Weather Induced Lethargy

Saturday March 31st 2018

It was a strange weather day. Sometime overnight the cold front moved into the area. It didn’t drop any rain in this area, although some areas got a little rain. The TV weather talkers say the front has stalled and is dissipating. What that seems to mean is heavy clouds, humid and the sense that it may rain at any moment. Late in the day we got an hour or two of sunshine before the clouds returned. While the sun was out it was very warm. The rest of the day was in the seventies when protected from the wind. On the shore of the lake the wind made it uncomfortable to stand around.

My activity level was slowed by the dreary day. By the time I got up from the breakfast table it was afternoon and I only had a cup of coffee and some toast. Most of my time was spent chasing random information on the Internet and watching obscure TV. How’s that for a mindless morning? After a walk to the lake and back, I considered leaving the park, but didn’t have a specific destination in mind. Instead I made a pizza for an early supper.

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The Neurotic Cardinal through the dirty passenger side window.

The only out of the ordinary thing today was more study of my Neurotic Cardinal visitor. He was back a couple of times today. Looking at him closely through the window, he really is a pretty bird. The deep red breast and yellow/orange beak really stand out. After he harasses the side of the RV for a while he flies into the trees and serenades the neighborhood with a pretty song. I think I’ve even seen the female cardinal in the trees, but she isn’t as colorful.

Travel Research Day

Friday March 30th 2018

Today’s was a weather transition day. The day started sunny and ended cloud covered. In between it was warm and humid. A cold front from the northwest is scheduled to pass through the area overnight. A little rain would be nice for the forest fire danger.

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Clouds moving in across the lake this morning.

I spent time today doing research on the computer for my summer travels. Between now and Memorial day I’ve got an idea of my travel plans. They end at the Escapee’s RV club Escapade in the middle of Missouri the last week in May. I’m working on June and July.

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This little guy spent some time on my picnic table watching me.

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This Gopher Tortoise was moving fast enough to beat a hare.

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A hungry Armadillo.

So far I’ve made the tentative decision that Missouri will be the northwestern extent of my travels this summer. I will not go further west or north of Missouri. That leaves Missouri, Southern Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and maybe Mississippi as possible touring locations. They are all states I don’t know a lot about. I also don’t expect to see more than a few of the areas in only six to eight weeks using my regular travel approach of staying in one location for a week or two.

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A pair of ducks in the lake this evening.

Today I did a little research on the obvious places like St Louis, Branson, Nashville and Memphis. Only Nashville had enough things of interest to warrant a stay longer than a couple of nights. I could visit Memphis on the way to Nashville then stop in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg TN. That whole idea would only take three or four weeks, so I need other ideas to fill out a travel plan.

Another thought was to put a focus on visiting Civil War battlefields this summer. I’m already planning a stop in Chattanooga TN on my way north in early May. I could dip down to Vicksburg MS in June, then visit the Shiloh TN battlefield in July. In August I’ve considered stopping at the Antietam battlefield in Maryland and Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. There are many other Civil War sites that I could add to the mix along the way. I’m still a long way from a plan and time is getting short.

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Two Turkey Vultures in a dead tree.

 

Holiday Weekend Camping

Thursday March 29th 2018

Today continued the trend from the last couple of days. It was a little warmer, a little more humid with a little less wind. The result was a day that is approaching the uncomfortable stage. You can really feel the heat in the open sun. It is still fine in the shade.

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My friend the neurotic cardinal.

My day started slowly again this morning. While I lingered over breakfast my “friend” the neurotic cardinal returned. He is graduating from pecking the rear view mirror to ramming the windows and sides of the RV. He hasn’t reached the level of his cousin the crazy cardinal, but he is getting more annoying. I’m not sure if he’s defending his territory from reflected enemies or if he’s trying to impress a female with his ability to bounce off walls. I’m thinking about getting a squirt gun.

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Smoke from a fire near the road to the east. With all the concern about forest fire danger in the area, seeing smoke over the lake was a concern. If I had to evacuate in a hurry, what would I take short of everything?  I didn’t have to find out. The fire was put out. 

While walking around the campground today it occurred to me how it has changed since last weekend. When I arrived the campground was occupied by people from many states and provinces. Most of the RVs were big fifth wheel trailers or motor homes. They were occupied by couples or singles. Most of those residents have moved on.

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The last couple of days it has been too windy for the birds on the pillars. They were back today. The haze in the background is smoke from the nearby fire.

The campground is now occupied primarily be families from the local area. This is school vacation week. Every day smaller trailers, tent trailers and tent campers replaced the bigger out of state rigs. Some of the trailers look like they would have difficulty moving more than a few miles. There are older units that are patched up and a couple even have plastic over the roof to keep the weather out. The roads and paths now have kids riding bicycles and scooters instead of older folks walking dogs. It is also much more alive during the day with the kids playing and the parents yelling.

All of these changes seem to confirm my suspicion that snowbird season is over and the weather is right for the locals to get out in their RVs. When I look at the various reservation systems for campgrounds in the state, I find that the middle of the week has openings but the weekends are full. During the earlier part of the year most of the parks were full with only a day here or there available.

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I think this guy is posing for a picture. Actually it froze when I stopped my bicycle ten to twenty feet away. There were three Gopher Tortoises in about fifty feet along the path. This one was the most photogenic.

I’m all set for reservations for the remainder of my stay in Florida this spring. I need to work on the fall and next February and March. The window for reservations in the state parks is eleven months and for federal parks it is six months. On Sunday morning April first at 8am I’ll be trying for reservations starting March 1st of 2019. Hopefully, the Easter holiday will keep the number of people competing down. Last year, I started at 5am west coast time on April 1st and didn’t succeed until April tenth. As I’ve said before I hat having to make reservations.

Lazy Day at the State Park

Wednesday March 28th 2018

It was another great day with a high temperature around eighty. The wind was lighter and more easterly than yesterday and there were a few more high puffy clouds. Even the overnight was warmer. The day started in the sixties this morning.

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Two guys getting a sailboat ready to launch.

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Sailboat with both sails up out on the lake more than an hour and a half later.

Maybe it was the warmer start to the day that caused me to get a very slow start. It was more than an hour late getting out of bed this morning. Breakfast also took longer than normal. Slow and lazy seemed to be the theme for the day. During my first walk of the day I discovered a couple of guys getting a sailboat ready to launch at the boat launch area. They had just raised the mast on the trailer-able sailboat when I arrived. I hung around and watched them finish getting it ready to launch. I took more than an hour and a half for them to get all of the guide wires tight then put the sails on. If it takes that long every time they launch and recover the boat, how do they have any time for sailing. This lake does not allow docks or moorings. It was close to one in the afternoon by the time they were out on the lake. When I returned to the boat launch area around four they had already departed.

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There are thousands of these little critters around the area.

I took three walk/hikes today. In between the walks around the state park I read, watched TV and ate to offset any advantage gained by the exercise. It was not a good day for seeing wildlife. The most interesting creature was one of the little gecko like things that are very prevalent on everything. This one sneaked up on me while I was watching the sailboat preparation.

My last hike of the day was to catch the sunset and watch the moon get brighter as the sky got darker. The second full moon of the month is Saturday.

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Tonight’s sunset.

The Crazy Cardinal’s Cousin

Tuesday March 27th 2018

Today’s weather was great. The temperature peaked in the low 80s with a steady breeze out of the east. It makes for a very comfortable day. The only down side is it raises the fire danger. This is fire season in Florida. There are currently a number of forest fires in the southern half of the state, but none of them are real close to my location.

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The Neurotic Cardinal on my rear view mirror. This picture was taken through the window and the sun screen.

This morning at breakfast I was entertained by the Crazy Cardinals cousin. At my campsite in Myakka River State Park a cardinal was intent on running into the side of my RV. Every day for more than a week he’d attack the windows and the side of the RV. His cousin here at Lake Manatee State Park is a little more sane. This one is only neurotic. He lands on my rear view mirror and starts pecking at the chrome surround. He’s only made a couple of runs at the windows. Either way he’s making as much noise as his cousin. What’s with this species?

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My mission today was close to mild torture. I went shopping, not buying. When you live in a fixed location you learn where to buy what. When you change locations all the time you have to discover where to buy things. Even when you’re familiar with the area and the stores, you don’t really know the specifics.

During the thirty plus years I lived in New Hampshire, I bought most of my shoes in about three total places. Since I’ve been on the road I haven’t had much success buying shoes. I’ve bought three pairs of shoes in the last year and a half. None of them have held up to the wear and tear of a largely outdoors lifestyle. Two pairs of shoes that I started this journey with have held up better, but they are on their last threads and treads.

Today I went to a big outlet mall in the area. It had plenty of shoe stores, but very few walking shoes, athletic shoes or whatever that met my needs. Maybe styles have evolved faster than my tastes. I don’t want to wear colors brighter than a cartoon peacock on my feet. When I did find something marginally usable, the pricing structure made it unappealing. The outlet mall stores seemed to like buy one get one fifty percent off pricing. To get a decent price, I’d need to find two pairs of shoes to buy. I’m still looking.

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Gopher Tortoise spotted on one of my walks.

After stopping at Walmart for groceries, I returned to camp. A hike and a bike ride filled out the day. Thank you for reading my shopping rant.

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Tonight’s sunset.

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Setting sun through the Spanish moss.

 

Lazy Day at Home

Monday March 26th 2018

Fog settled in before midnight last night and tried hard to hang on until late morning today. The sun was out bright around 7:30, but by 9:30 the clouds were touching the tree tops. Eventually it became a mostly sunny day with a strong northeast wind. The temperature peaked around eighty.

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Little yellow flower along the side of the lake.

After two weeks of busy days filled with spring training baseball, shopping and errands today turned out to be a lazy day at home. In between walks and bicycle rides around the park, I got in plenty of TV watching and a few naps. There are plenty of things I need and want to do while I’m staying at this location, but they will have to wait until tomorrow and the days to follow. This was a recharge the batteries kind of day.

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This armadillo came out of the brush beside my site this afternoon to entertain while he searched for some lunch.

Since I moved in on Saturday I’ve been hearing something moving around in the thick brush beside my site. Today it revealed itself to be an Armadillo. This was at the top of my list of suspects. It came out of the brush and dug around the perimeter of the site looking for bugs. I watched it go about its business for several minutes. When it gets busy it can dig a rather large hole quickly. These armored creatures are very interesting to study, but they aren’t exactly pretty creatures. In some ways they look prehistoric.

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The lake waters were very rough today.

The wind made the water on the lake very rough. Trying to stand on the floating docks at the boat launch was a balancing act. The people fishing in boats gave up early in the afternoon. The few boats I saw during my morning walk were all gone when I returned to the waters edge on my afternoon walk. I didn’t see any water birds today. They were probably on the far shore protected from the wind.

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Sun setting through the trees.

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Sun setting through the Spanish moss.

 

Exploring Lake Manatee State Park

Sunday March 25th 2018

Today was a “little more” kind of day. It was a little warmer, a little more humid, a little more windy and there was a little more cloud cover. Overall it was a very nice day.

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This bird thinks it owns the pillar in Lake Manatee.

This blog entry will be short. I didn’t take a lot of pictures today and I didn’t have any great experiences. I spent most of the day exploring the park. Other than the lake, the scenery isn’t that spectacular. The occasional wildlife enhances the experience. Today, on one of the trails through an area that burnt a few years ago, I flushed a covey of quail. I was probably more startled than the birds were afraid. You really don’t know what you’ll see next. I’ve heard several larger than a squirrel size animals in the low palms near my campsite. Whatever is making the noise, it didn’t care about sneaking up on anything. Hopefully I’ll learn what’s making the noise during the next ten days of my stay at this state park. I just hope the encounter is on my terms.

Late in the day today I drove along the road near the beaches with the thought of stopping. Good thing it was only a thought. The area was full to overflowing complete with law enforcement stopping and directing traffic. A loop from one bridge south to the next bridge took more than forty five minutes with the traffic. I think I found the spring breakers down here. I’ll make another attempt on a week day. The problem then may be getting through the traffic between the interstate and the beach.

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Hibiscus picture  du jour.