A Simple Maintenance Task made Complicated

Wednesday April 20th 2022

Today’s weather was a mix of clouds and sun with a lot of wind out of the east. The temperature was in the upper seventies overall. If you were in the direct sun sheltered from the wind it was much warmer.

Midday cloud cover over Dixie Lake.
Darker and thicker clouds moved in with the wind late in the day.

I was out of sync most of the day. Until I typed the first line of this blog entry, I wasn’t sure of the day of the week. Uncertain if it was Thursday or Wednesday I had to use the computer’s calendar to verify it was Wednesday. All of this probably reflects back to the unusual act of relocating on Saturday. I move again this Saturday.

One of the local Alligators swam by for a visit.

Today was a minor RV maintenance day. One of the lift arms on an overhead cabinet lost a rivet. Rather than seeking out and replacing the whole part, I decided to replace the rivet. I had everything I needed, but it was a challenge getting all of it together. First I found a pop rivet in a bin of small parts and fasteners I carry. The egg crate like divided bin was inside a bigger plastic storage bin inside my RV’s larger basement storage locker. My next challenge was to find the pop rivet tool to insert the rivet.

To understand the challenge, you need to know that I probably carry too many tools. They are separated into three tool boxes and a couple of bins for a small number of bigger things. I carry a wide assortment of common tools in a tool box that travels in my car. My tools for electrical type tasks are in another box on the drivers side basement of my RV home and the other less common tools are in a third box on the passenger side basement of my RV home. The rivet tool I needed was in the latter box that I haven’t looked in for a couple of years.

To complete the task I also needed my drill to make the hole bigger. The drill was stored in yet another location. It took about half an hour to assemble all the required elements followed by two minutes to complete the repair. Another fifteen minutes was consumed putting the tools away. The satisfaction of knowing I had the parts, locating the parts and making the repair was enough to offset the nagging “Why do I carry all this stuff?” question I keep asking myself.

Sunset over Dixie Lake.

I sandwiched my maintenance tasks between a couple of walks around the campground and other areas of the park. There is a lot of daily turnover in the park. Unlike during the winter, many of the occupants are in small tents and less formal equipment than big RVs. I’ve seen several tents that went with bicycle riders and a hammock camper that was completely exposed to the elements. It creates a different atmosphere in the park.

A Visit to Sea World

Tuesday April 19th 2022

Today was the perfect weather for a visit to Sea World. My initial plan was to go on Sunday, but the humidity and heavy rain in the forecast caused me to rethink my plan. Yesterday was also very hot and humid. The high temperature today was in the upper seventies with low humidity and a north wind.

Welcome to SeaWorld

I set out for Sea World around 9:30. My goal was to get there in time for the 10:45 Dolphin Show. Traffic had other ideas. There isn’t a good way to get to Sea World from Lake Louisa State Park. The park is almost straight east of Lake Louisa State Park, but the roads don’t go that way. Either you need to go north and east into Orlando or south and east through the Disney World area. I took the latter route and got stuck in Intestate 4 traffic. Even so, I arrived at Sea World in plenty of time, but it took a very long time to get through the parking toll plaza and parked in the back of the parking lot. It was a busy day and a long walk to the entrance. My Sea World day started at 11AM.

The park was busier than it was last December on a weekend day. I put a focus on some of the things I didn’t see in December starting with the Sting Ray and Dolphin encounters. This was followed by the Manatee and Sea Turtle rescues. Later in the day I also visited the Sea Lion and Seal encounter. Of the three big shows, I saw the Orca and Dolphin shows, but the Sea Lion show was full fifteen minutes before showtime.

It was a busy fun day. In an attempt to avoid the evening traffic I left the park at 4PM. For the most part I avoided the traffic. The only issue was near Disney World. I was in stop and go traffic on route 192 for fifteen minutes or so. I’d like to return on a weekend day while I’m in the area. Thursday through Sundays they are running as Seven Seas Food Festival complete with major concerts and other entertainment.

Wildflowers and Turtles

Monday April 18th 2022

Today’s weather was far from comfortable. Yesterday’s late day severe thunderstorms missed this immediate area. Most of the rain fell to the east in the Orlando and Kissimmee areas. This area stayed cloudy and humid into the morning hours. There was a brief period of sunshine in the late morning to the early afternoon, but most of the afternoon was cloud covered hot and humid in the mid eighties. Just before sunset the clouds magically disappeared and the humidity started to drop. The front most have made it through the area.

This turtle seems to have a battle scar. It sure enjoys this log.

I ventured out of the park this afternoon without a real plan or destination, but soon found a purpose for my travels. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten out of sync with my grocery shopping. Instead of one or two visits to Walmart. I made what amounts to one and a half grocery shopping trips. The half trip just replaced a few key items that proceeded to run out again before everything else, so today I restocked everything with am unplanned stop at Walmart.

I didn’t expect the store to be so busy. Maybe people put off shopping on the holiday to celebrate or just be with family. Every aisle was filled with shopping carriages and people. You really needed your patience to navigate the store. I almost got run over by impatient people on more than one occasion. At least the staffed checkout counters were all open, even if they had three or four people in line.

Back at the campground I took a long afternoon hike around Hammond Lake. There are many different wildflowers in bloom along the trail. During my January visit to the park they were experiencing their first freeze of the winter. All of the blossoms disappeared, so it is nice to see them back.

Water Lilies

Sunday April 17th 2022

I went through today at a slower pace than I’ve been following the last few days. It was a very slow and steady start to the day during which I had to remind myself it was a Sunday. Moving on a Saturday is unusual and really has me out of sync. I have one more Saturday move coming up at the end of this week before I get back to moving on week days.

Storm clouds moving in during the late afternoon.
More storm clouds moving in over the lake.

It was a hot and humid summer like day with thunderstorms in the forecast for the late afternoon into the evening. As of the early evening the storms have crossed the area to the north and the south of here. Only a few drops of rain have landed on my RV home. The forecast influenced my plans for the day and I decided to stay at home and get settled.

I walked around the campground a couple of times. Nothing much has changed since I left the park at the end of January. This was a big turnover day in the campground. At the 1PM checkout time more than half the sites were empty. They all seem to be full tonight. The one of the big changes from my January visit was all of the water lilies in bloom in the lakes. I got mildly obsessed with taking pictures of the lilies and have included too many in this blog post.

Just because I decided to take it easy today doesn’t mean I didn’t get anything accomplished. In addition to cooking a nice steak with baked potato for Easter Dinner, I got an accumulation of laundry washed and dried. I kept the washer and dryer at the bathhouse busy for close to three hours.

The Tale of a Hitchhiking Toad

Saturday April 16th 2022

I was up early this morning to prepare for my travel day. A sink half full of dirty dishes necessitated the early start. It was a very warm and humid day so I tried to take my time getting ready to travel. I pulled out of Myakka River State Park at about 12:15PM.

Traffic was very heavy all the way. It took extra time to get through the Sarasota and Bradenton area. The road can barely handle the volume of traffic under normal conditions and the few construction zones thrown in for good measure probably doubled the usual travel time through the area. The pace picked up to speed limit speeds until I was approaching the Orlando area. In the usual area traffic came to a halt. It took almost half an hour to go two miles to the US 27 exit.

I arrived at Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont between two thirty and three in the afternoon. It was at least an hour later when I set the microwave clock at 3:57PM. The state park was busy with many day use visitors, but the campground seems quiet. I was surprised to see a couple of empty sites nearby this evening.

Site 8 at Lake Louisa State Park

The traffic wasn’t the only issue on the trip. About halfway to my destination I spotted a green blob on the drivers side window. A couple of glances between watching the traffic identified it as a green toad two or three inches long. I started to wonder why the wind wasn’t blowing it away. Another glance resulted in the realization that it was on the inside of the window. After a few seconds of wondering how it got in and how do I get it out, it launched itself from the window to the top of my head. Trying not to panic in traffic I shook my head violently back and forth to get it to move on. It did, but onto my back. The next question in my mind during the few seconds from hell was: “Is it inside my shirt or outside?”. It must have been outside, but I have no idea where it is now. There is a hitchhiking toad loose in my RV home and I still don’t know how it got in. My only guess is it came in on top of the main living room slide out room.

Last Day at Myakka River State Park for this Season

Friday April 15th 2022

The weather trend of the last few days continued today. The overnight clouds cleared shortly after daybreak to be replaced by bright sunny and fluffy clouds most of the day. As sunset approached the clouds increased. Some of the clouds were threatening, but no rain or heavy wind resulted from the threat. The temperature peaked a few degrees above yesterday around ninety degrees.

The sky over the river was dotted with clouds in the early afternoon.
While I was on my early evening walk the clouds started to move in from the west over the river.
The clouds over the river got darker and thickened during my early evening walk.

This is my last full day at Myakka River State Park for this season. I have reservations to return in December and I am still trying to get another set of reservations for next March. This visit has been a fun visit. Most days the alligators have been around in large numbers. Some days they are out on the river banks and others they are pretending to be logs in the river. The second most common wildlife I’ve observed is the Limkins. These screeching birds really know how to make there presence known. Surprisingly I haven’t seen many egrets on this visit and the herons were less plentiful as well.

I think this guy was busy digesting something.

On my second walk of the day I came across one Great Blue Heron that didn’t seem to mind me getting fairly close. He was busy preening and allowed me to move slowly and quietly move along the river bank taking pictures from many angles. The setting sun got in the way of some of the pictures, but I got a few good ones too.

I’ve completed most of my outside preparation tasks for tomorrows move. I am targeting a departure between noon and the 1PM checkout time. My stop for the next week is back at Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont Florida. It is about one hundred and twenty five miles away. Unfortunately, the route is one of the worst traffic wise that I experience in Florida. Interstate 75 in the Sarasota and Bradenton area is the first hurdle followed by 75 in the suburbs of Tampa. Then I have to cross half the state on Interstate 4. The Lakeland area is the first problem on that route followed by the slowdown as you approach Orlando. Needless to say I’m not looking forward to the journey. At least the construction should be a non issue on a holiday weekend.

An Alligator Day

Thursday April 14th 2022

It was a mostly sunny day with the peak temperature in the upper eighties. Overall the weather was very similar to Wednesday. Why were the alligators behaving so differently?

Slowly flowing Myakka River

On Wednesday the alligators were staying in the water with only their heads above water. Today they were lining the banks of the Myakka River, but not in their usual spots. Most of the alligators were on the downriver side of the bridge and were on the opposite bank from their normal hang out. The few that were left on the upriver side of the bridge were also on the opposite bank. Do they know a full moon is coming?

The full moon is approaching.

Changing Weather Fewer Alligators?

Wednesday April 13th 2022

The temperature and humidity continue to climb. The day started with bright sunshine which transitioned into high clouds as the day went by. The result was a high temperature in the upper eighties, that might have been even higher if the clouds didn’t move in.

Limpkin and a mussel for lunch.

There weren’t as many alligators out of the river this morning. Only a couple were fully out of the water. A state park volunteer was at the bridge over the river providing information about the alligators. He had quite a few people listening to his commentary. In the group was one little girl that was very disappointed that the creatures were not crocodiles. The park volunteer proceeded to convince the little girl the alligators were so much better than crocodiles. I think it was the personal attention that convinced her rather than his “facts”. He could have just as easily claimed the crocodiles narrow pointed snout was better than the broad stubby snout on the alligator. The point is the guy was good with people particularly children.

A proud Vulture.

While the gators were staying in the water today, the turtles seem to be out on the logs taking the sun. I have to be careful walking along the river bank not to disturb the turtles before I get a picture. Turtles seem to be very concerned about activity on the bank and often slip into the water before you even see them. Alligators on the other hand aren’t as concerned about land activity, but will sink into the water at the approach of a kayak or canoe. The turtles just let the water based intruders paddle by.

The alligators were out on the bank more during my second walk of the day. Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be much other activity in the early evening.

Content Weak Blog Entry

Tuesday April 12th 2022

The temperature and humidity continued a slow climb. Today was on the upper side of the middle eighties and the humidity was a little muggier than Monday. The wind moved from the east to the southeast and south.

I had a very lazy start to the day. Breakfast and my morning internet reading dragged into the lunch hour. The remainder of the day was spent away from my RV home getting frustrated with traffic and other tasks. I don’t have much to write about this evening.

Spoonbills and Gators

Monday April 11th 2022

The wind has moved from the north to the east, but a clear sunny sky remained the dominant feature of today’s weather. The temperature climbed from the overnight low around sixty to a high in the mid eighties with a little more humidity than the weekend days.

Looking up the Myakka River into the Upper Myakka Lake. This is the location where the weir was recently removed.
Rosetta Spoonbills and Turkey Vultures.
Wildflowers of the day.

I drove up to the concession area on Upper Lake Myakka to start my adventures today. The group of Rosetta Spoonbills are still huddled in the tree near were the old weir was recently removed. A few vultures, an egret or two and a tricolor heron were also hanging around with the spoonbills. This area looks so different with the weir removed. It will be interesting to see what it looks like when the water level is higher.

My second walk of the day was along the river near the park entrance off route 70. There were quite a few alligators taking the sun on the bank. As the water level get lower the alligators start to congregate near the deeper water. Based on one of the water level gauges in the park the water level has gone down almost a foot in the last week. Typically the dry season ends in June, so there is likely to be lower levels to come.