Checking Out the Storm Damage

Saturday April 20th 2019

Today was the day after the storm. The severe weather front was off to the east and the local weather was dramatically different. There was a strong wind out of the west under sunny a sky. It was a nice day, but it was cold. The temperature didn’t make it into the seventies.

Driving around the area the damage caused by the storm was evident. I saw many downed tree limbs and even a few whole trees on the ground. People were busy cleaning up after the storm. Piles of branches and storm debris adorned the street side in residential areas. The amount of material downed by the storm was surprising. Thankfully, it looks like there wasn’t a lot of substantial damage.

The boats tied to the floating dock moved up and down with the docks in the wind driven waves on the St. Mary’s River.

The wind was really creating a lot of wave action on the St. Mary’s River. The direction was such that there was a long open area for the wind to build the waves before they reached the bank in the downtown St. Mary’s area. The floating docks were moving up and down on their pilings. The sound of metal, concrete and wood rubbing disrupted the quiet atmosphere of the historic town. The other requirement to enjoy a walk along the town’s waterfront was warm clothing. Their were quite a few people out and about, but they were all dressed for winter.

The campground emptied out a little more than I expected this morning. I thought there were more weekenders in the park. It turned out that there were a lot of travelers that moved on today. They were replaced by more travelers tonight. Even so, the campground is in holiday weekend mode. The older kids got entertained with a hayride and the younger ones got pulled around in little train cars by a golf cart.

Blossom on an Azalea bush.

Dealing with a Little Bit of Weather

Friday April 19th 2019

Today’s weather was very entertaining, but not very enjoyable. The day started with very filtered sunshine and plenty of wind. It wasn’t long before it started to get very gusty. While I was outside my RV home I heard a large dead branch snap in a tree a couple of hundred feet away. It fell on a power line leading to a cottage. The line didn’t snap but they had to call the utility company to get it removed. That was just the beginning.

Today’s flower blossoms after a little bit of rain.

Shortly before eleven the forecast severe weather started to move into the area. A severe thunderstorm warning for the entire Northeast Florida and Eastern Georgia area was issued by the National Weather Service. The TV stations started continuous storm coverage as the front moved into the viewing area from the west. They were reporting winds as high as seventy to eighty miles per hour. Tornado warnings were issued for areas west of Jacksonville with some reports of damage. As the storm front moved east the warnings and high wind reports moved closer to my location.

I started to make preparations for the arrival of the storm. The most susceptible items to wind damage are the slide out room awnings and the satellite dish. I put the dish down into its travel position and got the inside ready to bring the slide out rooms in. I held out hope that the storm would weaken as it moved east. Just before noon the TV announced another tornado warning. This time it was for my area. At about the same time my cell phone went off with a tornado alert. I brought the two slide rooms in, locked the RV door and walked over to the campground bathroom facility. I don’t think it would qualify as a good shelter in the case of a strong tornado, but it was better than the RV. Several other park residents including a few of the work campers with two very scared dogs also took shelter in the bathhouse.

Rain water falling on the cement patio at my site. The campground staff came around early and took down all the umbrellas.

The storm passed about a mile to the north. A funnel cloud was reported in the air along Interstate 95. There was damage to a furniture store building and several cars in that area, but it was caused by strait line winds. It didn’t get very bad in the campground. Most of the wind was high in the trees. A few small branches and lots of pine cones came down. It was just an ordinary rain storm fifteen minutes after it started.

The rain continued until about three in the afternoon. The sun even made an attempt to brighten up the area. The actual front passed through the area around six with a little more rain and some wind. All is calm this evening.

RV Living: Laundry Day

Thursday April 18th 2019

Humid weather has returned. The temperature peaked in the mid 80s, but the humidity made it feel a lot warmer. There was some cloud cover and occasional periods of wind that made the heat tolerable. A low pressure system with accompanying cold front is due tomorrow. The TV weather forecasters have been talking up the potential for severe weather for a couple of days.

Blossom of the day.

This was an RV living type of day so this blog entry isn’t the most entertaining. My primary task was getting the laundry done. This campground has two laundry facilities. Last time I was here most of the machines in one of the facilities were broken, but this time they were all working. You need to pay attention to the task when using public laundry rooms. If you leave stuff in a machine after it has finished its cycle, people have been known to empty the contents onto a counter or worse. It hasn’t happened to me since I pay keep watch on the overall process. The down side is the laundry takes at least 2 hours of almost dedicated time.

The rest of the time today was consumed with other household and maintenance tasks around my RV home. The TV was on all the time, so I got a good dose of “reporting” on the Mueller report. It’s hard to understand how each sentence of the report can rapidly be interpreted multiple contradictory ways. I remember a time when the news reports labeled things as “editorial” view or “analysis” when they started to express a particular view point. Now days every talking head is expressing a viewpoint. You need a score card of networks and personalities to know how to interpret the news. The internet complicates it further with the need to have a sensational headline to get you to click on the link. They really don’t care if the story reflects the headline or if you read the story. They get credit for the “click”. I guess I’m old fashion, I like to hear facts that I can interpret myself. End of soap box opinion.

Travel to North of Jacksonville

Wednesday April 17th 2019

Today was a travel day. Conditions were about a 7 on my scale of conditions suitable for travel. A perfect travel day is cloudy, so there isn’t any glare, and the wind isn’t blowing to cause RV handling issues. Today was partly cloudy with a light wind. The temperature peaked around eighty.

Blossom of the day.

I got on the road at 10:30AM with a little more than a quarter tank of gas. I’d scouted out a gas station with easy access on my way north. When I got there I found the gas price to be twenty to thirty cents more than other stations in the area. I chose to continue on despite my preference to fill up before it gets into the last quarter of the tank. When I finally bought gas in the St. Augustine area at a station I’ve stopped at before, I paid forty cents a gallon less than I would have at the place I skipped. Even at that price, I only put in one credit card pass of $75. The price of gas at my destination just over the state line in Georgia is usually cheaper. It turned out to be five cents cheaper. Of course it may be higher by the time I fill the tank next week on my way out.

Site O-4 at the Jacksonville North/St. Marys KOA.

I’m back at the KOA in St. Mary’s Georgia just over the state line from Florida. Once again this campground is my holiday weekend safety net. Finding an available campsite for the Easter weekend was difficult. I probably could have stayed longer at the Seasons in the Sun RV Resort, but I’d already extended for one week and I was getting hitch itch to move on. This park has some road noise from nearby Interstate 95, but overall it’s a nice place to stay. I’ll be here until next Wednesday.

Shortly after I arrived the tree overhead gave me a present.

Last Day on the Space Coast

Tuesday April 16th 2019

It was another fine day with just a little bit more humidity than Monday. The temperature peaked around eighty and it cooled down quickly after the sun set.

Blossom of the day.

Today was my last full day on the Space Coast. Tomorrow I move a little further north for a week. As usual, I really enjoyed my stay in this area. It has a diverse selection of terrain and other attractions to explore. In addition to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Reserve and the Canaveral National Seashore, Brevard county has a number of parks. Many of the parks are along the waters edge. In addition to the Atlantic Ocean there are parks along the Banana and Indian Rivers. In addition to the nature exploration opportunities there is the occasional rocket launch and the action in Port Canaveral. People make a regular habit of watching the cruise ships leave port every evening.

My exploring today took me back to the central part of the county. I returned to Kelly park on the Banana River. There was less action on the water today. The vendor renting sailboards and other wind oriented water craft was not doing much business. I suspect the wind direction was not favorable, but it was comfortable to sit on shore and watch the ripples on the water.

Little Blue Heron

This evening I got a head start on packing for tomorrow’s travel day. The bicycle rack and bike are back on the car and the gas grill is ready to be stored away. In the morning I’ll dump the tanks and finish the travel prep. I plan to be on the road around 11am.

Watching Snowbirds Prepare to Depart

Monday April 15th 2019

The humidity that built up over the last few days was gone this morning. The temperature was back in the high seventies to low eighties with the wind lighter and more from the north. It was a very refreshing and comfortable day.

A little orange color in the sun.

This morning I got caught up in watching more of the north bound exodus from the RV park. A departure today or tomorrow will still get people home in the north before the Easter holiday. Over the weekend I watched a lot of preparation. One couple spent the weekend packing a big rented box truck with all the stuff from their site. I saw them loading potted plants, a gas grill, various outdoor lawn furniture and the wooden steps they were using to get into their trailer. Who knows what they added when I wasn’t looking. This morning they hooked up the fifth wheel trailer to their pickup and followed the box truck out of the campground. I don’t know if everything was going north or if some of the stuff was going to a storage yard.

Wildflower blossom of the day.

The other observation about the departures is the popularity of the people leaving. Some people have a continuous flow of visitors as they pack up while others pack in solitude. When they’re hooked up to leave additional people show up to say goodby and watch them pull away from their site. The popular folks don’t seem to get very far. When they stop at the office to check out, they seem to be their longer than most. The others pull away with a wave to anybody they pass and are in and out of the office in a couple of minutes. Is this a measure of the community in the RV park or is it an indicator of the cliques that exist?

After watching the morning exodus I went back to the Merritt Island NWR for some more exploring. I walked the trail behind the visitors center again. There weren’t as many wild flowers in bloom, but there were a few turtles visible in and around the pond. The other improvement over last week was fewer visitors. I was able to walk the trail and stop at the viewing areas without being in the presence of dozens of people. I only saw about a dozen other people total.

A turtle taking the sun on a platform in the middle of the pond.

A New Way for the Weather to Change My Plans

Sunday April 14th 2019

Today’s weather started as a repeat of the last couple of days. The overnight clouds gave way to sunshine with a strong breeze. The temperature peaked in the min eighties. The difference came in mid afternoon. A line of strong winds and showers moved through the area. There wasn’t any thunder and lightening, but the wind was very strong and gusty for about an hour.

Today’s wildflower blossom of the day. It’s less than an inch in diameter, but pretty.

The weather found a new way to get in the way of my activities today. The main storm area is three or four hundred miles north of here. It caused the Masters Golf Tournament tee times to be moved up. They started play at 7:30 this morning and the TV coverage started at 9 or 9:30. As soon as I found the golf on the TV my day got turned upside down. I was going to go out in the late morning and return to watch the golf in the mid to late afternoon. Instead I started watching golf at 9:30 until Tiger Woods won his fifth Masters in the early afternoon. It had just enough drama and excitement with Woods involved that I pretty much stayed glued to the TV.

After the golf, I managed to grill a couple of Italian Sausages for lunch. The local weather started to get in the way at this point in the day. The wind picked up and the rain started. I had to retreat inside and close a few windows. The closed windows required the AC to be on which combined with the rain on the roof required the TV volume to be turned up. By around 4:30 the weather was on the upswing again, but any thoughts of leaving the RV resort were gone. I settled for a walk around the park.

Great Egret visiting the pond across from my site.

More Exploring in the Merritt Island NWR

Saturday April 13th 2019

It was another warm day with highs in the mid 80s and a sea breeze. The temperature inland is in warmer by five degrees or more. According to the TV weather people this is early in the year for ninety degree weather. The daytime temperature isn’t a problem, particularly with the breeze, but the fact that it only gets to the mid seventies overnight is a problem. I run the air conditioner before going to bed to get the inside temperature down. The AC is noisy enough that I don’t like running it a night until it is really bad.

Today’s sky was full of interesting cloud patterns.

I was back to exploring the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge today. When I stopped at the manatee viewing area on the Haul Over Canal, I actually saw a few manatee. If you watched the canal closely you’d see a dark area moving in the water. Eventually a nose would break the surface for air. If you were really lucky you might see a tail break the surface as the animal headed back toward the bottom. The boat traffic had to be real careful.

A manatee in the shallow water at the edge of the Haul Over Canal poking its nose up for air.

My new exploration for the day in the NWR was a drive along the Bio Lab Road. It is one way dirt road along the Mosquito Lagoon of the Indian River North. The river is on one side and a canal or marsh is on the other for several miles. I imagine watchful eyes would spot an alligator or two in the canal area. I was to busy watching for pot holes on the challenging road. Taking the drive on a weekend day was a mistake. Many people were pulled to the side of the road and had their fishing equipment spread out along the canal and the river. Even so, it was a good experience with lots of nice scenic views. There just wasn’t as much wildlife as I’d hoped to see.

Today’s blossom of the day.

Back at my RV home this afternoon I got settled in watching the TV. I was doing a bit of channel surfing between two very different programs. On won end of the spectrum was the Masters golf tournament. It is a very quiet dignified and calm program. The other program I’d surf over to was the Game of Thrones Marathon in preparation for tomorrow nights final season premier. That program is the product of nightmares, but it is addictive too. I’m anxious to see the new season of shows.

A Great Blue Heron visiting the campground.

A Catch Up Day

Friday April 12th 2019

It was another beautiful weather day. There were a few puffy clouds to go with the sunshine and nice sea breeze. The temperature in this area peaked in the mid 80s, but inland it made it to the nineties.

This Osprey was a visitor to the RV park.

During my entire stay at the Seasons in the Sun RV Resort the snowbirds have been gradually packing and heading north. Today was my neighbors turn. They have been taking things down and packing all week. I was wondering how they were going to move the trailer since they were driving in a sedan. This morning a truck showed up to transport their fifth wheel trailer to the storage area. A little while later they began their drive back to New Jersey. If you aren’t going to use the trailer in the north during the summer months, that the way to do the snowbird thing.

Blossom of the day.

After spending so much time over the last couple of days waiting for the rocket launch, I needed to do some grocery shopping today. It felt like my supplies were really getting low. I was raiding my freezer and getting creative for meals most of the week. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to buy as much as I expected. It was the things I was missing that made the difference. Once I bought milk, bread, orange juice and some meat, I didn’t need a lot of other things.

These Ibis are right at home in the RV park,

The rest of my day was enjoyable down time. I’ve been touring the Wildlife Refuge or walking the beach waiting on a rocket launch just about every day for more than a week. Tomorrow is forecast to be another good day so I’ll probably be back in touring mode.

This lizard is much bigger than the ones I usually see. It is ten inches to a foot long. It was on the concrete pad at my campsite.. I’m not sure where it lives.

Watching the Rocket Launch

Thursday April 12th 2019

It was a beautiful day for a rocket launch. The day started foggy and cloudy, but ended with high well scattered clouds. The only down side was the temperature. It got to the mid eighties.

There were lots of shells on the beach to pick through while walking the beach and waiting for the launch.

I made my second attempt to watch the launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center. Today was successful. I returned to the same location I parked at yesterday. The parking lot at the Cherie Down Park was still had a few spaces when I arrived a half an hour later than yesterday. I was aiming for a 3PM or later arrival, but made good time and arrived before 3PM. I had more than 3.5 hours to kill before the launch.

Lunch time in the breaking surf.

Similar to yesterday I walked north along the beach to Jetty Park. Even though it was packed, it didn’t look like there were as many people there today. I spent time walking around watching the people, the birds, the boats in the Port Canaveral channel and the fishermen. All of the local news crews were back with their remote equipment. The highlight today was the departure of the Carnival Cruise Ship Liberty.

Carnival Liberty leaving port.

Around 5PM I walked back down the beach to my car for a snack and to get my good camera. I still had close to an hour wait before the launch. The beach continued to fill up with people from nearby residences. By the time the 6:35PM launch occurred the beach was an obstacle course of people.

Sheriffs deputies were patrolling the beach on quads.

This is the fifth launch I’ve seen. The first was a Space Shuttle launch in the early 1990s. The next three were smaller rockets that launched in the last few years. I think two were Falcon 9s and one was another brand. The big difference with this one is the extra thrust and fire going up and the return of the two side boosters to land a few minutes later. One of the reasons I chose this location to watch the launch was the proximity to the booster landing area. The third booster landed on a ship at sea well over the horizon.

Is the bird watching the launch or just getting in my picture?
This picture is cropped so the outline of the rocket is visible.
Two boosters coming down to land at the Cape Canaveral Air Station on the north side of the Port Canaveral channel. Somebodies fishing poles got in the middle of this picture.

Leaving the beach area after the launch was a challenge. The setting sun was directly in front of the west bound lane filled with stop and go cars. The journey was further complicated by cars trying to join the migration from the side of the road. Many people had decided to stop on the causeway to watch the launch. I was back at my RV home before 8PM.