Travel Diary
December 15, 2002
Ocala, FL

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Ocala is about 100 miles north of Tampa. That was a good place to be when we got in to town, as we missed most of the rain and thunderstorms that blew through areas south of us. And we've been fairly busy here...

Most importantly, while we were here we received, signed and returned the final paperwork to sell our house in Kirkland. It was strange and wonderful that the campground has a woman in the office who was a notary, so it was quick and easy to take care of this transaction.

Along the way, we picked up a copy of "Watch It Made in the U.S.A." It's a neat book that lists factory tours around the country. Ocala has a wonderful tour at E-ONE where we got to see how fire trucks are made.

E-ONE headquarters

E-ONE was started in 1974 by an entrepreneurial welder who was asked by a neighbor to convert a pickup truck into a fire truck by a local farmer. 23 year later, E-ONE sells trucks all over the world. We saw trucks that were on their way to Saudi Arabia, and we saw pictures of a truck built for Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. They make fire trucks of all sizes, from small rescue trucks and mobile command centers, to mega-sized fire trucks for airports like in the photo above.

It was a great tour because E-ONE can make almost every part of the truck except the motor and the water pump. We saw areas where chassis were made, where the cab was assembled, and where the rear fire-fighting area was assembled. We also got to see the various sections get put together into a completed truck.

This is a truck designed for a bomb squad. It will tow a trailer, and be equipped with a robot that can be operated from this truck.

Bomb squad truck

We also saw an articulated snorkel truck that can extend almost 120 feet. With the articulated arm, it can also be lowered over the edge of bridges or cliffs.

Pete's favorite part of the tour was getting to sit in the rear-driver's seat of a hook and ladder truck. This will likely be as close as he'll get to actually driving the rear-part of a hook and ladder which is something he's wanted to do since he was little.

Pete in a hook and ladder truck

Finally, we had an excellent meal at an Italian restaurant called Bella Luna. No pictures, which is a shame. Pete had a side of their blue risotto. This is a simple risotto seasoned with a bit of Blue Curacao liquor. It really was a vibrant shade of blue -- and it tasted great too.

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