As we prepare Primrose for joining the 2014 Florida Trail thru-hiker kickoff in Big Cypress, and make plans for Primrose to be our base camp to fill in a few of our missing Florida Trail sections, I started looking back over 2013 and our adventures of traveling with Primrose.
Our first trip was the Valentine’s Day ramble to Little Grasshopper Lake and Cross Creek, where we spent the night in a fish camp under the oaks. After this trip, the speedometer cable broke. We used a hand-held GPS (normally used to gather trail information when we hike) to watch our speed.
Next, we headed to the Florida Trail Association Annual Conference in Gainesville in March, rescuing a couple of hiker friends after a cold night at Juniper Springs along the way. With the speedometer cable still snapped, we drove out to Pensacola in April for to the Panhandle Trace Hike, camping out at Blackwater River State Park.
Just before going on the Big O hike, we installed the new speedometer cable. It is so nice to look at the gauge and see how fast you’re going!
Driving to Okeechobee on back roads in the pouring rain, the windshield wipers started doing strange things. The nuts that held them in place had become loose, allowing them to once travel 360 degrees before locking together. A quick stop in the rain, I was able to untangle them and tighten them back in place. With only a small set back: one of the wipers had broken. Using it without some kind of repair would scratch the windshield. Finding the broken piece, I was able to temporarily fix it with a zip tie.
It was still raining when we arrived at the Okeechobee KOA. Parked and with the pop top up we were happy not to be setting up a tent.
The next morning, we were told by our Wagonmaster that we needed to move to another site. That’s when the trouble began. Primrose would start, but ran terribly. When I tried to move her she would only move a few inches before the motor would quit running. It’s Friday afternoon the week before Thanksgiving. And we were using her as our base camp for the Big O Hike!
Sandy called a friend who gave us the names of a few shops in the area that might know how to work on a 32 year old ‘air-cooled’ VW.
We stopped at a small independent parts store to see if they knew of anyone who specializes in old ‘air-cooled’ VWs. He thought for a moment, and said…”nope, he died last year.” A little more thinking and he remembered a guy that might just work on them.
We followed his directions to Hi-Tek Automotive in Okeechobee. I had a good feeling noticing an MGB and Mercedes SL from the 70s were parked in the bays.
Here we met Ivor, the owner. He was very familiar with old VWs and was eager to help.
When he learned that we were staying in the van for the next ten days, Ivor offered to let us camp at his shop and offered us a place to plug in and hook up to water while he took care of the problem. Wow, I didn’t think things like this happened anymore.
While making arrangements to have it towed from the KOA to his shop on Monday, he thought for a minute and then asked, “You drove it all the way down from Central Florida with no problem?” When I told him yes, he said, “Maybe it’s just water in the gas tank.” It was a very wet drive.
He had us try a $4 bottle of moisture remover. After adding the bottle, Billy and I shook the VW following the instructions.
With a little finesse, I got Primrose running and did my best to keep her running. After a few minutes she started to run better and better. When she sounded almost normal, I made a quick lap around the campground to make sure I could keep her running.
From there it was a drive to Hi-Tek Automotive. She was running pretty good when I got there. Ivor came over put his ear near the engine compartment, and said “It’s still not right.” He had me add a bottle of professional strength “tune up in a bottle” and told me to take her for a good 30-plus minute run. The more I drove, the better she ran.
Back at camp, Primrose never missed a beat. South to Clewiston, then back to Central Florida she ran like a top.
It’s a pleasure to know that there are still shops out there with owners like Ivor!
Including a couple of nights spent in the backyard of my parents’ house, we spent 30 days in Primrose. Not bad for our first year!
Thanks to Dave and Tracey for passing Primrose on to us. And a very special thank you to Ivor at Hi-Tec for keeping us on the road.