Sunday, November 13, 2016

Our First Time Camping at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Florida - Day 1

Our First Tent camping at Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Our Very First Tent!
Our Outdoor Group that we had joined, planned to go camping at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

This excited me, because I had always wanted to try camping there.  I have been canoeing at Jonathan Dickinson  about three different times, unfortunately without Nadia.  I really wanted to take her here to open her eyes to the beauty of the park. 

Jonathan Dickinson State Park, is located in Martin County, FL.  The Park has a variety of natural habitats and the Loxahatchee River runs through it.  There is canoeing, kayaking, hiking, Ranger Programs, seasonal horseback riding, camping and more.

Jupiter lighthouse car driving to jonathan dickinson state park
A picture of the Jupiter Lighthouse from the road
As the weekend got closer, my anxiety level grew.  The weather was forecasted to be in the 40’s that first night we were to camp.  The camping trip was from Friday night to Sunday afternoon.  Now remember, I am a Native Floridian.  40 degrees is very cold to me!  We also needed to bring our bikes on this camping trip.   We have just simple mountain bikes.  I thought that would be best if we went on rough terrain, there are no mountains here, but they do have a mountain biking trail.  I also needed to purchase a bike rack.

Bike rack with bikes to car
Hooking Our Bikes to the Bike Rack
Finally the day had come!  I had asked to work a half-day, so I could have the guy at the bike store put the bike rack and bikes on for me.  It just seemed really tricky to me.  I took pictures while he put them on, so I could try to figure it out on Sunday when we were ready to leave to come home.  After leaving the bike Store, It was time to pick Nadia up from school.  The forecast was still showing 40 degrees during the night.  

When I got Nadia home from school, we went through our supplies one more time and started to load up the car.  Mind you, I already loaded what I could in the trunk the night before, because of the bikes.  My co-worker, Lu-Ann and her husband were going to start heading out around 4:00 p.m.  So we left our house around 4:00 p.m.  Our car was so stuffed, that there was only room for Nadia and I in the car.  I brought every jacket and blanket I could find and was still worried about Nadia freezing at night.  The drive was about 2 hours long.  I was constantly looking in my rear view mirror making sure the bikes were still attached.

Camping at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Florida

Nadia and I, arrived at the park and checked in at the Ranger Station.  They directed us where to go and then told me “Make sure you keep all food out of your tent, we have a lot of critters down there and they know how to work the zipper on tents.”  OK, I said and then thought to myself as I was driving to the campsite, what kind of critters is she talking about? Raccoons? Possums? Surely she is not talking about bears; they are not usually this far south.  I then told myself, to calm down it is going to be fine. We arrived at our site, and our friends were already putting up their tent and getting the Chili ready for dinner.  There was to be one more person camping on our site, but they had not yet arrived.  

As soon as I got out of the car, I went to take the bikes off the rack.  I could not get the bikes off!! HELP!!  Thank Goodness, my co-worker’s husband, Ted, was able to get the bikes off, but it did take a while.  He said that we really needed to get the extender bars, which would make putting the bikes on a lot easier.  After I could get the trunk open, Nadia and I put up our tent and got the air mattresses blown up.  We got our blankets and pillows all set up.  Some more people arrived and set up camp on their sites too.

Cooking over the Campfire Camping fun
Cooking Over the Campfire
It was time to eat!! Nadia roasted a hot dog over the fire and the rest of us ate some Chili.  I was starting to feel calmer.  I also was thinking to myself, “Hey it is not that cold, I don’t really even feel like I need a jacket".  

After dinner, the four of us sat around our campfire listening to some Irish Music. The other person on our campsite arrived.  Her name was Lisa.  She was very nice and I could not believe how brave this woman was, showing up at night to go camping by herself.  We helped her get her tent set up.  

Afterward, I made some hot cocoa with marshmallows for those who wanted that and coffee for the others.  It was definitely getting colder and Nadia was ready for bed. Luckily the bathroom was not far.  You just crossed through some little bushes and the bathroom was right there.  They were clean and the showers had a changing area in each one. We used the bathroom one last time before bed. 

I had on gloves, sweatpants, hiking socks, a long-sleeved shirt, two sweaters and a jacket with the hoodie on and climbed into my sleeping bag.  Nadia, I guess can take the cold better than me.  She did not want any extra blankets on and told me to stop worrying.  I finally was feeling warm enough to sleep and prayed that Nadia or I would not need to use the restroom, because I did not know if I could move from this position.  I loved laying there listening to the sounds of night, but I was surprised by how bright the moon was.  I am pretty sure it was full moon.  If not, it sure looked like one.

Nadia Enjoying her Hot Cocoa
Nadia and I woke up at 6:00 p.m.  We survived the cold and ran to the restroom.  When we got back to our tent, we opened up the windows and whispered as to not to wake the other campers and looked and listened to the birds as they flew by.  They were pretty loud.  The campers on our site woke up and we all started working on breakfast.  We had pancakes and Lisa made sausage in a cast iron skillet.  Yummy!! Especially with a nice cup of HOT coffee!! Also, we all made it through the night without any critters getting in our tent :)