Florida First Friday: Best & Worst Night

This is continuing in a series of posts going over my past two years traveling around the United States in a RV

First Friday in Florida
August 2011

I’ve made it through five days in Florida. Despite my fitness training plans being on hold, I decide to stay in Florida and look for other ways to stay productive. This includes meeting new friends and doing a lot more group meditation.

Friday night, I dress up in my finest, green dress shirt, dark jeans, and black dress shoes. It’s a young professional style I inherited from two years living in Washington DC, but I later find this look does not work very well in the Orlando crowd.

When I enter my RV, I find that my charge controller is hanging from the wall. Somehow, three of the screws had popped out. While mounting the controller back to the wall, I strip down my boxers in the humid RV. After a hour, I finally succeed, but I’m sweating head to toe.

I wonder, should I still go out? Yes.

I find a parking spot a few blocks from the downtown bars. As soon as I turn off the engine though, I hear a loud pop like a gun shot…Was that me? I see a cloud of smoke coming out of the hood along with a hissing sound of air escaping from somewhere. This is not good. No, No, no, no. Everything’s going to shit.

I open the hood to discover there’s this one pipe with a valve end missing. Air is escaping with cold liquid flying everywhere. Eventually, all the air and liquid is fully exhausted.

Looking around the block, I spot the exploded remains of what was the pressure valve. On my phone, I google the part number (Ranco sp3-h1025) and discover it’s a trinary pressure switch for the A/C.

I suspect that the cause is that I had gotten the freon refilled before this trip, and the mechanics probably overfilled it despite my repeated warnings. At least, I’m confident that the engine is fine even if my A/C is blown again.

Now, it’s midnight. My hands are dirty. I’m beyond the point of frustration and stress. I decide, I don’t care, I’m going to have a good night. All these problems piling on me beyond logic actually help me reach a mindset of, “I deserve a good night, nothing can possibly faze me now.”

Walking towards the bar, I compliment this guy’s shirt that says, “It’s not a competition” on the back. Then, this couple including an older, Indian woman starts talking to me. We do the small talk game, and I mention I’m a Buddhist, and she says she’s from Buddha’s home village. She’s also very touchy. But they’re going one way and I’m going another. I’m in a good mood though.

Inside the bar, I sit by the bar and start talking to 3 guys drinking Yuenling asking if they’re from up north since Yuenling is a Northeast favorite. I befriend these guys and chat with anyone else that comes by the bar.

I say to one of the guys, Jeff, that there must be one fair maiden for me somewhere in this bar. He starts pointing to girls and looking at me.

Eventually, I move across the bar to talk to a pack of girls with a particularly cute, short brunette.

We make our introductions and are having a grand time when suddenly the girl I was talking to walks outside to the patio with her friends following. I’m left confused standing by myself next to the bar.

I’m partly angry because I thought things were going well. So, screw that. I go outside too with my back to the brunette just inches from me. But instead of addressing her, I immediately begin talking to this chick with a nose piercing and dyed red hair, “Hey! I had to say hello. Your hair is so crazy and awesome.” Her name is Bri. She’s hanging out with her sister and sister’s boyfriend.

As if this was a game, the brunette girl suddenly appears out of nowhere and starts talking to Bri. Later, she even gets Bri’s number. I’m still not sure what was going on here.

Unfazed, I move on to talk to the sister, Alexa, and boyfriend, Cedric. I find that all of them just moved to Orlando two weeks ago from Kansas. All of us get along really well. We swap numbers towards the end of the night with a promise to meetup again soon.

As it turns out, we end up hanging out a lot the next three months.

Despite the numerous setbacks from going out, I ended up meeting my closest friends in Orlando that first Friday night.