Monday, April 13, 2015

Off The Grid

We had planned a camping trip to Florida for several months. As luck would have it the trip was scheduled just after the bathroom reached the "finished enough to use it" stage.  So we packed up and headed south, on a 13 hour drive to the Everglades National Park.

Now several things I learned about the park before I went. One was the campground my DH had chosen was remote, as in when you came through the main gate you still had 38 miles to go before you reached the campground which was located on the edge of the Florida Bay, the southern most tip of the mainland of Florida. Swimming was highly frowned upon anywhere in the park due to the crocodiles, alligators, and venemous snakes, and unless you used ATT, there was absolutely no cell service. So we were going to be in the wild and off the grid.

Naturally our departure ran a bit late, as in 3 hours, so our proposed ETA of 6pm became more like 7:30. (I always add 90 minutes into the equation for normal assing around). Sunset was 7:43 - just saying. Long story short by the time we were just outside of Ft Lauderdale it was clear that we would be lucky to get there by 8:30. I Googled a hotel in Homestead, the closest part of the civilized world, and booked a room. We checked in at 9:30.

Wednesday morning we headed out toward the park. It is everything I had read about and more -if you haven't been  - go. When we go to the tent area, there were 40 spaces on a large grassy field with the occasional palm tree or scrubby oak. 2 spaces were occupied so we walked about until we selected a nice space close to the water under a palm tree. 

Given the space was a good 75 yards from the car, my DH drove the car to the space and we began unloading our gear. Just as we were finishing "Ranger Rick" drove up in a golf cart. Seems we were not allowed to drive on the grass and we could be fined up to $100. Even after my DH explained what we were doing was temporary and we would be moving the car immediately, the ranger said it did not matter - no one was to drive on the grass.

The morning was warm, in the mid 80s and near the water there was a constant breeze. Perhaps "breeze" is not the best word, maybe wind. Pulling out our larger tent with a 10 x 22 foot print proved to be very similar to trying to hold onto a hot air balloon that the wind wanted to inflate. In order to keep the tent from becoming airborne, we placed everything from lanterns to sleeping bag rolls to food boxes on the fluttering cloth.

Finally the tent was up, the fly was attached without either of us leaving the ground. While my DH messed with the grill and the lanters, I took the sleeping bags and mattresses inside to set them up. I noticed a large lump under the tent floor. Knowing the camp site was just soft fairly deep grass, I knew it could not a root. But, it could be the sleeping bag I was missing. Appearantly In pitching the tent I had failed to remove one sleeping bag. 

By this time it was mid day and I was hungry. Knowing I had packed everything for sandwiches I suggested I would fix lunch. My DH suggested we go visit the marina at the campground. We could grab some lunch at restaraunt there. 

Yeah we were camping. Sure we were in a remote area "off the grid" but in the first 24 hours of our "camping" trip, we had spent one night in a hotel and enjoyed a good Cuban meal and now we were eating lunch at the marina restaraunt. "Roughing it" should be so challenging more often.

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