Did I Mention It’s Hot?

Key Largo Paddle Boarders

Key Largo Paddle Boarders

JOHN PENNEKAMP SP, KEY LARGO, FL — #VanDwelling #Surrender #BATGAP

March 16, 2015 11:11 AM

After spending some time with my brother, his kids and various friends of the family, I bid my farewells, hopped in the van and headed south.

It’s already hot in South Florida, and I spent the night camped at a casino on the edge of the Everglades, the fan blasting on high the entire night.

I stopped in Florida City for breakfast and took a seat by the window just as a man stepped out of one of the new Dodge ProMaster vans. A number of full-time nomads I know have considered this van as their next home, so I asked the driver how he liked it.

“Don’t get one, pal. They suck.”

His was a year newer than mine, but he apparently has had nothing but trouble—trouble compounded by a limited number of dealers who can work on them, and none of which he was happy with. We swapped stories for awhile, and, as I left, he commented that, on hearing how much I liked mine, he might trade his in for a Nissan soon.

As I left, I contemplated my next stop. With a Skype evaluation appointment scheduled for noon with Jerry, the technical guy at Buddha at the Gas Pump, I wasn’t sure if I should risk heading down to the Keys and not finding a good signal. Since I don’t like to try—to fight circumstances—I asked myself, if I didn’t have this appointment, what would I do? So I drove to the Keys, taking the longer Card Sound route.

I found a decent 4G signal in a park where I used to spend time in as a teen. It was too early for the video chat, so I strolled about to see what had changed over the years, took some photos and now await a call that will determine if a BATGP interview lies in my destiny.

2:02 PM

The Skype test seemed to go well, and Jerry said he’d pass along the results, so I closed the laptop and went for a swim. Did I mention it’s getting hot down here already?

A little while later, the sun shining down brutally, I picked up a touristy “Key Largo” baseball cap and dropped into Mrs. Mac’s for their famous taco salad platter (Fritos smothered in chili) and a cold, local IPA.

In Key Largo—within a mile of each other—there are two Mrs. Mac’s. When I lived there, there was only one, and this is the one I dined at. It’s a tiny place, and in order to work there (or to use their restroom for that matter), you pretty much have to be a contortionist, so as I ate, I grinned while watching the one waitress bend to get ice while another reached over her to get tea while another tried to squeeze behind them with a tray filled with fish and chips and burgers and drinks.

My server told me he graduated Coral Shores in ’13 and I smiled and said I graduated there in ’79 and asked him which Mrs. Mac’s he would visit in 30 or 40 years on his reminiscent tour of the Keys and he told me both, as he had worked at both and loved them equally. I explained how much more crowded the Keys had become since I lived there years ago and wondered aloud how things would appear to him when he did his own personal tour.

He looked a little sad at that thought.

Nothing is permanent. Everything changes. Life itself is flux—a dynamic flowing Living Unified Thing. It’s futile to fight it, to struggle to control it, to try to fit it into a neat little box.

Life is much bigger than we can possibly grasp, so it seems to me it’s best just to surrender and flow and enjoy it.

I drove off, trying to remember if there was any public shade to be found on this long thin island in the Gulf, a place a weary drifter could take a nap in peace and comfort (did I mention it is hot down here?).

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