Trip meter 230 miles
Fort Myers Beach, Florida
Our trip today was to get on Interstate 75 and glance off the eastern edge of Tampa/ St Pete about 80 miles south of Homosassa Springs, and continue another 149 miles south to Fort Myers Beach.
We left Homosassa Springs at 9:30 AM- not a bad start for us time-wise, but it was down hill from there. Right away I came to a 3 way junction in the road and took the wrong turn- or more accurately, I didn't turn at all. In my defense who would think the road you are on- the one you want to stay on- is the one that make a right angle turn- and some completely different road continues on straight ahead? So- okay I may have been a little hard to convince that I had indeed gone the wrong way- but once Joan did convince me, we got turned around and went back.
Once we got out to State Route 98 and headed south, we missed our turn onto Hwy 700/ 98 to Brooksville, which continues east to Interstate 75. We did not want to take Route 589 the Suncoast Parkway, because it is a toll road, and even though the GPS was telling us to turn, Joan and I saw the toll sign and kept going straight. Well we later found out that to stay on route 98 you have to turn because if you continue on straight the highway changes to State Route 19. You starting to see the pattern that we weren't grasping here? Well no big deal we thought, we'll continued down 19 and cut back over to the Interstate on State hwy 50. Surprise! Route 50 is under construction- miles and miles of it.
We did eventually get to Interstate 75 and got headed South towards Tampa/ St. Petersburg. As we neared Tampa the traffic got more dense, and by the time we were 20 miles out from Tampa, we were in the middle of 3 lanes of solid traffic. Any one who has read this blog knows that I do not like Interstates, and we would not be on one today if we did not have reservations in Ft.Myers Beach for tonight. We could have taken our time and gone down the coastline. Poor planning on our part, mostly because of all the cold weather we have been running into here in northern Florida. We were ready to be in warmer climes and got ourselves in a hurry to get there. We decided to skip on down to Ft. Myers Beach and then hop out to the Florida Keys- surely it has to be warm and tropical there- doesn't it?
While calling for reservations in the Keys we learned that RV space rents go down starting in March. If we were willing to change our itinerary and stay in Ft Myers Beach area for 10 days we could get a substantial discount on our space rent in the Keys. The economics made sense to us. Our stay in the Keys is going to cost us big time- about 4 times as much as the mainland- so any discount is welcome. Fort Myers Beach is the access to Sanibel and Captiva Islands and there is a lot to do here, We were happy to find an RV space that was available and some-what affordable there.
So much for the sidebar- back to our road trip.
I was in full whine about the curse of Interstate driving. As the driver of a big rig like ours, when you are going 65-70 mph in three to four lanes of traffic, you have precious little time to look around, and it's like playing a video game to try to keep the other drivers sorted out, and your coachwork from intruding on someone else's lane. Add a side wind like we had today and it makes you tense and irritable.
Luckily I have Joan sitting next to me with the map, or more likely the iPad open to a moving map, guiding me on what lane to be in and where to take an exit.
By noon we were just clearing the traffic associated with Tampa, so we decided to exit at Ruskin, Florida, Where we stopped in a mall parking lot to make some sandwiches for lunch, and to stretch our legs.
Back on I-75 for an additional 149 miles. The sun was shining and the temperature outside climbed to 78 degrees- warm enough to call for a touch of air conditioning! The farther we got from Tampa, the better the traffic situation- life is good. We settled into a steady 65 mph and cruised into Fort Myers Beach, arriving at around 3 PM. Joan navigated me through some city traffic and with some help from our GPS- ended up at the front door of Fort Myers Beach RV Resort. Swimming pools and movie stars! Well a swimming pool anyway.
Even though we look at the websites for each prospective RV park we choose- it's not always an accurate indication of what your going to experience. We admit it, we were a little concerned about finding a place here that could take us on short notice and had a spot for 10 days- which is how long we plan to stay. With a 10 day stay, however, it's important to get a good situation, that you can be comfortable in. I said all that, to say this, we are in the tightest spot we have ever been assigned in a park setting. The woman that checked us in and assigned the space, warned us that we would not be able to get around the park with the car in tow- and she was not kidding! I still have trouble believing we made it into this space, and I have no idea how I'll get back out!
I'll take some pictures tomorrow and see if I can better explain with a photo or two. We did get situated and spent about 45 minutes getting set up, connecting the utilities, putting out the awnings, putting the sun shades over the front windows (a first for this trip- haven't needed them till now). The temperature was in the high 70s and I worked up a sweat, before I got smart and traded my cool weather clothes for shorts and a T-shirt. We got out our comfortable chairs and kicked back with a cold drink and some Cheez-Its while we were getting used to our surroundings.
As the sun was setting we had a quick dinner and then went walking to check out the rest of the park.
Tomorrow we plan to to pack a lunch and head for Sanibel Island, splash in the ocean and hunt a few exotic shells.
Oh!, by the way. I just looked this up-
The latitude of Medford, Oregon is: 42 degrees, 32 minutes north
The latitude of Fort Myers Beach where we are is 26 degrees, 44 minutes north
The equator is of course 0, and the poles are 90 degrees.
A degree of Latitude is approximately 69 miles on the surface of the earth. That would mean that we are now 1,085 miles south of Medford.
We only had to drive 4,659 miles to get here!
Jeff and Joan