Pitching Camp

Here we are at Parramores Campground on the St. Johns River at 7:30 in the morning.  There are a couple large parrots in cages beckoning to us as I walk across the parking lot to the office. 

Hellloooo, c’m ere!  Hel ooooooo!”  They cling to the sides of their cages, rocking their bodies back and forth, hoping for some attention.  Squirrel are milling about on the ground underneath them, stuffing their little rodent faces with unbroken seeds.  I walk by…thinking….. pellet gun…..the squirrels, of course!

Well this place is certainly off to an interesting start. 

I walk into the office and register.  Ten dollar fee for the dogs, $25 a night to stay, there’s bathrooms, showers, workout room, pool, food, ice, and a lovely boardwalk dock area right on the river.  Then I consider what I saw during my little “drive by” the other day.

Where would I be staying?  Campsite T3, next to the bathrooms.  Well, ok, let’s start with a couple nights.

Off we go to find T3.

Very quickly I note that there are only two “primitive” sites for tents.  The entire rest of the park is designed for RVs, with long flat dirt pads and hook ups for water, sewer and power.  The outside loop is inhabited by the full time or almost full time residents.  The inside loop is empty.  Those folks will start to arrive between Christmas and New Years.

 

I stand there, scratching my legs and ankles, evaluating my set up options.  I have water and power too.  I pull out the pop up canopy and have it up in about 15 minutes.  The whole time, a man across the road from me is watching me from his picnic table.  Hmmm.  My friend arrives. We engage in a bit of somewhat uncomfortable conversation, then walk up to the office for lunch.  Surprisingly, this little camping establishment is also home to Buck and Kats Café, and they produce some fairly decent grub.  We split a smoked salmon salad, go back to my campsite, unload and exchange “stuff” and she drives off.

Heavy sigh.

Now I have time to move some things into place.  I back the truck up under the canopy until the gate is under it, and to block off the neighbor across the way and give us some privacy. Then I attach tarps on the remaining 3 sides.  I pull the dog fence out and wrap that around the canopy walls as well, and pull out the lawn chairs to sit on inside.  I hang an electric lantern from the canopy frame.  We have a narrow walkway between the truck gate and the edge of the canopy, and a narrow “doorway” on the driver side of the truck. The big black truck box my friend left me will serve as a long table.  Last, I retrieve the bug net.  I remove it from its secure wrapping, and drape it over the opened gate window, over the back of the truck.  Now we’re bug proof back there.  I pull out the cooler, crawl into the back of the truck and take a look out at our temporary home.  Good enough.  I decide to stop fussing, and just see how things go for now.

The kids are anxious to get into the back of the truck and I don’t blame them.  I’m ready for a nap on something more closely resembling a bed myself!  So Buddy jumps up into the truck and heads to his kennel, while me and the girls curl up on the bench/bed I created on the other side.  I pull the bug net down and across the gate opening, and we all take a nap.

 Our nap is short. The constant buzzing of andchatter from folks on golf carts going back and forth keeps us from really falling asleep. I get up and take a walk around our new digs.  Observations as follows:

We are the only tenters.

We are the only ‘residents’ under 80.

We are the only non-smokers.

We are the only ones without a golf cart.

“Grand central golf carts” seems to be at its peak between 3:30 and 5:00 pm.  When the sun goes down, perhaps the campground is quiet. But for now¸ there is a constant back and forth from bathroom to RV, RV to RV, RV to activity building.  Perfect time to make my dinner on the picnic table. 

As I heated my meal on a can, I watched and waved as folks rode by.  By the time I fed the kids, the sun was gone, and finally, so were most of the golf carts.  We all had our last bathroom break, then curled up into the back of the truck for the night.  My plan is to get up early and go check out the Lake George State Forest land for pig sign.  See if it’s worth getting a non- resident license and hunting.  As I lay there, my arms are getting a little tingling and itchy.  My ankles are itching again, and my lower legs.  I haven’t seen even one mosquito. WTF?  And I scratch myself to sleep…

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