The Florida summer weather pattern of almost daily thunderstorms has settled in. Today the storm arrived from the east earlier in the day than I expected. It was shortly after noon when the storm arrived in the area. I was out searching for the elusive lake that is supposed to be a few miles to the west of town. They sky decided to open up while I was on a dirt road. Fearing that I had left the wrong windows open in my RV home I cut my search short and return to the campground in my now very muddy car.
I found my RV home fine. The worrisome windows in the bedroom were closed, so my bed didn’t get wet in the cloud burst. What I did not find was electricity. There was no power in my part of the campground. It wasn’t caused by the storm, but rather by a group of electricians wandering around the campground turning circuits on and off trying to figure out what was what for a future electrical upgrade. Working with electricity in the rain seems to be a risk I wouldn’t want to take, but they didn’t seem to be concerned. Their task was massively complicated because the original installers hadn’t labeled anything.
I seem to visit this campground when they are having electrical work done. Last year the city was replacing all four of the electric transformers in the park. The power was down from 9AM to 4PM on two days. That was a lot more disruptive than today’s episode. The off season of May and June seems to be the choice time for maintenance.
Not wanting to hang around in my RV home with rain and no electricity I moved up my planned trip to Walmart for groceries a day or so. I found construction work there as well. Areas of the store had been emptied of product probably into big storage boxes located on the side of the parking lot. The actual construction hadn’t started yet, but they were clearly getting ready. I still managed to find everything I needed. I got out of the store after spending a little more than half of what I usually spend. It was a clear indicator that I went shopping a couple of days early.
By the time I got out of Walmart the rain was over. Back at the campground the wandering electricians were gone and my power was back on. I hope they don’t start their actual upgrade work until after I move on next week. Communications of intent are not very good. The park staff could easily have warned people that work was going to happen, even if it was only a general warning for a wide time frame. Talking with the actual electricians this afternoon they were deliberately vague.
This wasn’t a very blog entry worthy day. It was filled with lots of little necessary things, but nothing worthy of more than a word or two.
The campground emptied out this morning after the long weekend. A few paid for the extra night (I assume) and left late in the day after hosting friends and family for the day. I suspect a few others will be leaving in the morning. By mid day tomorrow the park will be back to normal mid week occupancy.
One good thing about the departures is the availability of the laundry facilities. With fewer people in the park it was possible to get a machine to do a little laundry. During the week the machines seemed to be used by some of the long term residents and on the weekend by the weekend visitors. Today was the perfect day.
This holiday weekend day was another example of beautiful weather. The temperature was a couple of degrees warmer than Saturday with a little more wind. The temperature peaked in around 90 degrees.
My plan for the day was to watch the car races on TV. First up was the Indianapolis 500 and later in the day it was the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte North Carolina. The pre-race pageantry at both of these races is one of the highlights of the event. The actual race can get boring if there aren’t crashes or excessive lead changes. Usually, I watch the start and finish closely, but during the middle of the race I just have the TV on waiting for the sound of excited broadcasters.
The Indy 500 opening ceremonies lived up to expectations. The tradition of singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” is always fun to watch. I wasn’t impressed with the NBC announcers covering the event. They seemed to be focused on their scripted interactions rather than the flow of the ceremony. During the race they were OK. The finish of the race after a restart with two laps to go was exciting.
Unfortunately, I missed the start of the Coca-Cole 600. I was watching the local news on another channel. The race is now on the TV as I’m typing this blog entry. I expect the 600 mile race to last until late this evening. Hopefully it will have as good an ending as the Indy 500.
The campground remains in holiday weekend mode. A few RVs departed this morning and a few new ones arrived this afternoon. The fun and games family weekend outing mood continues to be present. I suspect that tomorrow morning as the 11AM checkout approaches there will be a big exodus.
This was a very slow day with very little to write about in this blog entry.
After a couple of days of iffy and humid weather today was beautiful. The humidity was down and the sun only had a few fluffy clouds to contend with. The temperature peaked in the upper eighties.
Much to my surprise the campground is in full on holiday weekend mode. I didn’t think this park would be a big weekend destination for area RVing families. Most of the sites in this campground are filled with Florida RVs for the weekend. During the week it has a mix of travelers from other states. This weekend the park has families with kids from the local area. Most Florida schools ended their year on Friday, so summer vacations are now in full swing.
I am still engaged in full on rest and relaxation. Most of my day was spent reading and watching random TV programs. The only exceptions were during my walks around the campground and the time spent cooking and eating.
I got up at the normal time this morning to a cloudy, but bright day. The weather forecast still called for the cold front to arrive by mid day. As the morning went by it got darker and the wind picked up. The weather radar showed a line of heavy rain along a southwest to northeast axis moving toward my location from the west. An hour later the storm had still not arrived. The weather radar now showed a gap in the storms in my area. I decided it was safe to go out for some touring in the area. About 1PM as I was getting in the car to begin my tour the sky opened up in rain. A line of horizontal rain kept me in my RV home for the duration. The heavy rain was over in a very few minutes. A light rain continued for about an hour. The sun came out to finish off the day, but my plans for touring the area never returned.
My theory that most of yesterday’s arrivals at the campground were here for weekend wasn’t as correct as I thought. This morning about a third of the overnight guests departed. This afternoon a new set of arrivals filled the empty sites and more. The campground isn’t full, but much closer than last night. This time the majority are all probably here for the weekend.
There are lots of signs of the holiday weekend around the park. Since yesterday the campground staff has decorated with red, white and blue bunting and little American flags. Notices have been posted listing breakfast, BBQ and recreational events this weekend. This evening a fire was burning at the communal fire ring and many people were gathering to enjoy it. The swimming pool, shuffleboard court and other recreational facilities were getting used more than I’ve seen in any of my previous stays. There is a very different vibe this weekend.
The latest cold front approaching from the west got closer to the area today. It was a cloudy and very humid day with very little wind. The line of storms at the leading edge of the front is due to arrive before midnight. Tomorrow is forecast to be a mostly rainy day.
I am trying to realign my sleep pattern a little. Over the last week or so I’ve got into a late to bed and late to rise pattern. To break that trend I got up early this morning despite not getting to sleep until 2AM. As a result I was in a sleepy fog most of the day. I did a lot of reading and internet surfing trying to avoid taking a nap. The goal is to move my bed time to the other side of midnight.
The campground started to fill up in the afternoon. I suspect most of the arrivals are for the long weekend, but some may be just for the overnight. There are more occupied sites than there were last weekend. I don’t expect the park to fill up for the weekend. This campground is nice with plenty of sites. A holiday weekend in the “off season” isn’t likely to fill it up. That is one of the reasons I’m here.
Most holiday weekends I stay at places that are not big weekend draws. One reason is I don’t usually remember to book the holiday long enough in advance. Also, I don’t need to be at a place with crowds when I can visit during the week when there are fewer people around. Reviewing where I’ve stayed over the first six plus years of the Rambling Road Trip on Spring and Summer Holiday weekends, I have only been in popular family long weekend locations a few times.
The series of lazy days has skewed my awake time. I’m getting up earlier and going to bed later. The temperature was well on its way to the day’s high around 90 when I got up this morning. It was a sunny day with a little more wind than the past couple of days. A cold front is moving east across the top of the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to arrive late tomorrow into Friday.
I wandered around the city of Starke Florida today. About two years ago the US301 bypass opened. The road this campground is located on used to be US 301. It is the north south route through town. The bypass keeps the majority of the traffic west of the city. There are many closed business and empty buildings along the old 301 road through town. Some of the vacancies may be the result of the bypass, but I think more are related to the change in the retail economy. There are shopping plazas with empty anchor stores. I think one in particular used to be a K-Mart. Now the biggest stores seem to be a Dollar General and a Tractor Supply. Fast food restaurants and casual dinning establishments still seem to be thriving. Business hasn’t developed along the beltway so travelers still need to come into town for food and services.
The community seems to have developed because of the railroad. The main north south railroad route through Florida still passes through here today. The track divides just south of the center of town. One line continues mostly south and other angles off to the southwest. This campground is in between the two lines. At night, in particular, you can here the trains on both sides of the campground. The train whistles for the grade crossings are very pronounced. Hearing trains at night in campgrounds is very normal.
I have definitely transitioned into a very laid back low activity period. The last similar period was last November. Starting in December I moved between different state and public parks usually every two weeks. Each park had its own features, and hiking and outdoor activities were a key element at each place. My days were filled with exploring trails and looking for animals and interesting plant life. It was a steady level of activity and very enjoyable.
The last six weeks or so I’ve been more active in populated areas. I’ve spent a lot of time in crowds and theme parks. This is a different type of enjoyable activity. The downside is all of the interactions with people can be exhausting. I really need the downtime I’m getting at this park to recharge.
There aren’t many of the things I like to do in this area. Walking around the campground is good for exercise, but the environment isn’t the most natural. There are very few flowering plants and the water level in the retention pond is low. On my visit last year there were a couple of families of ducks and a few turtles living in the retention pond. This year I haven’t seen any signs of animal life. Having been to this campground several times on my Rambling Road Trip I have explored the Starke Florida area quite a bit. I haven’t found parks or lakes with recreation areas nearby. Most of the places I’ve been to are twenty miles or more away. The bottom line is this is a good campground to chill out and recharge.
Looking at the planning and reservations I have made for next winter, I’ll be following a very similar pattern. Starting in December I’ll be jumping between state and public campgrounds every two weeks. Some of the campgrounds will be new and the order of my visits will be a little different. I will probably be back at this campground for a few days in late January and maybe again in May.
The humidity may have been a few percentage points below Sunday resulting in a lower chance of thunderstorms, but overall the day was very similar. The temperature peaked in the low nineties with very little breeze.
Today wasn’t a very blog worthy day. I spent another day doing random tasks and chores around my RV home. I took two walks around the campground and the neighboring strip mall. Usually I can find interesting things to take pictures, but around here there aren’t a lot of colorful living things. The campground seems to decorate with plastic flags and whirligigs instead of plants.
It was another humid day with hazy sunshine. The temperature peaked in the low nineties with very little breeze to mitigate the heat. Late day thunderstorms are beginning to approach the area as I write this blog entry.
Today was a moderately relaxing day with a few chores and planning tasks thrown in for good measure. The biggest chore was getting some laundry done. The facilities at this campground are good, but they aren’t particularly close to my site. There wasn’t any competition for the machines today. As usual the task consumes more than two hours of my day. The distance between my site and the laundry makes it difficult to get anything else done while the clothes are in the machines.
One of the things I was trying to work on between trips to the laundry room is travel planning. My original plans for this summer to travel to the Dakotas have been put off another year. I’ll get into more details in a future blog entry, but now I’m working on alternative plans for the summer. I’m also working on extending the reservations I have for next winter. November of this year and April into May of next year are my current focus. Planning is alternately fun and torture. The anticipation of adventure is the fun part. Making the right choice of location with limited knowledge is part of the torture. The down side is once you commit to a plan, it becomes difficult to change directions if the need comes up.
The campground transitioned back into mid week mode today. The weekend campers have taken their RVs home. The folks that use the campground as a weekend retreat have closed their RVs up and departed for home. Another category of residents is just the opposite. The people that are using the campground as a base for working in the area are back after spending the weekend at home. There is a little bit of everything here.