This space has been getting very here’s-what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation with blow-by-blow photos and text, so I’m committing to writing every day, even if only for a little bit, because I inevitably end up losing something in translation. By the time I get to the point of writing a post the shiny has worn off or I forget important details. I’m also forced to write in the past or switch up tenses in the middle of a paragraph, which is confusing and annoying. Let’s see how I do for the next couple of weeks since I’m very definitely writing this from a campground in northern Georgia, but will likely not post a word of it for several days.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I wrote the paragraph above 4 campgrounds and nearly one full stay with friends ago, and I have not revisited my laptop once since then, except to upload photos. Partially it is a need for a break, but mostly because that was a too-lofty goal with a less than simple plan for execution. Still working on this one...I'm sure I'll get there eventually.
So here you are, another post in which I'm reaching back through days of memory to give you some sense of place, but just end up reporting on my sleeping habits and the state of the bathrooms everywhere. Thrilling!
I spent three nights in KOA campgrounds, making my way south down the Gulf Coast, still avoiding the aftermath of the hurricane. KOAs are sort of like the big box version of camping. They're all over the place, membership gets you perks, they're convenient to the highway (by which I mean near truck stops and sometimes quite loud), and generally offer the same amenities at each place. They're used a lot by people who travel in RVs and don't hear the ambient noise. There are always a few tent sites available, though not always in the best spot - RVs take priority at these places. I moved from Cordele, GA to Wildwood, FL to St. James City, FL (Pine Island). The quality of the campground facilities improved immensely as I moved south.
I was glad to get out of Cordele. Though I spent the night in one of the Kamping Kabins and had a relatively peaceful night of sleep, the bathrooms were abysmal. I'm not worried about germs, but I really don't like mold or dirt in a bathroom. This one had everything, plus a weird smell. Also off-putting was the gigantic pornography mega-store on the other side of the highway. Time to move on!
Florida welcomes you with a smile and a glass of fresh orange juice at the visitor center. I accepted and spent some time perusing the brochure racks for camping resources.
I got to Wildwood by early afternoon and had all of the tent sites to myself. My site was a gravel pad under the shade of two huge live oaks, complete with fire ants. Luckily I only got chewed on once and settled in to spend the afternoon reading and repacking my car yet again.
This particular KOA was right next door to a truck stop, which was busy all night long. I think I'm starting to adjust somewhat, though, because I don't remember being bothered by it all that much. Progress!
Night three found me on Pine Island in St. James City. This KOA is far off the beaten path and well worth a visit. It was quiet, clean, and peaceful. The facilities were all great, especially the clubhouse where I spent the afternoon in air conditioned comfort, charging batteries, working on writing, and doing a little bit of yoga.
Pine Island is mostly inhabited by snow birds or locals who live in modified trailers or campers. My next door neighbor was from Kentucky; I made the mistake of mentioning snakes to him and he told me how snakes always get into the pool and that they found a gigantic, nasty tempered snake in the bathrooms recently. I have got to stop mentioning this fear. Nobody can help themselves, they just blurt out the very worst thing they can. My inability to stop telling people is like some sort of weird aversion therapy I've subconsciously created for myself. I was too much of a weenie to go walking in the local preserve, but I think I'll try again when I'm back in the area in a few days.
There were ducks in the pond (and an alligator - I saw its little snout sticking up and gliding along) and birds everywhere.
For whatever reason I spent most of the night reading instead of sleeping, so I got up early and packed my tent, sneaking out of the place when most folks were still asleep. Miami and a few days of rest were awaiting me, and after three days of being on the move and sleeping on the ground, I could not have been more ready.