Archives for July 2013

Countdown Friday (Part 2)

Sunday (Day 3)

Today is another busy day.  While taking the girls for their early morning walk, Mike comes by on his bike, asking when I am heading out, and tells me a storm system is coming through. The wind is going to be crazy for the next few days, he is strongly encouraging me to wait until it passes.

Wind.  Hmmm.  I don’t need much coaxing to keep me here at Secret Spot anyway, but now wind is a legitimate excuse to stay.  Not to mention the wicked storms still blazing through the south.

“How windy?”

“Real windy.” 

Time to email my friend in Gainesville and let him know I will be delayed for our lunch visit as I’m passing through.  I have to air out the truck from the Yard Guard spray stink anyway, and go fill up the gas tank before hooking up.

The morning is spent rinsing off the coolers and the doormats, putting away things I don’t need to have out anymore, taking apart my fancy lights and decorations and tying down the dog fence to the floor of the toy hauler.  After that, I’m torn between wanting to walk on the beach one last time, and making quick last visits to the dwindling campers at the park.  At least no one is leaving today with the wind already picking up.  I take Buddy to the beach for some serious bumper fetching in the water.  This may be our last time walking through the palm trees down the path to the sandy beach.  We stop to talk to several people on the way there, and back. 

By mid-afternoon Boy Scout Buddy arrives to help me with the winterization of my Toy Hauler. Finally, I’m doing something productive.  What a production this is!  Blowing out the water lines is a process that takes about an hour or more. It is getting windy.  Cold, too. We check all around and make sure there is no moisture coming from any orifice on the Toy Hauler. Then, begin pouring antifreeze back into the lines to protect them from cracking in the cold.  Once again we review the hot water steps, but for some reason it’s just not making sense. But in a matter of hours, my rig is ready to be Minnesota bound, and I am back to bottled water.  I thank him for his much needed help!

Mental note to self; now it appears I need an air compressor, too.

Still have to hook up the trailer to the truck, the storm front is moving in, and the day is almost over. And what time is it?  Happy time, perhaps?

It’s clear I won’t get everything done today.  Relax.  Tomorrow is another day.


Monday (Day 4)

Today is not such a busy day. The wind has picked up considerably.  Mike is right, I shouldn’t leave. Storms seem to be all around us, but not actually hitting us.  Who wants to be tugging a trailer in 25 mile per hour wind?  A good day to stay here, stay inside and work on the blog. I’ll leave tomorrow for sure.  I take Buddy with me as I walk up to the office and pay for another day. 

On the way back I stop and visit with Lois and Buddy.  They are planning to leave the first week of April.  The rest of our neighbors will all leave in the next few days as well.  It’s almost a mass exodus. 

I spend the remainder of the day with final preparations to leave.  I back the trailer up and hook up everything, raise the levelers and make sure everything is put away except the plug to power. I walk around and around the truck and trailer.  Yeah, I’m nervous about leaving. All I need to do is unplug the electric, lower the antenna and plug into the truck to go.   Then I work on organizing my maps, instructions, and send an email off to let Mark and Eric at Riverside know of the change in plans and my estimated arrival time to Peru Indiana.

I email off a copy of my planned route home with names, numbers and information every step of the way to Lois. 

‘If I am not back home by a week from Friday, call the cops.’

The wind is blowing so hard the trailer rocks as I head over to their place for drinks and goodbyes. 


It’s clear everything is now done and ready to go.  Relax.  Tomorrow will be departure day.



Tuesday (Day 5)

First thing in the morning I wake to see the wind is still gusting hard.  I’m not going anywhere.  I visit with Boy Scout Buddy over at the bathrooms and tell him.  They will be gone to the Elk club tomorrow morning until 10:30, but we’ll do happy hour later today and get some quality visit time in.

Another sunny, windy day.  I try to lay out—dumb idea.   I fuss around with clothes, and paperwork and reorganizing some of the cupboards. I check on weather on the route, and it all still looks good heading north.  I talk to my neighbor and email her my route plan as well.  I cook up some leftovers, and think about the amazing time I’ve had here in Secret Spot Park. Action, adventure, community, friendship, it’s been the best time I’ve had in a long time.  If I didn’t have to go home to take care of taxes or go turkey hunting, would I even leave now?   The kids are all 3 sacked out on the floor, just like home.  Heck, this is home.  We established a home on wheels. My “real” home seems like such a distant memory. I daydream about what my next adventure may look like.  I hope it is right here again.

About 4:00 there’s a tap on my door.  Lois and Buddy!  What time is it?  Oh yeah, I’ll be right over!  Maybe this is my last visit with Boy Scout Buddy, Lois Lane, and Senior Cosmos, their randy little pooch?

It’s clear there’s a pattern forming here.  Relax.  Maybe tomorrow will be departure day?



Wednesday (Day6)

I wake up at 4:00, then at 5:00 and again at 6:00, finally giving up and getting up.

Do I really have to leave?  I just don’t want to.  I’ve been saying for five days that “today I am going to leave”…..and here I still am.  The wind has died down.  The forecast sounds great all the way home. I’m out of excuses. The thought of leaving is painful like a breakup.  It seems I’ve had a love affair with this park for months.

Me and the kids go for one last walk down the campground road and back as the sun starts to rise.  Not many campers are left.  Everyone tries to get out of here by the first of April for sure.  After that, only the locals show up, and that isn’t very often.  The blazing heat and infestation of biting insects is just too much to enjoy camping.  I wonder how the raccoons do?

I am going to miss this park, and this wonderful staff.  Can I name everyone? Let’s see, Tyler, Rob, Bob, Chris, Joel, Dicky, Paul, my two favorite Sams, Don “I didn’t see a new Ford truck”, and of course Sir Jason.  Is that everyone?  I stop and talk to the folks from Kentucky.  They are up early to go into town. They are waiting on a short sale to go through, and then they will move to their new permanent home. Hmmm, I know something about how those go… Kyle, the state trooper who waited over 6 months for his short sale to go through, living in a trailer here at Secret Spot.

On the way back down the road, Mike and Carole from Wisconsin drive up and we say our goodbyes again, exchanging numbers. They will be leaving soon too.  I load Buddy into the back of the truck, the girls up front, and get ready to leave.  George and Dot drive up, and we exchange emails and hugs.  Jason drives up and we say our goodbyes.  I remind him I’m his next camp host….and then Lois and Boy Scout Buddy return for the hardest, teariest goodbye of all.

Be Careful!  Call us! You’ll do just fine. Wide turns!  See you in New Hampshire in September! 


So ends my adventure in Secret Spot Park

At 11:00 am Wednesday March 27th, we slowly pull out of Simmons Park and head north to Gainesville.  Ok so, yeah I am crying.  Just a little, though.  It’s all good!


Countdown Friday (Part 1)

Friday (Day 1)

Today is turning out to be a busy day.  Between taking inventory of the long list of what needs to be done, running to get last minute things for the trip home, planning how to pack to maximize weight on the Toy Hauler axel, and trying desperately to catch up on blogging, it’s looking like I won’t be sun tanning today before I pull out of the park.

Sara and Isaac from down the road in the silver airstream drive by and wave.  They are hoping to become Summer Camp Hosts. 

Then John from across the road stops by.  He is concerned about where to stay once his time runs out at Secret Spot, and wants to know if I know of any places he could camp for free. He’s really uptight about it, but unfortunately, I have no answers for him. 

Then Kay and Jerry from Wisconsin pull in next to me.  It’s been a while since I’ve had neighbors next door.  No one’s been there since the Canadians left.  The set up process for 5th wheels can be complicated.  Leveling, getting the hoses to reach, unloading the gear, and unhooking the vehicle, well it can all be quite a production.  I am getting into the habit of watching people come in and set up.  It’s all good learning. 

Across the road, more new neighbors pull in with two Siberian huskies.  They are concerned about the upcoming storm.  I assure them, a 20% chance of rain here usually means about 3 raindrops and a breeze for a minute, followed by sunny skies.

Lois and Buddy are cutting reflective cover boards for all of their windows to keep their trailer cool during the long summer of storage here in Florida.  I stop by and help with measuring and slicing panels. They leave shortly after I do, and Buddy is still planning to help me winterize.


Lois stops by to help me figure out how to roll out the awning, and create some written instructions. Once I leave here, I’ll be on my own with whatever I don’t understand.  The last time I tried to have it open was a complete cluster. Now is no different. And oh, we are a pair! But eventually, we two women on a mission to ‘conquer the awning’ succeed. Now I have clear understandable steps that make sense.  And now it appears to be happy hour. We are in agreement, this accomplishment calls for martinis!

It’s clear I won’t get everything done today.  Relax.  Tomorrow is another day.


Saturday (Day 2)

Today is another busy day.  I need to pull it together and leave! While fussing around with putting things in their place, I remember there was one more vineyard I wanted to visit. I just have to squeeze in a quick trip to Rosa Fiorelli Winery yet this morning. It is a beautiful day, going to be hot and sunny, so I stop everything, and take off out of the park to Bradenton, almost back to Myakka.  Wine tastings, what a way to start the day!  But it turns out to be worth it, as I am smitten by their Conquistador Blush and Red Muscadine dessert wine. Quick trip this is!  If I get back soon enough, maybe I can lay out for just a little bit, one last time, with this perfect cloudless day, and then leave?  So much to do.  As I am racing back to camp I remember I was going to pick up a box of onions from Piney Point, too.  I’ve got to do it! I’ve just got to make the trip and bring back those amazing onions for everyone.  It won’t take long! I pull into the farm and get my box of onions, and head to camp.

As I am racing down the highway back to the park, I spot something out of the corner of my eye.



BLACK WIDOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I come to screeching halt and dive out of my truck onto the highway, barely throwing the gear to park, and am half way across the highway with my driver door still open, totally freaking out.

OMG!  OMG!  What the hell do I do? 

No one is stopping.  Heck, no one is even noticing.  Heck, only 3 cars have even gone by in the last 10 minutes.

I go back to the truck and peer in.



BLACK WIDOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I run far back behind the truck, looking for something long, very long, to possibly use to prod the creature out of my truck.  The big hairy crawly arachnidan clearly knows I’m onto it, and manages to avoid my timid advances for a good 45 minutes.  I try to call Lois and Buddy.  No answer.  I leave a message.  I could be here all day.  No cars even slow down as they drive by.  My options are few.  I am soaked with sweat, baking in the sun.  Looks like I’m going to have to just break down and make the call. 




“This is 911.”

“Hello, I’m a little embarrassed about this, but, um, basically, I was hoping that if you have an officer in the area, maybe could he stop by?  I’m pulled off on the side of the road, there is an, um, black widow in my vehicle and I can’t seem to get it out”. 

“Ma’am did you say Black Widow?”

“Yes, it’s big, hairy, black.”

“Ma’am, give me your exact location and I’ll send a squad right away.”

Another 30 minutes go by, while I stand out in the hot sun and that spider has now hid itself up under the rear view mirror.

The phone rings.  It’s Lois.  I tell her what’s going on, and she says she’ll talk to the rangers and see what to do.

Another 30 minutes go by, and I am melting in the sun, dying for my bottle of water that is in the truck, right underneath where the spider is hovering.

The phone rings, it’s the 911 operator. 

“Where are you?  The officer cannot find you.”

At that instant, I see a patrol car up ahead about 400 yards.

Turns out, he is right at the county line and cannot cross over to where I am. 


Another 10 minutes go by before he barrels down the road toward me, and turns around to park right behind my truck. He got permission to cross the county line.

Here I am, sopping wet, giant stick in hand, about to go into heat stroke…..

Out steps a State Trooper, about 40ish, looks like he could easily take a big spider.

“Ma’am, you say there’s a spider in your truck?”

“Yes, a great big black hairy one.  I think it’s a Black Widow.”

“Let’s go see…” he says.

“Here, you may need this.” and I give him my big stick, and follow well behind him.

So, after great effort and a long chase scene, the officer knocks the spider out from behind the rear view mirror, but does not dispatch the creature.  Instead it escapes and runs down into the vent behind the dashboard. 

The next few things that go down after this, are, well….um, not worth mentioning…but, the bottom line here is, the spider is not a Black Widow, the officer is confident that it is not a venomous spider at all, and if I can just drive to the first store that sells bug spray I can probably kill it with a quick squirt of Raid down the vent.

“Um, ok. Thank you, sir.” He wishes me good luck and drives off. 

It takes me another 10 minutes to get up the nerve to get into the truck, but I finally do, then dash back to camp, calling Lois back to tell her all about it.  She says Buddy will come help me when I get back.

The minute I get back I remove my onions, wine, and everything edible or chewable from inside the truck. Then I open the hood, and spray the hell out of the wiper area and down under the front of the dashboard area with my Yard Guard.  Almost instantly the spider appears on my dashboard, and it is pissed.  Buddy, Lois and John show up.  Buddy and John capture the spider.  Laughing.  Yes I said laughing.  I swear that spider was big as my hand out there on the highway.  How its body got to be only a freaking inch across, I don’t know.  It was big and scary out there. That’s all I got.  Period.  Anyway, it’s gone now, and my gosh, isn’t it about time for happy hour?

It’s clear I won’t get everything done today.  Relax.  Tomorrow is another day.