Thursday, April 4, 2013

April in Florida

In my last blog I described how Joan and I had arrived at Mims, Florida, which is just North of Cape Canaveral. We had a chance to set-up and settle in before heading out to explore the area. The weather called for possible thunder storms and the sky was turning a grey and stormy looking, enough to convince us to stay put for the rest of that afternoon and evening. About 9PM the weather was the lead story on the local TV channels. At 10 PM a tornado warning was issued for Orange and Brevard Counties and the storm track is predicted to hit Mims where we are. We are pretty much glued to the TV by now, watching the red orange whorls moving across the map towards us. Meanwhile Joan and I are looking at each other and asking what are we supposed to do if it develops into a tornado and approaches this park? I decided that at least one other person should know our predicament. I sent a text to my brother Thane to let him know what the situation was and that I'd text him back in an hour.
We were lucky, the storm dissolved before reaching Mims.
We were really caught off guard and we should have known better. After talking to others who have been staying in this park for years we find there is no plan or protocol for hazardous weather. One person suggested that we could huddle up in the restroom/ shower buildings. The first time this happened to us was 30 years ago, we had just move to Dallas, TX, and we did not even know what the surrounding counties were- while the tornado was being reported on the TV we had no idea if it was close to us.
The safety-guy in me (my former career) expects a little more from the staff of the RV park. However, today Joan and I bought a weather radio with SAME technology. SAME is the acronym for Specific Area Message Encoding which is the technology that can reach out and turn on your radio and send a high decibel alert to wake you up, or send you running to the radio to hear the weather news. The radio can be programmed by you to accept only alerts for specific counties- that's where the specific part comes in. Now if we just had a storm cellar!

Since the weather today was overcast with possible showers, we decided to use the day to scope out the area in our car and see what mischief we could get into.

The cloud cover today kept the heat in check and made our tour around the area very pleasant- windows open and wind in the hair!

We drove over to Merrit Island, which is the large offshore island that is the home to the Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge, and of course the Kennedy Space Center.
 We hiked the boardwalk trails at the welcome center at the Meritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, but the with the rain and the early hour, Joan was the only wildlife I found to photograph.

We continued down highway 1 from the refuge and crossed back onto the island on the NASA Parkway.  We were not allowed to drive on any of the roads around the Space Center without being on a tour, and the tours start at $50 each for adults- that's too rich for us, so we decided to cruise down to Cocoa Beach instead.

Cocoa Beach is a much larger city than I was expecting.  Lots of shopping opportunities, and row after row of condos and hotels- very tony and chic!
Many places had these cute little two-seaters for rent.  They were fiberglass bodies over a 3 wheel frame, powered by a motor cycle engine and rear wheel.  Fun!

Joan and I decided to see what Cocoa Beach looked like, so we stopped at one of the beach accesses to stroll around and get this picture of the Atlantic.

Couldn't resist mugging around with the iPad...

We ended up doing a little shopping at Radio Shack and Camping World and got back to the RV park by 4PM.  After getting the new weather radio programmed ( more storms tonight) we had dinner and took a walk around the park, where I took this picture of a spreading sunset.

The longer we watched the sky the more involved the sunset became.  At one point I swear it encompassed the western sky for about 180 degrees around us.
Tomorrow more exploration!

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

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