Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Camping In The Age Of The Virus: Part 2

Somehow I managed to convince my wife to go along with my idea of camping in the middle of summer in the most virus-ridden place in the world...good idea? She kept asking how badly I wanted to do this, but I stayed the course and eventually the time came that we were actually driving down the road, the van loaded to the roof with my sports gear and the Bambi was right behind us.
It was a Sunday, in this strange time we were going through, tourism was down because of the pandemic. This meant the notorious stretch of highway that runs through Orlando and down to Tampa was less than half filled with vehicles frantically trying to see who could get to their destination first. Normally it was a race between souped up little foreign sedans and large pickup trucks with giant tires and loud exhaust pipes. Our big black van and the pill-shaped camper that much looked some kind of overweight airplane minus it's wings, served merely as a large rock in the river of traffic and most cars that ducked right in front of us, gave enough room that I could stop if I had to.
I was driving slightly under the speed limit for two reasons: 1) I had a long history of things going wrong while pulling trailers, going back to when I was 18 years old and my Dad had me driving our large family Oldsmobile while pulling a 31' Airstream trailer down the freeway in Minnesota. The car broke down while I was driving and we were stuck for days while the repair shop tried to fix the car...and that was the not the end of my troubles with trailers. 2) Our beloved van was not known for sipping gasoline. With all of the electronics built in, there was not one way to determine your average gas mileage...but I added a device that could do it, and I was hoping to find out how well I could do if I drove carefully, i.e., keeping it at 65 mph.

The drive to St. Petersburg, Florida was peaceful, which is not something one can often say about any trip in the state. In less time than I had planned, we were looking at the entrance to the Fort DeSoto Campground. We bounced down an old sandy road to find our designated spot and it was wonderful. We had trees, a great view of the water, and I had backed the trailer in right on the first attempt...well almost the first time, and my wife gave me plenty of encouragement until I got it least all of the neighbors didn't drop by to watch the spectacle.

Setting up your camper is something that must be learned, just like putting a boat in the water at the ramp. The whole time you are trying to getting everything done, you just know some old geezer is sitting back in a rocking chair laughing at the city slicker that 'don't know how it's done'. Actually, I've been around this stuff all of my life, but it was mostly my Dad that enjoyed deploying all of the gizmos on the RV, while the rest of us got out of the way. I was doing my best not to be the local source of entertainment, while Pam pulled out a good book to read and sweetly asked how long it would be before I had the air conditioner running. We had a really nice spot or 'pitch' as the Scots would call it. It was level, had a beautiful view of the water, and plenty of shade from trees. The trip was shaping up into something much better than I could imagine and all I had left to do was pull out the paddleboard and grab a fishing pole. It was then I noticed the little red card taped to the electrical pole. It said that we had the spot for tonight only. Wait a minute, I was certain that I had booked 2 nights, and after driving all this way and hooking all of this stuff up, I'd better have more than that! There's no way I could have made a mistake on their website, but it did seem awfully cheap...I was thinking it was a senior discount, but the doubt was creeping in. It was almost impossible to get 2 nights in a row here, but I had done it...or had I?

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