Wednesday, August 17, 2016

They Call It: “The Suncoast”

Originally posted April 18, 2015

Still working to hone my travel plans to coincide with the budget I have planned for each monthly adventure, I left the Atlantic side of the Florida peninsula and drove to the Gulf side – which the locals refer to as “The Suncoast” – or in other words, Port Richey. As you open the local telephone directory, there are tons of businesses with name Suncoast this or that. Far be it for me to judge whether one side gets more sun than the other side, so I’ll just let that one go. Maybe they’re throwing-in more of the morning fog factor at one coast versus the other. Sorry, .. no clues for you. It was wintertime when I arrived, so we were bound to get some bad weather sooner or later. We did, but not nearly as bad as up North.

Resort Entrance, early next morning. I had lots to do the night before (in the rain), getting settled-in.
As I arrived in the area of the campground, it was quite cloudy as I recall. In fact, I drove right by the entrance way twice. Frustrated, I phoned the office and was told to look for the bright orange sign and turn-in there. I got back onto the highway, turned north again – finally, I saw the sign. How could I have missed that? So, you should know that in Florida, U-Turns are legal – so legal, in fact, that they make provisions for them as a special “turn lane”. I found my lane and did the turn – my first U-Turn pulling a trailer. THAT was interesting, but uneventful. Once you hook them up, those trailers will just follow you anywhere.

The Resort Office and Rec Room/Library. The well-maintained and heated pool are around back.
I followed the access road, stopped at the speed-bump and proceeded slowly, with caution. I stopped just short of the stop sign, shut down and went inside. The folks there were very friendly, were glad I found them – in spite of their very large sign that I missed twice already. They found me a place and escorted me around to it the best way so that I could more easily negotiate backing-in and positioning myself to the concrete patio pad. It had started to rain a bit, but he was very patient with my ineptitude and lack of experience in backing-up a trailer.

Although I made reservations, I got crammed-in here.
Before I could drag out my Nikon, I took this shot with my cell phone. Later, I would do my walkabout photo safari.

I decided to get it set-up, stabilized, utilities connected and car parked, before I let down the awning. I could do that in the morning. Morning came – bright and shiny – sunny and warm. I think today will be a good day. I shot a few photos with my cell phone to upload to Facebook – let my friends know I arrived all right and to, essentially, make them jealous in the north. This was in mid-January and you might well remember the Winter of 2014-15 as snowy, cold and downright miserable.

On my first morning walkabout, I shot this scene behind the clubhouse, the pool and party room off to the right.
Shuffleboard and horseshoe areas are in the foreground. Where I'm carefully standing to get this shot, is the doggie-do-do area - complete with plastic bag dispensers.

I didn’t start getting “hate mail” (the kidding type) until I started posting photos of me either at the beach or by the pool, getting some sun and enjoying the heated waters of the pool. I had a few supporters – reminding me to follow my dreams. I must admit that I had only a few nightmares along the way – mostly after watching TV on rainy days.

Born in "Cancer", the crab, I gravitate to water - everywhere. Spent some quality time here, for sure.
Hey look! Here I am now!
I also like to check-out other folks’ campsites for ideas to improve my own – or at least make it more comfortable. Lots of people put out those outdoor area rugs, but I’m against those as they kill the grass underneath them. They also harbor more insects. I don’t feel bad about fogging the ground with insect spray, but fogging an outdoor rug and then rolling it up and storing it inside the camper for the next trip, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with doing. I did eventually buy a $5 corn broom to sweep the patio occasionally.

It was a lovely evening and I decided on a light & simple cookout - Brats & chips and Heineken in cans.
That morning was spent at the local grocery store, stocking-up on supplies. Later in the afternoon, I’d travel down to New Port Richey to visit Camping World and pick-up a few things like a wine glass rack – its so hard to stack those wine glasses in the cupboards just right and they’re never handy that way. I also wanted to get some colored patio light to go around my awning. I’d seen so many of those in catalogs and thought it would be nice to sit outside, under the awning and throw a little colored light in the nighttime darkness. As luck would have it, Camping World was having a sale at $10 off PLUS my Good Sam discount. While I was there, I got a couple of little screw-in-the-ground things that will hold my awning down at the corners. I’ve had issues with the wind in the past. Today? Problem solved.

I liked the colors and all, but the light output was no better than Christmas Tree lights. I shouldn’t have expected so much and I wouldn’t have been so disappointed. This is WITH the camper’s 12 volt porch light on, too.

So, I got my new camper modifications done and set my folding lawn chairs outside and prepared for a quiet evening listening to crickets sing and the quietness of camping – except for a few things. The bugs “affectionately” known as no-see-ums .. (you can guess why) were biting my legs like crazy. Citronella candles and mosquito repellent they just laugh at and fly around. I got the insect fogger out and sprayed around the entire patio. I used the whole can .. $15.00 worth. I was safe now, but for how long? It didn’t matter because the effects of their bites are somewhat delayed. Within an hour, my legs were on fire with itching. I had to do something fast or go insane.

Well, you can forget alcohol, apple cider vinegar or soap and water – each and all were totally ineffective at stopping the itch. However, Calamine lotion stopped the itching. I didn’t just dab it on with a cotton ball, either. I poured it down my leg, smoothed it around to cover every bite, then did the same on the other leg. It worked. I may have had pink legs, but I was still sane. Still, you have to watch those little bastards because they follow you inside and bite you some more while you sleep. Nightmares? Yeah, of getting eaten alive by tiny creatures smaller than gnats. In my very best W.C. Fields voice, “It was a very painful experience.” Without asking another camper, I knew why people didn’t bother to sit outside under their awnings on nice evenings. It wouldn’t be long that I would learn how to hunt them down inside my camper.

That’s it for now. Still ahead, Green Key Beach, the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks and the short Squirrel Buddy episode.

Happy Trails. C-ya.


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