It was one of those cloudless, blue-sky days. But, the temps were only going to get up to the mid 60s rather than the 80s of the last couple of days.
As I was going through emails, I ran across one from one of our website affiliate relationships. I noticed that a website called Auntie's Beads now has an affiliate program. I remembered seeing this site a few days ago when I was helping Linda search for Delica beads.
I clicked on the Auntie's Beads website and discovered that they have a few retail stores and one happens to be in Clearwater. Linda wanted to go see their selection in person, so she could get a better idea of the colors. We decided to drive the hour from Bradenton to the store. If we liked what we saw, we would add Auntie's Beads to our Mall as a recommended affiliate. Also, Linda could order beads from them through our website and we could earn a tiny little commission on her purchases. Finally - something in this craft business I could sink my teeth into. :)
I tried to get her going so we wouldn't spend the entire day driving. So, I told her to dress for canoeing since we were going to stop at Fort DeSoto Park on the way back to Bradenton. We got on the road by a little after ten - a small victory for me. :)
We drove north to Clearwater and found the bead store stuck back in the corner of a shopping center off highway 19. Highway 19 is one of those roads with endless miles of retail shopping - what is known as "progress". It's one of those roads I hate - too much traffic, too little planning, and too much construction trying to make up for the lack of planning. While sitting down for a bite to eat, we heard screeching tires and the horrible crunching sound of two cars slamming into each other. Within minutes ambulances arrived to assess the injuries, but that didn't stop people from driving like maniacs trying to get around the accident and blaring their horns because fate dealt them such an unlucky blow in their busy lives. Oh to be on a little campsite in the wilderness.
Linda shopped for beads and we ended up with a few tubes (some were even on sale). This budget thing is really hampering her options. A few months ago it would have been "I'll take two of every color - make it three of the most expensive ones." Now she has to earn the money before she can buy more supplies.
We left Clearwater - the "progressive" part - and slowly made our way to the coast and then south as far as we could go before running into Tampa Bay. We found the road leading to Fort DeSoto Park. We passed condo after condo until we came upon a lake beside the road that was full of waterfowl - there were thousands. We got out of the truck to take a look and see how many species we could identify. Among the American Coots and Moorhens, we found Northern Shovelers (ducks) and Redheads (diving ducks). It was quite a sight.
Moving on, we finally came to Fort DeSoto Park, a Pinellas County Park. The first thing we noticed was the number of boat ramps for this park surrounded by water. Then we came to the campground. The campground was divided into three sections. One section was reserved for tents, pop-ups, and small trailers while the other two had RV access. But the roads were small, the sites were tight, there were low hanging branches, and satellite internet from our roof would have worked in maybe two spots. It is a beautiful campground with most sites being on the water, but we were glad we didn't try to do a walk-in prior to the RV Supershow.
It looked like a 30 to 32 foot rig would have been fine, but the few larger rigs were tucked in pretty tight and we are not sure how some of them got into their positions. If you are in the Tampa area and you have a medium sized rig or less and don't care much about satellite, I would recommend a stop at Fort DeSoto (assuming you can get in).
For the first time, I thought it might be nice to bring our tent and hang out for a couple of days. You see, we brought our tent, sleeping bags, a screened tent, and tent camping supplies just for an occasion where we might like to get a little closer to nature than our rig will allow. If and when we decide to do a little tent camping, we will leave our rig in a safe place AND I will let you know ahead of time that there won't be a Journal entry for a few days. :)
We made our way through the rest of the park noting a paved multi-use trail that was several miles long, bicycle and canoe/kayak rentals, a canoe trail, a doggie beach and playground, and miles and miles of beach. In fact, the North Beach area was just named America's Best Beach in 2005 by "Dr. Beach."
We stopped in at the canoe livery and asked if we could launch our boat. No problem and no charge. It was getting late in the day and it was a little cool, but we pumped up and were in the water in no time. The canoe trail was 2 ¼ miles long and was supposed to take about 2 hours. There really wasn't much to see other than mangroves, and we did the trail in about an hour even though half of it was directly into the wind.
Since we finished quickly, we took the time to check out the famous beach and take a couple of pictures. One thing we heard about Fort DeSoto was that raccoons were everywhere. That was true. We saw them at the campground, at the beach, in the parking lots - they were not waiting for dark. The park had all the trashcans rigged with heavy wooden covers to keep the critters out. Didn't matter - the 'coons had figured out how to squeeze in. Linda made a "note to self" - rattle all trashcans to make sure no raccoons will jump out when you open the cover. Good advice - so if you go to Fort DeSoto Park, rattle the trashcans before opening. We don't want any reader heart attacks on our heads. :)
We headed home for our last night with John and Therese before heading out on Wednesday. They had more friends arrive right behind us, so we ate and talked and Linda did laundry - the last freebie for a bit. Denise and her daughter GG got a tour of the rig and Denise bought one of Linda's cards for her sister. GG is a 24-year old that just quit her corporate job in Washington, D.C. She seemed fascinated and inspired by our life, as she has become wise in her youth and has realized "success" is not always measured in dollars. We wish her well in her own adventures.
It was an early night for me. And Linda soon followed. We have enjoyed our stay with John and Therese, but I am looking forward to our upcoming stay far away from city life. :)