Reaching the end of our first full day in florida. Weather here treats us weary northerners extremely well. We entered the state after a grueling nine hour drive; Atlanta to Tampa. Light to moderate showers bathed the little civic as I sped down I75 then onto 27 South as temperatures hit low 60’s. From peanut factories in southern Georgia and discovering the true meaning of strip malls in Ocala, what I envisioned as the beginnings of a thunderstorm turned into rampant sprinklers on the fritz. I lay my head dozing off onto the pillow in a suburb known as Palm Harbor.
The day swept by with whimsical photos of pelicans and teaching fourteen year olds how to properly maintain a bmx bike. Three years as a bike tech and eleven years spending thirty miles a day on a bicycle tend to not die when cries for help are heard from a nearby bike path. The boys were not only amazed by my knowledge and history of BMX, but also my skills with their bikes after eight years with out a bmx of my own. I found flattery in providing my drivers license as proof that I am indeed just recently thirty and not twenty-three. I must look damn good for my age and having missed a shower for the last two days.
First things we see in the morning haunt us the rest of the day. No batteries and the mug is still empty.
Today is bitter sweet at a glance and tragic and fun as my memory will provide in the days and weeks to come. Wandering the beach in Clearwater’s hotel island, cold and sand covered to the knees. It does get everywhere, indeed. I am as I might put it, stuck in 35mm hell for the coming week, or unless I can find a replacement for my now in operative Bronica, The Toaster. The first instance at the peanut factory, where the mirror mechanism initially bound, brought me to almost tears and screaming rage. After this morning, the shutter released and the last of the current roll finished out at the boat docks on the west side of town. The bmx-ers were dazzled with the age of my non video, film camera, in their words more or less. And tried to find solutions or ideas as I wrenched, greasily on a bound chain on one of the bikes. Three juvenile heads couldn’t unravel the mysterious broken innards of the chrome finished camera.
Eventually, the shutter unbound again. Off to the local camera shop, Lake Shore Camera Exchange, to pawn as much equipment as my bag would carry, including our house host’s dusty Nikon N75, donated to aid my cause, to attain a usable medium format camera. My film cost for the trip included a seventy-five percent ratio of 120 film. There is more money in medium format film than Nikon equipment in my collection of belongings. The attendant at the store, an older larger built, tall, gentleman, who claimed the bronica may have been one of the best optically constructed cameras showed me nothing aside from 35mm bodies priced at almost double to triple the tags seen daily at shops in New York or any larger midwest reseller. I longed for The Columbus Camera Groupback home. Sarah, Mike, our host, and I left slightly disconcerted with the high trade in prices offered for the cheap nikons and the refusal to buy a camera with such an outstanding reputation simply on the rational of Bronica’s retirement as a company a few years back.
A simple guide book provided by our hosts in Atlanta, to aid our navigation out of Georgia and allow us to stretch from time to time, taking a break from driving.The inside of the little Toaster on her last day in semi-working order. At the time of our visit to the camera shop in Florida, I was unaware she was actually broken.
I desperately searched the web for information, praying for any indication of the nature of the mechanical problem. The only real advice given in searches, “Buy a Hasssy”, one of those cameras of the same period as The Toaster, known for breaking under much less stress and costing a trans atlantic trip and half a grand to repair. A light found its lost way through the tunnel, KOH’s in upstate New York began popping up on Google. On Friday, I’ll attempt to pack the bronica to ship back to Dayton, OH, sitting with my one trunk in my parent’s attic, until I return and bite down on the $350 price tag and two month turn around on the repair bill.
While at the local camera shop, I was still unaware that the malfunction was anything other than user error. This is what I latter discovered. The mirror is locked down due to an issue with the gearing in the winding/cocking mechanism.
As of this writing, I’ve posted my plea in my Facebook account, with the reposting aid of my friend Robin, I currently plea for assistance in finding an inexpensive alternative to use as our adventure passes into the western states. On the table for consideration is anything able to shoot 120 and 220 film at any price point. Please, if possible, email me with any input or feed back. I do apologize as more articles are to follow in the next week. Right now, I sleep, adding a few days to consider how to end what may become a temporary, mandatory break from producing new content here.