A Short Visit to EPCOT

Thursday January 31st 2019

Today’s high temperature, on the plus side of sixty, was a couple of degrees warmer than Wednesday, but in other ways the overall weather was worse. The cloud cover was much thicker and the wind seemed to be a bit stronger. It was a cold and gloomy day.

Ibis with an itch.

This afternoon I was near EPCOT and decided to stop in to checkout more of the Festival of Arts during the daylight. There are kiosks scattered all around the World Showcase displaying and selling prints of various pieces of art. The majority of the art has a Disney theme, but some of the vendors like the House of Blues are selling a broader array of folk art. If you wanted to add a Disney flavor to the decor of your home the Festival of Arts is the right place to shop. Some of the artists were also on hand to discuss their work and the chalk artists were busy creating new creations on the walkways. Overall it is an interesting Festival to fill the gap between New Years and the start of the Flower and Garden Festival at the beginning of March.

Rose blossom of the day.

I didn’t visit any of the attractions at EPCOT. I just took a leisurely walk around the World Showcase looking at art. Since I already have a Walt Disney World Annual Pass a walk around EPCOT doesn’t cost any additional funds. A two hour visit to a theme park would be an extravagance if you had to pay to park and enter the park.

Mrs. Duck.
Mr. Duck.

Today is my last day at Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont. I’ll be back in the area at the end of March for a week long stay at Fort Wilderness in Disney World. Tomorrow I’m moving north about 130 miles for a week. I’ll be north of Ocala in the middle of the state. This area doesn’t have as may snowbirds fighting for a limited number of spaces. I still need to find a place to stay for the middle ten days of the month. I may be even farther north for that period.

An Almost Cold Day at Home

Wednesday January 30th 2019

Cold weather has reached central Florida, but it is no where near as severe as the northern part of the country. A layer of clouds kept the sun from causing any shadows and it barely made it over fifty today with a continuous northeast wind. It was a dull raw day.

Wildflower blossoms.

My entertainment during my morning coffee was watching my neighbor pack up and depart. I’m sure other people watching me arriving or departing see varying degrees of skill displayed. Some days I may look like a well oiled machine in operation. Other times I probably look like a stumbling buffoon. Therefore, I’m not judging just watching. The solo traveler from Virginia getting ready to leave this morning is either new to RV travel or very much out of practice. When he arrived the other day he had difficulty backing into the site, but that’s not unusual. This morning he seem to know what to do, but didn’t have any idea how to complete all the tasks.

He got his power and water disconnected without interruption, but as soon as he started to hook the car to the trailer he started to exhibit a lot of uncertainty. He got the car aligned with the trailer, but stopped about six feet away. He then decided to put some stuff away in the trailer. When he returned to the hitching process he got the trailer connected, but only one side of the load leveling bars connected. After removing the wheel blocks he when back to finish hitching. After a few more interrupted tasks he finished by loading a bicycle onto the back of the car and putting all the blocks away before departing. With all of his scurrying around I thought he would miss something, but I didn’t see anything dragging or remaining on the site after he pulled out. As he drove by I saw a temporary license plate on the trailer. I’m sure he’ll get better with practice.

Wildflower blossom of the day,

My afternoon entertainment was a hike on some of the trails in the state park. The wide trails are suitable for people, bikes and horses. They go through open areas, brush and tree filled areas. A few unattended wild or “gone” wild citrus trees are the most unique aspect of the trails. They all had ripe or beyond ripe fruit. I heard activity in the brush of small animals, but only saw a few birds. The area seems perfect for more animal activity, but I didn’t see any today. I’m not sure how far I hiked, but overall I was gone for about two hours.

A Short Visit to the Animal Kingdom

Tuesday January 29th 2019

This afternoon I took a trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. My intent was to see some animals and the night time show on the river. Things didn’t go quiet as planned. I got there a little later than I should have. Some of the animals were already “back stage” for the night and parts of the park shut down around five even though the two sittings of the nighttime show were at 6:45 and 8PM. The park closed at 8PM.

An Ibis. A Florida resident taking advantage of the habitats at the Animal Kingdom.

My first attraction was the Gorilla Trail. The gorillas were already in their night time homes and the trail closed a few minutes after I finished the circuit. I still got to see a smaller primate or two, an Opaka, the Meerkats and a couple of neat birds.

The next stop on my quick visit to the Animal Kingdom was the Safari ride. It was listed as a fifty minute wait, but only turned out to be a little over thirty minutes. I got one of the drivers that seemed to think he needed to make the safari into a thrill ride. He started like a drag racer and turned like a bumper car driver. Thankfully, he was good at finding animals. There were quite a few to be seen. The only significant missing species were the elephants. They must have been back state already.

I finished my safari ride around 5:30. The seating for the nighttime show didn’t open until 6:15 or so. I went in search of other open attractions. Only the non-animal based ones were still open and they had long wait times. The park seemed to be busy today. Although I was dressed warm enough for the evening, I was over dressed for the late afternoon. I worked up a sweat with all the walking that really gave me a chill as the sun went down. The chill forced a decision to go home rather than wait for the night time show.

Black Neck Swan
Mom and child.
Close up of the child waiting for the door to the back stage area to open.
Great Blue Turaco
Curious Meerkat
These two crocodiles.
Giraffe meeting.
A pair of Rhino
Two female and one mail Lion. They blend in well. the first lioness is on top of the rocks on the left. The second is a little below and to the right. The Lion is on the top of the rocks in the center of the picture.


After the Rain

Monday January 28th 2019

The rain departed overnight after leaving about two inches of needed precipitation. It was a cool day in the fifties with sunshine early and late. During the middle of the day clouds covered the sky.

Another wildflower blossom a little damaged from the rain.

I got a slow start to the day. I should have forced the issue and gotten up at the usual time, but having slept in yesterday, I didn’t get to sleep until late. I’m in danger of establishing a bad precedent and skewing my waking hours into the night.

When the lunch hour arrived I finally found the motivation to leave the park. Without a grocery run I had nothing interesting to eat. Clearly I wasn’t the only one. The store was very busy. The fact that this area has many retired people and tourists is clear when you find the grocery store packed in the middle of a weekday afternoon. In an ordinary working urban area the stores would be empty in the middle of the afternoon.

Kayak fisherman on the lake before sunset.

The campground has transitioned from weekenders from Florida to snowbirds and tourists from the north for the weekdays. One couple arrived in a trailer from Indiana towed by a truck with a Mazda Miata chase car. They barely got the trailer disconnected from the truck before they took time to set up an Easy-Up style awning to cover the car. Later in the day the guy was practicing his golf pitching on the grass beside the site. Somehow they don’t fit my stereotype for a state park resident. Most of the residents have bicycles and kayaks.

Another kayak fisherman.

Tomorrow is forecast to be the best day of the week. The temperature is set to be in the upper sixties with full sunshine. By Wednesday another cold front is supposed to pass through with a little rain and colder temperatures to follow. I’m toying with the idea of going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom tomorrow to check on the animals, but I’m pretty good at changing plans.

A Full Day of Rain

Sunday January 27th 2019

It started to rain during the night and has continued all day. I woke up around five to moderate to heavy rain on the roof. After acknowledging it was happening I went back to sleep. I finally decided to get out of bed around ten. It was still raining heavily. The remainder of the morning into the early afternoon it continued to rain at a moderate to heavy rate. Towards evening it switched to a light to moderate rate.

Rain running down the road and pooling in the grass in front of my site. (Picture taken through window.)

I judge the rain level by the loudness of the noise on the roof. A light rain I can only hear if I listen closely, but looking outside it is obviously raining. A moderate rain doesn’t interfere with hearing the television and a heavy rain requires the TV volume to be cranked. A really heavy storm like a thunderstorm may be so loud that even cranked nearly to maximum volume the TV can’t be heard.

This storm is forecast to end about twenty four hours after it started. It is supposed to be dry in the morning and sunny by afternoon. The forecast high tomorrow is around sixty to be followed by even cooler days. The national news is using the term Polar Vortex again, but the Florida meteorologists haven’t used the term yet. It’s just going to be unseasonably cool.

I had planned to go grocery shopping today, but it didn’t happen. The rain washed away all of my motivation. Instead it was a reading and TV kind of day. I don’t experience to many full days of rain in this life style. My travel pattern usually keeps me out of the regions experiencing long duration rain events. I think the last full day of rain that kept me inside was back during May in Indiana. Before that it was probably February in San Antonio. There have been many rainy days that I’ve chosen to stay at home, but most of those had dry periods that allowed me to get out for exercise at the campground.

Another Lazy day after an Active day

Saturday January 26th 2019

Today hasn’t been a very blog worthy day. The day started out bright and sunny after a cool night. Unfortunately it didn’t last long. The clouds started to move in during the late morning. The sun was hidden from view by noon and isn’t forecast to be back until Monday. Tomorrow is expected to be a rainy day.

Lilly pads grow big in Florida.

Yesterday’s active day combined with the low motivation associated with a cloudy day turned today into a lazy day. I did some reading, watched some TV and did some bike riding today. The campground is filled with a lot of weekenders. Big gravel sites that have RVs during the week get filed with tent trailers and tents on the weekend. The older crowd during the week is augmented with young families on the weekend. There will likely be a sizable exodus in the morning.

I am not sure what is on tap for tomorrow. With up to two inches of rain in the forecast, it probably won’t be outdoors. I’m starting to run low on food, so I guess a grocery run is a good plan. After that it will probably be more TV if I can get interested in the golf match being televised.

Today’s wildflower blossom.

Night at the Magic Kingdom

Friday January 25th 2019

The cool temperatures were here to stay today. It barely got out of the fifties today despite full sunshine. I did a little bike riding and some hiking. Toward evening I decided I needed to see the fireworks I’ve been hearing every night since I got to this state park. I arrived at the Magic Kingdom shortly after 4PM. The fireworks began at 8PM. The park was only moderately busy. I was able to visit several attractions while I waited for the fireworks. The pictures below tell some of the story.

Cinderella’s Castle as seen down Main Street as I watched the Flag Retreat ceremony.
I passed a couple of ducks begging for handouts near the castle while I was on my way to Buzz Light Year’s Space Ranger Spin.
One of the Mike Fink pole boats on the Rivers of America.
Fountain with animatronic birds in the Tiki Bird show queue area. I say the show while waiting for my Pirates of the Caribbean Fastpass time.
Country Bear Jamboree opening number.
Gravestone in the Haunted Mansion queue area.
It’s a Small World ride.
The Little Mermaid under the sea.
Some pictures of the fireworks taken without a tripod. My unsteady hand adds some nice features to the images.
Cinderella’s castle decorated for the fireworks show.


Slow Day Following an Active Day

Thursday January 24th 2018

The cold front passed through the area just before sunrise this morning. The sound of rain on the roof woke me up a couple of times, but for the most part I slept through the storm. A potential tornado touched down a few miles to the north and the TV weather talkers report that near an inch of rain fell I this area. By the time I got up, just before nine, the rain had stopped and it was starting to brighten up. It was a sunny day with a high temperature in the mid seventies. Tomorrow it is only forecast to be in the fifties.

Lilly Pads in Hammond Lake.

After a very active day yesterday, today was a slow day. I did some bike riding in the state park, and reflected on yesterday’s visit to the International Festival of the Arts at Disney’s EPCOT. I’ve been to the park enough that a lot of the magic has diminished. I don’t have the patience to wait in long lines for attractions that I’ve seen many times before. Waiting for the start of the Illuminations night time show was close to torture. I could only walk around the World Showcase so many times. Waiting during the daytime is easier because I can people watch.

Wild Flower Blossom of the Day.

The enthusiasm and naivete of new visitors to the park is fun to watch. Listening to the awe and appreciation in peoples voices as they see things for the first time brings back some of the enjoyment of seeing things for the first time. On the Living with the Land ride people always seem to be surprised by the size of the fruits and vegetable hanging from vines. Later last night I listened to one parent trying to prepare his kids for what they were about to see was enlightening. He had the Soarin’ ride all wrong. I’m not sure who was the most surprised him or the kids. Soarin’ isn’t a ride along a track in a dark tunnel. It’s a movie watched from a suspended seat that simulates being in a hang glider. It’s my favorite ride at EPCOT.

Interesting cloud formations hiding the sunset.

EPCOT International Festival of the Arts

Wednesday January 23rd 2019

Today was the last warm day in the current roller coaster cycle. The temperature got into the upper seventies and the wind wasn’t too bad most of the time. Unfortunately, the wind did blow hard on occasions during the day.

My satellite dish antenna is not working again. It got caught in some Spanish moss at one of my last stops and probably crimped the cable from the base to the LNB element. This morning I loaded my tools into a canvas bag and climbed up on the roof. My first attempt was to just straighten the cable and try the receiver again. While I was back inside my RV home working the controls, the wind came up with gusto. The bag of tools that I left on the roof was blown to the ground. I’m glad I wasn’t on the roof. Straightening the cable didn’t work, I’m going to have to replace the cable again. I’ll get back up on the roof on a calmer day.

Welcome display inside the ticket line at EPCOT.

I had a little more success doing the laundry. I’ve been trying to use the one washer and dryer since I arrived last Friday. It seems like the machines are always in use. This afternoon I got lucky. I managed to get one load washed and dried. Later this week I’ll try to get a second load done.

Blossom of the day
Inside the lobby of the Mexico Pavilion.

About 4:30 I headed over to Disney’s EPCOT for the International Festival of the Arts. This is the second or third year Disney has had this festival to fill the gap between the Christmas Holiday and the Flower and Garden Festival which runs from March through May. Most of the Art on display were paintings. Various Kiosks around the World Showcase were selling prints and framed paintings. The majority was Disney themed, but there was a reasonable amount of other subjects too. I really liked some of the paintings, but I don’t have wall space in my RV home.

3D like chalk drawing on the sidewalk between Future World and the World Showcase.
Another chalk drawing.

The park wasn’t real busy. The wait times for rides were reasonable. I road Living with the Land, Soarin’, Journey into Imagination and the boat ride in the Mexico pavilion. Soarin’ remains a favorite. I want to kick the elephants into a stampede as you swoop down onto them, but somehow you really aren’t on the savanna.

After a few rides I walked around the World Showcase looking at the art while I waited for the Illuminations show. After a full circuit I still had time to wait. I found a seat back in Future World and played with my futuristic smart phone to kill the time.

I was safely back at my RV home by 10PM. The weather forecast for the morning sounds terrible. The cold front is expected to pass through the area around 7:30AM. The TV weather talkers are doing their best to create interest with scare tactics. I’m sure the sound of the rain on the roof will wake me up just in case there is a real severe weather event.

Lunch at Disney Springs

Tuesday January 22nd 2019

Today’s high temperatures were about normal for this time of year in central Florida. The mercury peaked in the low seventies with very strong winds out of the east. It was comfortable in the sun even with the wind, but if you were out of the sun it was cool. Tomorrow is forecast to be a little warmer with clouds and the potential of rain moving in late in the day.

“River” at Disney Springs. It separates the Landing area from the Town Center area.

After a slow start to the day I went out for a few errands. I ended up stopping at Disney Springs for a late lunch at Cooks of Dublin. They have Fish & Chips on the menu that I have had a number of times before. Today’s meal came quickly with nice hot Chips and an over battered and fried piece of fish. It wasn’t as good as I have in the past, but I’ll still go back.

A Great Egret and an Ibis enjoying Disney Springs.
Geranium flowers were very popular in the beds at Disney Springs.

Disney Springs was busy, but not as crowded as it was before Christmas. The wind kept the activity on the water down. The balloon ride was grounded and people were not riding the chauffeur driven boat cars. Most of the construction is now isolated to the West Side area. A new restaurant serving Spanish cuisine is taking over the area that I think was Wolfgang Pucks Cafe and the NBA Experience is being constructed on the site of the former Disney Quest. The whole Disney Springs area seems more popular and lively than the old Downtown Disney it evolved from.

Blossom of the day.

Overall I spent about three hours at Disney Springs. That’s a long time for me. I usually walk from one end to the other then take a boat back to other end. Today I walked both ways and went into several shops including the remodeled Disney store. I still didn’t buy anything other than my lunch.

Tonight’s sunset over Dixie Lake.