It was foggy overnight. Everything that started to dry out yesterday after the hurricane was damp again this morning. By late morning the sun had burned through the fog and was shining brightly in the sky. It was the first day of real sun all week.
I got a text message this morning confirming the Eastbank campground would reopen at noon today. Gradually over the course of the morning I prepared to move back. Shortly after noon I pulled in the slides, lifted the jacks, hooked up the car and moved the three plus miles back to the Eastbank campground.
The site I was on before the hurricane had been reserved for part of my remaining five day stay, so I reserved another site on the other side of the same camping loop. I got parked on site 17 shortly after 1PM. My first order of business was to walk over to my original site and retrieve my water pressure regulator. In my hast to get packed during the storm on Wednesday I had left it connected to the water tap. Luckily, the maintenance staff hadn’t removed it and the site was not yet occupied.
Once I was setup I took a walk around the park to check for damage from the storm. All of the standing water has drained away. There was only a little water still flowing in the drainage ditches. I could see signs of dirt or mud removal and a little regrading of the gravel in some sites. The park was in very good condition compared to what it looked like when I left on Wednesday.
Gradually over the afternoon my fellow evacuees and I were joined by new campers for the weekend. Hopefully, things will get back to normal and I won’t feel as lost and homeless. The only problem is there are at least two more hurricanes that may visit the area in the next week or so.
The remnants of Hurricane Sally are well north of here. It is still very cloudy and damp with an occasional brief drizzle of rain. The sun is forecast to return tomorrow.
I am high and dry in the River Junction Campground. It is only has about twelve sites, but it was big enough to hold all of the evacuees from the Eastbank campground that didn’t just go home. This campground has been closed since March. It is scheduled to reopen at the beginning of October. The power and water work and it looks like it could be a nice campground when it is open. Right now, the grass needs to be cut and some debris needs to be picked up. The ranger in charge said they had begun getting the area ready to open a couple of weeks ago. We are fortunate it was available.
The damage at the Eastbank campground wasn’t bad. They have been working on it today and will be reopening it tomorrow at noon. Most everybody here will be moving the three plus miles back to Eastbank tomorrow afternoon. A couple of people that were scheduled to leave on Saturday are just going to stay here at River Junction. Since we are all in this evacuation together, we kind of got to know each others plans in a short time.
I’ll be on a different site when I return to Eastbank. When they closed the campground to new arrivals all of the existing reservations were canceled going forward and refunds were issued. I had to reserve and pay for my site again, but someone else had booked it for the weekend before I did. It is not a big deal, there are many good sites. I’ve got another site in the same camping loop booked.
The rain fell at a moderate level all night. The report his morning was that the hurricane had made landfall about 180 miles to the west of my RV home. It was moving slowly and flooding was predicted to the north and east of the storm. Earlier in the week I had verified with the camp host that flooding in the campground was rare and the location I was in was away from any of the areas that might flood.
Around 10AM the rain went from moderate to heavy to deluge. Watching the runoff outside my RV home confirmed that I was in a decent position relative to the water flow. The rain continued to fall at a very heavy rate. Around 11:30 I noticed that a couple of sites on the other side of the camping loop were starting to flood causing the residents to pack up and leave. I started to consider what I’d do if I had to leave and started doing a few travel prep tasks. Shortly after that I received a phone call from the park office indicating that the park was being evacuated. A ranger arrived at my site shortly after that. They were going to escort about ten of us to another Army Corp of Engineers campground in the Lake Seminole Recreation area. I’m not even sure the campground was open before we arrived.
I set to work at a steady pace packing and getting ready to move. The rain continued to fall at a heavy rate. Even with my raincoat on, I was soon socked through. The contents of my wallet are still drying tonight. I got the inside ready, the bicycle loaded on the car and other things stowed here and there. My gas grill went in the back of my car rather than taking the time to pack it away. Thinking it would be easier and quicker to move the RV separate from the car I arrange to have the ranger bring me back for the car after I moved my RV. While it worked out fine, the car was safe where I left it, I had plenty of time to hook it up safely and move it with the RV. The rangers desire to escort people to the new location was not quick. That was particularly the case once people were out of the low ground and the rain let up.
I set up at the new location in dry conditions. The sun was even trying to break through the clouds, My new site is tiny. I had to do a bit of maneuvering to get parked. I don’t know how long I will be here. My stay at the Eastbank campground has been officially terminated and my money refunded online. The though was that it would be more than a week before they determined it safe to reopen the Eastbank campground. I don’t know if I can stay here for my remaining week in this area or if I will need to move on. That’s tomorrow’s problem.
Another heavy band of rain fell for about an hour and a half this afternoon. That should be the worst of the storm around here. The center has moved well north. There is always the possibility the system will stall again, but I’m going to be optimistic and say it has moved along.
I woke up to the sound of rain on the roof of my RV home. It wasn’t a heavy rain, but it was a steady rain. Shortly after noon a band of heavy rain passed through the area. For about an hour the volume of noise on the roof and volume of water falling from the sky were over the top, but it was followed by a period without any rain. After the lull it was back to steady rain. At least the wind isn’t bad yet. I suspect as the direction changes it may become more of a factor.
Hurricane Sally is continuing to be on a path around my location. It has been off to the southwest all day, but it is crawling along at a very slow speed. Tonight it has turned north toward Mobile Alabama about 200 miles west of here. Who knows how long it is going to take moving north before it turns back toward the east. Rain is in the forecast through Friday.
During the break in the rain I took a walk around the campground. There is plenty of standing water between the sites. For the most part, the roads and campsites are high enough to keep the standing water away. The campground is nestled on the side of Lake Seminole at the base of high hills. Water is running off the hills and down through the campground in several natural streams and cement lined drainage ditches. The rushing water has cut into the banks and widened the streams. It is really spectacular to see the destructive power of the water.
Inside during the rain I’ve been working on travel planning again. I booked another two weeks at the end of March and have started to explore ideas for next summer. Between now and he end of March I have one week in February that isn’t booked. For next summer, I’m exploring the idea of less travel. I working on the assumption that COVID will still be an obstacle to travel. Maybe I can find a place to stay for a couple of months instead of moving every week or two.
The impacts of hurricane Sally have started to arrive here in the southwest corner of Georgia. The day began with heavy cloud cover. The sun never made any appearances today which kept the temperature down even though the humidity remained high. For most of the day the storm with all of the really nasty weather remained off the coast more than seventy miles from here. The center of circulation was even further out in the gulf. As the day went by the weather radar showed the rain shield reaching inland. Shortly after 4PM a band of rain rotating around the system moved into the area. Heavy rain fell for an hour or so. The noise on the roof of my RV home was a steady roar. Since about 6PM there has been only occasional light rain. More is clearly on the way as the storm circles this area with a radius of one to two hundred miles.
So far there hasn’t been heavy wind in this area. The current forecast keeps most of the wind in Mississippi and Alabama. As the storm wraps around to the north of here the wind will pick up, but much of the strength of the slow moving tropical system will have dissipated by then. Rain is the main concern in this area. By the time the system moves away on Friday, over five inches of rain may have fallen.
As you can probably tell from the previous two paragraphs, I’ve been monitoring the approaching storm pretty closely. Between the weather channel, the internet and the local TV stations I’ve been keeping up to date on the track of the storm. I’m in a good location. The path of the storm will be well south, west and north of here. Even so, I’ll be watching all of the storm coverage again tomorrow.
It was one more sunny day with thunderstorms starting around 4PM. Today’s storms were a little stronger than the last few days. The tropical moisture off to the south feed the line of storms passing through the area. A severe storm warning was out for this area most of the late afternoon.
Tropical storm, soon to be hurricane Sally is going to do a “do-si-do” with this area according to the current forecast. It will pass south of here a hundred plus miles away going east to west, then turn north near New Orleans followed by a turn back to the east once its another hundred plus miles north of here. My location is completely out of the cone of uncertainty and all of the tropical system warnings. The forecast calls for another three to five inches of rain in this area.
Assuming things don’t change overnight, I plan to stay here. Any of the places I might move to are going to be getting heavy rain as well. Who knows how well a different location will deal with all the rain. Here, I’ll probably be on a little island surrounded by standing water. The grass area on the uphill side of my campsite fills with water during each thunderstorm, but it drains quickly when the storm ends.
I watched some NFL football on TV today. Thankfully, the announcers weren’t as fixated on COVID issues as the broadcasters during yesterday’s college games. None the games I had access to were of specific interest. They were just enjoyable games. One thing I observed along the COVID lines was different compliance with masks by the coaching staffs on different teams. As I understand the protocol all of the coaches must wear masks at all times. On some teams, the coaches on the side lines had the masks down around their necks not on properly. I wonder if the NFL will fine them. They put a lot of effort into developing and reaching agreements on a safe protocol. You would think following it would offer the best chance of completing the season without major disruptions.
The weather has settled into a regular pattern. The day starts cloudy followed by breaks in the clouds by mid day. Around four in the afternoon a thunderstorm or two moves through the area. By 5:30 or 6PM the sky is starting to clear again. The pattern developed on Wednesday and has continued since. A new tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico may put an end to the pattern.
When I decided to be in Florida during September and October, I knew I’d have to be in tropical storm and hurricane awareness mode. Today a tropical disturbance over the Bahamas yesterday became a named tropical storm in the gulf off the coast of Fort Meyers called Sally. As of tonight the cone of uncertainty around the track has my current location on the very eastern edge late Wednesday or early Thursday. It would have tropical storm level winds near 40mph at that time. The bigger concern is the rain will start Tuesday and continue through late Thursday.
I’m watching the forecast closely. I’ll need to make a decision to stay or run by Monday morning. It is a slow moving storm. Right now, I’m incline to stay. I think I’m in an OK location, but will try to verify that with the campground hosts tomorrow. If I were to run, I’d go east away from the storms path. It is still going to be a very wet few days anywhere in Florida or Georgia I might end up. The best case scenario would be for the storms path to continue to move west.
Besides watching the weather, I watched a little college football on TV. The thing that caught my attention, more so than the game, was the discussion of COVID related issues by the commentators. Most of the down time between plays seem to be dedicated to convincing the audience and maybe themselves that it was OK for college kids to be playing football during a pandemic. Tomorrow the NFL is back with a full Sunday schedule. I wonder if a similar litany will be delivered.
The weather didn’t live up to the forecast today. The TV weather talkers predicted a lower chance of thunderstorms than Thursday, but the whole area has been thoroughly wet down tonight. After a cloudy start the sun broke through for a couple of hours before the thunderstorms moved in around 4PM. By the time the rain let up a couple of hours later there were deep puddles all around my RV.
At least the rain is a relief from the bugs. This area is experiencing two invasive bug species. The first is common throughout Florida twice a year. This is the September outbreak of Love Bugs. They hatch, lock onto a mate and swarm around long enough to complete the deed. I ran through a few small swarms on my way here. They make a mess of the front of the RV that needs to be cleaned up before they harm the paint. Since I’ve been here a swarm or two has appeared every afternoon. They don’t bite. They are just an annoyance.
The other invasive species is more unique to this location. The park has a problem with Argentine Ants. You are warned when you check in to keep power cords and hoses off the ground. They also recommend that you spread insecticide around your tires and level jacks. Basically, make it as hard as possible for the ants to get into your RV. I’ve done all of the recommended preventive measures and remain vigilant. I’m at the point of over reacting to any bug I see moving. The heavy rain keeps the ants away, but also washes the insecticide away. The Argentine ants also don’t bite people. It is my understanding that they go for grease and sweets. If they get inside I’ll have a real problem getting rid of them.
The more tropical weather that has been slowly moving in from the east coast finally caught up with me today. The day began partly sunny and humid and concluded with lots or rain and a little thunder and lightening. The rain arrived in two parts. The first heavy thunderstorms arrived shortly after 4PM with lots of thunder and lightening. The second wave arrived shortly before 9PM with less noise, but plenty of rain. It is still raining as I write this blog entry. The weather radar on my phone indicates it will be raining into the night.
I finished setting up for my two week stay this morning before exploring the park. The sixty five sites in the park are only sparsely filled. I expect it will be much busier over the weekend. There is a lot of open space between sites filled with green grass and an occasional tree. It is a very pretty campground.
Lake Seminole boarders the west side of the campground. Thus the name Eastbank campground. This side of the lake created by damming the confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers is filled with water plants. There is plenty of open water from the middle toward the west bank that supports recreational boat use and I think some commercial boat traffic. There was a USCG buoy tender cruising back and forth this morning. People fishing from boats seem to favor the edge between the clear water and the plant filled water. That is probably a drop off to deeper water where the fish gather.
Today was moving day. I left Jennings Florida at the 11AM checkout time. The check in time at my destination was specified at 4PM. You can usually cheat that time as long as the site is empty, but I’d read a comment or two on the internet about that not being possible at my destination. The online reservation system indicated that the site I was destine to occupy was reserved for Tuesday night. I needed to arrive after the 3PM checkout time to minimize the potential for issues.
The Google maps route to my destination was only 120 miles long. To stretch a drive of little over 2 hour into 4 plus hours was my challenge of the day. I stopped at three different rest areas and two gas stations. At each rest area I spent from half an hour to an hour before I got bored and moved on. The two gas stations were at the same exit. The first one I tried was very busy. Getting to a pump was a real challenge. The gas station across the street was empty with a similar gas price, so I went across the street. I arrived at my destination around 3:30PM and had no problem getting checked in. For a short drive, it seemed like I’d been driving all day.
I’m at the Eastbank Campground on Lake Seminole in the southwest corner of Georgia for the next two weeks. To get here you need to drive through the middle of the nearest town of Chattahoochee Florida. This US Army Corps of Engineers campground is in a unique location on the east bank of Lake Seminole near the dam before the water flows into the Apalachicola river. The lake and the Chattahoochee River that flows into the lake form part of the boarder between Florida and Georgia. The east west boarder turns north south in the middle of the dam. The lake and rivers also form the dividing line between the eastern and central time zones. I’m in the eastern time zone, but the cell tower my phone is using is in the central time zone. Consequently, the time on my phone is off by an hour. The other temporal confusion is caused by the TV stations I can receive. Most of them are from Alabama in the central time zone. Oh, the little challenges life on the road creates.