Sunday, November 6: Considering we set out on Saturday, October 15, I’m a bit behind on my blog. Therefore, here’s an update on our first three weeks of fun and adventures…
On Monday, October 31: We arrived at Florida SKP RV Resort in Wauchula. This 55+ park will be our home base for the next two months. Fortunately, the south-central park was spared any significant damage from the heavy winds and floods of Hurricane Ian. While the park is in a rural farming area, Wauchula has all the “basics” and we’re about 90 minutes or so from Tampa, Fort Myers and Sarasota.
Since our arrival, the temperatures have been in the mid to high 80’s with days full of sunshine and light breezes. It’s a quiet park, lined with palm trees and lots of green spaces, as well as a dog park and duck pond. There’s a pasture behind the dog park, complete with grazing cattle and a few goats. There’s also nice size pool and patio, as well as a laundromat and clubhouse. We look forward to meeting the community at an ice-cream social this afternoon. In between our must-do coach projects (we both have our own list), we’ll spend our free time visiting Florida’s coastal cities as well as hiking the nearby state parks and kayaking on the Peace River.
Florida by RV will be a new experience for us. Because we had a blast last winter in the southwest, we plan to make our way back to Lake Havasu, AZ for another Xscapers RV Convergence (rally) in mid-January. We’re also booked for a one-month visit to Mexico! As part of a convoy (50 RV’s) we will venture into Mexico, staying at two different beachfront campgrounds We’re excited to be back on the road and hope you’ll join us for our adventures. Cheers!
On Monday, October 24, we left the family for an overnight stay at Elks Lodge #183 in Savannah, GA. On Tuesday, we settled in at the Elks lodge in St. Augustine, FL, where we were able to hook up to electricity and water. We stopped in the club and met the bartender, Donna, and several local Elks who gave us advice on local attractions and restaurants in the area. Over the course of the next six days, we took in the sights of St. Augustine (which claims to being the oldest city in the U.S.) by Jeep, trolley and foot. We started off by driving through St. Augustine’s narrow streets to immerse ourselves into the city’s history and its Spanish colonial architecture. During an Old Town Trolley tour, we visited the Fountain of Youth, the Oldest School House, the Lightner Museum and Flagler college as well as Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century Spanish stone fortress that was built to defend St. Augustine. Our driver was very knowledgeable about St. Augustine’s history and landmarks and made the tour very interesting and informative. In addition to the delicious seafood, another highlight of our visit was St. Augustine Beach. Because part of the beach is open to 4×4 vehicles, we were able to drive the Jeep along the dunes where we could park and wade in the waves. We enjoyed sunrise and sunset walks along the beach while experiencing the changing tides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Based on several local recommendations, we decided to tour the Lightner Museum. Completed in 1888, this elite Spanish Renaissance Revival building occupies the former Alcazar Hotel (commissioned by railroad magnet Henry Flagler). In 1948, publisher, collector and hobbyist Otto C. Lightner of Chicago founded the museum, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in art, architecture, history, and design while enjoying the museum’s historic building, eclectic collections, and exhibits. We also visited St. Anastasia State Park, which was located close to the Elks lodge.
Thursday, October 20: Ken got to enjoy the view from Zephyr’s passenger seat as we made our way to Lumberton, NC, to spend some time with Fester’s brother, John and his lovely wife, Jennie. Again, Jennie’s parents graciously allowed us to boondock in their driveway during this visit. Ken stayed in John & Jennie’s newly renovated guest cottage, located right on a lake. With its excellent lake view, the cottage was a focal point for everyone as we gathered for meals, conversations and card games. We enjoyed visiting with John’s three kids and Jennie’s son. And, our visit was complete when Fester’s brother Jim, and his lovely wife, Cookie, joined us on Sunday.
Sunday, October 16: Our first official destination was Asheville, NC, to visit Fester’s dad, Ken. On our way, we spent our first night at Walmart in Wytheville, VA. We’ve stayed at that Walmart several times in the past, so we knew it was a safe, comfortable place for one night. We arrived at the East Asheville KOA on Sunday, and were delighted to see that the fall foliage was nearly at its peak. As in the past, our site was next to the lake. The trees and their reflection on the water was beautiful and Sadie and I enjoyed many walks around the lake.
Ken took us on drive curvy, mountainous drive to Hot Springs, which allowed us to really appreciate the fall colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Ken made sure we visited the tiny St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope along the Appalachian Medley Scenic Byway. Built in 1991 by cancer survivor Beverly Barutio and her husband as a shrine to St. Jude, the 12’ x 14’ chapel is always open to the public and features stained-glass windows, pews and even a bell tower. Visitors leave notes, trinkets and pictures in memory of their loved ones. Because Hot Springs was one of our stops while hiking the Appalachian Trail back in 2001, it was a nostalgic visit and brought back many good memories.