After nearly three months in the Asheville area we filled up Serenity’s big tank for the first time since early August and headed south. We were bound for Florida, as we do every winter, though with our actual itinerary still in COVID-induced flux. We made a couple of stops to see cousins along the way, with our first destination the outskirts of Atlanta, though we split the trip there from Black Mountain into two legs with a one night stopover in South Carolina. We had not driven the RV since mid August, so it was to take things slow with two easy drives (roughly two hours each) rather than one long push.
In a similar vein, with this being our first night on the road in a long while, we wanted a full service RV park rather than a dry camping parking lot at Walmart or Cracker Barrel. As there were no military campgrounds on our route, we turned to Passport America for an affordable option, found Lake Hartwell Camping & Cabins a little beyond the halfway point to Atlanta and less than five miles from the interstate, and locked it in for our one night stop.
At $19 all in we enjoyed a lakefront site with 30 amp power and water. While the dirt and gravel road down to our site was pretty rough, once there the spot was spacious with a great view of the lake. The encroaching cold weather had already knocked down most of the leaves, and the combination of an open view with remnants of fall colors made this campground a great one night value. Once again, Passport America (wink wink: referring membership type “R” and member number 0261872) comes through for us.
We made the short drive to cousins Marissa and Ray’s the next morning. Since our last visit they have moved, having sold and then bought a larger place for their growing family in a nearby neighborhood. The driveway at the new house is not particularly long, but apparently the HOA has no problem with short term curbside parking of RVs, so we were able to make ourselves quite at home, even putting out the two protected left slides and connecting to our hosts standard 20 amp house circuit.
The adorable Annalise has competition for attention, as her sister Sarah, now 2, is highly mobile, talkative, and insistent on being included in everything. At 5 Annalise is old enough to remember us now, and has her sister just as intrigued by our “car house” as she is. Day or night, if one of us needed to make a trip to the RV, the girls insisted on “helping.”
Marissa joined me on my annual Veteran’s Day tour of restaurants. Though this year was far more subdued than past events, we were still able to have breakfast and pick up enough food for the entire family for lunch and part of dinner. Betsy, Gami, and Daniella were able to swing by for one evening of partially distanced visiting as well.
After two days we continued our low speed cruise to Florida with yet another Passport America stop, this time for two nights in Southern Georgia. Earlier in the week when we selected Lake Hartwell for a short stopover there was only one Passport America choice near our desired stopping point, and thus we felt fortunate to have scored such a nice value. In this case we had three such properties to choose from. One of them did not have availability, another was significantly more expensive, and so we ended up at Paradise Lake RV Park in the very small town of Enigma, less than ten miles off I-75.
It was a bit bare bones to look at, with no actual lake or even pond on the property, but for $15 a night we had full hook ups (i.e., sewage included with the power and water) and a surprisingly tranquil environment. While there was not much of a view, all of the spaces in this small park were on grass, decently large, and most had a couple of trees. The neighbors mostly kept to themselves and were polite when we met a few, and onsite management was very laid back and accommodating, even waiving their “no Passport America rate on Friday” rule for our second night stay.
We spent part of our second day there exploring the area and geocaching. I had recently learned that a geocache affiliated website had a function allowing you to visualize not only the states and countries you have cached in, but also broke it down by county. I was surprised to see how few counties we had cached in along our extensive travel routes, and wondered how full the map might be if I actually found a cache in every county in which we had stayed a night. Since discovering this tool I have added around nine to the map.
We finally crossed into Florida shortly after departing Paradise Lake, and made a mid afternoon arrival at cousins Rob and Colleen’s and their girls Nola and Maeve. Unable to score weekend reservations at the nearby and very popular Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, they put us up in their driveway for the night.
We had a great visit, getting to know their dogs, picking up their go to take out pizza, and telling stories over a few beers and the like. With holiday breaks coming up, we hope to get back together on the beaches in Sanibel this winter.
Next up: our week in Central Florida, and a new state park.
4 thoughts on “Back To Florida, Via Atlanta and Gainesville, for the Winter”
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