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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
After months of selling furniture, packing and shipping our stuff away, researching and getting our rig, we finally had a clean house, happy landlords, and a fully refunded deposit. Handed in the keys and rolled away. What an amazingly freeing feeling.
After ten years in Florida, we are headed to the Pacific Northwest! Sold, packed, donated, and shared almost all of our stuff to travel the country in an RV until we reach Washington State. We are not “home-less” but “home-with” for this next phase of our lives, until we settle and find some land where we can build a home to suit our lovely, small, quiet life. #homeiswhereyouparkit
Given the choice to “Go Big or Go Home” I’ve always chosen home.
Living in Virginia and flying down to Florida to meet clients and work with the “beach team” never really made sense. We left the crowded, expensive place filled with concrete and construction, and moved down to live among the mangroves on the Gulf Coast.
Seven years on Tillet Bayou that we’ll never forget.
We did move up to St Petersburg for the last three of our Florida years. It was fun and we enjoyed all the amenities of being in town, but also learned that we are really country mice after all.
We paddled a lot in the protected waters of the Gulf bays and bayous around Terra Ceia. I even built several skin-on-frame kayaks and even a garvey-style power skiff with Mercury outboard and bimini top.