Sunday, May 14, 2017

2017 Fort DeSoto Park return after 45 Years

Sunday, May 14, 2017:  Tomorrow morning Jeri and I will hook up the trailer and head over to Fort DeSoto Park, south of St. Petersburg, FL for three nights.  Besides a short getaway, this trip will serve three other purposes:  1) testing all the new modifications and additions to the trailer before The Big trip to Alaska in June; 2) re-create the first picture taken of Jeri and I as a couple at the fort 45 years ago; and 3)  renew an old friendship with one of my great high school friends, David Champion and his wife.

The first picture ever taken of us as a couple on our first camping trip together that we want to re-create.
I have already taken most stuff up to the trailer in storage and yesterday I turned the refrigerator on to run on propane, so it would cool down.  When I checked it this morning the fridge was 39 dg and the freezer -1 dg, but I did an experiment because on our last trip we were having problems keeping the refrigerator cold enough.  I started recording video on my iPhone and put it in the fridge, then shut the door for several seconds and lo and behold, when I took my phone out and replayed the video I found that the light inside was not turning off when the door was closed.  This little bulb generates quite a bit of heat, too. It is hot enough that it burned my fingers a bit when I tried to take it out without any padding.  For now I have the bulb out so it will not generate heat inside the fridge. I will build up either the little contact lever or the fridge door where it contacts the contact lever and see if that will turn the light off when the door is closed.

I also loaded the bed of the trailer with stuff I usually carry when we camp and I put the Blue Ox Sway Pro hitch bar on the truck.  So in the morning all we will need to do is take Jeri's clothes and the cold stuff for the fridge.  We cannot check in until 1:00 PM and it will take us four hours or so to get there, so we have no need to really rush around in the morning.

Monday, May 15, 2017:  We loaded our fridge stuff and some other items into the truck and departed for the trailer storage at 9:30 AM, transferred all the stuff to the trailer, hooked the trailer up to the truck and departed for Fort DeSoto Park at 10:10 AM.

Our rig about to leave the storage facility

Since we were on Florida highway 40 and going right past the place and it was almost 11:00 AM and we had not eaten any breakfast before leaving we stopped at Essex Seafood and treated ourselves to a scallops & onion rings boat (Jeri) and a fried clam strips & french fries boat (me, although we both shared).  To us and many others Essex has some of the best seafood around.  Their breading is light and a bit crispy--just perfect!  We actually had to wait a few minutes for them to open and Jeri was the first in the door--we were their first customers of the day.  Since we have Sugar Belle with us we ate in the truck so she would not get hot and of course, she enjoyed a clam strip or two and a couple of french fries.

Hi, Anne Marie!!!!  We're here!!

After enjoying our early lunch (we were stuffed) we got back on the road and checked in at Fort DeSoto Park at 3:02 PM for our reserved campsite, #119.  It was right at 200 miles from where we store our trailer to the park.  We did stop one other time at a Shell station for a bathroom break and I topped up the truck's 36 gallon gas tank.

Our rig in campsite #119

Our campsite is where the blue & white dot is.
We got the trailer backed in and all set up by around 4:00 PM if I remember correctly, then we just sort of chilled out a bit, walked the dog, took some pictures. It was hot, a bit over 90 dg F. I did not hook up to the park's fresh water spigot, so we could use our onboard water pump to provide fresh water out of our onboard tank.  I wanted to drain it down so I can refill it with completely fresh water before our Alaska trip in late June.  
Jeri relaxing
I am pleased to report that the new Progressive Industries EMS HW-30C a/c power connection protection came up and worked perfectly, indicating the a/c power at the park's power pedestal in our campsite was okay and, of course, that the EMS system works perfect.  Up until now it was only tested by plugging it into our Champion 3,400 watt generator.  Success is sweet!

Jeri made a wonderful goulash for our dinner.  Very good!

Our refrigerator is working fine and keeping nice and cool since I removed the heat producing interior bulb that was not turning off when the fridge door was closed and the little Camco interior battery driven fan is also helping keep the temps consistent inside, too.

After dinner we watched some TV, streaming a movie using our Amazon Firestick from home and our new Mobley ZTE wifi hotspot hooked to AT&T's $20 a month unlimited "Car Connect" data plan.  It works pretty well even though we are not getting a real great AT&T cellular signal here in the park (our Verizon signal is pretty weak, too).  After that I raised our over the air antenna that I added the Wineguard Wingman to a couple of months ago, used an app on my phone to locate the direction of the closest over the air TV broadcast stations and turned the antenna to point there.  I did a channel scan on the TV and we are getting over 50 digital channels perfectly clear (most of which are just crap).

We went to bed around 10:30 PM or so.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017:  Neither of us slept real well last night. I had an air conditioner vent pointing at the bed, so when the a/c cycled on I'd be cold and have to cover up, then it would cycle off and I'd get hot and have to uncover.  Repeated over and over.  Not sure why I didn't just get up and turn the dang vent.

After an egg and juice for breakfast we went to the East Beach for an hour or so.  There were hardly any other people there.  I guess it is usually like this, but I think the reason is because the water was kind of full of flotsam and jetsam and not pretty, while the North Beach is simple beautiful!  I believe the North Beach has frequently been named the most beautiful beach in the USA.
The East Beach at Fort DeSoto Park
Jeri at the East Beach--hardly anyone else there
Arriving back at the trailer and after having a bite of lunch, Jeri rested a bit and I got our Weber Q1200 grill out and hooked it up to our onboard propane system.  I recently converted the grill to run on either the trailer's LP system or the little green canisters, so this evening will be its first actual cooking test hooked to the trailer LP.  We are having guests for a cookout tonight; one of my best high school friends and his wife, who we have never met are coming to see us.  They live about four miles up the road from the park in Tierra Verde.  David and Dij Champion.  We have not seen Dave since he came to a small gathering my Mother got together at her house for Jeri and I right after we got married almost 45 years ago!!  It will be fantastic to see Dave again and meet Dij.

I hooked up to the campsites fresh water spigot, using, as always, a pressure regulator, hose and inline water filter.  I was getting tired of hearing the onboard water pump come on--it's rather noisy.

Dave texted me at 3:50 PM, advising they were leaving at 4:00 PM to come to our campsite and they got there around 4:20 PM.  It was absolutely wonderful, great, awesome, fantastic to see Dave again after so-o-o-o many years and to meet his wife of 44 years for the first time!!  Getting re-acquainted was so much fun!

We had a few "sundowners" on the "down-low" (shhhh, don't tell the park--it's prohibited), then I fired up the grill and cooked cheeseburgers and a couple of hot dogs.  The grill worked great hooked to the trailer's onboard LP--it actually seemed to be a bit hotter.  Another item successfully tested and working to perfection!

We enjoyed a nice dinner and a fantastic evening of visiting until Dave and Dij left a bit after 9:30 PM for their short ride home.  They will come visit us at our home in Palm Coast after we get back from our Alaska trip.

We puttered around a bit and went to bed a bit after 10:00 PM.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017:  This morning, while thinking about the great visit we had with Dave and Dij I realized we had not taken a single picture!!  What a colossal blunder!!

I slept great last night and did not wake up at all until just after 6:00 AM and I got up shortly after.  Jeri did not sleep well again, so I left her sleeping and she got up around 8:00 AM.  Yes, I aimed the a/c vent mostly away from the bed.  LOL

I cooked eggs and made toast for Jeri and I this morning, then did the dishes.  After that we headed over to the old fort to re-create the picture taken nearly 45 years ago.  Arriving at the fort and looking at the gun emplacements we noticed they had painted the equipment black.  As you can see from the first picture above they were white back in 1972.  Unfortunately for Jeri, since she had to sit on the quite warm equipment, while I got to stand behind her.

I asked a man who was there with his family to see the fort if he would be so kind as to take several pictures of us, after I explained how we wanted to re-create the first picture ever taken of us all those years ago and showing him the picture.  He and his family were very happy to help us with this and he did a great job taking the pictures.  We did get the angle a bit off and this very nice, helpful man was quite a bit taller than our friend who took the original picture, so that angle is a bit different, but all in all, we are quite happy with the results.  See what you think.

45 years later..  We don't look a bit different, do we? Ha Ha
So, what do you think?  Did we do a good job re-creating the picture?  I have wanted to do this for a long time and I am so happy we finally got to do it.  It's been a fantastic almost 45 years with this woman.

After lunch and after it cooled down a bit we took our pup, Sugar Belle, to the dog park and beach area.  The dog park was huge and divided into two sections; one for big dogs and another for smaller dogs.  Jeri went to the beach while I took Sugar to the smaller dog park section and turned her loose.  She was not very interested in running around for some reason and just sort of hung around close to me.  She had the entire small dog section to herself, too.  So I took her to the beach and she did seem to have fun for a bit running into the edge of the ocean (Tampa Bay) and back, but all in all I do not think she likes the beach much more than I do.  LOL  I rinsed Sugar off at the dog park hose and we went back to our campsite.

We grilled a steak and potatoes & onions in foil for dinner.  It was good!  After dinner we watched a bit of TV and streamed another movie via our Amazon Firestick-Mobley AT&T hotspot.  Worked great!

Thursday, May 18, 2017:  I got up early, as usual and had coffee while Jeri caught a few more winks.  After she got up I fixed her a cup of coffee and she made a canned potatoes and fried eggs breakfast--good.  
Great breakfast!  Very tasty!
Then we took our time breaking camp and putting things away.  Check out time was 11:00 AM and we left our campsite at 10:56 AM and headed to the campground's dump stations to dump and flush our gray and black tanks.  We had to wait a few minutes for campers in front of us to finish, then we did our dumping, flushing and tank prep and left the park at 11:22 AM, headed for home.

We stopped at Essex Seafood again on the way home for a late lunch and arrived safely home around 4:00 PM.  We decided to take the trailer home to make it easier to empty and clean it and since we had found a few roaches in the trailer Jeri had made arrangements with our home pest control people (SPC) to treat the trailer Friday.

Epilogue & Additional Pictures:  All in all we had a great time on this trip.  Fort DeSoto Park is a really nice place--even Jeri said she would be happy to come back here again sometime.  Our refrigerator worked fine the entire trip.  Removing the always on heat source inside from the interior light that was not turning off and the little fan inside seemed to really help, in spite of the outside temperatures running into the low 90's.  I was very pleased that all my modifications and additions to the trailer worked out great, so we feel it is pretty much ready for our BIG ALASKA TRIP in late June (stay tuned!).  The bug guy came out Friday and treated the trailer for the minor (we hope) roach problem.  I did find one big dead roach that evening, but have not found anymore yet.

In preparation for the trip I ordered two better wheel chocks, another 25' of drinking water hose in case we need more than the 25' we normally carry, a new ice cube tray, a couple of microfiber bug cleaning sponges to make it easier to get bug splatters off the front of the trailer and truck, some fire starter cubes and a 13" pizza stone.  The stone is just to place in the oven when baking anything so the heat is more evenly distributed inside the oven.

On Saturday, I tried a new method I read about on an RV forum (IRV2) to clean the awning on the trailer.  It was kind of dirty.  I put about a half cup of bleach and a bit of Dawn dishwashing soap in a gallon of water in a yard sprayer and really hosed down the awning top and bottom with this solution, then rolled the awning shut and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before opening it and rinsing it off thoroughly.  It was much cleaner, but I repeated the process a second time and the awning looks really good now. While I was at it I did a light wash on the entire trailer and stripped the sheets off the bed for washing.  On Sunday morning we took the trailer back to storage.

Fort DeSoto North Beach--absolutely beautiful!
Jeri on the walk at the top of the fort
One of the two gun emplacements at Fort DeSoto.  The guns were never fired in anger.
Jeri at camp

My favorite place at the beach--in the shade!

See you all in June-August--check back for updates while we are on our trip to Alaska.

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