Now that our irrigation system is working, we can leave the house without our vegetable garden wilting away in the sunshine and heat. Why not take a trip in the camper?
We tried to get over to St. Petersburg for First Night in January, but I got sick and we never made it. Good thing too, because we may have lost the Airstream! See this post. I’ve always heard stories about the area, so I was curious to visit.
I found the Myakka State Forest, an 8593-acre tract near Venice, Florida during a search on the web for low cost or free camping in Florida. It’s ‘high season’ right now, the time when a zillion snowbirds come in their RV’s from the north country and the RV parks are jammed to capacity. Playing shuffleboard and swimming in a pool with 150 other ‘close’ friends at a $70/night campground is not my idea of a good time. I knew there were low- to no-cost sites available, so I decided to look around on the web. I’m glad I did!
For those of you who don’t know what ‘boondocking’ is, it’s ‘off the grid’ camping. Our Airstream has a 100-watt solar panel and 2 large golf cart batteries, which gather and store power enough for us to have fans, lights, water and even music or TV at night (if we want them). Of course, we don’t have enough power for the air conditioner and if it’s not sunny, we need to be more careful with power . Our refrigerator and stove both run on propane. Rob can even work from the road if we have a good internet signal.
What more do you need?
So we filled up our water tank, packed a few groceries, linens and clothes, loaded the dogs into the truck and headed across the state.
I read on the internet that the park was undergoing improvements and that limited sites were available at $15/night. When we got there, we found only 4 other campers, including the host. We drove in, found our site and fell instantly in love with the beauty of the area.
Soon we had the awnings out, stabilizers down, kitchen set up and our bed made. It was time for some fun. Trails from the campground lead deep into the state forest. We hopped on our bikes and let the dogs lead us on an adventure.
We found areas where the Forest Service had conducted controlled burns to reduce the fire risk. These areas regenerate very quickly and are essential to a healthy forest. Within weeks, it’s difficult to tell there was a burn because the palmetto and grasses grow so fast here.
Much of the ride was through palmetto and pine wilderness that just went on and on. It was so quiet–A mild breeze rustling the trees, bird calls and an occasional startled rustle in the palmettos were the only sounds you could hear.
When we return to the trailer, I make a simple dinner–salad from the garden with corned beef on top in honor of St. Patricks Day. Rob’s been reading Bill Bryson’s ‘The Road to Little Dribbling‘ aloud at night as we settle down, a series of short funny vignettes about living as an American in Britain. The dogs find their beds and snuggle in for the night. We fall asleep to the distinct call of a Chuck Wills Widow outside our window.
It’s cozy here in our little house in the wilderness.
In case you’re interested, here is a link to the Myakka State Forest.
We also understand the Myakka River State Park is a great place to stay. Reservations are required here, and it sounds as though it books up early.