Monday, January 29, 2024

Westward Bound: A Begining


The Winery is at 275 feet in the historic city of

Our first direction after leaving Harpal and Jeannie in Winter Park was west to Harvest Host host member, Sparacia-Witherell Family Winery. Harvest Host members can stay one night free at any of the host locations, with an expectation that you will buy/tour/donate at least $10 worth. We always spend more than that! Scott did a wine tasting and then bought two bottles. Due to the medication I'm taking for rheumatoid arthritis, I am allowed very limited alcohol.  As this winery makes sweet wines, I won't be drinking them, but Scott loves that! We had a nice flat spot overlooking the vineyard and 80 degree sunshine - happiness.

The waterfront at Silver Springs State Park with a couple of the glass bottomed boats. 

Inside the boat with Captain Andy and about
18 customres.

The water is so crystal clear that we could see
down 26 feet or more and thought it was 6! The
remains of some "Greek statues are over on the upper
left, remains of a movie shot here.

Our canoe trip started down this bayou for a mile or so before ending in the Silver River, which we
took back to the boat rental docks. 

Scott and I grew up at camp canoeing so this was
easy for us - although then we were made to 
kneel down, not sit in the seat!

There was once a menagerie here as part of
the amusement park. The Resus monkeys
escaped over time and now roam the area
freely. We saw at least 15 of them during our
canoe trip.

The remains of an old fort (probably a abandoned
movie set) - very atmospheric though. 

Turtles took advantage of anything sticking out 
of the water.

Here they share a log with a drying Anhinga

Snow egrets are always beautiful

Next it was a short hop north to Silver Springs State Park and it lived up to it's reviews! The campground sites were lovely, widely spaced, mostly drive through sites, with clean bathrooms etc. And the park itself had so much going on. Silver Springs was founded in 1878, the first tourist attraction in Florida. It is the home of artisanal springs, one of which is the largest in the world (wikipedia).  Its' glass bottomed boats are still plying the clear waters of the Silver River. Declared a National Natural Landmark in 1971, it was taken over by the State in 2013. A lot of movies and TV series were filmed here, starting in 1930's with the Tarzan movies. Several James Bond movies, the Creature from Black Lagoon (3 of them), Legend, The Yearling and the tv series Sea Hunt were all filmed here, We did the boat tour (fun), rented canoes for exploring the river, and did some of the hiking trails. We'll be back there next time and stay longer. 

Here's a map of the canoeing trips available. We just rented for 2 hours and did the loop shown on the big map upper left and an inset middle left enlargement. Next time we'd love to do the long trip down the Silver River. A van picks you up at the end. But you need 4 or 5 hours to do it. 

Our next stop was two nights in Tallahassee at the Big Oaks RV Park. And it really had lots of live oaks, very big ones throughout the park. We had changed our plans to stay in a city when weather reports looked like severe thunderstorms - and then the weather changed! We had some mild storms at night but great days, although it turned cooler.

The main house at Goodwood

The grounds and gardens were not at their best
in the winter - they do get sort of 4 seasons here.

Scott right in front of Baby at our beach front
site at Santa Rosa RV Park.
On our full day there we toured the Goodwood Museum and Gardens. Our knowledgeable tour guide was very involved with the non profit that runs it - for 27 years! The main plantation home was first built in 1850 after the original owner and all his family died in a steamship which sunk in a hurricane off North Carolina. A series of owners expanded and improved the property - until the end of the Civil War, with the labor of the enslaved people on the plantation. In 1911 an extremely wealthy widow, Frances Tiers bought it and poured money into the main house, a pool, guest cottages and lots more. Today it's a popular wedding venue. Our guide included in her talk information about the contributions and lives of some of these enslaved people and we got a brochure with more information on other individuals. A memorial to their lives has been designed and will be constructed this year on the property. It's a beautiful building and unlike many we have toured, totally furnished with original furniture, paintings, clothing, linens - everything!
And this is the view from our dinette table!

And now we are happily settled in the Santa Rosa RV Park in Navarre, FL for the next 15 nights! This is only the second time we've stopped in one place since we started land cruising. The only other time was in Dallas/Tulsa with our oldest son Josh and his family. We stayed here for a few nights last year and loved it. We met people and liked them - there is a lot of social life, we are right on the beach, there is a heated pool and unlike, southern Florida, we could get a reservation!

Saturday, January 27, 2024

West Coast Visits (Florida that is)


The long white sand beach on Pelican Landings'
private beach

Scott loves to take pictures of the wildlife

This reminds me of the Hitchcock movie, "The

We crossed over the state of Florida from Jupiter to Bonita Springs to visit our cruiser friend Barbara. We met her and her husband in Trinidad back in 2005. They were on their boat Enkidu then, but not long after, sold her and bought a home on Bonaire. We spent quite a bit of time with them there but after their divorce, and her move to Florida, we remained friends with Barbara. She visits us up in Vermont in the fall and we return the visit in January. Her home is in a huge development named Pelican Landing - it would be a good sized city in Vermont! There is a gated community inside their gated community. After the last hurricane it was a year before their beach, on a barrier island, opened again. Happily we had a nice morning to take the boat shuttle out there and walk the beach. Having worked up a good appetite, we had a great lunch and walk around the Shangri-La Hotel in the historic downtown. 

The farm to table restaurant is highly rated and
we agree!

The landscaping is wonderful at the Shangri-La
Hotel, originally built in 1921 and a historic
landmark downtown.

Next we had two couples to visit, both in St. Petersburg, several hours north. Bill and Suzanne are renovating a home there. I first met Bill in 1969 when I rented an apartment in the "Old Hotel" in Hancock, VT with a group of friends for the ski season. That was the beginning of "the ski group" many of whom are still friends today. Scott and I stopped twice in St. John's, USVI to see them in Scott Free where they are still residents. Bill has had some health problems recently but looked great and we enjoyed a walk along the bay and lunch at an excellent Turkish/Greek restaurant, Mio's Grill. 

Suzanne & Bill

Mio's Cafe & Grill for an excellent lunch
and time to catch up with these old friends.

It was only a half mile down 1st St to my cousin Joanie's home for 3 nights. Joanie and Kent are world travelers and were leaving in only a few days for Antarctica!! Joanie and her sister Mary, along with 5 other siblings were the children of my mother's sister and we all grew up together. Mary came down the first night for dinner and her daughter and husband came for another night. We enjoyed two of the many great museums in St. Petersburg, The Imagine Museum of Contemporary Glass Art was first and the second, the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art. Both were wonderful. 

At the James' Museum. As you can 
see the weather was cool.

Joanie and I make pose with William Cody, a distant
but not direct relative of mine.

At the Imagine Museum they had a special exhibit of the glass artist Karen LaMonte. Her life size
"sculptures" in glass of women were so beautiful. She started with classical themes but after several years in Japan she did a large series of women from the so called "Floating World" along with exhibits of actual kimonos. It was breathtaking.

Photos do not do justice to any of this.

This is over 8 feet tall and a combination of 
glass rods and mirrors. It's like looking into

A close up

A loved this painting in the James Museum - the
works were collected over time by Tom and 
Mary James and are of living artists.

The jewelry was so beautiful. This is a close
up because I loved the grin on the bear!

Every medium was represented, here a piece in
pottery of the Long Walk.

I'm not as much a fan of wildlife art but this oil
of the three cubs and the turtle was such fun.

Despite the cool weather the sun allowed us to spend some time in their huge porch living room. 

I selfie of Scott, myself, Joanie and Kent just before
we left.

But then it was time to return to Baby, left at Harpal & Jeannie's in Winter Park. One more night with them enjoying dinner out at a Peruvian Restaurant! We learned to love Peruvian cuisine while there for 2 moths and look for another opportunity when we can. 

Baby at Harpal's in Winer Park

Jeannie, myself, Harpal and Scott out for dinner. 

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Way Down South

Scott and I enjoy a celebratory dinner at Vic's on the River restaurant on our last night in Savannah. 
Right now Scott and I are enjoying 75 degree sunshine in Bonita Springs, FL We feel guilty seeing the sub freezing cold over much of the U.S, But it was quite a bit cooler up in Savannah as you can see from our sweaters and jackets in the photo above. But we had plenty of time to do a lot of walking around that lovely city before continuing south to Florida. Besides our amazing dinner at Vic's we had a wonderful brunch at Collins Quarter which our son Sean had recommended.  
Our charming waiter Eli poses with
Scott at Collins Quarter in Forsythe

Scott's amazing Bloody Mary with shrimp and
bacon (plus a few other things)!

Our last day we had a tour of Wormsloe State Historic Site near Skidaway Island State Park.  One of the first group of Europeans that came to settle in Savannah, Noble Jones obtained a grant for 500 acres of land on the Isle of Hope in 1736 and built a fortified house at the tip. It was part of a series of defensive fortifications against an invasion by the Spanish. He later built a plantation there and his descendants finally gave a portion of it to the State in 1978. A charming guide walked us over the park explaining the history of the site and the environment. 
Over 400 live oak trees line the beautiful mile long avenue into Wormsloe Historic Site. They were planted in 1893 and are draped by Spanish moss. 

At the tip of the property a fortified building housed a small band of soldiers that were protecting the England settlement of Savannah from the Spanish.

Our guide on the left gave us a vivid picture of life
for the residents of this plantation 
From Savannah we drove down to Winter Park, FL to stay with my old friend Harpal, his wife Jeannie and their son Sunjay. Harpal went to B.U. with my sister Paula and we've been friends since 1969. The last few years we've left Baby in their yard while we continue further south. Harpal made a delicious Indian dinner to welcome us and the next night took us out for a fun Asian Street Food restaurant. During the day we walked around the lake in the center of Winter Park, which has a very charming low rise historic center. 
Next we continued south to visit our Shrewsbury, Vermont neighbors and friends Weezie and Stan in their beautiful condo in Jupiter, FL. Weezie impressed us by making homemade fettuccini which she served with shrimp, sun dried tomatoes and artichokes. Yummy! We took pictures of the pasta machine box because this has convinced me to start making my own pasta from now on. Scott's giving me the same pasta machine for my birthday! The next morning we walked over part of their golf course for a delicious breakfast overlooking the links. 
All too soon we were off again, next to Bonita Springs on the west coast. 

Harpal, Jeannie and Sunjay

Enjoying a fun dinner together

Scott is going to give me an Imperia
Pasta maker for my birthday. That's
Stan in the background

Weezie and Stan, friends from Shrewsbury who spend part of 
the winter at their home in Jupiter, FL

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Storms Here Too!


Kate and Stephen with the beautiful view down the lagoon from their living room at Litchfield by the Sea.

Well it's not snow but we had lots of rain and wind with severe thunderstorms/tornado warnings. So we felt very lucky to be staying with our friends Stephen and Kate at their lovely home at Litchfield by the Sea in South Carolina. Baby was happily set up at in nearby Huntington Beach State Park. Stephen and Kate were neighbors of ours' in Brookline and our kids grew up together. Kate and I were coleaders of a Camp Fire Boys and Girls Club with our two youngest children as members. They were also part of our Family Hiking Group that did a Hut to Hut 2 or 3 night hike each summer over the Presidential Range in N.H.

A selfie with the four of us.

They welcomed us with a terrific dinner and it was great to catch up on news. Stephen's sister Jennifer came for a delicious big breakfast the next morning and then we enjoyed a walk on the beach and around their resort. The next day was very stormy and we planned some indoor activities followed by seeing the movie Boys in the Boat and dinner at the Bonefish Grill. On the way to the theater we had a visit with Stephen's mother, now 96 but living in her own home in a Continuing Care Community.  We were handling the storm without an difficulty so it was a surprise to be the only customers in the big restaurant!

Our next stop was Skidaway Island State Park just outside of Savannah, GA. We've been here before and like the big wooded sites that are almost all pull through. Despite many visits to Savannah (many in our boat), we never get tired of walking around this lovely city. But our first day we retraced out route a little to pay a visit to our friend Debra (formerly of Tango) in Hilton Head. We had a great visit with she and her husband Richard last January but he has since past away, quite unexpectedly, last summer. We had a very nice lunch out and talked about our wonderful times together with them in Trinidad, Bonaire, Aruba and Cartagena, Columbia. Richard was so full of life and other than the rare cancer he was suddenly diagnosed with, in excellent health, so it is really hard to believe he is gone. We were glad to see that Debra has such a good supportive community and very close family. That afternoon she took us to see the Coastal Discovery Museum nearby and we enjoyed their exhibits inside and beautiful camellia garden outside. 

Debra and Scott enjoying lunch, Scott is 
showing off his dozen oysters!

The lovely grounds at the Costal Discovery 
Museum at Hilton Head

I LOVED the camellias!

And there were so many, every one beautiful.

You can see my hand below left trying to hold
the blossom to take it's photo!

Our secluded site at Skidaway Island State Park

And the view from our dining table.

More on Savannah in my next post!