It’s getting warm in Florida

Monday March 14th 2016

It was another muggy day with highs in the upper 80s. I didn’t do anything special today other than some regular maintenance shores like dumping the tanks. Here are some more of the pictures from yesterdays Tico Warbird Airshow.

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F-86 Sabre painted the way the original flight demonstration team the Skyblazers were decorated.

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Messerschmitt ME-208

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The Blue Angels were not there, but they sent an F/A-18A for static display

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B-29 Fifi in flight over the air field

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F-14 Tomcat

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A-6E Intruder

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A-10 Warthog

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AEROSHELL Demonstration team climbing in formation

Air Show

Sunday March 13th 2016

One of the things I wanted to do this winter was see the Tico Warbirds Airshow in Titusville. I have seen it advertised on a number of previous visits to Florida, but this is the first time I’ve been here at the right time. I almost missed it this year too. A comment on the TV Weather forecast last week reminded me of the schedule.
The forecast for today was not good; hot muggy with an 80 percent chance of rain. Luckily it didn’t rain during the Airshow. It was cloudy with occasional periods of sun. I got to the show at the Titusville airport about 11am. The arial part of the show started at 12:30. I started wandering through the static displays looking at the military aircraft.
All total, I took more than 170 pictures of the aircraft on the ground and in the air. I’ll share some of the better ones in this blog post and more in tomorrows blog post.

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The last B-29 in the air.

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One of 3 B-25 WW-II era Bombers.

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Sopwith Camel and Fokker D.1 Triplan

The show contained all types of aircraft from the World War I era to the present. The show started with a high level parachute jump by 5 jumpers. With their modern rectangular parachutes they all landed right on the mark. The heavy winds caused a later jump with the old style round parachutes to be canceled.
The wind didn’t prevent a WW-I era Sopwith Camel to have a mock dogfight with a Fokker Dr.1 Triplane. While this was going on in the air the PA system was playing the Snoopy vs. the Red Baron music. How often these two types aircraft actually met in the sky over France isn’t clear to me. At least they were both used in the war.
Next up was a flight of 3 B-25 bombers from World War II. They had guys setting off explosions across the runway to simulate bombs going off in Tokyo. The B-25 was the plane used in the famous Doolittle raid on Tokyo. They even had a 100 year old veteran of the raid present. He was the co-pilot in Doolittle’s aircraft.
Other World War II aircraft in the air included T-6 trainers, a P51, an F4U Corsair and the last B-29 still flying. The B-29 “Fifi” flew several low passes and simulated dropping the Atomic bomb on Japan. The guys with the explosives did their best to create a small mushroom cloud.
Jet aircraft of the Korean and Vietnam era included an F86 Sabre, an F4 Phantom and a MiG 17. The pilot of the F4 was retiring after this airshow. He is 74 years old and had been fly F4s since the Vietnam era. When he landed one of the fire trucks housed down his aircraft as a happy retirement salute. I have no idea if that’s some kind of tradition or someones idea of a prank. It was a planned event as all of the spectators were directed to watch.

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Aeroshell T-6 Texan demonstration team.

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Memorial flight of P-51 Mustang and F-16 Viper

The show ended with acrobatic flights by 4 T-6 Texans. The group is sponsored by Airoshell, an airplane lubricant manufacturer, and a demonstration by the Air Force of an F16 Viper. Combining these two acts fills the gap of not having the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels. The slower T-6s of the Airoshell team are actually easier to watch. The F-16 Viper demonstration aircraft was all noise and speed.
At the close of the show the F-16 and the P-51 Mustang flew in formation. This bringing together of two generation of military aircraft in a memorial flight is intended to honor those who have served and those who have given their lives.
This airshow lived up to its hype. I’ve seen other airshows and this one is well run and has a diverse collection of warbirds.

The Orioles won

Saturday March 12th 2016

Another spring training baseball game was the agenda for the day. I went to the Minnesota Twins vs. Baltimore Orioles baseball game in Sarasota.
I got there early enough to watch the Twins take batting practice. Some of the players got good wood on the ball, but others seem to have a hard time getting the ball out of the infield. None of the batters tried to hit for power, they were just trying to make contact while in the batting cage.
The game really got the home Orioles fans excited. It was first spring training game the team won. The best they have done in the first 11 days of spring training was two ties. I was surrounded by Orioles fans. Many fans were wearing team colors and one woman even had the team logo tattooed on her shoulder.

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Twins taking batting practice

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Kids running the bases after the game

After the game the team allowed kids under 14 to run the bases. Some of the kids really got into it, but some parents got into in more. One dad walked around the bases carrying a little girl no more than 2 years old. As he reached home plate he lowered her down to stand on home plate. I’m sure that kid will be told many times as she grows up how “she” ran the bases at an Orioles spring training game.

EPCOT on a Sunny Afternoon

Friday March 11th 2016

Today was the warmest day since December. It was humid with highs in the upper 80s. The day started slowly with a little TV and a long breakfast while I caught up with the news on the Internet. About 3PM I kicked it in gear and went over to EPCOT for another round of the Flower and Garden Festival.
There is entertainment every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Today’s band was Starship starring Mickey Thomas. The first performance was at 5:30 and by 4PM the line for the seating area was huge. There was no way I was going to wait an hour and a half in the hot sun. I walked around the park and took pictures of some of the topiaries I hadn’t already captured. The pictures below are some of the better pictures I took today.

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Daisy Duck greets you at the entrance.

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Daisy Duck greets you at the entrance.

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Minnie Mouse and Pluto at the entrance to the World Showcase

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Beauty and the Beast in France

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Some of the Beast’s household staff

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Winnie the Pooh at the UK pavilion 

I was back at the RV by a 6PM.

A shopping day

Thursday March 10th 2016

Today was a warm and windy day with partial cloud cover. A good day, but not one to inspire great adventure. It was a great day for reprovisioning. I went grocery shopping.
I’m usually in a grocery store every day or two. The last few days filled with activity have not allowed this dribble resupply approach. I was out of many things including the basics of milk, eggs and bread. Around here that means a trip to a Super Walmart. This time I went to the one in Haines City to the south of the RV park. The only thing I don’t like about shopping at Walmart is the meats and produce. I’ll go to “regular” supermarkets for those items.
This stock-up mission with my regular every few day updates should get me through the end of the month. Then I’ll need to stock up for the trip north. As I head back to New England, I probably won’t stop for more than a couple of days at a time.
Later in the day, I drove up International Drive. This is the convention, hotel and tourist trap road that parallels Interstate 4 between the Disney area and Universal Studios. Some of the tourist related “fun” things on this road are a Ripples Believe it or Not, a Ferris Wheel not quite as big as the London Eye or the Vegas one, and amusement rides similar to those at the Fun Spot at Old Town in Kissimmee. None of these got my interest. Hopefully, later in the day they will get other peoples attention, but at about 5PM it was pretty empty.
The only place I stopped was at the Bass Pro Shops at the end of the road. This mega sporting goods store is always fun to wander through. Each store is a little different. They are tailored to the local area. This one was heavily focused on fishing. The only real wildlife display in this store was a large aquarium, not a huge area of stuffed animals. I poked through the store for about an hour, but didn’t make any purchases; the best kind of shopping.

Grapefruit League Games

Tuesday March 8th 2016
Wednesday March 9th 2016

The last two days have been focused on spring training baseball games. I watch two Red Sox games. The first game was in Sarasota FL against the Baltimore Orioles and the second game was against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton FL.
The Red Sox won both games with very few of the big name players. The game against the Orioles had some of the Sox’s young starts like Jackie Bradly Jr and Mookie Betts starting the game, but prospects, lesser known major league players and Non-roster invitees play most of the game.

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Red Sox at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota Fl playing the Orioles

The game against the Pirates had Pablo Sandoval as big as ever starting at 3rd base. The rest of the players were similar to the game against the Orioles; very few recognizable players. Neither game had David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez or Dustin Pedroia. Seems like they’re to privileged to have to travel 2 hours on a bus. Can’t really blame them, just would have been nice to see them.

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Grounds crew at work at McKechnie Field in Bradenton FL

It is fun to watch the games and all of the action at the stadium. Comparing how the grounds crews at each stadium keep the field ready for play was interesting. The guys in Sarasota have won awards for the way they keep the field and it shows.

Another ride on the Van Fleet trail

Monday March 7th 2016

This morning I got the bicycle tires aired up and loaded on the back of the car for the 40 mile drive to the trail head. There is something odd about driving 80 miles round trip for a little more than 2 hours of bicycle riding. In those 2 hours, I only did about thirteen miles of riding. I stopped often to look and listen for wildlife.
It was not a great day for wildlife on the trail. Most of my sightings were in one deeper section of swamp water. This hole had a couple of turtles and 2 aligators. One gator was an adult and the other was a baby. The baby gator was about a foot long. I wonder how old that makes it?

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Baby alligator on a log

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Turtle taking the sun

A gopher tortoise and many circling hawks round out the sightings. I don’t know what had the hawks so motivated, but I saw more raptors riding the wind currents than I’ve ever seen before. I still wonder if a couple of the circling raptors wasn’t an eagle, but without pictures I can’t do any kind of accurate look up.
Back at the RV this afternoon, I completed a bunch of housekeeping chores. I did the dishes then dumped and flushed the holding tanks. There are always routine chores to breakup the fun stuff.

Blue Spring State Park

Sunday March 6th 2016

Today I had a quasi notion to go to the Central Florida Fair. It had been heavily advertised on the TV and Radio. I set out to find it.
The fair grounds are located to the west of downtown Orlando on state route 50. I found my way through the congested “resort corridor” on Interstate 4 to exit 75B. This exit is one of the routes to the Universal theme parks, but not the primary one. This is Kirkman road or route 435. In this area you have to know both designations or your sure to get lost. Street signs warn you what road is crossing at the next intersection, but you don’t get to know what route it is until you reach the intersection. It can be very confusing without a GPS. It seems as though street planners may be assuming everyone uses a GPS now.
After a few miles on route 435 I turned east on state route 50. I almost missed the fair grounds. It didn’t look anywhere near as impressive as the ads would have you believe. My quasi notion went away fast. I’ll just have to see a pig race somewhere else. I continued to travel north looking for something better.
I ended my travels north at the Blue Spring State Park. This is “Florida’s premiere manatee refuge” according to the brochure. It was a great place to get my daily dose of wildlife. On the road in I saw an armadillo. Once I reached the shore of the St Johns river all of the wildlife was aquatic or avian.
The blue spring is one of the feeders for the St Johns river. Spring water in Florida is warmer than the surrounding waters, so manatees gather in the outflow to keep warm. From late December through February the springs and other sources of warm water drawn many manatees. The St Johns river water has started to warm up so there were only 6 manatees in the spring outflow today.

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Looking down river to the north on the St Johns. The kayaks, canoes and pontoon boats are all looking for manatees. The buoy separated area in the foreground is the spring outflow.

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Large manatee traveling out into the river.

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Several manatees on the far side of the spring outflow. Every few minutes they poke their noses out of the water to get a gulp of air.

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Some of the many fish visible in the clear water. These three seem to be close to 3 feet long.

I walked the boardwalk trail along the outflow area to the spring. Once the manatees leave, the area will be opened up for swimming, tubing and diving into the depths of the spring. The water is very clear you could make out many fish in the outflow area. The signs warned of alligators, but all I saw was a couple of sunning turtles. I don’t know if it was the “premiere manatee refuge”, but it was a fun park.

Trying to get lost

Saturday March 5th 2016

I didn’t have anything planned for today, but hanging around the rig all day was not an option. After breakfast and catching up on my Internet reading, I went to the Post Office to post some mail. Upon leaving the Post Office, I turned left instead of right toward home.

This is an exploration technique I’ve often used. Head out in a general direction, then turn in the direction the traffic seems to be coming from. In this case I knew there was a large lake in the general direction I was heading. I went through swamp land, new housing developments, old housing developments, cattle land and citrus groves. The roads I followed came to several “T” intersections forcing me to make a decision. I always went in the direction the traffic was coming from. If there was no traffic, I went in the direction my car’s compass said was away from my home location.

Some of the citrus groves were being picked.  I don’t know what variety, but the fruit was orange.   I have only seen a few trees that I could identify as being grapefruit and they weren’t in this area.   Most of the trees I’ve seen do not have any visible fruit having already been picked.

I never found the lake, but traveled about 40 miles in a large half circle. I returned to areas I was familiar with in the Lake Wales area about 25 miles south of the RV Resort. It was an enjoyable ride.

I didn’t find anything remarkable on this drive, but in the past I’ve found parks and attractions that I did know about. I’ll continue to use this technique as I travel. I’m not going to get lost as long as I know the major roads that bound an area. Once you reach one of these roads you know where you are located. Of course, my phone has Google Maps as long as I’m in cell phone range which isn’t a problem here in Florida. Cell coverage will be a concern as I move out west later in my Rambling Road trip.

The rest of the day was spent with a little shopping and a lot of television.

EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival

Friday March 4th 2016

This afternoon I went to the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival. It began on Wednesday and runs until May 30th. The park is decorated with flowers and topiaries for the festival. There are also special demonstrations and entertainment.
I went to see the flowers and related displays, but I did have a couple of other adventures. I went on the Mission Space ride. I had never been on this ride before, but based on recommendations I tried the tamer side of this motion simulator ride. In general, I don’t do well on motion simulators. The green side of this ride does not have the severe motions of the orange side. I survived the ride and enjoyed it, but will probably not do it again.
The other adventure was eating supper at the UK Pavilion. I was attacked by a sea gull that thought my fish and chips looked like his dinner. It dived in and garbed the fish right out of my hand. Another bird followed it in to pick up the rest of the fish that dropped on the table. For a few seconds I was surrounded by attacking gulls. Luckily I was just about finished and didn’t get hurt by beaks or wings.
The flower displays in the park are very pretty. It is a big improvement from January when very few flowers were in bloom. Some of the displays, like the floating flower beds haven’t fully bloomed yet and the butterflies in the butterfly house aren’t out of their cocoons yet. I will have to return later in the month to check on progress.
I was at the park in the late afternoon. This is not a good time for taking pictures. The low sun angle washes out many of the colors. It is not always possible to take the picture from a good angle. A trip to the park earlier in the day is in order.
A couple of things that stood out were the beds of purple geraniums and the sheer number of creative topiaries. I’m not sure how long purple geraniums have existed, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen them. They really stand out.

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Flowers line the water’s edge with floating gardens in the center

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Purple Geraniums. Who knew?

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Buzz Lightyear topiary

The entertainment was “The Orchestra starring former members of the ELO”. I didn’t get to the theater in time to get a seat so I only stood to watch the first song. They weren’t playing music that I recognized and didn’t seem to be doing anything interesting on the stage.
I was only at EPCOT for about three hours. I didn’t come prepared for cooler temperatures and once the sunset that’s exactly what we had. An enjoyable outing with more to see on future trips to the park.