You can have text alongside the images by choosing "Object Causes Wrap" and then selecting one of the left three options. I don't know how the default is chosen, but it sometimes chooses one of the right two options, both of which keep it clear on either side of an object.
You can also move floating objects in a long document by using Section Breaks (under the insert menu). These act like page breaks, but keep text and floating images together within a section, so a change on page one only affects images in that section. It is not perfect, but it is better than the alternative.
If you really want to control things, bite the bullet and use Page Layout mode when you create a new document. You can set up linked text boxes where text rows around images that are fixed to a page.