THE WHO: Mike, Eris, the lowrider camping hound, and I, Nick and Jodie, Annette, Elsa and Sam.
THE WHERE: Lake Panasoffkee, Florida
THE WHEN: March 29-31, 2019-our maiden voyage with our Viking.
THE LOWDOWN: We heard about this boondocking location from Hebard’s Travels, (thanks Laura and John) it is part of Southwest Florida Water Management District, more commonly known as SWFWMD. SWFWMD purchased the 9,911 acre Lake Panasoffkee to preserve the lakes vast floodplain forest, pine flatwoods, freshwater marshes and the majestic oak scrub forest. There are miles upon miles of trails to be enjoyed by hikers, bikers and equestrians. The area opens up for hunts and at that time there is no camping allowed.
THE CAMPGROUND: The campground is a huge grass field with dispersed campsites each with fire rings and picnic tables. There is a bathroom with flush toilets and sinks with running water. There is water but the signs say that it is not potable. The campsite we choose was under some beautiful majestic oak trees. We choose this site because of the shade and the closeness of the bathroom. We have a bathroom however Nick does not. It is free to camp but you must get a permit from SWFWMD (which can be somewhat difficult-but easy after you get it figured out.) There is also a barn that could board 7 horses. A nice feature for sure.
THE REASONS TO GO: Since this was our maiden voyage, we decided to go boondocking, who needs electric and water…not us. We pulled it with Mike’s old truck, circa 2005, with a towing capacity of not enough, so we took it as easy as we could going there, so we thought. Straight up US 19, came in to 44 via the hills, I mean huge hills with winding road, beautiful for a nice country ride, however, concerning when we are pulling a camper with a truck that we are questioning it’s ability. It did great, however and its still alive to talk about it. But we now know we want a 250 4×4 truck.
After arriving we looked out at how beautiful it was and realized before we were even setup that it was worth it. The camper was amazing and as I sat there writing in my camping journal my view of the fields, sometimes with cows and sometimes without, was truly breathtaking. Also I was questioning how we ever camped before and what took us so long to get in a trailer. Not sure if I can ever go back to tent camping. The only issue we had was the leak, which originally we thought was behind the toilet actually came from the sink, no biggie because Mike will fix it as he fixes everything because he is simply amazing. We also realize there is a few things we want to add but that’s it.
So the reasons to come are simple, the many views. the hiking, the sunsets, the sunrises, the peace and quiet.
After going on a long, (long by the dogs standards-at least Eris’ standard) hike, we came back to the campsite and the pups were tired as were the humans, we had lunch, rested and then played tourist. We went to Wild Bill’s Airboat Tour. Where we all had an amazing time, riding on the airboat, and the captain took up the river where we saw alligators and a boat going up one side of the dam (on a boat ramp) and flew down the other side (on a boat ramp)he also took us through Tarzan’s tunnel, (apparently where the movie was filmed). After we returned Mike and I held a baby alligator, who was so cute. Didn’t realize that their skin is so soft. After we were done Annette needed to get gas for the truck because well, we learned from Long, Long Honeymoon (LOLOHO) if you are going to need fuel and you are out, you should probably do that without your camper on the back, it makes it easier, (thanks Sean and Kristi). So after returning Mike decided to follow suit. So he and Nick left to fill up our truck, while Annette kicked my butt in Mexican dominos. What happened while the Mike and Nick were gone shouldn’t have surprised me-Mike found a winery. So of course if there is a winery/brewery around we MUST go check it out. After a gourmet (ok maybe not so much but it was tasty) dinner of spaghetti and meat sauce and garlic bread we headed to the winery. Oh my the wine was tasty. It was so much fun to play tourist. When we returned we had a beautiful campfire and the dogs were still tuckered out.
Sunday morning after watching the beautiful sunrise from my huge back window of our camper we got up, had pancakes for breakfast (traditional Sunday breakfast for us when we are camping, or so it seems) and then I was on a yellow wildflower hunt for some photos that Annette would like for me to get printed for her. I found some for her liking and will get some prints made. I played with my camera, the guys played with their drones. We walked around and then we had a nice leisurely lunch and then started to breakdown camp. It was a perfect day on top of a perfect weekend. We are not sure why this particular weekend (after all it isn’t like we don’t camp at least once a month) was one of the most perfect, peaceful, restful weekend, was it because of the company, the perfect weather, the fact we could breath in fresh air, that everything went extremely well with our camper, or the fact that there was no check-in time nor check-out time, no way to know for sure but try to replicate it again. I am willing to do so, sooner rather than later would be good with me. To say it was difficult to go home is an understatement. Eris was still super tired (which makes for nice travel days-just sayin) until Tuesday, but it also made it easy for me to drive home, which I did. Not a huge accomplishment for most but for me it was since I am used to driving a Kia Soul and towing our tiny camper. The trip home was easier, we drove through Floral City, and Brooksville where while there are hills they aren’t as steep as the ones that we went coming up.
It was most successful and can’t wait to get out there again. Until next time….