Camping, Part II

So I haven’t been camping in 20 years, and that trip was a complete mess. I mention this because I just planned my first camping trip in 20 years. It’s been so long that I’m not sure I really remember how to do it properly. No better way to learn than to do, right? Now you think I’d pick a nearby campground or my backyard in order to just get the hang of things before going on an excursion. I can’t do things the easy way though.

We have one of the top beaches in the country nearby, at Fort Desoto Park. They have a campground, and I always joked that it would be my campground of choice, since there’s a sushi restaurant right down the road in case the whole “roughing it” thing doesn’t go well. The problem is, the campground is always booked well in advance, and it’s already booked until the summer, when things will be uncomfortably hot. So, where to camp?

I chose the Flamingo Campground. Go ahead and look. It’s essentially the last bit of dry land at the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, deep in the Everglades, on Florida Bay. That’s right; for my first camping trip in 20 years I elected to go deep into the swamp, to a campground that sits between Gator Lake and Snake Bight, and is known as the best place to see the American Crocodile. Gators are common in Florida, but Crocs are rare, and aggressive compared to alligators. Mosquitos at this camp can be so numerous that old legends tell of clouds of mosquitos snuffing out lanterns.

Oh, and I’m making this trip by myself. Three days in the heart of the Everglades by myself with the gators, crocodiles, snakes, and mosquitos. I could get eaten alive by any of those four and nobody would know until I didn’t show up for work the following Monday. More than one of my friends has said “You’re nuts!” when I told them my plans. I suspect they’re right.

I think it will be a good thing though. Three days far from civilization, with no electricity, in a National Park, all for the cost of $48. Time away from all of the things in life that feel like they are suffocating me. Time to be myself, by myself, and just enjoy being alive. I imagine I will come back with a good sized list of Things Not To Do When Camping, but what the hell, you only live once.

Wish me luck.

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