Last Day at Lake Louisa State Park

Saturday April 10th 2021

Today’s weather was a waiting game. The majority of the day was sunny and hot with increasing humidity. The TV weather forecasters spent most of Friday and there time on this morning’s news attempting to put the fear of Mother Nature into us about an approaching cold front. Around 4PM it started to get cloudy. By 5PM there were black clouds to the west with some rumbling of thunder. A few lines of strong wind gusts passed through around 5:30PM. Heavy rain and thunderstorms never passed through this area. Light rain is falling as I write this blog entry.

On the 6PM evening news the weather forecasters pointed out the areas of the state that were getting bad weather. Earlier in the day they were well to the north and west of here. As of this evening they are to the south and west of here. Now the forecasters are trying to scare the population about tomorrow mornings storms in this area. How much credibility should I give their forecasts?

Young alligator hanging around the fishing pier in hopes of stealing the fishermen’s catch.

Tomorrow is a moving day. I’m only traveling about twenty miles to the south, but packing and travel in a thunderstorm is not fun. I got most of the outside preparations completed before the rain started. Bringing in the slides, raising the jacks and disconnecting the hookups will get me a little wet if it’s raining. Hooking up the car will get me very wet. Just a little more tension before a move.

While the weather was still good I took another short hike in the state park. This time it was the nature trail near the Lake Louisa beach. To turn a normal hiking trail into a nature trail they add a few benches, make sure trail is wide and level and add a few placards about vegetation and wildlife. I’ve read the same placards at several different Florida State Parks. It makes for a nice easy hike.

Yet Another Grocery Day

Friday April 9th 2021

The great weather continued today. It is getting a little more humid each day, and the temperature is hovering in the second half of the eighties. The day began without a cloud in the sky. As the day progressed the clouds moved in until the sun was blocked from providing any bright color at sunset.

Blossom of the day.

After breakfast and my first walk around the campground of the day I headed into town for a supply run. I was in search of a new filter cartridge for my water filter. Walmart had what I needed so I didn’t have to find a Lowes or Home Depot. The Walmart stop also allowed me to replenish my grocery supplies. This makes the third week in a row that I’ve stopped for groceries. I guess limiting my visits to the grocery store is a behavior in my past.

The store was very busy today, but everyone I saw was wearing a mask. The checkout line was incredibly slow. There were four groups in each line I checked when I arrived at the checkout. I picked the one that seem to have less merchandise to be process than the other lines. It was the wrong choice. Six groups were checked out at the line on my right and eight at the line on my left before I even got an opportunity to unload my cart. The checkout clerk in my line was slower than a snail. She went on her break just as I got to the head of the line. I hope she returned with a little more energy. The new clerk seemed a bit faster.

In yesterday’s blog I commented on the arrival of weekend campers at the state park. I was wrong. Three out of four of my neighbors that I was sure were here for the weekend departed this morning. They were all here for only one night. All I can say is they got there monies worth for the one night stay.

Driving in a Circle

Thursday April 8th 2021

I’m running out of simple things to do in this area. There are many things to do in this area, but I’ve ruled out the vast majority of the things I normally do because of the pandemic. The risk and value associated with all things Disney is not worth it. Other areas have similar issues. I need to do a little more research to cast a wider net and travel further to find more things to do. I’ll be in this area for another two weeks or more.

Today’s activity was a lot of driving in a big loop to the southwest of Orlando. This is all familiar territory. I spent the winter of 2015 in Davenport Florida and stop in this area every spring and fall when I’m in Florida for the winter. The area continues to explode with development. It is interesting how the expansion proceeds. First a new housing development is started. A supermarket is usually part of the first wave of development. A few years later when all the houses are finished, the area around the supermarket is filled in with other stores, gas stations, restaurants and two pharmacies. The CVS goes on one corner and the Walgreens gets the diagonally opposite corner. The pattern gets repeated a few miles down the road.

At the state park this afternoon the characteristics of the campers is changing once again. The weekend is coming. With it more families and friend groups are occupying the sites. More campfires and noise with fun and games comes with the weekend residents. Tomorrow more weekenders will arrive. On Sunday everybody will pack up and go home. Unfortunately this Sunday I’ll be in the rush to depart with them.

An Exercise Hike

Wednesday April 7th 2021

Today’s high temperature was a little above 85 degrees. The normal high for this time of year is around 80 degrees. Each day this week has been a little warmer and a little more humid. The trend is forecast to continue through Sunday.

I got a slow start today, so I decided to take another hike in the state park. There are still areas of the park I haven’t explored and it is easier than driving to another place. Today’s hike turned into an exercise hike. That’s what I call a hike that doesn’t have any particular scenery, interesting wildlife or other redeeming value. It was still an enjoyable hike on fairly level ground. The only down side was the deep sand on parts of the trail. Walking in deep soft sand gets uncomfortable fast.

A Visit to Celebration

Tuesday April 6th 2021

The quality of the weather continues on a positive path. Today was a few degrees warmer than yesterday with a sunny sky and very little wind. The high temperature was in the low to mid eighties.

It was a good day for a walk in the park. The park I chose to walk in was in the center of Celebration. Celebration is the master planned community developed by the Disney corporation in the 1990s and earl 2000s. It located at the southern end of World Drive. Disney’s Magic Kingdom is at the other end. The community of Celebration is filled with dense packed housing in styles ranging from old Florida to Victorian City dwellings.

The downtown area of Celebration is built on the side of a small lake. There is a foot path around the lake with lots of plants and usually a lot of wildlife. The back side of the lake is a forested area. On today’s walk I passed many bright orange flowers that I think are form of lily. The wild life wasn’t in as abundant supply. I’ve seen many more birds on previous visits. Today I saw one Little Blue Heron that flew away as I got near and one small alligator that was covered in green pond scum.

A visit to Celebration is always interesting. The tree lined roads, bicycle paths and walking trails create a very relaxing atmosphere. Today’s walk around the lake was enjoyable. As long as you stayed across the street from the restaurants and shops it was easy to maintain social distancing, so masks weren’t needed. Mine was in my pocket the whole time. The only folks along the trail with masks were sitting at one of the benches.

On my way back to my RV home I passed through some of the Disney World area. Traffic is still very manageable compared to a non pandemic year. There were many more Disney buses running between the resorts and attractions today than there were when I was here in December. More of the Disney resorts are open now and the capacity of the theme parks is higher than it was in early December.

A Day of Random Activities

Monday April 5th 2021

Today was filled with random activities. Some activities were fun, some were productive and others were pointless. All together they filled the day.

The inside temperature was ten degrees warmer than the last couple of mornings when I got up. With the temperature in the sixties I was able to enjoy breakfast as the inside of the rig warmed up. Breakfast goes in the fun and productive columns.

Next up was a pointless activity. I went in search of a hiking trail at the Hilochee Wildlife management area. The google maps view and the web page made it look interesting. With general directions, I set off to find the trail head shortly before noon. I didn’t have specific street names, but I assumed I’d find a directional sign or two. That assumption is what made this into a pointless activity. I never found any signs or other indicators to direct me. The outing turned into a driving session around the area south and west of Clermont. I saw some interesting sights, but it didn’t raise the activity from pointless to fun or productive.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Back at the Lake Louisa State Park I stopped at one of the trail heads between the entrance and the campground that I hadn’t hiked in the past. Along the trail I found many little prickly pear cacti in bloom. It reminded me of last spring in the Arizona desert. There was also a pond surround by some wetlands which contained a solitary egret in search of lunch. This unplanned activity goes in the fun column.

When I got back to my RV home a couple of productive tasks filled the remainder of the afternoon. The biggest activity was another pass at catching up on my backlog of laundry. I got another load of laundry trough the washer and dryer. My drawers and closet are looking full again. The hamper and laundry bag are empty for a change. I also managed to cook and eat another meal while the laundry was doing its thing.

Hiking Burnt Ground

Sunday April 4th 2021

The daily five degree increase in temperature continued today. It was a beautiful sunny seventy five degree day. The temperature increase is forecast to slow over the next few days, but it still may make it back to ninety by the end of the week.

Cactus blossom in the brush.

All last week the Florida Forest Service was conducting a prescribed burn in the area of the state park along the back side of Hammond Lake. The practice is intended to maintain an ecological balance particularly in sand hill areas. They were using a fire hydrant in the campground to refill their tanks. They aren’t working on the weekend, so I took a hike out into the area to check it out. Things look a lot different from my last visit to the area in December. The two foot tall grass and brush areas are now either black from a recent fire or all new bright green grass sprouts from a burn a few weeks ago. They burn small areas at a time working in from the various fire roads so they can keep it under control. It looks like they have more acreage to burn.

The campground emptied out quickly this morning. Just before the 1PM checkout time I’d estimate two thirds of the sites were empty. By 1:15PM new RVs were arriving. The mix is different. There are fewer kids and more travelers in the park tonight. The mix of dogs also changed. The weekenders often have big howling dogs. The travelers seem to have smaller yapping dogs.

Exploring Lake Louisa State Park

Saturday April 3rd 2021

Once again this morning the inside temperature was in the low fifties when I got out of bed. The outside temperature must have been in the forties. The temperature climbed slowly to about seventy in the early afternoon. A layer of clouds moved in and stopped the temperature climb for today. The high was about five degrees warmer than yesterday. Tomorrow is forecast to be another five degrees warmer.

Wildflower blossom of the day.
Cypress trees along the shore of Lake Louisa.

When I finally got the day started after a second cup of coffee breakfast it was nearly noon. I started with a walk around the campground before venturing into other areas of the state park. In addition to the campers there are many people making use of the facilities for the day. The boat rental near the campground was very busy. In addition to the kayaks and canoes they were even renting Segways for land based touring. A van arrived with six people that were soon on the Segways and off on a guided tour of the park. This is the first time I’ve seen the Segways at this park. Judging by the full parking lot at the horse corral the trail rides must have been popular today too.

Turtle parade.

I crossed paths with many people as I walked some of the trails. Particularly popular were the trails along the side of Lake Louisa. People were enjoying picnic lunches at tables and on blankets. One family was even swimming at the beach area. They must have been from the north. It was rather cool for locals. People were wearing a wide range of clothing from hot weather gear to polar gear.

The campground has a few empty sites tonight, but I think they are paid for. A number of people departed well after the 1PM checkout. They probably paid for an extra night to get in a full day of play at the park before heading for home. This is a common practice when the overnight fee isn’t excessive particularly on holiday weekends.

An Unseasonably Cool Florida Day

Friday April 2nd 2021

This has been a winter of weather extremes in Florida. More often than not the temperature was ten degrees above normal or ten degrees below normal. The daily high rarely hovered around the seasonal average temperature. Even though it is Spring the trend continues. It was fifty two degrees inside my RV home this morning. A very strong northeast wind helped keep the temperature cool all day. The high temperature for the day was in the low sixties. The normal high temperature in the Orlando area this time of year is around eighty. Tomorrow might be five degrees warmer than today.

I dressed warmly today and added an extra sweatshirt for my walks around the campground. There are a lot of family groups here for the weekend. Kids are riding bicycles and skateboards around the campground roads and others are playing in the roads. It is really important to drive with caution in the park this weekend. The concessionaire is busy renting kayaks, paddle boards and bicycles. The bottom line is this place is jumpimg with activity despite the cooler temperatures.

While I was out of the park today I stopped at Walmart to pick up a few things. I decided it was time to get something more appropriate for a holiday meal. A hamburger for Easter dinner seems to go against my memories. I managed to find a slice of ham to heat and serve Sunday. Hopefully it will be worth the effort. The grocery side of the store was very busy with people preparing for the holiday meal.

A ‘Nothing Special’ Day

Thursday April 1st 2021

The day started out cloudy with the temperature in the seventies. The cold front arrived with breakfast. There wasn’t any rain in this area just lots of wind. It wasn’t long before the temperature started to drop. The clouds hung around most of the day. Around the supper hour the sun made an appearance long enough to create a pretty sunset. Tomorrow’s temperature is only forecast to make it into the sixties.

In addition to several walks around the park I took a drive around the area to see what has changed since my last visit. Since that visit was in December not much has changed. The most notable and most expected is the construction of several new homes in the new housing development across from the state park. The development across from the park entrance breaks up an extended stretch of open land and some orange groves. Development in the greater Orlando area is continuous and inevitable. I’m surprised it has stayed undeveloped for so many years.

Traffic is heavy as usual. There are more out of state cars on the road than I saw in December. The majority of the cars between mine and the door at the Target shopping center I stopped at were from states to the north. Surprisingly, as I got closer to the Disney theme park area traffic got lighter. The theme parks are only opened at reduced capacity, but reports indicated they have reached that capacity the last few days. It is still too early for me to spend money for an expensive ticket to see less than normal and risk getting sick.

I drove around for two or three hours enjoying refreshing my memories of the area without accomplishing anything. It is a good thing gas prices are going down. They are about five cents lower today than Sunday. Once I got back to my RV home, it was time to eat again before another walk around the park.