Tag Archives: Florida camping

Here Be Dragons

Earlier this month, we visited Myakka River State Park, known for its alligators.

Myakka River State Park, Florida’s largest state park, lies less than a mile from my Gulfport home, but once you’re inside the park, if you didn’t already know how close you were to the most densely populated county in Florida, you’d never believe it.

The travel trailer’s relatively new to us, so every time we camp we find things to tweak. We bought a Viking 17FQ in March; we bought it used, but only a little bit – whoever owned it before didn’t do much to modify it. That means that, right now, every trip includes a hefty dose of wildlife, nature, and organization. One of these things, you may note, is not like the other.

On this trip, the takeaway for me was this: Unexpected digital detoxes don’t work for me.  Don’t get me wrong – I love being away from my computer and phone. Just… not unexpectedly. Not when I’d planned on using down time in the park to finish writing a pitch to a magazine, clear out emails, and start re-designing this site.

I should have known better than to trust I’d have cell service in the park. My rationale was simple, but flawed: the park’s not even 10 miles from Honore Road, a main thoroughfare in Sarasota. Reader, it’s a long, gorgeous 10 miles and, as with so many other parts of Florida, it’s metaphorically much farther, and by the time we passed the park entrance, I watched bars vanish and realized I wouldn’t get much work done.

Overall, that was OK. Sure, we did drive to a part of the park where we had a weak signal so we could send a few last-minute emails that had to go out that day, and yes, we did look ridiculous holding our phones up in the middle of this raw wild place, trying to get enough of a signal to text the petsitter, but nothing bad happened. No one died.

For the average traveler, going without cell service is no big deal. So you miss Twitter for a few days; so what? For someone who earns her living writing about traveling through Florida, though, being able to use the internet while traveling is an efficient necessity.

And so our latest tweak is a cellular antenna and mobile hotspot. I have no desire to get into the mechanics of how that works, except to say it’s delightful to explain to the quite-young clerk at Best Buy what an antenna does. By “delightful” I mean, of course, “reminding you that you’re middle aged and, to that clerk’s mind, ancient.”

I’ll let you know if it works – we’re headed into north Florida soon, and I have high hopes (and also plenty of books downloaded on my iPad in case it doesn’t. I’m optimistic but also a realist.)

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