Delayed two days since there was no internet connection in the woods at the Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland, FL.
Today, August 5, is the first time in about 68 years that I’ve spent a night in a tent. I LIKE it.
I spent a very peaceful night at the Houlihan Boat Ramp on the Savannah River as noted in the previous blog post. I had arrive there in the middle of the afternoon and simply hung around reading a Kindle book. I went into the nearby town of Wentworth, South Carolina, and found a Chinese restaurant. Wanted something bland for supper because my duodenal ulcer has been acting up giving me heartburn in the middle of the night. I returned to the boat ramp after dark. No one else was around. talked to a new acquaintance of the female persuasion for about an hour on the phone and then turned in. Didn’t wake up until almost 7 which is unusual for me.
Threw a lot of stuff in the trash. When I’m on the road and munching on junk food I simply throw the wrappers on the floor between where the Bluetti lives and the fridge. I DON’T throw crap out the window. One of the things that distressed me when I lived in Panama, and there were only a couple, but the worst is that the people treat their beautiful country with it’s glorious mountains and sea coasts on the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean like one gigantic trash can. You absolutely don’t want to see how much trash, like pop bottles and those sacs that you stick straws into, cover the area around casettas…covered bus stops.
When you mention it to them, Panamanians agree it’s horrible and then get quite defensive. “Is it better in the United States?” they’ll ask. And my answer alway was, “Yes it it. But once upon a time, when I was a kid, we had a similar problem. The President Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird, got on a big tear and things changed. It didn’t happen over night. It took an entire generation to change their way of thinking about the environment they lived in. One thing that helped was there is a deposit of 5 to 10 cents on every soda bottle. You don’t see them lying around on the ground in the states. To poor people and kids they’re like money found in the street. The same thing needs to happen here. But it will be your grandchildren who benefit.”
Anyway, I left the ramp and headed in a westerly direction looking for a McDoo Doo’s. I won’t eat their meat, but I do like their pancakes and coffee for breakfast. And it gives me time to look at maps and figure out where to go next. I try and keep the distances down to a couple of hundred miles a day. About five hours driving time on the back roads. I’m not into the marathon road trips any more. I’ve been thinking about going and visiting some of the places I stopped at when I was taking my boat trip four years back. Like Panacea where I was brought in by Coast Guard-dispatch when I had total kidney shut down caused by severe dehydration. Or Suwannee. Maybe go over to Apalachicola famous for oysters and spend a couple of days pigging out on seafood. While my coffee was cooling down to a drinkable temperature, I perused an app called iOverlander. I specified both established campsites as well as free places like Cracker Barrels and Walmarts. Not having has a shower since New Jersey I’m getting a little rank so I searched for an “established” site and settled on Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland, FL. Made a reservation on line for Thursday but since the site is reserved for Friday I grabbed the spot just across the street for the second night. The sites are $20/night with electricity and water, but with taxes and “fees” it rounds out to a hair over $25 which is still a bargain considering that a cheap, gungy motel will set you back close to $70.
While I was getting things set up for camping in the SUV I also bought camping gear, too. I bought an Coleman “Instant Tent.” It’s a “six-person” tent. Well, sitting in it as I write this they’d be six very little persons. My brother says it takes him about two minutes to set it up. This was my very first try and it took me six or seven minutes and left me seriously panting for breath. Never the less, it IS easy to set up and I’m sure with a little practice I can cut the time in half.
I also bought a Coleman folding table at my brother Marks suggestion and a Coleman camp chair. I slept for several years on an Intex twin size air mattress and sprung for one of those, too. They’re under $10 at Wally World. I have the electric air pump to inflate it and the Bluetti takes care of the power. I have two pumps, actually. One is a 110-volter and the other is a 12 volt cigarette adapter power source. The Bluetti handles either one.
Just after throwing stuff in the dumpster and a quart of transmission fluid in the beast it started to rain. It rained from light drizzle to downpour all day long. Just as I pulled into the state park I caught a break and the rain stopped for a short time. Time for me to get mostly settled, that is. While my brother says he can get the tent erected in about two minutes, this was my first try. It took me, maybe, five minutes.
I managed to get the table, chair, Bluetti, and the USB fan into the tent just as it started to rain again. This time it poured for about an hour.
As I was sitting, looking out the tent door at the woods around me I spotted this deer, just as she spotted me.
So far I’ve avoided paying for places to sleep what with Cracker Barrels, Boat Ramps, Family and Friends. But I think I’m going to be doing more of this camping thing at places with showers. Try and do it once every 10 days or so.
Slept ’til almost 7 then dug out the Gas One single-burner stove and the 11 lb tank and made myself a steaming mug of espresso. The sun is out this morning but it sounds like there’s thunder off in the distance. Without a wifi signal I can’t check the weather.
I have to re-register at 10. Check-out time is 1 and check-in time is 3. So I’ll use those two hours to hang around down by the manatee food concession where the map they gave me shows there’s wifi.
I have to change campsites later in the day. Right now I’m watching the couple who are occupying it break their camp down. They have a small trailer pulled by a Jeep. Not looking forward to breaking this mess down and setting it up again in a few hours and then striking it tomorrow. Will make Saturday’s run a short one. Look for a Cracker Barrel over around Apalachicola perhaps.
Heavy rain most of day. Had struck tent and decided to just sleep in the SUV instead.