Tuesday, September 28, 2021

2021-13 Saint Cloud Florida, Covid travel story


A Roving Report from St Cloud Florida

The Affects of Covid in our Travels

Landing in Florida and My new Cottage

Sitting in my Florida Room overlooking the canal/lake

Hi everyone. I realize it has been a while since I’ve posted an official Roving Report. Having moved over to a private Facebook page for RV travelers and a few friends. As it is a quicker and easier way for me to post topics and photos of my journey. Those posts are usually short and sweet as they say.

But for the subject of Covid, as it relates to our lives and our travels, I felt it deserved a more thorough reporting.

For those who have followed my journey this year you know I started out in Tucson AZ where I often would winter. Then traveling the country during the spring, summer and fall months. Zippy provided the ideal solution for travel during the beginning of the Covid epidemic, as it gave me the ability to go off grid. Camping in National Forests, BLM (Bureau of Land Management) sites and even in parking lots and city streets on occasion. Keeping me well distanced on the most part.

We all still need to get food, fuel and other necessities whether we are traveling or staying in one location. I handled those situations most likely the same as you do. Shopping early in the day, ordering online, using curbside pickup, wiping my hands with hand sanitizer after touching everything in a store or at the gas pump.

The second season out on the road with Covid still in the forefront and having had my two vaccine shots, I and many of my friends started to loosen up and actually visit with each other. I can’t tell you how that first hug felt…. Well yes, it brought me pretty darn close to tears.

This lasted for barely a couple of months. But was a total joy to spend time with a few friends along the way. Even visiting with both of my sisters in Northern Michigan. And what an awesome treat that was.

Eagle harbor beach 

Eagle harbor lighthouse and museum

Doug, Dorothy and Ann
together at last, it's been a while

But after those all too brief couple of months, I and many others started to realize that due to so many non vaccinated folks, many towns and stores not requiring face coverings, it was once again back to the isolation mode.

After leaving Michigan, I would enter what I hoped would be small town USA where things would be less hectic and safer. That was not to be. If anything, there was a feeling that all those small communities, some vacation hot-spots, were even less safe than a year ago. Stress levels pretty much went through the roof. A small oasis in all this madness was Cherokee North Carolina. A town on Indian Reservation land where they required face coverings in all buildings.

rest stop with Blueridge Mountains in background

While doing laundry one day I started to talk to the only other person in the laundromat wearing a face covering. The older guy told me, the reason he had started wearing a face mask again was that he recently had lost 6 of his friends to Covid. He was obviously local, as a number of the other folks doing their laundry would come up and talk to him periodically. None wearing face coverings, probably knew of his loss, yet unconcerned about their own behavior. Probably figuring he had his face covered, and they did have to do anything.

Talk about an eye opener.

At this point, I decided traveling was no longer “fun”. Every day became more and more of a challenge as I traveled through Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolina's. It was time to head to my new Cottage in Florida.

Now many of you may think, but Florida is completely messed up and has more Covid cases and a Governor that just doesn’t care about any safety procedures what so every. All true, but at the same time, while traveling through Tennessee, they were rated as having the highest Covid cases in the entire U.S. The scenario goes on and on.

last stop in Georgia before
heading into Florida

Arriving back in Florida, oh by the way, my last overnight stop in an Rv park right on the Georgia/Florida boarder, owned by an elderly couple was interesting. Face masks were required or you’d be asked to leave. The husband, affectionately kissed his bride of many years before stepping outside. He would direct me to my campsite and told me his story. He and his wife had not been vaccinated and she got Covid recently. Being in intensive care for 5 days straight. He prayed on his knees all five days praying to the Lord to save and protect his beloved wife. Thankfully she recovered. A couple minutes later he said I don’t know what your political preference is, but I can’t stand Biden. He thinks he knows everything about Covid and thinks he’s a scientist. Telling us what we have to do. it’s just disgusting. I disagreed and the conversation ended wishing each other well, before settling in for the night.

Nova Road, through cattle ranches
leading to Shelter Cover (about 12 miles ahead)

once the main road leading into florida (hwy 17)

Entering Florida, using only the old backroads

Well now that I got off on that little story, I took a route that would let me travel through old Florida, on many of the original roads that once funneled Tin can campers and travelers of all types into Florida. It was a super pleasant drive and only took perhaps an extra hour of travel time rather than take the super highways to St Cloud.

Once I arrived at my new Cottage on Lake Common in the gated Shelter Cover community of Rv’s and Park Model mobile homes, I settled in. Taking time to assess the local environment. Spending the first couple of weeks “editing”, i.e. throwing out 20 years of stuff the previous owner had left behind. Actually Doug’s Cottage is in pretty good condition. It is fully furnished, but needing some updating along the way.

I’ve already made dozens of trips to the dumpster, throwing out an accumulation of old, worn out appliances, enough coffee cups to serve at least 30 people and a shed that had way too many half empty and in some cases actually empty containers of paint, insecticide and stuff too good to throw out, but no longer needed. Can’t tell you how many phones and empty satellite dish boxes I threw out.

view looking out from my dock
we have a canal with access to Lake Common
on the right

after many trips to the dumpster
the shed is starting to look good

sunrise from my deck, and the neighbors
are decks are all lined up next to each other

a weeks worth of work
painting the cabinets a "lounge green"
giving the room a fresh new look

Getting back to the Covid situation here in Florida. I’ve kept pretty must to myself except to say hi to a couple of neighbors, from a safe distance of course. One couple who now live in our community full time, informed me they both recently (within the past couple of weeks) had covid after visiting with family and grand-kids. Thankful they both survived, but apparently have no plans to get a covid shot. They told me the park we are in is rampant with covid cases. Even the maintenance guy who cuts the common grass areas is down with covid. My own relatives living in the area, all have had the vaccine shots had one of the family members come down with a break-through case of covid. Lasting only a few days and so grateful they recovered. Quickly. A good indication that being vaccinated can be very helpful.

A Bit scary for sure. But, at least I have the information and can hopefully make good decisions as to how to navigate this whole strange situation we all find ourselves in.

So my goal is to stay a safe as possible.

Get the booster shot for Moderna when it becomes available.

Already got my flu shot

ask visitors and friends three questions

Have you been vaccinated?

Do you use face coverings when going out shopping

Do you visit with family who have children or family members that are unvaccinated

I wish you all the best in your current locations. I look forward to getting back on the road as soon as I possibly can. For me, as this point, that will most likely be short trips around the state and eventually back out west, where there is much more space to explore and keep my distance.

My hope is that there will be an easing up of the covid situation by this coming spring. In the meantime, it’s nice to have a couple of projects to keep me busy at my new place. So until I get back on the open road, keep in touch any way you can, txt, FB, e-mail and even phone calls. Ps I have extremely limited internet/phone service at the new cottage. So until that gets resolved, txt-ing works the best.

Safe travels and enjoy

It may be a challenge, but it’s still possible

Your Traveling reporter

Doug P

ps, pictures are out of place, should be up next to info on Cherokee NC, but with limited internet it's taken me a couple hours to get this report out and I didn't want to loose anything by trying to over-edit the report.

One of the many waterfalls to explore in the area
NC (extreme western side)

River park in heart of Cherokee Town, NC

Cherokee Reservation Town, North Carolina
awesome little town to explore the area

Elk were re introduced into this area
really lucked out at seeing some
there are approx 225 in this area

a side trip along a dead end road in
along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the road to nowhere

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

2021-12 Apostle Islands Northern Wisconsin


Northern Wisconsin Lake Superior

Thoughts on The Apostle Islands National LakeShore

Campground: Washburn and Bayfield. Both towns have city campgrounds. Washburn has two. $35 approx for hook-ups and $20 for dry campsites. I stayed at the Washburn campground and couldn’t get any electric site, most all are filled up quickly. Dry campsite, overlooking bay. Nice views, good weather.

The Apostle Islands National LakeShore

The 21 islands making up the Apostle Islands National LakeShore became a park in 1970. Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands is not a part of the National Park and is inhabited by mostly seasonal cottages and a small number of year round residences. Served by multiple ferry’s during the summer months. Ice bridges are used during the winter months for traveling to and from the mainland. Though with weather changes, that is becoming less of an option for shorter winter crossings.

Private fishing and charter boats

Bayfield Wisconsin

The main way to experience the islands is by concessionaire boat tours, kayak or private chartered boats. I found it odd that the national park is referred to as National Lakeshore. Yes it’s main features and interest are the sandstone arches, caves and caverns created by the constant wave action. But the park is actually made up of the 21 islands themselves. Which are not accessible by the main concessionaire boat rides. Limited access for hiking and camping are available by kayak or private boats. Though I’m not sure how excited I’d be to camp on many of the islands as a few have been noted for having the largest number of bear population per acre of any place in America.

Reservations are required and available online mainly. Of course I took a chance by getting to the visitor center early one day and being only one person, was able to hitch a ride that morning. What did I think of the boat tour. I took the longest of the boat tours, past a couple lighthouses, and the impressive sandstone arches and caverns. But much of the two and a half hour ride was open water, constant narrative pointing out the various islands, sizes, types of trees and plants and animal life, and oh, look there’s an eagle and two baby eagles. Ok, call me a bit bored with it all. That and a bit paranoid whether I’d made the right decision going on a cruise with lots of other people with no face coverings and did they really all have their two covid shots as I had?

The few stories about the inhabitants of the islands and the 5 remaining hold outs currently still living on National Park land, with long term leases that will one day end were interesting. The park has preserved the lighthouses as well as a couple of the sites like the fish camp and the remains of a sandstone quarry.

To me I guess it comes down to seeing it from afar, but not actually being able to visit any of the islands easily within the national park. I think I would have enjoyed taking one of the ferries over to Madeline Island and seeing the locals and their cottages just as much if not more so. Exploring what it’s like to actually live on an island for the summer or for those few year-around residences.

Back on the Bayfield peninsula, the small towns are kind of neat. Not overly touristy, some good local restaurants that aren’t all about fancy meals and expensive prices. There’s even a casino on up a bit further that does have a campground with full hook-ups, fairly reasonable rates as well.

Old fishing camp, preserved by the national park

the town of Bayfield Wisconsin
most of the tours boats and ferries leave out of this harbor

All worth exploring, but as mentioned would probably do it a bit differently next time around

Ashland, impressive murals around 
the historic town

Ashland Wisconsin is a nice historic town with lots of great people murals throughout the fairly large downtown area. They have a city park campground but as usual, it was full up. Tried using their overflow area down at a boat ramp/dock parking area. Great during the daylight hours, a few locals came by to fish or swim in the bay. Unfortunately, after the sun went down, the drug dealers and a gang of half a dozen trucks lines up in the parking lot where I’d planned to spend the night. Even after paying the $20 fee, I felt so uncomfortable, I decide to leave. Fortunately, I’d already checked out a plan B. A Kwik gas station that permits overnight stays in their parking lot. Well lit and it was open 24 hours. A pair of earplugs and I slept though any noise that might have occurred throughout the night.

Though I think it was pretty quiet after the local traffic died down.