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!

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