Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Beautiful Barrier Island one day; afternoon of drama the next

Tuesday February 11 & Wednesday February 12, 2014
2014 RV Dreams Boondocking Rally
Fort Ogden, Florida




Today is Cayo Costa Beach Day and I’m READY!   We all show up at 10 till 8 AM at the fire circle to caravan to the boat launch site. Now being somewhere, even if it is just outside your front door, at 7:50AM is not a problem for me but it is for David who doesn’t even get up until 7:15 or 7:30. So he has to set an alarm for 6:00. Why you ask if he already has lunch made the night before will it take nearly two hours to get ready to go to the beach? I always wonder the same thing.






We are taking a boat out to the park which is on a Barrier Island off the cost of Florida at Punta Gorda.  When we get there, I find out that the boat ride out is 2 hours and although they have two boats that usually go, one of them is booked for a charter so there are nearly 80 people on this boat.  Seating space is scarce and some folks have to stand.   I’m wondering about the capacity of the boat and check to see where the life preservers are although later I find that the bay and gulf waters we are going through are at most 24’ deep.   I’m a great floater and an OK swimmer especially the back stroke so no worries.







We have great weather for the day and easy seas, a nice thing with so many people.  We get seats inside at a table where David stays and chats with Louise.  I get up and walk around, ending up on top where Nancy and Bill are part of standing room only so I stand around with them while Nancy uses her eagle eyes to spot loons and dolphins.   Nancy makes me feel like I need a new set of eyes.  Mine just do not see 1/10th of what hers do and I just got a new optical prescription in October.   Remind me of my friend Dan Beiker and amazing birder who hears birds and identifies them by their calls and chirps.   I have taken his “Birding by ear” class at least 3 times in my hometown and every time I go get my hearing checked to see why I often cannot hear what he’s pointing at.



While we are up there, with the bright sun and the blue skies and water, we try to get our shadow pictures off the side of the boat.  This one comes out pretty well.  We also marvel at how many people stand directly in front of this sign.  At first the assistant Captain asks people to move out of the captain’s view but he can’t stand there the entire trip.  Nancy points the sign out to others but pretty soon we just give up and I take a quick shot of the sign during one of the times no one is standing there.







The captain gives some history of the area and calls out dolphin sightings.  I’m not quite so sure about the veracity of some of the information given about the original inhabitants, the Calusa Indians.  I’ve read a lot about them and when he tells us they were cannibals I’m very tempted to object.  These were seafood eaters and the builders of all these giant mounds.  How do these rumors get started?  And why do they get perpetuated??





The first mate gives us some geography lessons and we find out that we have started off up beyond the top of the map and are traveling to the left hand bottom where he has his finger on the island.   We are traveling out of Charlotte Harbor.  This is not a deep water port so there are no big ships.  The depth in this entire area runs from about 7 to 24’. 








It feels like a long trip  even with good seas and the troops have begun to get restless when we finally arrive about 11:30 and see the welcome sign. 

We are put on a tram to go the one mile from the bay side of the island to the gulf side.  Normally I would walk this distance but since it turns out we won’t have even 3 hours on the island, I want to get over there quickly and get my feet in that water.




They drop us off near the bath house and we walk away from the tram and take the trail down to the gulf beach.  They will be back for us in just over two hours.  Boy is that short







It’s a beautiful beach, white sand, tropical blue waters of every shade.  I immediately roll up my pants and get my feet in that water.   It feels warm enough to swim in for me.  Florida Springs water at 74 degrees is about my cut off and it feels like that.  The sun is shining.  Why didn’t I bring my suit?  DARN!!








Without even eating lunch,  I set off for a walk away down the beach to find the unpopulated section.   Soon I hear Nancy behind me.  I didn’t bring my camera which has probably suffered nearly its final blow when the battery door broke off.   Plastic parts=planned obsolescence.  Any advice on a good camera with a zoom lens that will give me the same view as my binoculars will be greatly appreciated.   What is that camera Nancy Mills has?  :-)






I just don’t want to deal with the battery door and the bungee cord I am using to try to keep it shut, so I didn’t bring the camera at all.  Since Nancy doesn’t blog much any more, I guess there won’t be any pictures.  Although later Howard catches up with us so you could see some here on his journal if you want. 






It’s a beautiful island and deserves a lot more time than we have here today.  I only have time to walk up the beach, come back and eat my lunch, sit for just a bit in my chair reading and look at some shells before it is time to get back on the tram.

I need to figure out some other way to get here.   They say kayaking over is too far and too rough but I’ll still check around for other opinions about that.  They rent cute cabins on the island so you could stay over night and you can tent camp here as well.  I don’t know how many boat companies bring people and drop them off for a few hours each day.  But we do see several private boats just beached and people in their chairs on the shore.









My favorite spot for sure.  Well other than being IN the water.



They sure look like they are having fun.  If only I hadn’t assumed it would be too cold.  NEVER assume anything I have told myself over and over.  SIGH………




The island has lovely shells.  Small ones on the beach near the tram drop off and larger and larger ones the further away you get from there.  UNLESS someone has docked a boat nearby.  People never tire of taking bags of shells with them.  What do they do with them all??    I take pictures not shells these days.  So I’ve left them here for you to see.  There’s a kitten paw on the left.  Do you see it?  And a piece of sea glass on the right.




Out in the water one last time.




And a quick selfie before we pack our stuff up and walk back to the tram.





We get loaded back on the tram and headed for the boat for another 2 hour ride.  My compatriots and I grab one of the benches on the first tram hoping to get better seats on the way back.    Nancy is serious about not wanting to have her picture taken.  Down the sandy road we go.









Our trip back was just like our trip out.  Nice weather, good seas, too long…………..but this time we saw more dolphins and David managed to get pictures of this pair who were playing around the bow of the boat.   They are such fun to watch.  They roll and dive and jump and actually swim upside down.

His camera is still easy to use so he takes too many pictures.  But how can you help it?













Back at the farm, we got a nice sunset and another wonderful campfire.  In sum,  Caya Costa State Park thumbs up.  The boat ride from Charlotte Harbor, not so much.  Nice ride, too long.  Either a faster boat or a shorter distance would be my recommendation.  We spent nearly 5 hours on the boat to spend just over 2 hours on the island. 








WELL Wednesday is a day of drama. 

It starts off just fine with a reprise of Monday’s seminars for those who arrived late.  A VERY nice thing to do I thought.  And for those who had come at the beginning and heard the first go round there was an additional discussion of internet on the road.   The morning is very informative with new people asking new questions and the addition of the new topic.  Again we learn a great deal and have what we already had learned further cemented into our brains.  HA!

And then comes the drama.   It had actually begun the day before while we were all innocently out at Cayo Costa.  It seems some inspectors from the county had come out and issued a citation for having a gathering without a permit. 

What?   You need a  festival permit is required in order to invite some folks to park their motor homes in your field for a week.  This isn’t a public event.   Poor Howard and Charlotte had to go plead the case and when they came back it was thumbs down.   We were given 24 hours to vacate the property.  Since Ed and Charlotte’s direct neighbors are all family, no one is sure who the neighborhood grump with complaints about our little group is.

Well you can imagine what a flurry this vacate order causes.  At 3pm, People, including me,  are scrambling to try to get reservations at other campsites. Most of us have other places to go on Sunday which is the day the rally closes but not for Thursday/Friday/Saturday.   If you’ve ever tried camping in Florida during the winter you know that you can forget picking up a campsite for a week-end.  And this week-end is even worse since it is a holiday week-end.   I didn’t even know this until one of the places I called mentioned Presidents’ Day.   How out of touch we get when we allow ourselves.  I love it.

But back to the drama.   Mean while people are gathering out in the center.  Our boondocking expert  GINA   is full of information such as on Friday we could go to a local Wildlife Management Area and buy a $27 annual pass and stay in any of Florida’s areas for an entire year.   OK then for two nights that’s just over $13 a night.  Not bad.   She also reports that no this Walmart will not let you boondock but the one up on Kings will and so will the Cracker Barrel and on and on and on.  She is the boondocking campsite queen for sure.  

Someone else has located a private campground which, for $45 a night can take us all for tomorrow night.   OK then we’re set.  BUT there is also a tornado watch for the next two hours and heavy rain predicted for later this evening and tonight.  Some of those with big rigs are worried about all this weather and being able to get out of the field tomorrow morning after such a rain.

To make a long story short, about 5 rigs head out for other spots for one reason or another.  Less than an hour later comes an amazing last minute reprieve.  Somehow through some unknown pressure the order to move out is extended from tomorrow to Sunday which is the day we are going to leave originally.  So now no one has to move or go any place.  BUT some folks are gone and it’s too late to get all but one of them back even though Howard and Linda valiantly call everyone.  Sadly for us, one of the couples who left is Nancy and Bill.  We’ll miss them for the second half of the rally that’s for sure.

It was just an amazing small town council knee jerk reaction and boondoggle in my opinion.   Charlotte was told by the council today that she and Ed would not be permitted to stay in their own 5th wheel on their own land due to county regulations.  Are you kidding?  They can’t allow relatives to drive way dock or sleep out in their own coach if company comes.   Wonder who is the neighbor who raised the stink that got the “inspectors” out in the first place.  I’ve camped in family drive ways in the city without problem.  What’s going on in this little rural area?

BUT it all worked out after everyone wasted all afternoon trying to deal with the mess. And with all the drama, I took not one picture even at the restaurant. 

After it was all over and we were safe again, some of us went out to dinner at Peace River Seafood and Crab Shack for dinner.  All you have to do is say seafood and point the way and I’m in.   I order 6 medium steamed crabs and get 8 crabs and some extra claws for $12.99.   The best deal on steamed crabs I’ve seen in ages.   Nobody is crabby at this point we are all very happy to be staying and happy to know that a wild hog roast is still in our future.  But Howard and Linda were understandably very tired.   Sadly, because I didn’t take one single picture all day so you cannot see the happy faces at dinner or the mess I made with the crabs.

The tornado didn’t show thank goodness but the rains did.  It poured and thundered big time while we were in the restaurant.   Hopefully all will be dried up by our Sunday departure deadline.  Tomorrow is sure to be a much better day!!  But it was an experience.  Howard said he’d like to do it here again next year and get the proper permit just to irritate the complainer.   I LOVE IT!


  1. Yep, that's drama. Someone wants some $$$$ in their back pocket, it seems to me.
    It also looks like Howard and Linda dropped the ball in not seeking out laws of the area.
    We live in a land where the government is interfering in our lives way too much.

  2. Too bad the boat ride was so long. The island looked a nice place to spend the day. Glad you had fun while you were there.

    I read about the drama on Howard's blog this morning. What an almost disaster. Good that it all worked for most of you.

    With cold weather and tremendous windy today, the field should be hard as a rock by tonight!

  3. WOW....You are talking drama ..... Sounds like a problem in the boonies .......somebody thinks they are in a gated community and has a control issue ...... I always thought a get-to-gether in the pasture would be so acceptable, never dreamed you would need to apply for a permit .... Oh well, Ft Ogden hope a real BIG problem doesn't come your way ..... Thank goodness you all can carry on until Sunday ..... Enjoy the pig roast !!

  4. Howard says in his blog today that he now feels he should have checked more carefully but who would think that in a rural county you could not have a group of friends in your field if you wanted to. Turns out you can't even stay in your own RV in your own yard here. The rule they used to cite us was for a "public gathering" which this was not. It really was stretched to try to find something we were in violation of. My guess is that they were advised that if someone were to protest and sue over this, they would lose so since we were all moving out on Sunday anyway they relented. I don't fault Howard and Linda at all.

  5. Every neighborhood has one nosey complainer, right? Glad it got sorted so that you don't have to leave early. It never would have occurred to me to find out if I needed a permit to have friends camp on my property. Ridiculous.

  6. Oh, I love seeing your pictures of the beach. I've got 15 inches of snow on my back porch, but we've got a work reprieve (both today and tomorrow), so I've got some time before I actually have to start shoveling my driveway. It's supposed to warm up tomorrow and Saturday, so I'm going to hold out for lots of melting before I take a shovel to it. Wish I were there! Thank you!

  7. Wow, happy everything worked out and you all didn't have to move! I just love reading your very honest and often humorous commentaries about anything and everything. :)

  8. I think it sounds like a wonderful day, and even the dramatic part of it turned out ok. Too bad about the folks who left though.

  9. You can never expect a government agency to use common sense. Just be happy when they rarely do;)

  10. Ironic that at a gathering with a subject of boondocking, you all get hassled for getting away from it all. I have heard of more communities adding language to prevent driveway docking. A lot of it stems from the ole lost revenue issues where RV parks have lobbied hard to restrict docking anywhere else but parks. Sounds like a whole new topic for Boondockers to discuss.

  11. That was too close for comfort. I can just imagine the hair pulling over trying to find another campground in FL during the winter. Hmm, maybe some of those highly over priced campgrounds, (the same ones that work to make Walmarts off limits) were involved in this...even though their amenities were not as nice as a cow pasture complete with cow pies! :cO

  12. Ridiculous! Glad it worked out. That pig roast sounds mouth watering. Remember to take pictures ;-)

  13. The thought that kept running through my mind as we creeped along in the boat to Cayo Costa was the theme from Gilligan's Island..."a three hour thour!!" But wouldn't mind being marooned on that island for a few days:o)) Oh, the camera is a Nikon D3000 and the glasses are trifocals;o)

    Sorry we had to run, but just couldn't imagine seeing Baby stuck in the mud. We are still boondocking and practicing all we learn from the rally...just 100 miles away!!!

  14. There's always going to be drama isn't there? Florida has some quirky regulations all around the state, but Howard and Linda are so meticulous with their planning and making sure all bases are covered. Who would've ever thought or been able to see this coming? I'd love to see that island - not sure about the boat ride. Would be fun to stay in one of the cabins. Hope all fared well at the farm during the storm.

  15. Glad the drama turned out OK. I had my battery door break on the camera and I was able to put a small wood screw in it. If David could do it it might get you a few more months. Mine was good until I banged it on the side of the coach while coming in the door.

  16. we were considering going to this rally but Howard never returned my email requesting information... sort of glad now he didn't, too much drama for me... glad you got to stay till Sunday.

  17. Wow...on their own land. Wonder who brpught it to the 'inspectors' attention:( When I read about the tornado possibly coming, I almost laughed. Too bad Nancy and Bill dashed off too soon; I'm glad you got to stay! 5 hours on a boat for 2 on tge beach...geez...glad you got to see dolphins!

  18. Read about all the drama on H&L blog. They've had their share of the 'authorities' after them :-) I see Louise is there at the rally. We met her at the Tennessee rally, was parked right next to us in fact. She's a terrific lady!

  19. I would've wanted to stay on that island for way longer than 2 hours! It was beautiful! the sea glass is a color I have not normally seen. Love the dolphin- I think if I could be an animal, it would be fun to be a dolphin. xxxooo

  20. Too much boat and not enough beach. I am guessing their bigger boat which was tied up by the charter group would have been faster making for less time on the boat and more on the beach. But at least it was a beautiful day. With drama like that, who needs TV?


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!