Slow Day in St. Augustine FL

Tuesday August 21st 2018

Today began in the low seventies and very calm. It was ideal flying weather at the RC runway behind the campground. The radio controlled planes were flying from shortly after seven until the wind picked up in the mid morning. From the perspective of a sleepy brain drawn into the day before it should be, it sounds like a weed eater garden edger moving very fast back and forth outside your window. Knowing that the RC field was there allowed my brain to become rational after only a minute or two. Watching the planes was interesting as long as you have a wide field of view. They move so fast that you need to a lot of area to watch them move across the sky. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get a picture of one.

r3t2018-08-21_20-181

A few clouds moved in early.

r3t2018-08-21_20-182

The clouds multiplied as the day went on.

r3t2018-08-21_20-183

Eventually the storm clouds started to build.

The clouds were interesting to watch today. They increased gradually as the day progressed. Around the dinner hour thunderstorms started impacting the area. For the most part this specific area didn’t get hit too hard, but less than a mile in most directions were getting hit with heavy rain. There were flash flood warnings out for the roads in down town St. Augustine. Like previous days the storms came and the temperature came down. It went from near ninety before the rain to the low seventies after the storm.

I’ve spent enough time in this area that I know my way around. I know where to find things and how to get there the most direct traffic free way. Taking advantage of that knowledge I ran a few errands today. In the process I also got close enough to the Atlantic Ocean to verify it was still there. Somehow it’s good to know somethings don’t change.

Back at my RV home this afternoon I grilled a couple of pork chops for dinner. I bought them yesterday on the way back from registering my vehicle. Tomorrow I need to do a major grocery shopping trip. I need to stock up so I don’t have to stop for groceries on my trip north which begins Thursday morning.

Six Hundred Miles of Five Minutes

Monday August 20th 2018

Shortly after I published my blog entry last night strong thunderstorms arrived in the area. It was very loud and bright for an hour or so, but it had a positive impact. The temperature dropped enough that the air conditioner didn’t need to cycle all night. This morning the sun brought the temperature back up and the air conditioner was back to full time duty. Once again the temperature peaked in the low nineties. The storms seem to have missed this area tonight.

r3t2018-08-20_19-371

Turkeys come for a visit in the campground.

Early this afternoon I completed the mission that lead me on a six hundred mile detour. I drove to the county tax collectors office and registered my motor home. It took all of five minutes. I registered at the reception area and got my call number. Before I even got seated in the waiting area my number was called. I didn’t have any problem completing the registration. The only suggestion the clerk had for why I couldn’t complete the task online was that there are two different Web sites. One is run by the state and the other by the county. I should have used the county site. Maybe, but …

I’m going to spend the next couple of days enjoying the area, before I retrace my path six hundred miles north. Then I will continue another six hundred plus miles into upstate New York. The good news is the campgrounds in Pennsylvania that were closed by flooding are reopening. This little detour is just part of the journey that is the Rambling Road trip. In a weird way I’ve enjoyed the travel with a mission. When I get back to Florida in November the temperature will be a little more conducive to tourist type things.

The entertainment at the campground this afternoon was a parade of turkeys. Early in the day I saw a large rafter of turkeys in the field behind the RV park. Later in the day four turkeys were wandering between the sites no obvious concern for the people and barking dogs around them. They looked like young males, but that’s just a guess.

 

Back in Florida

Sunday August 19th 2018

With only a little over one hundred and fifty miles to travel, I took a leasurely aproach to getting ready this morning. I pulled out of the campground fifteen minutes before check out time at 10:45. After a slow stop at the gas station near the on ramp to the interstate I was heading south a little after eleven.

r3t2018-08-19_19-441

Site 49 at the Stage Coach RV Park in St. Augustine Florida.

The trip across Georgia was uneventful with a medium amount of southbound traffic. The northbound side appeared a little heavier. I made the ritual stop at the Florid Welcome Center to get my swallow of fresh squeezed orange juice. It seems like the cup gets smaller every year. There were plenty of people taking advantage of the free sample and the stacks of tourist brochures. Overall I spent more than half an hour at the Welcome Center to delay may arrival in St. Augustine until after the 2PM check in time.

Since it was a Sunday I decided to drive through Jacksonville on Interstate 95. Normally I’d take the Interstate 295 beltway around the city to avoid the downtown area of Florida’s biggest city. I think additional lanes have been added to I-95 since I the last time I drove through the city. The last few times I’ve driven south I’ve taken the beltway on the east side. It’s a little shorter than the beltway to the west which used to be the only way around the city.

I arrived at the Stage Coach RV Park on the outskirts of St. Augustine just after 2PM. It was pure luck that I timed it so well. Getting setup was another sweating competition. The humidity won again. I was soaked by the time I finished setting up. I’ve been to this park several times since I hit the road. It is probably the nearest RV park to the mail service I use in Green Cove Springs. I’ll be here until Thursday.

r3t2018-08-19_19-442

Blossom of the day.

 

Swans

Saturday August 18th 2018

After two days of driving today was a day of rest. At least it was a day without driving. The weather was a little better than yesterday. The temperature still reached the low nineties, but the humidity seemed a little lower. So far no thunderstorms have arrived, but the forecast still calls for them overnight.

r3t2018-08-18_20-2810

There are at least three pairs of swans in this picture.

My great accomplishment for the day was the laundry. The facility here was OK and cost at $1.25 a load was good compared to some of the prices I’ve paid. It’s a good thing I got the laundry done. When I made reservations for my next stop in St. Augustine, I was warned the laundry and rest rooms are closed for reconstruction.

r3t2018-08-18_20-2811

r3t2018-08-18_20-282

r3t2018-08-18_20-281

For today’s recreation I sat beside the pond and took pictures of all the wildlife. The species present range from alligators to mute swans. The gators were only visible swimming on the far side of the pond, but the warning signs were all around the water. On my side of the pond the turtles were the only animal poking it’s head out of the water.

r3t2018-08-18_20-2812

r3t2018-08-18_20-285

r3t2018-08-18_20-287

Lunch time.

r3t2018-08-18_20-288

You go that way and I’ll go this way.

The birds were the big attraction in the pond. There are several pairs of mute swans in the pond. I understand these birds are usually populated in an area by man and are considered by many to be an invasive species. All of the birds in this pond could easily be the offspring of a single pair brought in to control the Canadian Geese population. I don’t really know how they got here or how much damage they might be doing to the environment, I just think they are pretty birds. I took far too many pictures of the swans and I’m including a lot in this blog post.

r3t2018-08-18_20-283

The Swans were leaving this guy alone.

r3t2018-08-18_20-284

r3t2018-08-18_20-286

An interesting pair of ducks. So far I haven’t figured out what variety.

Tomorrow I’m back to driving. I have a little over one hundred and fifty miles to St. Augustine. Most of it is easy driving. The only difficulty is deciding if I go through Jacksonville, around it to the west or around to the east. Since it will be a Sunday, I’ll probably go through the city.

r3t2018-08-18_20-289

Blossom of the day.

Travel Day to the Savannah Area

Friday August 17th 2018

I traveled a little over two hundred and eighty miles today over about four and a half hours. The gas tank was just about full at the start of the day so I didn’t have a fuel stop. I made one brief comfort stop that included a walk around to check the RV and towed car, but it was mostly a driving day. On travel days I have a couple of bottles of water and some crackers on the console to keep me hydrated and satisfy the munchies. I went through them all today.

r3t2018-08-17_20-511

Site 42 at the Savannah South KOA.

Interstate 95 through the Carolinas is straight and flat. Around the major cities it might be three lanes, but it is mostly two lanes in each direction. The traffic today was heavy with enough trucks to complicate the drive. About the only vehicles I need to pass are the slower trucks. The faster ones are passing me all the time. The road to bridge transitions in the southern part of South Carolina haven’t improved. When I was on the road two years ago I was launched into the air at a few of the transitions. Today was a repeat performance. The inside of the RV had several things on the floor when I arrived at my destination that didn’t start the trip on the floor.

The other annoyance on today’s journey was the sun. There weren’t any clouds in the sky during the majority of my trip. My preferred travel condition is a cloudy day, so I don’t need to wear sun glasses. The sun glasses are great for looking out the windshield without glare, but checking the inside controls with the sun glasses on is difficult. The rear view camera and the GPS/Radio are very hard to see quickly with the change from the bright outside to the dimmer inside. I use sun glasses over my prescription glasses so I can easily push them off to see the monitors when necessary. The dashboard can also be a problem, but it usually has enough outside reflected light to make seeing it easier. Today, for some reason, it was particularly annoying.

I’m at the Savannah South KOA in Richmond Hill Georgia until Sunday. Getting setup was uncomfortable. The sun was shinning brightly, the humidity was near a hundred present and the temperature was in the mid 90s. My clothes and hair were plastered to my body with sweat by the time I was finished. About an hour after I got setup a thunderstorm passed through the area that cooled things off some, but the humidity remains. It is supposed to be hot and humid around her this time of year, but according to the TV weather talkers this is extra humid. Thank technology for air conditioning.

r3t2018-08-17_20-512

There is a pair of swans living in the pond beside the campground. This is a maximum zoom poor lighting picture.

Travel Day in the “Wrong” Direction

Thursday August 16th 2018

Today was a travel day. It was also a return to humid weather. The temperature started in the seventies and peaked in the low nineties. These are not comfortable conditions for the outside work associated with breaking camp and setting up at the other end. I did a lot of sweating and water drinking.

r3t2018-08-16_20-471

Site 37 at the Fayetteville RV Resort.

Tonight I’m in Wade North Carolina just north of Fayetteville. For those keeping track of my travels you’ll realize this is in the wrong direction. I’ve been heading steadily north over the last few weeks. I still plan on spending the fall in the Northeast. I’m just taking a week and a half detour before I start my northern reservations.

This wasn’t part of the plan until yesterday. I was having two little problems that came together and made the decision easy. The first little problem was finding a place to stay this weekend. Between the rain based problems in Maryland and Pennsylvania and the tourist draw of the Shenandoah, the best place I found wanted over $80 a night. I would have paid it if not for the other issue.

I need to renew the registrations on my vehicles this month. There are two options for renewing from out of state; by mail and by Internet. I assumed I’d use the internet, so I didn’t send in the paper work in July. When I tried to use the internet, I could only renew one of the vehicles. I haven’t gotten an answer, that makes any sense, on why this is the case. My options are to keep trying to get someone to fix the self service web site, doing it by mail and missing the deadline or going to the Tax Collectors office in Florida in person.

I’ve decided to go to Florida. My next reservation in northern New York starts on the twenty eight of August, so I have plenty of time. If I had real plans between now and then, I’d probably take a chance on the mail. With the available time, going to Florida is the low risk approach. If there is a real issue, I can address it directly.

I traveled about 275 miles south today. Tomorrow I’ll travel another 280 miles to the Savannah GA area for the weekend. Sunday I’ll move down to Northern Florida. I’ll probably stay in St. Augustine, but I haven’t made that reservation yet. On Monday I’ll get the registration renewal completed. I’ll probably head north on Thursday.

 

Exploring the Charlottesville VA Area

Wednesday August 15th 2018

Yesterday’s slow start resulted in a late night. The late night caused another slow start this morning. It is a vicious cycle that I’ll have to break with the alarm clock tomorrow morning. I need to get moving in the morning. It’s a travel day.

r3t2018-08-15_20-361

It was a sunny day with occasional cloud cover. Finding the sky through the trees can be a challenge.

After breakfast a little TV and some computer time, I left the campground to explore the area. This is a very rural area of central Virginia. The terrain is hilly with lots of trees. An occasional area of cleared forest is used for pasture land and farming. I’m about ten miles south of the City of Charlottesville home to the University of Virginia.

Charlottesville has been here since the 1760s. It is located on a line from Williamsburg through Richmond on to the Shenandoah valley on the other side of the blue ridge mountains. I’m not sure the specific reason for this location, but it attracted several early United States of America presidents. Thomas Jefferson established Monticello just outside the city in the early 1770s. Highland, president James Monroe’s home is not far away from Jefferson’s. President Madison’s home, Montpelier, is on the north side of town.

When I left the RV I had an intention of visiting Jefferson’s home at Monticello. I’ve visited it before and enjoyed the experience. I drove up into the hills along the twisty narrow road thinking about the people of colonial times navigating up the hill on horseback or carriage. The parking lot for Monticello is not at the house. You still need to catch a shuttle up to the top of the hill after buying your ticket. The parking lot was very full. There were easily over a hundred cars. I was almost out of the one way lot before I started seeing empty spaces. It was enough to tip my vacillation about visiting over the negative edge. I still remember my first visit well. Why confuse those memories with a hurried visit with hundreds of other people.

I returned to the campground to find it much busier than last night. There seem to be more people here than on Monday night. I inquired this morning about extending my stay here. I would have had to move to a different site so I chose to move on tomorrow as planned.

r3t2018-08-15_20-362

A little flying color lands on the gravel of my campsite.

 

A Lazy Day at Home

Tuesday August 14th 2018

The humidity was way down today and the rain was nowhere to be seen. It was a nice day with a high temperature in the mid eighties. Today I’m going to blame the nice weather for making it a slow day activity wise.

r3t2018-08-14_20-361

Today’s flowering tree blossom.

My campsite is in the woods on the northwest side of a hill. The sunshine didn’t reach the ground in this location very quickly. When combined with the lower humidity and the quite location, I didn’t wake up until after nine this morning. It was cool enough that the air conditioner wasn’t even cycling until much later in the day. I lingered over breakfast, lingered in the shower then plopped down in front of the TV. It surely was a slow day.

The school kids in the area don’t have any such luxury. Today is the first day of school. I guess this is the normal time for the area, but I grew up in an area and an era that the first day of school was in the week after labor day. The start of the school year means fall. I’m OK with an early fall as long as winter doesn’t come early too.

Right now the extra wet July and August in this part of the country is causing travel issues. I’ve been delaying moving north into the Pennsylvania and New York areas because of the rain caused flooding. Two of the campgrounds I would normally stay at are closed because of flooding. My next reservation is two weeks from today on Lake Ontario in New York. I’m not sure where I’m going to be after I leave here on Thursday. I’m keeping my immediate options open until I understand the whole two week period.

I took one walk around the campground today. There were a lot of overnighters in the park last night. Tonight there seem to be fewer sites occupied. During the day most of the occupants were long term, but there were a few sites occupied by people like me, here for a few days. As an older park in a wooded area the roads are narrow and twisty. You can see signs that the park has been reconfigured to create bigger sites with a little better access. They’re trying, but this is still a challenging park for big rigs.

 

Travel Day to the Charlottesville Virginia Area

Monday August 13th 2018

Today turned out to be a routine travel day, but I started the day with a strong sense of foreboding. Consequently, I took extra time getting ready for travel. I checked many things an extra time or two before moving on to the next task. Perhaps it was last nights rain preventing me from getting a deep sleep that caused my anxiety this morning.

r3t2018-08-13_21-011

Site 38 at the Charlottesville KOA.

I got underway between ten thirty and eleven on my one hundred and twenty five mile drive northwest to the Charlottesville area. I bypassed Richmond on the north side, but stayed on Interstate 64 the rest of the way. Traffic wasn’t bad and the road conditions were better than some I’ve been on recently. After a stop at rest area to kill some time and have a bite to eat I arrived at my destination shortly after the 1PM check-in time.

Similar to my last stop, this is an older campground about a mile and a half down a winding road. This campground is on the side of a hill that shelters the area from a strong cell signal. Once again I have very poor to no cell service at this campground. I at the mercy of the campgrounds WiFi for internet access. So far it seems to be slow, but OK. It is interesting that I’m having more trouble getting good cell service this summer in the east than I had last year in the west. The difference is that the campgrounds I stayed at last summer were near the scattered population centers in the wide open west. The phone companies have made an effort to serve the population centers of the west and take advantage of the high ground for cell towers. In the east people live everywhere and campgrounds are squeezed in wherever they can find some open land. The cell service providers need far more towers to cover all of the people and the hills and valleys don’t help the coverage. I’ve long planned to get a cell phone amplifier, maybe the last week of poor service will kick me into gear.

I’ll be here at the Charlottesville KOA for three nights. I thought I’d stayed here about twenty years ago, but there is nothing about this place that is familiar. Now I have no idea where I stayed when I visited the Thomas Jefferson home at Monticello. I have pictures to remind me of Monticello, so it will be interesting to see what has changed when I tour the home while I’m here.

 

Waiting for the Rain

Sunday August 12th 2018

Today’s weather forecast was for rain early and rain late with OK weather in between. It didn’t turn out that way. There was no rain this morning just scattered clouds. It remained that way for most of the day, but rain was still in the forecast. Severe weather warnings for this area went up around 5:30 and the storms arrived about an hour later. It has been raining since then.

r3t2018-08-12_21-011

The clouds were drifting by all day.

Early this afternoon I went in search of groceries. Wtih the help of Google, I knew where the Walmart was located, but stores are not easy to find in this area. Either to meet zoning laws or some other covenant stores are set back from the road. They don’t have prominent signs on the side of the road and they often seem to be screened by trees. Even with the help of Google, I passed the first entrance before I knew I was beside the store.

The aisles of this Walmart were filled with employees filling orders for pickup. They wander up and down the aisles with big rolling shelves filled with blue buckets to fill customers orders. These shelve units are taller and wider than the grocery carts. When more than one is in an area, a real traffic jam happens. I think they also wipe out the stock on the shelves faster than normal shoppers.

Back at camp later this afternoon I started working on the outdoor tasks for tomorrows travel day. I put the gas grill away and loaded the bicycle on the back of the SUV. All that’s left for tomorrow is dumping the tanks and disconnecting the utilities. Inside, the dishes are done a few things have been put away. I’m only going a little over one hundred and twenty five miles, so an early departure isn’t necessary. Hopefully the Interstate will not be as packed as today. When I crossed over Interstate 64 the north bound side was only crawling along. I suspect it’s Virginia Beach weekenders heading back to Richmond and beyond.