Hot Water and Riot Gear: Doing Laundry in St. Pete

Woo boy. After leaving Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland, FL, I had the notion that we would follow along the coastline of Western Florida and cross over at Clearwater to go down the string of beaches. What a mistake. Since we are newbies to the area, we took route 60 over, which I guess is something a non-newbie would never do. It took approximately two hours to cross over the bridge to the beaches!!!!! As soon as we reached the other side, we agreed that Clearwater is NOT for us. So busy, so crowded, so yuck!

By the time we reached the Clearwater beach area, it was well past lunchtime. We start getting noticeably crankier at lunchtime. So far on the journey, we haven’t ever really stopped anywhere for lunch. We just stop driving, set up camp, and then eat something, but today we had decided NOT to camp since a storm was moving into the area, so Saturday and Sunday were going to be hotel days.

Finally, after much traffic battling, we reached St. Pete Beach and stopped for lunch. The place was in between lunch and dinner, but the bar had appetizers. So we munched on a couple of items and debated what to do. We wanted the trip to be as unplanned as possible, but that led to situations like these, where we had to now book an exorbitantly priced room. The downside of spontaneity. We didn’t stay at the hotel where we ate since it would’ve been $400 for the night. We ended up choosing the place next door, which was $200.

What. A. Dump. We get to the room and check for bed bugs first thing, and I never check for bed bugs. I don’t think the bathroom door had been cleaned since 1997. The main items in the bathroom were clean, but the walls, door, and crevices CLEARLY were not. Whatever, right? It’s only for one night. I need to get some laundry done, so I head up to the laundry while my husband deals with the coolers. While putting the load in, I become acquainted with “child-proof” zippers on the pod package. I feel if they need to put child-proof zippers on the bags, they should also put “40-proof” instructions on the package in type size large enough for me to figure out how to open it without holding it away from me and squinting.

I put a load of laundry in and head back to the room. After about twenty minutes, I go back upstairs to check on it. It’s nearly complete, so I sit on the chair outside the laundry room. While I’m waiting, I hear screaming and swearing going on nearby. I ignore it, and go get my stuff. What in the actual WHAT? I put this washer on COLD, but my clothes are blazing hot!! Luckily, I had put a color catcher sheet in there, which was now completely black. My clothes appear to have survived the scalding hot water, so I put my stuff in the dryer, and head downstairs with my delicates. After a few minutes, I go back upstairs, and see officers there taking a report. No surprise, given what I heard previously. I take a couple things out of the dryer, and sit on my chair by the elevator to wait on the rest. After a few minutes, I see several more officers arriving. Hmmm. The hotel manager is in front of me on her phone, asking for the master key “as of five minutes ago.” At this point, I get up and go into the laundry room because I think there might be a medical emergency and I want to get out of the way. If only.

While I’m in the laundry room, the maintenance guy that brought up the master key joins me. Now I see the elevator open and an officer coming out with a riot shield and a mirror on a stick. So I’ve reached one of those “no turning back” moments. I know that if I leave my laundry now, I may never see it again. No one is taking my brand new Happy Camper shirt from me. NO ONE. So I dig in my heels and take a few more items out of the dryer.

A few minutes later and I hear the inevitable. “GET ON THE GROUND!! GET YOUR F%#^ING FACE ON THE GROUND!! HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM!! PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM RIGHT THE F^&K NOW!!” This situation is literally right around the corner from the laundry room. The hotel manager has run into the laundry room with the maintenance guy and me making a freaked out face. I’m not too freaked out since I am texting the play by play to my dog sitter.

Now we have to pause the story so I can say Damn. These dryers are STILL going on a buck-fifty! If I was at the laundromat, it would’ve cost me $12 to dry my clothes this long.

To continue, after the big confrontation, they weren’t letting anyone off the elevators onto the fourth floor, “it’s too dangerous.” Although I am approximately five feet from the dangerous situation, I still haven’t been asked to leave. Do I look like I’m undercover, I wonder? 🙂 So the decision to not abandon my laundry was the right call, unless I wanted to come back to postage stamp sized garments, since we’ve established these devil machines will run all night on $1.50.

After that mess, we head out to dinner. The first part of dinner, we got to eavesdrop while some twenty-something’s that really have the world figured out discussed living in the moment, Buddha, yoga practice, and leaving the realm. This might be an over generalization, but most people I’ve met who live in the moment are selfish d-bags.

When we returned to our hotel, we found a pool party with 80s hair metal going on, so we took a quick trip to the gulf sands for a pic, and went to bed (with earplugs).

Will I ever return to St Pete’s? Maybe. Some day in the far, far off future. If I can ever forget the overpriced nightmare of today. Off to Key Largo for day five tomorrow!


Day Three: No signal and no worries


Day three of our journey took us to Manatee Springs State Park in Florida. I had checked this park and they had no availability, but on an off chance, I checked it again and they had ONE site available for one night!

We arrived at the campground and checked in. As we drove to the site, there was an armadillo on the side of the road! I’ve never seen one that wasn’t behind a barrier at the zoo. I wish I had gotten a picture, but there was traffic behind us so we kept going. As we got ready to set up the tent, a deer walked right by our site. We came to find out that they must be the tame campground deer, because three of them crossed by us several times, and they would come up to you if you held your hand out!


This was our first night in a fully occupied campground, and it was a little crazy. SO many kids running around. When it was time for bed, one kid kept yelling for twenty minutes straight “WHERE’S CAMERON????” I thought about telling him I ate Cameron, but I restrained myself. The mystery of it all is how these kids can talk the next day. If I screamed for twenty minutes, I wouldn’t be able to vocalize at all for three days or more. Youth, I guess.

The next morning we packed up our tent. (We are getting so good at that now! My air mattress looked like it did the day it arrived in the mail.). Then we went over to the springs that the park is named for. Swimming is allowed there, which is a hard no for me considering the amount of algae involved, but it’s very pretty and one spot is really bluish in color because it’s very deep where the springs are. Divers go into the cave where the springs originate. There was a walking path around the springs, along with gator warnings. There were no gators, thank goodness. I don’t even know if my brain could process that.


I’m two days late posting about our Day Three springs trip due to no signal, but I have a little time now to catch up! Day Four is a doozy……..

Day Two: High Falls State Park

Day two of our journey to the Keys! Today, we traveled from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to High Falls State Park in Jackson (roundabouts), Georgia. This is our first attempt at camping since our friends’ little boy was three. He’s almost out of college now, so it’s been awhile.

Tent setup went pretty well. We practiced once at home, but without the rain fly. We did discover the electric cord we brought was too short, so my husband had to buy an extension cord along with the night’s dinner.

We took the falls trail on the campgrounds. Just a short walk, but fairly steep on the way back. Silly me forgot both the camera and to change into my tennis shoes, so I had to take phone shots and try not to fall over rocks in my flip flops.

After our short hike, we learned our first camping lesson. We thought we had put everything important away in the tent or the car, but we left a package of bread and a package of buns out. A greedy little squirrel had helped himself to the buns while we were out. The bread survived, though.

High Falls is a pretty nice campground. We are on the lake side. There is a larger river side available as well. I only wish there were more showers. There are only two over here at lakeside for the women, so I hope I won’t be waiting forever tomorrow morning.

Since we are only staying here for one night, we couldn’t try out everything. They have a pool, but it’s not in season yet, and they also have mini golf. There are also a couple other trails to walk.

Tomorrow we head out to Florida. We won’t be able to stay where I wanted since it’s all booked up, but I found a nearby Good Sam campsite that has availabilities, so I’m calling in the morning.

Here’s to surviving our first night in a tent!!

Day One

Day One

Day one of our road trip to the Keys! Today wasn’t much to talk about. We agreed to drive no farther than 5 hours a day, so we haven’t quite made it out of Mother Nature’s wintry grip. First stop, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where we faked the beach with a stay at the Margaritaville Island Inn. We’ve stayed at the more expensive Island Hotel, but hey, we are unemployed now! Haha. The Island Inn is actually pretty nice. I got the cheapest room available, so it’s right by the elevators, but the room itself is very nice. Each room has a balcony, although ours is not much to speak of, and they really have very nice toiletries provided as well from their St. Somewhere Spa.

Today, we hit the Margaritaville restaurant and the Ole Smoky Distillery. Wow, what can I say? Margaritaville hasn’t been on the quality food train for years now, but it was acceptable. Great Key Lime Pie even with the wait, though. Ole Smoky Distillery didn’t disappoint, and I really liked their new Buckeye flavor, which starts off chocolatey and ends with a peanut butter kick. The presentation was lacking some of its usual pizazz as there seemed to be some back and forth between different shifts as to what was going on.

Tomorrow we are off to High Falls State Park in Georgia. Our first attempt at camping in a tent in MANY years. Good luck to us!! We are excited to start our journey!!

Continue reading “Day One”