Last Day in the St Augustine Area

Monday August 31st 2020

Today began as a cloudy day and got worse before it got better. Starting just before noon a line of storms started to pass through the area. They dumped a lot of water in a short period of time. By 3PM the sun was starting to burn through the clouds. It was sunny and dry before nightfall.

Blossom of the day

Tomorrow I’m moving on, so today I had a few errands to accomplish. First up was a visit to my mail service to pick up my accumulated mail. The packet of mail included my new registrations for the motorhome and car. I’d completed the transaction by internet and mail earlier in the month, but I needed the paperwork and sticker for the plate. I know have the proof that the vehicles legally registered. It is always easier to stop at the mail service to pick up the accumulated mail when I’m in the area. Finding post offices that accept General Delivery or another place to receive a package can be a challenge.

The second stop of the day was a Walmart. I needed to buy a new sewer hose. My current hose has developed a small leak in the middle of the fifteen foot “stinky slinky”. It seems like they only last a couple of years before something like a bird puts a hole in the plastic or the UV from the sun makes it brittle enough to break. I bought a cheaper lower grade hose this time around. I’m going to try to make the punctured hose into two smaller hoses.

I took the opportunity to stock up on groceries while at Walmart. This store was well stocked. It even had paper goods and cleaning supplies. There were a few gaps on the shelves, but nowhere near as many as I’ve seen at other Walmarts. They were also actively cleaning areas of the store. I saw four different teams cleaning displays, other cases and the floor in several areas of the store.

In the morning I’m packing up and moving inland. My next stop is for the period through the holiday weekend. I’m not sure of the quality of the campground or the things to do in the area, but it had openings over the holiday weekend. The reviews online were OK. I’m never sure how much to believe when reading reviews.

A Very Lazy Day

Sunday August 30th 2020

The day began with a few brief showers before the sun tried to find a hole in the clouds. By mid afternoon the clouds won the battle. As evening approached a tropical downpour passed through the area filling the drainage ditches.

Sun trying to find a break in the clouds over the St. Johns river.

My activity level mirrored the weather. During the morning showers I was inside reading, watching TV and surfing the internet. While the sun was trying to break through the clouds, I took a drive across the St. Johns river and north toward Jacksonville. Once it became apparent that heavy weather was moving in I headed back to my RV home. I beat the worst of the weather home.

In general it was a very lazy day.

Finishing My Winter Planning

Saturday August 29th 2020

I woke up to a cloudy hot and humid day. There was a brief period of partial sunshine, but it was quickly shutdown with the arrival of a line of thunderstorms around 3PM. It has been raining off and on ever since. It is very typical Florida summer weather.

Southern sky as the storms moved in.

There was nothing about today’s weather that encouraged me to get out and do anything. It was afternoon before I finished my morning reading and thought about going out. The extent of my ambition was a walk around the RV park. Back in the comfort of my air conditioned RV home I switched into travel planning mode. I reconfirmed a few ideas and came up with a couple of new ones before I started locking up a few more stops with reservations. I now have the next six months completely booked. My next open week is the last week of February.

It is dark near the horizon in the western sky fifteen minutes before thunder could be heard in the west.

I’ll be crisscrossing the state of Florida from east to west and north to south staying mostly at state and other public parks. Most of my stays are for two weeks at a time. In the near term I have a few shorter stays in private campgrounds and the last week of February will probably be filled with a private campground stay. March will be back in public campgrounds if all goes according to my intent. The rest of next year is still open for imagining.

Right now I have 15 reservations ahead. The last time I had so many reservations locked in the pandemic arrived. I’ve had more experience canceling reservations this year than I ever had before. For this set of reservations the hurricane season puts the fall reservations at risk and there is always the possibility of another COVID lock down. I can’t control the weather and public campgrounds seem to be the first to be impacted by the actions of elected and public health officials in a crises. I have to be flexible going forward.

Missing Tourists

Friday August 28th 2020

The cloud cover was back today, but it was still very hot and humid. I can only imagine how hot it would feel if there was full sunshine. The TV weather talkers are calling it exceptionally warm. It still isn’t record heat just the product of a stationary high pressure system off the coast. I’m not complaining. I’m here by choice. If I was still in the Arkansas or Tennessee area I’d be getting hit by the remnants of hurricane Laura. There are two more tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa that might turn into hurricanes that I need to keep my eye on. The motorhome has wheels for a reason. I don’t want to be in the storms’ paths until they loose their punch.

Today I drove through old St Augustine. I have no desire to get into crowded tourist attractions. The use of masks is far from universal in this area and social distancing isn’t possible in some of the tourist traps. I was surprised that it wasn’t as busy as I expected. There were actually parking spaces readily available. There don’t seem to be as many out of state visitors in the area as I’ve seen other years at this time. It’s never extremely busy at this time of year, but this year is slower. Undoubtedly, the news coverage of the COVID surge in Florida had an impact on tourism. Elsewhere on my cross country trip there were more out of state travelers than there are here. This RV park has mostly Florida license plates on the occupied sites. There are also more empty sites than I’m used to seeing at this time of year.

This RV park has put a reasonable level of COVID precautions in place. They restrict access to the office to one person at a time. Some common areas are closed and other areas have been “reimagined”. The curious part is the social distancing reminder signs. I wonder who they think their customers are with signs that say “keep one cow apart”.

Which end of the cow do you want?

Back to the Atlantic Ocean

Thursday August 27th 2020

The thick oppressive humidity back today along with plenty of sun. Together they are a dangerous hot combination. It was a very uncomfortable day. The pattern is getting a little less stable. There were a few thunderstorms in the area today, but none of them fell in this area. Over the next couple of days thunderstorms are forecast to be more numerous and impact a broader area.

The Atlantic Ocean south of St. Augustine

Today’s driving around took me to the Atlantic Ocean. It was just about a year ago that I was along the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. I’ve been landlocked for the last year. Visiting the ocean, particularly the Atlantic, is something that I’ve done regularly all my life. I enjoy visiting the desert, but living anywhere that isn’t close to the ocean would be difficult. Watching the action of the water and nature along the shore is the primary draw. I’m not looking for close encounters with sharks or other sea dangers, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them from the shore. D

Walking around the RV park today I came across some of the resident birds. Many parks have birds that share the space with the campers. It’s often Canadian Geese or ducks. I’ve even been in a couple here in Florida that the resident birds are noisy Sandhill Cranes. At this park the resident birds are Turkeys. Today I only saw two, but on previous visits I seen a great deal more.

Park bird residents.

Getting settled in St. Augustine

Wednesday August 26th 2020

There were a few more clouds in the sky today. They helped keep the temperature down despite the continued high humidity. Outside activity was possible today, but inside air conditioning was still welcome. Overall I didn’t have a very active day.

Blossom of the day.

I finished getting all of the setup tasks completed for my week long stay. Having the bicycle off my SUV makes running around the area a little easier. I don’t have to worry about fitting in parking spaces or the bike getting vandalized in some random parking lot. I also got my gas grill out and setup. Having the grill ready to go before meal time opens up more cooking options. Of course everything I get out now will have to be restored to travel mode before I move on next Tuesday. It’s a never ending cycle.

This afternoon I did a little touring around the area. Not much has changed in the immediate area since my last stay in 2018. Traffic is just as bad. Tomorrow I’ll expand my touring a little more.

Travel Day to St. Augustine FL

Tuesday August 25th 2020

The last few days have been humid, but the mostly cloudy sky kept things from feeling really hot and sticky. Today the clouds were gone. It was a typical Florida summer hot and humid day. As soon as I stepped out of my RV home it felt like I’d entered a sauna.

I had about three hours to prepare to get on the road this morning. I needed all of the time because of the heat. It really drains the energy out of you. I retreated back into the air conditioning inside my RV home on a regular basis. Once I got inside I stayed there longer than I probably should have. I left the park right at the 11AM checkout time.

Traffic on the sixty plus mile trip was heavy. I took the long way around Jacksonville on the west beltway. The route managed to eat a little of the extra time I had before a reasonable check in time at my destination. Even with that, I stopped at a rest area on Interstate 95 south of Jacksonville for about an hour, before finishing the last ten miles or so of my drive to St. Augustine.

I’m at the Stagecoach RV park outside St. Augustine for the next week. This is a park that I often stop at in this area. From the amount of online interaction I had with the park staff, I was expecting a no contact check in. I’ve experienced those at several parks on my journey east. Basically, they leave an envelop outside with your name on it after getting all the information and payment via phone or internet. That didn’t happen here. I had to either call them from the parking lot or go inside the office. I masked up and went inside.

Site 47 at the Stagecoach RV Park in St. Augustine FL.

Setup in the heat and humidity took away more of my energy. I’m going to sleep well tonight.

Another Day with Plenty of Rain

Monday August 24th 2020

Today was a more normal kind of rainy day for this area of the country. There were waves of heavy rain separated by a period of sunny sky. The humidity was over the top all day. A very tropical kind of day.

I got a couple of opportunities to walk around the campground during the breaks in the rain. The park really emptied out this morning. The last couple of weekenders and all of the overnight campers were gone by 9:30 this morning. I think they were trying to hit the road before the next wave of storms came through. The park is kind of empty tonight. There are fewer overnight residents than any of the nights since I arrived.

The rest of my day was spent inside my RV home. I got a little cleaning done and a few other chores out of the way during one of the rain storms. During others I was working on filling in a few more reservations between now and the end of the winter. I’ve got dates to fill in late February, March and April. The eleven month reservation window for the state parks fell in the early days of the pandemic when I was not focused on future travel. Now I have to find available private campgrounds to take the place of the state parks that are already booked. If the Canadian boarder remains closed, I will have less competition. Many Canadian snowbirds may be caught in the cold north this year.

Late this afternoon I started to prepare to move on tomorrow. It’s only a short drive to the St. Augustine FL area. I’ll leave here as close to the 11AM checkout as possible and probably wast time at a rest area or two along the way. It is only about a sixty mile drive.

My First Truly Rainy Day in Some Time

Sunday August 23rd 2020

Today was the first real rainy day I’ve experienced in a long time. I’ve experienced rain over the last few months, but it wasn’t a real full day event. It was usually half a day often over night or a lot of clouds leading up to one big storm. Today’s rain started late yesterday and continued at varying intensities throughout the day. It wasn’t always heavy. Sometimes it was only mist or sprinkles. Basically, it was wet until late afternoon. The forecast calls for similar behavior over the next few days. It is a tropical event.

I spent all day around my RV home reading, doing travel research and watching TV in the bedroom. Yesterday wasn’t the best day for my main TV to quit, if any day would be. It was an interesting combination of listening from the other room and laying on the bed actually watching the TV. There was plenty of sports programming on TV including the delayed Indianapolis 500 to watch.

Late in the day, after the rain stopped, I got a little exercise walking around the park. It was largely an exercise in dodging puddles. There don’t seem to be as many overnight campers this evening. The weather may have delayed or changed travel plans.

Couldn’t find any flowers or puddles to take pictures of, so I took one of my dinner of grilled pork chops.

Getting this blog entry written has been a challenge. Microsoft saw fit to update the Windows operating system on my computer last night. Besides all the additional time it took to boot, things weren’t behaving as expected. Right in the middle of resizing the picture to include in the blog the program paused for over five minutes with the message about loading new fonts. What Microsoft did to impact a third party product is a mystery and I have no idea what they updated or improved overall.

Oh No The TV Broke

Saturday August 22nd 2020

It was an overcast day with the threat of rain. Big black clouds were on the horizon all day. Somehow the rain held off until evening. It has been raining since the sun started to slip below the horizon. Tomorrow is forecast to be a continuation of threatening rain storms.

An egret in the marsh grass.

The day began with a minor disaster. While I was eating breakfast with the TV on in the background, I heard a snap or mild pop from the TV that drew my attention. The screen on my 42 inch living room TV was blank, but the audio was still crystal clear. It didn’t take long to determine that my five year old TV had succumbed to one of the common problems with modern TVs. The back lighting had broken. If you shine a bright light at the screen, you can still see that it is producing a picture. You just can’t see it. I don’t think it is fixable under the replacement cost of the device.

When I have a two week stay near a city area, I’ll start to investigate in more detail. The first step will be to get the TV down off its mount. It looks pretty straight forward, but I’m not sure it is a standard mount. That may prove to be an issue if I have to replace the TV. Getting it securely mounted so it doesn’t fall off the wall while I’m gong down the road is a necessity. It will probably be the end of September or the beginning of October before I’m in the right place at the right time to dig into this new mess. In the mean time I’ll watch the TV in the bedroom or the one outside and do my research on repairs or replacements.

I drove into Historic St. Mary’s Georgia on the St Mary’s river this afternoon. The last time I was there, two years ago, the waterfront area was under construction. Today the new boat launch area and the road have been completed. There were a lot of people in the parks and walking around the town this afternoon. I joined them in the stroll around town mode. It was perhaps the most active I’ve seen the downtown area. The restaurants without door seating were busy. It didn’t look like the ones with indoor seating were as busy.

Sailboat on a mooring ball in the river.