I camped at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park as I started my trek across the Florida Keys. My main goal was going to remain elusive, as Dry Tortugas is booked out months in advance. Months! This isn’t even the peak season. I just don’t plan trips that way, but if I want to camp out beside Fort Jefferson, I’m going to have to compromise. I have two weekends booked already in the month of October, and I feel claustrophobic over it.
Camping in the east is a bit different than I am used to in the west, and camping on the Florida Keys is an art form all its own. There isn’t a whole lot of land out here on these tiny juttings of coral, so I get why every campsite is “thinner” than I am used to. Pennekamp is a very busy park, some great swimming and from what I hear some very good fishing happens near here, and those things do bring in the people.
Two sites from mine was a converted International school bus, which I thought was cool, and my enthusiasm led to a tour of the bus, much to the annoyance of the teen age daughter, but that didn’t stop me once the invite was extended. I didn’t want to appear rude, after all. They were some very nice people down from Maine, and I appreciated the info and tour, since I have a ’67 Dodge that could see something similar down the trail.
Sadly, my view of the bus was limited. Around dusk, the Moby Dick of recreational vehicles, squeezed its way between my tent and the bus.
I was sitting in my camp chair at the picnic table when the sun light went out. I felt like I was down at the base of a canyon. Suddenly, my view, was the Great Wall of Winnebago. All I could think of was, thank the blocked out stars that I would only be here the one night.
Still, this was the Florida Keys, and the Pennekamp park is very nice, if insanely busy.