Forty Five Minutes of Travel

Friday December 31st 2021

Happy New Year Everyone

Today was a short travel day, but still had all the work to get ready for travel and setting up at my new location. The day started foggy before transitioning to a sunny humid day. The temperature peaked in the mid eighties.

I had plenty of time to get ready for travel. My goal was to depart between 12:30 and 1PM so my site would be available when I arrived. I’d do a little prep work then break for food or TV watching trying to gauge the time as it went along. About noon I put the focus on getting ready to leave. I still left plenty of time in case something went wrong. Once everything was hooked up and in travel mode, I still had time to sit and reflect. I pulled out of Myakka River State Park at 12:30PM.

The trip north to Lake Manatee State Park in Bradenton took forty five minutes. Traffic was heavy all the way. The trip up Interstate 75 kept moving, but the traffic was very heavy. The construction crews seem to have the day off. Driving east from I-75 to the state park I managed to catch every traffic light. Since my last stay in March, road construction has added two new intersections and one traffic light. The development continues to get closer to the state park.

This state park isn’t as big as Myakka River State Park. It also doesn’t have anywhere near as many opportunities to view wildlife. Probably because of that it is usually easier to get a reservation. I’ve been here almost twice as many times as I’ve been to Myakka River State Park.

Site 41 at Lake Manatee State Park in Bradenton FL.

This is an OK park for access to the attractions in the area. The site I got for this visit has a couple of annoyances, not real issues. My site is near the edge of a group of campers that are here to celebrate the New Year. There gathering place is located further around the camping loop so the noise is muffled some. They will probably be gone by Monday. The other thing is the orientation of my site. The only significant tree at my site is right in the path of my satellite dish antenna. I won’t have any satellite TV for the next two weeks. I’ll have to be happy with some of the sixty plus over the air stations.

Last Full Day at Myakka River State Park

Thursday December 30th 2021

It was after ten this morning before the overnight fog burned off. By mid afternoon the temperature at the state park was in the mid eighties under a bright sunny sky. Near the gulf coast it was a different story. The fog never really lifted along the coast which kept the temperature near eighty. The fog has returned inland tonight setting up a repeat performance tomorrow morning.

This is my last full day at Myakka River State Park. It was also a much busier day than the last few. I had many travel preparation tasks to complete and I needed to get some groceries to make it into the new year without having to get creative with substitutes for basic items like bread. Traffic in the Sarasota area was terrible. An accident along with construction on Interstate 75 northbound had the highway completely backed up and the excess traffic on the local streets snarled. I escaped the traffic by taking I-75 south for an exit and returning north into Sarasota on US41, the Tamiami trail. After filling my grocery needs I fought my way home through the Sarasota traffic. I-75 north was still plugged.

I only got one walk around the state park today. It was late in the day as the sun was setting, but the alligators seem to have already headed for their night time feeding locations. I found one gator submerged along the river bank watching the bank carefully. As I approached its head didn’t move, but I’m sure its eyes were tracking my every move. Many of the birds had retreated from the river bank to tree branches high above the bank. I’ve taken several other walks at similar times over the last couple of weeks. Today seemed to be a less active day.

Tomorrow I’m moving north to Lake Manatee State Park. It is less than twenty miles as the crow flies but more than thirty along the most reasonable route. It is another regular stop for me in this area. It doesn’t have the same wildlife viewing opportunities as this park, but it has everything it needs for a two week stay. Once again I’ll try to leave this park close enough to checkout time to allow my destination with the same checkout time to empty out.

Another Crowded Day in the Park

Wednesday December 29th 2021

It is getting a little more humid which is bringing a few more clouds to the otherwise bright sunny sky. The temperature peaked in the mid eighties, but it felt a little warmer.

This blog entry is a bit of a rant. I’m going to get my “soap box” out and vent a little, but I’m still including a selection of today’s photos. Yesterday I wrote about the crowds not understanding basic state park and wildlife etiquette. I think it got worse today. Here are three of today’s observations in increasing order of stupidity.

One of the best alligator observation areas is from the bridge over the Myakka River on the main park road. To get there I have to walk about a mile along the narrow winding park road. The speed limit is marked as 15MPH and most drivers keep it under thirty. I was taught as a child to walk facing traffic when there is no sidewalk. In fact, that is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Codes and included as law in most states. On just about every trip to the bridge I see people oblivious of this simple safety rule. Today as I rounded one twist in the road I saw a group of eight to ten people walking toward me on the same side of the road. They were spread out across most of the road. They didn’t see the car approaching them from behind. Probably because they were so spread out the driver of the car saw them in time and stopped. It was nearly a minute before anyone in the group knew there was a car waiting to get by them.

On one of the trails along the river two children around six to eight years old and two adult “children” who were probably their parents were “goofing off” along the bank. One of the little kids was trowing every stick and bush she could find into the river. The little boy had shimmied out a tree growing horizontally over the river about a foot and a half above the water. His legs were hanging down toward the alligator infested water. I doubt the alligators would be interested, but I don’t know that. Neither adult was watching the kids. The female adult was playing with her phone. The guy was busy defacing a palm tree with his knife.

The third and probably stupidest observation also involves alligators. Several people had walked along the river bank from the bridge a couple of hundred yards to an area with several alligators taking the sun on the bank. One group got within five or ten feet of a gator to get a selfie. That wasn’t daring enough. One guy decided he needed to touch a gator. He slowly approach the gator from behind and reached out to touch its tail. I don’t think he actually succeeded. He jump back away from the gator and the gator didn’t react. I moved on before he could try again. Watching carnage wasn’t in my plan for the day.

Thank you for allowing me to vent. Here are some of today’s pictures.

Crowds in the Park

Tuesday December 28th 2021

The great weather and the crowds vising the park continue. The temperature peaked in the mid eighties. Today also appeared to be the busiest day for visitors to the park since I arrived eleven days ago.

Most of the parking lots were overflowing. A steady flow of slow moving cars paraded along the main park road. The down side is that many of the extra visitors weren’t knowledgeable of basic park etiquette and safety concerns. There were people everywhere. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t a trail in the area. Somehow people found a way to get into some “interesting” places. In many cases they took advantage of the low water level and walked along the exposed river bank. The people were walking in areas that normally were home to sun bathing alligators and feeding birds. Walking along the side of the river in alligator country one might get surprised by a gator lurking just under the water’s surface. In most cases adult size people are safe, but little dogs and children maybe not.

I had to venture much further from the main road to find gators and birds today. All of the wandering people kept them from the easier viewing areas. Most of the people on the longer trails know how to interact with nature in harmony. I didn’t get any noteworthy pictures today, but some of the birds were nicely photogenic. Here are today’s best pictures.

A Day with the Herons

Monday December 27th 2021

After a little fog overnight it turned into another bright sunny day. Once again the temperature peaked around eighty. Another overall great weather day.

On my walks around the state park today I focused on the Great Blue Herons. There seemed to be more around today than usual. I took pictures of alligators and egrets too, but I’m not going to include them in this blog entry of mostly pictures.

A Crowded Day in the Park

Sunday December 26th 2021

Today’s weather was a clone of Saturday’s. It was a bright sunny day with the high temperature right around eighty. The forecast calls for similar weather all week. The only negative is the humidity is on the increase.

Natures Christmas Decorations

My daily walks in the park were separated by watching football on TV today. The park was very crowded and there was a steady stream of cars entering the park. I changed my mind about leaving the park when I saw the line at the gatehouse was almost out to the street. Inside the park the parking areas at the wildlife viewing areas were overflowing even more than they were the last couple of days.

The alligators and water birds were out taking advantage of the good weather. On my second walk of the day I saw some turkeys for the first time on this visit. They were in the same area the deer were in last week.



Christmas with the Birds

Saturday December 25th 2021

Merry Christmas Everyone

Today was a beautiful day with a high temperature of eighty. It was about five degrees warmer than average with bright sun and very little wind.

The highlight of my day was a couple of hikes separated by cooking and eating dinner. There were plenty of people out enjoying the park. Some of the conversations I overhear are amusing. There are a lot of wildlife “experts” in many groups of visitors. Hearing the alligators identified as crocodiles is very common. The strength of conviction in some of the pronouncements is the amusing part. I’m not great with bird identifications, but some of the identifications I overhear are wild. The Rosetta Spoonbills are often identified as Flamingos because of their bright pink feathers and the Great Blue Herons get mistaken for “cranes”. Today a pair of Wood Storks got identified as Penguins by one very loud authority from a New York car then corrected to be Pelicans when questioned by another member of his party. My guess is he has never seen either bird before.



Christmas Eve with the Alligators

Thursday December 24th 2021

The weather is on an improvement path. Today the wind was even calmer than yesterday and the sun was equally bright. The temperature peaked about five degrees higher in the mid seventies.

The number of daily visitors to the park continues to climb. I didn’t venture deeper into the park with my car. Most of the parking lots were full to over flowing with cars. Instead of driving, I walked a good distance into the park checking for wildlife along several of the trails. At the Canopy Walkway bridge there was a line up of people waiting to climb the stairs to walk across the suspension bridge at the tree top level. I’ve done it before so I continued on the trail into the woods.

Today’s conditions were right for the Alligators in the river to be on the bank taking the sun. I probably saw more than twenty along the bank on my walk and a few more heads poking up out of the water. The birds weren’t as plentiful until near sunset.




Birds and Gators

Thursday December 23rd 2021

When I typed the day and date on the line above I had to really think about it. I felt like today was a weekend day. My confusion probably began with my late start to the day. When I first woke up it was in the low fifties inside my RV home. To combat the chill I turned on the electric space heater and went back to sleep. The morning news programs and most of the next hour were over by the time I got out of bed. It turned out to be a beautiful day with lots of sun, a light wind and a high temperature in the upper sixties.

Today was a chores day. Chief among the chores was making sewage run up hill or so the challenge of dumping my holding tanks seemed. At this site the sewage connection is more than twenty five feet from the dump valves on my RV. The connection is also almost a foot above the ground in a poured concrete support block. The intent of the concrete is to keep the opening above any standing water during flood conditions in the park. The combination of the distance from my RV and the height makes it very difficult to establish a supported hose run at a constant pitch. Using two long dump hoses and the supports I have there was still a dip in the hose run and a climb at the end to get to the connection. Since the tanks in the RV were above the connection into the ground it all worked, but getting the last few gallons of sewage in the low points of the hose into the sewer took some persuasion.

I took two walks today. The alligators were back on the river bank and the birds were a little more active. Reviewing my pictures this evening I didn’t find any standouts, but a few nice pictures of birds and gators. Today seemed to be a Great Blue Heron Picture taking day.

Winter Means Cooler Weather

Wednesday December 22nd 2021

Mother Nature looked at the calendar and decided to cool things down. The first full day of winter was the first day in December with a high temperature in the sixties for the Sarasota FL area. There was also a constant fifteen to twenty mile per hour breeze out of the north east. An overnight low in the forties is anticipated.

Not quite a flower blossom, but still pretty.

Walking around the state park today there were more people and fewer animals. Most of the Alligators were in the water with their heads above the surface. Only a few were taking the sun on the river bank. The birds were hunkered down of puffed up to ward off the chilly breeze. The increase in people as the holiday approaches is visible by the steady flow of cars on the park roads and the full parking areas near all of the wildlife viewing spots. The kids have been out of school since last Friday in this area, but most of the visitors seem to be adults from northern states based on the license plates on the cars.

The campground seems to be behaving differently than the overall park. There have been empty sites the last couple of nights. The online reservation system shows the park completely full. Most of the sites in this section seem to be occupied by people staying only a night or two. Other years I think there have been a lot more longer stays. Let’s call it confusing.