13. I really wanted this to be post # 15…

Kindra and I were married on May 1st of 2004. This year’s May Day was a very special anniversary for us and a great moment for us to reminisce and count our blessings.

When we were first dating, back in 2001 and 2002, we enjoyed visiting the wineries around Monticello in the Orange Country wine growing region of Virginia. As the population of Northern Va grew it became a longer and longer drive in the newly congested traffic… so we stopped going – but we have many fond memories.

For this year, we wanted to visit and stay over at a Harvest Host winery for all of the benefits of that system but also out of nostalgia for our early dating days. We chose the Kirkwood Winery and Distillery just outside of Summersville, WV.

I was telling the story as I prepared to write this post and unconsciously said “so that is what we did for our honeymoon…” obviously meaning anniversary, but what a sweet slip of the tongue! Kirkwood was perfect as a quietly romantic place to mark year 15.
They did a great job with the shop. Kirkwood is very photogenic!

Frank and Elizabeth Dix have done a terrific job taking a somewhat neglected historic winery and bringing it back to life. We enjoyed the tour Frank gave and Elizabeth’s wine and whiskey tasting. Good thing we weren’t driving that day! (We bought a case!)

Parked up at Kirkwood behind new buds on the vines facing the valley road.
View from our parking spot across the valley road

Kirkwood is in a beautiful valley and we visited on a perfect day.

We had the valley and the hillside to ourselves. The walk out among the vines was so pretty.

12. Pro ℞e Nata Brewery

On our way out of Richmond, our first destination was Crozet, VA. We enjoyed a nice stop just past Charlottesville and a good shakedown test for our first driving day in three weeks.

The Pro ℞e Nata Brewery is a project started by a local dentist who told me; “This is my mid-life crisis!”

John was very nice and made us welcome on a day when they were otherwise closed to the public.

His team working the warehouse helped us get set up and even sold us some beer.

Everything was *very* good.

Harvest host guests receive a coaster for their dash and a map of the desirable places to park.
Parked up behind the brewery
Right off the highway exit. Easy to find and plenty of room.
Somewhat still under construction. What they’ve already accomplished is terrific.
Playground for the kids!
Of course there is an axe-throwing range
The brewery is ready for your electric vehicle!
They have started a 9-unit shipping container structure in the back for more vendor/store/catering/whatever space. Even in this early stage it looks really cool.

11. Virginia Museum of Fine Art

Whenever we visit Richmond, we try to make time to visit the VMFA. The permanent collections are terrific, and it is a very well curated gallery, but there are visiting exhibits that change every year and always a few surprises, as well. This trip was no exception and we had a lot of fun!

There is a lovely cafe that looks out over a live pond
with beautiful fish and a glass “reed” sculpture.
The view from our cafe table out over the museum campus

The building itself is beautiful. I have my favorite rooms, for sure. We plan our route through the museum to make sure we don’t miss them.

Strangely specific max for this gallery… so… since I stopped
and pondered this sign for a moment, does that make it art?

10 Virginia

One of the best parts of being #homewith is the flexibility. We had planned on a few days in Richmond, but a bomb cyclone, new projects coming in, and another bomb cyclone led to our stay extending three weeks. What a wonderful thing to be able to visit and get work done and make the most of what would otherwise have been frustrating weather delays.

River loves visiting Grandma Janet!
(She also loves sniffing each of Bradley’s flowers)

Much respect to Bradley for all the landscaping work he has done in recent years… and we were just on time to see everything in full Spring bloom. It was beautiful and fragrant and the fruit of a lot of work.

A wonderful addition to the backyard! The burbles bubble up to the screened in porch. It made us want little brooks and waterfalls, too!

09 Greensboro, North Carolina

We left Lexington after a lazy morning and arrived at Grove Winery just outside of Greensboro, NC in time to set up, put on a collared shirt, and enjoy the afternoon wine tasting.

We had considered staying at nearby Lake Reidsville campground, but it was crowded with RVs and a bit further off our route. After the tasting, the crew working Grove Winery went home and we had the entire vineyard to ourselves. So nice.

Parked up at Grove Winery in North Carolina

Grove is a neat place for the wines alone, but they are also a venue for music and touring acts and other community events.

There is a party terrace outside the wine house, and a soundstage next to the pond.

08 Lexington South Carolina

On the trip up from Florida to Virginia, we planned two stops.

The strategy was to avoid I95, so we drove from the Steinhatchee area on County roads up past Augusta towards Lexington which is just outside Columbia, SC.

The roads we followed through farm country in Georgia and South Carolina were beautiful and we didn’t see a single other car until we were almost to Augusta. That night we met Shannon Mercer of Mercer House Estate Winery. He is a nice guy who made us feel welcome. We arrived too late to participate in a tasting, but Shannon helped us park up and it was a lovely place to stay.

07 Harvest Hosts

Where do we park?

In the first two weeks of living #homewith, we have visited friends and family and toured areas for the first time by staying overnight at wineries.

A day or two before we would arrive in the area, we call ahead to the wineries shown in the system and ask if there is availability to stay. So far, the answer has been yes and we’ve had a terrific experience.

Instead of staying at an RV camp arranged like a parking lot, or going for an expensive RV resort (which we plan to do occasionally just to enjoy the amenities), we found that the winery option is easy, pretty, offers a solo-boondocking experience, and is free!

06 Old Pavilion

Old Pavilion RV park is right on the waterfront of Florida’s panhandle

We have visited Florida’s Atlantic beaches several times, and lived on the Gulf for years, but never explored the panhandle. After leaving Sarasota, this was our last chance to enjoy waking to seagulls, Gulf sunsets, and palm trees.

Our site at Old Pavilion

A very nice lady named Miss Lynne took our reservation and helped us set up on arrival. She said she’s been running the campground since the 80s! All the folks we met were very nice. Our neighbors on one side were down from Tallahassee for the weekend, but the other side were a family from the U.P. of Michigan who were staying for the month. Fun!

The orange tree Kindra grew from seed enjoying a mild, misty gulf afternoon.

The Keaton Beach area near Steinhatchee is known for the shallows offshore that extend for miles of water only waste deep, scallops and fishing in general, and the kind of laid back “old Florida” experience we enjoyed during our years living on the Gulf of Mexico.

The view from our site
Waking up to gulls each morning…
“For me”, she says, “they will always be glorious birds”. ~ Maude quoting Alfred Dreyfus

05 Sweet Sarasota

“I Need the Sea Because It Teaches Me”

– Pablo Neruda
Siesta Key Beach is like no other. 99% pure quartz that never gets hot in the sun. Amazing.

After leaving St Petersburg and enjoying our shakedown at Fort Desoto, we spent several wonderful days visiting dear friends in Sarasota.

One of our stops in Sarasota was Calusa Brewing. What a home run! Calusa is worth going well out of the way to visit, and a terrific spot to swap stories after a beach sunset.

04 Fort Desoto

Fort De Soto park consists of 1,136 acres, hosts 328 species of birds and is a refuge to the loggerhead sea turtle. It has 7 miles of waterfront with several beaches (including a dog beach! rare in Florida) and if you are going to visit the Gulf Coast I couldn’t recommend another destination more highly.

Riverdog laying in the glow of the rig’s exterior blue led lights and looking past our camp grill at a pretty bay sunset.

This was our “shakedown” weekend where we drove out from the house, towed the rig over a bridge, parked up and connected to power and water, and basically tested out all the features and equipment over a long weekend.

From their website:

The park property was first purchased from the federal government in 1938 for $12,500. In 1941 the property was sold back to the federal government for $18,404 to be used as a gunnery and bombing range during World War II. The property was repurchased from the United States in 1948 for $26,500.

The 12-inch mortar battery, located at the fort for which the park was named, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Adding to the historical interest at Fort De Soto, two British breech-loading, rapid-fire rifles of 1890 vintage were installed in March 1982. Markers showing the original building locations and a Quartermaster Storehouse Museum add to the park’s historic interest.