April 20, 2007. The good motorhome Itasca 35J set rolling from the driveway toward the Ft. Desoto Campground in St. Petersburg. This being the maiden voyage of the motor home, the entire Curbcrusher family were on the edge of their seats with anticipation. Although Mr. Curbcrusher’s knuckles were white as the tightly gripped the steering wheel, and he hoped he wasn’t going to sideswipe anything.
Mrs. Curbcrusher rode most of the trip in the passenger seat, and didn’t complain too much about feeling like she was over the white line, even though I probably rode a lot closer to the line than she would have liked. The drive down was uneventful. We traveled from Orlando to I-75 on I-4, and then took I-75 South to I-275. Then across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to St. Pete and the Ft. Desoto campground. This was done primarily to avoid the Friday afternoon traffic in Tampa, and partially because I like the big bridge. Driving the motorhome, pulling the Saturn, was different. The only other trip had been the one from the dealer to the house a week earlier. The first 80 miles of the trip (the part involving I-4) was fairly tense. I decided early on that I didn’t feel comfortable driving over about 60MPH. So I set the cruise at 60, and stayed in the right lane. Once I made that decision, things got easier. By staying the right lane, I only had to worry about people coming up on the left side of me (along with the people getting on the Interstate that don’t understand that an acceleration lane is for accelerating 🙂 ), I didn’t have to worry about passing people, and I felt in control of the coach. Once we turned South on I-75, I actually felt fairly good about the trip, and was able to relax.
Going over the bridge is different in a motorhome. When pulling the fiver, the truck, while higher than a car, is still fairly low to the ground. In the motorhome, your sitting up another couple of feet above where you are in the truck. When you look out the right window, you don’t see the barrier on the side of the bridge, you only see water. At least in the truck, you felt like you were even with the bridge, but in the motorhome, you know you’re above the bridge. It didn’t help that they were working on the very peak of the bridge either. This meant that the normal right hand shoulder was non-existent because they shifted the lanes right up against the barrier. As Mrs. Curbcrusher said “I only see water, I can’t even see the road. Could you please move to the left lane? ”
Ft. Desoto is an alright campground. Our last trip a year ago led to our introduction to the “roof eating tree,” a close relative of Charlie Brown’s “kite eating tree.” So it was with some trepidation that we returned with the Florida Pop-Up Camper group. Nearby in the park (about 3 or 4 miles from the campground) is the North Beach, which has been rated as one of the top beaches in the USA. The park has a good number of waterfront sites, but unfortunately we’ve been unable to get one when we’ve reserved. The non-water front sites seem to all have a certain narrowness in common. So this time, while backing into the site was easy, we were unable to put out the awning as a tree was pretty much right in the way. The sites have 30 and 50 amp service and water. There are two dump stations in the campground, and we haven’t waited to use one on our Sunday exit on either visit. There are two well equipped playgrounds in the campground, and Little Curbcrusher has given them her approval. The are a number of waterfront sites that appear to be wide enough that you could use your awning and on a future trip we’ll probably shoot for one of them.
In addition to the beach, there is an actual fort there also. Both times that we’ve been, there’s been a WWII re-enactment going on. There were a number of static displays, and we wandered around the camp that was set up for about a half hour and then watched a battle re-enactment. Since Little Curbcrusher had been studying WWII in school this year, it made for an educational field trip tacked onto the recreation of the weekend.
Driving home was easier. It was Sunday morning for one thing, so there was less traffic on the road. We came back via I-275 through Tampa to I-4 and then Orlando. Driving through Tampa wasn’t bad. There was only one time I almost got trapped in a right hand exit only lane. Even I-4 wasn’t too nerve wracking.
The Itasca made it’s first trip to storage this afternoon, but didn’t get into what will be its regular home. Since we sold the fiver, the two people on either side of us have squeezed over and taken about a two feet each off our storage site. So, we are in a temporary site until they move their stuff at some future date.
All in all a great inaugural trip for good motorhome Itasca. Some pictures are here.