A Tanker and lots of birds

Wednesday November 30th 2016

Yesterday’s post got lost in the cloud. I found it and re-posted it. See Travel to Jetty Park.

Today set records in the area for the high temperature on November 30th. It was 86 degrees with high humidity. The good weather was bracketed by rain last night and again this evening. The rain prevented the area from achieving another record. The not so good driest November of record didn’t happen in this area.


Site 209 at Jetty Park Campground

I spent the day getting reacquainted with the park and the area. I first stayed here somewhere around 1985 and have returned several times. I think it’s about every 10 years. Port Canaveral has grown and improved a great deal during that time. The campground has changed significantly from the first time I was here, but not too much since the last time around 2006.

Last winter I came to watch the cruise ships depart from the port several times. My observation post on those occasions was deep in the port near the cruise ship terminals. Jetty Park is out by the beach along side the channel into the Atlantic Ocean. I expect to see many cruise ships leave the port while I’m here. They come in around five or six in the morning so I doubt I’ll see that event.


Tanker West Virginia entering the port.


Tugboat pulling on the rear of the tanker as it moves deeper into the port.

Today I saw one big tanker come into port. It was supported by two tug boats. One of the tugs was in an unusual position. It was setup to pull on the stern of the ship like a brake. The tug was facing in the opposite direction than the ships direction of travel. There was only one cruise ship in port today. It departed after dark while it was raining. I watched the ships lighted decks go by like a moving skyscraper from my RV home several hundred yards away from the channel.

The grand daddy of ship observations possible from this location is a submarine. Across the channel from the park is a US Navy pier attached to the Cape Canaveral Air Force base that is used for submarines. During one of may other stays at Jetty Park I had the opportunity to see one depart. I doubt that happens very often.


Pelican floating in the channel.


Strutting along the rocks.


Time to pose for a closeup.

The fishing pier beside the channel where it meets the ocean is closed. It was damaged during hurricane Matthew. The banks of the channel beside the park are lined with the fishermen that would normally be out on the pier. The shore birds are gathered in the same area. I’ve seen Pelicans, Herons, Ibises, Storks and a few more that I’m still working on identifying.

Travel to Jetty Park

Tuesday November 29th 2016

I departed the W. P. Franklin Rec area just before 10AM this morning. The kayak club scattered at various sites around the park slowed me down. They were forming up for a caravan to some remote kayak adventure. Their cars and trucks blocked my access to the dump station. I needed to dump the 2 weeks worth of accumulated gray and black water. It represents nearly 800 pounds of weight that I don’t need to carry with me.

Once I got on the road I had 200 miles and about 4 hours of travel to get to Port Canaveral and Jetty Park. It is right on the side of the channel into the port. I’ve been here a few times before, but the last time was about 10 years ago. There have been many improvements since then. The park is still recovering from Hurricane Matthew. The campground was closed for nearly a month after the storm went through and the fishing pier is still closed. There are clear indications that much of the area was under water during the storm.


Night time view of my RV home on Site 209 at Jetty Park Campground.

The travel today was challenging. I crossed most of the state on two lane roads. Staying in my lane with little or no shoulder with oncoming truck traffic is not fun. It was complicated by a heavy cross wind. An occasional gust would catch me just right to move the rig a few feet out of lane. Two hands on the steering wheel were a requirement most of the way across the state.

The road across was mostly through ranch land. I saw cattle ranches and horse ranches. The cattle came in all shapes and colors. I say black cattle, brown cattle, gray cattle and multicolored cattle. Some had short horns and some had long horns. Some had small heads and some had big heads. It was a real diversity of species. Even the horse ranches had variety. I saw one horse ranch with miniature horses.

Tomorrow I’ll explore the campground, beach area and the port in more detail. I had the time today, but chose to wait until I could complete the check in process. When I arrived, the office was closed for a meeting. I was directed to my site, but I wasn’t provided with the access code to the gates between the campground and the beach. Getting stuck on the wrong side probably wouldn’t have been an issue, but why take the chance. I finally got checked in about five thirty.

Jello Plans

Monday November 28th 2016

It was a cloudy day when I got up this morning. The temperature was in the low 60s and the lack of direct sunlight slowed the warming. I ended up going back to bed after my shower to warm up. Another 2 hours of sleep put a wrinkle in my plans. It was after 10 before I got going this morning.

It stayed cloudy with occasional light rain most of the day. I decided against going to the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in favor of a slower paced preparation for tomorrow’s move. The uncertainty of the weather and the shortness of available daylight time both factored into my decision. It boils down to I didn’t want to go bad enough and I make plans in Jello; it doesn’t take much to change the shape.

Around the campground as many people left today as yesterday. The difference is that the place is full tonight with new arrivals. Since I’ve been on the road, I’ve usually traveled on Tuesdays. It is a compromise between finding available sites when I don’t have reservations and traffic. The weekends might be better for avoiding traffic in cities, but I think traffic can be worst on the Interstates between cities and at tourist destinations on weekends.

The two weeks worth of stuff outside the camper has all been stored away. The things I can put away or prepare for travel inside have been done. Most of the inside stuff has to be completed just before travel or else I’d have to go to bed early and forgo breakfast.


Afternoon visitor to my campsite.


Another afternoon visitor.

I had one last visit from the some of the various birds that live around the river. They have kept me well entertained while I’ve been here. My next stop is on the Atlantic Ocean beside the Port Canaveral channel. I’ll have passing cargo ships and cruise ships to keep me entertained. There is also a rocket launch scheduled for December 7th while I’m staying at Jetty Park. If it goes up on schedule that will be fun to see.

Sunday around the campsite

Sunday November 27th 2016

Today was a stay at home and enjoy the campground day. The temperature was around 80 with scattered clouds. As the day went by the breeze moved from the north to the east and turned into a real wind.

This morning I watched as the campground really emptied out from the long weekend. Later in the day several of the sites were filled by a kayak and canoe group. I was unlucky enough to get one of the organizers camped next to me. They seem to be using the site next door to launch and land their boats. That’s fine but some of the kayakers don’t seem to understand simple campground etiquette. Instead of walking forty feet to the organizers campsite to reach the water, at least one kayaker walked through the 3 foot gap between my car and RV then across the front of my site. Another kayaker thought better when they saw me sitting in front of my RV. The thing about it that gets me is I go through the “Who’s coming to visit and what do they want?” thought process when I see someone outside the rig. I wouldn’t want to try and remember my social skills for nothing. That last line is a joke; I’ve never had any real social skills. I only have one more full day here to be irritated.


Soaring bird above the river.


Closeup of the soaring bird after it landed on a piling. It turns out to be a Turkey Vulture.

One of the things that has caught my attention during my stay are the large birds circling on the air currents over the river. I have been trying to identify them. Today I got close enough to one on and near the ground. It turns out they’re turkey vultures. They are graceful and interesting in the air. On the ground they are big and close to ugly. I think I’ll remember this one next time, but there are still lots of birds that I don’t have any idea what label to apply. I’ll never be a real bird watcher. I’m only casually interested in the bigger birds.


Another boat waiting for the lock.


Another bird I can’t identify.

Tomorrow I want to visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates decorated for Christmas. I also need to start preparing to travel on Tuesday.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Saturday November 26th 2016

Usually by the time I sit down to write this blog I’ve figured out the day of the week. Once or twice I’ve had to edit the first line to change the day. This week has been particularly hard. The TV programs that usually give me a clue aren’t all on at the usual times. I bring this up because I went through most of the day thinking it was Sunday and wondering why the traffic wasn’t heavier.

I took a trip about a hundred miles south to the Big Cypress National Preserve on the northwestern edge of the Everglades National Park. There are several visitor centers, roadside turnouts and rest areas along the Tamiami trail as it crosses the state from Naples to Miami. I went about half way across before turning around.

I also went to Everglades City and stopped at the Gulf coast visitors center for the Everglades National Park. This section of the national park is also at the edge of the Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife area.

The following are some of the pictures from the trip.


Alligator starting to dry out in the sun.


Three gators keeping their tails dry.


White Ibis holding court from a brush thrown.


This one found some food and is on the run.


Gators in the canal along the road.


A couple more Alligators with their heads ready to get in the water.


Looking south at some of the Ten Thousand Islands.


Pelican with winds spread to hold position in the wind.


This Pelican doesn’t look as comfortable on the pilings as the other sea birds.



Stay at Home Day

Friday November 25th 2016

It was a warm partly cloudy day with highs in the low 80s. The morning TV news was reporting on accidents on the Interstate. This worked against my plans for the day. I was already in a quandary about facing the Black Friday traffic. The news report tipped the scale in favor of staying at home today.


Little Blue heron wading by my campsite.

I probably got tricked by the quality of the news broadcasts in this smaller market area. I’ve noticed that the news coverage in areas like this can over cover simple things. A traffic accident can easily be blown into a systemic problem with traffic flow or an investigation into the medical history of the drivers. I suspect the reporters and news producers are trying to get good material for their audition videos at their next job. The use of words like “extreme”, “tragic”, “volatile” and “deadly” seem to be used to convey the opinion of the “unbiased” reporter in every report and the tease for the next story is even more over the top.


A group of White Ibis dining on the river bank.

Once I committed to staying at home today, I went to work on the chores that have been backing up. The first task was the Laundry. It has been a couple of weeks since I did my last load. The volume of clean cloths was going down and more significantly the dirty cloths hamper was overflowing into the laundry bag. This small public campground has one washer and one dryer. It took awhile to complete the laundry. My site is a couple hundred yards from the laundry so I got my exercise going back and forth.


One of a pair of swimming birds that I’ve yet to identify.

I also had a couple of days of dirty dishes in the sink and a weeks worth of appliances out of there storage spots. The slow cooker and the George Foreman grill needed to be put away to give back my limited counter space. I move to my next location in four days. I don’t think I’m going to be using them again at this location. So, a couple of things put away for travel before the last minute is a good thing.

There wasn’t much turnover in the campground today. I think many of the residents were also staying off the road today. It seemed like there were a lot more people around today. Tomorrow may be a big turnover day. I know both of my neighbors are leaving.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday November 24th 2016

Happy Thanksgiving.

Today started off as a cloudy dull day. It evolved into a partly cloudy day with the temperature in the low 80s. My day started with the noise of one of my neighbors departing. There were several sites that turned over at the campground this morning including a couple that I was sure were here for the long weekend. The campers from the local area that come in for a few days for the fishing are hard to predict.


Two boats departing the lock eastbound this morning. The larger one was in a rush. It open the engines full as soon as it cleared the speed marker.

I spent the morning watching parades on television. I’m not sure why, but each of the three major networks were covering a parade this morning. CBS and NBC had the Macy’s parade and ABC was covering the Philadelphia parade. This is similar to the coverage I remember from many years ago. In the last few years I’ve only seen NBC covering the Macy’s parade. I can’t say the parades were anything unique, but they were an OK accompaniment for breakfast and my morning Internet reading.

This afternoon I drove south about thirty five miles to the Seminole Casino in Immokalee FL. Casinos usual have restaurants that don’t need reservations and can easily handle a single dinner. I found what I was looking for, a good turkey dinner for the holiday while watching football on a giant screen TV. As an added bonus I got to play a few slot machines.

The meal wasn’t terribly cheap, but it was good. Turkey, dressing, mash potato with gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, bread and pumpkin pie were the Thanksgiving special for $25. It was very good and with the exception of the cranberry sauce were all suitable for consumption. For some reason, I’ve never developed a taste for cranberries other than in breads. The slot machine play wasn’t as good.


Great Egret on the far bank in front of my camp site.

I was back at the campground in time to catch the sunset down the river. The partial cloud cover created purple red pattern in the western sky. Tomorrow’s weather is forecast to be similar.

Ponce De Leon Park

Wednesday November 23rd 2016

This blog entry may read very similar to the last couple of days blogs. I’m not doing very blog inspiring things, but I am enjoying my stay in the Fort Meyers area.

Today my touring took me to the north into Charlotte and Desoto counties. The county is the geographical unit of significance in Florida. There is a lot of open country between the incorporated towns. I started my journey from the campground in Lee county by going strait north on route 31 through Charlotte county to the city of Arcadia in Desoto county. The terrain is flat with pine forests, cattle land and citrus groves.

I passed one huge new residential development called Babcock Ranch. When completed it will form another town. It is in the very early stages of development. The model homes aren’t scheduled to be ready until next year so I’m not sure what price range they will have. In general, the new homes in the southwest part of Florida are priced higher than the homes in the developments in northeast Florida around St. Augustine. The signs outside the new home developments in St. Augustine advertised homes starting in the 200, 300 and 400 thousands. In the Fort Meyers area I’ve been seeing 400, 600 and 1 million dollar homes advertised on similar signs.


Looking south from Ponce De Leon Park


Channel markers with a pair of mismatched sentinel birds. One is a pelican the other may be a sand piper.


This bird is guarding the boat launch.

In Arcadia Florida I turned back to the southwest on route US 17. It brought me back to Punta Gorda Florida on the south side of the Peace river from Port Charlotte. I drove through the old town center and out to Ponce De Leon Park on at the mouth of the river in Charlotte harbor. There is a wildlife center, a recreation area and a boat launch in the park. Surprisingly the parking was free in the Charlotte county (or city) park. I’ve gotten used to the Lee county parks around my campsite that charge by the hour in all parks and boat launches.

I returned to the campground on US 41 the Tamiami trail. The traffic wasn’t bad until I got into North Fort Meyers. Around the shopping areas traffic was very heavy. When I passed under Interstate 75 it looked like it was backed up with traffic so I made the right choice to avoid that route. Seeing the traffic confirmed that I was doing the right thing heading back to the campground.


Visitor to my campsite this evening.

Back at my RV home I grilled a couple of hotdogs for supper and watched the fish jumping in the river as the sunset.

A Little Shopping

Tuesday November 22nd 2016

Today was an uneventful day. The weather was sunny in the mid 70s by early afternoon, but it took until after 10 for it get comfortable outside. That’s when I left the camp to run a few errands.

Yesterday on my return from Sanibel Island I passed a citrus store. I went back to the Sun Harvest Citrus Company. It is combination of all things citrus. The huge green metal building is primarily for packaging and shipping citrus, but it has a retail shop that sells fruit and other things citrus. The biggest surprise is it also contains an official US Post Office. A good percentage of the people entering the building were going to the post office.

I bought a five pound bag of Naval Oranges that contained about 7 oranges and a five pound bag of grape fruit that contained 6 grapefruit. It works out to about 85 cents a pound which is much better than the supermarkets in the area. I’ve had one orange and it was very good.

From the citrus store I continued in shopping mode at the Gulf Coast Town Center. This is one of the strangest layouts for a shopping center I’ve encountered. I found it very difficult to find specific stores in the main cluster of shops. The Bass Pro shop on the perimeter of the shopping area was easy to find, but the other shops were in clusters around narrow “town” roads. Major stores like JC Penny and Belks were surrounded by little shops in each cluster. I never did find the Best Buy until I got home and looked at the map on the internet. The best part of this stop were the Christmas decorations in the Bass Pro shop. They had a two floor high Christmas Tree in the lobby that was very well decorated.


Visitor to my camp site while I was cooking on the grill.

Back at the campground most of today’s arrivals are here for the long weekend. They are families that have unpacked enough “stuff” to carry them through. How they manage to truck it all to the campground is beyond me. I suspect most of tomorrow’s turn overs will be filled by more families for the long weekend.

Visit to Sanibel Island

Monday November 21st 2016

Today I finally made it out to Sanibel Island. I was looking forward to the great beaches and sea shell hunting the island is known for. The weather was perfect. It was sunny in the low 70s.

It takes close to an hour and a half to get to the island through Fort Meyers traffic. It seems like there is always heavy traffic in this area. The access to the island is over a tall two lane bridge and causeway that is several miles long. The bridge wouldn’t be any fun in a high wind. Once on the island you can turn left to the light house on the southeast end or right toward Captiva Island to the northwest. I chose to join the stop and go traffic up the narrow two lane road toward Captiva Island. The island is noted for not having traffic lights, but it does have uniformed traffic conductors. I followed the slow line of traffic until I found a sign for beach access to the south.


Tarpon Beach looking back toward Fort Meyers


Tarpon Beach looking to the west.

Parking for Tarpon Beach is a few hundred yards inland from the beach. You need to walk along the bicycle trail to reach the beach. I was surprised by the narrow beach area. The distance from the tree line to the waters edge was only 40 or 50 feet. The tide was still a few hours from full so it would be even narrower at high tide. This beach didn’t meet my idea of a great beach.


Common shells I found on the beach.

There were lots of shells on the beach and more coming in with the wave action. The collection of shells at the high water mark were mostly broken pieces, but in the tidal area undamaged shells were common. I was expecting to find more exotic shells than seemed to be present. It may be the time of year or the particular beach, but I was not impressed by the shelling opportunities.

I think you need to stay on the island to properly appreciate it. There are many wildlife areas, walking and bicycle trails. If you are walking or riding a bike you avoid two of the islands biggest problems. The car traffic is bad and the cost of parking is high. It cost $6 to cross the causeway to the island and parking at any of the beaches is $4 per hour. Bicycles park free at the beaches. If I were in this area for the winter, I would return with my bike but I don’t think it is possible to ride it from the mainland.


Birds gathering in the campground


Birds in the river in front of the campground

Back at the campground this afternoon, the place had gone to the birds. There were birds filling the trees, other birds congregated on the ground and ducks in the water. Walking around the park was a challenge.