Linda Rosenthal’s Florida wood storks.

Linda Rosenthal’s Florida wood storks.


On a recent week vacation-ing sunnyFlorida, my husband, Bill, and I camped at a new spot: Long Point County Park. It is on the Atlantic side nearMelbourne Beach. The campground is located within a wildlife refuge on Florida’s Treasure Coast. The bird population seemed to change every day. I was enthralled. There were plenty of trails to walk and look for various feathered friends.

We arrived after being on the road for two days, making about twenty-four hours of driving time from middle Michigan. We set up camp and crawled into our tent for some sleep.

When we arose, we decided to take an early lunch at the com-bination bait shop/convenience store /restaurant that we saw when we turned off to the camp-ground. It was a big lunch and I asked for half of mine to be placed in a doggie bag for the morrow. Bill dutifully stacked the Styrofoam container with ice into the cooler. I stowed everything into the trunk of our car.

When we returned the camp, Bill pulled the cooler out to place it into our extra tent. His theory was that the ice in the cooler would keep longer if it were in the shade of the tent, rather than the trunk of our car. I warned him about the raccoons that I thought I heard the night before. They surely would want the food in the cooler. He waved off my concerns. I let it go; my husband can be a stubborn man.

Still, I remembered my own raccoon lesson from years past. On a solo camping in northern Michigan trip, I had made the mistake of leaving some mustard pretzel snacks in my luggage.

That night, I had strolled down to the ladies room — a short walk from the campsite. Returning, I had heard the distinctive trill of raccoon presence at the rear of my tent. I walked around to discover the backside and ringtail of a creature that had ripped open my tent. It was happily crunching the pretzels.

I was hopping mad. I hap-pened to have a long stick and I chased the little bugger off. I was left with a mess and a large hole in my tent, but I never left food on the ground again.

In Florida, our spare tent was zipped up, though, as was the cooler. I shrugged off my concern, and went down to the ladies’ showers while Bill pushed off for a bike ride.

I returned to campsite. As I sat down at the picnic table, noises came from inside of our spare tent. I looked in and saw a raccoon burrowing into the cooler.

I yelled at it and stomped my feet. The ringtail beat a hasty retreat, past the other open tent where Bill was lazily watching the river.

The little ringed devil ate most of my lunch, but left the French fries! I laughed. There was no other alternative.

I shook my head at my Eagle Scout hubby.


Linda Rosenthal (Feb. 12) says, “I told my husband he’d have to buy me another lunch as yummy as one the bandit ate. He agreed sheepishly.”

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