Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fort DeSoto County Park (St. Petersburg, FL)

We departed Alafia State Park early Friday morning so we could be at Longview RV, east of Tampa, by 8 am to have the Norcold frig recall work completed and to review some warranty issues. We bought our Montana in Indiana but Longview is a Montana dealer.  The recall work apparently went smoothly and they seem motivated to facilitate our warranty repairs.  The process includes them getting approval from Keystone and then we have to return for the repairs.  The list is not great but if you're interested (if you're not skip the remainder of this paragraph)  these are the items we're having repaired:  The black water tank back flush water fitting has been broken since we picked up the camper. (we stayed 2-3 days at the dealer when we bought it checking out/learning systems but failed to identify this problem); no matter how meticulous I am when dumping tanks I get some seepage left in the discharge pipe when I open it the next time for dumping.  I'm convinced the valve is not closing or staying closed properly.  Even though Longview didn't peel back the underbelly to inspect the valve, they have taken my word for it and submitted the repair for approval; both clips that secure the Bedroom sliding closet door have broken; the wood inlaid mountain scene on the Living Room slide inside fascia board, that serves as a Montana logo, is warping; I/we believe the on-board water pump is too noisy.  Now the truth is I think that they are just noisy.  I think I've heard others speak of this.  (I welcome all input on this observation.)  The service rep listened to the pump with me and said, "yes, they're noisy" and gave me some suggestions about how I might quiet the noisy bugger.  OK, that's it.  On to Fort DeSoto.

We, (that normally means Debbie) have made/cancelled several reservations at Fort DeSoto (near St. Petersburg) for this winter as our itinerary has changed.  They won't give refunds, only a credit for a year, so we felt compelled to make this work somehow now while we're in the area.  The result is that we were to be in one site one night, the next site for two nights and a third site for a week.  We were here last winter with our 30 foot Sunnybrook so we were familiar with the layout.  However, our Montana is 38 feet.   Fort DeSoto is a beautiful campground.  Part of that beauty includes MANY trees, low limbs and narrow roads!   Simply driving through the campground requires close attention!! We SQUEAKED into the first site on day one.  I wouldn't say that I'm a great backer upper but I think I know what I'm doing.   The site on day two presented greater problems.  It may be accurate to say that we got the camper into the site.  However, this included nearly leaving a vent cover and an AC unit in the trees.  We didn't but to say that it was CLOSE doesn't give the situation justice.  Another problem was that the truck was twisted at a 90 degree angle from the camper and nearly up against a tree.  I was concerned that if I disconnected the truck from the camper I'd never be able to get it reconnected!!!  We hustled off to the office and they found another available site we could have for 2 nights.  (Remember, this is a winter Florida weekend).  So we approached plan B.  We made a couple attempts at the new site and bailed out.  We weren't even close.  The greatest problem is the narrow road with  a billion trees right at the edge leaving no room to swing my long bed, 4-door truck.  Back to the office.   They have two "emergency" sites that are quite large and far more "easy" to get into.  They assigned us one at the base of their HUGE water tank.  The tank looms overhead maybe100+ feet.  The site is surrounded with weeds, has no grill  and required a dozen blocks to level the camper.  However, to us it was a BEAUTIFUL site!!!!!!!!!!!

We gratefully settled in for the next two nights.  Debbie and I know that we have grown greatly as a backer upper team.  Debbie has become an animated spotter and we use our walkie talkies.  I have developed some patience with myself as well as Debbie.  I imagine I have some company when I speak of the stress created by this challenge.  We don't want to look stupid, we don't want to be beaten and we have a lot of money tied up in our lifestyle.  So I think it's reasonable to be concerned about crushing the side of the truck or caving in the camper roof.  But the truth is that Debbie and I got through this ordeal and were still on pleasant terms. ha! ha!  We practically glided into the third site with our eyes closed!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you're still with me I'll continue.  Fort DeSoto truly is a beautiful location.

The park encompasses an entire peninsula.  In addition to the campground, they have a great dog park and beach that Bo and Laska loved.  Just looked at their happy faces!

Dog Beach at Ft. Desoto

A marina, miles of trails to ride bikes, lots of beach, birds...

canoeing/kayaking, no road noise and beautiful sunsets are just a few of the additional highlights.

Just be prepared. There are some large sites that will accommodate the largest units, even a few pull-throughs.  You just have to work your reservations early. Enough Enough!!!

We had the opportunity today to enjoy a bonus compliments of following  Donna McNicol, aka Froggi, organized a luncheon I guess for all those who were interested in attending.  I think this was an outgrowth from  "dreamers" spontaneously gathering at the Tampa RV show.  You know the deal, I get my info from Debbie and I go.  So I'm guessing 30 folks showed up at a Smokey Bones in Lakeland, Fl.

People drove in from an hour or two out just to enjoy the camaraderie.  We had met Froggi and her husband Stu for only a moment in Tampa.  We had previously had dinner with another couple, Charley and Sherry in Tampa with another gathering of RVers.  A third couple had attended a full timing rally we attended last April.  My point is that we didn't know who would be there and barely knew the folks I mentioned above.  Somehow it seemed important to attend.  I shared with Debbie that I thought it was indicative of our full-timing lifestyle that we would or could just truck off to an unknown event.  Froggi MC'd the gathering just enough to get us started.  She encouraged everyone to sit with folks they didn't know.  Froggi has obviously been well organized and charming for a long time!!  So we just had a great time.  Not surprisingly most or all of our conversation related to our mutual RVing experiences.  We made new friends and left with a few "business" cards to facilitate staying in touch with these new friends.  Blogging enables us to get to know each other without being with one another.  Debbie and I were flattered that we were included!  For those that were present and are now reading this, THANK YOU for contributing so greatly to what has become this wonderful life experience.  Today's event just adds to the pile of mighty pleasing memories!!!!



  1. Parking some times can be the worst part of our lifestyle... but just kiis and say ok we made it!!! We love Fort DeSoto and have spent many of good times there as our children grew up. It was a pleasure meeting you guys and hopefully we'll get out there to visit you before you leave.
    Have fun & enjoy the beauty of the area
    Travel safe

  2. So glad you guys could come...the lunch has actually been in the works since December. We knew there were too many in the area to meet one on one, so I decided to try to pull off a lunch...and it worked! LOL!

    Safe travels...hope to see you on the road again some day!

  3. It was great to meet you all. Glad to read about Ft Desoto, I've been wanting to go but didn't plan enough in advance.