Truck Camping in Tampa

This past weekend my roommate and I took Bertha (yes, she has a name) out for another truck camping excursion, this time down to Tampa, FL.

My birthday was last Wednesday, and this’ll be the third year in a row that I’ve celebrated by going to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival. I’ve been a big fan of renaissance festivals since I learned of their existence back in college. The last two years we stayed in cheap hotels at a cost of about $32 a night. Like with the Myrtle Beach trip, the costs this time ended up about the same since fuel is  about twice as much for my truck as it is for the roomie’s Vibe.

It being my birthday means that I now have less than two years to meet my goal of going full-timing before I turn 30.  Or 725 days, 1 hour, and 52 minutes to be exact at the time of this post.  I have a counter pinned to my desktop, so that I’m always aware of how much more time I have.

Maybe now your wondering why I picked an exact date.  Why did it have to be February 21st, 2013?  Because when you set a specific date for a goal, it becomes much more real.  Instead of thinking “Oh, I’ll get around to that someday” you think “Holy cow, 725 days to completely change the way I live my life, I better get working on this!”  Always choose a date if you have a choice.  Yes, it’ll generate some tension, but that’s good.  That’s what will make you actually work on it and follow through.

Anyway, back to this past weekend.  Here’s some picture proof of the weekend’s festivities.

That’s me having a go at a court dance on Sunday, can you find me? I’ll admit the black hoodie takes away from my costume, but it was chilly that morning. Do I know anything about renaissance era court dancing? Not at all, but part of my goal of enjoying the journey more involves more participation and less observing.

And here’s a better picture of my costume, which I spent more money on than any other three ‘normal’ outfits I own combined. I bought it right out of college, once I had started making money at my first ‘real’ job. Still wearing the hoodie in this pic so you can’t see the rather epic sleeves this thing has. They’re long and kind of curly. And kind of hard to explain without a picture.

So, a bit of information if you’re going to be truck camping or dry camping with an RV in Florida. Last time I went truck camping I stayed exclusively in Wal-Mart parking lots, since the noise level was lower than staying at a truck stop. But as it turns out, Wal-Marts down here typically don’t allow overnight parking. The reason why is a combination of the desirable winter climate and the high cost to stay in campgrounds. They were having issues with people staying not just overnight but long term during the winter months, and so decided not to allow it at all to save themselves the hassle.

So instead we ended up at a Flying J Friday night and a Travel America Saturday night.

They’re both located less than 15 minutes away from the festival, right across the road from one another actually. The Flying J had dubious signs posted up that made it sound like overnighting for non-commercial vehicles was frowned upon and there would be no patrols by law enforcement etc. which made us a little worried since we arrived at about 1am and everything seems creepy at that time of night.

The guy at the counter said it was okay for us to stay the night though, and there were plenty of other vehicles around. At about 4am my roommate woke up at just the right time to see a police car pull into the parking lot despite the posted notice and she was a bit nervous that we were going to get kicked out, but nothing happened.

This was the view from the back of the truck on night two. While the Flying J had a lot of other pickups and vans around, this parking lot was full of RVers, which made me happy. I could pretend that I was dry camping in the Casita among peers. While the roomie paid $12(!) for a shower, I stayed in the truck bed and imagined who might be staying in these RVs and where they were going. When she got back she said the shower was worth it. It was hotel quality, had nice towels, and was very clean, the staff apparently cleaned it out after each use.

This was the one downside of our parking spot at the Travel America. This was my view from the side window of the truck topper while laying down, even with our little black Velcro curtains in place. The green glow from the sign made for some dramatic mood lighting. Incidentally, this was the cheapest gas we saw while in Florida, granted we didn’t stop to check every place along the way. In our neck of South Carolina, the prices haven’t quite hit $3.50 yet.

As far as last week’s post goes, it looks like traveling somewhere this summer to work is out of the picture. It just wouldn’t be fair to leave my roomie to deal with the entire cost of rent before insurance through her job is fully covering her costs. That will happen sometime in August, but by that time summer’s over half over.

Instead, she has mentioned that she might consider staying with me in a Casita (if I managed to find the right one of course) at a RV park in the area until August. This opens up a whole new can of worms and would take a considerable deal of pondering. This topic could well take up a post all of it’s own, and if I decide to look into it closer it might at some point in the future.

What it comes down to is, I still don’t know what I’m doing. Oh well, life wouldn’t be as fun if I always knew what was coming up around the bend, right?

I’m going to end this with a gratuitous baby goat picture from last weekend. Most renaissance festivals have a small petting zoo, this is the first one I’ve been to that had baby goats. Just look at them! So cute.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Dale on March 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Gas prices, are slowing me down a bit as well. My tow vehicle “The Mule” loves to drink that gold.
    My wind up toy of adventure (my scooter) helps with that sometimes.
    Oh and Yay at Prince Edward Island (but not their gas prices),

    I RVed through there a few years back, enjoyed those Brackley Beach Ceilidhs, Lovely place.

    • Ross Macintosh on March 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      I saw your pictures Dale — very nice! Come again – I’ll feed you.

      Cheers, Ross

  2. Ross Macintosh on March 3, 2012 at 6:50 am

    I wish our gas was $3.64! Up here in Prince Edward Island, Canada, the lowest priced gas in town is selling for $4.88 (US dollars) per US Gallon for regular unleaded self-serve. Our prices are as high as they are due to taxes.

    I’m glad my commute from our semi-rural home out in the country to my downtown office is only about six miles. Charlottetown – our largest city where I work – has a population of just 32,174 so getting around doesn’t involve great distances. That helps a lot on gas consumption.

    I suppose when we get our trailer we’ll have to head down to the US for our travel since your gas is so cheap! (The people are nice too!).

    Regards, Ross

    • Becky on March 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      Yikes Ross, that is high.

      I use to work a good 27 miles from where I lived. When I had my little Honda Civic it wasn’t so bad, but once I bought the truck it got expensive. Fortunately my new job is quite a bit closer, instead of filling up the tank every 6 days I get a good 2 weeks out of one tank, a big improvement. South Carolina is one of, if not the, cheapest US state for gas, but we pay more taxes in other areas so I suppose it all evens out.

      I follow the blog of a Canadian full-timer who has been sitting put all winter building up her savings in order to visit the US later in the season for a nice trip, the cheaper cost of living played into her decision I’m sure. Her name is Rae, her blog is in case you’re interested.

  3. Pleinguy on March 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Good for you! At least you are out doing some camping. I’m just working the 9-to-5 and plugging away at getting this house ready to sell. However, I will be going to a campout with Lazy Daze owners next week as a visitor; it’s my third or fourth time meeting with them. A great bunch of folks that let me see the inside of their RVs.

    BTW the last fill-up in my Vibe here in Jacksonville FL was $3.599
    Pleinguy recently posted..RV ShowMy Profile

    • Becky on March 2, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      That campout sounds like it’ll be fun. 🙂 Now in SC our gas prices are average about 3.50. I guess Jacksonville is a cheaper place to visit than Tampa.

      It’s funny really because I’m going to be driving back to the Tampa area tomorrow to look at a promising used Casita. I literally went from maybe searching for a Casita again to finding a likely candidate in a matter of days, just like with the truck. It took me off guard because I wasn’t expecting such fast results. Now it’s all about looking at storage and calling about RV insurance prices and trying to figure out if I’ll need a temporary permit to get it from Florida up here to SC. Busy busy busy. It may not happen, but it’s the closest I’ve gotten so far.

      Best of luck selling the house and I hope you find your Lazy Daze without problems.

  4. Dale on February 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Yes, I’ve heard of SOLAR, not played it though.
    Its been quite awhile since I did that, but I played NERO and Shattered Isles (don’t know if SI is still around).
    It is quite the work out and playing the mosters is the most fun to me. Especially when you go to an event alone.
    Dale recently posted..The Old Bridge of Florence Italy (A20)My Profile

  5. Dale on February 28, 2012 at 10:57 am

    The SCA has good points and not so good ones. There are a few people in it that take themselves too seriously in it (I don my Jester’s outfit and heckle them), but for the most part, it is a gang of folks who love history and imagination.
    They have lots of festivals and stuff, some where you can learn things like court dancing. Plus those festivals are camping events, so they are fun.
    I’ve also been known to go to a LARP (live action role-playing) event from time to time and play monsters. Those are entirely silly, but also fun.
    Dale recently posted..A Montepulciano Landscape (A17)My Profile

    • Becky on February 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Oh, I know what LARPs are, I attend one called SOLAR on occasion. It’s a good 4.5 hours away though and I usually work weekends so I don’t make it out as much as I’d like. At ours if you play monsters the whole event you don’t have to pay to attend so my roommate and I have done that sometimes. It’s usually quite a workout. 😛

  6. Dennis on February 28, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Glad you have a countdown calender. We have ours 1073 days. Sounds like a lot but it counts down a day every 24 hours and it keeps moving and that is good. I am already retired and the wife has to wait till she gets her 20 years in. we are going to do 48 states in 48 months. Next summer we are going to do a dry run and do a month in Az just to make sure everything works good for us. we have a 22 foot fun finder and can’t wait to do it.

    • Becky on February 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      Sounds like fun Dennis! I’ve contemplated visiting every national park, but it wouldn’t be possible to do them all with a RV so still thinking about that. I hope your Az trip goes well, I’m thinking I’ll be spending a fair bit of time in Az myself once I go full-timing, boondocking in the desert.

      I started my timer last year at 815 days or so, it’s already gone down quite a bit since then. It’ll be here before we know it. 🙂

      • Dennis on March 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm

        There is only 2 or 3 in the lower 48 that you can’t get to in a rv. We have a big NP map tht we stick pins in when we go see them. Slowley filling in out west. Just made a trip to Kanasa and saw all of them. Not much to see but it was fun and another couple of check marks. So much to see and so little time

        • Becky on March 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm

          I like that map idea, makes it very clear that you’re making progress. Have fun.

  7. Dale on February 27, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Oh and Happy Birthday!!
    Dale recently posted..A Fool and His MoneyMy Profile

    • Becky on February 28, 2012 at 8:25 am

      Thanks Dale. Have fun with your camper. 🙂

      I’ve heard of the SCA but have never been to one of those events. I’ve never worked at a festival either, just show up in costume and have a good time. 😛 Maybe someday though.

  8. Dale on February 27, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Yay, Ren Fest! been a fan of them for ages.

    I was in the SCA back in the day and always had a great costume I had made for that.
    So it was a hoot to show up at Ren Fest and Play Play Play. I’ve never worked one, but showed at a many in full costume and character. I need to get back to one soon though, Its been ages.
    I hope ya get your RV soon. I’m getting the Oyster Can (my camper) ready for some long term spring and summer ventures myself ( Its been parked for the winter months). Anyway, good luck.
    Dale recently posted..Sacre Coeur- against sky (A15)My Profile

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