Travel North to Silver Springs State Park

Monday January 31st 2022

The overnight temperature got down to near or below freezing again last night. It was in the forties inside when I got up. My little space heater along with the bright sun coming through the windows warmed the inside into the seventies by 9AM.

This was a travel day. I had about sixty five miles to travel north to Silver Springs State Park east of Ocala Florida. The relatively short travel distance and the late checkout time allowed me to prepare for departure at a leisurely pace. I pulled out of Lake Louisa State Park at 12:30AM.

Site 14 at Silver Springs State Park.

It may have been a short travel distance, but it was along the time of roads I dislike the most. US Route 27 north from Clermont is very congested. Most of way is lined with various types of businesses with traffic lights and intersections around every bend or knoll. This type of road means I have to slow and stop my heavy motorhome frequently. The occupants of passenger cars don’t appreciate the danger they create by cutting in front of me. I always have hard stops on these types of roads. Today I had several, but at least none were of the panic variety.

I missed one turn onto a road that would have cut around the city of Ocala. As a result I drove a little longer than planned right through the center of the city. I actually saw the signs for the turn, but I couldn’t believe I was supposed to turn onto the narrow traffic filled road. I arrived at Silver Springs State Park around 2:30PM. I’ll be here for the next two weeks.

This hawk was on hand to great me.

Last Day of My January Stay at Lake Louisa State Park

Sunday January 30th 2022

Today was a sunny day with very little wind that allowed the temperature to climb into the high fifties. Some locations in the area may have even broke the sixty mark after starting the day at an unseasonable below freezing temperature.

Reeds reflecting in the lake.

With all the warnings on the news about a “hard” freeze, I disconnected my outside water hose before going to bed last night. I don’t think it was really needed. The outside temperature in this area was probably only below freezing for a short period of time and the water line had the benefit from some of the heat maintained by my RV. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Knowing how to react to the hype generated by the local media is a challenge. Having detailed local knowledge to temper the news reports would be helpful, but not generally available in this lifestyle.

It was a bright cloudless day with very little wind.

On my first walk of the day it was clear that a freeze or very hard frost had occurred. All of the blossoms and green ground level foliage left after last Monday mornings frost were now either black or gone completely. In some areas the brush looked lifeless. It will be a few weeks before the leaves and blossoms return. The warming trend is already in the forecast for later in the week. It appears the weather pattern is switching away from the below normal temperatures of the current pattern.

This is my last full day at Lake Louisa State Park. I’ve enjoyed my stay, but the weather has impacted the things I wanted to accomplish. Most days have been rainy, cold or both. Some of the things I didn’t get to do include a return visit to Sea World and another hike on the Van Fleet Rail Trail. I’ll have another opportunity in the middle of April when I return for a week long stay. Tomorrow I’m heading for Silver Springs State Park near Ocala.

A Bright and Cold Saturday

Saturday January 29th 2022

It was a beautiful Florida cold day. The high temperature was around fifty degrees despite not a cloud in the sky. The bright sunny day was only marred by a strong wind out of the north. The wind was reported at fifteen to twenty sustained with gusts near thirty. In the shelter from the wind it was a comfortable day. Unfortunately, my campsite has an open view along the south side of Dixie Lake. I got the full force of the wind broadside all of last night and today. In other areas this would be great weather. Here in Florida it is hard to take such below normal conditions.

Wind driven waves with the north wind on Dixie Lake.

I got in a couple of walks around the campground and the nearby trails. There are many more people out walking today. Some of the added folks are fellow campers and others are here to enjoy the park for the day. There were also two or three groups wearing pink sweatshirts leading me to suspect an organized cancer walk of some kind, but I didn’t see any information posted about such an event.

Calm water on the sheltered north side of Hammond Lake.

Depending who you listen to tonight is either going to be the coldest night in 4 years or twelve years. In this area, west of Orlando, it is supposed to be about 28 degrees for a couple of hours before dawn. North of Orlando even lower temperatures are in the forecast. High twenties temperatures for a few hours shouldn’t be a problem for me. I’ll just disconnect the outside water hose before I go to bed tonight. If it really seems to be getting cold overnight, I’ll turn on the noisy furnace. It is just so much better when I can sleep in the peace and quiet without the blower noise.

Anhinga drying wings in the wind.

A Little Sun for a Change

Friday January 28th 2022

The sun returned to its typical position in the sky this morning. The clouds of the last few days were gone. The bright sun allowed the temperature to quickly climb into the high sixties. Unfortunately, the clouds returned shortly after the noon hour. By the end of the day it was just as gloomy as the last three.

Taking advantage of the sun.

The weather is the dominant topic in the news. On the national news they are spreading fearful information about the impending blizzard in the northeast. The local news broadcasts in Florida are focusing on spreading fearful information on the cold temperatures coming to central Florida this weekend. The daytime high temperature tomorrow is forecast to be in the forties with a windchill in the thirties. Overnight Saturday into Sunday is the real freeze. A very large area of Florida will have temperatures in the mid to upper twenties. The majority of the TV coverage has been on the potential impact to the citrus crop and how to cover or otherwise protect the plants in your yard. I’ll disconnect my water hose and maybe add another blanket on my bed.

The normal high and low temperatures for this time of year in this area are almost thirty degrees warmer than the weekend forecasts. The low seventies is the normal high and the mid fifties is the usual low. Next week the temperature is forecast to rebound. By Thursday it may be in the eighties in this area. I’ll be sixty miles or so further north in the Ocala area, so I will not get all the benefit.

Wildflower blossom of the day.

There was a large turn over of sites in the campground today. The people filling in the available sites during the weekdays had to leave making room for the local people that had long awaited weekend reservations. When sites empty out during the week they are usually filled quickly by travelers stating about 1PM. The people filling the sites on a Friday usually don’t show up until late in the day. They work all day before traveling to the campground. This weekend some of the weekenders may not show up. It is too cold for a lot of activities.

A Cloudy Day Hike

Thursday January 27th 2022

The trend of cloud covered days continued. Today the rain didn’t fall and the cloud cover wasn’t as thick all day. There was one point in the afternoon that it looked like the sun might break through, but the clouds won out. The temperature also recovered into the mid sixties even with a strong wind out of the northeast.

The leaves are turning color in January here in Florida. This tree looks like a northern tree in the month of October.
One turtle n the log today.

For the first time since Monday I took a real hike. My choice today was the labyrinth of trails in the state park south and west of the campground. The trails are easy to follow, but they aren’t really marked. They are wide grass and sandy surfaced paths designed for waking, bicycling and horse back riding. Every intersection is marked with a number and a set of arrows providing directions to other numbered intersections. This works great if you are carrying a map, but it isn’t very helpful without the map to decode the numbered intersections. Since I didn’t set out with a map in hand I soon felt slightly lost.

A wild orange tree.

I had three options to solve my lost in the woods problem. I could cheat big time and download a map with my phone or turn around and backtrack along my route. The third option that I chose was to continue to turn in the same direction at every intersection. Since I knew there were no dead end trails, I eventually would complete a loop back onto may original route or find a known landmark. I ended up on a much bigger loop than I intended, but it was a nice walk on a cloudy day. There was nobody else on the trail today.

An Egret in the woods. Where is the water?

For inside activity during this period of gloomy weather, I’ve been doing more research for my summer travels. The question I need to answer is where do I want to be on each of the major holidays from the end of May to September. Then I can fill in the blank area between those potential bottlenecks. At least, that is the approach I’m taking this year.

Yet Another Dreary Day

Wednesday January 26th 2022

Today was the second day in a row dominated by full cloud cover, rain and drizzle. It was also the forth day in the last five that was better for indoor activity than outdoor activity. Unlike the above normal conditions most of the month of December, the second half of January has been filled with below normal conditions. It was another dreary and cool day. The high temperature was in the low fifties.

Haze and drizzle across the lake.

I was up early to make another reservation for next winter. I successfully booked two weeks from December 26th to January 9th back at Lake Manatee State Park. The new booking software continues to be a challenge to navigate. Last May the Florida State Parks switched from the Reserve America booking system to another service. The Reserve America Software isn’t perfect, but its wide use has reduced many of the bugs in the user interface. I haven’t encountered the software used by the new service anywhere else. It may be a better underlying system, but it has lots of bugs in the web interface. The biggest problem is the way it formats the information on the screen. Lines can wrap around at random points and formatted text can be compressed into narrow columns for no apparent reason. It makes reading the display a challenge. Perhaps the most annoying issue is the information it remembers between uses. It often displays information about the last park for which you investigated reservations instead of the park you requested.

I got two short walks in around the campground today. During the first walk I had to take refuge under a picnic table shelter while a rain shower moved through the area. It was only a few minutes but represents the unpredictability of today’s weather. The walk at the end of the day was dry. Tomorrow is forecast to have a lower probability of rain, but it will still be a cloud filled day. The weather forecasters are hyping Saturday’s weather. The high temperature is supposed to be in the low forties and Saturday night is forecast to be in the twenties. The dreaded Central Florida Hard Freeze is coming. With most of the citrus groves replaced by housing developments in this area, I don’t think it is as big a concern as it once was. Most to the groves are now twenty to thirty miles south of here and toward both coasts.

A Rainy Do Nothing Kind of Day

Tuesday January 25th 2022

Today was a rainy do nothing kind of day. I heard the sound of light rain on the roof early this morning. The sound became familiar as the day progressed. It wasn’t constant, but even when it wasn’t making a noise on the roof a heavy drizzle was in the air. The temperature climbed from the forties to around fifty degrees.

View out my window most of the day.

I spent most of the day inside my RV home watching YouTube videos and reading. The only time I went outside was to retrieve another gallon of drinking water from my SUV. I tend to keep a stock of a few gallons in the back. The campground supply gets used for washing, cooking and flushing. The bottled water is exclusively for drinking.

A Longer Hike Day

Monday January 24th 2022

The inside temperature was in the upper forties at 7:30 this morning. I turned on the heat and returned to my warm bed. Unlike the last couple of mornings, the sun was out today. The sun gave the heater a lot of help getting the temperature into the comfortable range. I watched the morning news programs from the warmth of my bed. It was ten before I started the active part of my day.

Colorful wildflower blossom closeup.

After two days of limited exercise, I tried to make up for it today. I took a long hike around Dixie Lake and some of the areas in the front of the park. The hike took about three hours. I’d guess I covered five to ten miles during that time. The trails are not strenuous. They are wide and dry with only a little bit of elevation change.

Little white wildflower blossom dropping petals after this mornings frost.
Leaves on the plant with the little white blossoms drooping after the frost.

On the hike I spotted signs of last nights heavy frost. Most of the plants with small white blossoms that I have been taking pictures of were in bad shape. On many of the plants the blossom’s petals were start to fall off and the leaves were wilted. This was a small local example of the frost. On the TV news they showed many grass areas covered in frost this morning. It is a big deal this far south in Florida. Frost doesn’t happen every winter. Even the community of Frostproof Florida about fifty miles south of here may have gotten frost last night. It was named under the false assumption that it didn’t frost that far south. Needless to say it has quite a few times.

Only one turtle climbed out of the water during today’s fifty degree temperature.

The remainder of the weekend campers left this morning. The mostly Florida based weekenders have been replaced by travelers from northern states. There seemed to be an invasion from Pennsylvania today. I saw three RVs from Pennsylvania arrive to join a couple of unrelated ones that were already here. The second most prevalent states seem to be Wisconsin and Minnesota.

No Drizzle but Still a Bleak Day

Sunday January 23rd 2022

Saturday was a drizzly and bleak weather day. The drizzle was gone today, but most of the day was equally as bleak. The outside temperature began in the low forties and didn’t climb to fifty until the clouds moved out around 3PM. The sun set across a clear sky. The lack of cloud cover means there is nothing to keep the overnight temperature from dropping. There is a freeze warning for this area of Florida.

Vulture circling above the campground. I wonder why.

This day met the definition of a nothing special day. I did some reading, some TV watching, some cooking and lots of eating. Twice during the day I bundled up in another layer and took short walks around the campground area of the state park. There was a lot of turnover as you’d expect for a Sunday. Two of my neighbors departed near the 1PM checkout. The neighbor in a truck camper pulling a box trailer didn’t leave. For some reason, I’ve been expecting them to leave every day since I got here last Monday. It is probably because they put all their outside equipment away in the trailer every night.

Tomorrow should be warm enough to encourage a little more activity. This weather isn’t bad. It just isn’t as nice as it has been or will be in the future. Nice weather motivates activity.

No clouds in the sky at sunset.


Saturday January 22nd 2022

Some light rain fell overnight as the latest weather front arrived in the area. The inside temperature was in the fifties when I got up this morning long enough to turn on the heat. When I started my day the inside temperature had risen to the mid sixties. The outside temperature barely crossed the fifty degree mark. The high was fifty one degrees.

Blossom of the day.

Not only was it a cool day, but it was a wet day. A steady drizzle came down all morning. In the early afternoon there were a few dry periods. I tried to get in my first walk of the day around the campground. The north wind kept it raw and uncomfortable outside. I returned to my RV home after an abbreviated walk very damp. It was much drier on my second walk just before darkness settled in. I even managed to take a couple of pictures.

Around the campground, most people seemed to be hibernating. Most of the people out and about were out to walk the dog or make a quick trip to the restrooms. There were no bicycle riders or kids playing. I did find one surprising odd activity during my first walk that was shortened by drizzle. A wedding party was taking pictures near the dock on Hammond Lake. First, I can’t figure out why they picked the location. The background is not very picturesque and the lighting was terrible. Second, the bride must have been freezing. She was the only one in the group of ten to fifteen people without a coat. Everyone else had coats or at least long sleeves. Starting your married life with pneumonia isn’t a good thing.

I spent my day on the computer working on my itinerary for the summer and next winter. My general plan is to head for the Dakotas this summer. It is already late to book many of the public parks in the popular areas, but commercial parks still have openings. I’m planning a little differently this year. My intent is to book each of the major holiday periods first then fill in the weeks between with appropriate reservations. Last year the holiday’s came quickly and required a lot of scrambling.