Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sixteen Days in Florida and I'm Still White as a Ghost

The cool thing is that I work without a net!
I am freshly returned from several days basking in the South Florida heat. Yep, the temps hovered in the mid-to-high 80s most of the 16 days I was there. Actually, the 16-day marathon was really a 9-day and a 7-day period separated by 3 nights at home. I drove down for both segments and had to return home to swap out press cars.

Ostensibly I was there to help a friend with a house flip. My initial nine-day venture was planned for a while. She had just purchased the property located a few blocks from her home in a West Palm Beach golf course community. Between the time she purchased it and I arrived to help paint, she and her husband decided that when the new flip was finished, they would sell their current home and move into the new one. By the time I arrived, the current home was in the hands of a realtor, who got a contract from the first person he took through the house. This forced my friends to accelerate the completion schedule for the new house from “whenever” to six weeks. That was the reason I returned for round two, which was a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Securing manufacturer-test cars for out-of-the-normal-routine needs typically requires a bit of planning. In this case I needed both cars for longer the the typical seven-day loan and would also need to put more than 1,500 miles on each. I had a little more lead time arranging the first car. The second one, however, had to be secured in a matter of hours rather than weeks.

I made the first trip in a Volkswagen Golf GTI and the second in a Ford Expedition. Needless to say, fuel was a much smaller expense on my first trip than my second.

What a back breaker!
Most of my painting time was invested in applying a primer and then two finish coats to the home's ceilings. The ceilings had been “popcorn,” which was stripped and a “knockdown” finish applied. This wasn't a particularly huge task in several areas, but two rooms have 16-foot vaulted ceilings. For a total of four or five days, I was balanced on a eight-foot ladder, using an extension pole to roll paint on the ceilings. Up the ladder, down the ladder, move the ladder, up the ladder, down the ladder, move the ladder..... This Flying Wallenda impression left my shoulders and neck aching to the point that several days later they still hurt. At the end of a couple of these days, I was pretty-well covered in splotches of paint. I resembled a bank robber who opened a money stack rigged with exploding dye. I spent so much time huffing fresh paint, I'm still not totally down from the high.

Both drives to Florida began at 3:30 in the morning. My goal was to arrive in Delray Beach in time for a late lunch. My initial trip included much more free time than the second one – a few days, in fact. That I spent a total of 16 days there and am still white as a ghost, is a good indication I wasn't outside much.

My slogs back to South Carolina were totally different from one another. Driving home from my first trip, I was on a mission. I had a writing assignment I needed to begin and complete during the two and a half days I would be home. I was having PC issues and needed to straighten those out before beginning the project. I left Delray at 5 a.m. and walked in my door at 3 p.m. I had my computer issues solved that afternoon and finished the assignment over the next two days.

Because I wasn't under the gun on my second drive home, I took it easy. I stopped in a couple of rest areas for 20-minute catnaps, only partially filled the Expedition's gas tank during fuel stops as gas became ever cheaper as I headed north. I even pulled off I-95 for a hot fudge sundae at a South Carolina Dairy Queen. Historically I make the drive in nine and a half hours; this trip took eleven.

I also lost about 20 minutes on that drive thanks to Northerners heading home from Florida jack knifing, overturning or simply running their tow vehicles and trailers into a ditch. I came across three such mishaps between the Florida/Georgia line and where I pick up I-26 for the final sprint north. It was like a car-and-trailer demolition derby.

I was glad to get home, sleep in my own bed and not have to spend the day with my arms extended over my head pushing four or five pounds of pole and paint-coated roller across a ceiling.

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