Friday, December 28, 2007

Dry Camping On The Way To Florida

Location: Bushnell, Fl

I have just spent three days on the road travelling from Livingston, Texas to Florida. I had planned a more leisurely trip, with a two-day stop in Alabama, but I wound up driving more miles on Day One than I had planned, and it seemed a waste to only go two hours on Day Two. So I decided to save Alabama for a return trip, and pushed on to Florida.

I stayed both nights while on the road in a Flying J. Flying J's normally have a front area for cars and RVs, and a back lot for 18-wheelers. The front area has several long parking spots for RVs, and these are where the "dry campers" park for the night.

When I pulled in on the first night, those long front spots were cordoned off with tape. A Flying J employee was on hand to explain that they were setting up a fireworks tent at 5 am, so they were asking RVers to park in the back with the 18-wheelers. When I pulled around, there was only one pull-through site left -- the others were either sites that were against the back fence (requiring backing into now), or doubled in the second row behind a truck that was already parked (possibly requiring backing out in the morning if the front truck had not already left). I don't back well, and doing it in front of fifty truckers who DO back well would be just too embarrassing. I took the last pull through.

The truck to my right had his engine running, and I was hoping that it would not run all night. Of course, it did. Truckers usually run their engines for two reasons -- to keep the fuel from gelling in extreme cold, and to keep their battery charged to power accessories like heaters, refrigerators, and TVs. It wasn't cold enough for diesel to gel or to need heat inside the cab, and I doubt that the driver was planning to watch TV all night. But he didn't seem to be turning it off. So I resigned myself to a sleepless night, but an odd thing happened. I found that the diesel's rumbling provided a kind of blanket of white noise, and I actually had a very nice night's sleep.

The second night I parked in the front of a different Flying J, and had other RVers for neighbors. Here I could dimly hear the background noise of the station -- cars coming and going, piped music on the pumps, people on cell phones -- and, while much quieter than the diesel, I found it to be more annoying. I did sleep through most of the night, but I woke much more often.

I am now in another park run by the Escapees and will be here until January 1st when I will move to another RV park one exit away. Other RVers have told me that a family of barred owls frequent the large oaks here, so I went "hunting" just before twilight. I didn't see an owl, but I did see two wild turkeys looking a bit out of place as they perched high in a tree and made flapping motions towards each other. It feels like summer now, but the weather forecast calls for the first freeze in five years by the beginning of next week. At least it doesn't call for snow!

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