It was April, spring was beautiful in Arlington this year and it was hard to leave, especially as French friends were stopping by and we would not be there to see them. But leave we did, as we had commitments in the south and to be honest, it would be nice to be warm after the winter we had experienced. It had been one of the chillier ones in the Northeast and it was not made any warmer by visits to New York State and Maine with multiple feet of snow on the ground. (Diesel heat in the Tiger is a wonderful thing!) So, we set off in fine form except for Denise who had sprained her ankle!
First stop was South Carolina, where we spent a morning at Tiger getting a couple of quick adjustments made, and then visited friends in Taylors, SC, a suburb of Greenville. We had a wonderful visit (even Blue enjoyed visiting a new house and seeing a new dog!) and enjoyed a stroll down by the river in Greenville, followed by lunch with a view of the river. The stroll was short as Denise’s ankle was still bothering her but it was a beautiful day and much too nice to be inside.
Then onto Savannah, GA where we visited a friend from Panamá and Liberia and discovered the Skidaway Island Campsite, where we camped in a wonderful shady spot. (http://gastateparks.org/SkidawayIsland) The weather was kind, sunny and not too hot, and knowing nothing about Savannah, we signed up for the hop on hop off bus ride. We barely scratched the surface of what Savannah had to offer but we did get a feel for the history and the charm of the city so it is on our “must return” list. Preview for the history buffs, Savannah was established as an English military colony to protect the rich plantations of South Carolina from the Spanish. Savannah’s old downtown is famed for its many lovely parks, each dedicated to an historic personage or theme.
We then headed into Florida with rain and storms predicted for the day and night. And storm it did, but despite downpours we made it safely to our campsite in the Ocala National Forest at Lake Delancy. A charming Forestry Commission site, we were the only people there! We dutifully paid our fee and dropped it in the box. (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ocala/recarea/?recid=32360) It was soggy and humid all night but we were comfortable and headed south the next day to St. Petersburg, FL where we had reservations at Fort DeSoto Park campground for three nights. Ft. DeSoto is on Mullet Key, a barrier island at the mouth of Tampa Bay and we had lovely views of the bay and a chorus line of mullets jumping out of the water for us and providing hours of entertainment as we sat by our camper and enjoyed the view. (http://www.pinellascounty.org/park/05_ft_desoto.htm)
Despite calling St. Petersburg home for decades, Fred had rarely visited the park. Denise’s ankle was improving so we were able to do couple of shortish walks, one on the beach and one in a nature trail, and also to visit the fort. Fred was fascinated by one inlet which had hundreds of fiddler crabs all moving in unison. We also saw multiple nesting ospreys with young in the nest.
Then, on to Orlando and our son’s MBA graduation. We enjoyed a lovely family weekend, some excellent meals and the presence of both our children (and our son-in-law) as well as friends of our son’s. Again the weather was determined to charm us with balmy temperatures and sunshine.
Our last stop in Florida was at a Harvest Host site, Golden Acres, where we camped for the night. Golden Acres is a small farm which specializes in goats and sheep, though there are an assortment of chickens and guinea fowl running around the yard. All the animals are guarded by big white fluffy Pyrenean dogs, who apparently excel at that and keep away other dogs, coyotes etc. We bought some Mayhaw jelly, made from the wild may haw trees in the lake and look forward to enjoying it. (http://www.goldenacresranchflorida.com)
N.B. Any camper owner likes wine and is not a member of Harvest Hosts is missing a trick. (http://harvesthosts.com)
So what are the 60 to 80’s? That is the temperature range, in Fahrenheit, for some lovely camping weather. Warm enough to go out without a coat (a nice change from this winter) and cool enough overnight to be comfortable without air conditioning.