Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I’m married to a guy they call “Wild Bill.” Trust me, there is a reason for that nickname. Recently we drove our motorhome to Florida, arriving late on the Keys. We tried to find a camping spot at John Pennekamp State Park. It was dark, and the campground gate was already shut and locked. We drove in when the gate went up as a registered camper who had the combination went in. After a quick swing through the campground, and seeing no open spaces, "Wild Bill" decided we should just camp in the marina parking lot for the night and register in the morning. As it turns out they call that “defrauding the inkeeper” down here. We were rudely awakened at seven in the morning, issued a ticket for $80.00 and denied access to Florida State parks for six months. Don’t you think that is a little extreme? I know we crossed the line, but we were tired, willing to pay, and just wanted a safe place to spend the night.
--Busted for Boondocking
I have said many times in this column, “there is no more boondocking in Florida". Someone is constantly trying, and all the excuses have been used. You are what they call an example. They want you to tell your experience to everyone you run into. Florida is not the land of walk-ins. I would bet Pennekamp State Park is totally booked for the next four months. I would also bet there were signs that said, “No Overnight Parking” in the marina parking lot. Just a guess on my part. I had not heard of the no camping in Florida State Parks for six months penalty before, but it does get your attention. Head for the Everglades National Park, Okeechobee Corps of Engineers and North Florida National Forest campgrounds. Keep your nose clean, I don’t know what national campgrounds do when you break the rules, but I hear Federal prisons are much nicer than State.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink
As a Floridian, I must say that I am ashamed of the way these campers were treated. If you traveled in a camper for hours and need a place to stop and rest sometimes you have to choose the most applicable place to park for the night. The punishment in this case is way over the top, all Pennekamp should have done is charge them for a night's stay and send them on their way if they had no vacancy.
If you can't do the time don't do the crime.
Both the husband and wife failed to do ANY planning or research in advance.
You cannot just roll into the limited space and packed with people Fl Keys and expect to park where you want without reservations.
Next time do a little research and prior planning. Fact is "Wild Bill" would have taken another perso's paid for and reserved rv spot had it been unoccupied - THEFT.
Even as is, he snuck into a gated closed park by following a registered and paid guest in (TRESPASS), then illegally parked without compensating the state park system - more THEFT.
Normally I might agree with the above answer but not anymore. Being a park host in a county park I have found that there are people who break the rules of the park more often than not. People will drive into the park and when they find themself's locked in they will try to ram the gate to break it open ( not done very oftten ) or drive up to the park host.CG host (usally about 1 a,m. and honk thier horn demanding to be let out and which we will always do.
Why is it that even though there are signs posted everywhere they simply cannot read them?
The people in FL knowingly broke the law by sneaking in behind a registered camper and as you stated above more than likely ignored the sign saying no overnight camping in the marina. AS the old saying goes: " If you can't do the time, then don't do the crime ".
As we get older we're supposed to get smarter: apparently, thats not always the case.
Happy camping everyone
Sorry, Disgruntled, I don't agree. The first thing they did was basically break in by following a registered camper through the gate. That in itself is considered illegal. Then they "camped" in the marina parking lot where it's most likely there were signs posted about no overnight camping. I think they deserved exactly what they got. I personally think the fine should have been more, and the state campground ban should have been for at least a year.
Personally, I think the punishment was fair. The gate was closed and locked for a reason, and by slipping in behind a legal user they broke the law, not to mention parking in an area not designated for overnight use. What's wrong with people that they have this false sense of entitlement? They're luck they weren't fined a larger sum.
"...I hear Federal prisons are much nicer than State"
Your weak,sarcastic attempt at humor is insulting to these folks who just asked an honest question. Not helpful.
As a Floridian since 1960, I agree. thank them for staying and charge them 1 night and tell them where the next campground is located.
I agree with Disgruntled Floridan above...there are better ways to handle the tourist trade, and giving them a fine isn't one of the ones that I'd choose.
It might have been advisable for the couple to put a note on the door of the Manager's office, so as to note that they were not trying to pull one over on them.
On the other hand, they did basically break in/tresspass, by sneaking in behind a paying guest. Not unlike sneaking in at the movies :-)
We used to do a lot of long distance travel driving shifts. We were well aware of where we could stop if needed for driver rest, etc. We knew which states had rest areas that allowed overnight parking, and which had time limits which we were careful to respect.
These days, we aim to stop before sunset, and we call ahead to make sure we have a spot, even if we are planning to stay at WalMart.
It shouldn't take much intelligence to understand that the Keys are a limited area - there's not much land of any type, and what there is is pricey and likely to be controlled. The road ain't all that great either, and is posted for no RV parking or no overnight parking. If you are tired, stop in Florida City.
Your husband is so special that rules do not apply to him? Wow. That attitude is hurtful to him and all he comes in contact with. If I were you, I'd talk to more than an RV Shrink. This is obviously just one example of "wild" behavior and you may be enabling it. Not good.
Sounds to me like a wife who's in the habit of justifying her husband's disrespect for the law and poor decision-making skills. Fact is, he broke the law on multiple counts, and both husband and wife should be grateful they weren't thrown in jail.
Being a new RVer from Canada and not familiar with rules of parking, I can see that Florida is not welcoming to RVers and should be avoided at all costs. Since I don't have a US cell phone or Internet, you can't be sure of what is available. It is frustrating not to have someplace to overnight after a long drive.
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