An Uneasy Feeling, Florida

It was our final day at Fort Pickens, and we were looking at 4 nights of boondocking followed by another week or so of unknown or partial hookups. Since leaving Lake Whitney a week and a half prior, we had been either boondocking or had partial hookups. While we were fully prepared for this long stretch without full hookups, I had an uneasy feeling about our plan.

When I verbalized my unease to Will, he admitted he felt the same, so we found an inexpensive spot along our route with full hookups and laundry facilities for the following night.

The next morning, I took a solo walk to the beach and returned in time for us to finish packing up to hit the road. I also returned to a Bird who was just not feeling herself. Not 10 minutes after getting back while giving her the Mama cuddles she needed, she puked all over us both. (Never have I been more grateful we were heading to a place with laundry facilities!)

While some kids are prone to puking, Bird is not, so this was certainly out of the ordinary. She was working on a couple of her 2-year molars and had been in some discomfort, so we hoped that might have been the cause, as there was nothing else wrong.

We rinsed the puke off of us, changed clothes, and hung out for a little, but when the worst seemed to have passed us, we finished packing up and loaded the girls in the truck.

However, the puke was not over. When we stopped to empty the tanks on the camper, I ran our garbage to the dumpster and returned to a bawling child, covered in puke, repeating “puke, agunee” (her word for again). Of course, my heart broke for her, and my prospects for the drive ahead took a dive.

This puke in the truck ended our incredible streak of 0 pukes in the truck (human, that is, Daisy broke her streak over the summer), which felt rather commendable given the amount of time we spend on the road.

However, it did not deter from the fact that Bird needed changed, she needed convinced to let go of her now puke-covered doll and kitty, and we had an hour and a half drive ahead of us.

Once we got her cleaned up and replaced her stuffed animals, we thankfully had a completely uneventful drive to the campground.

Even though we considered extending our stay with full hookups, we only stayed the 1 night then headed on to our previously planned boondocking spot.

When we arrived, we knew we were going to love this place. It was on forest service land but had actual spots with tables and fire rings and was really quite nice. While there were some folks in a second loop of the designated campground, we had the lower area all to ourselves. Even though camping was free, we were required to make reservations (we did not know this in advance), so we quickly made our reservations and got settled.

The area we were in was absolutely gorgeous. We were within 100 yards of a river perfect for fishing and paddleboarding and there were so many birds. The place felt safe, and our spot was incredible, yet I still had a nagging feeling that something was amiss.

It seems my mother’s intuition was on point, as on our third day, things started going awry. First, the generator stopped working while we were eating lunch. Then, Bird got into a pile of fire ants (miraculously this was our first time dealing with ant bites, but they got her feet pretty good). And finally, our drone took a turn and ended up way up in a tree (read more about that adventure here).

Prior to this series of unfortunate events, we had already booked a few nights at a KOA. However, with that final straw, I called and revised our reservation to start the next day and take us until our next reservation with full hookups. I love boondocking, but I had reached my limit.

While we do not run our generator continuously, we certainly rely heavily on it. We need it to charge our computers for work, we need it to run the air conditioner when it gets hot out, and it is great for giving us the freedom to run the microwave or make toast or do anything else that requires power.

We learned a lot during these few days, mostly to trust our gut instincts and that this lifestyle is a continual learning process. Also, flexibility and going with the flow are essential. I love boondocking. I love the peacefulness, the beautiful places we have found, and the quiet that envelopes you when you are in the middle of nowhere. But full hookups are great, too. And finding that balance, listening to what everyone needs, and shifting plans when something just does not feel right are key.

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