With the Florida hiking season approaching, it was time to awake Primrose from her summer sleep. With tools, stands, and floor jack in hand, I took care of her oil change. With most of my time spent hiking and wandering in the outdoors, my mechanical skills have become a bit rusty. But, after changing my own oil in dozens of different vehicles over the years, this particular skill quickly returned.
After a quick checkover and with fresh oil, we loaded Primrose for the 23rd Annual Big O Hike. Thanks to Roy and Shannon Moore of the Loxahatchee Chapter, the tradition would continue, albeit in a slightly different form. They called it the Big ‘O’ RP. With large sections of the trail closed on both sides of the lake by the Corps of Engineers, trying to walk all the way around Lake Okeechobee would have required long and dangerous road walks.
This year’s hike became more of a social event. It was still a series of day hikes, returning the tired hikers each day to our base camp at the Okeechobee KOA in Okeechobee for dips in the pool and hot tub, social time at the afternoon Happy Hour, and visits to local places for dinner with old friends.
Since Sandy was still recovering from knee surgery the month before, she couldn’t walk far. So we only stayed for a few days, spending most of our time around camp and catching up with everybody. We took the time to explore a trail we’ve been curious about for years – the Taylor Creek STA, north of Okeechobee along US 441 – where we and the friends that joined us were astounded at the amount of wildlife we encountered along the trails.
When it was time to leave, it rained. It seems like every trip we take in Primrose either starts or ends in a rainstorm, which is always a trick to drive in with a 32-year old manual transmission and an air-cooled vehicle at that. This journey was downright scary. There were times we couldn’t see three feet in front of the windshield, and the rainfall washed in sheets across the road.
Primrose wouldn’t accelerate at all as we turned off Nova Road onto the 520 to make our way home. It took several miles and the rain to let off a bit before I could coax her out of second gear. When we got back home, the streets were flooded. We decided she needed to sit outside and dry out before we started unpacking.
As it turned out, we couldn’t find anything wrong with the engine or transmission, it must have just been the sheer volume of rain. But knowing how quirky and slow old Volkswagen campers can be, Sandy got me a great gift for Christmas.