With the onset of summer, Florida campers face new challenges. Mainly, how to stay dry. If you’re not wet from the rain, you’re soaked with sweat. And you stay that way until October. Summer came early this year.
I joined my husband Herb, and our dog, Buddy, for our last scheduled trip of the season. In case you’ve just started following my blog, we’re a retired couple who aim to camp in every Florida State Park. On May 30 we embarked for Little Talbot Island State Park, located north of Jacksonville.
While we were driving I called my mom. “I know rain is in the forecast, but don’t worry about us,” I boasted. “We’re professional campers now. After all, this is our fourteenth trip in the Viking.”
“I hope you have rain gear,” she responded. Mothers are always mothers, even if their children are sixty. The funny thing is…many times they are right.
We arrived at our Little Talbot campsite in the pouring rain. Suddenly I had an ominous feeling. I felt like we were making a mistake. I slipped on my rain jacket, and stepped out of the car. Mosquitos swarmed around my head and hands. Yikes! It was only two in the afternoon. What would these blood suckers be like in the evening?
After dousing ourselves with bug spray, we decided to walk Buddy around the campground for his initial inspection. Maybe we would find a site with less vegetation, more open to the light…maybe there would be some place with less mosquitos.
We came upon a site that looked better. One side had no trees. I took a closer look. What’s out there? I wondered. “Oh, it’s wetland. Great, we’d be right next to where the mosquitos breed. A literal ground zero.”
After our ten minute walk with Buddy, we returned to our trailer to reassess our situation. We were shocked to see water rising around the Viking. While were away, two inches of rain had accumulated. Time to set sail, just like the Vikings in days of old. This was our adventure to unknown parts. Fortunately we had not yet dropped anchor–the Viking was still hitched to the car.
We drove over to the ranger station and informed the ranger of our decision to leave. He kindly refunded our money. By this time it was after three. What should we do now? Drive all the way back to Orlando? The reality of unpacking everything wasn’t very appealing. Herb suggested camping at Anastasia near St. Augustine. I agreed. We could make it to Anastasia by four-thirty.
But Anastasia had it’s own drawback. I thought about our recent trip in April. “Remember our friends, Donna and Geren? They had a terrible time with raccoons. We’ll need to keep a close watch on Buddy.”
I called Anastasia to see if they had any sites available. A lady answered the phone, “I wouldn’t recommend coming here,” she said. “A lot of our sites are flooded.”
A wave of dread washed over me. I regretted my boasting. I no longer felt like such a professional. We had already been driving since ten this morning and had no where to go.
“What about Blue Spring?” I asked Herb. “Can I at least call them?”
At this point Herb was ready to head home, but he relented. “OK.”
After a short conversation with the ranger at Blue Spring, we learned they did have sites, and none were flooded. However, we must arrive before the park office closed at eight.
We made it at seven fifteen. We had driven over 350 miles to get to a state park located forty miles from our home. Was it worth it? A picture is worth a thousand words.
This is part one of a two part series. Stay tuned for the Blue Spring experience. Until next time…