Last Day at Lake Manatee State Park Until December

Wednesday March 22nd 2023

The overnight temperature only got down into the fifties last night. It warmed up quickly this morning. The temperature peaked in the mid eighties this afternoon. A partly cloudy sky and a gentle breeze resulted in a very nice day.

“hurry up and dry wings!”

I put off my grocery run as long as I could. My next stop on the Rambling Road Trip is in an unfamiliar area. A quick view on Google Maps shows a lot of undeveloped area for many miles around my destination. The bottom line is the nearest Walmart or any real grocery store is likely to be a good distance away. My goal was to stock up before I move tomorrow. Note: I just checked Google again. The nearest Walmart is 17 miles away. It isn’t nearly as bad as I thought.

Traffic on the road was heavy today, but the crowd in the Walmart was less than I expected. I was the only one in some of the shopping aisles. It was a nice change from resent grocery shopping trips. I even managed to find an empty staffed checkout when the time came. Judging from the final cost for the groceries, I succeed in stocking up for an extended period. That was confirmed as I loaded the groceries into my cabinets and refrigerator. My goal is to avoid another grocery run for at least 16 days.

The animals came out on my last day here at Lake Manatee State Park. In particular a young alligator decided to take in the sun on boat ramp. I don’t think there are many gators in this lake. This one hasn’t lost all of its juvenile coloring. It was only about five feet long.

Tomorrow I’m traveling about one hundred miles to Colt Creek State Park. I have never been to this state park before. It is located about twenty miles north of Lakeland FL in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve area. I’ll be there for two weeks.

Frustrating Start to the Day

Tuesday March 21st 2023

It got cold enough overnight that I had to put another blanket on the bed in the middle of the night. When I got up to make another attempt at reserving a state park booking for next winter the inside temperature was fifty five degrees. The temperature climbed quickly during the day. By noon the temperature had crossed the seventy mark. It peaked in the mid to upper seventies.

Wildflower blossom of the day

My morning battle with the Florida State Park booking software was another failure. At least in the last couple of days the software seems to be behaving. The error messages and downright crashes I experienced earlier in the year haven’t happened recently. My problem these last couple of days has been the low inventory combined with the slow bandwidth of my internet connection. Tomorrow morning there are nine possible sites across six state parks that I could try to book. I will only get a chance at booking one of them. The challenge will be to pick the best site that I have the best chance of booking.

This pair of ducks has been swimming around at the park beach every day since I got here. I suspect they are preparing a place nearby for the arrival of ducklings later in the spring.

The cold temperature and early morning once again caused a disturbance in my day. I crawled back into bed for a couple of hours after my booking attempt. The result was another slow start to the day. I ended up getting a bunch of chores done and an early start at travel preparations for Thursday’s move. My next stop is a new location on the Rambling Road Trip. I suspect that supplies and services may be a good distance away. I plan to stock up tomorrow.

A Cold First Day of Spring

Monday March 20th 2023

My sleep was interrupted by some rain and very strong wind gusts during the night. The rain didn’t last long, but the wind continued for more than an hour. It sounded worse than any of the gusts during the day, but the quiet of night seems to amplify a lot of things. The day was another cold one. The temperature reached a few degrees higher than Sunday. It peaked in the mid sixties. The big difference was the bright sunshine. The day didn’t feel as cold.

The ducks were having a hard time swimming into the surf produced by the wind.

I needed to get up early enough this morning to attempt to book another state park reservation for next winter. When combined with my interrupted sleep, the early start to the day really scrambled my day. After my second day without success booking a reservation I went back to bed. It was still cool inside my RV home and the warmth of my warm bed was to much to resist. It was after ten when I got day started for real.

This tortoise looks grouchy.

There are five sites available for booking tomorrow across six state parks I checked. February 21st of 2024 is a Wednesday. It is odd that there are so few available sites. The snowbirds season may be very active next winter. I’ll be trying again tomorrow morning. Between now and next winter many of the reservations might be canceled. The cancellation fee is not outrageous. You have to be very lucky to catch one of those openings that match your needs.

For exercise today, I walked around the camping loops and a few of the trails in the park. There was njot a lot of activity today. As the afternoon progressed all of the empty sites filled up. The park was a little more active on my last walk of the day just before sunset.

This noisy helicopter was overhead several times today.

An Indoor Sunday

Sunday March 19th 2023

A little bit of rain overnight brought a new day with a strong north wind and lots of clouds. The temperature was still in the fifties at noon and only climbed a few degrees into the sixties before the end of the day. The wind made it necessary to really bundle up to be comfortable outside.

Wildflower blossom of the day.

This was an inside kind of day. There was nobody around during my first walk of the day shortly before noon. It seemed like all of today’s departing residents didn’t hang around in the cool temperatures. They all seemed to get on the road early. Even the boat launch area was empty. No one was braving the cold and wind on the lake. Later in the day despite the continued cool weather the lack of people around changed completely. The pavilion in the day use area was rented to a very large group. They had a loud speaker system for announcements and music. The volume along with the wind direction carried all the activity into the campground. I could hear a muffled version of all the goings on from inside my RV home. They were just cleaning up when I took my second walk of the day near 7PM.

Thick cloudy sky across the burnt area of palms.

I didn’t find many interesting things to take pictures of today. It was dull and cloudy so the pictures I took weren’t the greatest. I take pictures for three general reasons. Some are taken just to support the narrative in this blog. As I’m on my walks I often think about what the content will be in my next blog entry. The pictures serve to remind me of my thoughts and ultimately to fill content in the blog. I also take many pictures of colorful wildflowers and occasionally the clouds in the sky to make sure I have some pictures for inclusion in the blog. The second reason I take pictures is for memories. These are things I might want to remember later. Short term memory items are things like signs with the name of places or trail maps. Long term memory items are usually more landscape in nature. These are places that I want to return or are particularly interesting, historic or otherwise significant.

The other type of picture I take more time with. I consider them potential art that I might want to frame or display at some point in time. For these pictures I take the time to consider the framing and lighting of the picture. I also am more careful with the settings on my camera. All three types of pictures might end up in the blog, but they are all scaled down and potentially cropped for inclusion in the blog. I took about 75GB of pictures last year.

Pets in RVs

Saturday March 18th 2023

Today’s weather was better than anticipated. Early in the week today was forecast to be a severe weather day as the latest cold front passed through. As the week went on the severity decreased, but as of yesterday it was still supposed to rain most of the day. The sun was visible in the sky shortly after sunrise. As the morning went by the clouds increased as did the wind. During the afternoon the wind continued but a few areas of blue sky were visible. The forecast kept pushing the possible rain out. It is currently forecast to happen overnight, but that didn’t sound all that certain. Either way tomorrow is going to be a cold day.

Wildflower blossom of the day

Many, possibly even most, RVers travel with pets. You see people walking dogs around the park all the time. There are big dogs, little dogs, young dogs and old dogs. Occasionally you also see cats getting walked. I am sure there are many more cats inside RVs. Other animals are also traveling with people as pets. At least once I saw a pet rabbit in a wire fence enclosure at a campsite. Birds are also traveling pets. On several occasions I’ve seen cages outside RVs and a few times I’ve seen Cockatoos and Parrots on peoples shoulders. Today I saw a new one.

Moving fast to get out of the road as I stood watching about six feet away.

On my evening walk I passed by a woman carrying a chicken in her arms. This wasn’t a little bird, but a full grown brown hen. Every time she stopped the chicken was allowed to peck at the ground around her feet. The bird seemed to be very comfortable with this behavior. I guess these people decided to travel with a personal source of eggs.

St Patrick’s Day at Home

Friday March 17th 2023

The wind was back out of the south today. It brought a little warmer weather allowing the temperature to climb into the low eighties. The next storm front is due tomorrow afternoon.

Fluffy clouds in the blue sky.

The last of the week day site fillers departed this morning. This is my term for the travelers that pick up the midweek days that the remain available to reserve after the Florida natives book the weekends. This afternoon the weekenders started to arrive. They come will all forms of equipment from open air hammocks and tents to fancy RVs. Usually the local weekenders are families or young couples. The atmosphere in the park becomes much more active and the weekday quiet is replaced with the sound of active play.

Egret on the far bank of the lake.

I spent the day at home again today. The local county and municipal parks I’d like to visit are busy his week. It is school vacation week in this area. The county is running enrichment activities at the county preserves for the school kids. The local TV news had a story on the fishing lessons and hiking offerings at one of the parks. I don’t need to fight for parking only to fight for a little peace and quiet on the trails. The weekends have similar problems, so it will probably be next week before I visit the preserves. There is still plenty of nature here at the state park to keep me entertained.

The day use area at the park was a popular place for St. Patricks day gatherings today. In addition to families picnicking with a very green twist, there was a full blown party this evening in one of the pavilions. I think it may have been connected with the park staff. They had all kinds of decorations hung and were playing music that seemed to be appropriate for the holiday. It sounded like they were having fun.

Cooing in the light of the setting sun.

I stumbled on the March Madness Basketball tournament on TV today. A few years ago I would have been glued to the TV watching the games. I’m just not into college basketball anymore. I don’t know the good teams from the bad. I watched about one quarter of a game today. It wasn’t good or bad, just plain ugly. I think I’ll continue to avoid watching the tournament.

A Day for the Buzzards

Thursday March 16th 2023

It was another cool start to the day. The morning temperature was in the high fifties. A strong wind out of the east arrived with the sun. As the day went by the wind weakened and the temperature climbed to eighty.

Lake Manatee with a strong east wind under a bright blue sky.

I don’t have any known pollen type allergies, but once in a while something in the air will get to me. Today was one of those days. When I went outside for my first walk of the day the wind was still blowing hard. It wasn’t long before I was sneezing and getting congested. I tried to keep going, but ultimately cut the walk short and returned to my RV home. Inside, I stopped sneezing immediately and about half an hour later the congestion cleared up. Later I walked to the dumpster with my trash and only sneezed briefly. Encouraged I continued on with my walk about the park. Whatever was bothering me seems to have cleared up. On my final walk of the day everything was normal.

“I see you human”

Today was a mixed bag of daily chores, a little bit of maintenance on a sticky draw and general relaxing. It also turned into a two and a half walk around the park day. This was a gopher tortoise and buzzard day. Don’t let anyone tell you a gopher tortoise is slow. I came around a corner along a path to see a tortoise about six feet in front of me. It scrambled into the brush in a few seconds. The other two I saw today were fifteen or twenty feet away. They just stared at me waiting to see if I was a threat. The pair of buzzards were at various locations along the lake during each of my walks in that area. They sure aren’t a very pretty bird.

Where Did the Warm Weather Go?

Wednesday March 15th 2023

The weather pattern in this area has changed. Last week the temperatures were threatening to break ninety. Today it didn’t make it to seventy. This morning it was very cloudy with a few very light showers. The temperature didn’t even break the sixty degree mark until afternoon. When the sun came out in the middle of the afternoon the temperature finally climbed into the sixties.

While I was out running errands today, I was reminded of how much change has taken place in this area since I started coming here in 2016. This campground is located 8 miles east of Interstate 75. The city of Bradenton is six to seven miles west of Interstate 75. When I first visited this area the build up of shopping and residential property had only expanded a couple of miles east of the Interstate. Each year I’ve visited the expansion has progressed further east. The road has been widened and two traffic circles added. This year the development has expanded into farm land only a mile away from the campground. All of the top soil has been stripped from the land, drainage and roadbeds have been established and the early phase of a housing development is starting to appear. The state park seems safe and the land beyond the park doesn’t seem to be attracting development, but the overall change is dramatic.

Four days into the return to Daylight Savings time I have manged to get my habits aligned to the time. I’m back to getting up at the same clock time instead of an hour later. The end of the day is the biggest change. I have to eat before my last walk of the day and get used to a shorter time inside after dark. The available time to watch TV and write a blog entry had to be compressed so I could get to bed at a reasonable hour. As you might be able to tell based on this paragraph. I’ve spent too much time thinking about it.

Today’s Plans Changed

Tuesday March 14th 2023

There was a big change in the weather today. The high temperature for the day was ten degrees lower than yesterday and the humidity was way down. The more northerly wind added a chill to the air. The high temperature was in the mid seventies under a very blue sky. Tonight is forecast to get down into the low fifties.

Blossom of the day.

It is amazing how a simple little fumble can change your entire day. In this case it involved a plastic can of coffee. I keep the coffee in the cabinet above my table. This morning it didn’t make it safely from the cabinet to the surface of the table. Instead it bounced off my credenza, popped its lid and landed on the sofa. A cup or two of coffee was spread over a wide area. Cleaning up the mess changed my entire day.

This bird was disturbing the peace with its loud singing.

I managed to scoop up and recover the deeper piles of coffee. Some of it made it to the trash off of a few of the movable objects it fell on. The rest required more drastic treatment. I got the vacuum cleaner utensils out and went into cleaning mode. Once the coffee was cleaned up, I continued on with the vacuum cleaning other areas of my RV home. It was close to noon when I made my coffee and started my breakfast routine. Instead of leaving the state park for errands, I stayed home all day. At least the RV got vacuumed.

Today wasn’t a good day for wildlife pictures. The most interesting discovery was an alligator in the lake. While I know that gators may be in any body of water in Florida, I haven’t seen any in Lake Manatee during my previous visits. This afternoon there was one about fifty yards or so from the boat launch area. It was monitoring activity on the bank looking for its next meal.

Weird Weather Day

Monday March 13th 2023

The TV weather talkers called today a Weather Alert day. I called it a weird weather day. This morning it was a nice sunny day with a few scattered clouds. Around 10AM light rain started to fall. It was still sunny and the rain seemed to be mostly on one side of my RV home. After about fifteen minutes it was over and the sun was still shining. Over the next hour or so the wind really started to blow and the clouds moved in from the southwest. Shortly after 11AM the area to the southwest with all the clouds came under a tornado warning. The TV weather people went into overdrive mode trying to find a new way to describe a picture of the weather radar sweeps for almost an hour. The area of clouds never got to this area. The rest of day was filled with a few drops of rain here and a few drops there, but the ground barely got wet. The TV weather reported rain in other widely scattered areas. The temperature peaked just over the eighty degree mark.

The afternoon sky.

The almost rain and the threat of severe weather kept me at home all day. I spent some time on the computer researching places for possible future stays. Finding places and making reservations is one aspect of this lifestyle that I don’t enjoy. Gathering information takes time and making an actual reservation can be a challenge as well. I prefer the campgrounds that have online reservation systems. Getting through on the phone can be a real challenge. Off season campgrounds often don’t answer their phones and I’ve yet to have a campground return a voice mail.

I still managed to get two walks around the state park in today. It cleared up before evening enough for a few fishermen to launch boats into the lake. A few others from the campground were trying their fishing luck from the dock. The gopher tortoises were out feeding in the grass and an odd little heron arrived at the beach area to forage for food in the vegetation at the edge of the lake.