It was another cooler than normal day today. The inside temperature started in the fifties this morning. Heavy cloud cover kept the sun from quickly warming the inside and the outside temperature peaked a little short of seventy late in the afternoon. A little bit of sun broke through before sunset to give the overall temperature climb a little help.
Last year at this time I was at Curry Hammock State Park with daytime high temperatures in the mid to upper eighties and higher. It wasn’t until well into November when I was in central Florida that I experienced cool temperatures. Getting used to winter temperatures is going to take some time. In Florida that means daytime highs in the sixties and the occasional night time temperature in the north half of Florida below freezing. In most of the country those temperatures are positively balmy. I don’t want or need a real winter.
The RV park celebrated Halloween this afternoon into the evening. There were quite a few kids wandering around in costumes trick or treating. I was not a participant. The kids only stopped at sites with a “Trick or Treat Welcome” sign. In most cases those sites were also heavily decorated. While I was on my late afternoon walk I passed many of the costumed mob. The best costume was the pug with a pumpkin colored tutu. I don’t understand dressing up dogs, but this one sure stuck out from the kids in rags pretending to be zombies. It has been years since I’ve been in an area with a trick or treat celebration.
It was a cold start to the day. The inside temperature was in the low sixties this morning. A strong northwest wind kept the temperature in check all day. The high temperature was around seventy degrees.
Around noon I got out of the park for a little adventure. Today’s exercise was a hike on the Cedar Point trail in the Timucuan Parks 7 Creeks Recreation Area. The area is made up of seven parks encompassing seven creeks. It is located between the RV park and the barrier island along the Atlantic Coast, about ten to fifteen miles away. The Cedar Point trail starts in the Cedar Point National Park Service managed area and travels into the Cedar Point Preserve managed my the city of Jacksonville. It is a nice wide well maintain trail suitable for walkers and bike riders. The Cedar Point Preserve side is also intended to accommodate horses. The trails pass through hardwood hammocks, pine forests and marsh lands.
There were a hand full of other hikers on the trails. I only explored a small portion of the trails and didn’t see a lot of wildlife. Only a few bird sounds in the trees broke the silence. When I crossed the bridge over the creek I was rewarded by the sight of an Egret. I probably only walked about three miles out and back, but it was an improvement over walking around the RV park. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be back to hike some of the other trails.
The temperature was in the sixties when I dragged my sleepy body out of bed this morning. Outside there was a heavy cloud cover that slowed the warming process way down. The high temperature for the day was in the high sixties, but the temperature inside my RV home managed to get into the seventies without any artificial help. Very late in the day the clouds started to thin allowing the overnight temperature to drop into the low fifties. Tomorrow is forecast to be warmer.
Today starts the beginning of my second week here. I have gotten very few of the things I planned for my stay started. For the last month I have been developing a list of things to accomplish during my five week stay. I need to get cracking. What I have accomplished is getting re-acclimated to the eastern time zone. Basically that means I know what time to watch the TV for specific programs and I’m not surprised when it is time for sunset.
The RV park is getting ready for the “big” weekend. Saturday is the Florida Georgia football game in Jacksonville and Sunday is Halloween. A food truck and football themed lawn games were this evenings attraction from 4-8PM. Tomorrow there aren’t any events scheduled so people can watch the game on TV at their sites. Sunday has a Halloween Costume contest, a best site decoration contest and trick or treating for kids between 4 and 8PM. It has been a few years since I’ve was in an RV park that celebrated Halloween. I’m not prepared or particularly interested in participating in any of the activities. Luckily, I don’t have to hand out candy. They have an opt in system. You need to get a sign from the office to hang at your site that says “trick or treat” to attract trick or treaters.
The weather forecast on the 11PM news last night was trying very hard to put fear in the hearts of viewers. They were calling for severe storms with the possibility of tornadoes all day today. About 7AM this morning it started to rain. When I turned on the TV the weather talkers announced that a tornado watch was in place over most of Florida and southern Georgia until 5PM in the evening. The weather radar showed a lot of threatening rain approaching from the west.
In this area it rained at a steady pace until the noon hour. The updated TV weather report was focusing on the area to the south of Jacksonville, while calling for more rain in the entire area. The Jacksonville airport, located less than a mile from my RV home, reported an inch and a half of rain during the morning rain. The severe weather never arrived and the tornado watch may have been lifted early for the area north of Jacksonville. The area south of Jacksonville on a line toward Tampa on the west coast of Florida seemed to get stronger storms, but no reported tornadoes.
As I’ve written about in this blog before, I am much more weather aware in this lifestyle. You can’t miss the sound of rain on the roof. Even a light rain sounds dramatic and you need to crank the volume on the TV, radio or whatever. A little wind also gets your attention. It can catch the awnings over the side out rooms and start them flapping loudly. Even the absence of sun is very noticeable with all the windows in my RV home.
After the sound of rain on my roof was over by about an hour and it looked like the sun was making an attempt to break through the clouds, I ventured out for some exercise. I got a few hundred yards away from my RV home when it decided to rain again. Lucky for me it didn’t last more than a minute or two. Similar very brief rain showers continued for the rest of the day. The latest forecast calls for similar hit and miss showers to continue through tomorrow.
Most of my day was spent reading, watching the weather out the window and on the TV reports, and surfing the internet. The only real downside to staying inside is that the refrigerator is never more than ten feet away. Keeping from continuous snaking is a big challenge.
It was in the sixties when I tried to get out of bed this morning. The slightly chilly air drove me back under the covers for more of the morning news program on TV. Once I got up, I found a nice sunny day that eventually warmed into the upper seventies before the clouds moved in late in the day. The TV weather talkers are in scare the masses mode about tomorrow’s weather. A cold front is approaching that included severe thunderstorms and tornadoes today in Texas and Louisiana. They are predicting a “slight” chance of similar weather here tomorrow.
My slow start to the day rippled throughout the day. It ended up being a day focused on chores and maintenance tasks around my RV home. I managed to get in a couple of walks around the RV park too. When I returned from the first walk, I was just in time to prevent the Amazon delivery guy from leaving me a package I hadn’t ordered. Delivery people bring products right to your door at this park, but the site numbering system and package labeling don’t always get along. In this case there was a different number on the label that represented the indented location. There is a big difference between site 23 and site 651. With all the delivery trucks I see going by, I’ll bet it happens a lot.
There is more turn over in this park than I thought. The location of my site provides a good view of about two thirds of the arrivals, but less than half of the departures. Walking around the park I see a few empty sites every day, but they aren’t the same ones. I’m still certain that most of the residents are here longer than a few days, but maybe the location along Interstate 95 draws in more short term guests than I thought. It will be interesting to see if this weekend’s big Florida Georgia football game in Jacksonville draws fans from Georgia to the RV park.
The sun was back in full brilliance and the humidity was down today. The high temperature was very comfortable in the low eighties.
Today turned into a bit of a wandering tour of the area. While I was out on a couple of errands, I found myself driving east along the north bank of the St. Johns river toward the Atlantic Ocean. The area nearest the city is dedicated to the port of Jacksonville. I passed piers for oil tankers, container ships, car carriers and even cruise ships. The port was fairly busy, but it didn’t look backlogged like some of the west coast ports.
The road I was on transitioned into route A1A after passing a ferry port across the river. A1A continued on toward the Atlantic Ocean then turned north onto Little Talbot Island and Big Talbot Island and eventually Amelia Island. It was high tide. There were plenty of the little boat ramps to pull off the road into to get a vie of the river. I didn’t see much traffic on the water. Near the Atlantic Ocean I saw several ships apparently at anchor waiting to enter the port, so maybe the port is busy.
The Talbot islands are primarily state parks. I didn’t see any areas to stop along the road other than entering the parks. That is something that I may do, but it will require a little more planning. Areas to stop got even more scarce once I transitioned onto Amelia Island. My brief impression was of traffic circles, gated communities and full tiny parking lots for bicycle trails. If I really want to explore the southern end of Amelia Island I’ll need to bring my bicycle. Once I reached route 200 back to Intestate 95, I bailed on the island for now.
It rained overnight resulting in a very dreary morning. When I got up this morning the clouds were very low. It wasn’t fog, but it was a very dull day. Large puddles in the road indicated there was more than light rain overnight. The weather improved slowly throughout the day. It was late afternoon before the sun started to find openings in the cloud cover. Tomorrow is forecast to be a sunny day.
A major traffic back up on the Interstate 95 southbound lane kept me at home in the RV park today. When I started out I found the stopped traffic and its impact. The road the RV park is located on was being used by motorists to bailout of the southbound I95 traffic. Knowledgeable drivers can use the road in both directions as a shortcut to the I295 beltway. Unfortunately, all of the traffic had resulted in grid lock. I made a U-turn before I got into the middle of the traffic mess and returned to my RV home. A couple of hours later, when I was getting my daily exercise walking around the RV park, traffic on Interstate 95 was still barely moving. I don’t know if it was an accident or the construction at the intersection of I95 with the 295 beltway. It was probably both.
Part of the process of getting settled in at a new location is learning the schedule of services at an RV park and getting used to the noises. It turns out that Monday is lawn maintenance day. An outside service does the job with a crew of at least ten guys, several trucks, mowers and other noisy equipment. It wasn’t to bad today, but the lawn in my area of the RV park didn’t need mowing so they didn’t do much near my Motorhome. I haven’t determined which day of the week the noise rubbish pickup takes place. The truck will pass my site, but probably I won’t hear the actual emptying of the dumpsters.
I have pretty much gotten used to the sound of the passing jets as the take off and land at Jacksonville International Airport. The average commercial jets make a distinct noise that I’m already able to pass off. Even though I hear it I don’t react. Some of the smaller regional jets make a higher pitched noise that draw my attention, but I should be able to get used to. The Florida Air National Guard fighters are another matter. This morning six took off at the breakfast hour. They come in groups of two. Each aircraft in the pair is separated by a few seconds from its partner. The extra loud sound of the high speed take off from one aircraft just starts to fade when the second one grows in intensity. A minute or two later the pattern repeats for the next set of two. I guess I should be thankful they weren’t doing full power takeoffs with bone shaking sonic booms.
Most of the day was under bright blue sky. Late in the afternoon the clouds arrived ahead of some forecast overnight rain. The temperature peaked a little above the average in the low eighties.
My food supply was getting low this morning. It had been close to two weeks since I visited a grocery store back in Mississippi. This morning I finished off the last of my bread and I didn’t have anything out of the freezer for dinner. A trip for groceries was needed. I tend to go for groceries when I need to without considering the prudence of the task. Grocery shopping on Sundays is a challenge. For some reason it is a very busy grocery shopping day. \
The Walmart I frequent for groceries in this area was both busy and under going a remodel. Areas of the store were empty of everything including the shelves and blocked off. It looks like they were redoing the floor. Merchandise was moved around and compressed into a smaller area. It made stuff harder to find and very congested with all the people in the store. The store has also changed to a mostly self service checkout model, but I managed to find one of the few staffed checkouts without a major line.
At the RV park in the afternoon I got in my second walk of the day. This park is spread out over a large area along the side of Interstate 95. From the entrance to the newer back area it is about a mile. When I walk around the perimeter of the front and back areas, I travel about two miles. It is good exercise and occasionally the drainage ponds have interesting wildlife to observe.
This RV park is mainly occupied by people staying more than a night or two. I recognize a few of the RVs from my stay in June. Everything is kept very neat and organized, so it is hard to identify truly long term residents. I believe there is a mixture of full time RVers staying a month or two like me, snowbirds in Florida for the winter and people using the park for temporary living arrangements. I observed a wide variety of states of origin based on license plates. The furthest distance of travel I saw was Oregon and Idaho. I also saw Arizona, Nevada and Kansas that don’t match the typical origins for winter Floridians. Other than Florida, Virginia seems to be a very popular home state for the RVs in the park.
A weak cold front passed through the area last night. It didn’t drop any rain, but it managed to reduce Friday’s humidity. Today’s sky was bright blue without any clouds. The high temperature reached the low to mid eighties with a gentle breeze that made it very comfortable out of the direct sunlight.
I spent the day getting settled in for my extended stay here in the Jacksonville area. I do a couple of additional things when setting up for a longer stay. For example, I put covers on the wheels to protect the tires from extended direct UV exposure. I also get an additional chair or two out of the basement storage bins to make the outside area look a little more livable.
Yesterday I got a question on why I’m staying in one place longer than normal in this area. I think it deserves a paragraph or two of discussion. It has been sixteen months since I stayed in one place longer than two weeks. That is the second longest run without a pause on the Rambling Road Trip. Between February of of 2018 and October of 2019, I completed a longer period of continuous travel. During the winter of 2015-2016 I spent four months in one place in central Florida. During the winter of 2016-2017 I spent a month at one place in Florida and a month at one place in Arizona. The months of November 2017 through January 2018 were spent at one place in Las Vegas Nevada. The winter of 2018-2019 followed the two weeks here, two weeks there model in Florida. The winter of 2019-2020 was back in Las Vegas for four months. Shortly after starting my 2020 touring the pandemic hit and I went into “hibernation” for the months of April and May in the Arizona desert. I’ve been following the two weeks or less model since leaving there at the end of May 2020.
The places I like to stay are mostly public campgrounds. Most state and federal parks have a two week limit. You can usually return after a period of time somewhere else, but you must vacate the park. Two weeks isn’t long enough to get some things accomplished. If you need to do something that requires an appointment, like car service, it becomes tricky. Once you arrive in an area and find a suitable place, it is often impossible to get an appointment before your two weeks is up. Trying to plan ahead in unfamiliar areas has its own set of challenges and uncertainties.
Most people who are traveling full time in an RV, develop a set of go to locations that they frequent for longer stops. Often it is in their old home town area, other times it is near family and some, like me, just pick an area. My old home region is New England and I wouldn’t want to be there in the winter. In the summer there is still lots of country to see. Northeast Florida is my choice on the east coast. Las Vegas seems to have become my choice in the west, but for entirely different reasons. Northeast Florida is near my mail service and thus my domicile. Things are easier to do around here and I’ve developed some familiarity with the area. In past years, when I’ve been on the east coast, even though I didn’t stay at one place in the area I often spent several successive one and two week stays in the area. This year it was more convenient (and cheaper) to stay at one place for a little over a month. It won’t be all errands and tasks while I’m here. There are some nice parks along the St Johns River and the Atlantic ocean is only a little ways away.
I was up with the sun, which is around 7AM in this area, to get ready for my travel day. It was a warm and humid morning as I packed up and got ready to travel. The plan was to leave as close to the 11AM checkout time to arrive at my destination one hundred miles away after the 1PM check in time. I succeeded in departing at 10:50AM, but not without a few odd mistakes getting things set for travel.
As a solo traveler, I am in the habit of checking everything twice or more getting ready. Traveling couples can double check each other, but I don’t have that luxury. Usually when I recheck things everything was done right the first time. This morning I wasn’t on top of my game. I found windows that I hadn’t shut and a water pressure regulator I forgot to properly stow. Those were little things that wouldn’t have caused serious consequences, but one of my lapses would have had resulted in disaster. I had neglected to put one of the locking pins in the tow bar for towing the car. All of my double and triple checking really paid off this morning.
My only stop on today’s journey was at a gas station a couple of exits south of my starting point. Once again I only put in one credit card pass worth of fuel. This time, in addition to a probably futile hope that the price will go down, I was frustrated by the pump. The handle would not lock in the on position. I had to hold the leaver in for almost five minutes as the tank filled. My hand was starting to cramp.
Construction on Interstate 10 as it approaches the Interstate 295 beltway along with heavy traffic lead to me miss the exit. I had to continue further toward the downtown area. I could have continued to Interstate 95 in the downtown area, but found an exit to reverse direction. The beltway around the northwest quadrant of the city had less traffic.
I arrived at Pecan Park RV Resort near the Jacksonville Airport around 1:15PM. I was assigned a different site than the one I thought I reserved, but it is likely to my advantage. This site, near the front of the park, is further from the Interstate 95 highway noise and doesn’t have any rear neighbors. On the down side, it is closer to the Jacksonville Airport runway approach noise and it is on a busier road. I’ll be here until the last week of November.