Fun in the Rain

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Helps to have a dry spot

in the middle of a 2 day rain….felt like noah and the ark.  Power was out from Thursday morning till 7 pm on Saturday evening.  Campgrounds apparently don’t get high electric company priority but there were over 25,000 residents affected.  Reportedly 9 tornados in the immediate vicinity of the park environs.  Several large trees toppled in the park…one just inches from a large 5th wheel.

After the rains passed the sunshine returned Friday-Sunday. 

We got in a really great hike along the river…which by this time was really swollen with runoff…the famous class 2 rapids in the park were gone under probably 4-6 feet of extra water.  Also a great bike ride from the park to adjacent Dead River Park, accessed by a beautiful long tree covered dirt road.  Both Hillsborough River State Park and Dead River Park are part of the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve, a group of 6 linked parks offering mountain biking, canoeing, birdwatching, hiking and more.  Be sure to follow the links to each of the individual parks for more detail.

Interesting what you learn…fill fresh water tanks when you arrive.  We normally carry 1/3 full but once the power’s out and the pumps servicing the water supply are off you live with what you have.  Park generators supplied water during the day so we filled the freshwater tank so we’d have showers.  A 12v deep cycle battery lasted 3 full days supplying power for refrig, water pump (when park water was shut off) and lights.  Fortunately Karen keeps lots of candles and battery powered laterns so we were able to really conserve the use of overhead lighting.

Things to bring for the next time…DC to AC inverter so I can charge laptop and cell phones in truck when power is out as well as other small appliances in a pinch.  Cigarette lighter recepticle with alligator battery clips to power Favi 19″ TV…which runs on DC as well as AC.  This would allow TV in camper and outside with no power.  Memo to self….keep rechargeable batteries charged prior to trip.

Oh…and a special thanks to friend Connie who gifted us a great little LL Bean LCD mini lantern as a “RV Housewarming Gift”.  Came in handy Connie, thanks!

Finally, although we can easily go 3-4 days without overfilling the black & grey water tanks, we were in danger of not being able to dump.  With power out the park’s wastewater dump was closed.  Fortunately with the return of power Saturday evening the dump was restored for our Sunday departure.  In contingency planning, however, I learned that the closest truck stop…a Travel Center of America…offered a free RV dump facility and that directories of free/pay dump sites are available online.

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Back to Hillsborough River State Park March 30 – April 3

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While we were in Tampa at the Heartland Rally we had a chance to drive up and take a look at our campsite for our return trip to Hillsborough River State Park.  Looks great!  Fun to try out another loop.

While we were there we were surprised how many big rigs were there….class A and 5th wheel.  A lot of folks tell us they don’t do much Florida State Park camping because their rigs are too big.  While there are some spots that are too small I’d say at least half could easily accomodate rigs up to 40 feet.  So far Reserve America, where you make reservations for Florida State Parks,  seems pretty accurate in their listing of the dimensions for their sites.  Always best, tho, to make a trip to visit the park, if possible, before you camp so you can not only see all there is to do as well as scope out the sites.

Hillsborough River State Park

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Our inaugural voyage was November 11-14, 2010 to Hillsborough River State Park (click to read more).  We stayed in spot 105 and would recommend this Park for campers from tent to RV.  Great bike riding, lots of other parks nearby to expore, and just 15 minutes to Camping World on I-4 Exit 10 at US 579.

Also had the rig weighed at the Florida Weigh Station at I-4 Exit 14.  Here are the rig weights:  Weights

Pictures of this trip are here:

http://floridastateparks.floridasun.airpost.net/hillsborough%20river/