Groceries and Wind

Wednesday November 18th 2020

Today was a little cloudier and a lot windier than Tuesday. The end result was a day in the low seventies when the sun was out. Overall it is about eight degrees below the normal high temperature for the day.

The wind was blowing at a constant 20+ MPH with gusts even higher.

With all the discussion about new shortages at the grocery store and a desire to avoid the Thanksgiving Day rush, I made a provisioning run today. Based on national news reports I expected a higher level of COVID awareness at the local Walmart. They had restored the one way entry and the barriers to funnel people in the door. I did not see anyone counting to limit the number of people inside or reminding people to wear masks. In fact, I saw more people not wearing masks in the store than I’ve seen since I was in the middle of nowhere. The store was busy, but not over crowded.

Head tucked in to stay out of the wind.

There was some evidence of shortages, but not so bad that I couldn’t get a version of everything I needed. The paper goods aisle was rather bare, but there was a limited amount of odd brands on the shelves. In the meat area the options were limited, but that could have been the time of day. People seemed to be buying a lot of eggs, as if they hadn’t been available on their previous visit. In general, it was just an odd experience. I have everything I need to avoid the grocery store until next month.

Kite boarders and Wind surfers in the rough seas.

Back at Jetty Park this afternoon the weather was keeping the number of people visiting the beach and the fishing pier down. The kite boarders and sail boarders had taken the place of the sunbathers on the beach. Surfboard Kites were in the air all along the beach toward Cocoa Beach.

One of the park’s feral cats.

I walked along the beach path and around the park perimeter trail checking out the wildlife. The thick bushes are home to the parks colony of feral cats. It’s possible to see the cats in all areas of the park, but you are almost guarantied to see a cat or two near the shelter and feeding station in the bushes the volunteers have built. I saw a couple of cats today. They don’t want to have anything to do with people and that’s the way I like it.

There is also a retention pond between the park and the timeshare condos to the south. The pond is home to many birds including swans and other species that I suspect are encouraged to be there. I need to do some research to identify some of the species.

A Day at the Port

Tuesday November 17th 2020

The overnight temperature was in the low sixties. Even though it was a bright sunny day the temperature only peaked in the mid seventies. The primary component to today’s weather was a strong north wind. It was so strong the pelicans were flying sideways keeping their heads into the wind.

I spent the day wandering around the campground, day use area, and beach. All the time keeping my eye on the inlet to the port watching for interesting activity. During these pandemic dominated times, the port isn’t as active as it has been. The biggest difference is the lack of cruise ships. On a normal prepandemic day there would be between one and five cruise ships in port. Now the cruise ships are all anchored at sea or sailing in circles in various areas of the worlds oceans. One area with a few dozen cruise ships is between Miami and Freeport in the Bahamas. I understand the ships based here come in once in a while for supplies.

Battered pilot boat waiting for business.
Sailboat following a ship out of port.

The big event for the day was watching the departure of a US Navy ship from the Navy dock in the boat basin across the inlet from the campground. The littoral combat ship USS Detroit (LCS 7) was towed in about ten days ago after loosing propulsion in the Caribbean. There was a huge crane towering over the ship most of the day as they finished up getting it operational enough to reach its home port of Mayport near Jacksonville. Two tugs arrived near the slack low tide to get it turned around and headed out to sea.

USS Detroit tied up at the Navy dock in Port Canaveral.
USS Detroit pulled away from the dock and partially turned by tugs.
Heading out the channel into the Atlantic.

The county and Port Authority are limiting access to the campground, fishing pier and beach to support social distancing. They have also blocked off areas and closed things like the kids playground. Even with the limited capacity there are still more people wandering around, fishing and using the beach than I’ve experienced at other campgrounds and parks this year. The people here all have different levels of social distancing awareness. Some people are wearing masks, others make sure they don’t get to close to other people and some seem oblivious to all concerns. I try to give other people a wide berth. If someones is approaching down a narrow path, I’ll wait for them to pass before entering the path. I’m also reluctant to go out on the narrower section of the pier lined with fishermen. If I do go out on the pier, I’ll probably wear my mask. Today it was in my pocket.

Travel Day to Port Canaveral

Monday November 16th 2020

The temperature cooled into the sixties overnight. It was refreshing morning with low humidity and bright sun. Overall it proved to be good weather for traveling for a change.

I spent the morning slowly getting ready to travel. The noon checkout time was in sight as I rolled out of the Compass RV Resort a little after 11:30AM. The only complication during my preparations was having to dodge the grass mowing crew, but that only lasted for a few minutes.

There were no issues on the 125 mile trip south on Interstate 95. As anticipated the traffic thinned out greatly south of Daytona Beach. I stopped at both rest areas along the way to stretch my legs and slow down my progress. The proscribed check in time is 2PM, but I’m pretty sure anytime after noon would probably be OK. I arrived at Jetty Park in Port Canaveral at 2PM almost to the minute.

This park is an odd mix of a public and private RV park. It is run by the Port Authority. They have an unusual set of COVID restrictions. I made my reservations last December long before the pandemic. They only had “semi-improved” sites with water and electric hookups available for the two week duration of my stay. They are currently limiting capacity, primarily by only using the full hookup sites. It is not possible to get a new reservation for a “semi-improved” or lesser featured site, but luckily they are honoring existing reservations in November and December. All of the check in was done on the phone last week. When I arrived at the gate they just handed me a packet and said follow the map to your site. In the past you had to visit the office to complete the check in process.

Site 121 at Jetty Park in Port Canaveral Florida.

I’m set up on my site for the next two weeks. I haven’t had a chance to really explore the park yet. The area with the majority of the “semi-improved” and “unimproved” sites is empty. The full hookup sites look to be fully occupied as I expected. The hours the day use and beach sections of the park are open is also limited. I haven’t walked over to the fishing pier or beach yet.

Another Do Nothing Kind of Day

Sunday November 15th 2020

I slept without the AC on for the first time in a while last night. It was in the sixties overnight. I only got up this morning when the sun had increased the inside temperature into the eighties. It was well after 9AM. That set the pattern for the day. It was a lazy do nothing kind of day.

The occupants of the campground turned over significantly today. The weekenders were all gone by the noon checkout time. Not long after that new residents started arriving. I suspect there is some form of motorcycle or more accurately Trike club gathering in the RV park this week. Two motorhomes towing trailers with three wheeled motorcycles arrived shortly after noon to sites near mine. Later in the day I noticed other similar trikes at other sites in the campground.

The neighbor on the other side of my site isn’t leaving anytime soon. It’s a young family that seems to be here for the long hall. They already have Christmas decorations up. It can’t be very comfortable in their trailer with 4 young kids and a cat along with the parents. An older couple that I suspect are the grandparents arrive during the day to add to the swarm of people going in and out of the trailer. I hope this is only a temporary housing situation.

Tomorrow I move on. I’ll be returning south about 100 miles to Port Canaveral. I’ll be back on my winter plan staying at Jetty park until the end of the month. The activity in the port is always interesting to watch. This time there won’t be any cruise ships, but there should be other types of traffic. I’m looking forward to my stay.

Decompression Day

Saturday November 14th 2020

Today was a decompression day. It was the first day in more than a week that I didn’t have to worry about a tropical weather system or moving to a new location. Even though I’m only here until Monday, I know where I’m going to be for the next two weeks. That goes a long way toward stress relief. Changing plans on the fly seems to be harder than not having a plan at all.

Blossom of the day.

Today’s weather started bright and sunny. As the day went by the clouds started to move in. A cold front is going to bring some unsettled weather tomorrow, but the week ahead is forecast to be the first real fall weather in this part of Florida. The high temperatures next week are only forecast to be in the seventies. After a month of hot and humid in southwest Florida and the keys, it will be a welcome relief.

On a couple of walks around the campground I identified a lot of changes since my last visit more than three years ago. The area of the campground I’m staying in was only a muddy dirt mess. It now has many brick paved RV sites and a restroom building complete with an exercise room. It is the most upscale area of the campground.

The park is mostly full this weekend. Most of the weekenders seem to be from the Jacksonville area, but the snowbirds are also starting to arrive. I noticed RVs from several northern states. It is going to be interesting to see how the snowbird season goes. I’m sure many people will chose to endure the northern weather rather than venture into unknown virus territory.

Travel Day to St. Augustine

Friday November 13th 2020

It was a cloudy, almost foggy morning. I couldn’t sleep in since today was a travel day. The sun was starting to break through as I pulled out around 11:30 for my ninety mile drive north.

Wildflower blossom of the day.

I selected St. Augustine to spend the weekend, because it was an easy drive. The other option I was considering was less distance, but required driving through a few heavily populated areas on surface streets. I will be at the Compass RV Resort until Monday. My usual stop in this area was full this weekend. I’ve stayed here before. It has more resort amenities with the higher price that goes with them. I don’t anticipate using any of them.

Packing this morning was a bit of a challenge. Two different neighbors picked this morning to startup a conversation or generally become a spectator to my travel preparations. It really slows the process down. I have to be careful not to forget to do any of the required tasks. With the interrupts, I find it necessary to go back and double and triple check various things. Hooking up the car was particularly difficult, because of the spectator and the unusually small amount of space to accomplish the task. I was successful, but not without more than a little anxiety.

Site 129 at the Compass RV Resort in St. Augustine Florida.

The drive north on Interstate 95 was uneventful. Traffic north of Daytona Beach was, as usual, very heavy. The added traffic from across the state on Interstate 4 really clogs the road. I arrived at 1:30PM and got setup for the weekend. The park was about half full when I arrived and filled up around me all afternoon. I’ll be here until Monday when I resume my Tropical Storm Eta interrupted reservations and travel.

Goodbye Eta

Thursday November 12th 2020

After more than a week in an elevated position on my concern scale, Eta is gone. The tropical system caused more destruction and at least one lost life in the last twenty four hours as it paralleled the west coast of Florida and then crossed the peninsular. I got lucky. There was some rain over night, but very little wind and this afternoon there were a few brief downpours. Forty miles to the north or fifty miles inland there was significantly more wind and rain. The storm is dumping rain on the Carolinas tonight as it moves northeast out into the Atlantic to dissipate.

I went for a drive this afternoon to checkout more of the area. In one residential area I found Christmas decorations. Several houses had reindeer, Santa, angels and other figurines of the Christmas season. I imagine there were plenty of lights as well. One resident getting a head start on the season is possible, but multiple houses already decorated makes me thing some kind of contest is underway. I know this is a strange year, but I’m pretty sure Thanksgiving is two weeks away and Christmas is a month after that.

Tomorrow I’m moving on for the weekend. I’ve been trying for a few days to extend my stay at this campground, but there is no availability for Saturday night. My next two week stay starts Monday about twenty miles south of here, but I’m going to have to move on for the weekend. Other campgrounds in the immediate area are either full or they weren’t answering their telephone. I found space available at two familiar campgrounds. One is fifty plus miles inland and the other is ninety miles up the interstate in St. Augustine. I’ve made a reservation in St. Augustine for Friday through Monday.

Here Comes Eta Again

Wednesday November 11th 2020

Monday evening the weather models had the cone of probability for Tropical System Eta heading north in the Gulf of Mexico bypassing the Florida peninsular. Yesterday the forecast path started to bend back to the east. By this morning the storm was heading into Florida north of Tampa and exiting somewhere north of Jacksonville. As of this evening the storm path is even more east to west. It is forecast to enter Florida near Cedar Key and leave in the Jacksonville area. The storm is also moving faster. It will be over by the end of the day tomorrow.

The good news is the storm is weakening fast. It was briefly a hurricane again this morning, but as it gets near the coast the winds are going down and the cohesiveness is breaking up. In my location on the east coast of Florida it is expected to only be a rain event. There may be up to three inches of rain, but no significant wind.

White Ibis picture of the day.

Eta got my focus again this morning. Listening to all of the local TV stations weather forecasts and a little more internet checking resulted in a plan to stay put. My only real option would have been to retreat back south into the area I passed through over the weekend. I’m fairly comfortable the conditions here will be wet, but not particularly dangerous. This storm has been a real obstacle to normal travel.

This afternoon I drove out to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I didn’t stay long. The wind closer to the Atlantic coast was much stronger making conditions uncomfortable and various message boards along the way were very confusing about what was open and closed. Some of the NWR is closed due to COVID concerns and other areas will be closed at various times over the next few days for rocket launches from the space center. When you put both signs and message boards together I was confused. Checking the web site after the fact clued me in to what was really going on. I did a little exploring while out there, but I was back at my RV home after a little over an hour.

A Normal Kind of Day

Tuesday November 10th 2020

The weather was back closer to normal today. It was a rainy morning and cloudy afternoon. The only real oddity in today’s weather was the way the arrival of each rain squall was announced. A few minutes before each new rain shower the sun would come out. While the sun was still out the rain would start. Soon the sun was gone and it was pouring. I got caught outside in the rain by this quirk twice this morning.

This falls rain is a real nuisance. Rainy days have out numbered the rain free days since the beginning of September. Everything inside my RV home feels a little damp. Little flea size and a little larger bugs have found some of the surfaces ideal scrounging areas. My can of bug spray has been getting a workout. I’ve even found a couple of geckos in the basement area of the RV.

Curious blossom at my campsite.

I managed to settle into my stay and put running from the storm aside for a few days. This morning I took the bicycle off the car preparing for local travel. My first errand of the day was a grocery shopping trip. It has been over two weeks since my last restocking. I wasn’t well focused during my trip around the store and came home without several of the things I wanted. It isn’t a big deal, since I’ll be near grocery stores at my next few stops.

Replacing my cell phone is finally reaching the top of my priority list. I’ve been nursing my current old phone for over a year. Its battery is really not holding a charge anymore. It seems to work plugged into the charger, but that isn’t very mobile. This afternoon it was really resisting the idea of staying powered on. I think the phone is close to six years old, so it is time. For a while over the last year I was waiting for the new phone models to be released. When the pandemic hit, I was waiting for the carriers phone stores to reopen after the shutdown. It is really messy to attempt to get it shipped. The stores seem to be taking customers, so tomorrow may be the day.

Riding Out Eta

Monday November 9th 2020

Tropical Storm Eta passed over the Florida Keys and out into the Gulf of Mexico southwest of the Florida peninsular over the last twenty four hours. I was in a safe place to ride out the storm.

The storm passed through the keys about thirty miles east of where I was last week. I haven’t heard any specific reports, but I imagine the campground at the state park was flooded and took a heavy beating from the wind. The state park’s web site indicates the park is currently closed. The area around my Saturday night’s stay where I had intended to be right now got several inches of rain and was subject to tropical storm winds.

Here, just north of Titusville, there was some rain and wind but nothing severe. It rained off and on over night. Sometimes the rain was accompanied by wind and sometimes it wasn’t. The pattern continued through most of the day. At times it was nice outside weather under a cloudy sky and during other periods you needed to be inside away from the rain. Overall, I was in the right place during the storm.

Currently, the storm is going to stall in the gulf until Friday. This morning the post Friday track had the storm heading across the Florida peninsular from north of Tampa to Jacksonville. By the end of the day, the projected track was further west into the Florida panhandle toward Tallahassee. That means this area should be safe. Unfortunately, this campground is full over the weekend. I need to find a place to stay from Friday to Monday. My reservation starting on Monday is about twenty miles from here. There are several options.

I spent the day still in a run from the storm mindset. I wasn’t ready to relax and settle in for the next four nights. I still haven’t taken the bicycle off the car. The weather forecasts on the evening news helped me ease my mind a little. My satellite dish is blocked by a big tree, so I haven’t been able to watch the Weather Channel. There are plenty of over the air TV channels to watch. For the last four weeks I have been out of range of all the TV stations. Which is nice since the fall TV shows are starting to air.