Rainbow Springs State Park
TRAVEL DAY - 141 milesFORT DESOTO PARK
RAINBOW SPRINGS STATE PARK
Well we all know you can plan all you want, but sometimes it just doesn't turn out that way. That is the case with the route we took today from Fort DeSoto Park to Rainbow Springs State Park. We weren't on the road more than ten minutes when we came to the first major intersection and a decision had to be made. Take I-275 South, back over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and around the major metro areas of St. Petersburg and Tampa, OR take I-275 North right through the heart of both downtown areas. Well, when we were passing by Tropicana Stadium I realized I turned the wrong way and we were committed to taking the north route. I considered getting off at the first exit and reentering the highway going the way we planned, but we were already downtown and the traffic on the exits was nearly at a stand still, not a scenario I wanted to be towing a 28 foot trailer in.
We had no choice but to keep pressing on down the highway. Cars were frequently changing lanes left and right immediately in front of me. Some trying to get off at their exit and then others just getting on to speed off to whatever destination they needed to be at. I was just getting comfortable when the lane that I had been traveling for the last ten miles suddenly became an EXIT ONLY lane. Last minute lane changes in heavy traffic while towing a trailer is not a good combination to deal with. We then approached a fairly long bridge and the traffic improved and I thought the worst was over. Nope, we just survived the downtown areas of St. Petersburg and were now approaching downtown Tampa. All of this is going on around 10AM on a Thursday morning, not exactly the height of rush hour, but bad enough.
Once outside of the Tampa downtown exits we found ourselves on I-4 East and a short time later were exiting onto US301 North. This intersection is at the northeast corner of the Tampa Bay Fairgrounds, the exact location of where we ordered our Airstream just four months earlier. Every January they host the Florida RV Supershow, the largest RV show in the country.
Once off the Interstates and onto the two and four lane backroads I felt at ease. The first forty miles of this trip was mentally taxing to say the least, the last hundred miles will be much easier going. Passing through small towns like Zephyrhills, Lacoochee, Bushnell and the beautiful Floral City, thing were getting back to normal. Then when passing through the town of Inverness things got a little weird. While rolling through town at 45MPH, out of the corner of my eye I see a large pink elephant wearing wire rimmed eyeglasses, with eyes that were all lit up. It was there and gone so fast I wasn't really sure what I saw. So when we got to our destination I did what everyone would do, I looked it up on the internet and sure enough there it was. It was listed on RoadsideAmerica.com, check out the link if you don't believe me.
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