Traveling in these COVID times is somewhat challenging but we feel a little safer when in our camper. A trip to Florida in November 2020 proved harrowing a couple of times but we survived and even had a wonderful time.
We try not to travel for more than four hours a day if we can help it, so our first night’s stop was a most pleasant vineyard, Hinnant Farm Vineyard and Winery in Pine Level in North Carolina, courtesy of Harvest Hosts. (Home – Hinnant Vineyards) This was our first taste of the muscadine family of grapes which grow well in the south. We much prefer dry wine but found the sweeter wines novel.
As we both like history, we next stopped near Charleston to visit the Macleod Plantation Historic Site. (McLeod Plantation Historic Site | Charleston County Parks and Recreation (ccprc.com)
This is a former cotton plantation with a Georgian-style mansion, slave cabins and tours. It is one of the very few original plantation houses around Charleston. Most were burned by the Union Army during the Civil War, but this was commandeered to use as a headquarters.
We were interested in the history of the Gullah people of the area. We first heard Gullah in a museum in New Orleans and were stunned; Gullah sounds almost identical to the West African Pidgin that we knew in Cameroon. We were lucky enough to have a tour guide with Gullah origins, who had grown up in Beaufort nearby. He was a wonderful source for information about the unique sea island cotton grown previously at the plantation. This cotton is finer and softer even than Egyptian cotton and is exceedingly expensive. As a boy, our guide had worked in the cotton fields, so he was able to give us first hand memories.
We stayed at the Campground at James Island County Park, which proved to be a real find. (The Campground at James Island County Park | Charleston County Parks and Recreation (ccprc.com) Although a large campground, it was designed for maximum privacy with foliage separating campsites. There was also a shuttle bus to the Macleod Plantation, (which is also part of the County Park System), which proved useful in the rather heavy traffic. The park had also just opened its drive through Holiday Light display all around the campground and beyond. We took advantage of our location and drove through!
Our final stop, on the way to Orlando, was the Adamson Oaks Farm, again courtesy of Harvest Hosts. Here we enjoyed a farm tour and saw a variety of animals including horses, sheep, goats and llamas. But the highlight was the recent pecan harvest and the wonderful pecan pie, which we purchased! Friends all received fresh pecans for Christmas!
Our visit to Orlando included a visit to the Lakeridge Winery. (Welcome to Lakeridge Winery) Lakeridge is a huge winery complex with several sites and a selection of wines from locally grown muscadine grapes and blends using west coast juices. Again, the sweets predominated, especially with the local grapes. It was a lovely afternoon out as the grounds are extensive and the weather not too hot.
After a quick visit to St. Petersburg, where it was cool and windy and rather spoiled Denise’s beach walking plans, we headed north by stages.
Our first stop was the Pioneer Florida Museum, near Dade City. A low-key, open-air collection of historic buildings. Some nice insights into the old citrus industry and an insane collection of old Lionel electric trains! (Fred always had American Flyer, but, you get the idea.) (Pioneer Florida Museum, Dade City, Florida)
Then on to to Colt Creek State Park to relax and do some bicycling. It proved to be a lovely spot and we enjoyed it although again, it was surprisingly cold.
Out of Florida, we stopped at Fort McAllister State Park, just over the border with Georgia. (Fort McAllister State Park | Department Of Natural Resources Division (gastateparks.org) We have stayed here a couple of times and enjoy bicycling around and visiting the fort. Finally, after with another quick overnight at Hinnant Farm Vineyard and Winery, we were back home in Arlington.