Camping at Larry and Penny Thompson Park
Updated: Jul 6, 2018
The van is over-packed with provisions, as we head south on I-95 with a 3+ hour drive ahead of us. We picked a campsite bordering the everglades; a good half-point between home and the keys. This campsite boasts lots of trees, fair prices, and even 3 waterslides woven throughout rock formations. Its 1:30 when we finally depart, and we must arrive before 5pm to be allowed into the campgrounds. We are cutting it very close, with possible rainstorms arriving from nowhere at any given moment, and the uncertainty that Miami traffic can bring.
We were blessed with blue skies, and almost a surreal absence of traffic. We arrive at 4:45, are told the waterslides are not open yet, but we can check out a binder of newspaper articles written by Larry Thompson himself throughout the 60s and 70s. Though it doesn’t seem like a fair trade, something is better than nothing. We hand over our IDs, sign papers we don’t read, choose the “Camping Adventures” binder as it seems most fitting and head out to find our camp spot.
Because my van is not a manufactured RV, we are not able to park with the other vehicle dwellers, but instead must head to the “tent only” campsite. We are pleased to arrive down the road at an area desolate of people, but filled with trees. We are elated to have the whole place to ourselves, since we weren’t planning on sleeping in a tent, but rather just pitching it next to the van. Alone, we felt less awkward doing this.
Our walk to the bathrooms is short but lovely for many reasons. The bathrooms are pristine. Even with my little camping experience, I know this to be an anomaly. Finally settling down from our rush to make it on time, we are able to observe our surroundings and now notice that the trees we had already felt much appreciation for their shade and beauty, were actually filled with some of our favorite produce: mangos and lychee.
Back at the van, we shower ourselves with bug spray, empty some bags for our hunt, fill our canteens with vodka and Gatorade, and head out to explore the grounds and hopefully return with fruit for the week. The venture does prove to be fruitful, with as many mangos as laughs.
We cook and amazing dinner outside on our camping stoves with couscous, veggies, and vegan sausage. This would be the best meal we would have the entire trip, and due to it’s drunken nature, we never could quite remember how we made it so magical. It was a rough night’s sleep in the heat. Our self-made AC unit helped, but so little that we tossed and turned throughout the night.