On March 4, 2020 we spent another nice day relaxing in Wilmington, then we headed west on Thursday, March 5. We spent the night at Oasis of North Carolina RV Park in Marston, billed as the “Quietest Park in North America”. It is horse country and there are lots of nice farms.
We went on to visit Judy’s nephew Christopher and his wife Karina in Winston-Salem. We had a fun visit and ate very well! Dinner the first night was at Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro with delicious local food.
On Saturday we ate lunch at JoLo Winery located north of Winston-Salem, where we saw fun sights.
Reynolda is the home of R.J. Reynolds’ and his wife Katharine’s home built in 1917. It is adjacent to Wake Forest University, the land for which R.J. Reynolds donated. A place we never knew about previously, it houses a wonderful collection of American Art. It was fascinating; a very comfortable home, suitable for entertaining, but not at all pretentious.
There are also beautiful paths throughout the property.
Chris, Karina and Doug all worked on cooking a delicious salmon dinner, then we watched the movie Maiden together. We had a great visit!
On March 2, 2020 we left James Island in Charleston, South Carolina. On our way out of the county park we stopped to watch some pond yachts racing. We headed north on Route 17 through Charleston and the Francis Marion National Forest. We stopped at the Hampton Plantation State Historic Site, the location of one of the largest rice and indigo plantations in that part of South Carolina. The swamp land was cleared and cultivated by enslaved people who actually taught their owners how to grow rice and made South Carolina one of the richest states in the 19th Century. After the Civil War many of the people freed stayed on to work the plantation.
There are many old large live oaks at Hampton Plantation.
The wood structure at the left is part of a very complex irrigation system for the rice fields. The little alligator above was hanging out nearby.
The swamp above was part of the acreage that had been cleared and used for rice cultivation.
We continued north through the very nice little town of Georgetown at the confluence of multiple rivers – the Great Pee Dee River, the Sampit River, the Waccaman River, and Winyah Bay. We drove through Huntington Beach, Pawley’s Island and Myrtle Beach, then on to North Carolina and Wilmington. There we spent a few days with Deb and Ira, yes, the same people we saw in Miami Beach. We ate very well there – delicious salmon and asparagus. On March 3 they gave us a tour of Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach.
We had a good lunch in Carolina Beach, then went on to tour downtown Wilmington and the Cotton Exchange.
We also ate at a small wonderful Italian restaurant called Roko near Deb and Ira’s home.
Charleston is a pretty city, especially on a beautiful day! We used the City Tour on March 1, 2020 to see the historic parts of the city and to visit Fort Sumter.
These houses have a veranda unique to Charleston – it is on the side. When you sit there you are not facing the street. The houses are built one room wide with double covered piazzas and are called Charleston Single Houses.
We heard two explanations for the double curved front staircase on southern homes. One is that it is welcoming. more fun is that in Victorian times men ascended one side and women ascended the other so that the men could not see the women’s ankles!
We spent the afternoon taking a ferry out to tour Fort Sumter. Here are some views from the ferry.
Views at and around Fort Sumter.
The Port of Charleston is very active. There was a cruise ship in addition to the ones in the photos.
We had a good dinner at the Crab House, which reminded me of Durgin Park – yes, that is the second floor.
For the second night we stayed at a great county park in The Campground at James Island in Charleston.
On leap day, February 29, 2020, we traveled north from Savannah to Charleston, through Bluffton, Hilton Head, and Beaufort, South Carolina.
Hilton Head was disappointing, in that the entire waterfront is controlled by private resorts and clubs. They aren’t interested in interlopers just driving through!
The city of Beaufort is very nice. In South Carolina they say “Bew-fert”, which is a different pronunciation from the North Carolina town. There is a new Reconstruction Era National Historic Park authorized by President Obama and thoughtfully constructed. Beaufort County was very successful due to good state legislation, an excellent school system, and wealth based on rice production that included former slaves. For more information: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalhistoriclandmarks/upload/Reconstruction.pdf
The Beaufort waterfront is lovely and very pedestrian friendly.
We saw another good street sign this day on our travels: Polite Family Lane.
On February 27, 2020, we arrived at Red Gate Farms Campground in Savannah, Georgia, a lovely small park on a horse farm with ponds and trails. It is also a wedding and event venue, with huge old live oaks and the ever present hanging Spanish moss.
The next morning it was cold – frost on the field and smoke on the ponds. We were able to get on the Old Town Trolley Tours trolley at the campground to go into Savannah for the day. We rode the trolley through most of the historic district and walked through more of it.
Savannah College of Art and Design or SCAD is everywhere throughout the historic district in Savannah. We had delicious coffee at vedette, staffed by culinary school students.
We visited the American Prohibition Museum, which is historically informative and interesting.
Lunch was at Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room, where there is a set menu served family style. It was universally recommended, and the waiting line outside confirmed its popularity. After about 45 minutes in line on the sidewalk we were allowed in to the feast.
It was home style southern cooking – especially good fried chicken and biscuits. All the fixin’s and peach cobbler for dessert. Yum. We didn’t need to eat again for a day or two!
After lunch we visited the Telfair Academy, one of several Telfair Museums in Savannah. It has the Bird Girl statue depicted on the cover of the book by John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It is called a non-fiction novel and was made into a motion picture.
It was a beautiful day in Savannah, a great walking city.
We spent another day in Zephyrhills where we drank coffee, cleaned Sylvie inside and out, did laundry, and thought about where to go next. On February 24, 2020 we traveled west to Homosassa and Nature’s Resort on the coast. We spent two days hanging around, taking long walks; Doug prepared a homemade red sauce – quite a feat on our two-burner stove with limited cookware. It was delicious, and made for good leftovers.
After Doug walked and Judy swam, we attended the apparently famous Hot Dog Dinner at the Resort Club House. They had great food – Cole slaw, chili, good dogs – served by other campers for not much money.
On February 26 we headed north on back roads, particularly Route 19, going straight through farmland and timberland and passing a Georgia Pacific cellulose plant in Perry, Florida. Another sign on the way: Bean’s Pillar of Smoke Bar-B-Que. We stayed at Eagle’s Roost RV Resort in Lake Park, Georgia, a park near the highway that seems to be used heavily by snowbirds and others as a waypoint.
The next day we turned northeast to Savannah. Other signs along the way: On a church sign in Jesup, Georgia: “God can make miracles out of messes & mistakes.” Gooey’s Pizza. Leaps and Bounds Gymnastics.
On February 21, 2020, we woke up to a temperature 25 degrees below the day before – brrrr – from 81 to 56! Yeah, I know that’s not really cold, but it was a surprise. We drove from St Petersburg to Zephyrhills and checked into Happy Days RV Park, close to Tampa Bay. Early the next day we headed into Busch Gardens for the day. The theme is Africa, but they were also handing out beads for Mardi Gras.
Busch Gardens is packed with rides of all sorts – roller coasters and vertical drops, with descriptive names: Tigris, Solar Vortex, Cheetah Hunt, Falcon’s Fury! We braved the Congo River Rapids, getting soaked. We would have gone on the kiddy roller coaster, but it was embarrassing to go without a kid in tow!
We left Sarasota and drove north over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge crossing Lower Tampa Bay to the Fort Lauderdale/Madeira Beach KOA on February 19, 2020. It was a crowded large campground, but the facilities are clean and pretty nice.
We spent the next day riding the bus and trolley along the beaches as far north as Clearwater Beach and south to John’s Pass in Madeira Beach.
Clearwater Beach in February; it was less populated than the photos we have seen of spring break crowds.
On the trolley we traveled south to John’s Pass, where we walked around and ate dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Yes, it was all about Forest Gump.
Another sign we saw in Indian Rocks Beach on the trolley tour: It’s Your Day Cafe. Before returning to the campground we walked on Madeira Beach in the late afternoon. The views were pretty and the birds were busy getting dinner.
We spent February 18 and 19, 2020, in Sarasota with our friends Janis and David from Maine, and their wonderful labradoodle Annie. We started with a tour of Ca’ d’Zan, the Venetian Gothic home of John & Mable Ringling. Ca’ d’Zan means “House of John” in the dialect of Venice, Italy, and is part of The Ringling, a complex of art and circus museums. It is a beautiful facility, and one we hope to see again.
We toured Sarasota on a trolley to see more sights, including Ringling College, Asolo Theater, Selby Library, Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, Selby Gardens, Sarasota Opera House, Art Center Sarasota, and Sarasota Symphony Orchestra.
We attended a lecture put on by the Sarasota Institute of Lifelong Learning (SILL). The speaker was Hedrick Smith, talking about wedge economics, his description of the wealth gap in the USA today. A lot to think about.
During our stay at Bonita Springs we visited Collier-Seminole State Park. We were not able to get a campsite at this park – it would have been a fun place to stay.
A fascinating display at the Park is the Bay City Walking Dredge that helped build the Tamiami Highway across Florida, an important transportation link between – you guessed it – Tampa and Miami. This gigantic machine cleared the thick layer of muck and pick up limestone that was used to form the roadbed. It used a giant bucket to dig and also to move itself along.
The Park also has good walking trails. We walked the Nature Trail through the Royal Palm Hammock, which is a salt marsh and mango habitat. We had seen the term “hammock” on street names and place names, but did not understand where it came from; we could not find a satisfactory explanation, even on-line. The Florida State Parks are trying to help!
We also drove through Marco Island and Naples – very exclusive areas. One sign we saw in Naples: “Peace, Love and Little Donuts”.