Today was the day to escape from the potential devastation heading for the Florida peninsular. It is still a long way away, but there is no chance it won’t arrive. The blue sky wasn’t out this morning, but more because of cold front than the approaching storm. I found the blue sky at the end of my escape this afternoon.
I was up early more out of anticipation than a need to rush. I finished the packing and was on the road by 10:30AM. My first stop was at a gas station less than a mile up the road. A full tank at the start of my journey was a big weight off my shoulders. I didn’t want to worry if I ended up in a mass exodus once I reached Interstate 75.
The first part of my trip north was along US 221 through towns and farm lands. Once I merged with Interstate 75 in Valdosta Georgia traffic became very heavy. Interstate 75 is always filled with trucks. I do not enjoy playing hopscotch with them. Today there were plenty of cars mixed in with the trucks. The license tags on the majority were from Florida. They were likely fellow escapees.
The south bound side of the Interstate was not as busy, but perhaps heavier than normal. Between the usual trucks in the south bound lane were workers heading into the storm. Utility trucks in groups of five or more filled every mile. I am sure I saw several hundred in total. There were also plenty of tree service trucks and medical vans. Along with the bucket trucks and pole service vehicles there were flatbed trucks with earth moving equipment and loads of replacement transformers. I’ve seen the power company and tree service trucks heading into the storm area before, but the medical vans were new to me. They weren’t ambulances just vans with medical names or symbols. They are probably filled with people to support shelters or aid centers.
I arrived at the KOA in Forsyth Georgia around 2:30PM. I was third in line to check in when I arrived and soon there were two more RVs behind me. The park has a rarely used no vacancy sign on display. I’ve stayed at this park several times before. The first time was when I ran from hurricane Mathew in 2016. I am parked in an open area with good drainage on the side of a hill. The forecast for this area calls for rain starting overnight Friday into Saturday. The peak wind is only forecast to be around 30MPH. I’ll be here until Sunday. After that it depends how bad Florida gets hit.
It was another nice day in the low nineties. The sky was mostly blue with an occasional fluffy cloud. The wind was close to nonexistent most of the day. Overall it was a very comfortable day without any indication that a major hurricane is on the way.
This morning I got the first indication that the campground knew a storm was coming. They issued a text message around 8AM telling people to dump their tanks because the sewage system would be turned off later in the day. I’m not sure what “turned off” meant, but I gut my tanks dumped and the hose stowed away. Later in the day the campground staff was verifying that all the caps were secured on the PVC sewer connections. Interestingly the people that came in this afternoon didn’t seem to get the message. Many connect to the sewer as usual.
The campground staff was also securing loose furniture. They collected the umbrellas from all of the patio sites. The pool furniture was all collected and stacked in the corner of the pool area. They seemed to be driving their golf carts in random patterns looking for anything else to secure. If they are staying here they have time. The storm is not forecast to arrive in this area before Thursday night. It has really slowed down and the current path is a little more to the east than yesterday’s.
I spent the day getting ready to run north tomorrow. It is likely that I’ll still be in the storms path, but I’d rather be two hundred plus miles inland than a tiny twenty miles from the Gulf of Mexico. People from further south on the Peninsular have already started evacuations. Most of the people that arrived in the campground this evening are heading north. I plan to get going in the morning. The route I’ve planned keeps me on secondary roads the first sixty or seventy miles until I’m north of Valdosta Georgia. My only issue may be finding gas along the way. My guess is I can make it all the way without filling up, but I’ll be on fumes.
Judging by today’s great weather you would never know that this area is in the path of a tropical storm for later in the week. It was a sunny day with low humidity and a high temperature around ninety. Today was a few degrees warmer than Saturday and tomorrow is forecast to be a few degrees warmer still.
I spent the day watching football and the weather channel. The football was enjoyable, but the weather channel was annoyingly alarming. They have to talk about worst case scenarios and attempt to prepare everyone for possible devastation. The challenge is to understand the real risk to you as an individual based on all the information they throw at you. It doesn’t help that many of the meteorologists get really excited about the severe weather like a science experiment. Some of them act like little kids in a candy store except the candy is data and the upset stomach that follows is destruction of property.
The storm is still on a path right for my current location then up into Georgia. The change seems to be to the speed of the storm. It seems to have slowed down by about a day. The worst will get here on Thursday. I plan to leave here Tuesday morning for the middle of Georgia. That area is still in the likely cone, but now it is forecast to be impacted on Friday. If the storm slows down any more I may need to move again. My current reservation ends on Saturday.
This campground is still business as usual. I keep wondering if anyone from the campground will stop and ask what my plans relative to the storm might be. All of the weekenders departed this morning. By mid afternoon new arrivals started to fill in some of the sites vacated. My guess is that most of them will move on in the morning. The park dump station also got a lot of use from outsiders this afternoon. The first group seemed to be from the people that were dry camping at the BBQ Festival up the road. The BBQ trailers behind the motorhomes were a bit of a give away. Later in the day, my guess the people that needed to make sure their tanks were empty before putting their units in storage were using the dump station.
Today’s weather was a repeat of Friday. It was a very nice day with low humidity, a nice breeze and a high temperature in the mid eighties. The sky was blue with an occasional white fluffy cloud.
My adventure for the day began at the gas station. I stopped to fill the tank in my SUV, but had a hard time getting the pump to work. It was very frustrating. Since the price per gallon was a few cents higher than another station I passed earlier in the day, I decided to head for the other station. At the next station I discovered that I forgot to put the cap back on my tank. This wouldn’t have been a problem if my cap was still tethered to the car, but the little plastic cord had broken some time ago. When I take the cap off I put it on the roof of my SUV. The cap was gone.
After I finished filling the tank, I drove the two miles back to the other station. There was a chance I could find the cap and I did. As I drove into the station I spotted my gas cap in the driveway to the station. There was just one small problem. One or more cars had managed to drive over the cap. It was a mass of shattered white and gray plastic and some mangled metal. It was time to buy a new cap.
The first auto parts store I found was closed for the day. I checked Walmart, but they don’t carry them. It was time to ask Google to find other auto parts stores. There were two near my campsite that were open. O’Rielly Auto Parts had what I needed. The new cap even has a new tether to keep me from a repeat of this tragedy.
The approaching tropical system is still a big concern. The track changed a little to the west today shutting off a few of my options. The entire state of Florida is now in the cone of uncertainty. The governor has expanded the state of emergency to all of the counties in the state. The storm is far enough away that the track is likely to change a few more times before it gets here. I decided that I probably won’t be able to avoid the storm, but I can minimize the impact by getting inland. I booked a campsite in Forsyth Georgia on Interstate 75 between Macon and Atlanta for Tuesday to Saturday. I ran to this location in 2016 to avoid hurricane Mathew. The good news is the sites are relatively sheltered by terrain and they are not in the trees. The bad news is Forsyth looks like it is right in the middle of the current storm path prediction, but after the storm weakens to a tropical storm. I’ll continue to monitor the forecast closely. An earlier departure from here is always possible and if a better destination develops that can change too.
It was a little cooler today than yesterday. The high temperature was in the upper half of the eighties which is about normal for this time of year. The breeze was out of the east at a moderate pace. I continue to watch the track of the future hurricane. It is looking more like I will bail out of here on Tuesday a day early. The question remains if I’ll run north toward Atlanta or west toward Pensacola. Any thoughts of going south deeper into the Florida peninsular or east toward the Atlantic are gone. The storm could impact the entire peninsular if some of the tracks are to be believed. Florida has issued emergency orders for 24 counties in the path. I am not currently in one of them. Tomorrow’s reports out of the hurricane center should provide more details.
I was surprised to find this campground filling up for the weekend. When I was here two years ago at this time of year, I recall a rather empty campground. Starting in the early afternoon a stead flow of arrivals kept the park roads busy. I have neighbors on both sides tonight. The attraction may be the BBQ Festival at the state park about a mile up the road. It is apparently one of the bigger BBQ events in Florida this fall. The event started today and concludes tomorrow. Traffic near the festival was heavy today.
Besides watching the weather forecasts and reading, today was another regular chores day. I got some cleaning accomplished, but I still need to undertake a major decluttering event. My couch and passenger seats have turned into storage spots for lots of random things.
Today is the first day of fall, but we also had near record high temperatures in the area. The temperature reached 95 in Tallahassee. It was in the low nineties here to the southeast of the capital. At my campsite under the trees it was a comfortable day.
The longer term weather is more of a concern to me. The tropical storm season is ramping up after being relatively quiet for most of the summer. The area of concern the forecasters are talking about is still off the northeast coast of South America, but the weather models call for it to enter the Gulf of Mexico toward the beginning of next week. Today the various tracks from the model runs are showing my current location in Florida’s Big Bend right in the middle of the area of concern.
It is early to make decisions to avoid the storm’s track, but I need to continue to monitor the forecasts. Apparently the water in the Gulf of Mexico is very warm which would allow the storm to strengthen quickly. I spent some time today researching my options. Right now I don’t know what direction to move. I’ve checked availability at various locations in many directions. My guess is I will have to move Tuesday or Wednesday. Currently, I’m booked here until Wednesday, but will move if necessary regardless. I just need to know which direction. Strangely enough the right direction may be deeper into the southern part of the Florida peninsular. The problem with that is my options are limited should the next wave of storms coming off the coast of Africa head for Florida.
I have had to do react to storms before. I am concerned, but not worried at this point. As of now my next reservation is at the end of October for the entire month of November. Between now and the end of October I expect to move a lot to stay out of the various storm paths. If the tropics are quiet I’ll stay in one place longer. While they are active, I will remain flexible.
Other than weigh my options I spent most of the day doing various chores and getting a little reading done. The computer I’m writing this blog entry on also got some attention. I have had Microsoft updates paused while I was away from a strong Wifi connection. At this KOA, I have a good Wifi connection so everything is getting updated. Maybe it will run better tomorrow.
Fall may be arriving tomorrow, but today’s high temperature was above normal for this area. It was a nice sunny day with a good breeze from the east that pushed the temperature into the low nineties.
My campsite is under several tall leafy trees. They really keep the sunlight from making direct contact with the ground around my RV home. The result is it is very dark and quiet. Sleeping in this morning was very easy. Even if it wasn’t a slow travel recovery day, I’d have gotten a slow start to my day.
Breakfast was complicated by the fact that I was out of bread and muffin mixes. Finding things to go with my morning coffee resulted in a little more formal a breakfast than usual. I scrambled a couple of eggs. It also set my mission for the day; grocery shopping.
After taking the bicycle and rack off my SUV to get it in touring trim. I headed into town to the local Walmart. This is a smaller store, but I found the bread, meat and Orange Juice I needed. Of course, I bought a few other things too. This Walmart seems to have been stocked by someone with a contrarian perspective. If an aisle of product was typically laid out from left to right. This store would lay it out right to left. For example; the meats usually go right to left with hamburg, beef, pork, and chicken. This one went chicken, pork, beef, and then hamburg. I found similar switched order in other areas of the store. Can you tell I’ve been in too many different Walmart stores?
My two weeks at the Eastbank Campground on Lake Seminole was up today. I worked off and on all morning to get ready to leave. I pulled out of the campground around 1PM for a little over a one hundred mile drive to Perry Florida. Basically I traveled from an area northwest of Tallahassee to an area about the same distance to the southeast of the capital city.
It was not the best travel day I’ve had. The motorhome engine was running very rough at the start. It seemed to get better after a few miles. Maybe because of that or just a little bit of paranoia I was hearing lots of rattles and odd noises along the way. Continuing with the theme when I stopped for gas my credit card was refused for the second authorization. This isn’t unusual, but it hasn’t happened in a long time. I ended up with only three quarters of a full tank of fuel. The issue with the credit card was cleared up later with a reply to a text message.
My travel woes continued with heavy traffic going around the north side of Tallahassee on Interstate 10. Traffic never came to a stop, but all of the weaving in and out by cars trying to enter and exit the highway made for slow and unsafe conditions. Later in my journey I had an alarm from the monitor for my towed car auxiliary brake. I had to pull over and check the brake. It required a power off and restart to clear the alarm and presumably get the brake working again. This has never happened before so I am not sure what caused the issue.
I arrived at the KOA in Perry Florida after 3:30PM. Check in went fine, but my day’s surprises weren’t over. When I tried to hook up my water line, I discovered I had left my water pressure regulator at my previous campsite. I’ve only done this once before and that was at the same campground when I was evacuated for Hurricane Sally. That time I got my water pressure regulator back when I returned from evacuation a few days later. This time it’s gone for good. I used and older pressure regulator that is suffering from diminished flow. It will do until I can buy a new one.
Today is my last full day at the Eastbank Campground on Lake Seminole. It was another very nice late summer day. The temperature climbed a little from the last few days. The peak temperature was in the high eighties.
My walks around the campground were a little more challenging today. It was lawn mowing day. The mowers seemed to be in the areas I wanted to walk through resulting in a change in my course. Lawn mowing in campgrounds continues to be a nuisance. The park really needed a good mowing. The park looked like it needed mowing when I arrived thirteen days ago. Today they had grass to mow that was almost a foot tall in some areas. On previous visits I think they were mowing weekly. I suppose it may be a cost savings exercise, but the people doing the mowing are employees so the only savings would be for fuel.
I don’t have to rush to checkout tomorrow. Checkout time is 3PM and I only have a couple of hours to travel. The late checkout may be my undoing. Knowing I have plenty of time tomorrow, I haven’t done as many prep tasks today as I normally complete on the day before travel.
Today’s weather added a little to Saturday’s great weather. The wind was a lot stronger today out of the north. The temperature reached the upper eighties, but the wind kept it comfortable.
It is NFL football season, so there is always a game or two to watch on Sunday. I watched bits and pieces of three games today. In between I got in my three walks around the campground and some cooking.
My cooking adventure was a pizza party for one. Every now and then I get ambitious and create a pizza from base components. I use a pizza dough mix and bottled pizza sauce, but I assemble all of the parts and cook it. Today I made a sausage pizza, so I had to cook that as well. It turned out to be tasty even if it was heavy on the mozzarella. I had a little bit of pizza with my cheese.
Since it was the end of the weekend there was a lot of turn over at the campground, but I was surprised to see many of the sites occupied by new residents this evening. Last week the beginning of the week was very slow around the campground. It doesn’t look that way tonight. Maybe the better and slightly cooler weather associated with the arrival of fall is having an impact.