Big Lagoon State Park (FL)

The next day we were up pretty early, fueled by the excitement of getting to the beach. We had a decent drive today, complete with thunderstorms and windy conditions. It’s never much fun to drive something this big in the wind, so it always focuses my attention quite intently. My family always gathers at the beginning of June for a week to kick off the summer, spend some time together, and enjoy the beach. My parents were already down there in their condo, but our condo (as well as my sister’s) wouldn’t be ready for a few more days. So we decided to get there early and stay at Big Lagoon State Park, which is located just over the water from Perdido Key.

We finally rolled in to our campsite around 2:00 in the afternoon. It was a longer trip than we anticipated, due to heavy traffic and lots of storms. At one point we had to sit for a crossing train that came to a complete stop across the tracks. Val got up, cooked some lunch in the microwave, got the boys something to drink from the fridge, and made sandwiches for the two of us, all while we were sitting in traffic. This is definitely one of the biggest perks of driving a motorhome.

Our campsite was a little tight but nice, with lots of brush and trees that gave us some privacy from the neighbors. After settling in, we headed over to my parents’ condo to spend some time on the beach and eat dinner with them. The next morning we set out to explore a bit. We hiked the trails over to the lagoon and the boys played on the very nice playground there. We walked along the beach, chased some crabs, and enjoyed the beautiful weather. It started to warm up though, so we headed back to Marty and then loaded up to go over to my parents’ again. We spent the afternoon at the beach, enjoyed another great dinner with my parents, and then headed back for one last night in Marty before putting him in storage.

After we got the boys to bed, I noticed how clear and dark the sky was. I have been wanting to try and do some night photography, so I thought this would be a good chance to try it out. I drove over to the observation tower that overlooks the lagoon to get some shots. It was really dark and there wasn’t a soul around. A boat was passing out in the water, other than that it was just the sound of the waves, some frogs, and the ocean breeze. Total magic! I got a few decent shots which you can see below.

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When possible, I always want to get an aerial shot of each location that we visit. Since this was our last day at Big Lagoon, I got up 5:15 for the sunrise, even though I was out until almost midnight doing the night photography. Little did I know at the time, but I had a long day ahead of me.

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We packed up our things and started to get everything ready to put Marty in storage for the next week since we would be staying in a condo. I had noticed a strange smell when I was hitting the brakes over the past several days, and so I thought, just to be safe, I should crawl underneath and take a look. I’m glad I did, because I saw one of the inner front wheels soaked in fluid. Crap!

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Repairs on the road are never a good thing, especially at the beginning of a long trip. I immediately got on the phone with repair shops in Pensacola, but being a Saturday many were closed. I didn’t know if parts would need to be ordered and if it would delay our trip, so I really wanted to find someone. I came across a mobile RV repair service with good reviews on Google, and they picked up. The mechanic, an older guy named David, said he would meet me at the storage facility to take a look. We dropped off Marty, drove over to the condo to unload, and then I drove back to meet him. First the good news: it wasn’t the brakes that were the problem. This was good because they would be very expensive to fix and parts aren’t always locally available. The bad news is that the seal had gone back and all of the oil had come out of the wheel hub. Fortunately nothing had been damaged, but I had to drive to Napa and pick up a new seal and 5 cans of brake cleaner for David. He was a really nice guy, but he LOVED to talk. I stood there in the hot Florida sun for about four hours while he fixed everything.

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I took it for a test drive and all seemed well, but then the ABS light came on! I brought it back, he adjusted the sensor, the light went off, so I took it for another drive only to have it come on again! This wasn’t good. He adjusted it one more time and I took it for another long test drive and the light stayed off. I am cautiously optimistic that everything is fixed, but we won’t know for sure until we put a lot of miles on it. I do know that it brakes a LOT better now, because up until then the front left brakes were soaked in oil and basically worthless.

Not the way I wanted to spend my first full day at the beach, but I am glad to have it all fixed. Marty is now sitting safely in storage and the remainder of our week on Perdido Key should be free of worries about parts, repairs, and trip delays. Oh, and David brought me a ton of squash from his garden 🙂

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