10 Virginia (Family, flowers & fun!)

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 to add little brooks and waterfalls, to our new home plans as well. Good thing we know a guy!

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, and highways in general for the whole trip.

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.

03 Time to Hit the Road

First stop out of St Pete had to be the beach right below the Skyway Bridge.

Two Less Keys on the Keyring

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.

Little sailboat sliding by

02 Little Changes

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Arrived home with the new rig!

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

River likes it!

01 Florida Days

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.

Out Tillet Bayou and across Miguel Bay
Through the mangrove tunnel
Pulling up on secret beach!

The first board I cut for the garvey hull
Clamping up the gunnels
Boat building is mostly sanding… but I do love working with the hand plane
Floating in three inches of water out from Miguel Bay
Full power (4 knots)