On Monday March 2nd 2015 I got in my 2007 Town and Country van and headed to Florida. It was the 47th day that it hadn’t reached 32 degrees [maybe there was one fluke ‘warm day’ in there but this is my story]. I preregistered a saltwater license for $49 and reserved 3 days at St. Joseph’s bay state park for $80. I left at 2:PM because I didn’t want to miss the senior lunch and had some chores. Two nights in cheap roadside motels and the third night at Alabama’s Lakepoint Resort State Park –which was excellent. I got to St. Joe’s on March 5th and spent 2 nights in the Shady Pines camping loop. On the third day I moved to an “un-reservable” campsite where I spent 3 more nights. I could have extended the stay for 14 days. On March 10th I went to Apalachicola for lunch and a walk around the village then headed home. In the neighborhoods a reasonable home sold for about $120K, the village was nice but the restaurant I went to only served Alaskan fish.
So I camped in the van for 6 nights-very easy. The low was about 40 degrees and the highs were in the 70’s. The fishing was great but the catching stunk out; 5 days and 2 whitings [“the waters haven’t warmed up like they should’ve by now”]. I’d hoped to catch enough to invite neighbor camps over or, get them to cook them. My only peril while camping was that one morning a pest had rummaged around on my picnic table and a nearly full, closed, glass, peanut butter jar was missing; I pictured a raccoon rolling it down the road wondering how he’d open it. Oh yes, my air mattress quit holding air on the 4th night.
Gas ranged from $2.19 to 2.59/ga, the van got a steady 24 miles per gallon and the rooms averaged about $65/nite. I ate out about 4 times; BBQ on the peninsula, breakfast in Eufaula AL near Lakepoint Park, the only grits I got all week.
Chain restaurants and HUGE in the south and it has gotten very hard to find a real place within 20 miles of the interstate. Cracker Barrel, Dollar Stores and Comfort Inns, are all you see. I wanted a Yelp add-in that filtered out the chains but I fear the result would be an empty map.
On Friday morning, the 6th, with the sun rising and the full moon setting, at 5:30 AM I spread Vincent’s ashes on the pure white sands between the dunes and the break. In his words I “took the wheels off the van and ‘he’ stayed there”. It was a good closure.
Every day I wore shorts, walked a lot and fished and talked to the other campers-everyone getting a break from a long winter. The campground host, his wife and their dog, got his gigs from Campgroundhost.com and stayed 2 – 4 weeks in each camp, he was scheduled to head west and north through the spring and summer; lots of ways to go through life. They worked 15-20/per week cleaning the restrooms in exchange for the site which ran $198/week.
The spring break crowd hadn’t yet arrived except for 3 girls next to me who, on the coldest morning were sleeping in their very small car with the motor running. ‘Camping just isn’t the spring break they’d planned’.
It was a great break from winter but got a little too quiet. It’d be a gob more fun with Lisa there but someone has to work. The whole trip cost me just under $1500 and I would do it again next year.