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.
Thunderstorms started threatening Friday afternoon, but never really materialized all day or during the overnight. There were a few close calls, but this area only got a few random rain drops. This morning the wait for the thunderstorms resumed. It was an overcast and very humid day. Around 5PM the long awaited thunderstorm finally arrived with lots of rain, wind, thunder and lightening. It was a short storm that transitioned into many random rain showers.
My big accomplishment today was getting out of the campground. It wasn’t a long or eventful excursion, but it was better than I’ve done for the last few days. The purpose of the outing was to replenish my fresh food supply. On the way I filled the gas tank for a few cents a gallon less than a week ago.
Walmart was moderately busy on a Saturday afternoon. As usual the grocery side of the store had more shoppers than the general merchandise side. I managed to get all of the stuff I wanted. The shelves in this Walmart seemed to be well stocked compared to some of the ones I’ve been in lately. I don’t think it is shortages as much as it is not having the staff to keep the shelves stocked. This Walmart seemed to have plenty of staff even at the checkouts. I used an “assisted” checkout rather than self service. For my troubles I got behind a customer that must have been stocking their own store of some sort. They had cases of various products that the cashier had to ring up as individual products. There is always something different or curious at Walmart.
Walking around the campground late this afternoon I noted more people had arrived today. I imagine most of them will be departing in the morning. Next door to me is a trailer that arrived Friday afternoon. I’m curious when the occupants will arrive. A couple of guys in two pickup trucks brought the trailer and outdoor furniture. They set it up then departed. My guess is the equipment is a rental for people that will arrive later.
Today was a more humid version of Thursday. The humidity was at the summer level that feels like you need to cut the air with a knife to walk through it. The mid nineties high temperature was more uncomfortable than yesterday. Thunderstorms have passed through the area this evening, but so far they have missed this specific area. Tomorrow has more rain in the forecast.
Looking back at my day, I didn’t really do anything. During breakfast I got in to a rabbit chase for information on the internet. I don’t even really know what I started looking for, but during the searches I looked at options for places to stay this summer, this fall and next spring. It wasn’t all travel planning, because I also did searches for smart watches, new TVs and bicycle trails. Overall I spent more than three hours chasing the information rabbit. I came up for air around 1:30PM without any definitive results.
Next on the day’s agenda was a walk around the campground. The weekend residents started to arrive early. It is not a surprise to find the park has more occupied sites tonight than it has all week. Even the RVs that have appeared abandon all week have people in residence tonight.
This campground has very nicely manicured lawns and grounds, but it doesn’t have many flowering plants or things of color. I am not finding a lot of things to take pictures. There are only so many squirrels to photograph.
Today was a little hazier than Wednesday. It was a little more humid, but the overall temperature remained in the mid nineties. Tomorrow is forecast to be a little cooler with a much higher chance of afternoon thunderstorms.
I woke up this morning to the sound of lawn mowers. I’ve been lucky for the last few weeks. The last time I got annoyed by the sounds of lawn mowers was in early March. This is not a new experience at this campground. Probably because they start on or before the end of the overnight quiet hours at 8AM, the mowing at this park really gets to me. There is one guy on a zero turn mower and another guy with a string trimmer. As soon as the day starts to warm up they quit for the day. I expect to hear them again tomorrow morning, but they shouldn’t be right outside my window again.
This was a day for catching up on chores around my RV home. Between tasks I got in a little reading, TV watching and a couple of walks around the campground. Overall it was a busy day, but not much to write about in this blog entry.
The temperature was in the mid nineties under almost full sun today. There was no wind to keep things cool, but the humidity was fairly low. The majority of the afternoon rain was well to the south of here. It wasn’t the oppressive, but outside activity was best done in small doses.
I got the remainder of my setup tasks completed this morning. This is a familiar campground. I was last here in May of last year. It is a nice campground near the center of Starke Florida. There are stores and restaurants near by. The down side is there isn’t a lot of recreational activities in the immediate area. Most of the places in my interest areas are twenty miles or more away. All of that’s OK, because I’m here to relax and decompress after more than a month of activity in central Florida. Theme parks filled with people are fun, but I need alone time too.
The campground isn’t particularly busy this time of year. As a guess I’d say half of the sites are empty. The ones that are occupied have longer term residents, people working in the area, or units that only get used on weekends. I was the only one that checked in yesterday according to the woman in the office. Today I saw a handful of new arrivals. The location of the campground is good for travelers cutting diagonally across the state from the Jacksonville area to Interstate 75 north of Tampa. My guess is it will be busier on the weekend.
Most of the schools in Florida end their year at the end of May. That starts the travel and vacation season around here. As the northern states end their school years in June tourism picks up. The campgrounds aren’t as full in the summer as they are in the winter, but they are usually busier than they are right now.