Watching the Boating Action on the St. Mary’s River

Monday May 31st 2021

I’ve been writing about how full and active things were this Memorial Day weekend at the campground. None of the activities were things that I had any interest in participating in and I had no interaction with my fellow campers. This morning I had a very strange and surprising emotion. As everyone packed up and left I felt alone and abandoned. By late afternoon as I started to enjoy the quiet and refocused on my up coming travels I was back to normal. Talk about weird feelings.

This afternoon I returned to the parks in historic downtown St. Mary’s. There was a lot of people enjoying the afternoon along the side of the river. Unlike Saturday it was easy to find a parking space, but there were still lots of empty boat trailers in the parking spaces and along the roads. The two boat ramps were in almost continuous use.

I engaged in the nautical equivalent to watching RVs back into campsites and setup. Watching people launch and recover their boats can be very entertaining. The majority have the process down. They can back up and managed the boat fine, but a few people could use a little more experience. The boat ramp is along a section of the river with both tidal changes and a strong current. Aligning the boat with the trailer and getting it loaded correctly takes some skill. One boater this afternoon didn’t have the skill or apparently the patience to deal with it. The boat was clearly not on the trailer straight when he decided to pull out of the water. No amount of pushing and pulling on the boat once it was out of the water would get it aligned correctly on the trailer. He was finally forced to put it back in the water so the buoyancy would assist. All of this took place while other boats were waiting to be launched and recovered.

Launching boats had its own form of drama. One young guy spent several minutes on dry land loading his boat and removing all the tie downs. He then proceeded to back the trailer into the water. The boat floated free and got caught by the current. The guy jumped out of truck stripped off his shirt and shoes, tossed his cell phone into the truck and dived into the river. He caught up with his boat about twenty feet off shore before it hit anything. Luckily he remembered to put the truck in park before he started chasing the boat. I had visions of the truck following him into the water.

Car Race Watching Sunday

Sunday May 30th 2021

The holiday weekend at the Jacksonville North / St. Mary’s KOA continues. A hand full of RVs departed this morning, but for most the weekend isn’t over yet. My neighbors on one side took off for the golf course this morning. On my other side my neighbors were entertaining guests all day. Other campers were congregated at the pool. The water slide was getting a lot of action.

Many of the families took off for the beach during the middle of the day. At least people in bathing suits departed and lots of wet towels came back with them. The nearest beach of any size is on Amelia Island about twenty five miles southeast of here. Most of the Georgia shore in this area is marsh and islands.

I didn’t leave the campground today. Yesterday, I couldn’t find any place to park along the St. Mary’s River in the downtown area. All of the parking spaces were taken by empty boat trailers. Today was better weather so I expect the number of boats on the water was even greater. Instead of venturing out I spent most of the day reading and watching TV. The Indianapolis 500 race was on. I usually enjoy the pageantry before the race more than the actual race. Today the TV coverage leading up to the pageantry was so boring that I almost missed the good part. I managed to catch the singing of the National Anthem and the Back Home Again in Indiana. The actual race wasn’t all that exciting, although I did appreciated the coronation of another 4 time winner. Tonight the other big car race of the day is on the TV as I’m writing this blog entry. I missed the pageantry at the beginning of the Charlotte 600 NASCAR race. It is usually very patriotic. Once I publish this blog entry I’ll probably find something better to watch.

The Ends

Memorial Day Holiday Weekend

Saturday May 29th 2021

The day began cloudy which allowed the temperature to climb slowly. It looked like the forecast afternoon storms were not going to happen and the temperature would peak in the mid to high eighties. Around 1:30 everything changed. The sun came out and the temperature started to climb quickly. Late in the afternoon a line of thunderstorms passed through from west to east. Since the storm passed there hasn’t been any breeze. The humidity is thick enough to cut with a saw.

Blossom of the day.

This is the first Memorial Day Weekend I’ve spent in a campground with a party atmosphere it several years. Last year I was in the Arizona desert surrounded by Saguaro Cactus. Between the heat and the pandemic the Picacho Peak State park was not full. It was a quiet place to spend the holiday weekend.

In 2019 I was at an RV park behind a casino west of Albuquerque New Mexico. There was a big car show in the casino parking lot. Many of the guests in the RV park were there for the car show and others for the casino. It was mostly adults and it was not the family party atmosphere that I’m surround with this year.

I was at a big party of a different sort in 2018. The Escapees RV group annual Escapade RV gathering was at the Sedalia Missouri Fair grounds for the holiday weekend and the following week. The RV rally experience completely dwarfs the holiday revelry.

In 2017 I hid out from the Holiday in the middle of Idaho. The campground catered mostly to visitors to the Craters of the Moon National Monument and hikers. It was a nice weekend, but it would be difficult to distinguish my stay from any other weekend. I returned to the campground for a couple of nights in 2019 and had a very similar nice experience.

My first Memorial Day in my RV home was in western Massachusetts in 2016. I recall that the campground was busy, but nothing else special was going on. My focus at the time was on cleaning out my Sticks and Bricks house to get it on the market, so I wasn’t at the campground a lot of the time.

Sometime around 2010 plus or minus a year or two is probably my last experience in a busy campground over the Memorial Day weekend. For a number of years in the early part of this century I was at the KOA in Middleboro MA for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. I was one of the weekend camping warriors just like many of my neighbors here this weekend.

A Hot Day Filled with Chores

Friday May 28th 2021

The upward trend of heat and humidity continued today. Overall it was just a little bit more uncomfortable. The temperature maxed out just above 90. Afternoon cloud cover blown in from the Atlantic didn’t bring any rain, but it did keep the temperature from climbing higher. A cold front is due late tomorrow.

Blossom of the day.

Today was not a very blog worthy day. I was focused on chores around my RV home most of the day. There is always something that needs to be done. Just because the space is small doesn’t mean the cleaning and maintenance tasks aren’t abundant. Between the chores and a couple of walks around the RV park most of the daylight hours of the day were consumed.

The park didn’t empty out as much this morning as other days proving my hypothesis that many of yesterday’s arrivals were here for the weekend. Many more RVs arrived this afternoon. Most of the new arrivals are from the Georgia and Florida area with kids and toys. Tonight they are lighting fires in the pits and gathering around picnic tables to play games. The holiday weekend crowd has arrived. The campground has even brought in live entertainment on a small stage by the pool. In the northern states, this is the first big weekend of the camping season. Here in the south it seems to be a very popular holiday weekend as well.

Along the St. Mary’s River

Thursday May 27th 2021

The climbing temperature trend continued today. There was a little more humidity and the wind continued to be missing. The temperature peaked in the low nineties. It was five or more degrees warmer than normal. Tomorrow is forecast warmer before the pattern turns over the weekend with some rain in the forecast.

I had planned to drive south into the Jacksonville area today. A report on the morning TV news changed my plans. Jacksonville is a city on the St. Johns River. It is dependent on bridges across the river to maintain traffic flow. The south bound bridge across the St. Johns river on the major 295 beltway was closed. A problem with one of the expansion joints was identified by the Highway Patrol during the morning rush hour. Traffic all around the city and well south into Clay and St. Johns counties was impacted as people tried to find alternative routes. The bridge wasn’t open to traffic until much later in the day.

Sago Palm (?) used for landscape at the Cumberland Island National Seashore Visitor Center.

Yesterday when I was taking pictures of the Egret along the St. Mary’s river, I was regretting not having the right camera. I needed something with a longer lens. Today I went back with my Canon Point and Shoot SX740 HS with a 40x optical zoom. I didn’t really need it. I took more panorama landscape pictures included in this blog entry.

The campground emptied out again this morning. Only a few non long term rigs remained. I’m guessing that some of the people that arrived today will be staying for the weekend. Somehow I don’t think people stopping for only a night would setup all the outside equipment that a few of the new arrivals completed. Hanging the American and Georgia State flag from your RV would also seem to be an indicator of a stay over the long weekend. I’ll be surprised in the morning by the turnover.

Egret Watching

Wednesday May 26th 2021

There were fewer clouds in the sky today and the breeze was lighter than yesterday. These differences resulted in a slightly warmer day. The temperature peaked in the low nineties. The good news is the humidity hasn’t gotten too high yet.

After breakfast this morning I drove back into Florida to the north side of Jacksonville. My mission was checking on a possible location to stay for the month of November this year. One of the parks I stayed at in 2016 has added a new section of RV sites that might serve as a good location to slow down for a month before starting my winter state park hoping.

I stopped at the Florida Welcome center on my way south. It was a shell of its prepandemic self. Last August it was still well stocked and busy. Today it seemed to be mostly empty with most people stopping just for the restrooms. I’m going to chock it up to the time of year and the time of day. I expect it will return to a busy state soon.

Returning to Georgia after a little wandering around the north part of Jacksonville I returned to downtown St. Mary’s. The Egret that I took a picture of yesterday and shared in yesterday’s blog entry, drew me back. I wanted to see if I find and enjoy watching any other big wading birds. I think I just found the same Egret, but I took several more pictures.

During the week this RV park serves mostly travelers. Its location on the side of Interstate 95 makes it very convenient. By ten this morning the front part of the park was practically empty. This afternoon it gradually started to fill. It doesn’t look like it will be as full tonight as the last two nights.

A Klutzy Kind of Day

Tuesday May 25th 2021

My plans for the day needed to be modified several times. It started with an unplanned early morning wake-up call or more accurately knock on the roof. I was awake enough at 6:30am to recognize a sudden noise as something hitting the roof of my RV home, but I still got up and dressed to investigate. In all likely hood it was one of several four inch pine cones that littered the ground around my RV. Getting back to sleep after my survey of my campsite was difficult. I finally got up shortly before ten.

Some of the four inch pinecones that surrounded my RV home this morning. One of them probably banged off my roof.

I also had a klutz condition today. Filling a cup with ice from the ice maker in the refrigerator I managed to spill the ice all over the floor. Dropping a cube or two is kind of normal, but finding and picking up a whole cup full was another story. On top of that event later in the day I compounded on the klutziness by spill a whole cup of ice and water. It missed all the electronics, but it was a pain to mop up.

Even some of my planned chores for the day didn’t go smoothly. The Fantastic Vent fan above the kitchen area of my RV needed to be cleaned. The combination of cooking exhaust and dust had accumulated on the screen. Getting it cleaned was a real chore. None of my sinks or other containers are big enough to let the screen soak. I had to use a combination of Fantastic sprayed on thick followed by boiling water and lots of brushing to get the screen clean. The bathroom vent screen was a piece of cake after that.

Egret watching the activity along the St. Mary’s River

Late in the afternoon I finally got back to doing some of my originally planned tasks. My first stop was along the St. Mary’s River in Historic downtown St. Mary’s. The tide was out so most of the boat traffic was well out in the river, but a few people were hauling their boats out at the boat ramp. The ferry boat to National Seashore on Cumberland Island brought a load of returning visitors back to the mainland. The dock near the Cumberland Island National Seashore Visitors center has been repaired for the ferry. It had been out of service for a couple of years since one of the hurricanes.

Two of the four Coast Guard boats at the boat ramp.

Just before I left the river front park near the boat ramp four Coast Guard boats returned. It was interesting watching the crews load the boats onto their trailers and depart. Each member of the four person crew has an assigned task. You could see the carefully choreographed procedure since each boat crew did things the same exact way. A couple of the boats crews had more difficulty than others. It was past a fairly low tide with the current starting to increase as the water level climbed. The current and the low water level increased the challenge.

On my way back to my RV home I stopped at Walmart for groceries and other items. The shelves were in need of restocking. I imagine in the morning the store is very busy. It is one of the primary shopping locations for the people living and working at the Submarine Base. The store wasn’t particularly busy at four in the afternoon and there were a lot of pallets of restock goods in the aisles.

Return to St. Mary’s Florida

Monday May 24th 2021

Today was a travel day to St. Mary’s Georgia. The Jacksonville North / St. Mary’s KOA is a park that I often stay at when I’m in the area. I was last here last August when I returned to Florida. It is a nice park that is near the St. Mary’s river and the ocean. There are many outdoor type things to do in the area.

The weather has turned hot. Late April and early May had above normal temperatures. The middle of the month was cooler than normal. The month is ending with a return to higher than normal temperatures. Today the high was just north of ninety and it is forecast to get warmer.

Packing up this morning I was unusually disorganized. I kept switching tasks before I completed the first one. This slowed everything down, because I had to go back over things to make sure I didn’t miss any important steps. There were also a few glitches in my travel preparations. For example, I had to get the pliers out to disconnect the water hose and it took a little bit of checking and reconnecting to get the lights on the towed car to work.

I pulled out of the RV park in Starke Florida around 1:30. My first stop was at the nearby SUNOCO gas station. I put in one $100 dollar credit card pass of gas at three dollars a gallon. This only brought my tank to a little over half full, but plenty for the seventy mile trip. Gas prices in Georgia are usually lower than the northern counties in Florida. When I arrived in Georgia I found gas twenty five cents cheaper. The rest of the trip was uneventful. I got through all the construction zones with minimal delay.

Site E-10 at the Jacksonville North / St. Mary’s KOA.

It was 1PM when I arrived at my destination. After checking in, I was escorted to my site for the next 9 nights. I took my time getting setup, because of the heat. I suspect I was the first of today’s arrivals. As the day went by the empty spaces in the park filled up around me.

Sports Watching Day

Sunday May 23rd 2021

The wind was down and the temperature was up today. It was a nice sunny Sunday with a high temperature in the mid to upper eighties.

Fluffy clouds and fluffy blossoms.

Most of my activity today was in front of the TV. I got caught up watching the NASCAR race from Austin TX and the PGA Golf tournament. The race was unusual. It was on a road course in the rain. At times you couldn’t see the cars through the water spray from the cars. Th drivers couldn’t see either. There were several interesting crashes caused by poor visibility and traction. Nobody was significantly hurt, but the cars were well mangled. They stopped the race before the total number of laps because of standing water on the track.

The golf tournament was interesting as well. I did a lot of channel surfing between the race and the golf. The out come was historic. Phil Mickelson became the oldest player to win the PGA championship. He is fifty years, eleven months and a few days. The excitement displayed by all the commentators made for dramatic television as Phil made a few less than ideal shots on his way to the finish.

This is my last full day in Starke FL. I’m moving seventy miles to the north tomorrow. I’ll be just across the line in Georgia until after the Memorial Day Holiday next week. I’ve completed some of my travel preparations, but have more to do in the morning.

A Turtle Day

Saturday May 22nd 2021

The sun was out in full brilliance again today. The east wind off the Atlantic still managed to keep the overall temperature in the low to mid eighties. The wind is forecast to weaken over the next few days and the temperature will climb into the nineties.

The turtles were out in force today. The bank of the retention pond was a popular place for the turtle population to take the sun. In one area an array of different size turtles lined the bank with a foot or two between them. In other areas a few single turtles had climbed out of the water but didn’t seem to have the confidence to climb the bank. Out in the water the little ducks were busy swimming along passing each other like they were in a race.

I spent some time today scoping out my escape route to my next location next week. I need to find a gas station with easy access and I haven’t traveled north from here since the bypass around the town was completed. The bypass and probably the pandemic have resulted in a least a two gas stations in town closing, but I think I’ve found a usable station. As for the highway going north, I may have some construction to deal with on Monday.