Last Day in St. Augustine

Wednesday May 24th 2023

Today’s weather was OK. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great. The sky remained overcast all day. One quick storm passed through during the late morning and another threatened unsuccessfully during the afternoon. The temperature remained very comfortable in the low to mid seventies.

This was a day for catching up on chores around my RV home. My sink had accumulated a few dirty dishes that needed to be washed and stacked. I try to deal with them right after eating, but it doesn’t always happen. Once a few dishes get left in the sink, they seem to attract more dirty dishes. Luckily the sink that isn’t covered is only medium size. Not a lot of dishes can accumulate before I have to wash them and it only takes a few minutes. After the dishes the plan was to vacuum the floor, but the weather saved me from doing that chore. The vacuum cleaner hose and accessories are stored in an outside storage bin. It was raining, so I put off the task and never got back to it.

Walking around the RV park today was a challenge. Last night’s rain combined with this mornings showers left a lot of standing water. Conditions were not right for things to dry out today. Just getting out of my site without getting my feet wet required a big detour through the neighboring site. Later in the day that option disappeared with the arrival of a new neighbor. The walking trails near the retention pond and near the pool were all wet and muddy. My walk was pretty much restricted to the campground roads.

This is my last day in St. Augustine. Tomorrow I’m moving inland about sixty miles. Checkout time is at 11AM so it will be a busy morning. I got most of the outside tasks accomplished this afternoon. The remaining outside tasks for tomorrow morning involve dumping the holding tanks and unhooking from the utilities. There are still plenty of inside tasks to complete in the morning.

Time to Dry Out and Get Groceries

Tuesday May 23rd 2023

Yesterday’s rain continued off and on into the evening. This morning I learned the rainfall totals were from four to six inches in this area. It has looked like it would rain at any minute all day, but it remained dry until shortly after 8PM this evening. Rain is in the hourly forecast for the next twenty four hours. I suspect the forecast will be refined over time and it won’t be raining all the time. The good news about today’s rain threat is its impact on the temperature. The overcast sky kept the temperature down.

I finally got to Walmart for groceries today. I’ve been eating from the freezer and getting creative since Saturday. One thing or another kept giving me an excuse not to deal with that particular chore. I don’t hate food shopping, but it can be tedious dealing with other shoppers. The store was fairly busy today. I had to wait to get access to the meat counter. Getting near the beef was particularly difficult. Lines at the checkout were also extensive. I prefer to use the “assisted checkout” even when the cashiers are as fast as a snail in worm race. Today was one of those days.

I came home with everything I needed to restock the pantry and refrigerator. The stuff I used from the freezer got replaced as well. Judging by the final cost, I probably over bought. I spent about twenty dollars more than the new usual. The new usual is already thirty to forty dollars more than the pre pandemic cost for my grocery runs. Most of that is inflation, but it also represents a slightly longer period between grocery runs.

Today’s dry weather also allowed me to get back to walking around the campground. It is at mid week occupancy levels. They manage to spread out the guests so it doesn’t look vacant, but clearly there are more empty sites than occupied ones. One good thing about yesterday’s rain is how it cleaned up some of the sand and dirt that was on the decorative stones that lined the upgraded sites. They looked very crisp.

An Inside Kind of Day

Monday May 22nd 2023

Today was an inside kind of day. It was a dry cloudy day when I got up this morning, but by the time I was through with breakfast it was raining steadily. For the remainder of the day it rained. Sometimes it was heavy with lots of thunder and lightening, but most of the time it just rained. There were flash flood watches in the area in the afternoon. The evening TV weather report indicated that more than two inches of rain fell in parts of the area.

View out the window during the lighter part of the rain.

This is the first day in a very long time that I’ve been restricted to my 250 plus square feet of RV home. All of the resent rainy days have had brief periods dry enough that I have taken short walks. Today it just didn’t make sense to step outside. The rain was heavy enough that driving was a risk. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t go if necessary, but I can put off grocery shopping for another day. Staying inside with the sound of rain on the roof is challenging. Watching TV during the downpours isn’t really possible. Instead, I put in my noise canceling ear buds and listen to YouTube or podcasts on my tablet or phone. The content is more varied than the content on TV.

The Monday departures from the resort seemed to hurry this morning to beat the rain. It looked exceptionally empty later in the day. One of the departing guests was from the site beside me. The big diesel motor home pulled out at about 9AM. I thought it was here for the long haul. All though I never had a chance to confirm it, I think the female part of the couple was in the hospital last week. I saw her when I first arrived and again yesterday. All of last week the male part of the couple would leave around 9AM, come back at noon to walk the dog and then depart again until seven or eight at night. I suppose it could be any form of daily commitment, but when I’ve seen similar behavior in the past it has been associated with a hospitalization. Life happens even when you are a traveler.

A Stormy Sunday

Sunday May 21st 2023

It was sunny when I got up this morning. As the morning progressed clouds moved in and started to obscure the sunshine. During the afternoon a brief storm would pass through every hour or so. This evening, as I’m writing this blog entry, there is a heavy thunderstorm lingering overhead. Flashes of lightening filter through the gaps in the blinds and the sound of rain on my RV home’s roof completely drowns out the TV. It hasn’t been a great weather day.

The southern edge of the storm front approaching from the west.

The park emptied out quickly this morning. By the time the 11AM checkout time arrived there were only about twelve units left in the sixty or so sites in this area of the campground. When I walked around the rest of the campground I found it equally as empty. I really thought there might be more people staying during the week leading up to the holiday weekend. Perhaps the return to more traditional work styles as opposed to work from home has resulted in a return to weekend only camping for many.

I got lost in research mode on the internet today. This was one of those times that I looked up one little thing which led to another and another. Before I knew it a few hours had gone by. In the end I read a lot of information, learned a few things, but didn’t reach any conclusions. That is pretty typical for me. I study and ruminate on a subject for a long time, then make decision and move out forward quickly, when I least expect it. There is always a plan or a plan for a plan.

Yet Another Lazy Saturday

Saturday May 20th 2023

The temperature was a little lower today, but the humidity seemed higher. The temperature peaked in the low eighties under a sunny sky. There didn’t seem to be thunderstorms anywhere in the area. Each of the next few days has a higher chance of rain.

I got a very slow start to the day. I woke up at my usual time, but rolled over a few times while I waited for the hot water heater to do its job. I had it turned off yesterday and overnight. It usually takes about half an hour before I’m sure the water is ready for my morning shower. Today I gave it more than an hour.

It really was another lazy Saturday. I committed to plans for the next two plus weeks. First I extended here as long as I could. I am now going to leave here on Thursday. This park is full for the holiday weekend. Rather than going to an Army Corp of Engineers park for the holiday weekend and beyond, I’ll go to an inland commercial campground that I’ve used for a similar holiday weekend escape in the past. This isolates me from any issues with the federally funded park closing abruptly because of the debt ceiling. Most likely this is over thinking, but I’m removing a possible future stress.

This park was quiet during the day. Most of the people that are here for the weekend were out doing things today. St. Augustine is a tourist draw. In addition to the old city and fort, there are beaches and a few typical tourist attractions. Judging by traffic I’m guessing that the beaches and boating are the biggest weekend draws. Staying off the roads and out of those areas on weekends when you can go during the week is my approach to touring in this area.

Considering Changes

Friday May 19th 2023

The thunderstorms missed this area today. The majority of the storms were further inland or south of here. It was only a moderately humid day with high temperatures in the mid eighties resulting into a very nice weather day. The rain is forecast to return over the next few days. Next week might be more wet than dry.

Lunch tastes good.

The news this morning had me reconsidering all of the tentative travel plans I was figuring out yesterday. A big chunk of the next few weeks was going to be at an Army Corp of Engineers campground. The current debate in congress over the national debt ceiling could impact the ability to stay at Federally funded campgrounds. In the past when budgets were not approved in a timely fashion the campgrounds have closed and people have been told to leave. I don’t want to deal with the uncertainty and possible need to scramble for alternatives at the last minute, so I’m scrambling now.

The weekend crowd has arrived at this RV resort. There are still empty sites, but the atmosphere is more lively. People are sitting outside in the evening. Conversations can be heard all over the park and the kids are back. There were quite a few people in the pool this afternoon. During the middle of the week people were mostly inside their RVs with the AC running. The formal campground recreation activities also resume with the weekend crowds.

Another Day with Summer Weather

Thursday May 18th 2023

It looks like this area is in a summer weather pattern. Just like the last couple of days the day began humid and sunny, but during the afternoon a line of thunderstorms approached. Today’s storms were filled with lightening. The heavy rain only lasted half an hour, and everything was clear again within about an hour. It cooled the mid eighties high temperature for the day down into the upper seventies for a while.

I need to accept the fact that almost daily thunderstorms are here to stay until fall in this area. That means I need to stop letting the storms get in the way of my daily plans. They really aren’t a problem if you aren’t driving during the downpour or stuck outside somewhere. Today I didn’t take my own advice and let the storm dictate my afternoon. In my defense, the lightening and accompanying thunder associated with the storms started almost an hour before the actual storm arrived.

My focus today was on planning the next few weeks of travel. I still need to get some maintenance completed on the motorhome and on my SUV. Finding places to do the work and coordinating all of the associated logistics is a challenge. My immediate concern is booking the Memorial Day holiday weekend. It doesn’t seem to be as big a problem as it was the last couple of years. I’ve seen reports that the camping and RV boom associated with the pandemic is over and this would seem to confirm it. Now if the price of a night of camping would return to the post pandemic level it would be great.

This weekend crowd at this park has started to arrive. In this area of the park the number of occupied sites seems to have doubled today. There are still plenty of vacant sites in this area and in the other areas of the park. I suspect many sites will fill tomorrow and the park will be about the as full this weekend as last.

A Rain Controlled Day

Wednesday May 17th 2023

Today seemed to follow a summer weather pattern. It was a humid day with thunderstorms moving back and forth across the Florida peninsular. There was the sound of thunder nearby late this morning, as the storm line formed a little west of here and moved inland. This afternoon around 3PM the thunder returned. This time it brought heavy rain with it from the west as the storm line returned and headed out into the Atlantic. The rain lasted about an hour before everything started to return to normal.

I was finally able to sleep in this morning. Both Monday and Tuesday morning the landscape crew managed to force me to leave my bed before I really wanted to. On Monday it was lawn mowing that started before eight in the morning. Tuesday morning the same crew was back with string trimmers and leaf blowers to “finish” the job. I know it has to be done and it is cooler in the morning, but it doesn’t allow one to sleep in. Since it still gets down into the high sixties or low seventies over night, I prefer to keep the windows open rather than run the AC. This tends to exacerbate my annoyance.

Once I did get up the threat of rain and then the actual rain kept me at home all day. I held off leaving the campground when I heard thunder in the late morning. About the time I figured it wasn’t going to rain and make travel difficult, the sky was starting to darken again. The second hesitation was the right decision. I wouldn’t have enjoyed being on the road in the downpour and doing anything outdoors would have been impossible.

Around 6PM I got in my daily walk around the campground. There were still a few puddles along the sides of the road, but the road surfaces were dry. Unfortunately, the heavy rain caused many of the flower blossoms that I like to take pictures of to fall off the plants. The opportunities that were already slim were even slimmer after the rain.

Vaill Point Park Hike

Tuesday May 16th 2023

As I’m writing this blog entry I can hear the sounds of thunder to the west. A a late in the day line of thunderstorms is approaching. Up until now it has been another beautiful day with a high temperture around 85 degrees.

One of the paved paths at Vaill Point Park.

I drove back to the east side of US 1 to another park near the inter-coastal waterway. Today I hiked the trails in Vaill Point Park. It is on the south side of the same creek I visited yesterday. The trails in this park are all paved walking paths. There are a few pavilions, an overlook and a fishing pier along the tails. There may have been other structures, but I had a big enough challenge navigating the trails I walked. I didn’t see any map and there were no direction signs. It was a maze you could easily get lost in. On a positive note, it was well shaded and the views were fantastic.

Back at the campground this afternoon, a Snowy Egret decided to visit the park’s retention pond while I was on a walk around the park. I stood by the pond and watched the bird for a few minutes. It made a full circuit of the pond’s shore looking for food. Every now and then it would dart forward to grab something tasty. After about a loop and a half it move on to another place.

Later in the same walk I found another Hibiscus plant that was in bloom. I really think they missed this plant and the other one I found earlier in my stay. The majority of the Hibiscus plants are all severely pruned. I understand that the plants will turn into massive bushes if they aren’t tended to occasionally.

Low Tide Along the Inter-coastal

Monday May 15th 2023

Today’s weather was a clone of Sunday’s. Overall it was a nice sunny day with high a temperature in the upper half of the eighties. There were no thunderstorms today, but some are in the forecast for later in the week.

This afternoon I drove to a little county park on the side of a creek leading into the Matanzas River. The river is the Intercoastal waterway in this area between the mainland and the barrier islands. The park is primarily a boat launch area, but it also has a paved trail and some benches. The tide was out so the water level was low. There were mud flats and what looked like oyster beds in view. I walked the trail along the creek and sat on the bench and watched the birds on the far side of one of the tidal flats.

The RV park continue to empty from the weekend crowd today. Everybody was up early since today was lawn mowing day. They seemed to get started before eight this morning. I could hear the sound of the mower in the distance as early as 7:30. Before I dragged my sleepy body out of bed the lawn mower sound was right outside my open windows. I let the sounds of a nice hot shower block the noisy lawn mower sound, but my day began a little sooner than I wanted.