Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Impromptu overnight

Peace River Seafood, Punta Gorda, Fla.

We are parked adjacent to a rail spur in a small industrial park in Punta Gorda, Florida (map). Just around the corner is a popular local restaurant (and fish market), the Peace River Seafood Company, where we walked for dinner, bundled up in our winter coats. It was really a very nice stop, which we came across quite by accident.

Yesterday afternoon we finally left the Arcadia Walmart close to 2pm and rolled over to the post office. Unfortunately, Louise's package, containing the sheet music for her choral workshop, was not there. We had to give up on it, and they are overnighting her a replacement to our friends in the Tampa area, where we'll be in a few days. Thus done with Arcadia, we started heading to Punta Gorda, where we have long-time friends.

We had emailed them early in the day about being in the area and trying to get together, but we had not yet heard back by the time we got rolling. In hindsight, we probably should have stayed right there next to the post office until we had a firmer idea of our destination, which would have given us one final chance to check General Delivery later in the afternoon. But daylight fades early this time of year, and even though it was merely an hour to Punta Gorda, without a clear idea of where we'd stay, and knowing that the Elks lodge, one possible option, was down a fairly narrow road, we got under way.

And so it was that just as we neared the city limits, we still had not heard from our friends, and were also not in any sort of agreement about where to go until we did. I started looking for a place to pull over where we could sort things out and maybe make a more concentrated effort to reach them. As luck would have it, there were no safe, legal, or otherwise suitable turnouts on the right side of the road for several miles, although we did pass a number of businesses on the opposite, northbound side of the divided road.

When I spotted the sign for the industrial park I figured there would be some parking lots and/or a wide spot in the road where the inevitable trucks could jockey around, and indeed we found this wide area with the railroad siding straight away. We parked out of the traffic lanes and set up the dish so we could work on alternative overnight options as well as await word back from our friends.

In addition to the Elks lodge, which is $10 per night for parking (there are no hookups), I found three other potential overnight spots, including the Walmart not far from our friends' house. By late afternoon we also heard back from them, and they are not available until Friday evening, meaning we'd need to find not just an overnight spot, but accommodations for three nights.

The whole time we sat here, close to two hours or so, fewer than a half dozen vehicles passed us. I also walked around the entire industrial park, which is quiet and perhaps 30% vacant. One business had an MCI bus conversion parked outside, quite possibly the proprietor living on the premises, judging from the way it was parked. We figured we would hardly be noticed here for one night, and discovering the restaurant a short walk away sealed the deal. We moved the bus a couple hundred feet, to be further from the housing development to the west and, instead, adjacent to the train tracks, where we guessed no one would be disturbed by our generator or Webasto.

This last item was needed because it got down into the 20s last night, a stark contrast to the lovely weather we'd been having for the last several days. That also put the kibosh on seeing the Quadrantid meteor shower last night -- even though it was a clear night and it is relatively dark here, neither of us felt like getting up at 3am to sit outside in 25° weather. I think we'll wait for the Perseids when we can lie outside in summer temperatures and be comfortable.

It was cold enough last night that I decided to turn in just before midnight, early for me, and enjoy the warmth of the electric blanket. As is my custom in such surroundings, I glanced out the windows before heading to bed, and I spotted a sheriff's cruiser idling a couple hundred feet away. I think the guy was taking a nap, as he just sat there for half an hour with a foot on the brake, and this is a pretty out of the way spot. I tuned in to the county dispatch just in case, and kept an eye out until he left. As soon as he put the car in gear, he fired up the spotlight, drove over this way, and gave us a thorough inspection. I am guessing more out of curiosity than anything else, as he never exited his car and I heard nothing on the radio.

It was a great stop for one night, but we don't want to push our luck and so we will move along this afternoon. We'll pick one of the other spots I identified yesterday afternoon for tonight's stop. In the meantime, I am trying to book myself a massage someplace in town, to deal with a stiff neck that is causing me some pain, and that might influence which spot we'll end up in tonight.

Photo of Peace River Seafood Restaurant by JenniferHuber, used under a Creative Commons license.

1 comment:

  1. Sean -

    It always amazes me how you manage to find all these "stealth" ONP places - it's almost like you're hiding in plain sight!



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