Halloween is Here

Monday October 31st 2022

Happy Halloween!

Today’s high temperature was in the upper nineties with quite a bit of humidity. The normal temperature is in the lower eighties with lower humidity. It is nothing like the Halloween temperatures I remember from childhood, but that was in the northeast.

I had one clear must do today. There has been a moratorium on the state gas tax for the month of October. Tomorrow the price of gas will increase by twenty five cents. I had to fill the tank of my Honda CR-V at the lower price. Many other people had the same goal. There were lines at the gas stations. I filled the tank at $3.15 a gallon. It will be interesting to see what they are charging tomorrow. I don’t recall a true twenty five cents drop at the beginning of the month, but somehow I expect a twenty five cents or more increase tomorrow.

The road construction in this area continues to surprise me. Several roads that used to be two lanes are getting expanded to four or six lanes. Intersections are getting broadened and traffic signals added. All of these changes are needed to handle all of the new development in the area. Fields and old citrus groves are getting turned into housing developments and shopping areas. The order of development seems a little strange. The housing units get built and immediate area roads get developed first. Then after the housing is finished they add a Publix supermarket with a selection of little stores. If its a new area, one of the corners gets a CVS and another a Walgreens. After all that, the county decides there is too much traffic for the roads in the area and starts to widen them. After a few years the whole process starts over again a little further out in the suburbs.

The RV park had a golf cart parade tonight that was more festive and well attended than the scheduled one on Saturday night. There were half a dozen well decorated carts along with speakers blasting ghoulish music. I don’t think any of the participants in Saturday’s event took part in tonight’s.

A Sunday for the Birds

Sunday October 30th 2022

Today wasn’t a particularly blog entry worthy day. The weather was basically a repeat of Saturday. The high was in the mid eighties with lots of sun and medium humidity.

My activity level was even lower than Saturday. I spent the day watching football on TV and catching up on a few chores. On my walks around the park I encountered more Sandhill Cranes than usual. During previous walks I have seen a single pair most of the time. On one walk I saw three, but today I saw a total of five in two different areas of the park.

A Day to Recover

Saturday October 29th 2022
Today was mostly sunny and warm. The temperature peaked in the mid eighties again. It might have gone higher, but a line of threatening storms passed through late in the afternoon. They didn’t produce any rain just blocked the sun for a time.

When I got up this morning, my body told me that today was a day of rest. My legs and feet were reminding me of all of the walking I did around Magic Kingdom and Fort Wilderness yesterday. I didn’t have any kind of a distance tracker turned on but criss crossing the theme park was probably a couple of miles and at Fort Wilderness I walked around twelve of the twenty plus camping loops. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I walked close to ten miles in the park. All of the walking was on hard paved surfaces. It was worth it. The Halloween decorations were over the top.

It turned into a reading and TV watching kind of day. For exercise, I did some walking in the RV park. The local bird wildlife didn’t seem to care that I invaded their territory. The ducks and ibis continued about their foraging activity and the Sandhill Cranes gave me the side eye, but none of them moved away when I got near.

This evening the RV park had a golf cart parade to show off holiday decorations. It didn’t seem to get much interest considering the number of golf carts in the park. The “parade” contained about eight golf carts and only three or four were decorated. So much for my theory that the golf cart was the center of the social scene in this park.

Halloween Decorations Viewing

Friday October 28th 2022

Today’s weather was a step down from the previous days. It was a mostly cloudy day with an occasional rain shower in the afternoon. The overall temperature reached the mid eighties, so it was a comfortable day.

Pumpkin Mickey

My mission for the day was to view some Halloween decorations. Decorating for Halloween seems to have become as significant for some people as decorating for Christmas. Several years, particularly when I was out west, I have stayed in campgrounds that the residents really decorated for the holiday. The last couple of years I haven’t seen many RVs decorated. Today I went to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground to see what anecdotally has been called the ultimate Halloween decorated campground.

Fort Wilderness is decorated by the campers. They personalize their campsites with all kinds of festive, spooky and generally creative decorations. Disney doesn’t encourage visitors to the campground. They have parking problems and they want to avoid crowd control issues. You can’t just drive to the campground if you aren’t staying there. Today I parked at the Magic Kingdom and took a boat to the campground. I think even that method of getting to Fort Wilderness will be restricted to people camping in the campground this weekend and on Halloween.

I started my adventure with a quick visit to the Magic Kingdom theme park. I arrived just before 1PM only to be greeted by the start of a rain shower. I dodged the rain most of the day by riding rides or eating inside. I got in four attractions, watched the Parade and the Castle stage show before it was time to make my way to Fort Wilderness.

Here are some pictures of the Halloween decorations in the Magic Kingdom.

It was still daylight when I arrived at the campground. Being very familiar with the campground from previous visits I set out to explore the various loops to check out the decorations. The majority of the sites were decorated. The most common forms of decoration were store bought blowup figures. There were lots of blowup pumpkins, ghosts, witches and of course Mickey Mouse. Some people were more creative. I saw attempts to recreate the Haunted Mansion, elaborate grave yards, and other things that were just plain creepy. After dark they got even spookier.

Shortly before 8PM I caught the boat back to the monorail at the Magic Kingdom for the ride to the parking lot. The next adventure was navigating the traffic back to my RV home. It wasn’t theme park traffic, just everyday commuter traffic combined with several construction zones. It was close to 9PM by the time I was home.

Here are some pictures of Halloween at the Fort.

This turkey on a fence post in Fort Wilderness didn’t seem impressed by the decoration or me as I walked by with in a yard of its perch.

Golf Cart Centric Social Scene

Thursday October 27th 2022

Today’s weather was a change from the last week or so of terrific weather. It just didn’t rise to the same level of excellence. The day started cloudy, but the sun managed to make a few brief visits. Rain also made a few visits. The first was brief, but the second got everything wet and left a few puddles. Overall it didn’t rain for more than ten minutes all day. It was still a nice day overall. Tomorrow’s weather sounds like it will be returning to the previous trend.

I spent the day at home generally goofing off and not accomplishing much. A couple of walks around the RV resort broke up the day. There are a lot of mobile homes and RVs here, but I don’t think a lot of them are occupied. The slide out rooms on many of the RVs are not extended and window awnings are not deployed on some of the mobile homes. The snowbird season hasn’t gotten fully underway.

There are not a lot of people walking around in this park, but there are plenty of people out driving around in golf carts. Social gatherings seem to be gatherings of golf carts. Every time I’m out walking I see two or more golf carts pulled up beside each other often in the middle of the road. The occupants have very animated discussions from their respective carts. There is a Halloween golf cart parade scheduled for Saturday night. The golf cart really seems to be the center of the social scene at this RV park. I feel a little odd walking around. The ducks and Sandhill Cranes are the only other creatures out walking around.

EPCOT for Fish and Chips

Wednesday October 26th 2022

The temperature climbed a few degrees into the upper eighties today. We are officially above the seasonal normal temperature now. At least the humidity is only moderate and the temperature cools off overnight. The next few days are forecast to be similar.

This afternoon I went to EPCOT in Disney World for Fish and Chips. The Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the UK pavilion serves pretty decent Fish and Chips. I’ve been looking forward to having them again all summer. Of course there are a lot of other good things about a trip to EPCOT.

Fish and Chips the object of my adventure.

I headed to the park shortly after 1PM. With the traffic and the long walk in from the parking area I arrived in the park around 2PM. My first stop was a ride in Space Ship Earth. The history of communications ride needs some maintenance. I think there were lights out in some of the areas along the ride and the newsboy audio-animatronic seemed to be missing. Disney had planned to update the ride, but the closure associated with the pandemic delayed or eliminated those plans.

After Space Ship earth I stopped in the Creations shop on my way to the Land Pavilion. This is the main merchandise store in the park. It is fun to look at tall the stuff, but I didn’t buy anything. At the Land Pavilion I wanted to ride Living with the Land. This is my go to ride at EPCOT. I try to checkout what they are growing on every visit. Today the wait was exceptionally long at 30 minutes. I chose to view both of the other attractions in the building first. I expected the wait time to be shorter after watching the Awesome Plant movie, but it wasn’t so I road Soarin’ Around the World which only had a twenty minute wait. The wait for Living with the Land never got below thirty minutes while I was in the pavilion. I’ll have to give it a higher priority on my next visit.

A Great Egret visiting the China Pavilion.

My late lunch or early dinner of Fish and Chips was next on the schedule. It was very good as usual. My slightly early timing also made it possible to find a table and seat to enjoy my meal. For company I had a number of Ibis birds watching me carefully for any dropped or leftover food. The birds can be real pests.

The Three Caballeros

Next up was a ride in the Mexico Pavilion. The Gran Fiesta Tour had a posted wait time of ten minutes. It took that and a little more to get on the ride. I think it is the longest I’ve ever waited to see the three caballeros tour Mexico. Still it was a fun boat ride.

My next stop was indented to kill time on a bench, but it turned out to be really entertaining. I stop at the American Gardens Theater to watch the Eat to the Beat Concert. Every night during the Food and Wine festival a band performs three concerts. Tonight it is a local 80s tribute band called the M-80s. They put on a good show. The concert series has more well known artists Fridays through Mondays. Some of the upcoming acts include Hanson, Boyz II Men, Kenny G and Sugar Ray.

My last ride of the night was in the France Pavilion. I waited in a line with a posted wait of 50 minutes for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The line looked a lot shorter than a posted 70 minute wait I stood in back in April. MY assumption was correct after 45 minutes I was through the line and the ride. As expected the little rat was able to prepare his feast for his friends.

My original plan was to stay for the Harmonious night time show at 9PM. It was not to be. I was feeling all the walking in the late afternoon heat. With an hour and a half to kill, I sat on a bench and almost fell asleep. It was time to go home. I’ll catch the night time show another night. Getting home through all the traffic and construction proved challenging enough.

Setting up for a long stay

Tuesday October 25th 2022

It was a comfortable start to the day. The overnight temperatures got down into the sixties. By the middle of the afternoon the temperature peaked in the mid eighties. The forecast calls for the temperature to return to the sixties for good sleeping temperatures overnight, and there isn’t any significant chance of rain in the seven day forecast.

A couple of the nonhuman residents.

I worked on getting setup for an extended stay this morning. In addition to taking my bicycle and rack off my car, for longer stops I get out the tire covers to block the UV rays from reaching the rubber and a do a few other odd setup things. I’m looking forward to not having to move for more than a month.

Second up on the day’s activities was a food run. I was out of non frozen meat, bread and OJ. I skipped going to the grocery store before I moved on Sunday, so today I was a little overdue. It seemed like other people were overdue too. Walmart was as busy as the day before Thanksgiving. There as more than one traffic jam of shopping carts. It took a little longer than normal, but I managed to get everything I needed. Since I’m staying in one place longer, I seem to have converted my shopping habit a little. More than once today I thought “I can get that next time” instead of “I’ll get it now and not have to shop again for awhile.”

Although this is a new to me RV resort, I am very familiar with the area. I stayed nearby for four months in the winter of 2015-2016 and have returned for shorter periods of time at least once during each winter I’ve been in Florida. The bottom line is I know my way around. That came in handy today. There is a lot of road work going on in the area. I changed my route twice today to avoid roadwork, but traffic was still an issue.

Wandering around the campground today, I saw very few empty sites. It is hard to tell how many of the residents are permanent, here for the winter or for a shorter time. Clearly most of the park model homes and mobile homes are long term, but the RVs are a more difficult puzzle. The fifth wheel trailer beside me is not currently occupied. The slides are all pulled in and there is no outside furniture. I wonder when the owners will return? The park doesn’t have a lot of daily turnover. I was the only RV scheduled to arrive yesterday, but there was one leftover from Sunday that arrived a day late. The weekend might be different or maybe things will change with the arrival of the first of November. It’s all guess work to me.

Travel Day to Davenport Florida

Monday October 24th 2022

My short stay at Jetty Park was up this morning. Checkout time from the campground was noon. The added hour from the usual 11AM checkout allowed me to do things a little more leisurely. I still got started at 7:30AM as per my normal moving day start time, but took several breaks. Just before noon I was at the dumping station emptying my tanks in preparation for my drive into the greater Orlando area.

My route to the southern suburbs of Orlando is pretty straight cross country through ranch and farm land until I reach St. Cloud on route US 192. From there west it is three lanes of traffic between more stop lights than anyone needs. I barely get up to speed before I have to start slowing down for the next light. It was a two hour drive, but more than half the time was in the last third of the distance. This is the same route I always use between the coast and the Orlando area. I was a little concerned that it might not be available this year. The route crosses the head waters of the St. John’s river which has been at flood stage along various portions of its flow since hurricane Ian. The water was still high and areas that should be dry were flooded, but the roads were all open and in good condition.

Site F-6 at the Kissimmee South RV Resort.

I am staying at the Kissimmee South RV Resort in Davenport Florida. It is a 55+ resort that is primarily for long term stays in RVs and even longer ones in mobile homes. The sites are close, but the park has some nice ponds and plenty of amenities. The location is good and the monthly cost is cheaper than many Florida RV parks. I plan to enjoy many of the tourist attractions in the Orlando area. In particular, I plan to make use of my annual passes to Sea World and Disney. It will me nice not to move for an extended period.

Birds and Ships

Sunday October 23rd 2022

Today was another great weather day in the same model as the previous couple of days. The temperature peaked in the mid to upper seventies. It was much warmer inland where the northeast breeze didn’t have the moderating effect of the Atlantic Ocean.

This was a very big turnover day at the campground. All of the weekend residents packed up this morning and departed by the noon checkout. This afternoon many new campers arrived to take their place. I think there are more people here tonight than there were on my arrival day last Sunday. For some reason all of the activity around me had the opposite impact on my behavior today. Instead of heading back to the mainland for groceries, I just chilled around the park.

The birds and cruise ships got the attention of my camera this afternoon. There were only two cruise ships in port today, but there were plenty of birds. The first cruise ship to depart had to get started without both of its escorts. The sheriff’s boat was diverted to deal with a medical emergency of some form that was brought in by boat to the boat launch area near the campground. The two deputies from the boat handled the issue until other deputies and the fire department arrived. Then they returned to their boat and headed off at high speed to assist the Coast Guard boat crew. There seems to be something interesting going on every day.

This is my last full day here. I’m moving to the Orlando area tomorrow. I wish I could have gotten a longer stay here, but the weekends seem to book way in advance. This site was not available for the weekend when I first looked, but was probably the subject of a cancellation before I checked successfully. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a longer stay next fall.

A Walk on the Beach

Saturday October 22nd 2022

The weather today was terrific. It was a little bit of an improvement in the temperature category from Friday with a little bit less cloud cover. It was a great day for a walk on the beach.

Ducks in the retention pond.

The tide was right for a long walk on the beach today. There was enough partially dried packed sand between the high water mark and the breaking waves to allow easy walking. I set out along the beach heading south from Jetty Park. There are miles and miles of beach before the shore is broken by the next inlet. I walked about 1.5 miles south before I returned home. The medium rise condominium buildings, time shares and hotels along this section of beach are set back by a line of sand dunes. There were plenty of people out today. People were engaged in all kinds of activity all along the beach. Some were in the water and others were staying on shore. A good number of people were walking the beach just like I was.

The campground is busy this weekend. There are a few empty improved sites with electric and water, but the bulk of the empty sites are the unimproved sites with no hookups. I have a couple in a tent on one side and another group in a tent trailer on the other side. Both of my neighbors were enjoying the start of the weekend well into the overnight hours last night. Conversations that you can’t really here, but know people are talking are my nemesis to sleep. That was my night even with the windows closed. They probably stopped around 2AM and started up again around 7AM.

SpaceX ship “Bob” used to support the recovery of boosters and payload fairings.

There were only three cruise ships in port today. Carnivals biggest cruise ship the Mardi Gras was parked at terminal 3 near the location of my RV home. It towers over everything when it is berthed there. I went over to the inlet around 4PM to watch it use its side thrusters to move away from the dock into the channel and out of the port. It was followed and hour later by the Disney Fantasy from deeper in the port. This Disney ship only played two melodies on its horns as it passed all of the people gathered to watch the ships set sail. There were almost as many people lined up to watch the cruise ships depart as there were on Thursday to watch the rocket launch.

Carnival Mardi Gras

Disney Fantasy