a floridays journey

a floridays journey

Trip 12 – Fort De Soto

Date:Sept 23 – 26, 2022
Location:Ft De Soto, St Petersburg, FL
Type:30 amp, water
Mileage:430 miles
What did we learn:To watch the weather
Would we go back?Yes
Website:Pinellas County FL

We finally got to stay at Ft Desoto. We had a trip booked here a few years ago with a rental RV and it was canceled due to a hurricane. Now as we are going to St Petersburg, hurricane Ian is approaching Cuba and is projected to hit FL in the Tampa area later the following week. We decided to go as the storm was over a week away and we needed to get away. Our home on the southeast coast of FL is all set and ready in case the storm moves further south. We could also leave early to prepare if needed. Needless to say, we were watching the storm all weekend, talking and discussing if we needed to leave early, but ultimately decided to stay the whole reservation and leave on Monday.

We parked Floridays, hooked up the electricity, took the bikes off, and started to explore the campground. Our campsite is right on the water and has shade, and lush vegetation on each side. There were a number of campsites that were not filled as I think the storm had many RVers on the move to a more secure location. We sat in our chairs and read and watched the wildlife in front of us. There was a blue heron, a school of mullet, a black-crowned night heron, a raccoon, and even dolphins swam by. As sunset got closer we biked down to the far north end of the park where we watched terns and pelicans feeding in the surf as the sun set on the Gulf of Mexico. Sorry, no green flash. Wayne and I decided that getting up for sunrise was not going to happen so we ate dinner and had a drink.

On Saturday we slept in. We rode our bikes back to the beach and took photos of birds in flight. There is an area marked off on the beach for nesting Black Skimmers. I noticed an orange bucket on the shoreline and no one went by it for over an hour so I walked over and picked it up. It was in perfect condition with its handle intact and all I had to do was just dump out some sand. I actually enjoy picking up garbage from the beaches I visit. It makes me feel like I am doing my small part to keep the oceans clean for the animals I love. Wayne makes fun of me but we use the red bucket I picked up in Big Cypress last year all the time at home and before this trip was over we used the orange bucket to hold the sewer hose for the RV. We went back to camp to rest, read, and eat lunch. As 5:00 pm rolled around we started to plan for sunset. We rode back to the beach and photographed some wading birds, sanderlings, and plovers, but the best was a reddish egret feeding. This bird has a very unique fishing dance and while it is fun to photograph, it is very frustrating as well as the bird moves fast in all directions.

On Sunday we checked the weather and decided to stay as the storm had slowed and was not supposed to make landfall till Wednesday. The weather was still fine, and more and more rvs were leaving but this is typical of a Sunday. The main park was closed in the morning for a 15k race, which caused us to wait until 10:00 am to ride into the park. We went south to see what was there. At the end of the road to the south, you look out on Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Wayne and I made our way to the north end but decided it was getting too hot so we went back to camp for lunch. Then back to the north beach for sunset and the wind had increased. There were a few more birds feeding tonight, 2 American oystercatchers, a brown pelican, 2 reddish egrets, many least terns, a short-billed dowitcher, a snowy egret, sanderlings, plovers, and black skimmers.

We watched the storm from various sites – National Hurricane Center and Mikes Weather Page

We knew the evacuation order was coming for the area later in the day, so we woke up early and got on the road. The park was closing and I hope all of the camp hosts made it to safer drier ground. On the way home, we used scenic back roads and stopped by Highland Hammocks to check out the Cypress Swamp Trail/boardwalk. This is the trail where the momma gator and her babies were a few months back. We drove on Hammock Rd, which is unpaved, and the back way into the park. The water was high on both sides of the road and the trees were bright green. At the ranger station, we asked about the Cypress Swamp trail and the ranger said it was closed due to all the rain they have had and the boardwalk lost some boards that needed to be fixed. We decided to continue our drive home instead. Highland Hammock was closed for a few weeks after Hurricane Ian as the area received even more rain. I am happy to report the park is now open according to the FL State Park website. There are still many parks closed. Hurricane Ian devastated the Ft Myers area of southwest Florida and the water it dumped on the central and northeast coast of Florida had devastating effects on many Floridians.

You can donate money to various relief organizations such as the American Red Cross and World Central Kitchen. These organizations help your fellow Americans and others across the world.

NOTE: All photos and videos are the property of Wayne and Margaret Shoemake. If you want to use them, please click on the contact us page and email us.