Old Florida lives on at Lake Kissimmee State Park — the majestic oak trees, native wildlife from eagles to alligators, even the pioneers and their long-horned cracker cows. This 6,000-acre state park …
Going RVing with Steve, Deb and Cats
By Sue Cocking, Guy Harvey Outpost Travel Journalist
During captain Steve Daniel’s 30-plus-year career as a professional bass fisherman, he and wife Deb and their handful of adopted cats have crisscrossed the USA many times– first in a converted van, but for the past ten years in a 40-foot-long former commercial tour bus.
The childless couple and their pets stay in RV campgrounds, or in friends’ driveways, or at highway rest stops. Some years, they’ve spent less than two weeks total at their Clewiston, Florida home.
“It was comfortable. We didn’t really want to come home,” Steve said.
Added Deb: “We didn’t have to unpack and repack.”
And the cats were happy too.
“They’d ride on the dash. When you’re driving, they sleep,” Steve said.
That’s probably because the Daniels’ renovated, 1991 Prevost bus is so quiet and comfortable. Its upgrades and customizations are comparable to those of a new motor home costing several hundred thousand dollars.
The Daniels gutted the interior of the Prevost– ripping out all 57 seats; removing the overhead luggage racks; installing tile floors throughout; partitioning a bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. (The bathroom, Deb says, is larger than in their Clewiston house.)
They installed real plumbing; three roof air conditioning units; a tracking satellite; washer/dryer; three televisions; custom cabinets; extra-wide windows; and a 500-horsepower diesel engine that easily towed a Jeep AND Steve’s bass boat. Cargo bays held all of Steve’s fishing tackle. The cats even had their own private litter box enclosure.
It was perfect. But driving it for the first time was intimidating.
“I was scared to death when I first started driving this,” Steve admitted. “It was so big. But once you get used to driving it, you can see better and it’s safer than driving a car.”
The Daniels would sometimes ferry their friends around for beach and nightlife excursions. One by one, their friends started buying RVs.
During the economic meltdown in 2009, Steve decided to quit the professional tournament circuit and become a full-time fishing guide on his home waters of Lake Okeechobee. He and Deb also co-host a popular fishing show on a local radio station. They park their RV at the K.O.A. Campground in Okeechobee and shuttle back and forth from Clewiston. This summer, they’re planning a long road trip– fishing and visiting with friends throughout the U.S.– and taking the cats along, of course.
“Steve was born to fish and I was born to travel,” Deb said.
They’ve had some memorable RVing adventures — like the time their cat took on a fellow bass pro’s Jack Russell (which they still kid each other about); the night they arrived at a campground where fellow campers they’d never even met trimmed tree limbs to make room for their RV; and the day they posed for aerial photographs at a campground in California.
Said Steve: “The best thing about the RV lifestyle is you meet so many nice people.”
Sue Cocking chronicles the Guy Harvey Outpost travel and adventure experience in regular blog posts on GuyHarveyOutpostNews.com/. For 21 years, Cocking covered the full spectrum of outdoors adventure opportunities in South Florida and beyond for the Miami Herald, including fishing, diving, hunting, paddling, camping, sailing and powerboat racing. She is a certified scuba diver and holder of an IGFA women’s world fly fishing record for a 29-pound permit.
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