Travel Day to Clermont FL

Friday November 30th 2018

Today was moving day. I relocated about ninety miles inland to the Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont FL. The goal was to leave as near the noon checkout as possible to arrive as long after the 1PM checkout at the State Park as possible. I didn’t want to have to wait for someone to vacate the site I was destine to occupy. I managed to leave at 11:30. With one stop for gas and some heavy traffic I managed to stretch the trip into two hours and fifteen minutes. I arrived around quarter to two.

This looks like an underwater diving support ship leaving the port this morning.

The travel part of my day went according to plan, but the start of the day was another matter. I saw a cryptic entry in the Port Canaveral Pilot schedule on the web yesterday. It read “7AM USN Arr TN SST”. My guess was a Submarine was arriving at the sub dock across the channel from the campground. I set my alarm for 6:30 so I could walk over to the channel, but for some reason it went off at 5:30. With plenty of time to roll over and go back to sleep, I slept through the arrival time. I woke up at 8am and missed the arrival of the submarine. When I did get over to the channel it didn’t look like there was anything at the dock, but the gate across the opening to the basin was closed. Looking closely it was possible to see a submarine sitting close to the water beside the dock.

Submarine dock across the channel from he campground. There is a submarine tied up at the dock.
Cropped version of the previous image showing the submarine.

The trip into the middle of the state was uneventful. I’m was setup on my site at the Lake Louisa State Park by three. I’ll be here for two weeks before I move to the west coast of Florida for awhile. I’ve stayed here for a few days at least two times before, but never for two weeks. This winter I’ll be back here at the end of January for another two weeks. The sites are good size with reasonable separation and the state park has a lot of nature to explore.

Site 10 at Lake Louisa State Park.
View along Dixie Lake as the clouds move in late in the day.

Last Day at Jetty Park

Thursday November 29th 2018

Today was about ten degrees warmer than yesterday. The high temperature was in the mid sixties and the wind wasn’t quite as strong. The downside is that it wasn’t as sunny. The day started out cloudy, improved a little during the afternoon and then clouded back up as the evening arrived.

Two of the feral cats that reside at the park. They are well cared for by some of the area residents.

I had the same basic focus for the day as yesterday. I took a morning walk around the park followed by an exploration drive before concluding the daylight hours with another walk around the park. Today’s direction of exploration was to the northeast of the park. I didn’t make any new discoveries since my last visit to the area in the spring.

A sailboat heading out into the Atlantic.
Shore birds come in all sizes.

There was more activity around the park and the port today. In addition to all the sea bird activity, the dolphins were again roaming the channel into the port and I even saw a manatee heading out into the Atlantic. I guess that means the water temperature hasn’t gotten cold yet. There was also more boat traffic today. The Carnival Liberty was in port today. It’s not the biggest ship at 952 feet long holding 2,974 passengers, some of the Royal Caribbean ships that use this port are much bigger.

Carnival Liberty heads o sea. She is escorted by the Sheriff’s boat, the pilot boat and a navy patrol boat. Al of the cruise ships get a similar treatment. If the coast guard is in the area they join the party too.

This was my last full day here. Tomorrow I’m moving inland to Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont for the next two weeks. I’m going to miss walking around this park and taking pictures of the birds and ships. There will be plenty of different things to take pictures of at my next stop and I’ll be near the theme parks. They are always interesting to see during the holiday season. I haven’t done much travel preparation yet. I plan to leave around 11:30, so the morning will be busy.

First blossom of the day.
Second blossom of the day.

Not Cold but Florida Cold

Wednesday November 28th 2018

Today was Florida cold. In the northern part of the USA today would have been considered comfortable, but it wasn’t what you’d expect of Florida in November. Somehow that makes it seem even colder. The high temperature for the day didn’t get out of the fifties and the wind blew steadily out of the northwest making it feel ten degrees cooler. The normal high temperature is twenty degrees warmer.

Trying to hide from the wind.

There wasn’t any ship activity in the port today. All of the home port cruise ships are at sea and there were no ships making port calls here. The weather kept the small craft traffic down too, so I was left to observing the wildlife on my walks around the Jetty Park area. In addition to the usual compliment of birds I saw one feral cat, a rat and a sea turtle. I was bundled up in layers topped with a hooded sweatshirt to keep the wind away from bare skin. Judging by the small number of people out and about, I think others decided it was too cold to roam the park and beach.

Birds swarming around the fish cleaning station with fresh blood. The guts went in the water.
Turkey Vulture looking or its share of the fish cleaning remains.

I left the park for a few hours of exploring in the area. The beach areas to the south had very few cars in the parking lots. On the mainland side of the Indian River the wind was not as penetrating, but I still didn’t see anyone enjoying the outdoors. The parks were empty, but the big shopping areas had plenty of cars in the parking lots. The only shopping on my current list requires a home improvement store which I didn’t find on my explorations. Tomorrow I’m heading in the other direction. I know where a Lowes and a Home Depot is located to the northwest of here.

Sea Turtle breaking the surface.

The campground had more than a few vacancies last night. It started to fill a little today, but I still don’t have any close neighbors. I expect that to change tomorrow. I know that the park will be full for the weekend. I have to leave Friday next location.

Sunset on the incoming tide at the cold beach.

Birds, Dolphins and Ships

Tuesday November 27th 2018

Today’s high temperature was nearly 20 degrees cooler than yesterday. The high temperature was in the low sixties with a strong wind out of the northwest making it feel even cooler. Tomorrow is forecast to be a few degrees cooler with the wind continuing.

The wind was strong enough out of the northwest to keep the flags out straight all day.

My day began early this morning. The guy from North Carolina on the next site decided it was time to depart before five this morning. I didn’t wake up until he started to pull his trailer off the site. His truck’s transmission or some other part of the drive train was not doing too well. It sounded like the engine revved very high to get the trailer moving. Judging by the sound it didn’t move very much at first. When it did start moving, it was loud enough that I could hear the truck moving through the campground and out the exit road. I hope he makes it back to North Carolina.

When I opened the blinds this morning I found the vacated site full of every variety of scavenger bird local to the area. The North Carolinian had left two bags of trash on his site. The birds had managed to break into the white plastic and scatter the contents all over the area. The turkey vultures had one pile, half a dozen Ibis had there own pickings, some crows were off to the side with something interesting and a couple of gulls were watching from the sidelines. There are plenty of dumpsters and trash receptacles in the campground so this shouldn’t happen. The park staff had a messy job picking up the mess.

USNS City of Bismark coming back into the port after one of its runs to the horizon and back.
Norwegian Cruise Lines ship Escape coming into port this afternoon. It’s not often I’m awake when the cruise ships come into port.

Around a trip out for groceries and a little area touring, I spent the day watching the activity in the port. The City of Bismark navel transport ship was doing some kind of practice or testing in the port. It would make its way out of the port to a point just about out of site than come back in. This was repeated a number of times during the day. I think it only stopped to get out of the way for the Norwegian Cruise lines Escape which arrived in the port around four this afternoon. It was supposed to arrived around 11AM from New York City, but was delayed in route.

Pelicans watching the action in the water from the jetty.
Great Egret somewhat sheltered from the wind.
One of the dolphins off the jetty breaking the surface.

The jetty on the south side of the Port Canaveral channel has a fishing pier along the side that goes out to the end of the jetty. Out at the end the area is full of wildlife. I was watching a pod of dolphins going back and forth across the channel this morning. I’m not sure if they were fishing or just showing off, but they were fun to watch. This afternoon I was back out there waiting for the cruise ship to arrive when I saw sea turtles swimming below the pier. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera, but I’m going to try for a picture again tomorrow. On the way back in a bird managed to pluck a good size fish out of the water about thirty feet from me. I’m pretty sure it was an Osprey. The only other possibility would be a juvenile bald eagle which seems unlikely. Once again I was so startled that I didn’t get the camera into play quick enough. I took a picture of the clouds.

Blossom of the day.

Beach Walking

Monday November 26th 2018

The weather roller coaster reached the top of the hill today. The temperature was in the mid eighties here. Some of the cities in the area reported new record highs. After the roller coaster reaches the top the only way to go is down. By tomorrow night we may see record lows in the thirties. It is forecast to be a sunny day tomorrow with high temperature in the low sixties.

Knowing that today might be only warm day while I’m here, I put a focus on enjoying the beach today. That means walking and looking, not sun bathing and swimming. This morning was high tide. The water was higher than I’ve ever seen it on this beach. I’m not sure if the height was caused by the recent full moon or a change in the beach contour. Recent storms or men with bulldozers could have change the slope of the beach. Either way I couldn’t walk the beach at high tide.

Long flat beach at low tide looking south from Port Canaveral toward Cocoa Beach.

This afternoon the tide was out and the sand was hard and flat. It was an easy walk south along the beach. Once I got away from the Jetty Park beach and the time share condos next door, there weren’t a lot of people on the beach. Down toward Cocoa Beach there were more people, but I didn’t walk that far. It was almost too warm after spending the previous two months in the cooler northern weather.

Back at the port later in the afternoon I watched the USNS City of Bismark arrive in port. This is a fast transport ship run my the Military Sealift Command. The ship seems to have been designed for speed rather than capacity. It has a catamaran style hull for speed so its transport capacity comes from the deck that spans the twin hulls. Shortly after the City of Bismark arrived in port the two cruise ships here for the day departed. It was a very busy end of the day in the port.

Blossom of he Day

Travel Day to Port Canaveral

Sunday November 25th 2018

There was a heavy fog blanketing the ground this morning. The campground street lights were on well after sunrise casting a hazy glow on the campground. The fog gradually lifted and the sun started to break through just as I was pulling out of the campground at 11AM. I had three hours to travel less than ninety miles. To stretch the journey, I stopped at a rest area on Interstate 95 for a long lunch.

Site 340 at the Jetty Park Campground in Port Canaveral FL.

My destination for the next five nights is Jetty Park Campground in Port Canaveral Florida. I really like this location even if the campground isn’t the greatest. They have crammed too many campsites into the available space. The roads are very narrow and the sites are angled in at all kinds of odd angles. It’s not unusual to have the back of one RV a few feet from the side of another one. I had to disconnect my towed car from the motorhome at the office. Getting backed into my site was a slow process. I had to get out and check my position several times before I was lined up and centered on my site. Traffic on the narrow road was blocked while I was completing my maneuvers.

Soon after I got setup it was time to walk over to the side of the channel leading out of the port. Two of the three cruise ships in port today were leaving. People from the campground and the residents of the local area were all lined up on the bank to watch the ships go to sea. The third cruise ship in port is not based here. This was just a port of call that it departed tonight at 9PM.

This Great Egret is one of the nonhuman observers of the cruise ships passing.

Watching the ships come and go is just one of the things I like about this park. Walking on the beach, watching the sea birds, and the occasional rocket launch from space center are other good things about this location. Today I even saw a pod of dolphins patrolling the waters of the port. I’m looking forward to other observations and adventures while I’m here.

A Day for Chores

Saturday November 24th 2018

It was another beautiful day with a high temperature near eighty. I used the day to get caught up on chores and start the preparation for tomorrows move.

The Ibis are always on patrol for food.

Chief among my accomplishments for the day was the laundry. This will be the best laundry facility I’ll see in a park until February. I’m going to be in state parks most of the time between now and then. The laundry facilities I’m familiar with in a couple of the parks I’ve been to before are single machines outside the restrooms. They’re better than nothing, but are often in high demand. I may have to find a laundry in town during the next couple of months. The other alternative is to buy new clothes. That’s a bit extreme, but I should throw a few worn and stained items out.

I took my last few walks around the marina and campground today. It’s a very odd circuit. To get from one side of the marina to the other you have to cross one of the docks or go out through the security gate. Either way the resident pair of Sandhill Cranes often block your path. You can pass within ten feet or so, but if you walk toward them they start to make a racket. I’m not sure what happens if you continue on after their warning. I don’t want to find out what their beaks can do to skin.

I was looking to take a picture of a small alligator that hides in the weeds near one of the docks. What I found was this turtle. If I didn’t see the head moving I wouldn’t have been able to guess what I was looking at.

Tomorrow’s drive is a little over 80 miles to Port Canaveral. I’m spending five nights at Jetty Park. I really like the location of the Park. The sites aren’t the greatest. They are very close together, but you can’t beat the access and activity. It would have been nice to stay longer, but the weekends have been booked since I started looking during the summer. I’ll be there until Friday.

A Day at Home

Friday November 23rd 2018

The pattern of cool nights and nice days continued today. It was in the high fifties when I got up this morning, but managed to climb into the mid seventies before noon. I stayed at home today and enjoyed life along the banks of the St. Johns River. I left all of the traffic and chaos of the Friday after Thanksgiving to others.

Route 44 drawbridge opening for traffic.
Boat after passing through the open bridge.

During the day yesterday many more campers arrived at the park. There are still a few open sites, but I’m surprised how the park filled up. I’m not sure how people use this weekend for camping. Having lived in the northeast until I hit the road, the camping season is over by Thanksgiving. Some people had their holiday gathering at their campsites. Others seem to use the campground as a base to attend a gathering near by. Still others arrived late last night making me suspect they came after celebrating the holiday. Obviously there is no right or wrong way to enjoy a RV outing on the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. I’m just observing and speculating.

Clouds moving in over the marina in the afternoon.

The river was also getting a lot of use today. There is a public boat launching area beside the marina and RV park. It was packed to overflowing with empty boat trailers. Most of the boats were getting used for fishing on the river or one of the many lakes the river connects. A few of the boats were just out for a relaxing cruise on the river. This area is a slow speed zone. There are manatee in the area for the boaters to look out for. I think I saw one or more poking their noses out of the water on the far side of the river near the route 44 bridge. I wish I had my binoculars with me to check it out closer. The manatee have already been reported at the Blue Spring State park area a few miles up river from here.

Sunset wasn’t as brilliant tonight.
Mr. & Mrs. Crane.

Thanksgiving Day Auto Show

Thursday November 22nd 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

It was cool overnight. The temperature got down into the fifties with clouds arriving before day break. It slowly warmed into the mid seventies, but rain is in the forecast for tonight.

I went to the Central Florida Auto Show today. My thought was that it wouldn’t be crowded on Thanksgiving Day. I was wrong. It was very busy. I guess the planners knew what they were doing scheduling the first day of the show on the holiday.

$140,000 Corvette

The show was at the Orlando Convention center on the south side of town near the theme parks. My second wrong assumption of the day was that traffic through Orlando wouldn’t be bad today. It was terrible going through the lane changes of the construction zone. Impatient drivers jumping lanes and passing in inappropriate places were all over the place. I made it down safely, but took the toll road around to the east side of Orlando on the return trip. That road is a lot longer and probably cost seven dollars or more in tolls, but it was worth it.

My third bad assumption of the day was finding a place to eat Thanksgiving Dinner. I thought that if I stopped at one of the chain restaurants that don’t take reservations before noon I wouldn’t have a long wait. When I approached the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Sanford I started seeing cars parked on the grass along the road. The parking lot was overflowing and there was a line of people around the side of the building waiting to get inside. Down the highway a ways at the Golden Corral buffet restaurant I saw another line at the front door. I ended up cooking a pork chop on the grill after I got back home.

The auto show had all the new model cars from the major car companies. It also had a number of old and exotic cars from the local museums and enthusiasts. Three Batmobiles and a dozen or more Model A Fords got a lot of attention. There was also an obstacle course for 4×4 Jeeps in the exhibit hall. Watching the vehicles traverse the course was fun. There were professional drivers taking people around the course. The line was longer than I wanted to wait.

Model A Ford Truck with Santa Clause on board.

I accomplished my mission of sitting in all of the possible cars to replace my current toad. I have to spend a significant amount of money on maintenance items on my current Honda CR-V or replace it this winter. There aren’t a lot of cars with Automatic Transmissions that can be towed with four wheels on the road, but even if I spend the money on my current car it won’t be any lighter and might still break down. I leaning toward replacing the CR-V with a small car. Reliability is my big concern.

Wandering Wednesday

Wednesday November 21st 2018

Today’s weather was ideal. The temperature started around sixty and climbed to the mid seventies before returning to the sixties at night fall. The sun was clear of the clouds all day and a gentle breeze kept the air moving.

The resident pair of Sandhill Cranes.

I did some more area touring today. Traveling on a combination of heavily congested roads and back country roads I saw a lot of nothing. By that I mean nothing that caused me to stop and explore. The most interesting area I traveled through was the downtown area of the city of DeLand. It has many older multi-story buildings and tree lined streets reflecting its status as a mature city founded in 1876. So many of the developed areas in Florida are new. Finding a place that displays routes before the 2nd half of the twentieth century is rare.

Back at the campground this afternoon, I watched more people arrived for the holiday weekend than I expected. I suspect that many of the new arrivals are fairly local. Four of the units I watched arrive came with only a driver to get parked and setup. Then they departed for an hour or two returning with a vehicle filled with people.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tonight’s sunset.