Spring

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Travel to Tennessee

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.

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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.

 

Travel Day to Forsyth GA

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.

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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.

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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.

Getting back in travel mode

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.

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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.

North to Georgia

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.

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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.

 

Another Visit to the Merritt Island NWR

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.

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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.

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Wind and mother nature have made some interesting displays of branches.

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Even dead trees are interesting.

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Wildflowers lined many areas of the trail.

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The Oak Hammock trail area had several wild Orange trees.

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On the way off the Island I stopped for a walk along the Indian River. This is the bridge into the city of Tittusville.

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Great White Egret standing in one of the marsh areas.

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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.

Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

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.

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Boardwalk behind the Merritt Island Wildlife refuge.

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One of the first critters to great me.

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Turtle climbing on a platform in the lake to take some sun.

 

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Another turtle taking the sun in some weeds along the shore of the pond.

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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.

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Manatee passing by the viewing area in the Haulover canal.

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Another Manatee in a cluster of six to eight.

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Pelican flying away from the rail under the bridge.