Rain kept me at home

Saturday February 18th 2017

It was damp and cool this morning. I needed to turn on the electric space heater to warm up the rig. The weather went down hill before improving by the end of the day. It rained pretty heavily between ten and two, then cleared up and warmed up to the low 70s.

I didn’t have any specific plans for today. The rain pretty much washed out any thoughts of going out. I ended up watching television, reading and surfing the internet while it rained. Later in the day I walked around the campground a couple of times. The Spanish moss is really thick on the trees in the campground. It is very pretty, but a few trees appear to have been completely chocked out by the moss. They appear to be dead.

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Spanish moss covers the trees surrounding my RV.

This resort is on the east side of Interstate 75. It is even closer to the highway than I was at my last campground. For some reason it is not as noisy at night. I thought the road was as heavily traveled, but it has fewer lanes so I must be wrong int that assumption. This area is more developed than the section of 95 I’m comparing it to. The exit has an outlet mall, a flea market, restaurants and gas stations. Even so, it is quiet enough at night to get a good nights sleep.

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Eagle carving in celebration of the campgrounds name Eagles Roost.

I reviewed my travel plans today. If I leave here as planned on Wednesday, I’ll have a week to get to Arizona. My reservation starts on March 1st. Google says it is around 1900 miles. The numbers work out OK for travel per day, but I’m going to be traveling through new territory. I won’t be able to spend much if any time touring. I’ll dedicate time to seeing more of Texas and New Mexico in the future.

New Location for the Weekend

Friday February 17th 2017

The weather rebounded into the low 70s today. Around 8am this morning as I was packing up the temperature was around 60 so the low 70s this afternoon was very welcome.

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Site 39 at Eagles Roost RV Resort. All the Spanish moss keeps the sun from reaching the ground.

My travel day started with negotiating a maze at the gas station. I couldn’t get near enough to the pump on the first pass, so I had to go around the station and try again. On the second attempt I was able to reach the tank even though the front of the Motorhome blocked much of the incoming traffic path. To add to my grief the pumps were very slow. I gave up when the pump shut off at $75 and about 35 gallons. Normally I would have swiped my credit card again to fill the tank. Getting out of the gas station was simpler, but I still almost jumped a curb. All of this was caused by the location of the entrance with respect to the pumps and building. Another 10 feet of set back would have made all difference.

I stopped at the Florida Welcome center for one more swallow of orange juice. The center was very busy for ten in the morning. There was a waiting line for OJ and for toll road transponders. This is the busiest I’ve seen it this winter. There was still plenty of room in the parking lot. I think I’ve seen more cars in the lot other years.

I’m at the Eagles Roost RV Resort in Lake Park GA at the second Georgia exit on Interstate 75. I stayed here for a couple of nights in October when I ran from hurricane Matthew. The campground has a lot of tall trees with Spanish moss hanging down. Somehow I’m parked just right so my satellite dish can see the satellite through the trees. I’m a happy camper. I have Directv for the first time in a week.

The local television stations are not the best. Watching a news story on the President’s trip to the Boeing plant the screen caption said “Trump at Bowing”. The copy editor either didn’t catch the typo or it’s a political commentary of some sort. The news on some of the small market TV stations can be as entertaining as it is informative.

Random Tasks and Scrambling

Thursday February 16th 2017

Tonight’s blog has several random thoughts. It’s very similar to my day of random tasks. It was a nice day in the mid 60s with lots of sunshine. I spent the early part of the day inside waiting on phone calls and email. When they finally came, it became clear that I would need to be in this area for a full business day next week. I want to get everything I can accomplished in my “home” state before I spend the next year in the western part of the country. Since Monday is a holiday, that means I need to stay around for Tuesday.

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Some of the pieces of nature that have been falling from the trees onto my RV.

As I mentioned in a blog entry earlier in the week, finding a place to stay this weekend is a problem. It is a holiday weekend and it is the start of Speed Week in Daytona. The reservations I made earlier assumed I was on my way west this weekend. I needed to cancel those reservations and find a new place to stay closer to this area. Canceling one and moving another reservation was easy. It was not so easy booking new reservations nearby.

I checked the websites for several campgrounds south and west of Jacksonville. Not surprisingly, they all showed no vacancies for the weekend. I called two parks about 100 miles to the west of the city in the Interstate 75 corridor. The busy signal and failure to answer on the first couple of tries should have given me a hint. Once I made contact I was met with “I’m sorry we don’t have any sites available this weekend.” I went back to the directories and moved my search further north on Interstate 75. I finally found a site a little ways north of the Georgia line on I75. I stayed there in October when I was running from the hurricane.

I hope this struggle to find a place to stay is an artifact of the location and the situation. My desire is to stay at each place for two weeks with a limited amount of travel nights in between. If I can get into that mode after my month of March at one place in Arizona, I should be more comfortable. I just need to start making those two week reservations soon.

I also went grocery shopping at Walmart. I only bought a few things, but observed a transformation. Valentines Day is over and it’s time for Easter. When I was in the store on Tuesday all of the Valentine candy had already been removed from an entire row of shelves. Today that row was full of Easter Candy. Why is it that from October through April the stores push candy as a way to celebrate the holidays?  We don’t need candy for Memorial Day, Independence Day or Labor Day.  Apparently just for every other major holiday.

Back at the campground, I’ve prepared the outside of the RV to move tomorrow. The tanks are dumped, the sewer hose is stowed and the bicycle is loaded on the car. Inside I’ve emptied the sink of dishes and put a couple of appliances away. I’ve been here six nights, so a few more things than I’d like have remained out of their storage locations. Hopefully tomorrow morning will go smoothly.

Windy Day

Wednesday February 15th 2017

Today’s forecast thunderstorms never arrived, but the wind sure did. The high temperature was around 80 degrees with high wind warnings all day. The sustained winds were reported around 20 plus MPH with gusts in the 40s. I’m glad I didn’t have the motorhome out on the highway today. My SUV struggled in the wind in the open areas and the big trailer trucks were having a hard time staying between the lines.

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Chainsaw carving of an eagle at the campground.

The wind at the campground is not as obvious. The tall pine trees isolate the ground area from the wind, but not the debris. Pine cones, loose branches and other forms of fall out rained down on the roof of the motorhome all day. It’s not quite as constant as rain, but some of the pine cones are louder. I jumped out of my skin a couple of times this morning.

One of the nicknames for Jacksonville FL is the River City. It might me more appropriately called the Rivers City. In addition to the main St. Johns river I encountered the Trout River and Ribault River while driving around the city today. Crossing a river means using a bridge. Today’s wind made a couple of the bridges a bit of a challenge. The good thing is that the bridges were not narrow and the sides were high enough to provide the illusion of safety.

The wind was a main influence on the day’s events. At twenty five miles per hour it is not nearly as strong as some of the winds on the plains of the west. I need to keep that in mind as I head west at the end of the week.

Juxtoposition

Tuesday February 14th 2017

The weather changed throughout the day. It started as partly cloudy and cool. As the day progressed it got warmer and more humid. The occasional full sun went to a continuous hazy sunshine. It is forecast to be warmer yet tomorrow with thunderstorms.

Today was a day for errands and driving or more accurately driving to errands. Here in southern Georgia there are plenty of basic shops, but not the right ones like. In particular, not the right bank. Some of the things that are here in the local area raise my curiosity level. Why would you allow a Fireworks store in a strip mall?

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Fireworks store between a pizza place and a Blood Bank.

In the Walmart shopping center in Kingsland a Fireworks store is located between a Blood bank and a Papa Johns Pizza place. All I could think of is the damage if the pizza oven got out of control. I know it’s not a high risk, but common sense says keep explosives away from fire. There are plenty of fireworks stores in the south but most of them are in standalone buildings or even tents in fields. Those locations I understand. I’m obviously biased by having lived in the Northeast where private use of fireworks is usually against the law. Even though you could buy fireworks in New Hampshire, most towns had local ordinances prohibiting there use.

When you stay at a campground for more than a few days you start to get a sense of its patterns. Since this campground is at one of the exits on Interstate 95 it gets a lot of overnight guests. Most afternoons they start to arrive around 1PM and keep coming until dark. A few come in late, after the office closes, but they usually take sites near the entrance. Around 7AM in the morning they start departing. Tonight the park is particularly full. Hopefully, my neighbors aren’t the 7AM kind, or they are quiet so I don’t wake up early.

Frustrating Day

Monday February 13th 2017

Did you know this coming weekend is the Presidents Day Holiday Weekend. I’m sure you did, but I didn’t until the women on the phone said “Well it is a holiday weekend”. It wasn’t really a mean spirited comment, she just couldn’t imagine I didn’t know it was a holiday weekend. One of the characteristics of this lifestyle is the blending of days. The TV programs I watch help remind me of the day of the week, but I have very few triggers about upcoming holidays.

All of this came up in my struggle to find a place to stay the next few nights. The first three calls this morning resulted in rejection. On the third call I tried to understand what was causing the high demand. I thought it might be early arrivals for Speed week at Daytona Beach that starts on the 18th or just additional February Snowbirders. That’s when I got the reminder about the holiday. My guess is all are factors. I have reserved the site I am currently on through Friday. I’ll drive the 40 miles or so from here to complete my errands by the end of the week. I’ve also made some additional reservations in the western part of Florida for the weekend. It doesn’t seem to be as big a problem booking a site away from the east coast.

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Three TeePees in the woods for rent at the campground. They blend in well.

I continue to have difficulty with the need to book sites ahead of time. It limits the freedom of travel. I like the idea of being able to stay an extra night or two in a particular area if I find something interesting. Travel planning needs to be more complete than I’d like. In an ideal world, I would figure out a few options for the next night a day ahead of time. On the travel day I’d go as far as my mood or energy allowed then stop at one of my options. Instead, I need to book the stops ahead. I end up traveling further or stopping earlier in the day than I might if I didn’t have a reservation. On holiday weekends I need to book sites way ahead. I’m only guessing I’ll be able to keep my reservations for next Saturday and Sunday nights.

It was a sunny day with a high in the low 70s; a few degrees cooler than yesterday. I went to Lowes and Walmart to shop for gas grills. Neither of them have much of a selection of small grills. I think I will end up buying something online from Amazon when I get to Arizona. When I’m parked in one location for the month of March, the mail will have time to catch up with me.

Slow Sunday

Sunday February 12th 2017

Today started with thick heavy fog. The visibility in the campground was so bad I couldn’t see the office four rows of campers away from my site. It cleared off by midday and warmed up to the high 70s.

I didn’t have any real plans for the day, but still managed to get a number of things accomplished. Chief among those items was getting my computer printer working again. I don’t know exactly how I accomplished it. I took the black ink cartridge out, tapped it on the table and put it back in. That alone didn’t fix it, but after I cleaned the print heads again it worked. The good news is I don’t have to buy a new printer.

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Torpedo at the Georgia Welcome Center

This afternoon I went shopping and touring. One of the places I stopped was at the Georgia Welcome Center on the highway. I’ve stopped at this rest area a number of times over the years. The thing that stands out is the exhibit of a torpedo. There is nothing that tells you why it’s on display. The first time I saw it was long before Google and Internet searches. It was a number of years before I learned it was because of the nearby Kings Bay Submarine base in St. Mary’s GA. Today I found a poster inside that told about the nearby submarine base, but the torpedo still stands alone.

Lunch today was an empty the freezer meal. A couple of weeks ago (maybe more) I froze a couple of bratwurst. In an attempt to use what I froze for a change, I thawed and cooked them for dinner. I used the grill for the bratwurst and served them along with spaghetti dressed with some marinara from a jar. It wasn’t bad.

One of the less successful tasks of the day was finding a place in the St. Augustine area for a few days stay this week. One place had no vacancies until Thursday, another place had a premium site available for Tuesday night and a different one for Wednesday night. The next place I checked didn’t even answer the phone. I’ve booked another night here and will continue to try and locate a site in the morning.

Back in Georgia for the Weekend

Saturday February 11th 2017

This time of year Florida seems to experience a temperature roller coaster. Yesterday it was only in the 60s and today it broke 80 degrees. I’m not complaining. New England just got over one snow storm and another one hits tomorrow.

Today was moving day. I need to keep moving around to find places with vacancies. I’m back at the KOA just north of the state line in Georgia. This place has plenty of open sites since it caters to travelers that only stay a night or two. Unfortunately, it is too far north of the area I need to be in. I will move back south of Jacksonville on Monday. I just need to figure out where.

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Site E-8 in the tall pines. I couldn’t get a Satellite signal here either.

Travel days include about 2 hours of leisurely packing up and 2 hours of setting up. I can get it down to half an hour in full on travel mode when I only stop overnight. There is usually one or two things that require a little extra effort. This time it was getting the cable TV wire disconnected. I had to dig out two pairs of pliers to unscrew a simple connector.

Today I only traveled for a little over an hour but hung out at a rest area for over an hour to delay long enough to show up after check in time. I can read, watch TV, surf the Internet, eat and just generally live in the rest area parking lot. So it’s not a hardship dragging my feet in this way. It’s relaxing.

One of the things I did after getting set up is the laundry. This included a new complication. The water pressure is so low that it takes extra time to complete the wash cycle. They have posted the wash time as 30 minutes, but my load took closer to 50 minutes. When I returned to the laundry room at 30 minutes the rinse cycle was just starting. It took 10 minutes just to fill the tub with water for the rinse cycle. Learning and experiencing all the variations in laundry facilities is one of the more interesting things about the campgrounds I stay at. It’s a little thing, but it is more of fun challenge than some of the bigger hurtles of this lifestyle.

Today’s Rant

Friday February 10th 2017

It has cooled off to below normal temperatures. It was in the high forties overnight and only got into the sixties at the peak of the day.

Tonight’s blog entry is a bit of a rant. I have a computer printer in my motorhome. It doesn’t get used a lot, but when I need a printer, I need a printer. The only alternative to not having a printer with me would be to use print services at places like Staples. To use those you need to prepare ahead of time and be ready for a significant per page cost. I’ve used those services in the past when traveling.  I’m also concerned about the potential security issues associated with using those services.

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Fountain in the campground’s drainage pond.

When you don’t use your printer regularly it takes a pass or two to get the print heads clear. Yesterday I needed a printer and that didn’t work. Using the printers maintenance commands I tried to clear and align the print heads. That too didn’t work. Today I bought a new ink cartridge to see if that will clean up the output. I also did some looking for a new printer. The problem is the cabinet for the printer is not big enough for many of the mid range printers. I either need a small cheap printer like I have now, or an expensive portable printer. The models I’d buy if space was not a concern are just not viable.

While writing this blog entry another rant topic came up. Why do cars beep every time someone uses their key fob? It’s a configurable item on most cars that I always make sure is off. It is nothing but an annoyance in a campground. A couple of minutes ago the guy next door’s car beeped and I jumped out of my skin. I can think of no real reason you need the audible feedback other than to annoy your neighbors. I won’t get started on the disturbance a car alarm makes in the quiet campground.

Relocation Day

Thursday February 9th 2017

The storm front that lingered around for about 36 hours was gone today. In its wake was a good stiff wind. The temperature still managed to reach the mid 70s because of the full sunshine.

Today was a relocation day for me. I still have errands that are best completed in this area before I move west. So I’m finding ways to stay in this area. None of the campgrounds have enough open days for me to stay in one place, thus I needed to move today. I am one exit south on off Interstate 95 at Compass RV Park. I stayed here for a week or so last November.

While I had the motorhome out today, I tried to get it an oil change. Unfortunately, the garage and I were not on the same wavelength. When I arrived for my appointment, I was informed that they couldn’t service the large motorhome. This was the manager or owner that made that call, not the person I had made the appointment with. All I got for my trouble was an apology and some vague reference to a garage that he thought could do the task. I’m not sure what was really happening, but it was clearly not going to happen today. I’ve got the oil and filter, I’ll go back to the original plan to do it myself.

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Site 90 at Compass RV Park. The tree blocks my satellite reception.

I only have a site at this campground until Saturday. I will probably go back to the KOA just north of the line in Georgia for a couple of days. Tomorrow, I’ll see if I can find a place starting Monday. My current plan is to head west starting on Thursday. The current long range storm pattern appears to have an opening over the weekend around the 20th, but who believes in weather forecasts a week out.