Day 14 and 15 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada

Day 14 and 15 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada
Asheboro, NC to Mount Airy, NC 93 miles
5/14-5/15/2014 Wednesday-Thursday

Mayberry Campground in Mount Airy, NC
Mayberry Campground in Mount Airy, NC

Mayberry Campground is on the outskirts of the small City of Mountt Airy, North Carolina. It’s a nicely laid out campground though the sites are a little close together. There are both back-in and pull-thru sites and most have FHU. It’s located near land once was owned and farmed by Eng and Chang Bunker, the famous Siamese twins of the 19th Century.

Welcome to Downtown Mayberry USA
Welcome to Downtown Mayberry USA

Visit Andy Griffith’s “homeplace” at 711 East Haymore Street. Less than a mile away you’ll find “The Snappy Lunch” still making the “famous pork chop sandwiches”. It’s next door to “Floyd’s Barbershop” and “Opie’s Candy Store”. Just a little farther down Main Street you’ll find “Wally’s Garage” and “The Courthouse” with a recreation of the jail set, office and cells, we remember from The Andy Griffith Show. That’s also the place to sign up for a “Squad Car Tour” of the Town in a vintage Mayberry Police Car just like Barney and Andy drove.

The Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy
The Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy

Not far away you’ll find the “Andy Griffith Theatre” housed in the building where Andy attended school assemblies in grade school (and the stage where he made his first public appearance in 3rd Grade). Beside the Theatre is the Andy Griffith Museum, where they have hundreds (perhaps thousands) of artifacts and memorabilia from Andy’s career on stage, TV and in the movies and as a singer and comedian. The Museum’s lower level has an exhibition of material from Eng and Chang’s life as well. All very interesting and a great value for the admission price of $3.21.

Andy & Opie Taylor heading for the old fishin' hole
Andy & Opie heading for the old fishin’ hole

Outside of the Theatre and Museum you’ll see the life-sized statues of Andy and Opie Taylor headed for the Old Fishin’ Hole. The statue was donated to the Town by the TV Land Network in recognition of Andy’s body of work. Andy was on hand, as well as many others from the show when it was dedicated in 2004.

We were fortunate to find 2 really good restaurants over this 2 night stop in “Mayberry”.

The Copper Pot Restaurant in Mount Airy, NC
The Copper Pot Restaurant in Mount Airy, NC

The first was The Copper Pot located at 123 Scenic Outlet Lane, located just a few miles from the campground. They have daily specials and the entire menu is priced reasonably. Jack had baked spaghetti, green salad, and Texas toast. Niki had a vegetable plate with fried okra, corn fritters, pinto beans, mac & cheese and a cornbread muffin. The dessert special was warm homemade blackberry cobbler with ice cream. The bill for all with drinks (iced tea y’all!), tax, and tip came to $22.51.

Our second day we had a late lunch at Tlaquepaque Mexican Restaurant & Grill (we can’t pronounce it either!). Their address is 2123 Rockford Street, which is on the main highway going into town. It’s a small restaurant with a talented chef. Both of our meals, traditional Mexican combos, were really delicious, as were the warm tortilla chips and homemade salsa brought to our table when we sat down. The total bill including coffee, a cerveza, and tip was $22.99.

Conclusion: If you are a diehard Andy Griffith fan this is the place to come to immerse yourself. You might also consider a visit the last weekend of September when they will be having the “25th Annual Mayberry Days”. Mount Airy is a fun, lighthearted place with friendly people.

The gas price at the local Sheetz station near Interstate Exit 11 is $3.599.

Our next stop will be Mt Jackson, Virginia.

More info about:
Mayberry Campground PA/$16.75 2 nights max, Mon – Thurs only.
114 Bunker Rd., Mount Airy, NC 27030 (336) 789-6199
PT, 20/30/50 Amp, FHU, Free WiFi & Cable, Fishing ponds, and a mile long Hiking Trail that ends near Eng and Chang’s gravesite.

Mayberry Campground website:
http://www.mayberrycampground.com/

Passport America information:
http://www.passportamerica.com/campgrounds/nc/mayberrycampground2691

Things to see & do in Mount Airy:
Floyd’s Barber Shop, Snappy Lunch, Old Mayberry Jail, Barney’s Cafe, Mount Airy Museum, Leon’s Burger Express, Main Oak Emporium, Bluebird Diner, Squad Car Tours, Andy Griffith Playhouse, Downtown Cinema, Opie’s Candy Store, Andy’s Home place, Wally’s Service Station, Mayberry Square, and Pandowdy’s.

Day 12 and 13 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada

Day 12 and 13 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada
Myrtle Beach, SC to Asheboro, NC 193 Miles
5/12-5/13/2014 Mon-Tues

Zooland Family Campground - Asheboro, NC
Zooland Family Campground – Asheboro, NC

Zooland Family Campground in Asheboro, North Carolina is a nice Passport America stopover for one or two nights when passing through this area. It’s in the country and not far off the Interstate. They have free wifi and you can pick up the commercial TV stations with your antenna (no cable). The facilities include a swimming pool, fishing pond, miniature golf, camp store, game room and small laundry facility.

Zooland Family Campground - Asheboro, NC
Zooland Family Campground campsites

There are 146 sites, of which 88 are 30/50 Amp full hook-up sites. That said there are some problems as far as level sites go. Personally I would request a site in the 1 through 20 section and preferably make it 1 through 9. The owner tells us he is booked full often during the Summer and always on Holiday weekends.

The North Carolina State Zoo is located nearby. We decided not to visit the Zoo on this trip.

Our first evening in Asheboro we drove into town to look around and noticed all of the cars at this restaurant so we decided to give it a try.
Davids Restaurant - Asheboro, North Carolina

David’s Restaurant
709 South Fayetteville St, Asheboro, NC, 27203
(336) 683-0000
7 miles from Zooland Family Campground

They offer daily lunch and dinner specials. All come with soup or salad and dessert. We both chose the daily special which was Chicken Primavera. The plates came piled high with fettuccine in an Alfredo sauce with tender chunks of chicken and several vegetables mixed in. It was very good and more than enough to bring the excess home for another meal. The price for the 2 meals with drinks and tip was $26.86.
On day 2 in Asheboro we did some shopping and exploring, and we asked about people’s favorite local restaurants. One was mentioned more than any – and that was the “Dixie 3”.

Dixie III Restaurant
715 E Dixie Dr, Asheboro, NC 27203
(336) 625-8345
9 miles from Zooland Family Campground

The Dixie III Restaurant in Asheboro, NC
The Dixie III Restaurant – Asheboro, NC

Located near Walmart, it is easy to find in town.
They have lunch and dinner specials at very reasonable prices. Besides sandwiches and salads, they have many meat and seafood entrees to choose from. Your entree comes with a choice of 3 vegetables. All dinners were in the $7 to $10 range. Niki chose a vegetable plate and Jack chose spaghetti with homemade sauce. With our iced tea, butterscotch delight desserts, and tip the bill was under $20. You could tell this was a favorite restaurant among the locals as everyone knew everyone else. One of the better meals we have had on this trip.

The best price we found for gas in Asheboro was $3.599 in Town.

Worth noting: On the long drive from I-95 to Asheboro and the Zooland Campground there is only one Rest Area and it’s just before Exit 61 of I-74/75.

Our next stop will be Mt. Airy, NC.

More info about:
Zooland Family Campground PA/$15.75 5 nights max, Mon-Thurs
3671 Pisgah Covered Bridge Road, Asheboro NC, 27205 (336) 381-3422
PT, 20/30/50Amp, FHU, Free WiFi.

Zooland Family Campground website:
http://www.zoolandfc.com/index.html

Passport America information:
http://www.passportamerica.com/campgrounds/nc/zoolandfamilycampground1536

Things to do in Asheboro, NC:
http://www.ci.asheboro.nc.us/visitor%20info/visitors_thingstodo.html

Day 7 thru 11 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada

Day 7 thru 11 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada
St. George, SC to Murrells Inlet, SC 171 miles
5/7-5/11 Wednesday-Sunday

Entering Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet,
Entering Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet, SC

Huntington Beach State Park is located on the Atlantic Ocean in Murrells Inlet, SC, just South of Myrtle Beach and just across from Brookgreen Gardens. The Park covers 2,500 acres and includes a camping area, day use picnic area, a large sandy beach with relatively few beachgoers, hiking/biking trails, and many places to enjoy birding and gator watching.

Huntington Beach State Park Ranger Station & Gift Shop
Huntington Beach State Park Ranger Station & Gift Shop

You’ll find a limited camp store/gift shop at the Ranger Station/check-in location near the day use area.

Campsites in the Huntington Beach State Park camping area
Campsites in the Huntington Beach State Park camping area

The camping area consists of 131 campsites nicely spaced for the most part. Maximum trailer lengths vary from 30’ to 40’. They are arranged in loops around a green space usually with a combined restroom/shower building in the center. There are access trails to the beach from the camping area as well as the picnic area.

The beautiful beach at Huntington Beach State Park
The beautiful beach at Huntington Beach State Park

The beach seems to extend forever and is unmarred by the proximity to the hotels and high-rises found along most sections of the Grand Strand. If nothing else it is well worth the $5 day use fee to make a visit just to enjoy the uncrowded beach in this part of the area.

Huntington Beach State Park's Nature Center
Huntington Beach State Park’s Nature Center

Nature lovers will enjoy the park’s Nature Center and wide variety of programming, including the chance to see alligators, loggerhead turtles and other endangered plant and animal species up close.

Huntington Beach State Park Boardwalks
Huntington Beach State Park Boardwalks

There are several boardwalks extending out into the lake and marsh area with interpretive signs to explain certain historical and ecological facts.

Huntington Beach State Park Causeway
Huntington Beach State Park Causeway

The causeway between the park’s freshwater lake (Mullet Pond) and Oaks Creek saltwater marsh area is a sure-fire place to see alligators, egrets, and birds of many kinds.

Atalaya Castle in Huntington Beach State Park Murrells Inlet, SC
Atalaya Castle in Huntington Beach State Park Murrells Inlet, SC

Atalaya Castle, also in the Park, is the picturesque, Moorish-style winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, philanthropist and sculptor, respectively, who left the park and adjacent Brookgreen Gardens as their legacy. Constructed to withstand hurricanes, it was built during the Depression giving much needed employment to dozens of local people.

The first evening of our stopover we had dinner at an old favorite, the 120 item China Buffet in Surfside Beach. The food was just fair this time. Perhaps it has changed hands but it used to be exceptional. The tab with tip was $27.17 for the 2 of us.

A picnic with old friends at Huntington Beach State Park
A picnic with old friends at Huntington Beach State Park

Our second afternoon we were very pleased to have two old Myrtle Beach friends, Patrish Blackstock and Wally Snider, join us for a picnic at our campsite. Many know the couple through Patrish’s exceptional website, funbeaches.com, an all inclusive guide to the Myrtle Beach Area. It was great fun catching up with what all of us had been doing.

Maggi D's Fine Italian Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC
Maggi D’s Fine Italian Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC

Our third afternoon we took Patrish’s and Wally’s suggestion and had dinner at Maggi D’s Italian Restaurant near the Coastal Grand Mall in Myrtle Beach. Exceptional service cheerfully prodded on by the jovial owner. We enjoyed the Chicken French and the Spaghetti & Meatballs. A piece of lemon cake for dessert topped off the meal nicely. The 2 dinners came to $43.96 with tip.

Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach, SC
Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach, SC

The 4th day ‘twas the night before Mother’s Day so we splurged and took Niki out to the Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach. Neither of us is a big meat eater so we had just the salad bar which offers some 35 items that you don’t normally find on an average salad bar. The atmosphere is noisy and chaotic but we both enjoyed our meal. “The Kids” treat came to $66.14 for the both of us.

Barefoot Landing Boardwalk & Shops in Myrtle Beach, SC
Barefoot Landing Boardwalk & Shops in Myrtle Beach, SC

Before the Rioz we spent some time wandering around Barefoot Landing near the Intracoastal Waterway in North Myrtle Beach. Barefoot consists of over 100 specialty shops and restaurants around a 27 acre lake. Our stroll ended up with only the purchase of a $4 decadent cookie we bought to share from the River Street Sweets shop.

Sunday, our last full day, we spend repacking everything for our departure on Monday since rain showers are predicted for the next leg of our trip. It’s always better to pack on a dry day!
Our last dinner in Myrtle Beach is at Angelo’s, another favorite of ours. It’s a favorite for golfers as well; after a day of chasing the little white ball nothing beats a really good steak and Angelo’s serves close to 100,000 of them each year!

There are many who prefer to camp in the huge, reach-out-and-touch-your-neighbor, golf cart infested, mega campgrounds along the beach but we have found 2 with a slower pace and closer to Nature and the peace and quiet we like. One is this Huntington Beach State Park, which is about 16 miles South of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade. The other is Carrollwoods RV Park at Grapeful Sisters Vineyard in Tabor City, NC – 20 miles North of the City of North Myrtle Beach.

The best price we found for gasoline was $3.399 at the Circle K on the corner of Hwy 17 and 544 in Surfside Beach.

Our next stop will be Asheboro, NC.

More info about:
Huntington Beach State Park
16148 Ocean HWY, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
843-237-4440 huntingtonbeach@scprt.com

107 sites with Elec. & Water at $21-41/site/night.
24 FHU (Full Hookup Sites with Elec, Water, Sewer) at $24-47/site/night.
Call 1-866-345-7275 for reservations.

Huntington Beach State Park website:
http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/huntingtonbeach/introduction.aspx

Things to do & see on the Grand Strand:
http://www.myrtlebeachsnowbird.com
http://www.funbeaches.com

Day 5 and 6 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada

Day 5 and 6 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada
Brunswick, GA to St. George, SC 166 miles
5/5-5/6/2014 Monday-Tuesday

Heading North on I-95 the ride gets pretty rough after you hit the SC line. Much of the Interstate is concrete highway with chunks missing or repaired unevenly. It’s not impassable by any means, just be prepared for some jostling.

Jolly Acres RV Park St. George, South Carolina
Jolly Acres RV Park St. George, South Carolina

Jolly Acres RV Park is a favorite of ours whiere we have stayed several times. It’s a small well-kept campground out in the country, a little more than 5 miles from Exit 77 off I-95. It is owned and run by a very sweet older lady.

That said there is not much to do in St. George, SC. It’s 45 miles from Charleston and we have taken day trips into that city. All of the popular chain restaurants are nearby but for us it’s our “R&R” stop to just take a break before we spend a few busy days in our next stop – Myrtle Beach.

It’s quiet here in the country. Our “Kids,” B.B. and K.C., love it because there is plenty of wildlife for them to watch. The campground offers all of the amenities except cable TV. There are plenty of commercial TV stations you can pick up from Charleston. They also have a nice fishing/duck pond on site.

Georgios Pizza & Restaurant St. George, SC
Georgios Pizza & Restaurant St. George, SC

We did try Georgio’s Pizza and Restaurant in town which was recommended to us for dinner. They had a nice, fresh salad bar, but the Chicken Parm and Alfredo entrees we ordered were nothing special for a dinner tab of $39 with tip. We would have done just as well by choosing the Pizza Hut next door.
Shugs Southern Soul Cafe
Shugs Southern Soul Cafe St. George, SC

Day 6, and our second day in St. George, proved to be much better. Another restaurant recommended to us was “Shugs Southern Soul Cafe”. It’s about a mile West from I-95 Exit 77 and on the way towards Jolly Acres RV Park. Owned and operated by Chef Noah Coleman, who knows how to properly prepare the really good down-home Southern staples. They are open for lunch from 10-3 and for dinner from 5pm to 10pm. There are daily specials and a buffet served on Sundays. We both ordered the BBQ chicken special which came with rice and collard greens. All cooked just right and oh so good. Niki says the sweet iced tea is just as good as she makes it. Desserts are made on the premises and we each tried a piece of cake – lemon for Niki and the chocolate cake for Jack. Delicious! A great meal for $30.59 with drinks and tip. We will definitely make it a point to stop when we are on this route again.
Santee StatePark Santee, South Carolina
Santee StatePark Santee, South Carolina

After lunch we wanted to look at 2 campgrounds a little further North on I-95. The first was Santee State Park. It is located on Lake Marion near I-95 Exit 98. It has everything you would expect in a State Park and more.
Santee State Park store and boat launch
Santee State Park store and boat launch

They have a Visitor Center, Park Store and WiFi Lounge, fishing pier, boat launch, cabins to rent, and 2 camping areas with both pull-thru and back-in sites.
Santee State Park cabins to rent
Santee State Park cabins to rent

The cabins are circular in design with a deck and waterfront view and are not built right beside each other. Several are built out on piers extending out on the lake.
Santee State Park campground
Santee State Park campground

The fees are very reasonable. The one and only drawback we found – the roads, and they were a deal-breaker. There is not 10’ without a bump and we mean a real jolt! We stopped and chatted with the host and his wife for a few minutes. We asked if the roads were ever graded and they told us it couldn’t be done because it was all rock. Gravel would certainly help! They did tell us that the State was planning to pave the roads in the next year or two. As was pointed out to us, there were many nice trailers in many of the sites. Indeed, there were many nice 5th wheels and travel trailers on sites. It’s just something we don’t want to put our suspension through. We wondered how many campers hadn’t known about the poor roads before they arrived?

We had planned to travel up to Exit 102 and visit Santee Lakes Campground but an accident had Northbound I-95 traffic backed up for miles. We will try to visit that campground on another trip.

Two beautiful sunny days in St. George for us. Both days in the 80’s.

The best gasoline price in St. George: $3.499.
Our next stop will be Murrells Inlet, SC.

More info about:
Jolly Acres RV Park PA/$16/Sun-Thurs 5.5Mi from I-95
289 Horne Taylor Road, Saint George, SC 29477 (843) 563-8303
PT, 20/30/50Amp (Add $3 f/50A ), FHU, Free WiFi (Reception spotty).

Jolly Acres RV Park website:
http://www.syrrrun.com/

Passport America Info on this campground:
http://www.passportamerica.com/campgrounds/sc/jollyacresrvparkandstorage1982

Santee State Park website:
http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/santee/introduction.aspx

Day 3 and 4 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada

Day 3 and 4 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada
Lake City, FL to Brunswick, GA 118 miles
5/3-5/4/2014 Saturday-Sunday

Golden Isles RV Park Brunswick, Georgia
Golden Isles RV Park Brunswick, Georgia

We arrived at the Golden Isles RV Park mid-afternoon on Day 3 after another smooth trip.

After setup we drove into town to see their “Historic District” and to find a good seafood restaurant since we were in a fishing community. We had asked the campground manager for her favorite seafood restaurant but her directions led us instead into some interesting parts of town that did have some older buildings but were really lacking in historical significance.

Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick, Georgia
Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick, Georgia

We ended up doing a big loop, coming back over one of those huge bridges on US-17 that ships go under. Since neither of us cares for high places we always seem to find that mountain or bridge to go over in any area we are in! We will never get really comfortable driving over those things but at least we weren’t towing this time!

Zachry's Seafood Restaurant Brunswick, Georgia
Zachry’s Seafood Restaurant Brunswick, Georgia

After 20 some miles we ended up at Zachry’s Seafood Restaurant not more than a mile from the campground and from I-95 Exit 29. It was worth the trip to find it! Niki declared the
shrimp & oyster plate as good as it gets. The seafood was lightly breaded, juicy and cooked just right. A good helping, and with other Southern sides plus the hushpuppies she nearly swooned over, it was well worth the $17. Jack had the shrimp hoagie and said it was one of the best he has had in a long time.

Jekyll Island Sign
This way to Jekyll Island

On Sunday, Day 4, we drove out to Jekyll Island – about 7 miles from from the campground. To get to the Island the road leads through several miles of marshland. The day pass is $6 to enter the Island proper.

Brunswick Georgia Marshland
Brunswick Georgia Marshland

In 1886, Jekyll Island was purchased to become an exclusive winter retreat, known as the Jekyll Island Club. It soon became recognized as “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world.”

Jekyll Island Club Sign
Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Club members included such notable figures as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and Marshall Field. Members prized the island for its “sense of splendid isolation,” beautiful landscape, and moderate climate.

The Jekyll Island Club Hotel
The Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Jekyll Island, with its cottage colony and clubhouse, was viewed as a little paradise, where members and guests pursued “a life of elegant leisure.” Here, they enjoyed a variety of outdoor pursuits, such as hunting, horseback riding, skeet shooting, golf, tennis, biking, croquet, lawn bowling, picnics, and carriage rides.

Jekyll Island Cottage
Jekyll Island Cottage

The Club suffered some financial problems around the beginning of WWII. The State purchased the Island. Today, the former Club grounds comprise a 240-acre site with 34 historic structures. The Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark District is one of the largest ongoing restoration projects in the southeastern United States.

Jekyll Island Museum and Tours
Jekyll Island Museum and Tours

Visitors can visit a museum, art gallery, bookstore and other venues in the restored cottages or take a tram or horse-drawn carriage ride around the settlement.

Great Dunes Beach on Jekyll Island
Great Dunes Beach on Jekyll Island

There are several large hotels along the ocean side of the Island and construction is well underway for more. There is free parking and beach access across the dunes. There is a small campground with water and a picnic area on the North end of the Island.

Lunch at the "Rah" Bar on the  Jekyll Island Wharf
Lunch at the “Rah” Bar on the Jekyll Island Wharf

We had lunch at “The Rah Bar” on the wharf at the Jekyll Island Club. We both had the shrimp salad croissants which were very good ($11/ea). We ordered a slice of “homemade” key lime pie to share but returned it after deciding it had no relation whatsoever to any key lime pie that we know and love.

Jekyll Island Wharf
Jekyll Island Wharf

The rain had stopped overnight and it was a beautiful day, with the temp in the low 80’s. A perfect day to sit on the dock of the bay to enjoy the sea breezes, great views, a good lunch, and to decide that we were pretty happy with life in general.

Just the place to be wasting time on Jekyll Island
Just the place to be wasting time on Jekyll Island

Our next stop will be St. John, South Carolina

More info about:
Golden Isles RV Park PA/$18.90 1 Mi from I-95
7445 Blythe Island Hwy, Brunswick GA, 31523 (912) 261-1025
PT, 20/30/50Amp, FHU, Free WiFi with good reception, Free cable. 3 days max. Reservations require a credit card guarantee. Credit cards accepted. No weekend restrictions on Passport America.

Golden Isles RV Park website:
http://www.goldenislesrvpark.com/

Passport America Info on this campground:
http://www.passportamerica.com/campgrounds/ga/goldenislesvacationpark113

More about Jekyll Island:
http://www.jekyllisland.com/

Day 1 and 2 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada

Day 1 and 2 – Snowbird RV Trip Florida to Canada
Tampa to Lake City, FL 179 miles
5/1-5/2/2014 Thurs-Fri

Sunny and 80 degrees at 11:30AM when we finished our checklist and pulled out of our Winter spot on the East side of Tampa. Local gasoline price of $3.549 with our Flying J Discount Card (savings of 4 cents/Gal.).

Bad storms the previous day left Pensacola in flood conditions and more storms were forecast. We were a little worried about what the weather would be like near our first planned stop in Lake City though it is quite a few miles East of Pensacola.

Our trip up I-75 was smooth though traffic was fairly heavy. There are several rest stop areas along the route and we stopped at one about half-way to have lunch.

Near Gainesville we ran into a heavy downpour that lasted about 15 minutes. The rest of the trip was merely overcast but the temp had dropped dramatically from 90* to 70* during the rainstorm.

Oaks n' Pines RV Park, Lake City, FL
Oaks n’ Pines RV Park, Lake City, FL

“Oaks and Pines RV Park” is one of our favorite Passport America campgrounds when we travel this way. It is EZ off/on I-10 at Exit 303 and just a few miles from where I-75 connects with I-10. The couple that run the place are very nice and always accommodating. They have the original “fat cat” weighing in at nearly 40lbs.

After setting up and chatting with our neighbors we disconnected the truck and drove into Town for the one place we knew we could count on for a good steak – “Texas Roadhouse”. We were not disappointed with our Dallas filet choices. Good service and great food.

The price for gasoline is up from what we found in Tampa and averages $3.739 to $3.799 in Lake City and the lower price is actually near I-10 Exit 303!

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs, Florida
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs, Florida

There are a number of places to visit nearby (the reason we stay at least 2 nights at each stopover). This stop is close to the Suwannee River and we decided to visit Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center State Park only 14 miles away.

Camping in Stephen Foster Folk  Culture Center State Park
Camping in Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

This State Park offers 45 camping sites with water and electric, miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, and canoe access to the Suwannee River. All set among the Spanish moss draped oaks. The Park is also home to the Stephen Foster Museum and an impressive Carillon Tower that plays popular selections throughout the day from among the 200 songs that Mr. Foster wrote in his short lifetime.

Carillon Tower in Stephen Foster Folk  Culture Center State Park
Carillon Tower in Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Stephen Foster had never visited nor seen the Suwannee River but was in need of the name of a Florida River with 2 syllables for the song he was writing. He and his brother consulted an atlas in his brother’s Pittsburg office in 1851 and there began the song titled “Old Folks at Home” and made “de Swannee Ribber” famous around the World and destined to become Florida’s State Song.

Stephen Foster Museum in Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
Stephen Foster Museum in Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

The Museum contains memorabilia from Foster’s life, some personal writings, song sheets, photos and a number of old pianos. The highlights of the self-guided tour are the 10 “dioramas” depicting scenes that show life as imagined during the times of his most popular songs. Each scene has moving parts such as a riverboat passing by in “Way Down Upon de Swannee Ribber”, horses moving around the track in “Camptown Races”, and a donkey cart driving by in “Old Black Joe”.

Dioramas in the Stephen Foster Museum in Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
Dioramas in the Stephen Foster Museum

The gazebo and stairways leading to the river offer picturesque views of the river and even some armadillos searching for lunch at the riverside.

Suwannee River in White Springs, FL
Stephen Foster’s Suwannee River

After an afternoon with Stephen Foster, we had dinner at The Gondolier Italian Restaurant in Lake City. They’ve very good salads and pasta dishes as well as a nice selection of Greek food. Save room for dessert though as their dessert case is full of delicious selections.

Gondolier Pizza, Lake City, FL
Gondolier Pizza, Lake City, FL

Our next stop will be Brunswick, Georgia.

More info about:
Oaks ‘n Pines RV Park PA/$18/night 1/4 Mi from I-10 at
3864 N. US Hwy 441, Lake City, FL, 32055 Phone: (386) 752-0830
PT (Pull-thrus), 20/30/50Amp, FHU, Free WiFi, Free cable
Passport America discount is valid for three nights and no weekend restrictions. Cash, checks, and credit cards accepted. Additional charge for using a Credit Card.

Oaks n’ Pines Website:
http://www.oaksnpines.com/

Passport America Info on this campground:
http://www.passportamerica.com/campgrounds/fl/oaksnpinesrvresort1228

Things to Do & Restaurants in Lake City, FL:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g34360-Lake_City_Florida-Vacations.html

2013 Fall Trip South – Days 4 & 5 Conneaut, Ohio

Evergreen Lake Park in Conneaut, Ohio
Evergreen Lake Park in Conneaut, Ohio

We added another 200 miles to our trip today coming from Campbell, NY, and are spending 2 nights in Conneaut, Ohio. It’s just off I-90, Exit 241, on the shore of Lake Erie.

We are staying in Evergreen Lake Park, 703 Center Road. About a mile from the Exit. Very easy to get into and back on I-90 going either way.

Office at Evergreen Lake Park, Conneaut, Ohio
Office at Evergreen Lake Park, Conneaut, Ohio

Evergreen is nicely kept and fairly full of Seasonals. They keep a number of sites open up front for transients and overnighters including 6 nice, long pull-thrus. $21/night with Passport America for 50A and water. Dump station easily accessible on the way out. WiFi available at $2/day. No cable but plenty of local TV stations.

Swimming at Evergreen Lake Park, Conneaut, Ohio
Swimming at Evergreen Lake Park, Conneaut, Ohio

The Park has a small swimming lake, and a fishing pond with an island gazebo and resident ducks. Something that struck us straightaway was how friendly everyone is both in waving and speaking. Not something we find in every stop we make.

Fishing pond at Evergreen Lake Park, Conneaut, Ohio
Fishing pond at Evergreen Lake Park, Conneaut, Ohio

We arrived about 3pm, set-up, and went for gas and to have a combined lunch/dinner. A “Love’s Truckstop” is at the Exit where we came off so we gassed up there. $3.29/Gal. Haven’t seen that in awhile!

Loves gas stop and great food at Ohio Exit 241 off I-90
Loves gas and great food at Ohio Exit 241 off I-90

We always ask where there might be a good “mom & pop” diner nearby with good home-cooked food. The campground manager suggested we try a place called “The Beef and Beer” across the road from the truckstop. It didn’t look like much from the outside but the food was great! Don’t let the name fool you. It’s definitely a popular, local family restaurant.

(We went back for their Sunday turkey dinner.)

Harbor lighthouse i Conneaut, Ohio on Lake Erie
Harbor lighthouse i Conneaut, Ohio on Lake Erie

After a fine and reasonably priced dinner, we drove downtown to explore and ended up at the Marina where we took these photos.

Conneaut, Ohio sunset over Lake Erie
Conneaut, Ohio sunset over Lake Erie

Next day, Sunday, we decided to follow the Town’s Visitor Guide Map and locate the 3 local covered bridges. We found them but what the map failed to mention was that all were at the end of unpaved, gravel roads. Great fun and beautiful country.

Covered Bridges in Conneaut, Ohio
Covered Bridges in Conneaut, Ohio

Evergreen Lake Park will definitely be placed in our “Snowbird RV Trails of Fame” for Passport America campgrounds enroute in this direction.

Next stop will be down I-71 for a 2 night stop near Columbus, Ohio.