We left Fort Desoto heading south on a Friday morning with no reservation for the night. It was still snowbird season and Spring Training Baseball season had just started. I had looked everywhere, but no one had anything open. We had one hope, a county park on Tampa Bay: E. G. Simmons Regional Park. The park did not take reservations so we were hopeful that, if we arrived early enough, we could secure a site for one night. As luck would have it, they had one last site left. It was a dry camping site, but it was large enough for the short bus.
E. G. Simmons is a great park if you like water. It is right on Tampa Bay and practically every site has access. There is lots of fishing, lots of walking, and lots of places to just sit and watch boats go by. There is plenty of room for larger rigs and many sites have electric and water. The closest town, Ruskin, was rather plain (to put it kindly) but had a grocery store and a couple of restaurants.
From there, we moved to Lake Manatee State Park for three days. We had managed to secure a site the week before and, since we couldn’t be picky, took what we could get. We ended up with a very nice site that had a distant view of the lake. We didn’t spend much time on the campground though – we had tickets to baseball games in Sarasota. Because Sarasota traffic is so awful, much of our time was spent in the car. We didn’t get a chance to see much of the park but will definitely stay there again.
From there, we moved, for three days, back to Myakka River State Park. This time we were in the full hook up loop, near the bathhouse/laundry. The sites are nice, the weather was beautiful, and we got a lot of laundry done.
Our plan had been to move north after the baseball games but Mike had to fly back to D.C. for a court case. It was a very old case but the defendant had been granted a retrial. Mike needed to go back to testify for a week, maybe more, so we needed to find a spot where we could sit without having to worry about check out dates. Because we have a zone pass for Thousand Trails, we booked into the Peace River RV Park.
Peace River RV Park is great in a pinch. It isn’t a place I would stay for any extended time if only because I get claustrophobic in the tight spaces after a while. And being as there isn’t much to do around Wauchula, it can get pretty boring. While the sites at Peace River are large by Florida snowbird park standards, there are lots of rigs in every direction and no buffer between sites. The exception is in the back corner along the river where there are many well spaced semi-private sites; if we ever stop for a couple of days again, we will definitely park there. Unfortunately, because we didn’t know how long the trial would take, we wanted a site with sewer. The sites along the river are electric/water only.
By the time we arrived in Peace River, Belle was extremely weak. She wasn’t in pain, she was old and dying. At 17 and a half years old, she was old for a chihuahua and very old for a Jack Russell. On St. Patrick’s Day, she finally gave up. She tried to hold on until Mike got back, but didn’t make it. She will be sorely missed. Belle full timed with us for over two years, camped with us for two years before that, and was a boat dog before that. She traveled all over the country, hiked in some amazing places, and was coddled and pampered the entire time. She stood up to mice, hunted moles, and loved McDonald’s cheeseburgers. We were her pack and she was our constant companion.