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Published: March 27th 2017
From the Madeira Beach KOA
Madeira Beach KOA, St. Petersburg, Florida
We don't particularly like KOA's - they are more like Disneyland's than campgrounds, what with all the amenities and the high prices that go with that. I suppose that since they spell it with a 'K' instead of a 'C' they can get away with it, but we call it 'glamping'. (I suppose, though, that all things are relative - there are those that would argue that our way of 'camping', in an RV trailer with a furnace, an A/C, and a refrigerator, isn't true camping either.)
But sometimes we just can't avoid it, either because we couldn't find an alternative, or because what we want to see just isn't near a state park. In this case, it was a combination of both - Joan wanted to see a couple of things in St. Petersburg and the nearest State Park suddenly booked up. So, somewhat in a panic, we ended up here. We'll be fine for just two nights, although this is the most expensive campground on our trip. It is on Long Bayou and the mangrove trees are right on the edge of the campground. There are hundreds of campsites here and, for those who don't have an RV, there are dozens of small little cabins scattered around that are for rent too. The place is designed, really, to keep people inside so they never have to leave - like Disneyland!
Took some doing to get here, though. Yesterday morning I was examining routes on Google Maps and saw that the alternate route here was just fifteen minutes longer than the Interstate Route. And, because it was a continuation of route 98 which we had enjoyed so much the day before, we decided to continue on it and US 19 down to St. Petersburg. It was fine, as a highway, really. But it got kind of boring. After a few miles of four-lane divided highway surrounded on both sides by a mixture of skinny little Florida pines and palmetto bushes so thick you couldn't see past them, you've seen everything you are going to see. Yes the ratio of palms to pines seems to increase the further south you go, but the essential character is unchanging. It is a ribbon of asphalt laid down through green.
Every ten miles or so, you have to slow down to 45 in order to go through a town of some kind, but mostly its just driving in a straight line. We added another 240 miles to the trip yesterday, stopping for gas once and for lunch in Cross City. It was another buffet of southern cooking. Joan liked the fried chicken better than the Alabama lunch, but I didn't agree. They did offer a beef stew here and very tender pork. I also liked their Lima beans.
Although the bathrooms were clean, there was an experience in there worth mentioning. I was using the urinal, as a guy is going to do on occasion. And to my alarm, the bottom of the urinal starts to move. Not exactly in a position to react rapidly, I watched with increased alertness and was able to discern the largest damn cockroach I have ever seen - at least four inches long and nearly an inch wide. Now I've seen cockroaches before, especially in some of the places I've lived in New York. But I have never seen one that big. I finished my business and left him swimming.
More satisfying wildlife viewing occurred here after we set up a camp. A snowy egret lives in the neighborhood and, after flying over us a couple of times, he finally settled down on a motorhome across the way, and then jumped down to the ground to parade around the campsite. The girls were just dumbfounded with what, for them, was a bird as big as they are.
Equally confounding for the girls, and for us, was the sight of another camper walking his cat! I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the animal weighed as much as Smooch and the camper had him on a leash and was scooping up after him. I guess if they have cockroaches as big as the one I saw, then they have to have big cats to go after them!
Clearly, we're in another kind of world!(17.1.19)
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