Friday, February 20, 2009

Wednesday, February 18 ARRRGH!

On each life some rain must fall....

Well, I guess one could say that today was a test of the Geezers patience, stamina and good spirits. One COULD say that, but the real description was beyond printability in any general consumption blog! It started out OK with a lazy morning around Manatee Springs campground, a nice walk to the spring to look for the manatees (though they didn’t appear on schedule!) and a chat with a very nice couple in the next site who were from Plattsburgh, NY and friends with Char’s cousin – a small world indeed. All was well through lunch at a Barbeque joint in Chiefland, FL. Then the world started to crumble.

Since we were getting a late start, Mike called ahead to our next campground, Highland Hammock in Sebring to see what time they locked their gates. The ranger checked and said that he didn’t see the reservation. We gave him the confirmation number and found that our campsite was booked for MARCH 18-22, not February! Now bear in mind that this is Presidents week and every campsite in Florida has been booked solid for a month! We are royally SCREWED! We scrambled around to find an internet connection (thank you, Holiday Inn!) and started to research every piece of semi-level ground in Central Florida! We found a listing for the Alexander Springs campground in the Ocala National. We hustle to get there, check in to find it is what is called dry camping – no electricity, no water.

Remember, now we have been having electrical problems with our AC power anyway – so we have to rely on the battery for lights and the propane gas to power the refrigerator full of perishables (and beer). A few minor explosions and flames lighting the refrigerator and it gets going. Hmm, the lights seem dim! A quick check with the volt meter shows the battery at 10% capacity! Crap! Ok – flashlights out – we’re really camping! By now, Mike is beginning to think that his pride and joy camper has all the capabilities of a 2,000 pound pup tent!

We are also faced with the prospect of having nowhere to camp for the next 3 days! A 20 mile drive brings us to the campus of Stetson University where we commandeer a table in the student union and try to blend in like late blooming college kids while availing ourselves of the wireless internet connection. We find one night of camping (with amenities) at a Brevard County park (other side of the state) and they offer us the “overflow area” (no connections) or Friday and Saturday. A quick stop at WalMart for some groceries, a car battery charger and electrical test equipment and drive 20 miles back to the dark camper. Mid way back, we take a sharp turn and the groceries tip over – Al jumps out of the car to open the back and secure them and off we go.

We arrive back at the campsite at about 11:00 PM and settled in for a quiet night in the dark when Al innocently asks “Have you seen my cell phone?” 20 minutes of frantic searching the car and camper yield nothing so we head for the park gates where Al jumped out to let us in – the late night bad boys that we are! Not there either! Could it be where you jumped out of the car to take care of the spilled groceries? OK – another 15 mile drive and believe it or not – we found his phone, open and laying on the driveway of the gas station where we checked the spilled bag of chicken! No one coming in or out of the gas station had picked it up to make a drug deal in Columbia, or ran it over! 15 miles back to the campsite – a little bourbon to calm the nerves and get to sleep by 1:00AM! Whew!

Up to our ______ in alligators

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