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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Meant to Be?

~Tuesday, February 14, 2023~

Day 976 (Travel Day)

Happy Valentine’s ❤️ Day everyone! Hope you had a wonderful day with your special someone. Jeff and I used to be into the whole chocolates, cards and flowers thing. But over the years, we’ve realized that the holiday invented by Hallmark is not really about those things, but simply a reminder to let your special person know they are appreciated.

Ah, so this is what our campsite looks like.

What a shame it was just a blip this time around. We are certainly adding Lake Louisa to our list of future visits for sure! Valentine's Day would include another moving day, where things didn’t start out too smoothly. While hitching up, Jeff discovered we were missing one of two pins that connects the sway bars of the trailer to the truck. He remembers having laid it on the back bumper during last night’s set-up and thinks it’s somewhere on the road between ours and the Alonzi’s campground. Lesson…..always have backups on that stuff as they’re very easy to misplace. So with Jeff being his resourceful self, he MacGyvered something that would work…..removing the pin for the jack stand on the trailer that we wouldn’t need until we arrived at our next spot. Brilliant! All in all, it added a 30-minute delay to our departure which stressed us out a bit by trying to get to our first-come, first-served campground 2 hours away. At least it’s early in the week and still early enough in the day which is idyllic when vying for a site. Jeff also wanted to use the 5 gallons of reserve diesel we’ve been toting around so we wouldn’t have the added weight and the fact it’s over a year old (gas does have a shelf life ‘ya know).

When we arrived at our first of four non-reservation campgrounds we had on our list (around 10:45), we were given a glimmer of hope by being put 4th on the waiting list. And who knows, maybe the people in front of us decided to move on. E.G. Simmons Conservation Park in Regis, FL is one of the most popular non-reservation campgrounds in the state. So we weren’t overly confident in getting a spot. The recommendation by the ranger was to head to the beach

and wait at least until noon when there’d likely be a spot. What a beautiful location this is. The park is in close proximity to 3 major cities….Tampa, Sarasota and St. Petersburg. The campgrounds are just lovely as they are located on a peninsula surrounded by a mix of those cities and the beautiful, quiet mangrove swamps.

About 90 minutes later, we got the phone call where we were given not just 1 but 2 choices in campsites. We’re in!! We chose the first one we saw then drove back to the ranger’s station to pay. Nice to know we have a ranger with a sense of humor. But he carried it a bit too far when he said with the most dead-panned face, “Oh, I’m sorry we can’t accept your reservation as we don’t allow dogs.” We were heartbroken…..but only for 10 seconds until he showed an evil grin. Looking for a 4-night stay, I suppose he could have taken it a step further by teasing us with a max 2-day stay. They allow 14 days for tent campers and 30 days for RVer’s. And we didn’t know whether to be appreciative or insulted when we automatically gave us the $18 senior discount rate. I told Jeff that it only validates things more NOT to shave that beard of his as it really does give us carte blanche. But even at the normal $24 price tag, the campground couldn’t get any better with its 258-acre native mangrove setting surrounded by intertwined waterways teeming with birds and plenty of wildlife. We even spotted several eagles guarding their huge nests perched on the top of a few telephone poles. Not only do we have water and electricity,

we have a beautiful water view right behind us. Sadly though, it’s not the kind of waters Sadie can cool off in 🐊.

Still pinching ourselves that we scored being able to stay at such a beautiful place, we needed to take care of a few errands after setting up. Low on gas (about 7 miles to go), we made it to the closest gas station with 2 miles to spare. Whew! That was a little too close for comfort. Then we hit the local Publix store to buy a few things for our Valentine’s celebration……fixings for steak salad, french bread, and a little bubbly to go with it. We couldn’t believe the huge number of guys waiting in checkout with their many Valentine’s Day balloons and dozens of red roses. They’ll definitely be scoring big points with their sweeties! As we were exiting the parking lot, we heard what sounded like the crunch of metal to metal and sure enough an Amazon van was slightly rear ended by a FedEX truck. What are the chances that 2 mail carriers collide with one another? It was a small accident so am sure everyone was o.k. Hmm…I wonder if there’ll be a slight delay on people getting their packages on time?

The meal was delicious! And to end the day, while enjoying the light

evening breeze outside, covered head to toe in bug repellant, we were visited by a very friendly masked visitor….a racoon. At least it wasn’t an alligator. 😳

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