Maybe Florida was not a good choice after all… Maybe I’m the biting insect whisper.
We decided to split our week in two and after spending the first half at W.P. Franklin we headed down to Collier Seminole State Park in Naples, Florida. A quick history of the park, in 1920 Barron Collier owned a million acres, which included a hardwood forest known as Royal Palm Hammock. This was because of a strand of native royal palm trees that grew there. A 150 acres were reserved for what was hoped to be the “Lincoln-Lee National Park. The government did not accept the proposal and it became a county park before it was turned over to the state in 1944.
Collier Seminole had been closed for around a year for renovations. Other then the nice new bathhouse I’m not sure what updates were done since we had not been there before. The campground loop we were in was not a very private one. Sites were tight and ours backed up to a very noisy road. Hind site, we should have booked a site in the tent loop. One of the benefits of being in a tiny camper is we can sometime fit in the smaller loops. If a site says pop-up, we are usually included, but always ask!
Enough with the mosquitoes…
Yeah, I know, it’s Florida, what did we expect? Now we had heard rumors that the mosquitoes were bad at Collier Seminole. And it wasn’t a rumor, it was a true story. I don’t know how one person can walk outside and be covered in bites and another person, nothing! But by this point, with my legs and other areas itching from the bites at Oscar Scherer, I’d had enough. At this point I was also rethinking the logic of a trip to Florida. (Luckily the bugs did get better the further south we went.) It was time to get the big guns out. Yet another trip to Walmart, and 38.00 bucks later we were the proud owners of a Thermacell Mosquito Repellent killer! This little gadget was going to be my Obi-Wan Kenobi! My mosquito whisperer!
The Thermacell comes with the main unit, a butane cartridge and packaged inserts that are coated with insecticide. Now this is where you need to do your own research on the pros and con’s of using this chemical. I’m not going to go in to it here. For me the pro’s out weighed the cons. Flying little things that bite, love me! Seriously, my skin is like fly paper. I’m very careful chemical wise with pretty much anything I slather on myself. I try for no parabens, phthalates, no animal testing etc… However, when it comes to mosquito’s, gnats and ticks… I turn a blind eye, and just don’t read the fine print, Deet becomes my friend. I do try to use an essential oil mix as a first line of defense. But sometimes you just need the big bad nasty stuff.
So how did this little unit work? Luckily, we didn’t have to use it very much after Collier Seminole, but when we did and sat within a 5 feet radius I didn’t get bit?! I know that’s not a very scientific report, I’m sure you can find one though if you google it, but for me it was worth the money. The only draw back, you need to remember to turn the butane off! Refills are not cheap and you want to make sure you are not wasting it. I would recommend putting a timer on as a gentle reminder to turn it off. I also put the partially used repellant pads in a zip lock bag between uses keep them from drying out as fast.
In the State Park
Collier Seminole does have a nice kayak trail that is tidal so you want to check the tides for the easiest out and back. We choose to paddle out to Mud Bay at low tide so we only got out so far. But it was a nice lunch spot to get out and muck about in the mud! Be careful if you do paddle out in high tide. The tide goes down fast and you will be dragging your boat though some deep mud.
Always check the park office and the bulletin boards around the campground for programs offered in the park.There is usually something going on that will interest you or give you a little insight in to the the area. This time we lucked out and caught an ice cream sundae night put on by the Friends of Collier Seminole. Always show up for ice-cream and especial when there is homemade fudge sauce!
Apples and Batteries
The other pluses to this park was the close proximity of Walmart for those times when your car battery dies! Luckily a very nice Canadian with a full supply of tools was camped across from us and got us jumped. He even cleaned all our connections and checked our fluids!
And the close proximity to Naples and the Apple store was another benefit. After having issues with my phone for the 2 weeks prior (30% battery bug) I decided to take it in for a quick fix. Seven hours later….well it did work somewhat better. On the plus side they have supper fast wifi and I got a lot of work done and got to see how Apple closes shop for the night. Theres a lot of polishing!
On the bright side…
When you travel, whether full-time, part-time or just for the day, you are bound to run into issues. Things break, reservations get messed up, people are obnoxious. But with just about every issue you run into there’s a flip side. The good side. Some small take away. You just have to step back and look for it. Yes I could have found something more exciting to do besides sitting in the apple store for seven hours. But I met some great people, had fast internet!. The car battery? Well I’m glad it died in the campground not in some random trail head and we got some great pointers from our neighbor. The mosquitos? umm. I might have to get back to you on that one… 😉
Notes on the campground:
- Site 81 backs up to a road.
- Verizon was good.
- Paddle trail in the park with rental boats available.
- Laundry at one bath house.
- Max RV length is 50 feet.
- Walmart and Publix grocery store about 10 miles away
Out and About:
The best thing we did in Naples was ride our bikes. We parked the car for free at the Cambier Park and then went on a bike ride around the neighborhoods and out to the pier. We had thought there would be bike lanes and there wasn’t. For us it wasn’t a problem, but know that you are riding on streets with cars. The pier is beautiful and it’s sitting off a pretty beach. The shells where beautiful and there were several shore birds I’ve not seen buzzing around. After the pier we rode our bikes over to The Old Naples pub for lunch. Outside seating and on the tables, mason jars with all you can eat pickles, for free!
Back on the the bikes and on to Naples City Dock for some entertainment. All the charter boats were coming in and cleaning their fish so the pelicans were all hanging out waiting for handouts! What can I say, we are easily entertained!
The closest beach town is Marco Island. It’s a condo beach town that you have to pay to park and enter the beach at designated areas. We lucked out and found a lot that was either broken or having a generous day and we got to park for free. The best part of this beach was all of the shells that were on the sand! I’ve never seen so many great “conch” shells in one place. I believe they were fighting conchs. But there were thousands of them. Way cool.
If you’re looking for a place to base camp to explore Naples and Marco Island, then Collier Seminole might be the place for you. I could not see myself just hanging out in this campground because of the mosquitos and lack of privacy. Now maybe the privacy issues might be better in another site? And the mosquitos might be better another time of the year? It was good park as far as a quick launch with the kayak. And there were enough roads within the park to get a bike ride in. Oh, and the homemade fudge sauce was great!!