2016/02/22 (M) Myakka River State Park
Our destination today was Myakka River State Park (MRSP). We agreed yesterday to pick up Mara and Michael at 10 AM. That allowed us to sleep until 8 AM, have coffee and breakfast at our rig, and take showers before leaving for the day.
MRSP is only 25 miles from Arcadia so we did not stop for fuel or coffee. We stopped at the visitor center near the main entrance to study the maps and displays before heading deeper into the park. As on previous visits, our first stop was the bridge over the stretch of the Myakka River that runs south from Upper Myakka Lake to Lower Myakka Lake. We hiked south along the east edge of the river for quite some distance. Unlike previous visits we did not see the quantity or diversity of wildlife that we expected. Absent from our visit today were Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills. We saw alligators, but only one somewhat up close.
We stopped at the Forest Canopy towers and suspension bridge which is one of the special treats of this park. After that stop we drove to the vendor area on the southeast shore of the Upper Lake to have our picnic lunch. The parking lot was full but our timing was lucky and we waited as someone backed out and then took that spot. This area has a boat launch, restaurant, pontoon boat tour, wheeled vehicle train, gift shop, and restrooms. After lunch we walked out to the weir across the outflow of the Upper Lake, which maintains it at a slightly higher level. We saw a few more alligators and birds there.
We drove to the end of the road at the north gate and checked out the other picnic area that someone at lunch told us was there. On the way back we stopped at the Birdwalk, a boardwalk that goes out through a marsh to a point near the eastern edge of the Upper Lake. We saw a few more alligators from a distance and got a close up view of a couple of birds.
By the time we were done at the Birdwalk it was approaching 4 PM. We drove slowly back to the Visitor Center to use the restrooms and then exited the park and headed back to Arcadia. On the way back Linda and Mara decided that, in spite of a nice weather forecast, we would stick around the RV Resort tomorrow and have dinner together. Not only will that give them time to plan/prepare the meal, it will give us time to do laundry and relax at the swimming pool. It will also allow me to finish proofreading and correcting articles for BCM. The forecast for Wednesday has an 80% chance of rain so that was already planned as a stay-at-home day. My hope is that I will be able to upload the rest of my blog posts for October 2015. I do not like being this far behind.
For dinner Linda made a dish with vegan Italian sausage on a bed of angel hair pasta with onion, garlic, and broccoli sautéed in EVOO. Yum, yum. After dinner I off-loaded the photos I took today. We then watched the Nightly Business Report and NewsHour on PBS followed by the X-Files and Lucifer on FOX, NCIS Los Angeles on CBS, a few minutes of news and weather, and then Charlie Rose’s interview with Bill Gates on PBS.
2016/02/23 (T) Green Taco Wraps
It rained briefly last evening and more rain was forecast starting later this afternoon and extending through-tomorrow. Today and-tomorrow were planned as stay-at-home (S-A-H) days so we got up just before 8-AM and had coffee, juice, and granola with bananas. My plan was to take care of our fresh- and waste-water tanks and do the laundry before settling in to work on computer-based tasks. Linda received a package yesterday of year-end accounting documents from the bakery and planned to work on those today.
The skies had clouded up late yesterday and gotten darker and thicker by sunset. We had dark clouds to our west this morning and had just finished breakfast (granola, bananas, fruit juice) when it started to rain lightly. I had no sooner closed the bathroom vent/fan when the rain came down hard. I closed down the awning style windows until they were only open about an inch at the bottom. We planned to roll up the patio awning before the rain came today but now had to wait for it to dry off, assuming the rains let up and the sun came out for a while.
We dropped below 1/3rd tank of fresh water yesterday. When the rain stopped I went out to check the level visually. It was barely below the 1/3rd sensor so I decided to forego dumping and filling for a couple of more days. I might even run off the city water for a day or so to push the whole dump/fill/recharge routine off until the weekend.
I moved my laptop computer to the dining table so Linda could on work at hers on the desk. The accounting work she had to do for the bakery required space to spread out the paperwork she got from Dave (the controller) yesterday. I decided to just keep editing blog posts from November 2015 in preparation for eventually uploading them.
At 12:45 PM I started sorting the soiled clothes and linens. Linda quite working on the accounting and made sandwiches for our lunch. She made a grocery list and then walked to the supermarket. At 1:30 I loaded the laundry and my iPad into the car and drove over to the laundry room. By 1:45 I had four washing machines in operation.
I connected my iPad to the Resort’s public Wi-Fi signal at the activity building and connected through to the Internet, which always takes some doing. The problem is that the various browsers load cached versions of the tabs that are open and I have to go to a new webpage in other to trigger the filter and connect to the Internet. Until I have done that successfully I cannot check e-mail or update apps.
By 2:25 I had transferred all of the wash to three dryers and started them. I had six apps with updates available totaling just over 400 MB (0.4 GB) and initiated those. On our 12 GB Verizon data plan that is more than a whole day’s average data usage for a typical month (0.4 x 30 = 12.0). I also noticed that I had two new updates for apps on my phone but when I looked more carefully I discovered that I had 22 app updates pending. I had been deferring them until I could use the resort (or other) free Wi-Fi. When the last iPad app update downloaded and installed I connected my phone to the Resort Wi-Fi and initiated the app updates.
I worked on the draft of today’s blog post and played a few games until the laundry was dry and then folded it and put it in the car. It was 4 PM at that point and only 10 of the 22 apps had updated, so I pulled the car around in front of the activity building with a clear, short path to the antenna on the roof. I had a much stronger signal in that location and the updates progressed much more quickly. 23 apps were updated and the process finished at 4:18 PM. I noticed that my phone had somehow gotten set to show Homestead, Florida as my “home” location so I enabled Location Services, changed it to Arcadia, Florida, and then disabled Location Services. I checked to see if we had any snail mail and then drove back to our coach and put the clean laundry away.
When I got back to our coach Linda was cooking her part of this evening’s meal. We would be dining with Mara and Michael at Mara’s rig having “green taco wraps.” Linda made a crumbled meat substitute from brown lentils, walnuts, sautéed onions, and peppers. She also supplied the tortillas, lettuce, and vegan sour cream. Mara made salsa and avocado cream and a side salad with cauliflower, tomatoes, and lemon juice. We brought a bottle of Chardonnay and Mara had a bottle of Spanish Rioja, a very dry red wine.
We walked over with our contributions just before 6 PM and were greeted by Michael. Mara had walked to Walmart for some tomatoes and other last minute items and returned not long after we arrived. Good wine, good food, and good friends made for a great meal. We were still there at 8 PM and it turned out that we like to watch the same TV programs, so we all watched NCIS. Linda and I walked back to our coach when the show ended and watched NCISNOLA and Limitless before going to bed. I watched most of Charlie Rose before falling asleep.
2016/02/24 (W) Another Tornado Warning
Today was planned as a stay-at-home day. The forecast was for wind and rain with a marginal risk of severe weather. I was up a little before 7:30 AM and thought about going to the Wednesday coffee “social” but decided against it. I began preparing our morning coffee but waited until Linda was awake to grind the beans and finish the process. Linda got our Verizon Mi-Fi and Wi-Fi Ranger online and checked the current weather, which we compared to what was being reported on the local TV news. Wind and rain were expected in our part of southwest Florida by 10 AM and the Wundermap app radar showed a large storm front drooped from southwest to northeast in advance of a cold front and moving our way.
I finished my first cup of coffee and then went outside and put up the two window awnings on the driver side of our coach. While I was out there I drained the auxiliary air filter / water separator and stored the two folding bag chairs in the front bay.
We had granola and blueberries for breakfast and it started raining while we finished our coffee. We both had computer-based work to do today but Linda needed to update some things first. The rain stopped, at least temporarily, so we packed up our mobile technology and drove over to the activity building to use the RV resort’s public Wi-Fi system.
We set up our tech toys in the library and connected them to the resort’s public Wi-Fi system; two laptop computers, two iPads, and two smartphones. I had three app updates on my phone and Linda had 14. She had eight app updates on her iPad and I had one OS-related update on my computer. Linda downloaded a new audio book. I downloaded/installed the OfficeSuites Free – Mobile + PDF app on my iPad and the 2016 U. S. RVers Edition (PDF) of The Mobile Internet Handbook by Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard from the Mobile Internet Aficionados membership website. We also checked our e-mail while we were there. Between our six devices we greatly exceeded our average daily data allocation of 0.4 GB that our 10+2 GB Verizon data plan provides. Our normal 10 GB plan averages out to about 0.3 GB per day, and it is not sufficient for our needs when traveling in the motorcoach.
As we were packing up at 1:30 PM to return to our coach the skies opened up and heavy rains poured forth. Moments later both of our phones notified us that a tornado warning was in effect for our location until 2 PM. Our car was parked near the front door of the activity building so we decided not to wait for a lull in the rain. It was raining even harder by the time we got back to our coach but we had our technology in ballistic nylon travel bags and got them inside without getting them wet.
Linda set up her computer on the desk and I set up mine on the dining room table. We did not need to be online so we left the Verizon Mi-Fi turned off. Linda worked on accounting for the bakery while I proofread and annotated corrections for two BCM articles. When she was done for today I moved my computer to the desk, plugged in the power supply, and spent some time reading and responding to e-mails.
By 3 PM the severe weather threat had passed but densely overcast skies continued with occasional lighter rain. All of this was, once again, in advance of a cold front that will bring high temperatures only in the upper 60’s for the next four to five days.
For dinner Linda improvised a sauté of onion, garlic, kale, and turmeric with boiled red potatoes. It was a hardy dish; perfect for a cool, dreary evening. We watched a PBS Nature episode on Emperor Penguins, a Nova episode on rescue robots, and another program on Big Data. We then went to bed as we had to be up early in the morning.