A Day at Fort De Soto

We absolutely LOVE Fort DeSoto.

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We have camped here in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2008. Now, it has become so popular that reservations and campsites are very hard to come by. When we first discovered this Pinellas County park, you could only make a reservation in person. Our friend Dick that lives in Pinellas County would make the reservations for us and we had some amazing sites. The internet reservation system and the popularity of the campground dashed all hope of our camping here this trip.

So we just made our visit a one day outing. It was about a 50 minute drive from the Tampa East RV Resort where we are staying (sigh) to this paradise. The entrance fee has gone up considerably since our last visit, but still is only $5.

We went to the gulf pier first and although it was a bit chilly it was so nice to look out on the gulf. We then parked the car and took a long wonderful walk at North Beach (one of the top 10 beaches in the US).

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Walking along the three miles of beautiful, white sand beach we spotted this guy and were able to actually get surprisingly close to snap this pic.

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The chilly morning had kept the crowds away but the sun came out and it was the perfect day for a walk on the beach.

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For old times sake, we visited the campground and relived our adventures there. And we determined, yes, given the right site and the miraculous act of actually being about to snag a site, we could maneuver the beast into one of these near perfect campsites on the water.

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There’s a museum and fort to visit and lovely walking/biking trails to enjoy. For doggy, there’s a dog park and a dog beach.  If you get hungry there are a couple places to get a snack.

And yes, there are a lot of raccoons here. One year, a  family hung out under the picnic table while we ate and later sat on our steps and looked in the motorhome.

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Ponce DeLeon Park

Peace River Wildlife Center and Ponce DeLeon Park Punta Gorda

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While we were staying at Thornton Creek, we drove to Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte to explore the area. We happened upon this park in Charlotte Harbor. It was quite windy the day we were there so not too many people were braving the ‘beach’. The beach consists of some sand packed along the water, but raised above any tides. There’s public restrooms and a playground here.

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Also here is the Peace River Wildlife Center where volunteers work with wounded waterfowl and a variety of other small animals and is open to the public.

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This guy’s beak is bent .

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Many of the animals here are free-roaming and not in cages.

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The Center has been around since 1978 and takes in about 2,000 wounded patients a year.

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There were a lot of pelicans here.

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“Whoo loves the Peace River Wildlife Center?”

Thorton Creek Motorcoach Resort

Thornton Creek – 8338 SW Sand Crane Circle – Arcadia, Florida

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This is a ownership property with 99 sites by the very small town of Ft Ogden. Punta Gorda is 20 miles west and Port Charlotte another 5 miles or so away. They  began building here in 2015 and about 1/3 of the lots are sold. They only accept late model Class A Motorhomes. There are a limited number of visitor sites.

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There are 6 ponds with fountains and a total of 58 acres. There’s a beautiful clubhouse and heated pool.

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The developers offer a 4 day/3 night free stay to look at their property. They graciously allowed us to stay on site 2 a pull in with a view of one of the ponds. All sites have pavers and many sites are building casitas and screened rooms. Definitely a high end community.

The resort  also has undeveloped land along the Peace River where there are plans for canoe and kayak access. There’s a golf course next door usually a definite plus in our book, but this one is run down and unfriendly.

We were here for Valentines Day and they invited us to join them in a small wine and cheese party. It would be a beautiful place to set down roots – the question is “are we ready?”

Installing a SeeLevel Monitoring System

Sometimes you just need to know what’s happening in the tanks

The problem – the tank monitoring system that came on the coach – Digilevel – gave readings in 1/3 increments. Empty, 1/3 full, 2/3 full and full.

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You pushed the button and you got a reading for the fresh water, gray water and black tanks. The tricky part was knowing – if when you got a 2/3 reading on the gray tank – did it just reach 2/3 and you have 20 more gallons to go until full, or has it been on 2/3 for a while and you have a cup of liquid until its full. Can I take a shower or not? Not necessarily a big deal if you have water and sewer hookups, but if you can’t purge the tank or fill up readily, a big problem. We go to state parks and rallies where it would really be helpful to have a better idea what’s going on.

The solution – installing a system that gives more precise readings on the status of the tanks. After some research and recommendations we decided to purchase a SeeLevel system from Garnet Industries.

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Tom – mid install

First you must determine the correct readout unit for your RV. (Since we have an all electric coach we didn’t need a propane readout, for example.) We ordered the 709 P3 1003 from Amazon.

Installation involved finding the right wires going to the current system and connecting them to the new unit. Not an easy task. We did not want to run all new wires. And we wanted to do the installation in the bay with the tanks that is accessed behind a peg board. We got 3 strips that adhere to the fresh, gray and black tanks. They needed to be shortened, but all that is outlined in the instructions. Then it was a matter of connecting the wires and testing the system.

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The new readout panel did not fit in the old space and was too small so we fashioned a piece of Plexiglas and painted it black to fill the space. This took several attempts to get it right.

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We needed to purchase wire nuts, wire, wire strippers, a coping saw, Plexiglas, black spray paint, acetone (to clean the outside of the tanks so the monitor strips would stick) and gorilla tape.

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Inside post install

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Outside bay post install

By the numbers

217 – the cost in dollars for the unit from Amazon

100 – approx. number of 4 letter words used in the installation

65 – the cost in dollars for the other things we needed to buy for installation

12 – the time in hours it took for the installation (much of this time involved finding the right wires)

3- number of trips to the hardware store to pick up miscellaneous items needed

2 – number of days it took for installation