Another Lawn Mowing Day

Wednesday August 31st 2022

Today’s weather was nearly perfect. This area avoided the daily thunderstorms. It was a partly cloudy day with normal Florida Summer high humidity and a decent breeze. The temperature peaked around ninety degrees.

My irrational annoyance with lawn mowing was stimulated this morning with the sound of trimmers and leaf blowers outside my window shortly after 8AM. It was lawn mowing day at the RV park. I know they have to do it, but why do they have to do it when I’m around? Other than their starting time, they seem to be a little more considerate of occupied sites today. It also helped that I was away from the RV park when the noisy mowers were close to my site.

Most RV parks and some campgrounds have grass that needs to be mowed. In the summer time that means once a week. When you live in RV parks it is inevitable that you will be there when the grass gets mowed. I think my basic issue is the noise. The people doing the work have ear protection, but those of us nearby usually don’t. I have some noise canceling ear buds that I could put on to listen to music or podcasts, but when you are still in bed that is not a great option.

While I was out today, I stopped at the Ocala Wetland Recharge Park once again. It is a great place to get some walking and nature exploring done. The number of birds visible today seemed to be down from my last visit. The birds seem to hangout in the tall grass and brush along the sides of the drainage ponds. Still, I managed to get a few bird pictures.

Ocala in the Rain

Tuesday August 30th 2022

Today’s weather was different. The day started a little brighter than the previous few, but it was still very humid and still. The difference was the timing on the rain. The forecast predicted rain to begin after 3PM which was very similar to the previous few days. They got it wrong. Around noon the sky darkened and the clouds opened up for a few minutes followed by an attempt to return to sunny conditions. It lasted for less than an hour before the pattern repeated. By the dinner hour the sun was reasserting its dominance. I think this is the first night I’ve been here with a true sunset.

The morning sky started to darken as the noon hour approached.

The early arrival of the rain put a bit of a damper on my daily activity. I still managed to get out between the showers, but the rain made driving around difficult. Being in the car was still better than walking outside during the rain. The roads in Ocala are pretty much laid out in a grid. The streets and avenues are numbered and identified by the quadrants of NE, NW, SE and SW. The thing is they are not necessarily continuous. A particular numbered road might end in one area and pick up again miles away in another quadrant. Roads can be multi lanes wide at one place and turn into little more than a cart path a mile or two away. I found at least two roads today that dead ended. One ended at the entrance to a horse ranch and the other at a country club without any apparent warning.

Ocala isn’t as big a city as I thought. It only has a population around sixty thousand people. Gainesville, about thirty five miles north, has a population of more than twice as many people. The Villages, which is a retirement area about thirty miles south of Ocala also has more people at around eighty thousand people. Ocala is just a nice little city.

When Trends aren’t Trends

Monday August 29th 2022

The weather pattern of the last few days held true today. The day began with heavy cloud cover, lots of humidity and very little wind. As the day went by the clouds broke up some, but as the afternoon progressed the clouds returned. It was followed shortly be a line of thunderstorms. The only real difference was in the direction of the storms. The last few days have moved from southwest to northeast. Today the storms moved from southeast to northwest.

I stopped at the Ocala Wetlands Recharge park again today on my way home from touring the area. The bird pictures in this blog entry are from my visit.

Gas prices seem to be bouncing all over the spectrum in this area. Early last week I filled the tank of my SUV for $3.39 per gallon, but many of the prices were twenty cents higher. Did I just find the right place or were prices on the way down? Late last week all of the prices seemed to be around $3.59 per gallon including the station I think I bought gas at earlier in the week. Today, most of the stations have moved off the $3.59 price to around $3.43 per gallon. My uncertainty is a condition of full time RV life style.

When you travel all the time, you don’t have a solid base for comparison. Living in one place habits are established. One passes the same gas stations everyday and you learn the prices. It is easier to understand if the trend is climbing or decreasing. The same can be said about any price from groceries to clothes.

There are many other observations that suffer from the same lack of a solid base. For example, you are at the mercy of the TV weather forecasters to know when the current weather is abnormal. Are they being dramatic for ratings or reality? For really significant weather like hurricanes I’ve learned to balance local commentary with the Weather Channel, but next day’s thunderstorms that isn’t possible. All of these things are part of the “fun’ of travel, but they can easily become part of the stress. Right now I’m depending on the calendar to remind me that fall is right around the corner. There is nothing in my current experience or the environment that clues me in to the change of season, even if I did hear a TV weather forecaster call the current pattern a sign of fall.

Resting on Sunday

Sunday August 28th 2022

There was a little more blue in the sky today, but generally the weather was very similar to Saturday. The temperature was in the high eighties, with high humidity and very little wind. The possibility of rain was continuous throughout the day. I was after 8PM before the storms actually arrived. The rain was extremely heavy, but the thunder and lightening were intense.

The sky was filled with interesting clouds.

My objective for the day was getting some rest to recharge my internal batteries. To do that I watched a lot of TV and video. My first challenge was finding the NASCAR race from Daytona that was postponed from Saturday. Yesterday’s race was on the NBC broadcast network, but today the network was broadcasting golf. The challenge was to find the correct NBC Universal cable channel that picked up the race. It turned out to be CNBC. What a race has to do with business news only a network programmer could guess. As it turns out, I didn’t watch a lot of the race.

This RV resort has very good Internet and Wifi. They do not have restriction accessing streaming services like most parks. I took full advantage today. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and a couple of movies on Amazon Prime in full HD quality. When I use my cellular data to watch the streams, I scale the quality way back to use less data.

Back to the Wetlands Park

Saturday August 27th 2022

There was a moderate to heavy cloud cover all day. It was a very humid day with little to no wind. Even though the temperature stayed under 90 degrees it was a very uncomfortable day. The threatened thunderstorms with plenty of rain finally arrived around 7PM.

Blossom of the day

For exercise today I returned to the Ocala Wetlands Recharge Park. It is under three miles away and provides a nice place to walk with the possibility of seeing interesting things. I went earlier in the day in hopes of seeing more wildlife, but if anything it was worse than the middle of the afternoon. It was still a fun walk.

This blog entry is getting completed on Sunday morning. It will be back dated to Saturday. The humidity really seemed to get to me on Saturday. I went to bed early in the middle of writing this blog entry. Sunday is another day.

Wandering in Horse Country

Friday August 26th 2022

The weather followed the same pattern today as it has the last few days. It began sunny with mostly blue sky and got progressively more cloudy as the day went by. By the dinner hour the clouds were thick and there was plenty of rumbling in the distance. Tonight the thunderstorms have missed this area. They seemed to pass by to the south and the north. The temperature peaked in the low nineties with plenty of humidity.

As the clouds developed interesting patterns formed in the sky.

Touring the area today I was reminded of how big this area is for horses. There are ranches with all kinds of horse related names. Many are focused on particular breads and others on horse related activities. The one common element for all of the places seem to be long wood rail fences with huge lush green fields. What I don’t see is a lot of is horses. I suspect they are well back from the road or in comfortable air conditioned stables.

Another picture of the bathing Ibises from yesterday’s visit to the Ocala Wetland Recharge Park.

To go with the ranches there are plenty of horse related businesses. I passed a couple of feed stores, a big tack store complete with a saddle on display in front of the door and an “equine” veterinarian’s office. There is also a great deal of housing being built, so I wonder how many ranches have been consumed by the increase in the areas population.

I was wondering if this new RV resort I’m staying at would have more residents for the weekend. It doesn’t seem to have increased significantly. There are a couple of new RVs, but at least one departed this morning. People haven’t discovered this park yet. My guess is they will need to do a significant amount of advertising to fill the sites this winter. I wonder what the business plan is with respect to how soon they reach a healthy occupancy level.

Visiting the Ocala Wetlands Recharge Park

Thursday August 25th 2022

Today’s weather was very similar to yesterday except for the severity of the thunderstorm. The day began sunny and humid. As the day went by the cloud cover increased. Toward evening the thunderstorms arrived, but today the worst of the storm passed by to the north of here.

For exercise today I visited the Ocala Wetland Recharge park. This is a wetland area created to filter treated wastewater and ground water back into the underground aquifer. It is basically a wetland park with several algae covered ponds. There are several trails and boardwalks around the park. The placards indicate that the park is home to small mammals, reptiles and birds. Today, I only saw the birds, but lots of different ones.

Mowing, Groceries and Rain

Wednesday August 24th 2022

The photo in this blog entry is a repeat from earlier in the month. I got distracted while uploading from my camera and deleted the few pictures I took today. They weren’t that interesting anyway.

The day began with a bright blue sky allowing the temperature to rapidly climb into the low nineties. As the day progressed the clouds started to form. Around 6PM a thunderstorm arrived. It was primarily a rain and lightening event. The storm hung around the area for about two hours dropping very heavy rain. A flash flood watch was in effect for the area. The scary part was the lightening. I was surrounded by many cloud to ground lightening strikes. Most of them were a reasonable distance away, but my RV home is one of the tallest things in a big empty field right now. Needless to say, I survived.

Today was lawn maintenance day at the RV park. They use a large crew from a landscape service. Since the park has only been open a month they haven’t figured out how to mow around occupied sites. They blew all of the cuttings at my RV home ad car. The cement pad was covered in green grass clippings until they came around with a leaf blower to clean up the mess. That guy, using the noisy blower, was within a couple of feet of my open door. He had noise protection in his ears, but I didn’t. The landscape crew needs to be more considerate of the people occupying the sites. I’ve often commented in this blog on mowing in campgrounds, but this was probably the worst experience.

This area of Florida is well known for all of its retirement communities. I was reminded of that fact in Walmart this afternoon. The store was busy, but not extremely so. The issue seemed to be the makeup of the clientele. More than half of the people in the grocery section appeared to be between 75 and 100 years old. Many were using various mobility assistance devices and the others were in no hurry to complete their shopping. They just weren’t very energetic people. It wasn’t a problem, but I normally don’t think that I’m one of the younger people in the store.

Settling in for my Two Week Stay

Tuesday August 23rd 2022

The first part of the day was sunny and humid. The temperature climbed into the low nineties. The second half of the day saw a rapid increase to the cloud cover. Shortly after 4PM the daily rain storms arrived. It continued off an on into the evening.

The birds are big around here. This helicopter flew low over the park this morning. It may have even landed on the far side of the clubhouse, but my view was blocked.

The first order of business today was finishing the task of establishing my home for the next two weeks. I got the essential appliances like the coffee maker out to keep me fueled before finishing up outside. Most of the morning after tasks outside deal with the car. I have to remove my bicycle and rack along with the rest of the gear used to tow it behind my motorhome. There are more outside tasks I might complete over the next couple of days, but they depend on how much outdoor living I decided to do.

For a RV park that is mostly empty, there was a lot of staff activity this morning. The park is still in “new car” mode. They are doing lots of little cleaning and maintenance tasks that will likely be abandon when the newness of the park wears off. I’ve never seen anyone clean electrical boxes before. A staff member in a golf cart was driving to each electrical post and wiping it down inside and out with a rag. I suspect it might have been spiders they were concerned with.

The clouds started to thicken as I looked out over the empty sites of the new RV resort.

I also noticed that the sites near the entrance haven’t been completed yet. There is still an excavator in the area and none of the cement pads have been poured yet. A brief study of the campground map shows that they will have more than 480 sites when everything is finished. Currently there may be twenty five sites occupied. I wonder how many will be here over the upcoming holiday weekend.

Travel to Ocala

Monday August 22nd 2022

This was a travel day so mother nature decided to make it challenging. As I was packing up this morning it was cloudy and very humid. It didn’t take much activity to build up a heavy sweat. At the other end of my travel day I had to set up in the rain.

I departed Jennings Florida right at the 11am checkout time. My journey was only a little over 100 miles, but I needed to take three hours for the trip. I killed about an hour at a rest area just south of Lake City on Interstate 75. When RV parks make the effort to publish check in times, I try to honor them. This is particularly important when you haven’t been there before.

Most of the trip was under a partly cloudy sky. Traffic was heavy going through the Lake City, Gainesville and Ocala areas. Between the big communities traffic was only impacted by the trucks slowing down climbing the hills along the bumpy spine of the Florida peninsular. Contrary to popular belief there are hills in Florida, but only in a narrow area.

As I moved south from Gainesville toward Ocala a huge wall of clouds became visible on the horizon. I was traveling into a line of thunderstorms. The clouds got darker and lightening became visible in the clouds as I got closer. Not long after that I had to turn on the windshield wipers to maintain visibility. I was lucky the worst of the storms were to the east and the west of my path. The western storm lingered around and posed a problem while I was setting up at my destination.

Site 362 at Champions Run RV Resort in Ocala Florida.

I arrived at the Champions Run RV Resort in Ocala shortly after 2PM. This is a very new RV park. It opened last month. There are several hundred mostly empty large concrete RV sites, a few cabins, a large club house and a few other amenities I haven’t figured out yet.