Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chattahoochee Riverwalk

   The entire trail is over twenty miles of wide smooth asphalt. We went just a few miles - very nice, scenic and quiet once the path left the city behind. It’s not level but gently rolling – a good workout for wheelchair users who don’t have a helper to give a little extra push.

  There are numerous places to park along the route. Parking lots that have an accessible path to the riverwalk are marked on the map. We parked at the Civil War Naval Museum lot which is large enough for RVs and has an accessible path. Riverwalk
32.4453, -84.97745

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Civil War Naval Museum

  Free ebook from Amazon - The Monitor and the Merrimac

 The role of the navy in the Civil War is easily overlooked but it played an important part by blockading the southern ports and preventing the shipment of cotton out and much needed supplies back in. The museum has the remains of two Confederate ships that have been recovered after spending about 100 years sunk in the river. Full scale, partial reconstructions of three other Civil War ships are on display inside the museum and a complete reconstruction of another is located outside.

  Everything inside the museum is accessible but some backtracking is necessary to avoid steps. Reading all of the information on the story boards might cause some neck strain because they’re  positioned little high on the wall. The Water Witch, located outside, is not accessible due to a loose gravel path and steps to the deck of the ship.

   The parking lot is large enough for all RVs.  Museum
  32.44722, -84.98016

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site - Plains High School

    The high school is just one part of the Plains, Georgia site which also includes the train depot and the farm where Jimmy Carter spent his childhood. The high school, which is a museum and visitor center, has displays covering Jimmy's and Rosalynn's lives from childhood through their young married days, campaigns for political office, and continuing work for human rights but skipping the presidency. There’s also a 25 minute video in the wonderfully restored school auditorium.

   Everything is accessible. The aisles in the auditorium are very wide and wheelchairs will fit anywhere. The main entrance has steps. A ramped entrance is located in the rear of the building. We didn’t see any signs pointing the way but if you follow the signs on the street with directions to the RV/bus parking you’ll find the rear lot. Follow the sidewalk to the entrance.

   Visitors with large RVs should follow the signs for RV parking. The RV parking area is just a couple of lots behind the school and most RVs will have to be parked lengthwise across several spaces. Smaller RVs will fit in the lot in front of the school.  Visitor Center
32.03693, -84.39291

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Andersonville National Historic Site

  Free ebook from Gutenberg - Andersonville

 Andersonville was the site of Camp Sumter, the worst of the worst Confederate prison camps. Almost 13,000 of the more than 45,000 Union prisoners who were confined here, died and were buried shoulder to shoulder in long trenches dug by fellow inmates. The historic site includes the cemetery, prison camp location and the National Prisoner of War Museum.

  Most of the museum is accessible. A few of the exhibits are a little too high to view easily. Some of the short film clips are hard to see because of the angle of the screen. The prison camp area, most of the informative signs and the cemetery can be viewed without leaving your vehicle. A free audio tour can be checked out at the museum information desk.

  The parking lot has long RV spaces. They’re in a lower level of the lot so it’s a bit of a push up the road to the museum entrance.  Historic Site
32.19805, -84.12703

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Andersonville City Campground

   There isn’t much to this little campground. The road is rutted, the sites are close together, hard to get into and not level. The sites are full hookup including cable TV but there aren’t any picnic tables. None of the sites are accessible but some of them have concrete parking pads. It’s a good place to stay if you want to visit the Andersonville National Historic Site which is just across Hwy 49, within walking distance of the campground.

  Large RVs may not fit in the sites because of the uneven ground and low hanging branches. The campground does not have a website. Campground registration is at the Drummer Boy Museum. If the museum is closed someone will come to your site.
32.19521, -84.14288

Friday, February 24, 2012

Riverfront Park and Riverwalk Greenway Trail

    Albany, Georgia sits high above the Flint River with the sloping expanse of Riverfront Park providing some protection from flooding. Pathways lead down to a wide concrete trail which follows along the river. At street level the park is home to the Flint RiverQuariam, several children's  play areas, the Albany Welcome Center, the Albany Civic Center, and a large statue of Ray Charles, an Albany native.  Located nearby is the Thronateeska Heritage Center which includes a history museum, science museum, rail car display, and a planetarium. All have free admission except for the planetarium. The history museum is closed for renovations. We visited the science museum and the rail car display.The displays and  information in both of them are pretty meager.

   The park is accessible but the pathways down to the riverwalk are very long and drop about 30 feet from street level. The riverwalk is wide and smooth with a few hills. Thronateeska Heritage Center is accessible.

   RV parking is available at the Civic Center and the Heritage Center.  Park    Heritage Center
31.57598, -84.1483

Albany Museum of Art

  This is a very small museum, free for everyone. The first floor has changing exhibits. The main gallery on the second floor showcases African art. Other galleries display 19th and 20th century American and European artwork.

Everything is accessible.

The parking lot is large enough for all RVs.  Museum
31.58421, -84.2086

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Albany Civil Rights Institute

    In the early 1960s the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was very active in Albany, Georgia registering black voters; staging mass protests and boycotts; and attempting to integrate bus stations and businesses. Police Chief Laurie Pritchett responded by arresting the protesters, including Martin Luther King Jr., for disturbing the peace. So many people were arrested that the jails in Albany and the surrounding communities were overwhelmed with a dozen people in cells meant for four. The Civil Rights Institute allows visitors to follow the story with photographs and audio and video recordings.

   Everything is accessible.

   There are a few parking spaces for cars in front of the museum. A large parking lot where RVs will fit is located at the east end of the block. Institute
31.57196, -84.15427

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chehaw Wild Animal Park

  This is a small zoo, nicely laid out with roomy enclosures for the animals. The paths are asphalt and boardwalk. Both are in  pretty good condition. Everything is accessible but a few of the ramps are a little steep.

   The park also has a campground. None of the sites are accessible but some could be used. The sites are all different so there are graveled sites, sandy sites, pine needle sites, concrete tables and wooden tables.

   The campground sites and zoo parking lot are large enough for all RVs.  Park
31.61772, -84.13849

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Florida – General information

2011-02-08 001
   We had a wonderful time in Florida in 2011. We’ve been avoiding Florida for years because it’s just too crowded, too expensive, and we thought that it wouldn’t fit with our usual way of traveling without set plans or reservations. We originally thought that we would spend about a month and leave when the snowbirds started coming in full force after New Years.We ended up staying for almost three months then returned the next winter (2012) and stayed again for a of couple months.

   The biggest problem, which we discovered in precious visits, is campgrounds. The well known state and county parks are booked up through the winter months but we found some hidden treasures. There are county parks that few people seem to know about that are beautiful. The key to finding open campsites is to look for campgrounds that don’t take reservations, are a little out of the way or don’t have sewer hook ups.  When we couldn’t find a campground we fell back on “blacktop camping” which is hard in Florida because so many cities have restricted it but we did find some Walmarts, Cracker Barrels, and casinos where it was okay to stay for the night. Finding campgrounds and overnighting spots becomes more difficult the farther south you travel.

   One thing that we weren’t used to were the gates on the campgrounds. Most of the campgrounds close at six and lock the gates but they close the campground offices at five. If you’re later than five they may not give you a site. If you’re later than six, you’ll be locked out.

  Everything is Florida is expensive, even museums, sometimes two or three times more expensive than other states but with our passes we were able to see many different things and spend very little money. Passes are always economical for us because we use them for the whole year as we travel to other states but you’ll have to decide which attractions you’re interested in to see if it makes sense for you to buy them.

 One thing that surprised us was the good accessibility of most places – easy to open doors, ramps, and good pavement.  Even where there wasn’t pavement the hard packed sand or crushed shell made rolling pretty easy. This may have been helped along by the lack of rain so it might not be as good at other times of the year.

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

    We’re not sure what to make of this place. The park is beautiful but the Stephen Foster connection is tenuous. Stephen Foster, a northerner, composed many sentimental songs, romanticizing the antebellum south even though he knew little about it, having made only on trip down the Mississippi on a riverboat. Most of the songs were written for the Christie Minstrels, a  blackface group that performed in the north. One of the most famous “ Old Folks at Home” or “Suwannee  River” was the basis for making a park at this location along the Suwannee River. The park visitor center has some really well done but stereotypical dioramas depicting scenes from Foster’s songs. The museum also contains a collection of old, unique pianos but little information about Foster. Other things to see in the park are a 97 bell Carillion Tower which plays songs on the hour and Craft Square, a small grouping of craft and gift shops.

  Everything is accessible.

  Parking for RVs is available at each of the points of interest but it’s such a small area that parking at the museum and walking or rolling (along the roads some of the way ) is a good option. We didn’t camp here but I’ve seen many positive reviews about the campground.  Park
30.3359, -82.76978

Monday, February 20, 2012

Falling Creek Falls Trail

  A waterfall in flat, flat Florida? Not really  – :)!  A short boardwalk through the forest leads to this little ten foot waterfall.

  The boardwalk is accessible. There’s also a picnic area with accessible restrooms and a small playground.

  The parking area is large enough for RVs but if it’s busy there may not be enough room to turn around.  Waterfall
30.258, -82.66869

Ocean Pond Campground

 This is a quiet, forest campground bordering the edge of a lake. The sites are fairly large with a good amount of space and vegetation between them, more so for the non-electric ones.

None of the sites are specifically handicapped but most have paved parking aprons. The tables have long overhangs and the ground is hard packed sand. 

Update 2023- Since we did not need electric hookups we stayed in the primitive camp loop. The roads in that loop are sand and the parking pads in the sites are sand too. The tables are not all upgraded to accessible tables. No reservation so if you want an electric site arrive early in the day. Campground
30.24045, -82.42985


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Battle of Olustee Reenactment

   The Battle of Olustee was a minor battle in the Civil War but it was the largest one fought in Florida. The Union army’s mission was to sever Confederate supply routes and liberate slaves but when the battle ended with 40% of the Union soldiers dead, wounded or missing, further military action in Florida was deemed to be unnecessary. The reenactment is held at Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, the actual battlefield. The entire park becomes a living history with suttlers selling period clothing and household articles; very authentic Confederate and Union camps; and the battle reenactments which involve hundreds of participants.

  The ground is hard packed so rolling around in a wheelchair isn’t difficult but the area to be covered is fairly large. The battle reenactment grounds has spaces reserved for wheelchairs at the ends of the bleachers but to really see everything it’s best to move to the front of the viewing area close to the ropes.  The park has a very small museum which is accessible. A movie is shown in a room which has a step up and no ramp.

  There is no parking in the park except for a very limited amount of handicapped parking, restricted to people who need to use wheelchairs. Large vehicles will not fit in this area. Parking for everyone else is along both sides of US 90.  Park     Reenactment Info
30.21396, -82.38872

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

   It’s a little too early for flowering plants but these gardens are still a nice place for a short walk. The gardens are divided into an east and a west section. The east section is larger with a mile long loop trail composed of concrete walkway, old bricks and concrete pavers. It’s a bit uneven and has some steep grades so most wheelchair users will need to have some help in spots.  The west trail is about 1/2 mile long and is mostly smooth, level concrete.

   The parking area is large enough for RVs but watch for low hanging branches.  Gardens
29.61234, -82.40896

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Harn Museum of Art

     This museum has a bunch of small galleries with a variety of artwork – Asian, African, photography and contemporary pieces. Both of us really enjoyed it and as an added bonus it’s free for everyone.

    Everything is accessible.

    Parking for cars and vans is available in the museum visitor lot  ($4.00 ), at metered spaces or in the student lots on Saturday and Sunday. We found some spaces large enough for small RVs behind the Florida Museum of Natural History.  Museum
29.63722, -82.37008

Monday, February 13, 2012

Haile Kanapaha Plantation

   In 1854 Thomas Evans and Serena Chesnut Haile moved their family and slaves from South Carolina to Florida where Thomas Haile had purchased 1,500 acres for the purpose of growing Sea Island cotton. The house is rather plain for a plantation house. In fact curtains were never hung and the walls are bare plaster. At some point early in the history of the house, the family started writing on the walls and this tradition continued through the years as the house progressed to a weekend and holiday place. Most of the writing is by invited guests who signed their names and added the date.

   A wide paved walkway leads from the parking lot to the house.The house has a ramp along the side. The bottom floor is accessible but some of the thresholds have a large hump. The second floor has stairs only. Photographs of the second floor aren’t provided.

  The parking area is large enough for RVs parked lengthwise. House
29.59232, -82.43428

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Florida Museum of Natural History

   This is a really good museum and admission to see most of the exhibits is totally free! Special exhibits are free with a ASTC pass. The Butterfly Rainforest is discounted slightly with the pass. The museum uses life size displays to explain the natural history of Florida and the impact that humans have had on it. The butterfly garden, the best one that we have visited, has  many different tropical plants, butterflies and small birds

  Everything is accessible-push button doors, a low admissions desk and easy to view exhibits. The butterfly garden path has slight downhill and uphill grades.

  Parking for cars and vans is available at the front of the museum. Parking for anything larger is limited but we got lucky and found a space behind the museum. Museum
29.63513, -82.37003