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STOP #186 & 187

Today we arrived in a familiar port, Port St. Lucie, FL. To be more specific we are at the St. Lucie South, Army Corp of Engineers Campground on the Okeechobee Waterway. The waterway was constructed in 1937 to provide a water route across the state of Florida so marine traffic would have a much shorter and safer route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Army Corp of Engineers are still here today, 80+ years later, to maintain and operate the St. Lucie Lock and Dam. It is one of five locks located along the length of the waterway. Two are east of Lake Okeechobee and three are on the west. The two locks on the shores of Lake Okeechobee do not have campgrounds, but the other three do and we will have visited all three of them by the end of the month.

Tricia and I have been to this particular campground before, back in 2008, before we even started dating. We were friends at the time and if memory serves me correctly we shared the exact same campsite then as we are sharing today.

The difference is today we are approaching our 10th wedding anniversary and as of this morning, I feel we are still each others best friend!

Our view to the East

Our view to the West

FRIDAY - Today we are going to do something we have only done once before.

We are going to drive away and leave THE POD behind to go spend two nights sleeping in a tent.

If you've been following this blog from the beginning you may remember that just 17 days after we started traveling full-time we said goodbye to THE POD and spent three nights in our tent on Garden Key, in Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles off the shores of Key West, FL. We were able to share this experience with 6 of our friends who had never been there before, personally it was my sixth visit to the park.

We didn't travel quite that far this time, but we did pack up ROVER and drive 27 miles west to the Group Campgound in the Dupuis Wildlife Management Area. This is an annual outing some of our friends get together for on Presidents Day Weekend and we decided 6 months ago to plan on being in the area so we could surprise them by showing up unannounced.

Not everyone was caught unaware. We did secure an invite from the friend who organizes the event, in case they were under strict occupancy limits due to current COVID restrictions. This is afterall state owned property and the rules can seem to change at anytime without much notice.

We had a wonderful time seeing everyone, old friends and new, and for sharing two wonderful campfires. Conversations regarding shared experiences we've had in the past were much appreciated. That is something we don't get while traveling on the road and we truly miss!

Plenty of room to social distance at DuPuis Group Campground

SUNDAY - We were the first to arrive and nearly the last to leave DuPuis WMA this weekend. As soon as we got back to THE POD around 4:00PM we noticed that brand new neighbors had arrived on both sides of our campsite.

No sooner had we begun the task of unpacking from our weekend tent camping experience we struck up a conversation with one of our new neighbors, Pam and Jim. They are from northwest Connecticut and travel part time to escape the uncomfortble weather back home. In a matter of just a few minutes an invitation was extended for us to join them at their campsite.

That's the way our new lifestyle is, strangers one minute and an hour later we've shared each others past, present and future travel plans. This act alone doesn't put them in the friends category, but instead in the acquaintance category.

After an enjoyable hour long conversation the mosquitoes kind of brought the party to an abrupt end, but not before I offered a Two Peas And The Pod contact card to them. I hope you two are reading this post and keep in touch through the comment section of our Facebook Group or through email.

UPDATE: Thanks Pam for joining our Facebook Group

This is life on the road, making acquaintances that you hope turn into friendships. Such a contrast to the weekend we spent with friends that we've known for over a decade and haven't seen in several years. Next week will be different still when we visit with friends we've known for several decades and in one case for me, over 40 years.

TUESDAY - Since noon today we have been keeping a close eye on the entrance gate here at St. Lucie South Campground. We found out several days ago that a close friend from our previous life in South Florida also just so happens to have reservations to camp here starting today.

Vicky and her new boyfriend Gary, who we haven't met yet in person, arrived around 4:00PM and set up camp just before it started to rain again. We went over and got in a few quick hellos and quickly returned to our trailer to wait out the rain.

The following morning we went to their site for an extended conversation and then invited them over to our site after lunch.

Vicky and Gary in front of their A-Liner travel trailer.

After lunch we continued with our conversation until sunset. That's when the mosquitoes made their nightly appearance and chased us back into our respective trailers for the remainder of the night.

Tomorrow we head further south to briefly reunite with more familiar faces!

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