Laundry Day

Wednesday March 31st 2021

Today was another day with a Florida Summer weather pattern. The temperature was around ninety with plenty of humidity. Last night a similar day ended with heavy thunderstorms to the north of here. Today is ending with a tropical downpour right over my RV home. The setting sun is still visible off to the west, but there is a continuous flood of water coming down from above in this location. The cold front is due tomorrow.

Today was laundry day. I haven’t had access to an onsite laundry for four weeks. My clean clothes supply was getting down into the clothes of last resort and my dirty clothes filled the hamper, my laundry bag and a dirty pillow case. Each of the bathhouses at this campground have a washer and dryer. Luckily for me the machines are upgraded to accept credit cards. Maintaining a supply of quarters in these times remains a challenge. Over the course of three hours I got two full loads washed and dried. I gave a not so patiently waiting fellow camper access after my second load. I’ll be back another day before I leave to complete the task.

My other frustrating task of the day was chasing and kill tiny ants. Somewhere a lot of ants slightly bigger than fleas have gotten in to my RV home. I can’t see any indication that they are at this campsite, but it’s possible. I’ve spread some bug killer outside and went at the ones already inside with a can of bug spray. I suspect the smell of the insecticide is not good for me either, but a small dose is better than the pesky little bugs running around. I’m pretty sure the battle has just begun. Since I don’t know where they are getting in or where they are hiding.

I saw an alligator in the other lake today. Someone suggested that it was the same one from the other lake. This is the time of year that the gators are on the move for matting, but unless someone watched it march through the campground, I not so sure. Time to watch for alligators in strange places.

Settling in at Lake Louisa State Park

Tuesday March 30th 2021

The heat and humidity were back today. The high temperature was around ninety with high humidity and very little air motion. It was not a very comfortable day.

I spent my time today settling in at the Lake Louisa State Park. I took several walks from my campsite to to each of the two lakes. My site is about as far away from the lakes as you can get in the campground. It makes for good exercise even in today’s high heat and humidity. Most of the pictures I took today were of wild flower blossoms, but I did get one picture of a young turtle taking the sun on a dead tree.

One Down, One to Go

Monday March 29th 2021

I woke up to a cloudy day. A cold front moving through the area with a little wind and a couple of sprinkles. The cloud cover kept the high temperature for the day around eighty compared to Sunday’s ninety. Unfortunatly, the front is forecast to move back north overnight bringing tomorrows high temperature back up into the upper eighties. The real cooling front isn’t forecast to pass through until late Wednesday or early Thursday. The weekend temperatures are forecast to be back in the seventies.

Alligator in Dixie Lake this morning.

One of the things I need to complete while in the greater Orlando area is my COVID-19 vaccination. I became eligible on March 15th while I was in the Fort Myers area for two a two week stay. I tried to get the single dose Johnson & Johnson in that area since I knew I wouldn’t be in that area for a second dose. Production and shipment issues with that vaccine made it a mission impossible.

Blue wildflower blossoms at the lake’s edge.

The Orlando area has far more options, but the state has also opened up eligibility to people over fifty on the 22nd and people over forty today. Next Monday the state will open eligibility to everyone in the approved ages for the vaccine. The bottom line is the longer I wait the harder it may be to get. My first plan was to go to the Fedral Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) run walk in vaccine site the first thing this morning. They open at 7AM. When I woke up at 6AM there was noway I was going to become motivated enough to execute the plan. I procrastinated until tomorrow.

This morning’s TV news provided an interesting update on the available vaccine. On the depressing side, all of the county run site’s appointments for the week were filled. On the positive side, the FEMA site had increased the number of available doses administered each day to support the new eligibility. Later I learned they had also extended the existence of the FEMA site for another month until the end of May. My plan to head for the FEMA site early Tuesday morning was looking good.

In the afternoon I decided to check out the route to the FEMA site at Valencia College’s west campus in Orlando. Traffic was heavy and I had to resort to Google Maps to guide me through all the twists and turns among the gated communities of Winter Garden and Windermere. When I found the college the parking lot wasn’t full, so I took a chance. I didn’t have to wait at any of the stations.

The first stop separated people looking for their first dose with those needing their second. At the second stop a solider from the 101st airborne division verified my eligibility. Then it was on to get my temperature checked. Proceeding through empty switchbacks my next stop was the check in tent. An online account in the state COVID vaccine site was created for me. They asked all the pertinent questions about current health and possible reactions to the vaccine then stuck a label with my name and a bar code on my chest. The next stop was another soldier that read the bar code and verified I was who it said I was before I was allowed to proceed through more mostly empty switch backs to the next tent.

The fourth tent was where the action really happens. There are tables every few feet around the perimeter. Each vaccination station has four chairs. As soon as a chair opens up somebody else sits down. Within a couple of minutes another soldier arrives to read your bar code, verify you are who you are, ask the same questions you’ve already answered then asks which arm to jab. In my case another soldier arrived to give me the shot, but I think it was a shift change. Next up was checking into the observation tent. They read the bar code one more time before telling you what tent to sit in. A few minutes later yet another soldier asks how you feel, takes your bar code label and points you at the door. They seem to have a well tuned system that doesn’t need all the switchbacks they have created unless there is a computer problem or something similar.

Water lily blossom of the day.

I have my first dose of the Phizer vaccine. My appointment for the second dose is on Patriots Day April 19th although with the walk in nature of the FEMA site it is really a no sooner than type of appointment. I need to find another place to stay in the Orlando area for an extra week and a few days. That’s tomorrow’s task.

Travel Day to Lake Louisa State Park

Sunday March 28th 2021

Today began early. Not only was it a travel day, but it was also the eleven month mark to attempt to get another state park reservation for next winter. There were four sites available at one park and one at another. I picked the one I thought I’d have the best chance at and waited for the clock to strike 8AM. The reservation gods were not with me this morning. I failed to reserve. Time to figure out plan B.

I completed my packing and travel prep in the rapidly warming morning. It was shortly before the 11AM check out time when I pulled out of the campground. My first stop was at a gas station to fuel up for my journey north. The gas pumps at the station were slower than I’ve experienced in a long time. It seemed to be pumping at a rate of about a gallon per minute. The thirty four gallons I put in on the first credit card pass took more than half an hour to complete. I decided against filling the tank completely with a second credit card pass. I was tired of waiting. That was probably the right decision. Gas is three or four cents a gallon cheaper in this area. Then again it will probably be higher went I get around to filling the tank in two to three weeks.

The trip north was on US and Florida state roads. The interstate route is longer and probably had a lot more traffic. The trade off is the need to be more alert for changing traffic conditions. The big RV doesn’t maneuver as nimbly as the passenger cars. I need to start slowing down for traffic lights much sooner than most other vehicles on the road. Unpredictable traffic and a couple of signal lights required more than one hard stop. Some of my stuff that wasn’t well secured managed to take a walk during today’s travel, but nothing was damaged.

I am back at Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont Florida for another two week stay. My last visit was at the beginning of December. I arrived around 2:30PM well after the 1PM checkout time. They weren’t sure my site was available yet. The previous occupants hadn’t checked out. I had to wait in the parking lot while they checked to see if the site was available. The campground is two miles or so from the ranger station. One of the rangers had to drive to the campground. He called me to indicate that the site was available. All that because someone didn’t checkout by turning in their window pass on the way out.

Site 44 at Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont Florida.

The site I’m on is nice. It has a big tree that provides a lot of shade. The down side is the shade tree prevents my satellite dish from seeing the satellite. I’ve got fifty plus over the air TV stations and good internet to keep me entertained. This was the only site available when I booked. It is not a site I’ll get another time.

Last Day in the Fort Myers Area

Saturday March 27th 2021

Today’s weather was “a little more” kind of day. It was a little more humid, a little more windy, and a little more cloudy. The result was a day that was a little more uncomfortable with a high temperature just into the nineties.

This is my last full day in the Fort Myers area at the WP Franklin campground. I spent most of the day relaxing around my RV home. Toward the end of the day I got started with the packing for tomorrow’s move. Check out time is 11AM. I plan on aiming for a departure between ten and eleven. I have a little over a three hours drive tomorrow. The checkout time at my destination is 1PM, so I don’t want to arrive until after that hour.

Pelicans passing by.

As I have in the past, I enjoyed my stay at this campground. The area doesn’t have a lot of trees and the sites are close together, but you can’t beat the activity in the river. On today’s walks around the campground I took a lot of bird pictures. I don’t consider myself a bird watcher. I can’t identify most of the birds I see, but they make fun subjects for taking pictures. In this blog entry I’ve included some of the bird pictures I took today and one pseudo river boat used for tours on the river.

Tour boat designed to look like a river boat getting ready to pass through the lock.

Shopping Failure

Friday March 26th 2021

The daily high temperature went up another couple of degrees today. The day started cloudy and ended cloudy, but in between there was a lot of bright sun with only a few clouds in the sky. The temperature peaked near a record high in the low to mid nineties.

For excitement today, I went in search of plastic storage bin for my vacuum cleaner hose and accessories. The plastic net bag they came in has developed holes that make it just about useless. The Walmart I shopped at last week didn’t have what I was looking for. I thought the Walmart about twenty miles inland from my campsite was bigger and would have what I wanted. My memory was incorrect. It was a smaller Walmart that didn’t have what I wanted.

It is interesting to see the difference in COVID behavior between the store I visited last week and the one I visited today. They are in very different environments. Today’s store was in a different county that is not heavily populated. Last week’s store was in the heart of Fort Myers. At the Fort Myers store everyone was wearing a mask and observing social distancing. Today I’d estimate a third of the people were not wearing masks even though the signs are still prominently displayed to wear a mask. The employee at the entrance wasn’t calling people on it. A lot of the people that had masks on were not wearing them properly. Lots of noses were seeing the light of day. It really seems to be an urban vs rural thing. In the population centers there is far more compliance than in the countryside.

This cormorant has a wet head problem.

The campground is full with a new mix of people for the weekend. My neighbor with the fancy doggy door packed up all the dog toys and departed this morning. This evening there is a motorhome on the site that didn’t even disconnect their towed car. I suspect they will be leaving in the morning. Tomorrow is my last full day. I leave Sunday morning.

A Day at Home in the Campground

Thursday March 25th 2021

It was a nice hot day in the greater Fort Myers area. The temperature is flirting with record highs. The temperature was already in the seventies when I got up and by late afternoon the high was in the low nineties.

Probably because of the heat, I didn’t do much today. I stayed around my RV home all day. My only real activity was three walks around the campground. On one of the walks I saw a new form of entertainment. I’ve often commented on watching people get into their sites and setup. Today I saw a variation on that theme. This park has eight boat slips for cruisers on the river. Watching a couple trying to maneuver their big boat into the narrow slip was nerve wracking. The next slip was empty so they had a little more room to play with. It may have been routine for them, but it sure looked tricky to me.

Boat slips at the campground.

I also got to see my neighbors two dogs use the elaborate doggy door setup they have for them. They leave a small front outside access door open with a ramp to the ground. The ground area is surrounded by a three foot tall wire fence. This morning I saw two little Boston Terriers in the hatch watching the world go by. One of them finally proceeded down the ramp to the fenced in yard. The other went back into the trailer. I’ve seen similar setups in the past for cats.

Doggy door and exercise area.

It has cooled off a little inside my RV home as I’ve been writing this blog entry. It is currently 85 inside and in the high seventies outside. I think I’ll have to breakdown and turn the AC on to get things down to sleeping temperatures.

Prairie Pines Preserve

Wednesday March 24th 2021

It was another beautiful weather day. The humidity is still low and the temperature has climbed each day since the weekend. Today the temperature peaked in the mid eighties which is average to a little above for this area. There is the possibility of record highs in the nineties by the weekend.

Wildflower blossom of the day,

For adventure today I visited the Prairie Pines Preserve county park in North Fort Myers. This 2,654 acres of pines, palms and various hardwoods has over seventeen miles of trails. I walked a short paved loop trail with placards describing the plant life and a bird blind looking out into a dry marsh area. This is the dry season in Florida. There isn’t any water in the marsh or most anywhere else in the preserve.

To get a better understanding of the park, I hiked into the depth of the park on another trail. This was a wide pine needle and sand covered trail. It was a mixed use trail. People share the trail with horses. I didn’t see any, but they left plenty of calling cards along the way. You needed to be careful where you stepped. A mile and an eight tenths back into the park the trail crosses a power line and a drainage canal with the only water I saw in the park. A network of other trails branch out after crossing the power line and canal. I went a little further before turning around convinced that the scenery wasn’t going to change.

Rabbit at the campground this evening.

I got some good exercise, but didn’t see any wildlife of note. I saw a few common birds like a cardinal, and a few colorful wildflowers. I’d like to visit the park again during the wetter part of the year. The park was only moderately busy for a mid week day. I crossed paths with a few other people on the trail getting some exercise.

Quiet Tuesday

Tuesday March 23rd 2021

Today’s weather fit the prototype for this time of year around here. The temperature was around eighty degrees with bright sun, a little wind and no rain. It was a very nice day.

Once again it wasn’t a very blog entry worthy day. I was focused on chores around my RV home. Even my picture taking today was limited. On my first walk of the day I didn’t have a memory card in my camera. All of tonight’s pictures came from my last walk of the day.

Travel Reflections

Monday March 22nd 2021

The meteorologists missed today’s forecast. The partly sunny day with highs in the mid seventies didn’t happen. The day began and ended partly sunny, but most of day heavy low clouds block the sun. The temperature never got out of the low seventies and it was in the high sixties most of the day.

A year ago today I was beginning my two months of exile in the Arizona desert. My reservations for travel at the start of the pandemic were falling like toy soldiers in a Christmas play. I didn’t do much until the restrictions began to relax in the middle of May. Since that time I’ve kept moving. I haven’t stayed in any one place more than two weeks.

I hope it tastes good.

All of last summer I had the plans for the fall and winter to look forward to. That helped keep me motivated. Those plans are running out and I’m tired. The continued stress of moving every week or two is mounting up. One of the advantages to extended stays in one location is recharging my travel energy. The alternative is to have fun places to look forward to visiting. Currently my summer plans are very fluid by design, but I’m thinking about firming them up a little to help keep me motivated. Next winter is going to be a repeat of this winter’s travel approach. I’ll be doing a bunch of two week stays in Florida state parks starting at the end of November. Another thought is to find a longer stay location before the start of next winters reservations.

I spent a few hours driving around today. There are a lot of cattle in this area. I saw all kinds of beef cattle. Some were black, some were brown, others were gray and many more were a combination of colors. I’m sure there are better descriptors such as the names of the subspecies, but I don’t know what they are. At least I knew when I was looking at a horse or lama instead of a cow. It was an interesting drive overall.