It’s really nice at Ft. De Soto, and I’m finally settling into my routine. That is, I don’t feel like I’m half-dead when I get off work anymore — whew! I still get a nap in almost daily, but I don’t actually have to. There are some things, though, that are not so nice, although they’re not deal breakers. Alligators running free in the park would be deal breakers, but these are not.
I was here before, for 3 nights, and it was a really good experience. Staying for several months is a bit different. There are no sewer hookups here, which is a small price to pay for paradise (albeit a steamy one), but I didn’t know how difficult it is to use as little water as possible. I like using water — for everything! And I didn’t realize how much I used, for just a couple of quick showers, dishes on a regular basis, tooth-brushing, hand washing, etc. I always watch my gauges for my holding tanks — both of which are 35 gallons — even though I hear from other RVers how notoriously unreliable they are.
So when my gray water gauge showed the tank was full, I assumed it wasn’t really — until the water backed up halfway into my bathtub/shower. . . (Note to self: when the gauge shows a full tank, believe it!) Fortunately, a couple of camp hosts generously offered to let me use their portable dumper (can’t remember what they’re actually called at the moment), which keeps me from having to retract my awning and slide, secure everything, and drive to the dump station to empty my tanks (not to mention backing back into the site).
Now, this portable tank holds 35 gallons and requires the user (i.e., me) to empty the tanks in my RV into it and then pull the portable tank to the dump station to get rid of its contents. Yes, it is just as messy as it sounds (at least when I do it). Remember, it holds 35 gallons, which means it’s extremely heavy when full. I wrestled with it for 30 minutes to get it filled, pulled to the golf cart and hooked up, and then driven to the dump station to dump it. The other issue is that my tanks are each 35 gallons, which means I can only empty half at a time of each. . . Well, the last time I dumped them, I tried to get them both emptied into the portable tank to save myself a trip, with disastrous consequences. Suffice it to say, that’s a chore that will take me some time to get used to (or not, as the case may be).
I now rarely take a shower in the RV, and I try to do dishes in a dishpan, which I sometimes empty into the bushes when I’m done. The restrooms here are fairly nice — not necessarily as clean as I would like, but nice. The showers are decent, with great water pressure, but sometimes you’re not alone in there. . . I took a shower once in the park restroom and after I got soaped up I happened to look behind me and there was a snake — not a big one, mind you, but a snake nonetheless. I think it was a baby. It was curled in the corner and I had just completely missed seeing it when I got into the shower. After my initial shock, since I was already soaped up I figured I’d just finish my shower and then report the snake to the rangers. Unfortunately, I also discovered that the shower was filling up with water, and the snake was now floating in my soap. Okay, shower over! I got out and dried off as quickly as I could, dressed, and went to the camp station to report the snake — along with the clogged drain in the shower. The next day, when I went back, the snake was gone, but the drain was still clogged.
The other issue I’m having is a problem with ants. Given the sandy nature of this park, it’s not really a surprise that there would be lots of ants. I started seeing them about a week after I got here, and they started getting progressively worse in the RV. I went to buy some ant poison, which didn’t appear to work fast enough, so I started spraying them with tub and tile cleaner (the spray variety, not the foaming kind). It worked just as well as the bleach counter top spray I used to use at my house, but the ants kept increasing in number. So I got out the heavy-duty ant and roach spray and started shooting them on the cabinets and the ceiling.
Finally, in desperation, I soaked a couple of cotton balls in tea tree oil and put them in the cabinets where the ants were concentrated. That actually worked, and I haven’t seen ants in my cabinets since. I consider it winning the battle, not necessarily the war. I am ever-vigilant for the next attack. Every once in a while one will show up in my bedroom — either on the wall, or on my arm (no idea how that happens). That has so far led to a couple of sleepless nights wherein I kept feeling things crawling on me and assumed they were ants. They weren’t (I turned the light on a couple of times to check). Unfortunately, this is either a sign of my overactive imagination, or encroaching paranoid schizophrenia (just kidding!). What a shame I can’t convert that into a career, huh?
The Good Stuff
Lest anyone think I only grouse, I wanted to include some pictures I’ve taken from time to time to show what the place is really like. This is only in the campground. There are two beaches, an old fort, and (I hear) a lighthouse on Fort De Soto proper, which is on the Gulf of Mexico, as well as on Tampa Bay.
This guy was laughing because the birds kept stealing the bait from his bucket. You rarely see a fisherman around here without a sidekick — either an egret or a heron — and the birds always get fed. This was on the Mullet Bay Bayou, where most of my pictures are taken, actually.
I just liked the shape of this tree, which is also on Mullet Bay Bayou. The views here are really spectacular. I was just cleaning a site one day and thought this would make a good picture.
This was taken from the entrance to the campground (around the camp store), and I loved the clouds that day. In fact, the clouds most days are amazing . . .
I have no idea what kind of tree this is, but I loved its filigreed look. This is also at the entrance to the campground.
This is another shot of morning on the Bayou. Love it! This is what I see before I head out for work. . .
I liked the clouds in this one, but I have to say that I like the look of the mornings around here better than the evenings. I’ll keep trying to get the quintessential sunset shot, and then I guess I’ll have to put them up for a vote. In the meantime, there’s another one out there right now! Gotta go!