The Inaugural Voyage - Winter 2008 travel blog

Darling wildlife refuge

another view

getting fixed

Sanibel light house

As we slowly circumnavigate coastal Florida, Ft. Myers seemed like a promising stop. We had two goals during our visit. The largest RV dealer in southern FL has a repair facility here and we have been troubled by one of our jacks, which descends as it should, but does not ascend when it's time to hit the road. This sets off a warning alarm which beeps incessantly. The technician who gave us the repair appointment recommended that we stay at a campground about a mile down the road. This campground must have been here since God invented Florida. It was full of tiny deteriorating mobile homes interlaced with RV's from the north. When it was first built it was probably big enough for the campers of the time, but there were no sites that were truly long enough for us. We found a spot that was just wide enough and hung our rear end over the ravine in the back and almost got our nose off the road. As usual, our parking dilemmas attracted the attention of the natives and we were surrounded by friendly, helpful folks offering to move their cars our of the way and suggesting better sites. The folks from next door are also from IL and they have been coming here for 14 years and her parents for years before. They spoke of how the neighborhood had changed over the years - a bit dicey at the moment. We would not like to stay for any length of time, but for the repair, it was a perfect location and the price was right.

While we waited for the jack repair, we met goal #2 - to meet up with our next door neighbors from home Don & Lora who are camping here for two months. They've been coming to the same campground for a number of years, too, but theirs was much nicer and offered activities. They took us on a drive to Sanibel Island, a place we've always want to visit, noted for the quantity of shells that wash ashore in the winter. After admiring the rather austere looking light house and the gorgeous beach, we drove through Darling National Wildlife Refuge looking for wildlife, mostly birds. Sadly, there were few birds to be seen. Don is an avid catch and release fisherman and he said that fishing has been poor, too. A wildlife refuge is not Disneyland and animals go where they wish. We have no idea why they weren't here. When in doubt, I always blame it on global warming. Sanibel buzzed with tourists. It has miles of bike path that would merit a return visit on our part and cute shops and unique local restaurants. Don & Lora said that Sanibel was leveled and nearly stripped of all vegetation by hurricanes a few years ago, but we would have never guessed looking at the lush vegetation growing there today.

After a great day together, we headed back to the repair shop where we found that the jack repair had not yet taken place. The preventative maintenance we had also scheduled was finished, and the technician determined we needed a new jack and had the parts on hand, but had not yet begun the install. No good explanation was given, so we find ourselves camped at the North Trail RV repair facility, fifty feet from the expressway. But when we go inside the motor home, get a cold drink from the fridge and fire up the computer and TV, we are as comfortable as we can be. Tomorrow after we have kissed beaucoup bucks good-by, we can hopefully head out to a much nicer campground where we can settle in and continue to enjoy Ft. Myers.

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