Taking off for Sun ‘n Fun is always exciting, even if it is for the 37th time. It would have been 38, but they cancelled 2020 for some odd reason. Usually my excitement is multiplied by the vagaries of flying weather, but this year, alas, my transport was my truck instead of Princess (my 1968 Cessna 172). Like an old man, I packed up the truck with camping gear the night before—I vowed to leave early on Saturday morning. Now, mind you, the show starts on Tuesday. Sheesh.
Of course you know what happened. I woke up at 4:00 am on Saturday and could not go back to sleep. Luckily, I have the world’s most loving and understanding wife, who treated my 6:00 am departure as though it was entirely reasonable. God, I love that girl.
Oblivious to the world not centered on I-75 south, I switched on the radio to hear two words that struck panic in my navigating soul; “Spring Break.” The announcer admonished anyone traveling south to get an early start to avoid the mass of revelers heading that way. Luckily, 6:00 am was early enough. The trip south was accomplished at highway speeds in moderately heavy traffic. Listening to a Dateline podcast, I cringed at the story of a wife who had just about enough of her husband, so she hit him with a stun gun and then placed his still live body into a 55 gallon drum of hydrochloric acid. Note to self: treat wife much better.
Interestingly, I came upon miles and miles of bumper to bumper traffic, thankfully headed North, near Gainesville, Florida. I was puzzled until I realized that these were snow birds, headed back to Canada before the spring breakers hit and before their tax status evaporated. Note to self: use the back roads to return home next weekend.
After seven hours of driving and 23 old man potty breaks, I arrived at Drane Field Road in Lakeland, turning right to camper registration. The volunteers there are real pros and I was registered, certified (and probably sanctified) within minutes. It was a little lonely, setting up my tent by myself. Last year, I had Forrest, Jim and Peter to keep me company. This year I am solo for the first few days.
In a testament to old man planning, I set up my tent and was wind- and water-tight within 20 minutes. Then the rain came. Real rain with lightning and everything. I got in the truck and lit out for Books a Million in Lakeland. Later, I met old friends Jerry Fischer and Linda LeCroy for dinner at Sonny’s BBQ. When I returned to the campsite, it was still raining, but I successfully made it into the tent with minimal drippage (that is not a real word, but it should be). Few things in life are more satisfying than falling asleep inside a dry tent during a rain storm. In the morning, my tent floor and sleeping bag were still dry. Life is good.