A Quiet Tuesday

Tuesday March 28th 2023

The fog was thick and slow to depart this morning. It was close to 11AM before it started to brighten up. During the afternoon a nice breeze camp up to keep it comfortable despite the above average temperatures. The temperature peaked in the upper eighties a little lower than yesterday.

I found another of these beautiful lilies.

This was a very quiet day around the state park. There wasn’t a lot of turnover in the campground and the day use area was empty during my afternoon walk. I didn’t see any people or vehicles on my walk to the area or at the area while I was there. One state park truck passed by on my walk back to my RV home. Later in the day during my evening walk there were a couple of fishermen and a pair of kayakers at the pond. The campground had a few dog walkers when I got back. Overall everything was pretty quiet all day.

My question of the day relates to dog walking. The requirement to pick up after your dog is now pretty common. When I had a dog to walk as a child it wasn’t a requirement. Today I passed a pile of fresh horse excrement on the trail. When will the horse riders have to pick up after their animals?

My main activity for the day was a maintenance and repair task. My Fan-Tastic vent wouldn’t open. The motor was spinning, but the lid wasn’t climbing. On closer examination the plastic mounting bracket was cracked. The motor drive shaft was not held in place correctly. I have the mechanism disassembled. The motor works OK. A quick search online for parts proved interesting. I could only find the complete motor assembly not just the plastic mounting piece. After I dig out the manual, hopefully with part numbers, I’ll do another search. In the mean time, I’m going to try and glue the plastic mounting piece together as a temporary work around.

A Warm Day for a Longer Hike

Monday March 27th 2023

There wasn’t as much fog this morning, but it was still very humid. By mid morning the sun and clouds had reached a balance that kept the sunshine reaching the ground about half the time. It was comfortable while the sun was blocked and hot when it reached the ground. Overall the temperature peaked around ninety degrees with plenty of humidity.

I spent the afternoon walking more of the trails in the park. Today I looped around the far side of the ponds and out toward the park entrance before heading back along a woodland trail to the campground area. I enjoyed the walk, but didn’t seen anything singularly spectacular. I drank plenty of water on my hike and didn’t really notice the heat. The trail passes through a meadow area near the ponds, swamp areas moving away from the pond and tree filled areas with pines and hardwoods deeper in the park. The most notable area along the trail was an area of wildflowers filled with butterflies.

There wasn’t much turnover in the campground today. Very few of the weekenders stayed through to Monday. The site beside mine did get occupied last night. I don’t know when they arrived only that the site was occupied this morning.

The Alligators Made an Appearance Today

Sunday March 26th 2023

The fog was heavier this morning. It took longer for it to burn off. It was well after noon before the sun won the battle with the clouds. Once it did the temperature returned to the upper eighties. It is about ten degrees warmer than normal for the season.

Wood Stork

This morning I watched a steady stream of departing RVs. I would estimate more than half of the sites turned over today. By the time I lowered the shades in my RV home the only empty site remaining was beside me. There is always the possibility that it will be filled by morning.

With the arrival of full sunshine in the afternoon, I took a walk to the ponds at the day use area. People were in the process of cleaning up after a wedding. Apparently the pavilion was rented out for a wedding earlier in the day. They were in the process of removing white plastic chairs and other festive items. The day use area seems to be busy with special events. There was a concert yesterday and a wedding today.

I didn’t see as many wildflowers today. The blue lilies that were plentiful the last couple of days were down to only a couple of blossoms today. Instead I found a few animals to take pictures of. A Wood Stork was in the mud trying to get a drink of the little remaining water in the part of the swamp where the lilies grew. Over in the main pond I finally spotted a couple of alligators today. On my first few visits to the ponds I didn’t see any gators, but knew they were most likely present. Today I saw two young alligators. One was at the edge of the reeds and the other was swimming under the fishing dock. I suspect there are a few more back in the reeds.

A Busy Day at Colt Creek State Park

Saturday March 25th 2023

The humidity arrived overnight. The day started foggy and transitioned to bright and sunny via a very brief light rain shower. The high temperature for the day was around ninety degrees, but the humidity made it feel much warmer than yesterday.

The morning fog turned into a lot of puffy clouds during the day.

It was a busy day around the state park today. This morning while I was having breakfast an ambulance, fire truck and police car sped by the campground on their way toward the group camping area. They departed a few minutes later with much less fanfare and hast. I assume it wasn’t a major issue. The action in the afternoon moved to the other direction from the campground. A couple of folk music groups preformed this afternoon at the main day use area.

I walked up to the day use area this afternoon to listen to the music and get some exercise walking around the ponds. The music was entertaining, but not memorable. The event sponsored by the Friends of Colt Creek State Park drew a good crowd. There were cars overflowing the parking lot and lots of people were sitting in chairs they brought with them for the occasion. Some people even brought “easy up” style awnings to sit under. A shaved ice food truck was also present to keep the crowd refreshed. I listened for a while then walked around the ponds before returning and listening to the music again.

The volunteer staff have planted flowers to attract butterflies.

During the middle of the afternoon I returned to my RV home for some lunch. It also was an opportunity to cool off and watch a little TV. Just before sunset this evening I returned to the day use area to watch the sunset. Once again I watched for signs of deer, turkeys or other wildlife that might come out into the field areas in the evening. Similar to yesterday I didn’t see any.

Settling at Colt Creek State Park

Friday March 24th 2023

It was a warm sunny day. There wasn’t too much humidity or wind, but the temperature climbed into the upper nineties. Some places in the area broke the ninety degree mark. It is about a month earlier than the average first 90 degree day.

The loop roads at the campground are wide with campsites set well back from the road.

My mission today was getting settled in and familiarizing myself with Colt Creek State Park. This is my first visit to this park. I believe it is fairly new. The campground and all of the buildings look new. The campsites are all big, level, and gravel lined with both a fire ring and a charcoal grill. The distance between sites is also very good.

The third pond at the main day use area.
There are plenty of things intended to support horses.

The campground is located about 2 miles from the entrance to the park. You pass the main day use area about a half a mile before you reach the campground. The main day use facility is around a series of ponds that seem to have been created by digging out swamp land and and creating raised banks to hold in the water. Further down the main road there is another day use area, an equestrian campground and a group camping area. There is an extensive grid of trails in the park. Most of them are suitable for people, horses and bicycles.

Wildflower of the day

I walked part of one of the trails to get from the campground to the day use area. The trail was probably three times longer than the direct route along the park road, but it was through the woods. The water level seems to be low. The trail followed beside a creek bed that was mostly dry. Once I reached the ponds they seemed to be well below the maximum capacity, but I don’t have a basis of comparison. There were plenty of wildflowers to see along my walk, but I didn’t see many animals. I expected to see ducks or other water birds in the ponds. The only water bird I saw was a single Great Egret hiding in the reeds while searching for lunch.

Late in the day just before sunset, I walked back to the day use area. There are several open areas along the road that I hoped might be a good place to see deer. The setting sun over the pond was pretty, but I didn’t see any deer or other wildlife along the way. I plan to repeat this walk a few more times during my stay.

North to Colt Creek

Thursday March 23rd 2023

The day began on a positive note. I successfully booked another two week Florida State Park stay for next February. This particular site is at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. I will be on the same site I was on in January of this year. There were only two sites available this morning and I got the best of the two. Now I can sleep in for the next two weeks before I have to get up early to book the next two weeks.

The next part of the day was filled with physical labor as I prepared the rig for travel. The temperature rapidly climbed into the eighties as I worked to get everything packed and configured. Lake Manatee State Park is another older campground that doesn’t have room on the camping loops to hook up my towed car. Once everything is ready for travel, I move the car over to the day use area. After walking back I take the motorhome to the dumping station and then to the car in the day use area. By the time I got all these tasks done, it was close to 12:30PM as I pulled out of the state park.

I arrived at Lake Manatee State Park two weeks ago with an almost empty gas tank. My first order of business was to fill the tank. I scouted a Seven Eleven earlier in the week for easy access to the pumps. Once again a pickup truck with a very slow agenda put a monkey wrench in my plan. There was nowhere appropriate to wait for the truck to finish up at the pump I needed to access. I moved on in search of plan B for gas.

A Raceway station on the opposite side of the road a few miles closer to the highway was my solution. I had bought gas there before, but it necessitated crossing the four lane road at an intersection and maneuvering into the station from the back. I got lucky and no one was using the pump with easy access. Two hundred and twenty five dollars on two credit card passes later and I was ready to be on my way. It was after 1PM when I got on Interstate 75 heading north. It took over half an hour to travel the first eight miles.

Site 27 at Colt Creek State Park.

The trip north and east on Interstate 75 and Intestate 4 was solid traffic. This area has some of the heaviest traffic I encounter in Florida during the winter. There were also several construction zones. Traffic slowed to a crawl in each construction zone. It was well after 3PM when I arrived at the check in station for Colt Creek State Park north of Lakeland Florida. I still had another two miles along a winding road to reach the campground. I’ll be here for two weeks before I return to the Sarasota Bradenton area. Lucky me I have to travel through all the traffic two more times in the next month.

Last Day at Lake Manatee State Park Until December

Wednesday March 22nd 2023

The overnight temperature only got down into the fifties last night. It warmed up quickly this morning. The temperature peaked in the mid eighties this afternoon. A partly cloudy sky and a gentle breeze resulted in a very nice day.

“hurry up and dry wings!”

I put off my grocery run as long as I could. My next stop on the Rambling Road Trip is in an unfamiliar area. A quick view on Google Maps shows a lot of undeveloped area for many miles around my destination. The bottom line is the nearest Walmart or any real grocery store is likely to be a good distance away. My goal was to stock up before I move tomorrow. Note: I just checked Google again. The nearest Walmart is 17 miles away. It isn’t nearly as bad as I thought.

Traffic on the road was heavy today, but the crowd in the Walmart was less than I expected. I was the only one in some of the shopping aisles. It was a nice change from resent grocery shopping trips. I even managed to find an empty staffed checkout when the time came. Judging from the final cost for the groceries, I succeed in stocking up for an extended period. That was confirmed as I loaded the groceries into my cabinets and refrigerator. My goal is to avoid another grocery run for at least 16 days.

The animals came out on my last day here at Lake Manatee State Park. In particular a young alligator decided to take in the sun on boat ramp. I don’t think there are many gators in this lake. This one hasn’t lost all of its juvenile coloring. It was only about five feet long.

Tomorrow I’m traveling about one hundred miles to Colt Creek State Park. I have never been to this state park before. It is located about twenty miles north of Lakeland FL in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve area. I’ll be there for two weeks.

Frustrating Start to the Day

Tuesday March 21st 2023

It got cold enough overnight that I had to put another blanket on the bed in the middle of the night. When I got up to make another attempt at reserving a state park booking for next winter the inside temperature was fifty five degrees. The temperature climbed quickly during the day. By noon the temperature had crossed the seventy mark. It peaked in the mid to upper seventies.

Wildflower blossom of the day

My morning battle with the Florida State Park booking software was another failure. At least in the last couple of days the software seems to be behaving. The error messages and downright crashes I experienced earlier in the year haven’t happened recently. My problem these last couple of days has been the low inventory combined with the slow bandwidth of my internet connection. Tomorrow morning there are nine possible sites across six state parks that I could try to book. I will only get a chance at booking one of them. The challenge will be to pick the best site that I have the best chance of booking.

This pair of ducks has been swimming around at the park beach every day since I got here. I suspect they are preparing a place nearby for the arrival of ducklings later in the spring.

The cold temperature and early morning once again caused a disturbance in my day. I crawled back into bed for a couple of hours after my booking attempt. The result was another slow start to the day. I ended up getting a bunch of chores done and an early start at travel preparations for Thursday’s move. My next stop is a new location on the Rambling Road Trip. I suspect that supplies and services may be a good distance away. I plan to stock up tomorrow.

A Cold First Day of Spring

Monday March 20th 2023

My sleep was interrupted by some rain and very strong wind gusts during the night. The rain didn’t last long, but the wind continued for more than an hour. It sounded worse than any of the gusts during the day, but the quiet of night seems to amplify a lot of things. The day was another cold one. The temperature reached a few degrees higher than Sunday. It peaked in the mid sixties. The big difference was the bright sunshine. The day didn’t feel as cold.

The ducks were having a hard time swimming into the surf produced by the wind.

I needed to get up early enough this morning to attempt to book another state park reservation for next winter. When combined with my interrupted sleep, the early start to the day really scrambled my day. After my second day without success booking a reservation I went back to bed. It was still cool inside my RV home and the warmth of my warm bed was to much to resist. It was after ten when I got day started for real.

This tortoise looks grouchy.

There are five sites available for booking tomorrow across six state parks I checked. February 21st of 2024 is a Wednesday. It is odd that there are so few available sites. The snowbirds season may be very active next winter. I’ll be trying again tomorrow morning. Between now and next winter many of the reservations might be canceled. The cancellation fee is not outrageous. You have to be very lucky to catch one of those openings that match your needs.

For exercise today, I walked around the camping loops and a few of the trails in the park. There was njot a lot of activity today. As the afternoon progressed all of the empty sites filled up. The park was a little more active on my last walk of the day just before sunset.

This noisy helicopter was overhead several times today.

An Indoor Sunday

Sunday March 19th 2023

A little bit of rain overnight brought a new day with a strong north wind and lots of clouds. The temperature was still in the fifties at noon and only climbed a few degrees into the sixties before the end of the day. The wind made it necessary to really bundle up to be comfortable outside.

Wildflower blossom of the day.

This was an inside kind of day. There was nobody around during my first walk of the day shortly before noon. It seemed like all of today’s departing residents didn’t hang around in the cool temperatures. They all seemed to get on the road early. Even the boat launch area was empty. No one was braving the cold and wind on the lake. Later in the day despite the continued cool weather the lack of people around changed completely. The pavilion in the day use area was rented to a very large group. They had a loud speaker system for announcements and music. The volume along with the wind direction carried all the activity into the campground. I could hear a muffled version of all the goings on from inside my RV home. They were just cleaning up when I took my second walk of the day near 7PM.

Thick cloudy sky across the burnt area of palms.

I didn’t find many interesting things to take pictures of today. It was dull and cloudy so the pictures I took weren’t the greatest. I take pictures for three general reasons. Some are taken just to support the narrative in this blog. As I’m on my walks I often think about what the content will be in my next blog entry. The pictures serve to remind me of my thoughts and ultimately to fill content in the blog. I also take many pictures of colorful wildflowers and occasionally the clouds in the sky to make sure I have some pictures for inclusion in the blog. The second reason I take pictures is for memories. These are things I might want to remember later. Short term memory items are things like signs with the name of places or trail maps. Long term memory items are usually more landscape in nature. These are places that I want to return or are particularly interesting, historic or otherwise significant.

The other type of picture I take more time with. I consider them potential art that I might want to frame or display at some point in time. For these pictures I take the time to consider the framing and lighting of the picture. I also am more careful with the settings on my camera. All three types of pictures might end up in the blog, but they are all scaled down and potentially cropped for inclusion in the blog. I took about 75GB of pictures last year.