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Time to go home

April 15, 2015
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

It's that time again. The time when our "snow bird" guests leave their Florida nests and fly north. Charles Dickens said it best, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." We hate to see them go, because we enjoy their company and they infuse the green stuff into our little back-country economy, so it's the worst of times. But it is always nice to be able to drive without being stuck in traffic, and to be able to get into a local restaurant or shop, so that's the better time.

I often wonder how the Beach does it. Two lanes of traffic stopped for three miles, funneling into one lane at the sky bridge, for hours and hours. Where do they all go? Why do they all go at the same time? Of course we all know why. Fort Myers Beach is the primary attraction for Lee County. It's why most people come here, and once you can get parked and on your towel or chair on the beach sand, all of the frustrations of getting here are forgiven. The Gulf of Mexico doesn't allow resentful thoughts. You stare out over the water, and everything is peaceful. That's why they put up with our ungodly traffic jams. A search for peace. I'm spacing out just thinking about it, but many locals haven't done it for years.

Then, it's time to load up the car and head north. Easter is over, the tax man commeth. I hope you took the time to get the car checked over for the trip. It's no fun sitting along I-75 waiting for a tow truck.

The things to have checked are the brakes (which means pulling the wheels for a thorough examination of the pads, shoes, cylinders and calipers) and the belts and hoses on the engine. These things don't give advance warnings to the drivers. The brakes usually feel fine and the engine runs smoothly, until they simply break as you drive, and usually only after you enter an area where there is no help available, on a day and time when everyone is closed. It takes an experienced eye to spot the things that are about to fail. Just looking to see if they're still there isn't good enough. Don't be afraid that you might buy something you might not need. These things cost a small percentage of what it would cost to break down out there, in never-never land. "Better the devil you know," (so to speak).

Maybe you've progressed to the point where you fly back and forth now and leave the car here. Everyone gets to that point eventually, or they decide to sell the northern house and stay here, constantly visiting "north" for holidays and grandkids birthdays and graduations. Then, the grandkids visit them here on spring break and use the boat and crash in the back room with friends. That, by the way, according to my completely scientific and unbiased research, is how we increase our population here. First, retired people come. Then the family visits, and then they follow the grandparents or parents and move here. Hardly any young single people come here for any other reason. So if you want more people living here, you should be nice to the spring-breakers. They spend lots of money at convenience stores and motels, and that is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us. Like excess beer trickles down a chin, I guess.

If you haven't sold your northern house yet, and intend to leave a car here and fly, be sure to follow our outline about how to prepare a car for storage over the summer. See the subject column online at .

Larry DeHays is the author of the book "The Car Care World", a compilation of his most popular columns. It is available now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble,, or at the DeHays Automotive office, 17617 Broadway Ave., Fort Myers Beach. He has been an ASE Certified Technician for 37 years and an arbitrator for the Florida Lemon Law for 16 years. For more information go to or



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