Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ft DeSoto (Heaven on Earth)

Palm Harbor. Walmart. Unremarkable. We just spent the night and got on the road the next morning. We were anxious to get to my father’s house because we were planning to park the motor home with a neighbor of his for a month. Everyone was looking forward to settling down and enjoying being in one place for awhile.

We texted my father to let him know that we were 45 minutes away, and he texted back that our parking spot was no longer available, but he had a lead on a campground. As we had looked into all the camping options prior to coming down (and only came to Florida because he had a place for us to stay!) we knew that wasn’t going to work out for us. So we stopped driving and spent the night in another Walmart, this time in Brandon, FL.

The next morning my father mentioned that he had other options, so we headed over to his city to see him and what he had to offer. His condo doesn’t allow motor homes so we pulled into a nearby shopping plaza and he met us there. We walked down to his condo and out to the water where the kids found horseshoe crab shells by the dozen.

My father’s plan B also fizzled out, so we headed to a campground to regroup and figure out our next step. We had neglected to budget for lodging as we used most of our monthly budget for gas and planned on having a free spot.

We ended up at the campground at Ft De Soto. We met a park ranger who told us some funny stories. He was very animated making them much more entertaining then they will be here.

One night he was working late and got a phone call about a travel trailer on fire. He rushed down to the location to find a man laying on the ground yelling that his service animal was still inside. The ranger ripped open the door and ran inside to find a very agitated kangaroo. Said kangaroo was not in the mood to be rescued and stood up on his tail and kicked at the ranger’s chest until he was bruised and bloody. He said he got his butt whooped by a kangaroo, which his coworkers enjoyed reminding him of often. Our ranger friend finally managed to get the kangaroo outside and the man yells, “what about the other one?!?!” Thankfully “the other one” was just a goat!

The beach is just amazing. It feels like heaven to be here.

Last night we were walking down to the beach around dinner time. There was a raccoon making himself at home in the picnic area so I told the kids to make a wide path around him. We ran into two gentleman who were off to the side looking.

“Excuse me ma’am, what IS that?”

“That’s a raccoon.” I told him, “and you don’t want to get too close to it.”

“Oh, I thought it was a pet. There were some people feeding it and playing with it but I’ve never seen anything like it before.

After talking with them for a few minutes we discovered that they were from Bangladesh and even though they had been in the US for a great many years (including time spent in West Virginia and an encounter with a bear) they had never seen a raccoon.

We walked further on toward the beach, where an older woman was shooing the raccoon away and her daughter was scolding her. “No Mom, move! I’m trying to take a picture!”

It was then that we heard the gentlemen from before yell out in warning, “MAAM! NO! Don’t take a picture! That’s a RACCOON!”

The kids and I could not help but to burst out in laughter.

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