Rainy Morning

Tuesday November 20th 2018

When I woke up this morning it was cloudy outside, but the morning TV news was talking about rain in the area. Before I was out of bed the rain arrived in my area. It showered off an on all morning. Without any concrete plans for the day the weather took me out of area exploration mode and put me into stay at home mode.

Route 44 drawbridge over the St. Johns River.

Several campers packed up and departed this morning during the rain. I thought they were here for the holiday week. Understanding the characteristics of the people that stay here is confusing. There is the usual component of snowbirds and people living here full time. Travelers and medium duration occupants like me are in the minority. The group that I can’t figure out are the Florida residents that stay for just a few days. They seem to be a large group. The ones that departed this morning were replaced by similar ones this afternoon. Maybe they are staying here to visit friends or relatives in the area. Either way my assumption that the campground would be near full for the holiday is probably wrong. There are more sites empty tonight than any night since I’ve been here and the kids are out of school all week.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron on lookout duty.
I think this is an immature Little Blue Heron before it turns blue gray.

The sun tried to come out this afternoon a couple of times without success, but it was enough that I took a walk around the campground, marina and the surrounding area. I walked south along the river bank under the route 44 drawbridge. I saw more birds today than the last few days.

A red sunset.

Impromptu Visit to EPCOT

Monday November 19th 2018

The world in central Florida was shrouded in fog this morning. I could see my neighbors, but the sites down the road disappeared into a white haze. It took until 9:30 or so before the fog lifted. The sun didn’t make an appearance until almost noon. By the end of the day the temperature had made it to eighty which is a degree or two warmer than average.

The main EPCOT Christmas tree.

I set out to explore the area to the west and south of my current location in DeLand FL. In the back of my mind was a vague idea to visit Disney if I got far enough south. The reports on the TV about Mickey Mouses ninetieth birthday yesterday put the though in my head. I still have six months on my Annual Pass so impromptu visits are possible without worrying about maximizing the experience for the money (i.e. long active days). Before long I found myself on the west side of Orlando toll road heading south. Half an hour later I was entering Disney property.

Mickey and Mini greeting the arriving visitors.
Pluto is always close to Mickey.
Chip and Dale

I knew that any visit this week would have to be today or possibly tomorrow to avoid the Thanksgiving Holiday crowds. Arriving at the EPCOT parking area, it was clear that I hadn’t avoided any of the crowds. The parking lot already had more cars parked than I’m used to seeing when I arrive in the middle of the afternoon. The crowds inside were manageable, but heavy.

The Canadian Bears.
Snowman topiary,

The Christmas celebration officially began yesterday. The decorations are all up, holiday music is playing all over the park and the food stands leftover from the fall Food and Wine festival have switched to selling holiday foods or expensive Christmas cookies. It is very pretty and festive, but you really need to be there a night to get the full impact. I’ll be nearer to the parks during the first two weeks of December so I plan to really check things out then. During this visit I did a lot of walking and not much else. All of the rides and other attractions had long wait times. Even the Living with the Land ride had a sixty minute wait time. It’s usually around twenty minutes. If I really planned a visit, I would have made a few Fastpass reservations.

An annoying Ibis

I spent about two and a half hours walking around EPCOT. Then I went over to Disney Springs for lunch and another walk around the place. Disney Springs was just as decorated as EPCOT, but it needed darkness to bring out the beauty too. I started home before the rush hour. The trip through Orlando on Interstate 4 was a nightmare. The multiyear road improvement project is still a long way from complete. One little traffic accident had traffic backed up for several miles. It took about twice as long to come home than it did to get there. I’ll pay the tolls on the other road next time.

Blossom of the day.

A Sunday Drive

Sunday November 18th 2018

It was a mostly sunny day with seasonal normal temperatures in the upper seventies to eighty. As the day went by more clouds moved in. Around sunset a brief light rain shower passed through followed by another a couple of hours later.

Clouds arriving over the marina. 

Today was an exploration day. I set out to see what’s new in the northern part of Volusia County. I ended up making a big loop driving northeast to Daytona Beach then south to New Smyrna Beach before returning to the St. Johns river in DeLand. I mostly did a lot of driving and looking. Although I covered some new territory, I’ve seen many of big sights before. For example, driving by the Daytona International Speedway was interesting, but I’ve seen it before. I may come back and take the tour while I’m here. My path back to the campground was blocked in the center of DeLand by a street festival. I tried to find a place to park to check it out, but everywhere I looked was full. With no real idea what kind of a festival it was I didn’t try real hard. Checking the internet later I learned it was the DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts.

House Boat making its way up river. 

I spent a good portion of the rest of the day watching sports on TV. Between the NFL games and the NASCAR championship race I kept busy channel surfing. I also managed to get in a couple of walks around the campground. There was a lot of activity on the river today. Many fishing boats and a few house boats passed by while I was watching. The resident sandhill cranes also made their presence known.

The resident sandhill cranes.

Settling in at the St Johns Marina and Campground

Saturday November 17th 2018

The temperature was down in the low forties again last night. This morning it gradually climbed to the low seventies. It is forecast to be a warmer night tonight and a little warmer day tomorrow. Even so, it will be below the seasonal averages.

I spent the day getting settled in and exploring the marina and campground. Not surprisingly they share a lot of characteristics. They are both in the process of being upgraded and have a similar spectrum of tenants. The marina has big fancy cruising boats, medium sized live aboard boats, and a few older house boats in residence. The campground has high end motorhomes, modern and older trailers and a few tent trailers. Both the campground and the marina have vacancies.

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St Johns River

As I wandered around the campground I found my way to the St. Johns river. It is one of only a few rivers in the country that flow north. In the Jacksonville area were it empties into the Atlantic Ocean it is nearly 3 miles wide in some areas. Here it looks closer to three hundred feet wide if that. The banks have Cyprus trees and other Spanish Moss draped trees overhanging the water. The river fits the phrase “lazy river” very well. There isn’t a lot of current as the river travels through the Florida flat lands.

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It is nice to be back in an area near water that has some wildlife around. I found a few birds on my side of the river, but it looks like they prefer the far bank. This side’s chief resident are a pair of noisy sandhill cranes. They are stately looking creatures, but boy can they make a racket. Maybe as the week goes by I’ll see more wildlife on this side of the river.

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Night arrives at the marina.

Travel Day to DeLand FL

Friday November 16th 2018

The temperature got down near forty overnight. Some communities in the area were even lower. It was chilly outside as I got the rig ready to travel. Frequent breaks inside my RV home for a sip or two of hot coffee kept me going. Only fifty one degrees was displayed on the RV dash as I pulled out of the campground at 10:30am. A little more than 2 hours and one hundred plus miles south the temperature was right around sixty as I ended my travel day. These temperatures aren’t cold when compared with the mess up north, but around here they are about fifteen degrees below the norm.

The drive was uneventful. About the only excitement was my attempt to buy gas. After waiting in line behind a diesel motorhome, I got up to the pump to find the gas side of the pump was out of order. I was left with a choice of circling around to get in line at the other pump or continuing on. Since I still had close to half a tank, I decided to continue on. Gas prices are dropping. With any luck I’ll find gas at the same price or lower when I move again in nine days.

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Site D-10 at the St. Johns River KOA & Marina.

I’m at the St. Johns River KOA and Marina west of DeLand Florida until the twenty fifth. This facility is in the middle of a major improvement. All of the utilities and many of the sites are new or updated. It’s layout is confusing. The registration area and a restaurant are on the strip of land that separates the marina from the river. Most of the campground sites are on the mainland side of the marina. Once I worked my way out to the registration area I had to backtrack around the marina to my campsite. There weren’t a lot of cars parked along the way on a Friday afternoon, but when there are it would be a real challenge for a big rig. Other than that peculiarity it seems to be a pretty nice place.

 

Fall has caught up with me

Thursday November 15th 2018

It rained hard last night. This morning the rain was over but the temperature was going the wrong way. The warmest temperature of the day was just after midnight. It is forecast to be in the high thirties overnight. Fall or maybe winter has caught up with me. I hoped I’d left the cold temperatures in New England at the end of October. At least I’m not experiencing the cold, snow and ice they are getting in the Northeast tonight.

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Blossom of he day.

Today I took a drive to Green Cove Springs southwest of Jacksonville to pick up my mail from the mail service. It’s easier to pick it up when I’m in the area than having it shipped to General Delivery or some other address. The light middle of the day traffic made for an easy trip. I returned around the east side of Jacksonville competing the circle around the city. The dock area along the north bank of the St Johns river had several big Roll on Roll Off Car transports and one cruise ship in port.

I stopped on my way home for groceries. The theory was to stock up before the holiday crowds get into the store. It didn’t work. The number of people that chose today to do their Thanksgiving grocery shopping was huge. There were six or seven lanes open all with three or more people waiting in each line. The clerk in my lane said it had been busy all day. I spent more time in the checkout line than it took to pick out my groceries.

Late this afternoon I started picking up for my move tomorrow. I’ll be heading about 150 miles into Florida. I’ll be in Deland on the St. Johns river until the twenty fifth.

A Dreary Not Quite Wet Day

Wednesday November 14th 2018

Tuesday was a bright and sunny day. I got out of my RV home quickly and had a very active day. Today was just the opposite. It was a cloudy day with some very misty periods. I had to force myself to leave the RV park and then I only drove around for an hour or so. It’s only to continue my commitment to write a blog entry everyday that I’m putting a few thoughts out this evening. I didn’t see anything today but trees and traffic.

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My Christmas Cactus continues to bloom. This year most of the blossoms are happening at the same time.

The weather around here is better than New England. I’m glad I got out of the region at the beginning of the month. The current forecast for snow in the northeast is not encouraging. Around here the bottom of the same front that stretches up the east coast is playing games with the weather. Yesterday the rain was off to the west along the front. Today it is off to the east and another line has moved into the west. The forecast calls for the whole mess to move north overnight with some real rain in this area. Once it goes by the temperatures will drop into the low sixties during the day.

I spent most of the day watching TV and surfing the Internet. I’ve been developing some ideas for activities during the next month or so. The weather is less likely to interrupt real plans vs. spontaneous plans, but time will tell.

A Visit to Downtown St. Marys GA

Tuesday November 13th 2018

Today was a very nice day. The temperature was more than ten degrees above normal peaking around 85 and very humid. Not far west of here there was heavy rain along the cold front that is moving this way. The next couple of days are forecast to be rainy. By the time the weather clears at the end of the week, record low temperatures are in the forecast.

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Looking west up the St. Marys river. The clouds in the distance are closer to the cold front.

I spent some time in the old town of St. Marys Georgia today. In colonial times the city was a big ship building area. Today it is home to the Naval Submarine base Kings Bay and the mainland component of the Cumberland Island National Seashore. I wanted to checkout the details on taking the ferry out to the National Seashore. It looks like to get the most of a trip to the island you have to book one of the full day guided tours in advance. The alternative would be to spend a few days on the island backpack camping. The weather and an ongoing “Managed” hunt are obstacles to visiting the island this week. I’m thinking about visiting the island in the first part of February when I’m back in this area.

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Looking east down the St Marys river.

The downtown area along the St. Marys river seems to have suffered some damage from the storms since my last visit to town. One of the docks and some of the seawall are blocked off and under repair. The town maintenance crews were also busy decorating the trees and light polls for Christmas. Beyond all that, the river that separates Georgia from Florida in this areas was as beautiful as usual. Not a lot was moving on the river, but the cloud formations in the sky made very pretty displays.

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View across the St Marys River to Florida on the far bank.

Back at the campground this evening a mid week lull in occupancy seems to be enforce. Not as many over night visitors arrived Monday night and they all left this morning. Tonight it looks like a few less visitors arrived. I continue to wonder if the managers of parks like this have any way of forecasting their occupancy rate.

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Laundry Day

Monday November 12th 2018

Today started too early. The people from Quebec in the diesel motorhome on the next site decided to leave at six this morning. First I heard the French language through my open windows. Next came the rumble of the diesel engine. Apparently they subscribe to the theory that the engine needs to be warmed up. The motor ran for half an hour to forty five minutes before they pulled out. Eventually I got back to sleep.

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It was a cloudy day with an occasional light shower. The temperature was around seventy, but the constant threat of rain made outside activities risky. I had plenty of inside chores to keep me busy.

I finally got to catch up on the laundry. I had two full loads to wash of mostly cool weather clothes. They needed to be washed and put away until the next time I encounter cold weather. Unfortunately, that may be at the end of the week. This campground has two small laundry facilities. The one near my site has four washers and three dryers. It was empty when I arrived. By the time I finished all of the machines were in use and there was a waiting line. I didn’t really have the time or the space to properly fold things in the laundry room. I folded the critical things and loaded the rest of the stuff in the laundry bag and a pillow case and returned to my RV home to complete the folding. Somewhere in the process the drier sheets I used disappeared. I never found any of them. I expect them to show up the next time I get dressed in a hurry or in the dark. Laundry is such fun.

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The laundry areas in campgrounds often double as a sort of library. Usually campers follow a leave one take one approach to the reading material that accumulates. Today I picked up Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn. I read it a few years ago, but started reading it again. When the laundry finished I brought it home and kept reading. Between the weather and the book anything else I planned for the afternoon was delayed until tomorrow or the next day. I finished the book a few minutes before I started this blog entry so I’ll take it back to the laundry tomorrow.

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Blossom of the day

 

Sunday Chores

Sunday November 11th 2018

Today was a cloudy day. The day started with a gentle northeast breeze that increased as the day went by. The temperature topped out in the mid to upper sixties. It wasn’t a great day for a lot of things, but it was a good day to get back up on the roof of my RV home. I’ve been waiting for just this type of day to work on my satellite antenna.

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The blossom of the day.

Late this morning I loaded my tools and supplies into a canvas bag and climbed up on the roof. The last time I tried to fix the dish, I didn’t have a long enough piece of coaxial cable. This time the cable was long enough, but I had more trouble getting the dish arm disassembled and re-assembled. I was sitting and kneeling on the roof for a long time. I’ve been feeling it since. Once I finished up on the roof I tested the fix. A new error message appeared on the control unit. I fixed this one with a master reset. I disconnected and reconnected the power. The satellite locked on to the three satellites for the first time in a long time.

The next problem was with the Directv receiver. It had been so long since it received its last update from the satellite that it needed to be reauthorized. The TV screen provided an internet address to complete the task, but AT&T has redone the entire web site to bring it in line with all its corporate sites. Trying to navigate the mixture of telephone and cable support pages to find the correct Directv site was a royal pain. I finally succeeded. I’m back to watching satellite TV. Now I can overdose on Hallmark Christmas movies if I don’t get driven crazy by the sweetness formula.

My second task for the day was supposed to be the laundry.  I was saved from the chore by the campground staff.  They were doing maintenance on the laundry facility near my site.  I could have brought my dirty clothes to the other facility in the campground, but watching the working satellite TV seemed like a better activity.  The nearby laundry will be open again tomorrow.

The campground emptied out today. My thought that this was a three day weekend didn’t seem to prove out. All of the families are gone. Most of the people that remained are either here for a while or overnight travelers. The atmosphere is back to the quiet road side campground with lots of interstate road noise.