September is Over

Friday September 30th 2022

The day began as a dreary overcast day. On a positive note, the cloud cover kept the temperature from dropping as low this morning. It was in the mid sixties inside this morning. Late in the afternoon the cloud cover thinned out enough to allow some sun to peak through and the temperature to rise to around seventy. An occasionally gusty wind out of the north blew most of the day. While the weather was influenced by the hurricane, the actual bad weather associated with the storm will remain many miles to the east.

The atmosphere at the campground has returned to one of normal travelers and general campers. More of the people that took refuge from the hurricane have departed. Both of my neighbors were gone early this morning. I believe one of them was from the Tampa area so they will probably find everything OK, but the other was from further south on the Peninsular. I didn’t hear exactly where, but I wish them luck. Tonight I have an empty site on one side and a normal traveler from Pennsylvania on the other. It may be my own attitude, but things seem calmer.

What happened to September? Tomorrow is the first of October. Today I caught up on a few chores around the RV and tried to look at my travel plans once I leave here on Sunday. Unfortunately I’ve let another holiday weekend sneak up on me. The second Monday in October is a holiday for many. A couple of the places I’d like to stay as I make my way back into Florida are fully booked. I will likely spend the weekend at a campground away from any attractions. They usually don’t fill up. I have three weeks before I stop traveling for a month in the Orlando area. This is the start of my fully booked winter season. During the three week period it looks like I will stay at five or six different campgrounds. It doesn’t look like the hurricane will impact availability at the places I’m considering. For some of my reservations later in the winter that may be more of an issue. It remains to be seen how quickly some of the state parks in the areas impacted by the hurricane reopen.

Another Day Waiting Out Hurricane Ian

September 29th 2022

It was cool inside my RV home again this morning. The temperature was in the fifties. The morning sun is blocked by trees and the slop of a hill, so it is slow to warm up from natural sources. I refuse to put the heater on before the end of September. To stay warm I had several layers on inside and took them off when I stepped outside. In the sun it was about ten degrees warmer than inside until early afternoon when the sun got a clear shot at my RV home. There was also a very strong breeze for much of the day. A high pressure system and the hurricane seemed to be having a contest of wills that results in lots of wind in this area. The temperature peaked around seventy with a fifteen mile per hour northeast wind and stronger gusts. The latest path for the hurricane passes north and east of here. There isn’t even any rain in the forecast.

There are more than 100 Canadian Geese in the campgrounds small pond.

I continued to watch the hurricane coverage on the Weather channel and DirecTV’s special local channel feed. Today the Weather Channel focused on damage assessments in the Fort Meyers area and the local feeds from the Orlando area covered the active storm as it finished its wave of destruction in Florida. In the Orlando area most of the damage is from the more than a foot of rain from the storm. Some of the flooding looks as bad as the storm surge flooding in Fort Meyers.

Paying so much attention to the media coverage of the storm along with being surrounded by people that have evacuated because of the storm, has put me in a form of limbo. I feel like I’m in a life pause waiting to continue when the storm clears. In reality this stop is just like any other stop on my rambling road trip. My home is wherever I park my RV. Many of my neighbors were wandering around the campground with their cell phones out talking with people about conditions in their home areas. Clearly they are starting to get ready to return to Florida. The people in the small trailer beside me went out and bought a number of gallon jugs of water to take with them. The campground is not full tonight. Many people have already moved on. I will start back toward Florida on Sunday. It will be at a much slower pace than my trip north.

In between walks around the park today, I worked on my laptop computer. It is about eight years old and is starting to show signs of failing. Today I worked on the task of making sure I have a good full backup. Most of the time I keep more partial backups making sure I have a copy of what I am working on in the Cloud and on removable media. The other task will be to try to free up a lot of space on the disk. My plan is to keep using the Windows laptop until it dies. I also have a Chromebook, so I won’t be left high and dry when it crashes.

Watching the Hurricane Ian Coverage

Wednesday September 28th 2022

With millions of people feeling the wrath of hurricane Ian, I shouldn’t complain about the weather. However, I was cold this morning. It was in the low fifties inside my RV home when I got up this morning. The fact that I left a couple of windows open overnight didn’t help, but it has been months since I experienced such low temperatures. Today’s high was in the very low seventies under a cloudy sky. The low temperatures here may be the reason the current hurricane track is further east from here.

I spent most of the day obsessing over the hurricane. The Weather Channel and the special DirecTV feed of local TV stations in the hurricanes path were my primary focus. The Ft Meyers, Naples and Tampa stations provided lots of local insight into the storm. Adding to my interest is the fact that I’ve been in many of the areas they talk about. This evening the west coast of Florida TV stations have been augmented by Orlando based TV stations. Watching DirecTV’s special local station feed is also frustrating. It is heavily curated and they switch between stations every few minutes just when you get interested.

Weather Radar view of the storm arriving in Fort Meyers. I was interested to see that my previous location in Perry Florida is still clear.

The storms current path projection once it gets through with Florida has moved further east. The impact on my current location is getting less sever. The strongest part of the wind and rain will arrive here late Friday into Saturday. It is interesting to note that the storm hasn’t arrived yet at my last location in Perry Florida and it may not have much impact there. I’m still glad I bugged out. This storm continues to prove that the weather service just can’t predict the path with any accuracy until it is too late to react.

Many of the Florida based RVs that filled the park last night moved on this morning. They are continuing their run from the storm. This afternoon a new set of people running from the storm arrived to fill the sites that were vacated. There are also a handful of northern state residents headed for Florida that are waiting here before continuing south. Last night and tonight there seems to be a frenzy in the park that isn’t normal for regular travelers. For one example there seems to be more trips in and out of the park by arrivals after they get setup. Another observation is the number of dogs some people are traveling with. Two dogs is not uncommon, but the couple in the motorhome beside me have three large dogs. They probably take up more space inside than the people. I also saw another couple walking four dogs tonight.

Running from Ian

Tuesday September 27th 2022

Today was the day to escape from the potential devastation heading for the Florida peninsular. It is still a long way away, but there is no chance it won’t arrive. The blue sky wasn’t out this morning, but more because of cold front than the approaching storm. I found the blue sky at the end of my escape this afternoon.

I was up early more out of anticipation than a need to rush. I finished the packing and was on the road by 10:30AM. My first stop was at a gas station less than a mile up the road. A full tank at the start of my journey was a big weight off my shoulders. I didn’t want to worry if I ended up in a mass exodus once I reached Interstate 75.

The first part of my trip north was along US 221 through towns and farm lands. Once I merged with Interstate 75 in Valdosta Georgia traffic became very heavy. Interstate 75 is always filled with trucks. I do not enjoy playing hopscotch with them. Today there were plenty of cars mixed in with the trucks. The license tags on the majority were from Florida. They were likely fellow escapees.

The south bound side of the Interstate was not as busy, but perhaps heavier than normal. Between the usual trucks in the south bound lane were workers heading into the storm. Utility trucks in groups of five or more filled every mile. I am sure I saw several hundred in total. There were also plenty of tree service trucks and medical vans. Along with the bucket trucks and pole service vehicles there were flatbed trucks with earth moving equipment and loads of replacement transformers. I’ve seen the power company and tree service trucks heading into the storm area before, but the medical vans were new to me. They weren’t ambulances just vans with medical names or symbols. They are probably filled with people to support shelters or aid centers.

Site 118 at the Forsyth KOA in Forsyth Georgia.

I arrived at the KOA in Forsyth Georgia around 2:30PM. I was third in line to check in when I arrived and soon there were two more RVs behind me. The park has a rarely used no vacancy sign on display. I’ve stayed at this park several times before. The first time was when I ran from hurricane Mathew in 2016. I am parked in an open area with good drainage on the side of a hill. The forecast for this area calls for rain starting overnight Friday into Saturday. The peak wind is only forecast to be around 30MPH. I’ll be here until Sunday. After that it depends how bad Florida gets hit.

Getting Ready to Run from Ian

Monday September 26th 2022

It was another nice day in the low nineties. The sky was mostly blue with an occasional fluffy cloud. The wind was close to nonexistent most of the day. Overall it was a very comfortable day without any indication that a major hurricane is on the way.

This morning I got the first indication that the campground knew a storm was coming. They issued a text message around 8AM telling people to dump their tanks because the sewage system would be turned off later in the day. I’m not sure what “turned off” meant, but I gut my tanks dumped and the hose stowed away. Later in the day the campground staff was verifying that all the caps were secured on the PVC sewer connections. Interestingly the people that came in this afternoon didn’t seem to get the message. Many connect to the sewer as usual.

The campground staff was also securing loose furniture. They collected the umbrellas from all of the patio sites. The pool furniture was all collected and stacked in the corner of the pool area. They seemed to be driving their golf carts in random patterns looking for anything else to secure. If they are staying here they have time. The storm is not forecast to arrive in this area before Thursday night. It has really slowed down and the current path is a little more to the east than yesterday’s.

I spent the day getting ready to run north tomorrow. It is likely that I’ll still be in the storms path, but I’d rather be two hundred plus miles inland than a tiny twenty miles from the Gulf of Mexico. People from further south on the Peninsular have already started evacuations. Most of the people that arrived in the campground this evening are heading north. I plan to get going in the morning. The route I’ve planned keeps me on secondary roads the first sixty or seventy miles until I’m north of Valdosta Georgia. My only issue may be finding gas along the way. My guess is I can make it all the way without filling up, but I’ll be on fumes.

Watching Football and Storm Tracks

Sunday September 25th 2022

Judging by today’s great weather you would never know that this area is in the path of a tropical storm for later in the week. It was a sunny day with low humidity and a high temperature around ninety. Today was a few degrees warmer than Saturday and tomorrow is forecast to be a few degrees warmer still.

Blossom of the day.

I spent the day watching football and the weather channel. The football was enjoyable, but the weather channel was annoyingly alarming. They have to talk about worst case scenarios and attempt to prepare everyone for possible devastation. The challenge is to understand the real risk to you as an individual based on all the information they throw at you. It doesn’t help that many of the meteorologists get really excited about the severe weather like a science experiment. Some of them act like little kids in a candy store except the candy is data and the upset stomach that follows is destruction of property.

The storm is still on a path right for my current location then up into Georgia. The change seems to be to the speed of the storm. It seems to have slowed down by about a day. The worst will get here on Thursday. I plan to leave here Tuesday morning for the middle of Georgia. That area is still in the likely cone, but now it is forecast to be impacted on Friday. If the storm slows down any more I may need to move again. My current reservation ends on Saturday.

This campground is still business as usual. I keep wondering if anyone from the campground will stop and ask what my plans relative to the storm might be. All of the weekenders departed this morning. By mid afternoon new arrivals started to fill in some of the sites vacated. My guess is that most of them will move on in the morning. The park dump station also got a lot of use from outsiders this afternoon. The first group seemed to be from the people that were dry camping at the BBQ Festival up the road. The BBQ trailers behind the motorhomes were a bit of a give away. Later in the day, my guess the people that needed to make sure their tanks were empty before putting their units in storage were using the dump station.

The Gas Cap Saga

Saturday September 24th 2022

Today’s weather was a repeat of Friday. It was a very nice day with low humidity, a nice breeze and a high temperature in the mid eighties. The sky was blue with an occasional white fluffy cloud.

Fall colored blossoms.

My adventure for the day began at the gas station. I stopped to fill the tank in my SUV, but had a hard time getting the pump to work. It was very frustrating. Since the price per gallon was a few cents higher than another station I passed earlier in the day, I decided to head for the other station. At the next station I discovered that I forgot to put the cap back on my tank. This wouldn’t have been a problem if my cap was still tethered to the car, but the little plastic cord had broken some time ago. When I take the cap off I put it on the roof of my SUV. The cap was gone.

After I finished filling the tank, I drove the two miles back to the other station. There was a chance I could find the cap and I did. As I drove into the station I spotted my gas cap in the driveway to the station. There was just one small problem. One or more cars had managed to drive over the cap. It was a mass of shattered white and gray plastic and some mangled metal. It was time to buy a new cap.

The first auto parts store I found was closed for the day. I checked Walmart, but they don’t carry them. It was time to ask Google to find other auto parts stores. There were two near my campsite that were open. O’Rielly Auto Parts had what I needed. The new cap even has a new tether to keep me from a repeat of this tragedy.

The approaching tropical system is still a big concern. The track changed a little to the west today shutting off a few of my options. The entire state of Florida is now in the cone of uncertainty. The governor has expanded the state of emergency to all of the counties in the state. The storm is far enough away that the track is likely to change a few more times before it gets here. I decided that I probably won’t be able to avoid the storm, but I can minimize the impact by getting inland. I booked a campsite in Forsyth Georgia on Interstate 75 between Macon and Atlanta for Tuesday to Saturday. I ran to this location in 2016 to avoid hurricane Mathew. The good news is the sites are relatively sheltered by terrain and they are not in the trees. The bad news is Forsyth looks like it is right in the middle of the current storm path prediction, but after the storm weakens to a tropical storm. I’ll continue to monitor the forecast closely. An earlier departure from here is always possible and if a better destination develops that can change too.

Watching the Weather Forecast

Friday September 23rd 2022

It was a little cooler today than yesterday. The high temperature was in the upper half of the eighties which is about normal for this time of year. The breeze was out of the east at a moderate pace. I continue to watch the track of the future hurricane. It is looking more like I will bail out of here on Tuesday a day early. The question remains if I’ll run north toward Atlanta or west toward Pensacola. Any thoughts of going south deeper into the Florida peninsular or east toward the Atlantic are gone. The storm could impact the entire peninsular if some of the tracks are to be believed. Florida has issued emergency orders for 24 counties in the path. I am not currently in one of them. Tomorrow’s reports out of the hurricane center should provide more details.

My RV home hiding from the sun under huge trees. The tree keeps things dark and cool.

I was surprised to find this campground filling up for the weekend. When I was here two years ago at this time of year, I recall a rather empty campground. Starting in the early afternoon a stead flow of arrivals kept the park roads busy. I have neighbors on both sides tonight. The attraction may be the BBQ Festival at the state park about a mile up the road. It is apparently one of the bigger BBQ events in Florida this fall. The event started today and concludes tomorrow. Traffic near the festival was heavy today.

Besides watching the weather forecasts and reading, today was another regular chores day. I got some cleaning accomplished, but I still need to undertake a major decluttering event. My couch and passenger seats have turned into storage spots for lots of random things.

Dodging Storms Time is Here

Thursday September 22nd 2022

Today is the first day of fall, but we also had near record high temperatures in the area. The temperature reached 95 in Tallahassee. It was in the low nineties here to the southeast of the capital. At my campsite under the trees it was a comfortable day.

Fall colors

The longer term weather is more of a concern to me. The tropical storm season is ramping up after being relatively quiet for most of the summer. The area of concern the forecasters are talking about is still off the northeast coast of South America, but the weather models call for it to enter the Gulf of Mexico toward the beginning of next week. Today the various tracks from the model runs are showing my current location in Florida’s Big Bend right in the middle of the area of concern.

It is early to make decisions to avoid the storm’s track, but I need to continue to monitor the forecasts. Apparently the water in the Gulf of Mexico is very warm which would allow the storm to strengthen quickly. I spent some time today researching my options. Right now I don’t know what direction to move. I’ve checked availability at various locations in many directions. My guess is I will have to move Tuesday or Wednesday. Currently, I’m booked here until Wednesday, but will move if necessary regardless. I just need to know which direction. Strangely enough the right direction may be deeper into the southern part of the Florida peninsular. The problem with that is my options are limited should the next wave of storms coming off the coast of Africa head for Florida.

“I can stand on my hands!”

I have had to do react to storms before. I am concerned, but not worried at this point. As of now my next reservation is at the end of October for the entire month of November. Between now and the end of October I expect to move a lot to stay out of the various storm paths. If the tropics are quiet I’ll stay in one place longer. While they are active, I will remain flexible.

Other than weigh my options I spent most of the day doing various chores and getting a little reading done. The computer I’m writing this blog entry on also got some attention. I have had Microsoft updates paused while I was away from a strong Wifi connection. At this KOA, I have a good Wifi connection so everything is getting updated. Maybe it will run better tomorrow.

Settling in and Stocking Up

Wednesday September 21st 2022

Fall may be arriving tomorrow, but today’s high temperature was above normal for this area. It was a nice sunny day with a good breeze from the east that pushed the temperature into the low nineties.

Is this a poodle with a French cut?

My campsite is under several tall leafy trees. They really keep the sunlight from making direct contact with the ground around my RV home. The result is it is very dark and quiet. Sleeping in this morning was very easy. Even if it wasn’t a slow travel recovery day, I’d have gotten a slow start to my day.

Breakfast was complicated by the fact that I was out of bread and muffin mixes. Finding things to go with my morning coffee resulted in a little more formal a breakfast than usual. I scrambled a couple of eggs. It also set my mission for the day; grocery shopping.

After taking the bicycle and rack off my SUV to get it in touring trim. I headed into town to the local Walmart. This is a smaller store, but I found the bread, meat and Orange Juice I needed. Of course, I bought a few other things too. This Walmart seems to have been stocked by someone with a contrarian perspective. If an aisle of product was typically laid out from left to right. This store would lay it out right to left. For example; the meats usually go right to left with hamburg, beef, pork, and chicken. This one went chicken, pork, beef, and then hamburg. I found similar switched order in other areas of the store. Can you tell I’ve been in too many different Walmart stores?