a nearby town to Home Depot.

As we returned to camp, the skies opened up. Obviously, I couldn’t work on anything electrical outside. So, I fed all related wires and cables into the camper to get to business.

Ultimately, this connector plus is what I thought was the culprit. Note the burned connector. I suspect that the rain at Everglades got the port wet. Electric plus water equalled a short. At least, that’s what I hoped.

And, that meant I was going to need to do a bit of rewiring. Thankfully, I got some pointers on that from my father-in-law Bobby Snider back in 2017 when I was having electrical issues on our first pop-up. I put that knowledge to use.

Sadly, the rain persisted most of the evening. So, it was a couple of hours before I could venture outside, thoroughly dry the port, and test my work.

I plugged it in, switched the breakers, turned on the campground power, and then nervously went inside the camper to the AC unit.

I am happy to report that, at least for now, we are cozy in our cool camper on the midwestern side of Florida.

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