|RV trip reports resume
||[Mar. 7th, 2010|09:56 pm]
I’m sorry for the long lapse in posts for those folks who are following our adventures in RVing! It’s been quite a while, but I plan to buckle down to writing up our travels and get caught up to date this week.
When last we left the tale, in mid-January, we were camping on Sanibel Island, dividing our time between the island and Fort Myers, visiting my aunt and uncle. We only had a short time on Sanibel, as it’s a very popular resort area. From there, we went to a KOA on nearby Pine Island for the weekend. The campgrounds in this area were all pretty much packed, and we had to piece together the trip with a few days here and a few days there until we got further north. The KOA was eh... The first site they tried to give us was a grassy knoll that backed onto a small pond. It wasn’t the grass that was the problem, nor the short site, but the fact that the hookups were precisely backward for our rig. We would have needed 40 feet of sewer hose snaking over the site to use the sewer, and water and electric connections were no better. We drove back out of the back end of the campground and told them the site was unusable, and they gave us a different, nicer site with proper hookups. The spaces were tight, but that’s typical of most KOA’s.
Pine Island is the rural cousin to Sanibel. It actually sits between Sanibel and the mainland and is largely agricultural, lots of palms grown here for transplant. Over the weekend we went touring with my aunt and uncle. It was still really cold; they took us out to a local power plant, where the city has made a small park near the water outlet. Manatees flock there in weather like this for the warmer water. They’re so dependent on these warm water outflows that when the local plant wanted to improve their operations and lower pollution by outputting less waste water, environmentalists protested because of the loss of shelter for the manatees and the company was forced (or decided) not to upgrade. I can just see the faces around the boardroom table: “Wait, you mean they’re picketing us for planning to reduce pollution??”
The manatees did not disappoint. In one sheltered cove, I counted 24 big gray backs floating in the tea-colored water. And that was only the ones I could see clearly, floating at the surface. You could just make out many more dim shapes underneath them. All told, there must have been at least 80 in the creek. I don’t know what it is about sea mammals but I found them fascinating.
On Sunday we packed up and moved 174 miles to Thonotosassa, FL, to Hillsborough River State Park. It’s a beautiful park, though getting into our site was interesting. Trees on either side of both the site and the (narrow, winding) road through the campground meant that we used half of our neighbor’s driveway across the way in order to get parked, and we were glad they weren’t home to see how close we had to get to their rig!
Hillsborough’s main advantage for us is that it is less than ten miles from my other Uncle Dave in Florida (yes, I regularly confuse my relatives up north with who I am seeing when – there’s an Uncle Dave down here from either side of my family.) We spent several days there visiting with them and had a great time! They took us around to the local sights and we got to see what I think of as the “old Florida” tourist stops and sights on the old roads before the freeways went in. We went to a fruit stand famous for its strawberry shortcake, which was really delicious. The picnic-tabled dining room had a giant strawberry throne complete with props, so that you could get pictures of yourselves as strawberry kings and queens, and a big US map with pins to mark where you were visiting from. We drove over to Tarpon Springs, famous for its sponge diving and its Greek community, for gyros and touristy shopping in stores jam packed with sponges. I never knew there were so many kinds of sponges!