Sleepy Sunday

Sunday August 21st 2022

Today began similar to yesterday just a little more cloudy. By mid day the clouds had broken enough for partial sunshine to go with the humidity. The sun helped the temperature climb into the low nineties. Toward the end of the daylight hours the clouds returned followed shortly by a thunderstorm. The storm was accompanied by heavy winds and driving rain.

This was a very lazy Sunday. I lingered over breakfast and generally did very little other than reading and watching TV all day. The only break was a walk around the campground to check on the ducks and egrets in the retention pond. This is my last day here, so I had to “say good-bye” to the ducks.

The campground didn’t empty out this morning. Three other RVs remained after the 11AM checkout. Perhaps people don’t like to travel on Sunday. During the afternoon the next group of campers started to arrive. There seem to be more people here tonight than any other night during my stay.

I am moving on tomorrow. My original plan was to move north into Georgia from here. Finding a place for the Labor Day weekend in that direction was a challenge. Instead I’ve found a place for the next two weeks in the Ocala Florida area. My only concern is the approaching peak of Hurricane season. I’ll have to watch the tropics carefully and pull out and move north and inland if necessary.

Abandoned to the Ducks

Saturday August 20th 2022

It was a still, humid and mostly sunny day. The temperature climbed into the low nineties, but the conditions made it feel much warmer. Late in the day thunderstorms missed this area to the north.

Most of the day the sky was filled with fluffy clouds.

When I raised my blinds a little after 8AM this morning, all of my neighbors were gone. Only one other RV was visible in this section of the campground. By the 11AM checkout I was all alone. I really don’t get this place. It is so different from other times I’ve stayed here. In the past there have been a few multiple night stays among the single night stops. Nobody was here for the weekend. About 2PM tonight’s residents started to arrive. I suspect most of them will be gone in the morning.

The one thing that won’t be gone tomorrow are the ducks. They are everywhere around the retention pond. I suspect they have a coop, or whatever you call a home for domesticated ducks, back near the woods on the far side of the pond. They fly, but seem to stick pretty close to the pond. People are clearly viewed as a source of food, not as a threat. The egrets that hang out with the ducks fly away quickly, but the ducks just come closer.

Winter Planning Complete

Friday August 19th 2022

It was a very changeable weather day. When I got up this morning a thick layer of fog blanketed the area. As the morning progressed the fog gave way to cloud cover. Shortly after the noon hour the sun broke through for a brief visit. By 2PM rain was threatening. Shortly after 3PM a light rain transitioned into a thunderstorm of potentially severe proportions. Rain was pounding on the roof and the north side of my RV home. Lightening was all around with almost immediate accompanying thunder. Around 4:30PM it had moved through and the drier conditions followed.

I made another attempt to book a campsite at one of the Army Corp of Engineers campgrounds along the Caloosahatchee Waterway in South Florida. My booking period that started at fourteen nights was down to four. There were five possible sites at the two campgrounds. I selected a suitable site as my target and hit the button with a second to go on my clock. Once again I was unsuccessful. There are just too many people trying for the limited number of sites. I have stayed at both campgrounds in March the last two years. There were never any empty sites and most seemed to be occupied for long stays near the two week limit. The difficulty of booking a site was a popular topic of conversation, so the difficulty I have experienced is not surprising.

With the outlook for available sites tomorrow looking worst than today, I have officially given up. I have book alternative locations for the middle two weeks in February. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry I have booked Fort Wilderness at Disney World for the first week. The next three nights will be at a KOA in the Orlando area and the last four nights will be at the Midway Campground in the Big Cypress National Preserve. I will enjoy these places, but they represent a different kind of experience than my original intent.

I also got some near term planning completed. I booked my next couple of weeks of travel after I depart here on Monday. I’m not heading inland as quickly as I expected. I’ll need to listen to the National Weather Service about conditions in the tropics. I don’t want to get surprised by a hurricane.

Cloudy Almost Rainy Day

Thursday August 18th 2022

The weather didn’t know what to do today. The day began cloudy and very still. By mid morning the stillness was replaced by a strong north wind. It was quickly followed by a cloudburst of rain. A few minutes later the sun made a very brief appearance before the cloudy pattern with an occasional shower returned. The temperature peaked in the upper eighties.

A dreary day,

The campground really emptied out this morning. There were only two of us left after the 11AM checkout time. Clearly most of the overnight stops are travelers along Interstate 75. Since most of the RVs are from Florida, and they seem to get on the highway heading north when they leave, I’m guessing they are Florida residents heading north for a few weeks of fall travel. Last year I stopped here at the end of October and I think the opposite direction of travel was prevalent.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of travel into Florida right now. While I was out today, I stopped at the Florida Welcome Center just over the boarder from Georgia on Interstate 75. It wasn’t very busy and I didn’t see any cars from states other than Georgia or Florida. This is one of three big Florida Welcome centers along the three major interstates entering the states. Based on a sample of two out of three I think Publix Supermarkets are sponsoring the welcome centers. There is a big advertisement for the store chain over the doors of the welcome center on Interstate 95 and this one on Interstate 75. My guess is a similar advertisement is on the welcome center in the west on Interstate 10.

Another Slow Wednesday

Wednesday August 17th 2022

The sun broke through the clouds for a little while in the early afternoon allowing the temperature to peak in the low nineties. Most of the day the clouds kept the temperature in the mid to upper eighties. During the early evening one brief thunderstorm passed close enough to drop a little rain and blow things around a bit.

For entertainment today, I watched a tree service work around the campground. All week a bucket truck operator and another guy to cleanup the mess have been working on the trees. Most of their work during thee first couple of days was trimming the low hanging branches on the trees along the exit driveway. The trees they are working on are older trees heavily weighted with Spanish Moss. Without trimming RVs would scrape on the branches. Today they changed their target to several trees in the campground proper. They did more than trim these trees. When they were finished only a stump a few inches above the ground remained. It really didn’t take long to bring the tree down piece by piece. There are still several huge live oaks adorned with Spanish Moss that stand in and around the campground. I hope they aren’t on the chopping block.

The campground was mostly empty during the day while they were working on the trees. Only a couple of other RVs stayed from last night. During the early afternoon tonight’s residents started arriving. The tree work moved out of the area with campsites when the new RVs started to arrive for the night.

Another Winter Planning Attempt

Tuesday August 16th 2022

My day began with the sound of rain on the roof around 7AM. I scurried to make sure all the windows were closed before returning to bed. About the time my head hit the pillow the rain stopped. It was only a very brief shower. That was the pattern all day. Heavy but small storm cells dotted the whole area. While I was out driving around the north central Florida area I drove through a couple of storms and saw several in the distance. None of the storms were very big or lasted very long. When I returned to the campground there was no evidence it had rained since the 7AM storm that woke me up.

I made another unsuccessful attempt at booking a reservation for next February this morning. Once again there were only a couple of sites available with who knows how many people competing for them. When these sites go for as little as $15 a night with the senior pass there is a big incentive. Private campgrounds in the same area want $90 to $130 a night if they have any inventory available. I have a day off from my frustration. It doesn’t look like there are any sites available starting six months from tomorrow. This is so similar to the experience I went through last March trying to book this same two week period in a Florida State Park at the start of their 11 month reservation window. That’s why I waited five months for the Federal campgrounds reservation window to open.

My challenge is complicated by the fact that I’ve booked the two weeks prior ending on February 9th in the Orlando area and the next two weeks starting on February 23rd in the Naples Florida area. I’d planned to book the two weeks in between somewhere between the two locations. My normal solution to unavailable reservations in the popular areas is to head north in the middle of the state. This area is less popular and has plenty of options. With Naples being in extreme southwest Florida this option isn’t really on the table this time. I don’t like five hour travel days.

Since I’m going to have to pay a high price for a commercial RV park, I went ahead and booked one that I know provides a lot of value for the price. I booked the first week from February 9th to the 16th at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. Obviously it wasn’t the cheapest option, but surprisingly it wasn’t the most expensive place I checked either. That distinction goes to a campground in the Fort Pierce area. I still want to get a few days at my desired location before the 23rd. Then I’ll just need to fill the gap from the 16th to whenever.

Tomorrow I need to work a more immediate planning problem. I need to book a site for my next stop and the Labor Day weekend.

North for Groceries

Monday August 15th 2022

It was a few degrees warmer today. The high temperature for the day was in the low to mid nineties. Other than the temperature, the day was very similar to yesterday. There was lots of sun and not an excessive amount of humidity. The chance of rain is forecast to be higher tomorrow.

The campground emptied out this morning. All of the overnight residents and my two neighbors that had been here since Saturday departed. Only one other RV remained in this part of the campground after checkout time. Watching one of my neighbors pack up and depart I continued to be confused by their intent. They didn’t seem to have any purpose to their actions. He threw lots of stuff in the back of his truck then started the vehicle and went inside the trailer. Twenty minutes or so later he came out and hitched up the fifth wheel only to return inside the RV. A few minutes later the slides were pulled in and he returned to action outside. It was another half an hour before they departed. I’m sure people watching me get ready to depart might be equally confused, but I know there is method to my approach. Maybe there is a method to this guys preparations as well.

After the entertainment of watching my neighbor depart, I needed to make a grocery run. I am located between two Walmarts. Each is about twenty miles away. I choose to head for the one in Valdosta Georgia. I think Valdosta is a little bigger community than Live Oak Florida where the other Walmart is located. I have been to both stores on previous stays at this RV park. The store was busy and the grocery shelves were not well stocked, but I managed to get what I needed.

A Sleepy Day

Sunday August 14th 2022

It was a sunny dry day with lower humidity than the last few. The temperature peaked at ninety degrees. Overall it was a very nice day.

It was a sunny and dry day.

I made the mistake of reading most of the night. I still got up at my normal time to make another attempt at booking a site in South Florida next February. Once again I was unsuccessful. The rest of my day was a battle to stay awake.

The campground pretty much emptied out again this morning as usual. Two RVs that didn’t depart are my immediate neighbors. I’m really surprised that one of them didn’t depart. If they are still here tomorrow afternoon I’ll be even more surprised.

For exercise today, I walked around the retention pond that the campground labels as a “lake”. There are lots of resident ducks, but they don’t pay any attention to you once they understand you aren’t feeding them. A few vising ducks and an egret or two round out the bird life around the pond.

Random Thoughts

Saturday August 13th 2022

I woke this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. Intermittent light rain showers fell all morning. The afternoon was mostly cloudy with lots of threatening darker clouds on the horizon. As the day was transitioning to night a few breaks in the clouds started to appear. It was a humid day with a high temperature in the low eighties.

The clouds started to break up late in the day.

My first order of business this morning was another attempt at booking a campsite for the middle of next February. There were only two sites available today and neither were ideal, so I used it as a learning experience to see if there was a faster path to locking in a site. If I was successful it would be OK, but I didn’t care if I failed. So my failure was a success. I now know another path to clicking the right button that might work better tomorrow.

Gas prices continue to come down in this area. On Thursday when I departed St. Augustine the stations at one Interstate exit wanted $3.89 per gallon. The next exit north on Interstate 95 was twenty cents cheaper at $3.69. That seemed to be more of the norm for that area. When I got over to Interstate 75 in the middle of the state, the price of gas was down to $3.39 a gallon. Today, I drove north into Georgia where gas is typically a little cheaper. It was $3.32 per gallon in Georgia. All of these prices are a lot better than the $4.89 per gallon I had to pay in June.

Each morning I’ve been at this campground the park has pretty much emptied out each morning. When I’ve been here before there were always a few people that stayed a few nights, particularly over the weekend. That is not the case this time. I would guess that about fifteen RVs arrived on Friday night and departed this morning. Only one of the Friday arrivals was still here after the 11AM checkout. Starting around 2PM another fifteen to twenty RVs arrived.

Post Travel Day Relaxation

Friday August 12th 2022

Today began cloudy and almost cool. The overnight temperature got down into the low seventies. Full sunshine never really arrived to really heat the air. The high temperature was in the mid eighties. The good news is the rain in the area missed this location.

Some of the local residents coming out of the shade for a visit.
I think you have to be a duck to appreciate the appearance.

I was up early to make another attempt at filling my last reservation for this coming winter. The six month reservation window for the twelfth of February is a Sunday so there were more sites available today. There were more than six sites available between the two campgrounds I’m trying to book this morning. Once again I wasn’t successful, but this time I might of lowered my chances. I clicked the wrong button at the critical time. By the time I backed out of the mistake and clicked the right button I was too late. I’ll try again tomorrow.

My day was typical for a day after travel. I finished my setup tasks and generally relaxed. I am familiar with this campground from previous visits. Not much seems to have changed since my last visit in October. The retention pond has a few more weeds around the perimeter and the ducks have a new place along the shore to hide out. They came out of their place in the shade to visit as I approached that area. Once they saw I didn’t have anything to feed them, they lost interest.

Blossom of the day