Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park – Niceville, Florida (Part One) – February 7 – 21, 2023

On Tuesday, February 7, 2023 we left Three Rivers State Park in Sneads, Florida and drove the relatively short distance of less than 2 hours to the Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park in Niceville, Florida. I think I’ve mentioned before that this year we are taking our time leaving The Sunshine State and the Gulf of Mexico portions of the southeast in order to take it easy on ourselves and (hopefully) to avoid the cold weather fronts that have sweeping across the country.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to avoid those colder temps (colder for us, at least) and rain completely. We had a couple of nice weather days on the Wednesday and Thursday of our arrival which made it nice for us to hike the nearby trails. While doing so we saw, in addition to the beautiful estuary and usual trees and flowers we are used to seeing around Florida, something neither of us had ever seen before; Deer Lichen!

Believe me, those things got our attention in a hurry since this growth, also known as deer moss, is a symbiotic fungus and algae that live together for mutual benefit. Because we had recently watched the first episode of “The Last of Us” the fungus part of this lichen had us imagining the worst, lol! I mean, that beautifully soft looking carpet of growth just invited you to lie down on it/in it and make lichen bunnies, but then you’d be infected and turn into some mindless zombie-like creature clicking around killing people. So we just admired it from afar and hoped for the best, lol.

Unfortunately it rained and was cold all day that first Friday and Saturday, so we didn’t even get out of Nomad on Friday except for me bundling up and taking Bella outside to do her thing. Saturday we both took her for a short walk around the camp loop in between rain showers. By that first Sunday Cindy was getting a serious case of cabin fever and that ain’t purty! So I took her out to Michael’s on Sunday so she could get some needlework supplies and then to lunch. She had been jonesing for a Firehouse sub so we ate lunch there in nearby Destin and then went for dessert at Bruster’s Ice Cream where she indulged in a waffle cone with one scoop of Chocolate Raspberry and one scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip. I had a boring strawberry shake.

Then Super Bowl Sunday Night we watched…the final episode of “The Big Bang Theory” on DVD. Back in November one of the Xmas gifts that Cindy and I got ourselves was the entire 12 season DVD (the other being the entire 12 season DVD set of “Bones”) set so we could watch it when we were somewhere with no over the air TV reception and no Internet wi-fi signal to stream something. But, we were enjoying it so much that we just kind of blew through the series by binge-watching it. Neither of us had seen much of the last 3 seasons of the series, so a lot of it was new to us. And we had never seen the series finale, so it was a treat for both of us to wrap up the series that Sunday night and see the really well-done final episode.

Tuesday, February 14th was, of course, Valentine’s Day. I surprised Cindy with a card, which is hard to do when you’re spending ALL your time together. But I managed to sneak out and snag her a card to wake up to Valentine’s Day morning. Then I took her to a steak house in Destin for lunch and we had a really nice meal in a sort of romantic setting. Guys, you know you can never take your lady love for granted and you have to always make sure she feels the love you have for her.

Wednesday, February 15th I spent the day doing a myriad number of tasks around Nomad. I replaced a broken fastener holding the galley dump tank drain pipe, cleaned and lubricated the living room and kitchen slide out gears and rails, checked the inside of the wheels for any sign of bearing grease leakage (none, thank goodness), applied rubber conditioner to all the slide out seals to keep them supple, applied the same treatment to all the door and window frames for the same reason, and had a neighbor come over and admire/ask about my extendable ladder (I LOVE this thing! Compact for easy storage yet strong and easy to use).

And then I did something I thought was crazy but a guy on YouTube swore it worked for him and we were coming to the end of our rope on this subject, so I gave it a try.

Back in October of 2022 we were in Memphis, Tennessee and we were attacked by stink bugs. They were all over the trailer, on the windows, on the door, on the roof…everywhere! You couldn’t look out the window without seeing multitudes of them on the screens looking like they were trying to gnaw their way in. We were all shook up!

We left Memphis and thought we were leaving the stink bugs behind, but we thought wrong. Every other day or so we would see one suddenly appear on a wall or on the ceiling or on the TV screen. I would carefully capture it in a tissue or paper towel (so as not to cause it to live up to its name) and dispose of it. All of November, December, January and to that point in February we would go through this. Cindy even found one sitting on the head of my electric toothbrush! Well, you KNOW I replaced that head in a flash, lol. But I kept thinking that the (supposed) few we had dragged along with us would eventually die on their own or by my hand and we would be rid of them.

Nope. I wasn’t even sure where they were hanging out on or in Nomad. I searched the underbelly for openings, but found none. The only thing I could come up with was that they were either inside the outdoor kitchen/TV compartment or they were in the AC or heat ducts. They might have also come in through the weep holes on the windows, but they seemed to be constantly appearing INSIDE (never saw any outside after Memphis) so I stuck with my first two theories.

Cindy thought they might be hiding in the areas of the slide-outs between the main body. She started looking online and found a guy who said he had the same problem and eliminated it by rubbing dryer sheets on his window and door frames. According to him, stink bugs hate the odor/oil in scented dryer sheets and will do their best to get away from it. I thought it was a joke! Plus, as I pointed out to Cindy, we didn’t need to KEEP them out (we haven’t been anywhere since Memphis that had stink bugs), we needed to GET them out and rubbing dryer sheets on the outside would drive them in. She surmised that some would come in and we would eliminate them but that others would simply leave to go find better accomodations. So, that previous week we went to the store and bought a box of the smelliest dryer sheets we could find. After I had conditioned all the window and door frames I walked around and climbed up on the ladder to rub a total of about 8 dryer sheets on the frames. I felt a little silly and I hoped the neighbor who had admired my ladder wouldn’t come back over and ask me what the hell I was doing rubbing dryer sheets on Nomad, but I did it.

Not even an hour had passed when a stink bug staggered across the ceiling to his inevitable doom. Over the next 5 hours we caught/sent to bug heaven 7 more who made their way across the ceiling, wall and TV screen. It was like they were running for the hills, except inside!

Since then only a couple have emerged. Cindy suggested that we rub the dryer sheets on the inside of the slide-outs and since then only a couple more have made their presence known. We did have one that seemed to come out of her closet the other day., so we may have to rub some dryer sheets in/on the closet. We’re hoping that we have eliminated them for good, crazy idea or not!

Well, this has been a really long post so we’ll cover the rest of our stay at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park in Niceville, Florida in Part Two.

Thanks for following the Wandering Wetheringtons.

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