December 18, 2005 - Sunday
Key West, FL To West Palm Beach, FL

A somewhat short day lengthened a bit. I started in Key West with a Destination of Homestead / Florida City - the other end of the Keys - about 125 miles.

Since it was still fairly early in the day (and a drive by the hostel didn't lure me inside) I decided to trek a bit farther north - and hotel it. The decision to hotel it was due to the roommates back in Key West - not so good (a first for my hostelling history).

One guy had his walkman stolen (by one of the roommates) while some of the other roommates were noisy or questionable people. The good roommates were quite, polite and went about their way un-noticed. No - sit down and chat about interesting stuff - roommates. With the "stolen goods" issue I also decided that plugging quarters into the "lockers" was needed insurance for the electronics and valueables - something that has been a non-issue in most hostels (and many hostels offer nice lockers at no cost).

At the end of the day - while jostling the laptop with both cameras on top of it - as I put it into the locker the still camera fell to the ground (asphalt). I didn't give it much concern as it has hit the ground before and survived each time. Well, the next day would change this note - this time parts did break.

The plastic housing was partially open (at the seam) and two screws had broken plastic around them - ugh.  "Popping" the case back together didn't want to work - something was amiss inside. While I have several screwdrivers for things on the bike I do not carry a small "electronics" screwdriver. Hardware stores I passed were closed - Sunday afternoon. Sunday evening, things nicely placed into the secure hotel room I started to review the camera issue.

The Philips head screws are small - but then I also have a small knife - (ala Swiss Army USB - gift from Bob to the rescue again). Placing the tip into the screws didn't work but placing the back side of the blade somewhat across the head did. Five screws - fairly easy. Now to figure out the problem inside....

One thing lead to another - since I have it apart I want to see how things work and clean things up a bit. The optical viewfinder is getting dirty from being on the bike and I want to see what protection the internal mic has (located on the front of the cam. The mic is decently shielded from bug guts. The optical viewfinder was able to be cleaned. Now for why the camera isn't going back together....

Ah, yes, the shutter button is whacked out of place. Nothing broken - just need to put it where it needs to be. And while I'm looking at that - why do I often have to push, hold, rock, move, nudge, curse at, curse at again, the shutter button so it will take a picture. Well the external button has a short stub that needs to press on the switch. The switch used to be covered with a rubber cover and that rubber cover has all but disappeared (enough remaining to tell me such material was there) under use. Nothing I can do about this now - will just keep using it as-is (taking pictures with the button isn't always painfull - sometimes the "lag" in capturing the photo is due to the camera trying to decide on what settings to auto apply as the scenery is changing at 50 to 70 MPH).

So, the wonderful pictures we have today are those taken by the camera after I was able to figure things out - still disassembled with me holding the batteries in enough to power the unit up - sans front case half. It still works!!

The thought of finishing the trip w/o a camera wasn't enticing while the thought of researching and getting one while on the road wasn't either. Yes, the camcorder/video camera will take stills (about 5% of the pix taken on this trip are with the camcorder's still image function), but that device gets treated with more care (ie - only gets put onto the handlebars when something good is probable [and the weather allows]).


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