The weather had changed and not for the better. It was cloudy, rainy, and twenty five degrees colder. It was just a gloomy day. The streak of warm, gorgeous weather was over, and it was back to more seasonal temps. I put on the space heater and spent the day covered up in bed, watching TV as it faded in and out, and surfed the web at dial up speeds. Yes, it was as frustrating as it sounds.
It was a curl up, read a book kind of day, and I made the most of it.
The weather had started out so nice today, but there was a change in the air. Slowly through the course of the day, blue skies were replaced by clouds, and brightness replaced by gloom, it even started raining.
I’ve found by experience that it’s hard to get good photos when its cloudy, gloomy, and especially raining out. Also, it’s not that much fun just meandering around, can’t see much because of the rain, and the need to keep eyes on the road.
One cool thing I did experience, was seeing a number of robins (oneofmyfavoritebirds) just hanging around. I asked them if they were looking for a lift north since I’m going that way. They looked at me, then at each other, and then proceeded to fly away, guess I can take that as a no. Hanging with the robins was another very cool surprise, a male cardinal, as red as can be. Seeing the cardinal, I know I’m not alone, he gave me a very comforting feeling .
My excursion of the day turned out to be going and having some BBQ. I did my homework on google (which seemed to take most of the day) and found what I hoped would turn out to be a good choice.
This place is aptly named. It really is in the backwoods and if you aren’t looking, you could go right by it. I liked my experience here. The staff was friendly and pretty efficient, if somewhat unpolished. The sides were yummy and the meat, well…
I really want to like BBQ, and I do enjoy the sides like beans, cornbread, veggies, etc. Since I’m not much of a pork eater, my meat of choice has been brisket (Beef). Try as I have, I don’t really get any kind of thrill from eating BBQ brisket, it’s too stringy and mushy for my tastes. Maybe I’ll have to break down and try some pork ribs.
The rained continued and with stomach full, headed back to the campground. Another day in the book.
Another laid back day amongst the pines. Gave the campgrounds the once over and then headed back to the trailer.
Getting into the campground required a 2 mile drive off the highway into the woods. A first for me while camping in a Florida State Park; The road all the way into the park, including the campground was paved. it was a nice drive bringing you away from the big bad outside world.
The campground is nice. The individual sites are close together, but being nestled in among mature pines, it works. It also helps when the site you have is tucked into the corner of the campground, giving it a much appreciated addition of space. The bathroom and showers were clean and provided plenty of hot water. I took a shower last night, and it felt oh so good. While you don’t feel alone in the woods (like at Myakka State Forest), it was well within tolerable limits. Water and electric worked just fine.
Dumb Move Of The Day: Yesterday when I set up, I did it somewhat the hard way. After backing into the site, which took a number of times of backing up then going forward, then backing up then going forward, you get the picture, I realized that I could have just driven straight in from the get go. It seems I drove past where you would normally enter the site, and entered where you would normally exit. I wonder if any of the other campers were watching, smirking and shaking their head.
The park consists mainly of the campgrounds (there are two), and a boat launch that will bring you to the reservoir. Not much in the way of trails or other activities, just a nice place to hang your hat and use as a base for however long one stays. It’s located along the shores of the Cross Florida Barge Canal as the canal flows into the reservoir.
A couple of not so great things about the campground. The OTA TV stations, well plentiful in number, had issues with reception quality. the reception more often than not would fade in and out, which made watching most channels frustrating. The Verizon signal was weak at best and non-existent at worse. Strangely enough, I would find that Verizon reception in many parts around the area, including Palatka, had poor levels of service.
Did a little bit of scouting around today and enjoyed the time and sights.
Today is moving day. Time to pull up stakes and head on out to the next site on the Itinerary; Rodman Campground State Park, FL. The campground is located approx. 15 miles southwest of Palatka, FL.
Had no problems closing down the trailer and getting it hooked up, even the dump site proved to be routine (thank you, thank you, thank you).
Driving down the long, straight, prairie lined, dusty road leading out of the park, I felt a bit of a tug to stay. Not sure why but I really like this area. Maybe because It felt like a place one could easily call home. Might have to give a call to one of those outfits selling lots just outside the park (just kidding?).
The drive today was going to be a relatively long one. It would end up being 210 miles, and take a little over four hours behind the wheel. In order to skirt all the congestion around the Orlando area, I broke down, and after going through St. Cloud and Kissimmee with it’s heavy stop and go traffic, decided to take the interstate (which I don’t like), This decision also took me onto not one, but two turnpike-toll roads (which I dislike even more). As much as I didn’t like taking those roads, it did make it a lot easier to get through the Orlando area. Didn’t see any of the exhibits that the Orlando area is famous for, about the closest I got to Disney World or Universal Studios, was seeing road signs directing you how to get there. It’s OK, I didn’t feel bummed about not going to any of the theme parks, they just aren’t my thang.
Those freakin toll roads, let me tell you about them. The first one I get on, I had to stop within the first mile and pay a $3.00 toll. Off I go for about twenty miles (if even that) where I get off and immediately onto another toll road. I again have to stop shortly after getting on and this time pay a $2.25 toll, I was a bit surprised, since I didn’t think this was a toll road. As I travel further along, there were three locations I went past where a photo of your license was taken and you are mailed a bill for the toll (plus a $2.25 service fee). Now, each of those spots that took the photo charge you $1.01. For me to go maybe forty miles, it cost me $10.53. I do not like toll roads, we pay taxes for the building and maintaining of our interstate system, and now they want us to pay again. I think that’s B.S. Now, I know people will say hey, just don’t take the toll road, and I agree with that sentiment, but then provide decent alternatives that can be taken.
As the miles progressed, watched the landscape slowly transition from flatlands to rolling hills, and from prairie, pastures, and palm trees, to forests of pines. Make no mistake about it, we had left South Florida.
After getting off the toll roads, the ride became more and more relaxed, both in traffic congestion, and terms of development. The pines took over the scenery, and the ‘feel’ became more rustic, the transition from “South Florida,” to Old South” was complete.
Made it to the campground, checked in, and set up. While the sites look to be rather close together, there does appear to be enough room to stretch out (so to speak). Honey, we’re home for the next seven days.
Spent part of the day doing errands around Okeechobee, and the rest of the time, doing very little around the campground.
Last day in Kissimmee Preserve. While there hasn’t been a lot of activities or excursions to do around the area, that’s been OK, I’ve felt so comfortable just hanging out. Yea, It’s been a bit of a drive going into Okeechobee but I’m not complaining, I’ve enjoyed my drives around the area.
The weather has remained dry and unseasonably warm, take away the humidity, and it would be perfect.
I’ve enjoyed interacting (reallyjustonesided, withmetalkingtothem) with the deer, turkeys, squirrels, and birds. I’ve grown increasingly fond of the Snowy Egret. You see them everywhere, they’re so expressive in their look that it gives them (atleasttome) a personality. They always look so serious. It’s not uncommon to find them hanging out with the cattle in the pastures, they look like two buds just hanging out together.
The time has come to start the journey back, with Kissimmee Preserve being the first stop. From here, each of the subsequent stops will be slowly bringing me closer to home.
The trip down has gone by so quickly, and I’ve been so fortunate that nothing catastrophic has happened. In fact just the opposite, for the most part I’ve had a trouble free ride. Fingers crossed that my luck continues.
In reflecting, I don’t think there’s been anyplace I’ve stayed that I haven’t enjoyed spending the time there. Sure, some places I’ve liked better than others, but they’ve all been memorable (andenjoyable) in their own way.
Today was just another day in the life of this Nordic Nomad. If I were back home, I’d be sitting in the recliner, pellet stove burning away, gazing out the window. I’d be looking out over snow, lots of snow, and having no thoughts of going outside. Instead, I’m in Florida, bathed in partly sunny 75 degree weather, reclining on my chaise lounge with soda in hand, looking out over the plains of Kissimmee Preserve State Park.
What I mean by another day in the life, is regardless if I’m here or back in Osakis, I have a daily routine, and for most days it’s a simple routine. I wouldn’t be going somewhere or doing something everyday if I were back home, so it’s OK if I don’t go somewhere or do something everyday while on this trip (within reason).
That’s a feeling that really gnawed at me in the Everglades, that feeling of having to see/do everything and if I didn’t, I felt like I failed.
I think I may have gotten carried away, and started thinking of the blog as a kind of travelogue, and by not doing it all, I was in effect doing nothing. I lost site that it’s a journal, chronicling the trip being made over the winter and into the spring of 2019.
Looks like all the star gazers have left the park. This past weekend hasn’t been that great for looking at the sky. Seeing the equipment some of these folks were toting around showed they’re pretty serious about the science.
Something terrible happened yesterday. I don’t know if I can even talk about it, much less deal with it. I went out to change the flow of LP from one tank to the other (one tank was empty), and then restart the hot water heater. When I tried to do so, it failed to come on. Now I have a trailer with no hot water, oh my god, how do I deal with this?
Enough with the drama queen routine, just wanted to draw you into the story.
I’m not sure what’s wrong, it was working just fine. I tried to diagnose the problem, but with my limited understanding of how it works, that didn’t go too far. One thing I was able to check, was it getting LP? Yes, it was. Now, I needed to get a bit creative to get it fixed (it should be under warranty) and stay on schedule. I’ve arranged to bring it in to Camping World in St. Augustine, FL. on March 22. It’s a little wiggle off course to my next campground and I’m hoping (fingers crossed) that it’s a simple fix, and I can be on my way the same day. If I can get out of there by 4:00 pm, I’ll make it to the next site before sundown.
Worst case scenario; Need to order parts or delay in getting OK for warranty work. It’s anxiety inducing not knowing how it’s going to work out, and that I have little to no control over events. Initially, when the heater wouldn’t come on, I got the feeling of disappointment that was quickly turning to anger, and other dark thoughts. I rode the bad thoughts out, and focused not on what/why it happened, but rather, how to get it fixed without causing a delay?
Another test and bigger than most. I’m feeling good, even with a busted hot water heater.
Today, I did something I’ve never done before. I drove to Port St. Lucie, FL, (I guess two things) where I attended my first major league spring training baseball game. I paid $35.00 via Stubhub and got my ticket online. It was quick and easy. I did think it was kind of pricey, given it’s a spring training game, but the seating was decent and I would be close to the field. The overall deciding factor; I really wanted to go.
The New York Mets train in Port St. Lucie, and play at ‘First Data’ Field. It looks to be a fairly new stadium that holds up to 7000 people. It’s located in a new area of development and only a couple miles off I-95. Getting into the parking lot and stadium went smoothly, and the walk to the stadium was a short one. Oh yea, parking was $10.00 (nickle and dime you). One thing I immediately noticed was the intimacy of the place. Something you lose at the major league stadiums.
Walking to my seat, I took in the sights. Stadium personal galore to help you find your seat, bathrooms that you could use and not miss half the game waiting in line, concession prices that didn’t leave you penniless, $4.75 for a hot dog (Nathan’s), and $4.50 for a soda.
Finding my seat, I was happy with the view it afforded. I passed the time waiting for the game to start by watching the players loosen up on the field, and eavesdropping on the fans conversations about baseball in general, and the Mets in particular, all in the vernacular of heavy New York accents. (Here I go again with the stereotyping). I was definitely on the Mets fans side of the field.
On the other side of the field were the fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets opponent for this game. Growing up, like most boys in my generation, I was into major league baseball, so much so that at one point, I could name every player on every team in the major leagues. That intensity faded over the years to where today, I’m lucky to name a handful of players (or even my own name). Both, the Mets and Cardinals have always been two of my favorite teams. I thought, what better way to step back towards the game than by seeing these two teams play.
It was a hot one, got up to 87 degrees and when the sun was out, it felt like it. Thankfully, it was a partly cloudy day and when the sun went behind a cloud, you could really feel the difference, it provided for a nice respite. The seats were comfortable, my butt made it through the entire game without going numb.
The game proceeded right along and ended up being an entertaining game (especially if you’re a Mets fan). It had a little of everything. There were strikeouts and double plays. A Double, triple, and home runs (by both teams). In the end, it was the Mets victorious over the Cardinals by a score of 9 to 1.
Leaving after the game was as uneventful as coming there was. Took about 15 minutes to get on the freeway and heading towards Vero Beach, FL.
Vero Beach, is just north of Fort Pierce, with Port St. Lucie, being just south of Fort Pierce. Running along all three of these city’s is Hutchinson Island, which was my destination. I was disappointing with the northern part of the island. It started out with the ubiquitous hire rise condo’s and developments, and ebbed away into high price single family homes, like in the 3-4 million dollar range. Their was only one park that I came across on the entire northern end of the island where you could see the Atlantic. With walls closing in the community’s on one side of the road, and vegetation covering the high end homes on the other side, it made for kind of a blah ride.
Leaving the island and heading back to the campground brought me through downtown Vero Beach. It shows Vero Beach’s history in its style and colors. Simple 50’s commercial architecture bathed in pastel colors. It looked clean and felt safe. It was really quiet, but then it was Sunday, late afternoon. From downtown, continued east through the city. With the lack of palm trees (but a whole lot of other kind of trees), and its general layout, it gave me a feeling of being in a Midwestern town.
Once back on the road and hitting the pastures, I knew I was back in Florida. On the way back to the campground I experienced another first in my life, I saw an alligator on the shoulder as road kill. It’s always so sad to see all the poor little critters killed by vehicles.
My first spring training game was a success, it was a good day.
I’m afraid I’ve taken a turn for the worse, I did even less today than yesterday.
The biggest accomplishment was using a fair amount of elbow grease along with bug & tar remover to get the dried on/air blasted bugs off the front of the truck. I had such momentum going, I did the windows on the truck as well, and then, I faded fast.
The weather continues to be warm and humid, and makes a great backdrop for just hanging out. This week, I’m not feeling guilty about doing so little. I’m super comfortable being here, there’s just not that much to do in as far as activities and/or excursions. There are some trails that could be walked, that’s a work in progress for me, and while progress is painfully slow, I still believe.
Another lazy day in the Preserve. Stayed up late last night, and slept in late this morning. Damn, I can’t seem to shake this dreaded donothingitis. (OK, I think we’ve just about played that line out).
The weather has been nice. Each day it’s gotten a little warmer, and with no rain. It is somewhat of a mini bummer that the humidity is rising along with the temps..
This is turning out to be one very laid back relaxing campground for me. I’ve like being tucked back into the trees. I’ve seen deer a couple of times, and there’s turkeys that come around. I like how they scratch the ground looking for food. Add to that the squirrels, crows, and buzzards, and it ends up being quite an enjoyable place to just hang.
I did head into Okeechobee late in the afternoon to wash the truck. It’s been awhile since it’s been cleaned and with all the dirt roads I’ve been on since last wash, it needed it. Coming back from the town, Wow, when you get into the park at night and turn the lights off in the truck, it is so dark, I can see why people come here to explore the night sky.