~Sunday, March 5, 2023~
Day 995 (Travel Day)
Check-out time at Long Pine Key Campground……10:00 a.m., quite early considering most checkouts are noon. Maybe it’s because of all the lawn mowing they have to do. The dump station only had 2 people in front of us and the line moved quickly. By 10:30, we were on the road making our way north to Dupuis Family Campground in Indiantown, Florida, near Lake Okeechobee. Most of the Everglade water comes from Lake Okeechobee, where without it, there’d be no such thing as The Everglades, so we look forward to checking out this vital source. After Dupuis, we oddly enough, head back SOUTH to the Florida Keys, the direction we are coming from today. So what’s the reasoning behind that? Well, it’s not easy trying to book campgrounds in Florida, let alone The Keys for those long winter months when everyone wants to be here. We tried to make a more sensible route, but sometimes you’re at the mercy of what and when things are available. And interestingly enough, the remainder of our campgrounds aside from 1 in North Carolina, will all be new for us which is always exciting.
Along our drive, we saw a few interesting scenes…..the first, an older couple, with their rig seemingly jack knifed on the side of the road. Luckily, a CHP was already there to help save the day! The couple seemed to be o.k., though we’re not sure if the trailer was. The second interesting segment was passing the Palm Beach Florida landfill. Since we’re basically at sea level with everything as flat as a pancake, anything that looks remotely like a hill, stands out. They nickname this hill “Mount Trashmore” which is over 20 stories tall (200 feet). By 2035, officials estimate it will reach full capacity. But if hurricanes like Irma continue to sweep through at a record pace, it could fill up in half that time. Crazy!!
Once we arrived to Dupuis, we naturally went into the first entrance we saw….Gate #1. Wrong! Luckily there was plenty of space to turn around. Maybe it would help if I read the confirmation email explaining the campground details. There are 4 entry gates to this multi-use natural area about a few miles apart, which indicates its size. It must be huge. Ah….gate #3 was it! We’re staying at the Equestrian Campground but in a non-equestrian camping area (hoping to spot a few galloping friends). No wonder there’s plenty of room for horses. In the nearby town of Indiantown, it has one of the top thoroughbred horse racing facilities in the U.S., named Payson Park. 🐎
Instructions were to check in with the campground host upon our arrival. Not the warmest hostess, but her husband made up for that. They run a tight, but loosely run ship if that makes sense. Basically use your judgment and don’t do anything stupid. Just what we like. I guess that means our ultra friendly Sadie doesn’t need to be leashed at all times. 👏Towards the back of the 23-site campground, were all the shaded offerings, all with no hookups. With the hot, Florida sun filtering through the pines, we’d get plenty of sun regardless, allowing the solar panels to do their job. The campground looks like one big grassy park, somewhat undeveloped with only a numbered post and a fire ring defining each site. Looking back to when we first booked this campground, I remember it being quite a challenge to book it. First of all, we couldn’t get a hold of anyone, and second of all, we started the process way too early, thinking we had to jump on bookings just like everything else in Florida (at least 11 months in advance). This campground booking window doesn’t begin until late September for the following winter. Another hoop was obtaining a special use permit which doesn’t sound all that challenging, but it was. They definitely make you work for it, maybe weeding out the non-serious people. So now of course, you’re probably asking, “What is so great about Dupuis?” Since we knew we had a large chunk of time in Florida, we wanted to mix things up a little bit from being in range of a lot of activities, to some, much more remote. Dupuis is the latter. Since we enjoy getting off the beaten path once in a while, actually preferring boondocking, Dupuis fit the bill. And it’s free, a rare thing in Florida where most campgrounds come with a hefty price tag. Dupuis’ 21,875-acre wildlife management area is brimming with birds, alligators, boar, scenic wetlands, cypress forests and pinewood prairies, so we hope our nice, shady campsite stays cool enough for Sadie while we explore the area. There is evidently a scenic drive through the park, so she’ll be able to at least join us on that. Prior to District acquisition of the property in 1986, it was a ranch for goats, sheep and cattle. Since then, 6,500 acres of wetlands have been restored plugging old drainage ditches and reconnecting proper water flows.
Beginning our setup, the air conditioner couldn’t be fired up soon enough. Shockingly, generator hours that allow us to fire that puppy up are allowed until 11:00…..that’s 11:00 P.M. folks. A little too much latitude don’t ‘ya think? Especially if you’re running a construction generator. Crossing our fingers that we have ONLY considerate neighbors who don’t max out their generator time. Our 4-day stay warranted a full outdoor setup…..bug tent, outdoor grill, fun lights, etc. I wanted to make a trip to the store before dark, but luckily before I left, I knew to add water to the list. Jeff had gone to fill up our collapsible water bottles since we hadn’t filled up the tank on our way in. And it’s actually good that we didn’t, otherwise we wouldn’t have seen how scary the water looked as if someone had peed in it.
I don’t think we’d seen our water look this bad anytime before. Not taking any chances, (8) water bottles were added to my list. We’ll use the campground water only for dishes and showers and the bottled water for cooking and drinking. But this spawned a serious topic…….our drinking water. Having had some questionable water on our travels, we’ve had numerous discussions about stepping up our game in improving our water quality, considering purchasing a Clear Source water system, instead of using our Brita. But we kept putting it off due to the expense (about $500 buck-a-roos), hopeful that our sources wouldn’t be questionable. Well, they are. In hindsight, it should have been one of the first things we purchased for the trailer, especially being on the road this long. And we’re not alone. We’ve been reading about other RVer’s purchasing these systems for years, so we’ve decided to jump
on the bandwagon. What’s the price of our health, right? You’re probably wondering though, why would we invest in something like this as we wind down our full-time travel? With lots of RV years ahead of us, we still plan on lots of weekend or month long getaways in the future, so it definitely will not just sit in a box. Better late than never I guess.
As I mentioned earlier, the closest town to Dupuis is the small, quiet village of Indiantown (about 9 miles away). We would later find out that Indiantown was originally established by the Seminole people as a trading post. Fascinating! I could tell the minute I arrived at Rine's Market, the pickings would be slim. In any case, I managed to find 75% of what was on my
list including firewood at $3.00 PER PIECE and the much sought after gallon-sized jugs of bottled water! 💧Rest assured, I didn’t buy the insanely priced firewood. But praise the Lord for clear drinking water!!