Monday April 30th 2018
It turns out yesterdays mid sixties temperature was cool for this area. Today the temperature got up to the mid seventies and was called normal for this time of year by the TV weather talkers. It was a nice weather day after a cool overnight. I had to add an extra cover to the bed around four in the morning.
Tree with new light green leaves. A sure sign of Spring.
I had a failure to be motivated today. After two days of rushing through breakfast to get on the road, I took my time this morning. Between a second cup of coffee and reading news and blogs on the internet it was afternoon before I knew it. My first task for day was taking the bicycle and its carrier off the SUV to get ready for downtown streets and parking lots. After that ten minute task I was back reading and watching TV. I just wasn’t in the mood to be a tourist.
Walking around the campground I discovered Spring. Last year I was in Arizona and Nevada in April. Seeing the desert in bloom was interesting, but it doesn’t fit my definition of Spring. Living most of my life in the northeast I looked forward to the leaves returning to the trees and the flowering bushes in bloom. Those things were happening in Florida but it is far more subtle. Most of the trees have leaves all year and bushes blossom all the time. Today I found dandelions in the grass and trees with new leaves. It was a real reminder of spring.
Dandelion in bloom. Another sure sign of Spring.
Moving around the country has its advantages. It allows you to avoid the extremes. Going south in the winter and north in the summer keeps snow and continuous humidity away. Instead you don’t always get traditional transitions. Last fall my only indicator of the season was at altitude. The Aspen trees at 7,000 feet around the Grand Canyon turned a nice shade of yellow. The rest of Arizona and Nevada didn’t display anything that I recognized as Fall. I hope to correct that by being in New England this year.
The other side effect of traveling around the country is repetition of seasons. Last May I found winter in Nevada. I drove into a late in the year snowstorm at altitude. It’s not likely to happen again this year, but I am heading into much cooler weather. I will probably see the same signs of spring I’m seeing here in other locations to the north in the next few weeks.
Sunday April 29th 2018
Yesterday afternoon the temperature was in the eighties. This morning it was in the fifties. By afternoon the temperature was in the sixties. I’m not sure if two hundred miles north and a few hundred feet in altitude is the cause of the lower temperature or if today was just cooler than yesterday all over the region. I expected it to get cooler as I moved north but this was quick.
I got on the road just before ten this morning. Traffic picked up steadily as I moved toward Atlanta on Interstate 75. It got particularly heavy near the beltways around the city. Since it was Sunday, I choose to drive through the center of the city on Interstate 75. It was actually much lighter traffic than near the beltways. Just north of where the beltways return to Interstate 75 was the location of the only major travel problem today. The left two lanes in both directions were being repaved. It took a long time to get five lanes down into three then moving at a snails pace through the construction zone. The traffic only came to a full stop a few times for less than a minute, but it never moved faster than ten or fifteen miles an hour. It took around half an hour to get through the area, but it seemed like hours.
Site 31 at the Chattanooga North / Cleveland KOA.
I arrived at my destination in the Chattanooga TN area around two in the afternoon. I’m about twenty miles north of the city. I tried to get a reservation at a couple of campgrounds closer to the things I wanted to see, but didn’t have any luck. One campground didn’t answer the phone either of the two times I called. The other one came back as full in their online reservation system. In hind sight I probably should have called them. The online system was acting odd and may have been reporting erroneously. This campground is cheaper and seems nice enough. I’ll be here for four nights.
Saturday April 28th 2018
I was up early to get ready for a long travel day. A couple of minutes too long in front of the TV resulted in missing my planned departure time by fifteen minutes. I was on the road by 9:45.
Some of the current residents at my Saturday night stop.
Traffic on Interstate 95 was heavy as usual. It really let up when I turned west on Interstate 16 only to become heavy again on Interstate 75 north for the last part of the journey. Traffic wasn’t really an issue. Concrete was the issue. Georgia seems to like concrete road surfaces. Bridges, causeways and large sections of Interstate 16 were all concrete roadways. New concrete roads aren’t a problem. They are just a series of bump, bump, bumps as you go over the expansion joints. Older concrete road beds are more of an issue. The sections of concrete vary in height enough that you get launched from one to the other. When there are enough launches in a row, the RV really gets into a rocking motion that the shocks are hard pressed to even out. It’s a very uncomfortable ride.
The uncomfortable ride from the concrete roadway was complicated by another feature of the Georgia highway system. There aren’t enough rest areas. A little over two hours into the drive my morning coffee was ready to complete its journey. The first place I found to stop was at my preplanned fuel stop three and a half hours into the journey. It wasn’t any too soon. Without a copilot to find alternatives, it is safest to continue until desperation sets in. I passed a rest area a few miles beyond my fuel stop.
For the second travel day in a row I passed a major accident. This one was at the a lane drop for a construction area. My guess is there was a failure to merge. Four or Five cars were well smashed up. The accident happened only a few minutes in front of me. I was stopped in traffic for about twenty minutes while the police, fire and rescue showed up to get things under control. Two flatbed tow trucks and an ambulance were on scene by the time I got through the area.
Site 117 at the Forsyth KOA.
My time on the road ended after a little more than six hours on the road. I am in Forsyth GA about 50 miles south of the Atlanta Metro area. Tomorrow I’ll go through Atlanta during the Sunday lull in traffic. I hope. Tomorrow will be less than two hundred miles of travel. Today’s was a little over 275 miles.
Friday April 27th 2018
I spent the day relaxing before a couple of days of hard driving. The weather was similar to the last couple of days. It was sunny with a high temperature around 80.
There are a lot of squirrels in this RV park. They kept me entertained as they foraged for food.
This campground is right on the side of Interstate 95, so it is ideally suited for an overnight stop. It filled up steadily yesterday afternoon and evening. I wouldn’t be surprised if the RV sites weren’t all full last night. This morning many were already gone by the time I got up around 8:30. By 9:30 all but a couple of the overnight residents were gone. My neighbor from New York had to be home by Sunday night. They had work and school scheduled on Monday. I suspect that many of the people in the park are in a hurry to get back to a northern home. This afternoon around 2:30 the process started to repeat.
I plan to be on the road by 9:30 tomorrow morning. I have about 270 miles to my Saturday night stop south of Atlanta. Sunday I plan to take Interstate 75 right through the center of Atlanta on my way north about 200 miles to the Chattanooga TN area. About an hour and a half north of here in the Savannah area I’ll turn off Interstate 95 onto Interstate 16. At that point I will be traveling mostly on new roads in new territory for the next few months. It takes a little more travel planning selecting routes, potential fuel stops and places to stay. Tomorrow night is at the KOA in Forsyth Georgia. I stayed there during hurricane Matthew in the fall of 2016. All of my stops after that are going to be guess work.
One of the things I worked on today was research on my travel plans over the next few months. I’m trying to find a balance between fixed reservations and freedom to wander. So far I haven’t committed to much. There are so many possibilities that I’m finding it hard to narrow the search. Unlike the western United States, the area between the Mississippi river and the Appalachian mountains isn’t an area that I’ve always anticipated visiting. I’ve been in discovery mode since I decided to travel in the area. Last year in the west I only checked a few boxes on my list. I don’t have a list for this area yet.
Thursday April 26th 2018
It was another mid 80s sunny Florida spring day. The only downside was a little more wind than I’d like for a travel day. The RV got pushed around a little in the open areas, but nothing like at this time last year out west.
Today was the longest travel day I’ve had since early February. Most of my moves in the state of Florida have been around one hundred miles. This move was about 175 miles north on Interstate 95 with Florida’s largest city of Jacksonville to navigate around. I was still in leisurely preparation mode. It was after 10:30 before I left the Kennedy Space Center KOA in Mims. My first task was to fill the fuel tank with fifty gallons of gas at $2.66 a gallon. I went a mile off course to find an accessible station with a good price, so it was around 11AM before I was on the highway heading north. That’s a little too late a start for full travel mode. When I’m going 2 to 3 hundred miles a day, I need to be on the road by ten.
Traffic was heavy all the way. It was particularly bad in the Daytona Beach area. The intersection with Interstate 4 is being completely reworked. There were a few slow downs, but traffic never stopped. Even passing an accident the traffic kept pace. From the quick glance I had it was a serious accident. A car was standing on its nose leaning against the trees about fifty feet off the road with the bottom of the car facing the traffic. Police and fire rescue were on scene. It’s hard to guess how a single car accident could end with a car in such a strange position.
Site C-07 at the Jacksonville North KOA. Can’t get a satellite lock through all the tall pine trees.
I went around Jacksonville to the east. I’m used to taking the beltway around the west side of town, but now that the east beltway is complete it is shorter. I used the route the first time in 2016. It doesn’t have as much traffic as the western route.
My stop for the next two nights is officially out of Florida. I’m at the Jacksonville North/St Marys KOA in Kingsland Georgia. It is only a few hundred yards north of the river separating Florida from Georgia, but I’m officially headed north. On Saturday I’ll move north to just south of Atlanta. I want to go through the Atlanta Metro area on Sunday.
Wednesday April 25th 2018
Yesterday’s beautiful weather was repeated today so I repeated my activities as well. I went back to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Today I explored the Oak Hammock and Palm Hammock trails.
Much of the trail is along boardwalks. The marsh is dry at this time of year. The experience would be very different with water in the marsh areas.
Wind and mother nature have made some interesting displays of branches.
Even dead trees are interesting.
Wildflowers lined many areas of the trail.
The Oak Hammock trail area had several wild Orange trees.
On the way off the Island I stopped for a walk along the Indian River. This is the bridge into the city of Tittusville.
Great White Egret standing in one of the marsh areas.
Colorful bird that I haven’t identified yet.
Tomorrow I’m moving again. As I reluctantly work my way north, I’ll be in Georgia tomorrow night. Every day I drag my feet it gets warmer to the north.
Tuesday April 24th 2018
The rain that haunted the area for the last few days was gone this morning. I woke up to a nice clear day that eventually topped out with temperatures in the mid 80s. It was a beautiful Florida spring day.
I made it to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge for some real exploring today, but I really only brushed the surface of the areas to explore. I started at the boardwalk behind the visitors center and then drove through the refuge to the Manatee viewing area at the Haulover canal. There were many areas along the way that I’d like to explore, but without a detailed map it was difficult to know which areas to select. I have a little better idea for my next visit; maybe tomorrow.
Boardwalk behind the Merritt Island Wildlife refuge.
One of the first critters to great me.
Turtle climbing on a platform in the lake to take some sun.
Another turtle taking the sun in some weeds along the shore of the pond.
Pelicans along the rail under the bridge over the Haulover canal. Every now and then one of the pelicans would dive into the water for a yummy morsel of some kind.
Manatee passing by the viewing area in the Haulover canal.
Another Manatee in a cluster of six to eight.
Pelican flying away from the rail under the bridge.
Monday April 23rd 2018
All I can say is “they” did it to me again. The weather forecasters lead me to believe today would be a rainy day. I planned to stay at home and wait out the inclement weather. The sun was out this morning but there were cloudy periods. It wasn’t until 4PM that the rain arrived. It was gone by six and wasn’t constant during the two hour window. When I use my northeast trained weather forecast filter I interpret rainy day to mean it’s going to rain all day. The forecasters down here seem to mean somewhere in our forecast area it’s going to be raining during the day as their definition of rainy day. I’ll grant you there was rain all over central Florida today, but no single area got rain all day. If they were more specific, I’m didn’t hear it.
Today was a regular living in the RV day. I accomplished a few household chores like cleaning the cabinet woodwork with a little furniture polish. They had picked up a bit of dust over the last few weeks. I still need to attack cleaning the dashboard and the inside of the front motorhome window, but other than that the RV is reasonably clean. Most of the remaining part of the day was spent reading and watching NCIS reruns on TV.
Sky to the southwest after the storms passed to the east.
Tomorrow I’ll be back in tourist mode. I plan to return to the Merritt Island National Wildlife refuge, so tomorrow’s blog entry should be more entertaining. Today’s blog entry just satisfies my desire to write something every day.
Sunday April 22nd 2018
Today started off cloudy with a forecast of rain later in the day. The first shower was around noon with a few other brief hard showers during the afternoon. Contrary to the forecasts, it rained less today than Saturday. There is some subtlety in the way they forecast that I’m not picking up. I continue to get surprised by how much rain actually falls compared to the forecast.
View of the clouds and wind blowing along the causeway across the Indian River.
Looking south along the Indian River. Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building is barely visible in the haze.
I drove to the northern part of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge this morning. This area is accessed from an access road across the Indian River from the center of Titusville and another access from the north in Volusia county. The area I was in today is also considered part of the Canaveral National Seashore and the Kennedy Space Center. I didn’t spend a lot of time in the refuge. Not long after I arrived the sky opened up. This is where my incorrect interpretation of the forecast bit me. I assumed it was going to rain hard the rest of the day, so I moved on. The pictures in this blog entry are from my short visit.
A couple of White Ibises
My second stop of the day was for groceries at the Super Walmart in Titusville. This Walmart turned out to be one of the stores that is testing the Scan and Go technology. There were many signs advertising the Scan and Go, but I didn’t see any instructions. I saw four or five people actually using the scanners. If it means cost and time savings that get passed on to the consumer, then great, but I suspect it will be used as an excuse not to hire enough staff. What I want to know is how do they train the technologically challenged customer to use the system.
Great Blue Heron standing in the wind and rain.
When I got back to my RV home, I reevaluated my travel plans. I really want to spend some more time in the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, so I have extended my stay here for another couple of days until Thursday. In this case not making reservations way ahead of time worked in my favor. Usually it means I can’t stay where I want when I want.
Saturday April 21st 2018
Today was a weird weather day. Last night it rained hard for about an hour. By morning it seemed to be just a cloudy day. As I finished breakfast the sun broke through for about five minutes then the sky got dark and the flood gates opened. It rained for five or ten minutes then went back to a cloudy day. An hour later the pattern repeated. The sun came out for a few minutes than hard rain. The pattern repeated most of the day. Any time the sun came out you knew it was about to rain. All of this is forecast as a precursor to heavy rain tomorrow afternoon into Monday.
Interesting red blossom on a bush beside my RV.
Today seemed to be my day to pay the penalty for abusing my feet on Thursday’s long walk on the beach. I walked barefoot too long and ended up with blisters on the bottoms and sunburn on the top of my feet. As I packed and unpacked yesterday my feet were complaining a little but I ignored it and kept going. This morning my feet weren’t complaining as much, but from my back down was stiff. Once I got moving and stayed moving I was fine until I sat down for any length of time. Pushing through one annoying pain on Friday led to another on Saturday. After a couple of hot showers and a day of limited activity, I’m doing much better this evening.
The weird weather and my pain in the back caused me to stay at home today. I watched lots of TV and worked on researching summer travel ideas. Since I’m dragging my feet leaving the warmth of Florida, I probably will not stop for any length of time in Tennessee or Kentucky on my way north. I’ll probably circle back into Tennessee in June or July. Between Memphis, Nashville and the Pigeon Forge tourist trap area there’s plenty to see.
It is hard to believe that it is already the end of the third week of April. The campgrounds in the north are starting to open and answer their phones. I need to start making reservations for the second half of the summer and fall in the Northeast.