Settling in for the Winter in Florida!
We're back in Winter Garden for the winter season and couldn't be happier about that.
We bought our motorhome, Pearl, here last January and spent the next 2.5 months in the area getting accustomed to RV living and enjoying the warm (with a few exceptions) winter weather.
We're about two miles from the charming downtown and the very nice bike trails that we so enjoy bicycling.
From our site, we have a perfect view of a small pond that hosts a variety of bird life. We can walk to grocery and other stores and are right on the bus line if we need to travel farther for shopping.
Life is easy and good here, and since there's no two-week camping limit as at most national and state parks, we can stay just as long as we like. And we plan to do just that! After traveling for months, staying anywhere from a day to two weeks in one place, we are ready to be settled for a bit. We'll save money not buying so much fuel, and staying put gives us a chance to recharge, get some RV projects done, and make plans for next year.
We had a nice Thanksgiving here shortly after arriving. The day began with Barry making an unexpected repair. The right rear of our kitchen counter had been sinking over time, more than we even realized. It had gotten to be about an inch below the level of the left side, so an intervention was required! The previous owners had replaced the counter when they took out the gas stove and put in an induction cooktop, and they hadn't done a great job of it. Barry made short work of it, and we now have a sturdy, level counter again. Whew!
Have I mentioned lately how lucky I am to have such a handy husband? I can't imagine living in a motorhome without one.
Repair completed, the turkey day cooking could commence. This was our first major holiday feast in Pearl, and it went pretty darn well! Planning and organization kept things running smoothly, and I had just enough vessels for all the dishes. Barry had made a lovely pumpkin pie the day before as well We were stuffed -- and very thankful. We have so much to be grateful for, and we try not to lose sight of that.
I think we're now ready to tackle the hills of Lake County!
There are new signs at the pond at our campground. We don't know if these were posted in response to actual threats or just to keep people out of the pond. We've seen ducks on the pond, so it seems unlikely that there are serious predators lurking below, but who knows?
This Belted Kingfisher doesn't seem to care; he's looking for fish!
In the meantime, rest assured that Paisley will be keeping a sharp lookout!
We had no idea that Magnolia Springs State Park south of Augusta, Georgia, had such nice woodland hiking trails. We were spending only one night in the campground on our way south and didn't do a full investigation, since our time there would be limited, and we wouldn't be arriving early in the day.
After getting set up at our campsite, we saw a trail right next to our site leading into the woods and, itching for some exercise, headed out for a walk with Paisley. We didn't know we'd end up finding multiple trails and hiking most of each of them. What an unexpected pleasure!
This map is too small to read, but you can get an idea of the trail system (in black), the lake, and the campground southeast of the lake. The four trails are the Spring, Lime Sink, Woodpecker, and Beaver.
These are not difficult trails; they are mostly flat and accessible to any reasonably fit person (or dog!) It only took us an hour to do our complete "tour of trails" on this beautiful, coolish November day. We were so glad we stumbled across such a nice spot and finally got some walking in after a week of working on projects. Paisley had a blast too!
The Lime Sink Trail dumped us out near the visitor's center and day-use area of the park. The late fall foliage and Spanish Moss were so pretty in the late afternoon light.
We stopped by the spring-fed pond that gives this park its name. You can't really see it in the photo, but we could see the spring rippling in the center of the water.
We spied a Yellow-Bellied Slider turtle swimming along near the pond's edge.
Next stop was the lake, which looked like a great place for a paddle. Just hope you don't encounter any 'gators!
It was a wonderful afternoon!
Stay tuned for our next post from our home for the winter: Florida!
Finally Heading South!
It was finally time for Pearl to hit the road again, and not a moment too soon. The first seriously cold air of the season blew in just a day before we left western North Carolina. We'd spent a few weeks in my home state visiting my family, doing a variety of RV projects (we'll have a later post on that), and getting some routine medical/dental appointments out of the way. We always enjoy our time in NC and seeing my folks, but it was good to get moving again, and in the right direction: SOUTH!
You may have heard about all the wildfires in western North Carolina. While there we didn't see any fires as we were east of the mountains, but we certainly smelled and saw the smoke. Depending on the wind direction, a few days were really hazy and bad, with "code red" air quality. We wouldn't have wanted to ride our bikes even if we'd had the time
-- which we didn't!
Here's the biggest project I did while Barry worked on motorhome renovations: I papered my mother's powder room in the same textured beadboard wallpaper we'd used on an accent wall in Pearl. This is very cool stuff; It looks just like wood but weighs less, and no sawing! It took quite a few days with the prep (over existing floral wallpaper) and then very careful (sloooooow) paper hanging, but it turned out nice and changed the whole appearance of the room. Unfortunately I forgot to take a "before" photo, but here's the after. I think it turned out good, and Mom seems very happy, so I call that a win-win!
The campground where we stay when visiting my folks is in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, but situated in a deep valley sheltered among very steep hills and thus is always the coldest spot in the entire area. The morning we were to leave, the low was 24F. Yep, we were ready to get outta there. Brrrrrrrrr!
We had a long travel day as we wanted to get to Florida two days before Thanksgiving to avoid traveling on that awfully busy Wednesday. Barry drove 260 miles, our longest driving day in Pearl so far, to Magnolia Springs State Park south of Augusta, Georgia.
While driving through South Carolina, we purchased the cheapest gas since leaving Florida last spring -- $1.76.9, which includes our 3 cent/gallon Good Sam loyalty discount at Pilot and Flying J stations. First time we've paid less than $100 for a fill up since last March!
Magnolia Springs State Park ~ Millen, GA
This was our first visit to this park and campground. With only 23 sites, the campground is small compared to most state parks we've visited, The park itself is large, though, and has a lovely small lake and bubbling spring.
We arrived around 3 pm on a Sunday afternoon and found the campground almost full, a bit of a surprise to us. Usually campgrounds clear out on Sunday, but not today. I guess a lot of folks decided to spend Thanksgiving here or were on their way to their final holiday destinations. The campground does take reservations, but we did not bother making one since we'd seen a few sites still available when checking online.
The sites are not assigned, but not all allow rigs over 25', so we only had a couple to choose from in this single-loop campground. Fortunately we found a nice one available.
All sites are back-in and have 30-amp electric and water hookups. No sewer hookups, but there is a dump station in the park. Sites are gravel with picnic tables, dirt pads and are fairly level. There is good site separation, providing a little privacy, but no low-level foliage between sites. I appreciated the large "back yard" behind our site for walking Paisley and the beautiful woods beyond.
We got two bars of Verizon 4G LTE so internet was fine. We also picked up approximately eight over-the-air TV stations,
We paid $29 with a $6 Senior Citizen (62+) discount (thanks, Barry!) This includes a $5/day parking permit, which seems to be typical at most state parks.
There are canoe rentals available at the lake, and it looked to be a nice place for paddling. There are alligator warning signs, but we did not see any. The park also has several nice hiking trails through the woods, which we took full advantage of. I'll have another post with those photos, so stay tuned!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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