After our family Thanksgiving trip to New Orleans last year, I pretty much quit blogging on my own website, exclusively posting my travel journal to Facebook. Part of it was the ease of Facebook posting and picture importing vs. less simple, WordPress. The other part of it was visibility. I felt like my thousands of followers on Facebook were actually reading, commenting, and liking my content, but no one was seeing it on my website. I got discouraged and stopped using my website, except for my High Maintenance Hippies Jewelry sales.
After much thought, I deactivated my Facebook account to focus my time and energy to complete the project of updating my website blog. My goal is to blog and interact with people through my website, not on social media. I will reactivate my Facebook account to launch my updated blog and invite people to follow our new adventures this winter here on my website, not on Facebook. I will be keeping my 2020 Winter Wanderings travel journal HERE, only using Facebook to post links to my blog posts. Hope to have you along for the ride!
Rather than attempt to cut and paste all of my Facebook travel blog posts from 12/18-1/20, I will summarize the last year, share the highlights, and pictures. It was an amazing year full of travel, adventures, family, and friends. So grateful!
WINTER WANDERINGS 12/7/18-3/9/19
12/7-13/18 Edisto Beach State Park, *Primo Campsite #12*, Edisto, SC: We stayed in the beachfront campground, under a giant live oak, just behind a dune, with a pathway to the beach, one of my most favorite campsites ever. It was a really chilly week at the beach, but I always love the beach in the off-season. We bundled up and took plenty of walks on the beach with the puppies. It snowed over a foot back home while we were gone, so I was happy to be at the beach. We ate plenty of seafood at SeaCow, Whaley’s, and Ella & Ollie’s. By chance, a friend, Holly Peterson from Greenville was at Edisto at the same time, so we got together several times during the week, just us girls and as couples. Fabulous week!
1/6-11/19 Victoria Bryant State Park, Campsite #7, Royston, GA: After having the children home for the holidays, we hit the road south. For most of the week, we were the only campers at the park, other than the campground hosts. The park had a beautiful stream, sliding rock, ponds, and plenty of hiking. Definitely one to revisit it warmer weather.
1/11-13/19 We spent a few of days at the in-laws’ in Greenville, SC for Wiley to attend meetings at his company, visit with family, our granddaughter, and friends before being gone for the majority of the winter.
1/13-15/19 Santee State Park, Campsite #B34 Cyprus Lakefront, Santee, SC. Spot right on the lake, shaded, but not private. We spent two nights at desolate and freezing Santee. It was so cold, the second day, I did not leave the van, but to run to the bathhouse, once. Wiley was on his own walking the puppies while we were there. Will have to come back again to get a better feel for the park and hiking.
1/15-17/19 Jekyll Island, GA, Campsite #J11: We camped in the tent area this year, rather than the overcrowded RV area. After being packed in like sardines, the previous two years, we were thrilled with our huge, private, wooded, tent campsite, that worked perfectly for the van. We have solar so did not need the RV hook ups. We hiked to Driftwood Beach, Horton House ruins, and Horton Pond. We ate at the Beach House, The Wharf, and Jekyll Market. We got coffee/tea and shopped at the Beach Village. The ticks were bad as always, but the beauty and loads to do, make Jekyll an annual tradition.
1/17-20/19 Jacksonville, FL: We spent a few nights at my cousins, Joe and Kimmy’s visiting them and their three precious children. We had a great family hike at the Arboretum. Always a great time with our big and little cousins!
1/20-21/19 Daytona, FL: We left Jacksonville, not realizing it was MLK weekend and with no reservations. After trying Anastasia, Gamble Rogers, and Tomoka, we camped in the Cracker Barrel parking lot in Daytona, next door to the racetrack. Good experience for our first parking lot camping. There were 5 other campers that night. We enjoyed a Cracker Barrel breakfast the following morning before heading out.
1/21-23/19: Tomoka State Park, Campsite #6, Ormond Beach, FL: Absolutely loved this gorgeous, tropical park on the Tomoka River. Large, private, wooded sites, great hiking, and boat rentals. Look forward to returning!
1/23-25/19 Blue Spring State Park, Campsite #46, Orange City, FL: Blue Spring was a dream come true. There were hundreds of manatees in the spring run while we were there. It was just magical. After the park closed to the public in the evening and before it opened in the morning, we had the trails and manatees, all to ourselves. The park is home to the famous Save the Manatee webcams https://www.savethemanatee.org/manatees/manatee-webcams/. The campsite was private and wooded in the little twisted scrub oaks. Add to your bucket list!
1/25-27/19 Gainesville, FL. Spent a couple of nights on my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Al’s farm. My cousin Stacey’s boys were there visiting and later Stacey too, which was fun. Love staying on their farm and being with them!
1/27-30/19 O’leno State Park, Campsite #26, High Springs, FL. Great CCC park on a eerily beautiful, blackwater river with tons of great hiking, natural beauty, and deer. Really enjoyed it!
1/30-2/1/19 Lake Griffin State Park, Campsite #35, Fruitland Park, FL: Tons of highway noise, lousy park and facilities, not actually on Lake Griffin…only canal access if you have a boat, so we never even saw Lake Griffin. Park name is a misnomer. There was the 2nd largest Oak tree in FL, but it sits on the noisy highway. There was one neat, thin boardwalk trail through the swampy jungle. Our campsite was a gravel parking area shared with another camper. Do not recommend this park.
2/1-3/19 Ocala, FL: Spent the weekend at my cousin, Stacey’s gorgeous dressage farm with her, her husband, Olof, and two adorable boys, Ashton and Tristan. Saturday, we took a day trip to charming Mt. Dora for the arts festival. It was a fabulous weekend!
2/3-6/19 General Coffee State Park, Campsite #13, Nicholls, GA: Had a fabulous few days at this amazing, blackwater swamp park with tons of hiking and hauntingly beautiful scenery. Wonderful Heritage Farm and historic cabins, you can stay in.
2/6-8/19 A.H. Stephens State Park, Campsite #23, Crawfordville, GA: The hiking and facilites were ok for a couple of nights, but not one to revisit. We did not tour the Confederate Museum or Liberty Hall, Stephens’ home. We left there, went to Greenville to visit Bree, then back to Sapphire for Miles’ Winter Break.
2/15-17/19 F.D. Roosevelt State Park, Campsite #117, Pine Mountain, GA. Another fabulous CCC park! Great hiking! We just scratched the surface on a weekend visit. We had a beautiful campsite, right on the lake. Will return!
2/17-19 Sandestin Resort, Miramar Beach, FL: Spent a couple of days visiting my godsister, Merrill. Had a lovely time and ate some yummy seafood at Surf Hut.
2/19-22/19 Falling Waters State Park, Campsite #10, Chipley, FL. Falling Waters was decimated by Hurricane Michael. “Florida’s highest waterfall surrounded by huge trees and fern-covered sink holes” was a disappointment to say the least, when you come from the “Land of Waterfalls” in WNC. The trees and forest were destroyed by the hurricane and the campground was a crowded, open space. To top it all off the cell coverage was not good, making it difficult for Wiley to work. Do not recommend.
2/22-25/19 Ochlockonee River State Park, Campsite #16, Sopchoppy, FL: Was an absolute treasure! The campsites were in the twisty, scrub oaks beneath one of the best, longleaf pine forests in the world on a beautiful black water river. We happened to be there during the ancient arts festival and even saw a white squirrel, just like at home. We had some great hikes along the river and through the pine forest. Super park! Took a day trip to Fabulous Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge, which is a must-do when in the area.
2/25-28 Indian Pass Campground, Campsite #C7, Indian Pass FL: Fabulous week, sharing the Appalachicola/Indian Pass area with Wiley. Had spent lots of time there with my family, as my brother had developed several beachfront communities there in the 90’s-early 2000’s. Indian Pass Campground is a gem of a commercial campground, right on the point where the Indian Pass Lagoon, St.Vincent’s Island, and the Appalachicola Bay meet. It is inexpensive, quiet, underdeveloped, which is just perfect. Saw an eagle in a pine along the beach. Miles and miles of unspoiled beach all to yourself! Highly recommend! You must eat at local landmark, Indian Pass Raw Bar when here. Sadly, it was closed due to Hurricane Michael, but they are rebuilding. Also, really enjoyed Up the Creek Raw Bar after discovering Boss Oyster had been taken out by the hurricane too. Check both out in downtown Apalachicola. Also, eat at Krazy Fish Grille in Port St. Joe.
2/28-3/2 Eastbank Campground, Campsite #56 Lake Seminole, GA/FL: Another park hit hard by Michael. The couple of hiking trails were closed due to damage. This was our first Army Corp of Engineers park. It had nice bathrooms and laundry, but basically, just a field with rows of campsites on the lake. Not one we will return to.
3/2-3/19 Kolomoki Mounds State Park, Campsite #3, Blakely, GA: Was a wonderful stumble upon. It was so interesting with the “largest and earliest Woodland period earthwork mound complexes in the Southeastern United States and is the largest in Georgia. Constructed from 350CE to 600CE”. A CCC park with good trails and another nice lake front campsite, very similar to the design of F.D. Roosevelt State Park. Recommend!
3/3-5/19 R Scheafer Heard Campground, Campsite #23, West Point, GA: Freezing cold as we headed north. This Army Corp of Engineers campground is massive, sitting on West Point Lake. It was mostly empty and only one loop open. The bathhouse closest to us was closed, which was not pleasant, considering the cold temps. The hiking trails were not within walking distance from the campground either, so not a good stay for us.
3/5-8/19 Fort Yargo State Park, Campsite #9, Winder, GA: Great lakefront park campground with hiking, mountain biking, and yurt rentals. We bundled up and hiked on some extensive mountain bike trails. My college roommate, Marti Schimmel came and picked me up, taking me to Athens for the day, which was wonderful. Definitely a park to revisit in warmer temps.
3/8-9/19 Greenville, SC: Spent a couple of days moochdocking at the in-laws to see our granddaughter before returning home for Miles for the second half of Spring Break. Took Bree downtown and she loved playing with the in-laws new poodle puppies. It was a ball! Returned to Sapphire for the spring.
3/17-18 Greenville, SC: Back again for Bree’s 6th Birthday party at Heritage Park. Great time! Moochdocked at the in-laws.
3/18-19/19 Lake Powhatan, Campsite #8, Asheville, NC: Camped at one of our local faves, due to an Asheville doctors appointment. Great park with abundant hiking, mountain biking, fishing, swimming/boating lake with beach, and free entry into the NC Arboretum.
3/24-26 Greenville, SC: Wiley had work meetings, so I visited with friends. Stayed at his parents’.
3/26-27/19 Pisgah Forest, NC: Drove from Greenville to Asheville to Miles’ home tennis match at Asheville School then had dinner in Brevard at Key Falls Inn cabin with waterfall artist, Mariella Bisson and her husband, David, visiting from Woodstock, NY. Lovely evening! Spent the night at our friend Holly’s “Hollywood”. Hiked the Eastatoe Trail in Pisgah National Forest before returning home.
3/30-3/31 Greenville, SC: Wiley’s sister, Debbie was visiting from Indiana. She came up to Sapphire for the first time. We loved sharing it with her. We then all returned to Greenville. The whole family went to Kanpai to celebrate Bree’s birthday, because when you are 6, it is birthday month. We went to the Cleveland Park Animal Hospital Anniversary celebration with petting zoo, face paint, games, hospital tours, and activities. Wonderful time!
3/31-4/1/19 Pisgah Forest, NC: Another night at Hollywood!
4/1-2/19 Lake Powhatan, Campsite #10, Asheville, NC: Another night at Powhatan for annoying Asheville follow-up doctors appointment. Love our Asheville oasis!
4/2-3/19 Black Rock Mountain State Park, Campsite #5, Mountain City, NC: Another local favorite, just down the mountain from Highlands. The park has great hiking, views, campground, lake, and streams. Camped there, so we could go to Miles’ tennis match at Rabun Gap School nearby.
4/11-12/19 Blue Ridge, GA: Moochdocked at my friend, Suzanne Lazarus’ cabin. Always fun to visit and hangout with one of my oldest friends.
4/12-17/19 Amicalola Falls State Park, Campsite #24, Dawsonville, GA: Spent a dreamy week at Amicalola for Wiley’s Birthday. The park is a waterfall paradise with fabulous hiking and unbelievable beauty. It is the gateway to the Appalachian Trail. Ate Wiley’s birthday dinner at the lodge dining room. Great views, ok food. Can not wait to visit this park again! Add to your bucket list!
6/1-2/19 Pisgah Campground, Campsite #B25, Blue Ridge Parkway, Canton, NC: After a busy spring with a family reunion in Alabama, Miles’ tennis matches, then graduation, we finally got back in our Happy Camper and made our way to a local favorite for some camping and hiking. We hiked to see the breathtaking waterfalls at Living Waters, a little hike near Sunbrust Campground at the river, and from the Mt. Pisgah Campground to the Pisgah Inn on Saturday. Sunday we finally made it the fabled Big East Fork Trail on the Pigeon River. Boy, did it live up to the hype. Tops my list of favorite all-time hikes. Add to your bucket list!
7/5-7/19 Vogel State Park, Campsite #55, Blairsville, GA: Lucked out at old favorite, Vogel with a last minute cancellation, scoring a spot for the July 4th weekend. Our campsite was on the stream in the lush forest. Fabulous park with incredible hiking, including the AT Blood Mountain hike through the Blood Mountain Wilderness Area. There is a lake with swimming, boating, putt-putt, and playgrounds. Great for families!
7/12-14/19 Standing Indian Campground, *Primo Campsite #13, Loop A*, Franklin, NC: We were on a role, as we got the coveted campsite #13, right on the Nantahala River in Nantahala National Forest, last minute for the weekend. We had fabulous hikes, even in the rain. This campground in just incredible. It is a must do for campers and hikers. The Rock Gap AT Trailhead is just before the campground. There is amazing hiking right from the campground along the river and the creek. You can take the forest service road to more hiking and lots of falls. Do not miss this one!
7/19-21/19 Linville Falls Campground, Campsite #A11, Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville, NC: We absolutely love summer on the Parkway! The weather is cool at the high elevations, we can sleep with our windows open and no A/C, sweatshirts in the evening and morning, and the wildflowers are unreal. Need I say more? Well, then there is the hiking, waterfalls, views, and beauty. Do yourself a favor and go! Also, swung by Emerald Village Real Gem Mines near Little Switzerland, just off the Parkway. Touristy, but great for the family!
7/26-28/19 Julian Price Campground, Campsite #E9, Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, NC: Always wonderful! Boone Fork Trail is an all-time favorite. Love the Julian Price Lake Loop. There is swimming and boating, tons of deer, picnicking and playing in the river at the picnic area. Top of my campground faves list! Hiked Rough Ridge and visited the Linn Cove Viaduct, both for the first time. Do not know what took us so long. Must do!
8/31-9/22/19 10yr ANNIVERSARY TRIP TO MAINE
The trip exceeded our wildest imagination. I had been to Maine in second grade with my family. Wiley had never been. We took a little over a week up to Acadia National Park, a week there in three different campgrounds in the park, and a little over a week back. Wiley took off the entire time from work. It was the greatest trip of our lives to date! We drove 3,239 miles. 14 States traveled through: NC, TN, VA, WVA, MD, PA, NY, VT, NH, ME, MA, CT, NJ, DE. We hiked 110.45 miles total. We stayed at 16 Campgrounds, including 9 State Park campgrounds, 5 different National Park campgrounds in 3 National Parks, 2 Moochdock Driveway spots at friends and family’s, 1 additional National Park visit without camping, 2 additional National Forest visits without camping. Here’s where we camped and hiked:
Claytor Lake State Park,Campsite #B21, Dublin, VA – Great park with tons of amenities, wooded campground, good hiking, and beautiful lake.
Loft Mountain Campground, Campsite #F168, National Park – Private, wooded campsite, incredible hiking from campground on AT and many other trails. We did the Doyles River Falls Hike, very strenuous coming back up that mountain, but beautiful. Stopped at Luray Caverns, as we headed out the following day. Were able to take the puppies on the tour in K-9 backpacks. Great time!
Cowans Gap State Park, Campsite #184, Loudon, PA – Nice lake loop trail. Wiley saw a muskrat early in the morning, while walking the dogs around the lake. Good short and long distance hiking, boating, and swimming. Lousy button shower.
Ricketts Glen State Park, Campsite #120, Benton, PA – National Natural Landmark, 21 named waterfalls on one trail, BUCKET LIST park. We saw 18 on the easier 3.2mi loop from the Highland Trail to Falls Loop. Beautiful wooded, large campsites, cabins, lake, and boat rentals. Real National Treasure!
The Bisson’s, moochdock, Woodstock, NY – Walked around Woodstock during the day. That evening we stayed and ate dinner with famed waterfall artist, Mariella Bisson and Sloan Kettering Curator, Alice Mom and their husbands at the Bisson/Gubit’s gorgeous home and studio. The following day we all hiked to Plattekill Falls on the Hudson River School Art Trail. Great experience!
Moose Brook State Park, Campsite #7, Gorham, NH – Nice little park, huge private, wooded campsite, but only only short hikes. We drove to hike in the nearby White Mountains National Forest, in the Northern Presidential Mountains, from the Apalachia Trailhead, to several stunning waterfalls, through a maple syrup forest. Amazing!
Blackwoods Campground, Campsite #A72, Acadia National Park – crowded campground, but beautiful in the alpine forest, short hike to the cliffs, ocean, and Otter Cove. Great location if you want to hike Cadillac Mountain. Trailhead was just outside campground. Must do hike! Get a lobster roll at the Otter Creek Market. Visit Bar Harbor and hike along the shore path.
Schoodic Woods Campground, Campsite #B17, Acadia National Park – Quiet, new campground, nice facilities. Fabulous hiking from the campground to the Anvil, Schoodic Head, and Blueberry Hill on the Buck Cove Mountain and Schoodic Head Trails. Loved the Lower Harbor Trail too! Eat at the Pickled Wrinkle. You must have a pickled wrinkle, lobster roll, crab roll, and Crazy Deb’s Seafood Stew! We drove and hiked around Jordon Pond up over Pemetic Mountain, to the carriage paths, and back to Jordan Pond House, where we had the quintessential Acadia popovers along with a delicious meal, an absolute MUST! Make reservations ahead of time.
Seawall Campground, Campsite #C23, Acadia National Park – Loved the “Quietside” of Acadia, but crowded campground and no hiking from the campground. We spent a lot of time hanging out at the Seawall picnic area. Hiked the short Wonderland Trail to the ocean then hiked along the coast to the Ship Harbor Nature Trail that made it a decent hike. Ship Harbor was gorgeous!
Camden Hills State Park, Campsite #13, Camden, Maine – Great Park with famous Mt. Battie Tower hike with spectacular views of Camden Harbor and all the way across the bay to Acadia. Visit Camden. It is fabulous! Heading south, skip Freeport, unless you are into outlet malls, that is all the town is now. We loved stopping at the dog friendly beach in Kennebunkport!
Pearl Hill State Park,Campsite #15, Townsend, MA. Fine for a night. Wooded, large site. Hiked on the Friends’ trail. Not one to return to.
High Point State Park, Campsite #16, Sussex, NJ. A pleasant surprise in underrated NJ. Beautiful park on NJ’s highest mountain with AT trail access. Great, huge, private, wooded campsite on the lake!
Funny Farm, Moorestown, NJ – Spent two nights at my brother’s farm with him, his wife, Lyndsy, and four children Juney, 3mos, Gideon, 2.5yo, Henry, 9yo, Abe, 10yo). It was the first time Wiley had met our newest niece, Juney. We had a great visit! Heading south, we stopped at Great Falls National Park outside of DC in Great Falls, VA. Incredible stumble upon. So thankful, we stopped. Add to your bucket list!
Shenandoah River State Park, Campsite #22, Bentonville, VA – Beautiful VA park with RV, cabins, and yurts on the gorgeous Shenandoah River. Lots of hiking and boat and tube rentals. Loved the river trail! Great visitor’s center!
Peaks of Otter Campground,Campsite #T44, Blue Ridge Parkway, Bedford, VA. Always love POO! Fabulous hiking to Sharp Top, Flat Top, Lake Loop past Polly Woods Ordinary, and to the Johnson Farmstead. Nice lodge, restaurant, bar, shop, and festivals with live music. The Parkway never disappoints!
Hungry Mother State Park, Campsite #B11, Marion, VA – Our last stop before returning home was a wonderful way to cap off the trip. Hungry Mother is a fabulous VA park with tons of amenities, lake, lodges, cabins, yurts, and great hiking. The campground is tight, but we had a sweet spot on the creek. Swung by Rock Creek Campground in Cherokee National Forest in Erwin, TN to check it out for future stays. Fabulous campground in a deep, lush, rhododendron forest on a creek with lots of hiking and mountain biking. We will definitely return to camp there.
10/17-20/19 LEAF Festival, Eden Field on the pond, Black Mountain, NC: Spent a dreamy few days communing with our people at beautiful Lake Eden at Camp Rockmont. Ate great food, saw beautiful art, and heard wonderful music. Always a magical weekend! Perfect weather!
11/8-12/14/19 TURKEY TREK
11/8-9/19 “Hollywood”, Pisgah Forest, NC: Outset of our 5 week “Turkey Trek”. Camped at “Hollywood”. Holly fed us dinner. We hung out with her and the children. The next morning, after breakfast with the gang, we hiked Cat Gap Loop from the Fish Hatchery in Pisgah National Forest to Cedar Rock and Grogan Creek Falls. Lots of bang for the buck. Great hike with children. Super swimming holes!
11/9-10/19 Hendersonville, NC: Camped at my longtime friend, Ann Douglas Pinckney’s home in Hendersonville. Her husband, Mac fixed us a wonderful dinner to send us off on our “Turkey Trek”. Great visiting with my friend!
11/10-12/19 Greenville, SC: Moochdocked at the in-laws, spent a fabulous day with our granddaughter, and saw friends before heading south.
11/12-16/19 Hunting Island State Park, Campsite #172, SC: Spent a very cold, wet week at gorgeous Hunting Island. Saw lots of raccoons and deer. Found a fabulous, crazy fish ceramic totem hidden in the woods. Ate a wonderful dinner in Port Royal at Fishcamp on 11th with college friend, Susie Kinser Fosberry and her husband, Rory. Picked up like we had not been apart for 26yrs. Such fun! Amazing park with breathtaking beach, plenty of hiking, lighthouse, and nature center. One of the best state parks!
11/16-17/19 Jacksonville, FL: Camped in my cousin, Joe’s driveway. Surprised my little cousin, Lilli for her 7th birthday. Went to Lilli’s violin recital and dinner with the entire family, including my Aunt Wannelle and Uncle Fred, and lots of Lilli’s friends and their families to celebrate her. Special time!
11/17-23/19 Wekiwa Springs State Park,Campsite #40, Apopka, FL: Spent a wonderful week in Winter Park, visiting Miles to celebrate his 19th birthday. We toured Rollins’ campus. We met and ate with Miles and his friends at his favorite, Pannullo’s for his birthday. We took just him to eat a sushi lunch at Umi, midweek. Our final afternoon there, just Miles and I went to see Ford vs. Ferrari, which was great. He’s a big car enthusiast, like all the men in my family. Afterward, we met Wiley for dinner at Pepe’s Cantina on chic Hannibal Square, where there was really good live music, we enjoyed out on the patio. Really special time seeing my boy, so happy at his new college home. We loved Wekiwa! I can not recommend it enough. The springs are stunning with tube and boat rentals, swimming, restaurant, nature center, great hiking, lots of deer, and nice, large, shaded campsites. Can not wait to return over the next four years while Miles is at Rollins.
11/23-24/19 Jacksonville, St. Marys, GA: Took scenic A1A from Palm Coast to St. Augustine. A must! Swung by and said hi to Joe and family in Jacksonville, then headed to his parent’s new home on the St. Johns River in St. Marys, because Wiley had not been with me when Miles and I visited in August on the way to college. Fred and Wannelle took us out for dinner. They cooked us a wonderful breakfast before we headed out, the following morning.
11/24- 27/19 St. Andrews State Park, Campsite #15, Panama City, FL. Wow! Just Wow! Our expectations were kind of low, because, well, Panama City, the over development, high rises, commercial, theme parks, the “Redneck Riviera”. Well there’s an oasis at the end of Thomas Dr, called, St. Andrews. It is natural, unspoiled, “Old Florida”, what this area looked like before the development. It was wonderful to see the natural beauty preserved, but tragic to know what has been destroyed. We were greeted by half a dozen tame deer. Our campsite sat right on the lagoon, overlooking the bay, and had a big shade tree. It was one of our best sites ever. Fabulous hiking and gorgeous beaches! Add to the list!
11/27-12/1/19 Lasata condominium, Sandestin Resort, Miramar Beach, FL. Can not say enough wonderful things about our family Thanksgiving at Sandestin. It was our best family vacation ever. There was so much to do, right out our door into Baytowne Wharf Village. We hiked, ate, shopped, played tennis, listened to live music, took the dogs on the bay beach and to the dog park, and even made friends with the resident Green Macaw at the Marina Cafe. I would like to make this an annual tradition and have more of our family join us. Highly Recommend!
12/1-2/19 Suwannee River State Park, Campsite #9, Live Oak, FL: Had really been looking forward to visiting the famed Suwannee River, but we had to leave after one night, because there was not good enough cell coverage to work. The campground was wooded, but crowded and close.
12/2-4/19 Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center State Park, Campsite #22, White Springs, FL: Another fabulous stumble upon. This was the closest park to Suwannee River and had decent coverage, which is why we moved there. We drove in to find the entire park decorated in holiday lights for their huge Festival of Lights. There was a large colonial mansion, carillon tower, museum, craft store, and arts village. Plus, the Florida Trail went through the park, so great hiking along the Suwannee River, made famous in the song by Stephen C Foster. Will return! Take the family for the holiday!
12/4-6/19 Hanna Park, Campsite #84, Jacksonville, FL: Always a favorite. Great campground in the maritime jungle. Campground bathrooms being updated, which has been my only complaint in the past. Lake, splash park, boat rentals, dog friendly beach, jungle hiking and mountain biking. Need I say more?!! My Aunt Steph came and took my out for coffee, which was lovely. We ate at not to be missed Safe Harbor Seafood Mayport, right on the water. No trip to Jax is complete without eating at Safe Harbor. Love it!
12/6-8/19 Fort Clinch State Park, Beach Loop Campsite #12, Fernandina Beach, FL: The camping gods shone down on us and we scored a last minute primo site through http://reserve.wanderinglabs.com (all campers need to know about this!) at the coveted Fort Clinch on the Beach Loop with an ocean view. I get all the hype. This is a dream of a beachfront park, with abundant natural beauty, hiking, and a fully restored, massive civil war fort. The park is right in historic Fernandina a few minutes from downtown. From the park entrance away from downtown there is Main Beach Park, a public, dog friendly, beach, where we ate right on the beach at delicious, Sliders Seaside Grill & Tiki Bar. Afterward, we walked and played with the dogs on the beach, making it a perfect afternoon. Hiked a bunch at Fort Clinch through the gorgeous park and toured the incredible fort. Eager to return! Moves right to the top of my faves list!
12/8-11/19 Mistletoe State Park, Campsite #38, Appling, GA: We were some of the only campers at this campground on Clarks Hill Lake near Augusta in the off-season. It was cold and desolate. The lakefront campground was in a pine forest and there was plenty of hiking from the campsite. Gratefully, one of my best college friends, Paige Farmer Boutwell lived nearby in Thomson, so we were able to get together. It had been 5yrs, so I was thrilled. Will have to come stay again in warmer weather to get together and enjoy the lake soon!
12/11-13/19 Tugaloo State Park, Campsite #80, Lavonia, GA: What a wonderful surprise, great park near home. It was cold, but we enjoyed hiking along the Lake Hartwell shoreline. The campsite was right on the water in a beautiful pine forest with nice facilities and hiking from the campsite. We will return.
12/13-14/19 Greenville, SC: I had tea in the afternoon with my bestie, Melissa then Wiley and I had dinner with our dear friends, Roxanne and Alan Cordonier at World Piece pizza downtown. We spent the night at the in-laws to visit with them then spent Saturday with our granddaughter, Bree, which was wonderful, then headed home after being on the road for 5wks. One of our beast Florida vacations to date!
12/25/19- 1/1/2020 AN UNHEALTHY HOLIDAY
12/25-26 Greenville, SC: Stayed in the in-laws driveway to celebrate the Wimberly family Christmas. Ashe and Miles came for the day then went on to their grandparents’ on South Holston Lake in TN. Sadly, Bree came to Christmas sick. Unbeknownst to us, she had the flu…She spent the night with us in the van then we went to lunch at Papa’s and Beer with the fam before hitting the road north towards my brother’s Funny Farm in NJ.
12/26-27 Warriors Path State Park, Kingsport, TN: Arrived for our second visit to Warriors Path, just in time to hike on the lake trail at sunset and see 6 deer, which delighted Bree. We were alternating Motrin and Tylenol and Bree seemed ok, like she just had a cold. She woke up several times in the night then threw up, burning up at one point. I thought it was drainage and the fever, so chipper again in the morning, we decided to press on.
12/27/19-1/1/20 Funny Farm, Moorestown, NJ: Miles brought Ashe to meet us in Bristol. She got in Happy. Miles went back to Greenville to meet his Asheville School friend, Jake Drum to go to Jake’s godfather’s in Baton Rouge and New Orleans for NYE week. We drove straight through to the Funny Farm. By the time we arrived, Wiley and I were feeling under the weather. Bree was coughing, but happy. I walked in and told my brother we all had colds. He was not thrilled considering he has a family of 6. I felt badly arriving sick. We made the most of it, but it became apparent quickly that Bree, Wiley, and I had the flu. Thankfully, Ashe had had a flu shot. She was amazing helping with Bree the entire time since Wiley and I were so sick and weak. The trip was, obviously, ruined. Bree bounced back pretty quickly, loving playing with the cousins and being on the farm. Wiley and I slept a lot in the van and tried not to infect anyone else. Sadly, my nephew, Abe, fell ill. He adores Bree and was the only casualty after playing together, constantly, for several days. He was quarantined. We had to cancel my birthday/NYE plans to go to the Melting Pot, because Abe, Wiley, and I were too sick to go. Ben made a fabulous lobster dinner, got two birthday cakes, and he and Lyndsy gave me a wonderful, cozy shawl, trying to make me feel special. He is an incredible brother! After a week of being there deathly ill, we decided we had to get home. I thought I may die on the way home. Wiley was a trooper and drove all the way home on a 12hr travel day, Thursday, 1/1/10 with the flu. I was in awe. It felt good to get home and in my own bed, where I remained, until moving to the couch Saturday. Bree stayed until Saturday afternoon when our son, Wiley III came to get her and take her home to Greenville. It certainly was not the holiday trip, we had planned for our precious time with our granddaughter, Ashe, and the Funny Farm gang. Sickest either Wiley or I had been in over 20+ years. Two and a half weeks later, I am finally, feeling like I have some energy and my cough is starting to fade. I will never, not get a flu shot again. Get the shot, People!
So, with that, I am all caught up on the blog. Whew, does that feel good! We leave Sapphire Monday, 1/13 to begin the travels south on the 2020 Winter Wanderings. Hope you will join us for the journey!