View Full Version : TCD's Forgotten Trip Report
07-17-2009, 10:34 AM
I just came across some photos from a trip that the TCD gang took to the Fort in February, and I realized that I never did a trip report about this trip.
So, with apologies for the delay, here you go.
The TCD gang consists of me, TCD, as well as Mrs. TCD (I'm in my late 30's -OK I'm 37 if you really need to know, and Mrs. TCD is in her early 30's- as in less than 35, but barely) and our three daughters who were 7, 3 and 3 on this trip. We have visited the Fort a few times before. We have enjoyed the Wilderness Homes, and even the new Wilderness Cabins, but this was our first trip as a family in a campsite. I have camped with my oldest DD in the group camping area, and in a tent on a site in the 800 loop, but this is the first time that the whole family actually camped on a site in a camping loop.
We don't have an RV. Yet. So, for this trip, we decided to rent a Class A motorhome to see if this type of RV is right for us. We rented a 34' Itasca Suncruiser. It had a big slide on the driver's side, and lots of storage. We loaded up and headed over to the Fort on a cool Friday afternoon.
We were assigned a site in the 500 loop. I did not write down the site number, but I am pretty sure we were in 521. It is on the inside of the loop, about half-way around. It has a lot of obstructions around it, and it was a bit of a challenge to get the RV backed in, but we made it. Here we are:
As you can see, there are utility type obstructions at the entrance to this site, and there was a big pine tree close to the concrete on the other side. They really ought to think about making these sites wider and removing some of the obstructions. And, it wouldn't kill them to maybe pave a bit more of the site-like those sand pads in the back, who needs them?
Here is my older DD and one of the twins hamming it up for a photo on the loop in front of our site. We traveled with a few other families, and that is one of the boys from my older DD's class in school there in the background. You can also see our rented rig in the right of the background of this photo.
Here are another couple of shots of the kids playing in the loop:
This is a shot across the loop looking at our friends who has an outside site on the loop. The main camp road is behind their site, but as you can see, the foliage is so thick and lush that you can't even see the road from their site. This site had a nice big sand pad, so they had plenty of room for their tent. It is nice that families camping together can do so in any loop, regardless of the type of equipment that they have:
Also, notice the flowers around the marker for site 520-there were some long term campers set up here, and they even planted their own flowers!
07-17-2009, 10:51 AM
As our first afternoon approached evening, Mrs. TCD set the girls up at the picnic table for a tea party. The girls really enjoy a nice tea party. Me, not so much:
Notice that picnic table? It was old and kind of cruddy. I wonder if they will ever get new picnic tables at the Fort? You know what would be nice, a square plastic-fake wood picnic table. But, then maybe my favorite table cloth wouldn't fit.
In addition to tea parties, bubbles and sidewalk chalk are big activities for us at the campsite (I'm sorry that these photos are a bit dark, I should have used my flash):
The next day, it was time to hit the pool!
Even though it was February, and a little cool, it was a nice, sunny, day, and the pool is heated, so why not?
Here are the twins in their sporty Tweety Bird suits hanging out pool side:
And, here I am, TCD, enjoying the pool with the kids. We had to hang out in the shallow end. The deep end is way too deep for us. I wonder if they have ever considered a new pool at the Fort? This one is kind of old. Maybe one with a uniform depth would allow more folks to enjoy it?
Here is another pool shot from a bit further back. I wish they would put a slide in here at the pool. I think that space you see in the background of this photo, to the right of the lifeguard stand would be a perfect place for a slide, don't you? They could put the slide there, and just move the lifeguard stand over to the other side of the pool:
And, if they ever get around to redoing the pool, my kids would really enjoy a fountain or splash zone, like they have at some of the newer pools or at the Disney Village. That would be cool, too.
07-17-2009, 11:10 AM
The RV that we rented had what they call basement storage. These are big storage compartments under the living area of the motor home. We pretty much filled these things up. We even put the girls' bikes in there. Here is one of the younger DD's with the bikes:
Without a doubt, the girls favorite place to visit at the Fort is the petting zoo. They have pony rides there, and goats, donkeys, sheep, chickens, ducks, and even a pig there. The kids can go right in the pens and feed and pet the animals. They would spend the whole day there if we let them.
The pony rides are 2 bucks a pop. What a deal. We took a lot of pony rides:
Here I am with the oldest DD. Note that I am sporting sweet Jorts, cut above the knee. This is visual proof that I am a graduate of the University of Florida. I would have been kicking some nice Orange and Blue Crocks, too, but they hadn't been invented yet:
The girls loved feeding the sheep:
Look at the sneaky goat who jumped into this photo!:
Another DD on a pony. This pony's name was Calico. He was definitely the youngest DD's favorite:
And, one last shot of my fashion ensemble. Note that I am wearing a FW shirt. Got to represent the Fort:
In looking through these photos, I don't see that I got any shots of the peacocks, but there were tons of them all around the petting zoo, and over at River Country. At night, the whole roof of the barn is covered with sleeping peacocks. It is quite a sight to see!
07-17-2009, 11:21 AM
This is great!! Your girls were so cute when they were little! :goodvibes I wish they still had the petting zoo there. My dh would have spent the whole day there too If I had let him! :lmao:
07-17-2009, 11:30 AM
This is just a shot standing across from our site, and looking down the loop to the left. As you can see, this loop is very wooded, and there is a lot of vegetation between the sites. The walkway to the comfort station is just a few sites down from ours:
I did notice that there are a lot of vines growing in the trees. It looks like some of the trees are getting smothered by the vines. One of the long-term campers across from us says that these are air potato vines. He collected a big bucket of the air potatoes off the ground, and showed them to us. He said that they are poisonous. I hope that the Fort management does something about this.
Here's a shot of one of the DD's in front of the site. Notice that we have one FSU chair and one UF chair. Mrs. TCD is a 'Nole. I hope my DD's grow up to be Gators. It bothers me to have any FSU stuff around, and it bothers me that FSU seems to "own" the Gators lately. Maybe things will be different in the future. I'll bet Spurrier can win the Gators another National Championship. Bowden certainly can't hang around at FSU much longer, right? And Spurrier will be at UF for ever.
Here is one of the rented Fort Wilderness carts. They cost about $30 a day. Which is a lot. But, they sure are fun to have. We rented one on this trip, and drove it all the way over to The Wilderness Lodge. A castmember at the Bike Barn, where you rent the carts, told me that they might stop letting us campers drive over to the Wilderness Lodge because they have had so many people have their carts die over there. I hope they never stop folks from driving carts over to Wilderness Lodge:
Oh, I should also mention that our cart was rather old and beat up looking. It would be nice if they got some new rental carts at Fort. And, maybe get rid of these ugly off-white ones, and maybe get some nice green ones. That would be nice.
Some more pics of our site and activity around the loop:
Sorry to tell you, but that's all the photos I have from this trip. We had a roll of 24 exposure film in the camera, and we got 26 photos out of it, as we sometimes do. It sure would be nice if someone could invent some kind of camera that doesn't need film, and can hold a lot more photos. And, what about a way to review your photos right after you take them? That would be cool. With all that they are doing with computers these days, maybe someone will invent something like that.
We had a great time, and I think we might camp at the Fort again.
I'm not sure about buying a motorhome, though. These things are set up more for couples than they are for families. On our next trip, we might try renting a Class C, or even a pop up. We had a family with us that had a pop up, and surprisingly, that might be a better option for our family.
Also, I had a little incident on the way home that kind of turned me off from the motorhome experience. I'll share that in a future post. It's kind of a long story.
07-17-2009, 11:41 AM
"Also, I had a little incident on the way home that kind of turned me off from the motorhome experience. I'll share that in a future post. It's kind of a long story."
Can't wait to hear about this! I was wondering if you could share with us the year of this February trip. Just wondering if it might have been during a time we were there. We stayed in February a couple of times.
07-17-2009, 02:31 PM
awesome trip down memory lane trip report!
07-17-2009, 09:12 PM
07-20-2009, 12:18 PM
I was wondering if you could share with us the year of this February trip. Just wondering if it might have been during a time we were there. We stayed in February a couple of times.
OK, you got me.
This was not February 2009.
It was February 1999.
Ten years ago!
Where does the time go? Those little girls are now teenagers. In fact, my oldest DD began college last month (at FSU!), and the twins will begin High School this fall. If you have seen recent photos of me, you will see that I look better than ever, and Mrs. TCD hasn't aged a bit.
For comparison purposes, I snapped a photo of Site 521 just this past Saturday.
Here is what it looked like in 1999:
And, here it was two days ago (July 18, 2009):
And, here is a photo from May, 2009:
As you can see, that wooden pole was still there in May, 2009 but it's gone now. That obstruction probably gets hit more than ever now that it is so close to the pavement.
I thought that the photos from 2009 would end up making the campsite look drastically different from 1999, but aside from the expanded concrete, it doesn't look very much different. Even though a lot of brush has been cleared out, most of the larger trees are still there.
When you get right down to it, even though there have been a lot of changes to the Fort in the past 10 years, the place is still a great place to visit! And, some of the changes (like the pool) are for the better.
I'll share my tale of what happened as we drove the motorhome home from this 1999 trip in my next post.
07-20-2009, 02:21 PM
This is like riding Carousel of Progress lol.
07-20-2009, 05:37 PM
On our last trip to the Fort in April we had the site immediately to the left of 521 (behind it in your pictures), and watching folks try to back into that site was one of the highlights of my trip. One of the reasons people book the premium sites is for ease of access for the larger rigs. 521 doesn't cut it in that regard, and considering the layout of the site which affords zero privacy, charging Premium rates is unacceptable IMO. There aren't many sites at the Fort that I would make a stink over....but 521 and the famous hot dog stand site next to the sidewalk in the 600 loop come to mind.
Great nostalgic TR TCD!
07-21-2009, 09:17 AM
We had that site during Christmas 2003 (when our holiday at WDW quest started) and it was tight with our 27ft trailer, I recall making several passes at it before we finally got it in. We met some very nice people from the Tampa area that year also. Although I didnt like the site all that much it was great location and a great trip.
07-21-2009, 11:20 AM
We had that site in Jan. 2006. At check in, the CM asked my husband how good he was at backing because the site assigned to us was rated at being extremely difficult.:scared1: When we pulled into the loop and got a look at the site I called the front and told them that there was no way we could get into that. She said, that's all that is available, I'll send someone to help you. I told her he'd better be a magician!!!:lmao: 30 minutes and a large crowd of onlookers later my husband got our 37' 5ver and semi into it. To the person who was parked across the street from us and had his truck right out at the road.........If you knew that our tractor was only and inch from your drivers door would that encourage you to back deeper into your site next time?;)
07-28-2009, 04:14 PM
Wow, it's amazing how many folks here on the Disboards have been assigned to that exact site! I guess I was lucky to have backed into the site without incident.
But, I can't say the same thing about my ride home.
As I mentioned, this was a rental RV. When I looked into renting the motorhome, I checked with CruiseAmerica and El Monte, but I also found a local man who was renting RV's. I spoke to him over the phone. He had a couple of units to choose from. It sounded like it was on the up and up, and his prices and policies were much better than the big companies. He assured me that the unit I was renting was in great condition.
So, I went with the local guy.
No problem with the rental itself. I was a little concerned that he was operating the business out of his home, and that when I used my credit card, my receipt was from a satellite dish installation service (his main line of work). The rental agreement was long, and had a lot of fine print which, of course, I did not read. When his Wife, who handled the money part of the transaction, asked me what deductible I chose for the insurance, I first asked if it was necessary. She said it was part of the deal. They required it. I said give me the biggest deductible. The biggest deductible was $1000, so that's what I took. Even with the extra insurance coverage, my price was still less than I would have paid with the big boys, and the motorhome was in nice condition, so it all seemed to be good.
Our time at the Fort was great. We enjoyed the motorhome, although it was better designed for a couple than it was for a family of five.
We packed up on Sunday and headed for home.
This is where I had my little problem.
Back at this time, Interstate 4 was torn up and under construction from Lakeland to Tampa. I just took it easy and stayed in the right lane. When I was about 20 miles out from Tampa, the traffic got real heavy. Because of the construction, there were only two lanes going in each direction. The lanes were marked by cones and barriers. There was no shoulder on the right, just those big, vertical concrete barriers about a few feet from the edge of the lane.
As I drove along, I saw that there was a disabled car pulled over as far as it could to the right, and there was a Road Ranger (these are guys that have a contract with DOT to help disabled vehicles on I-4) pulled up behind the disabled vehicle. As I got closer, I saw that the ranger was changing a flat tire. Right there on the side of the road. I could not change lanes, so I slowed as much as I could, and got over as far as I could in my lane, and clenched my teeth.
And then . . .
Something on the motorhome had hit something on the Road Ranger's truck!
It was my passenger side mirror hitting his driver's side mirror!
His truck was hanging out in the lane.
My passenger mirror was now hanging from a cable and banging against the side of the RV. I saw out of the remaining mirror that I had shattered the road ranger's mirror.
I could not pull over. There was no shoulder.
I drove to the next exit, and pulled off.
The road ranger had jumped in his truck and followed me. He was ticked!
Some witnesses also pulled over.
The whole incident scared me to death. It could have been so much worse.
The road ranger had called the Highway Patrol, and a trooper was there quickly. The road ranger was pretty argumentative, and was insisting that I be given a ticket. The cop spoke to me and to the witnesses, and then came back with a solemn face. I presumed it was bad news. He surprised me. I guess it turns out that the road ranger should not have been attempting to change that tire like he was. The cop was going to give him the ticket! But, he asked me if I would consent to no ticket being issued. I guess this guy could get into pretty big trouble. I was so relieved that it wasn't me getting the ticket, that I agreed.
When I calmed down, I called he guy who I rented the RV from. He was ticked, too! And, I don't blame him. I had done a pretty good number on the motorhome.
Needless to say, in addition to the rental charge, I had to pay the man the $1000 deductible. I did this just to put an end to things, as the man was trying to hold me responsible for everything, even beyond the deductible.
So, that was an expensive weekend for the TCD gang.
On our next trip to the Fort, we rented a pop-up.
And, the rest is history.
07-28-2009, 05:26 PM
As a driver of a motorhome, those are the things that scare me. Things can come upon you so quickly, even if you are paying 100% attention. In heavy traffic, you don't just change lanes at the drop of a hat. I'm glad it wasn't worse than it turned out....although that really sucks about the $1000! But, no one was injured.
Better maneuverability is one of the things I liked about our old PUP. That, and being able to park it in my garage!
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