Wednesday March 30th 2016
The rain finally came to an end. Today was a sunny day with temperatures in the 80s. I went for one last visit to the Animal Kingdom for this winter stay.
The plan was to ride the Kali River Rapids and the Kilimanjaro Safari. The river rapids ride was closed the last few times I visited the park. I had afternoon Fastpass+ times for the River Rapids and the Safari ride so I arrived at the park shortly afternoon. The first order of business was lunch at the Flame Tree Barbecue. I had a pulled pork sandwich which was pretty good for theme park food.
After lunch I headed to the Asia area of the park where the Kali River Rapids ride is located. I found the ride to be shut down for repairs with no idea when it would be back up and running. The primary reason for going to the park was not going to happen. My focus switched to viewing the various animal displays.
Monkey in the Asia area walking across a rope bridge
Pluto in a character greeting area.
Ostrich on the Safari
Meerkats at play
Gorilla in the single males area.
The park was full of two legged humanoid animals, but seemed to be missing some of the regular featured animals. There were no tigers available for viewing on the Maharajah Jungle Trek and the Gorilla family on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail were to quote the cast member “off stage for feeding and enrichment”. Many of the animals on the safari were lethargic in the mid day sun. The only lion visible was a sleeping male.
The safari ride I took included a first. I was one of a group that was selected to fill the handicapped safari vehicle. The only thing special about this ride is that you load and unload in a different area making the ride a little longer. This driver was not one of the best, she never really stopped the vehicle to allow you to take good pictures. Other drivers will come to a complete stop to allow for steady picture taking . This driver slowed to a crawl, but the vehicle still was bouncing around.
Seating for new River of Light show
The construction on the new Avitar area continues. Two big cranes are in place to build another mountain in that area. The new land called Pandora will open sometime next year. Other construction on the viewing area for new night time River Light Show is almost complete. The new show sounds like it will be a lot like Fantasmic at Disney Hollywood Studios except using animal images instead of Disney villains. It is scheduled to premier at the end of April.
I might try to go back to the park on Sunday to ride the Kali River Rapids. It will depend on how my preparations for heading north are going and the weather.
Tuesday March 29th 2016
It was a foggy morning. About ten it started to clear off and heat up just enough to fuel the thunderstorms that began around two thirty. Four hours later the rain ran out of gas. That about sums up the highlights of the day.
Rain out the front window of the RV
I’ve been lucky with the weather this winter. Up until the last week there haven’t been long periods of rain. There have been a few days with severe storms going through but not multiple days in a row like now. The forecast for the next couple of days is drier, but then more rain over the weekend.
Today, I did some more preparation work for next weeks departure and some reading. I’m more focused on traveling now than on finding other things to do around here. I have a few more things planned like a couple more trips over to Disney and another baseball game, but I’m not actively looking for more things to do in this area. If things go as loosely planned, I’ll be back in this area later in the fall for a couple of months. I’ll do more new things at that time. This seems to be some form of “itch” to get on the road. Next winter will not include 4 months in one place.
Monday March 28th 2016
Today was the fifth straight day of rain. About 10:30 this morning the threatening skies opened up. It rained off and on until about five in the afternoon. My day was mostly spent at home doing various tasks needed to be completed before I head north.
This park is starting to empty out. Two more of my neighbors left this morning for other locations. Folks started leaving a couple of weeks ago, but the real rush may have started this morning. Many folks are starting to put stuff away that they’ve gotten out during their stay.
Three non-occupied sites. Form the left, the park model residents have returned to Canada, a fifth wheel trailer from Georgia has returned home leaving his shed and steps and the third site was left completely vacant.
It’s interesting how people leave their sites. The basic winter resident like me, picks up everything and leaves the site empty. Those people that are coming back to the same site next year, probably for the Nth time, stack things up around their storage sheds before pulling out with their RV. People with park model RVs that don’t travel pick up stuff then lock the door and leave. A couple these have others come by later to finish picking things up and preparing the rig for summer hibernation.
This RV park also has a storage area. This yard holds RVs for the people that spend the winter in neighborhood homes. In February it was full to over flowing, but those RVs are also heading out. This exodus is undoubtedly going on all across Florida.
I am both looking forward to and dreading the trip north. I’m ready to head out. It has been to long in one place, but I don’t look forward to fighting the others in the exodus for places to stay. I will be leaving here next Monday April 4th. I have a reservation for a couple of nights up around Daytona Beach and I am looking for a place to reserve near Charleston South Carolina for a few days. I will be taking it slow stopping for a few days at a few places going north.
Sunday March 27th 2016
Today was another humid day with temperatures in the high 80s. The sun was out for a few hours in the middle of the day but it was mostly cloudy. The rain finally came about 5:30PM, but it was not as severe as the last couple of days. Another batch of storms is forecast overnight.
Early in the afternoon I took a drive over to Celebration. This is a fancy community designed by Disney. I’ve been over there a couple of times before to use the post office. This time I went with a plan to walk some of its exercise paths.
On the way into Celebration I passed the Catholic church and was reminded that it was Easter. The service was just getting out. They had made accommodations for the extra crowds with additional parking in a nearby field and a tent with chairs and closed circuit TV in the church yard for the extra people. The people leaving the church were in all levels of dress. Some were in their Easter finery complete with hats, while others were in shorts and flip flops. I would think somewhere in the middle is the most appropriate.
View of the town center of Celebration from across the pond
The path I walked was around a couple of the main ponds. Lots of people were out enjoying the afternoon. I think most of the walkers had homes in the community. Others may have come for Easter dinner at some of the restaurants. There was quite a line at a couple of them.
Along the path were a number of photogenic birds and water lilies in the pond that are about to blossom. As a reminder that this is Florida there was even an alligator. I don’t think it was big enough yet to endanger dogs or little children. It does remind you to be aware.
Overall it was a pleasant walk on a hot and humid day. Not to long with opportunities to be out of the sun.
Saturday March 26th 2016
Today was the third day in a row with severe thunderstorms in the forecast. This batch of storms was predicted to come late in the afternoon. The question was; Would I get wet at the baseball game?
The plan for the day was to go to the New York Mets vs. the Atlanta Braves game over at Champions field in Disney. I got there a few minutes before noon with the game scheduled to start at 1:05PM. It was bright sunshine with very little breeze when I got into the stadium. My seat on the 2nd level of the first base side seating was in the sun. I was well covered in sun screen, but I wasn’t looking forward to testing its effectiveness. Luckily, by the third inning it had clouded over.
ESPN Wide World of Sports
This is the third stadium I’ve watched a game at this winter. I can’t help comparing the facilities and grounds crews. Champion stadium at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports center is the fanciest building. It has two distinct seating decks with lots of concessions on each level and it is very well maintained. However, the efficiency and results of the grounds crew seems to be inferior to the crews at the Sarasota and Bradenton stadiums where I saw games earlier in the month. The crew needed almost an hour to prepare the field after batting practice. The lines were blotchy and the batters box barely lasted the first half inning. Watering the infield dirt took so long that the third base side was dry before they got around to home plate. This is not a big deal, but it kept me entertained waiting for the game to start.
Champion Field at Disney’s Wide World of Sports
You’d think a game on Disney property would have a lot of Disney touches. The only overt Disney reference was during the ceremonial first pitch. Goofy escorted the kid throwing the pitch to the mound. Some of the lesser items were the concession foods were the same as in the parks and the people working at the stadium were clearly labeled as Disney cast members (i.e. employees).
The game went ten innings and ended in a 3 to 3 tie. The first few innings were good baseball. The pitchers were throwing strikes and the fielders were on their game. As lesser players were rotated in, the quality of the game went down. The Braves broke a tie in the bottom of the 8th inning leading by 1 run. They only needed to hold the Mets scoreless in the top of the 9th. With one error on a pick-off attempt at 2nd base they filled the bases then allowed the tieing run to score on a failed double play. The first baseman came off the bag allowing the runner crossing the plate to count. Neither team scored in the tenth inning.
I got back to the RV and managed to get dinner cooked on the gas grill before the rains came. A severe thunderstorm went through about 6PM. There was lots of wind and lots of rain, but it was not as bad as yesterdays.
Rain out the front window of the RV
Cardinal came out to visit after the rain
More severe thunderstorms are forecast for tomorrow.
Friday March 25th 2016
Today was divided into two parts separated by a dozzy of a thunderstorm. For about an hour and a half during the afternoon the skies roared and flashed with the rain coming down sideways. The national weather service had several severe storm warnings out, but not until the storm had passed through my location.
Before the storm I went out in a similar direction as yesterday’s trip to Leesburg. I wanted to stop at a couple of places. The first was a roadside stand that sold citrus and a bunch of tourist focused products. One of the draws was a huge plastic shark hanging as if it had just been caught. As you drive by it looks pretty real. If it wasn’t 70 miles inland you might actually believe it had just been caught.
Plastic Shark tourist draw
I stopped with the thought that I’d buy some grapefruit, but I was turned off by the small size of the available selection. Many of the grapefruit were the size of a large orange and to top that they were about 3 dollars a piece when you do the math on the number that fit in a $24 bag.
Some of the other products for sale were equally as expensive but slightly more exotic. They had a large selection of fruit wines. I can only guess what mango wine fermented with chocolate tastes like. It doesn’t sound very appetizing to me. Mango maybe, but where does the chocolate come in?
I continued on north looking for another bicycle path trail head. The one I found was located in the town of Minneola. The trail head was in a town park complete with ball park, basketball court and dog parks. I walked a portion of the trail, but it leads into a residential area so I turned back. I prefer trails that are more in a natural setting.
As the weather changed from partial sun to darkening skies, I went back to my RV home to have lunch and ride out the storm. As long as the winds are not extreme the RV is safe in the storm. I need to close up all the windows and turn on the Air Conditioning, but other than a continuous pounding on the roof it is comfortable. I keep the weather radio on alert and check the radar using my phone to make sure I’m not surprised.
The weather cleared by 4PM and I headed out to Old Town and the Fun Spot next door. I wanted to see these areas with the spring breakers in attendance. When I’ve been in the past the rides weren’t getting a lot of action. That wasn’t the case this time. There was actually a line of people waiting to ride the Vomatron and the other rides. One rider of the Vomatron walked away after the ride on unsteady feet, sat on a nearby bench and put his head between his knees. I don’t think I’d even get that far; I probably wouldn’t even be able to get out of the Vomatron seat.
Big truck at Fun Spot America
Tomorrow’s forecast is similar to today. The timing on the thunderstorms may be in late afternoon instead of today’s early afternoon storm. I need to work around the weather.
Thursday March 24th 2016
It was not an exciting day. The weather was threatening rain all day. It finally decided to rain in a big way about 6:30 in the afternoon. A line of thunderstorms is currently making its way across the state. I had to close all the windows and turn on the Air Conditioning to keep the rain out and ward off the humidity. The noise on the roof requires the volume on the TV to be cranked up to the three quarter mark; not fun when the rain pauses.
The excitement for the day was a trip to Walmart for ant spray followed by a drive up route 27 to Leesburg FL. The ant spray is to combat the tiny little things that got into the wet bay. They probably followed the sewer hose into the compartment. I need to get them under control before they get bigger or move into the main part of the rig. Just one more of the little maintenance style tasks needed for daily living in the RV.
The drive north on route 27 was a whim looking for something interesting to do that was not impacted by the rain. I stopped at a couple of the lakes but other than a few stray seagulls and people launching boats there wasn’t much to see. At Leesburg I looped around to the east coming back into Orlando on Rt 441. Lots of traffic lights to manage the heavy traffic. At each light there is either a Publix supermarket, a Walgreens, a CVS or one of the big box stores. I’m pretty sure I’ve been in the area before and it was mostly woodlands, citrus groves and small towns, but that was 30 or more years ago. Population increase means building houses requiring shopping all of which mean fewer trees. Progress …
The next two or three days are forecast to be similar to today. Now that I understand better what the meteorologists are talking about I can plan better. It appears that morning through mid afternoon are fairly safe from big rain events. That means I need to get up and get going if I want to do things. This is fighting my current trend of lingering over coffee and the internet in the morning.
I think getting used to the way weather is forecast in different areas of the country is going to be one of the challenges of the rambling road trip. When you live in the area you understand the directions that storms come from and the factors that impact the severity of the storms. I’ve always heard that New England is one of the hardest places to forecast the weather, but the TV meteorologists down here sure make it seem hard. It may just be that Orlando doesn’t get high quality talent.
Wednesday March 23rd 2016
Today I went back to Bok Tower in Lake Wales Florida. This was the last rain free day forecast before Easter, so I hoped to see the gardens and hear an Easter themed carillon piece. Unfortunately, the live carillon music is only this coming weekend, but the gardens were enjoyable.
In my February 16th blog entry I provided some background about the tower and gardens. On that visit varieties of Camellias were the primary flower in bloom. This time around azaleas were the most prominent blooming plant. They provided a nice background of color for the walk up the hill to the tower.
The work on the tower and gardens has made progress over the last month. The work on the tower has been completed and the construction staging has been taken down. The work by the stone masons on some of the display areas around the new visitors center has been completed. Additional work remains on other areas of the walkways. It appears that the work will continue for most of the year.
Azaleas line the paths in the gardens
Pond in front of Bok Tower
Closeup of Azalea blossom
All of the azaleas were at their peak of bloom, but they were a bit scraggly. My guess is that weather conditions did not allow a good thick bloom. Never the less, the pinks, reds and whites lined the trails nicely.
While I was waiting for the recorded carillon performance at 1PM, I was entertained by a heron. I think it was a Tricolored Heron. It was smaller than a Great Blue Heron and seem to have richer blues and some yellow. I followed this bird all the way around the tower taking picture after picture. It was very comfortable around people.
All of the pictures I took at Bok Tower today are available in a shared google photos album. Putting the photos on google is something new I’m trying. Unfortunately I don’t have unlimited bandwidth on my cellular internet connection.
Tuesday March 22nd 2016
The Rambling Road Trip resumed today. I returned to my RV home in Florida from the remnants of winter in the northeast. There were seasonal temperatures in New Hampshire today following a spring snow storm yesterday. The temperature in Orlando was 70 when I arrived, lower than the average.
The flight back had more preschool age children on it than I’ve seen before. I don’t know if it’s Easter or the theme parks that are drawing these young families to Florida. Many of the kids are to little to remember anything about the trip, but the parents were taking to them about Disney. My guess is the parents are here for the theme parks and the kids had to come along. No way is a kid that can’t even talk yet going to get anything out of Disney.
I just put my ear buds in and listened to podcasts while watching the miles slip by on the ground. We landed in Orlando 20 minutes early. I got my carry on and headed for the parking lot shuttle. No muse, no delay, I was on my way back to the RV.
The rest of the day involved a couple of runs for groceries. The primary purchases were at the neighborhood Publix supermarket, but later in the day I went out to Walmart for a couple more things. Overall, I didn’t buy a lot of stuff just basics like bread, milk and OJ.
The Walmart trip was more of an excuse to get out than necessity. I went to the Walmart over near Disney Springs and, of course, I had to stop at the Springs. It was crowded as I’m sure all of Disney is this week. I indulged in a Hot Fudge Sundae at Ghirardelli’s Ice Cream shop. It took forever to get it, and it cost a fortune, but it was good. That’s what counts.
While walking off the sundae, I saw a number of birds that hang around the lake. One family of ducks shows that spring is here and the birds have been busy.
Mama Duck and her crew
Busy eating dinner
Blue Heron looking a little frazzled
I only have another couple of weeks in Florida before I start to work my way back up the east coast. The to do list items I got done during the last week will allow me to take my time going north. Unlike the quick trip of less than a week coming south last fall, I will take two or three weeks to get back to New England.
Tuesday March 15th 2016
I’ll be taking a week off from blogging. I flew back to NH to get a head start on selling the house and some other stuff. Looking forward to resuming the Rambling Road trip in a week.
The wing of the Southwest Airlines 737-800.