Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Central Florida

We took a 90 minute walk all round the neighborhood after Rusty woke up. It might have been a tad shorter had I not overridden my dog, convinced I knew the way back and took him off in the wrong direction. After I failed to recognized any landmarks I meekly followed Rusty back to the van. My wife claimed she was awake. 
Van life used to be glamorized before the pandemic forced a lot of youngsters to think twice bout van travel on YouTube but for us old foges used to the vicissitudes of boat life waking up in a van is no big deal. Tooth brushing is pretty much as normal. In the limited privacy of a residential back alley wipes make for adequate shower substitutes. We chose not to install hot running water and a full shower on the principle that time spent in the wilderness would be good enough for outdoor solar showers heated by the sun or by our kettle. Our struggle to keep the van simple for travel to less developed places is an ongoing project. And our ideas are not at all suitable for people who like to spend most of their RV life in parks and campgrounds with full facilities.
The area around Coffeepot Bayou is pretty upmarket and as a result not only is the landscaping impressive but the homes vary wildly in style and decor, and not all of them are palaces by any means. However there are some splendid alleys where I like to walk Rusty with my camera.
Another reason I really like St Pete: an abundance of dog interesting alleys! Dale is not an early riser so we took ourselves off after our morning ablutions and headed to that quintessential symbol of civilization in any American city: Trader Joe's. I sat in the van with Rusty while Layne got in a masked line to shop, which is a rarity for her these days but Trader Joe's takes the pandemic seriously, lines masks and dividers for all. The line actually did move very rapidly and everyone complied according to my wife.
Our plan such as it was included a bit of boondocking, that is to say sleeping in the woods of the national forests of central and northern Florida plus a quick visit to the Custom Coach Creations factory to have our induction stove top looked at. The fan was not turning off whether Herself cooked on it or not and though it heated up just fine something was definitely wrong as the fan never turned off. Custom Coach Creations replaced it with an improved model, and rebuilt the countertop in two hours and sent us cheerfully on our way under warranty and free of charge. Amazing service always from that place. Highly recommended.
Florida Camping
As you can see the overnight spot was not the cleanest and though I left the piece of paper in the picture for effect I did not include the couch with mildew so thick it had grown leaves on the cushions and looked like watercress, nor did I photograph the skeleton of a deer, I think that was what it was, completely picked clean. The signs along the highway warning of bear activity got my wife looking at bear spray offers on Amazon. I laughed and got a glare in return. Rusty was cautious on the trail and crept along like a caricature of a hunting dog and in the end I was proved right. No one and nothing disturbed us, as unarmed as we were, and the night as black as pitch made the cabin all the more snug as we watched Netflix and listened to our exhausted dingo dog snore heavily from our bed. It was a quick overnight stop and free of charge with no neighbors and only the sounds of passing cars nearby on the highway for company. On our morning walk deeper into the forest I found a lovely glade that would have served us better but for a quick overnight this did the job just fine.
There are national forests in Florida suitable for boondocking but I'd rather we preserve the myth that the only places to camp in the wilderness are west of the Mississippi, though those places are a lot more picturesque than the pine scrub and sand of our modest and largely unknown National Forests in Florida and a few points further north.