The temperature got down into the forties once again last night. By mid afternoon the temperature climbed into the mid seventies. Overall it was a perfect day. It was cool at night supporting good sleep and just warm enough during the day.
This has been a very lazy week. It is hard to believe this is Friday. I’ve been sleeping late in the morning and consequently going to bed late in the evening/night. The result is a very skewed sleep pattern that probably will require an alarm clock set to an early morning hour to break the cycle.
Today was a little more productive than Thursday. I’ve been working on travel plans for the near term and the long term. In the near term I leave here on Monday and have to plan four weeks before my first “winter” reservation in Florida. The long term relates to filling a two week gap next March and the entire summer from mid April forward. On both fronts I’ve made some progress. Next March I’ll head into the Everglades for ten days or so. Next summer the middle of the country from Kansas north to the Dakotas is looking more interesting with each new page click of internet research.
Here in Tuscumbia Alabama, the campground is filling up for the weekend. Each day this week there were new arrivals and departures, but most of the people that arrived Thursday didn’t leave today. As the afternoon progressed more people arrived. I’m surprised. I don’t know what the specific draw is in this area. I’ll have to look around the area some more over the weekend.
The temperature dropped into the forties overnight. The interior temperature in my RV home was in the low sixties this morning. It took until mid afternoon for the outside temperature to get into the low seventies. Fall weather was here.
It was a day without motivation or ambition. I spent the day reading and watching television. The most productive thing I did all day was cook my afternoon meal. Even this blog entry is low on the achievement scale.
I woke up to temperatures in the sixties inside my RV home. The outside temperature may have been in the fifties. Late in the afternoon, after about an hour of full sun, the temperature peaked a little over seventy. There was also a strong northwest wind all day from the cold front that passed through the area overnight. I had to add a layer of clothing to be comfortable. My sweatshirt came out of the draw for the first time in six months or more. The cool temperatures are forecast to last until the weekend. The eighties will be back next week.
The cold morning resulted in a very late start to the day. I rolled over with the covers pulled up a little higher twice before I got out of bed. The laziness continued all day. I didn’t do much more than take advantage of the internet I didn’t have last week. Reading and TV watching rounded out my activities for the day.
It was another day with rain just around the corner. Just like yesterday the sky went from sunny with a few clouds to rain in the blink of an eye. The only difference was the rain was a little lighter. There were no flash flood warnings issued for this area today. The temperature also peaked a little higher in the mid eighties. A cold front is forecast to pass through overnight to break the pattern. The next few days are forecast to be dry and sunny with a high temperature in the low to mid seventies.
It is hard to believe that tomorrow is the first day of my favorite season. Starting the year in Florida makes summer seam very long. The temperatures and other weather patterns turn summer-like in April. That makes for about six months of summer. The good thing about this location in northern Alabama is there is some foliage. A few trees are already turning, but the majority will be much later in the year. Once I get back to Florida, the season will just blend into a Florida winter. The leaves on the deciduous trees fall off, but they don’t really turn color first. Having lived most of my life in New England, the fall colors are one of the things I miss most.
Today was a chores day around my RV home. Dust and dirt really show up in the small space. I know my former fixed residence was probably just as dirty or even more, but I didn’t see it. In the RV I see it everyday and need to do something about it on a more frequent basis. Today was one of those days dedicated to cleaning up some of the accumulated dust and clutter. My RV home is cleaner tonight, but the clutter is just in new locations.
Today was filled with random quick and heavy rain storms. Every hour or so the weather would quickly change from patchy clouds with a little sun to dark menacing clouds filled with heavy rain. The temperature peaked around eighty with plenty of humidity.
Today started with finishing setting up camp for my weeks stay. I also needed to get used to having usable internet, full TV service, cell phone service and enough electric power that I didn’t have to be concerned about how many things I turned on at time. I enjoyed my stay in the woods at Piney Grove Campground, but the low technology was a bit frustrating at time. It was hardly “roughing it,” but I am used to the comforts of the modern age.
This campground is interesting. It is about three quarters long term and the rest for transients. Last night the transient area was almost full. This morning by 9:30 it was almost empty. It hasn’t filled to the same level tonight. There are clear signs that a lot of work has been put into the park recently. I’m not sure if it is a refurbishment of an older park or a completely new park. There is new sod between the sites, young trees planted between the sites, new gravel on some sites and in the roads along with fairly new utilities. Management also seems very focused on keeping the park cleaned and well maintained. They were pressure washing the charcoal grills this morning.
After almost two weeks in the woods I needed to restock. I found a Walmart in nearby Muscle Shoals. This area has four rather large towns of Sheffield, Tuscumbia, Muscle Shoals and on the other side of the Tennessee River is Florence. Some of them may even be considered cities. The Walmart was busy, but I found it better stocked than the last couple I’ve shopped. One observation is that this area isn’t big on mask wearing. The majority of the customers were not wearing masks.
The day began cloudy with a forecast of rain. I got a few of the outside travel preparation tasks completed before breakfast. After breakfast, while I was working on some of the inside tasks, it started to rain. Checking the forecast on the internet and the weather radar the rain would end in the afternoon well before the 3PM checkout time.
I spent two and a half hours slowly getting the inside of my RV home ready for travel and generally killing time. Around 1PM the rain let up and sunshine started to arrive. I began the outside tasks. I got a little wet from the remnants of the rain and the big drops falling from the leaves in the trees. Today I had one extra outdoor travel prep task. My Honda CR-V needed the air in one of its tires topped off. The low pressure indicator came on yesterday while I was driving back to the campground. The drivers side rear tire has a slow leak that is triggered by big temperature changes. The hardest part of topping off the tires is getting the compressor out of the storage bay. It takes ten minutes to get it out and the tank filled. Putting the air in the tire along with checking the others takes less than five minutes followed by another ten to get the air out of the compressor and loading it back into the storage bay. Just another dust speck of a bump in the road.
The other gotcha getting ready to leave was hooking up the car. There wasn’t a level area nearby that didn’t completely block all traffic. I found an area with only a slight up hill slope before a big downhill stretch. The trick was making sure everything locked in place before I started downhill. Going downhill before the tow bar locks into place can be disastrous. A solid manual application of the auxiliary brake helped assure everything lock into place in a short distance. Of course the location I chose meant I had to drive around the whole narrow road of the camping loop to get out of the campground. After a stop at the dumping station I was out of the campground by 2:30pm. I think that is the latest I’ve started my days travel.
Sixty miles and an hour and a half later I arrived at my destination for the next eight nights. The sun was out and the roads were dry for the entire drive. When I arrived at the Heritage Acres RV Park in Tuscumbia Alabama, the park roads were filled with water puddles. It was clear that they had received more rain than I experienced. Not long after I was setup more rain arrived.
The threat of rain dominated the day. It was cloudy and humid when I started my day this morning. A few patches of blue sky arrived in the early afternoon, but didn’t last. Around 4PM the distant sound of thunder was in the air. A few light showers passed through over the next few hours. Since darkness arrived the precipitation has ended. The temperature peaked around eighty.
The campground isn’t as full this weekend. There are more empty sites than last weekend, but I don’t think there are any less boats. The parking areas are all filled with empty boat trailers and the banks of the lake around the campground are lined with boats. This weekend there seems to be a preponderance of pontoon boats. They are popular as party boats and the once with oversize motors can really move.
This is my last full day at Piney Grove Campground. I usually don’t move on Sunday. I prefer to avoid all of the traffic departing the campground and on the roads. It was a mistake to book my departure for tomorrow. At least the 3PM checkout time gives me plenty of time to get ready to travel. I’m moving about sixty miles to the east. I’ll correct my Sunday departure issue, by staying eight nights. I should be back in civilization with a cell phone signal and good satellite TV access.
The long forecast rain finally arrived at the end of Thursday into the beginning of Friday. I had been anticipating it with a little dread since Tuesday afternoon. The first shower was about a half hour of heavy rain. Throughout the night I think there was occasional light rain, but I slept through most of it.
During the day today most of the rain was light short storms. It wasn’t heavy enough to darken the ground under the trees, but that changed quickly. When the sky started to brighten I took my first walk of the day. Mother nature choose the time when I was on the other side of the campground from my RV home to open the rain nozzle. I had to take cover for close to half an hour to avoid getting soaked walking back home. There was one more heavy shower in the afternoon, but most of day had followed the brief light rain pattern. Overall the weather threatened to rain hard at any moment.
Despite the fact that many people arrived last night for the weekend, the campground was quiet again today. Most of yesterday’s arrivals were gone for the day. I suspect they went home for work and school during the day. More RVs arrived for the weekend this afternoon. It looks like the park will have more vacancies this weekend than last. Perhaps, the weather forecast for rain is keeping people home.
I really missed having satellite TV today. Listening to the radio and reading was getting old. Internet access from the campground hotspot and from my phone is also problematic. I put the satellite back up with the hope that things would be different this time. At first test it wasn’t, but I decided to try all the channels on the chance that one of the three satellites my dish locks onto was getting through the tree cover. All of the channels I watch on a regular basis were unavailable, but I found a few channels less desirable channels with a clear signal. Many of the shopping channels were available as were the religious channels and a few of the recently added channels. Among the available channels were a few broadcasting old westerns and cop shows. I had a few palatable options to watch this afternoon.
The lack of time cues from the TV continues to play havoc with my sleep pattern. Listening to the radio and reading kept me up much longer than my normal bedtime. The result was a later and slower start to the day. Once I got up I found a cloudy day. The forecast rain never materialized, but the sun only made a few weak attempts at visibility late in the day. A stronger breeze than the past few days was also blowing most of the day. The temperature peaked around eighty.
On my morning walk, which didn’t happen until just after noon, I saw a squirrel. It reminded me of how few, if any, squirrels I’ve seen while I’ve been here. There is plenty of traditional squirrel food like pine cones, acorns and berries. At other campgrounds with similar food sources the squirrels are overrunning the place.
I have seen very few creatures other than people at this park. Some of it is because of the location on a spit of land sticking out into the lake. Bigger animals like deer wouldn’t want to get trapped among people without good cover or a clear escape path. I’m not sure what the smaller animals excuse might be. In the marshier areas along the lake shore I expected to find ducks and wading birds. In the last couple of days I’ve startled a Great Blue Heron on a number of occasions. It gets spooked before I know it is around as I approach the shore. All I want to do is take its picture. It must be camera shy. I still haven’t seen any ducks.
As I sat outside my RV home this afternoon, a steady flow of new arrivals passed by. The quiet of the last few days is over. Tonight I can hear the sound of trucks and other vehicles moving around. Kids are out on bicycles and scooters. The first thing people do after setting up camp is launch their boats and power them at full throttle out into the lake. The weekend is here on Thursday night. It will only get busier tomorrow.
I expected today to be cloudy and wet. It was cloudy to start, but by midday the sun was breaking through the clouds. The forecast rain and the remnants of tropical system Nicholas seem to be moving slower and staying to the south. Tomorrow’s forecast still calls for rain showers even thought the weather radar shows the storm already over Alabama and Georgia.
I am seeing more signs that fall is arriving everyday. The sun is setting earlier every day. Today’s official sunset time is almost ten minutes earlier than it was last week when I arrived here and twenty minutes earlier than the beginning of the month. The heavy forestation also makes it seem dark earlier at night and for longer in the morning.
The arrival of Fall is causing me to reflect on this summers travels. It was heavily influenced by not having a plan. Last winter I kept delaying making plans and reservations until I understood the COVID vaccination situation. As it turned out, I got vaccinated earlier than I anticipated and could have (should have) made real plans. Instead I’ve been planning as I go. The result hasn’t been perfect. Finding reservations on the weekends has often been a problem. Out of frustration I’ve spent longer in less desirable locations rather than continuing to explore options. Even so, I’ve spent time in several nice areas I wouldn’t have visited had I planned all of my Summer travels. Fontaineblue State Park in Louisiana, a stop in Vicksburg, and return visits to Tom Sawyer RV park on the Mississippi River and Maumelle Corp of Engineers Park on the Arkansas River were all good fun stops. I just haven’t visited any major new areas this summer.
I have about five weeks of my “summer” travel season to go. I’m am moving east slowly following the same pattern of planning as I go that I’ve been using all summer. October 22nd marks the end of my summer travels. I have reservations at various places in Florida from then through the middle of March 2022. Most of my stays will be two weeks long in state or federal parks, but I start with a month long stay at a private park in the Jacksonville area and have a few shorter “filler” reservations along the way. Overall it is a slower pace visiting mostly know areas with lots of interesting things to do and see.
Planning for next summer is in the early stages. The working outline of a plan is to head for the Dakotas. How I get there, what I see along the way, the things I see in addition to the national parks and the Black Hills, and where I end my summer travels are all things to figure out. Right now I anticipate being back in Florida again for the winter. The research and the theoretical part of planning are the fun part. Finding places to stay and making reservations is the tedious part.