Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

  In the early 1900s lumber baron, Arthur Cummer and his wife Ninah, built a mansion along the St. James River, complete with a formal English garden and an Italian garden. All of the property was willed to the city of Jacksonville when Ninah died. The mansion had to be demolished to build the museum but the gardens survived. One room of the mansion has been reassembled inside the museum where visitors can view short videos about Arthur and Ninah, the house and the gardens. The museum contains an interesting and varied collection of European and American art.

  The museum is all accessible. The gardens have ramped walkways throughout so most areas are accessible.

  The parking lot is located across the street from the museum. Short RVs will fit in the lot. Larger RVs can be parked on the street, one block west.  Museum
30.31517, -81.67682

Monday, December 30, 2013

Museum of Science & History

   Walk into the giant mouth and work your way through the inside of a body! The head is actually the coolest part of this exhibit but there are a lot of interesting facts about human anatomy along the way. Other exhibits cover meteorites, energy sources, and native fish and reptiles. The Jacksonville history exhibit is very good. Most of the exhibits are geared towards middle school kids but are interesting for adults too.

  Everything is accessible.

  There’s a small lot for museum parking. The attendant  allowed us to park across a few spaces and charged us for two ( $10.00 ) but I don’t know if that is normal policy.  Museum
30.31858, -81.65961

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Attractions Map

View Attractions Map in a larger map

   Check out my latest little map tweak! I knew that there was a way to put all of the state maps together on one map but it didn’t occur to me until recently how simple it would be. So here you are – if you use any of these maps for planning trips, now they’re all on one link. Save it to your maps and then you can change the US map or any of the state maps to suit your travel plans.  Map

  I’ve included Boondocking/Free Overnight Parking and Festivals too.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Museum of Contemporary Art

   With just two galleries and a hands on area for kids, this is a pretty small museum. The exhibits change often so there is always something new to see.

  Everything is accessible.

  Two hour metered street parking is available. RVs will fit by using more than one space. It’s best to visit on the weekend when the downtown area is not busy. Museum
30.32895, -81.65867

Friday, December 27, 2013

Little Talbot Island State Park Campground

   This is a small campground with sites under a canopy of live oaks and palm trees. Some of the sites are large enough for almost any RV but the roads are narrow and the bends are tight. The park website lists 30’ as the maximum RV length. There’s a dump station and all sites have water and electric hookups.

   None of the sites are marked as accessible but most will work. The tables have long overhangs. The ground is hard packed sand. The restrooms are accessible.

  The check-in station is on the east side of A1A. The campground is on the west side with a gate and keypad access. Campground
30.45776, -81.41872

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jekyll Island Museum & Historic District

   Native Americans were the first inhabitants of Jekyll Island followed by Spanish priests who established missions, an English army major who raised barley and cattle, and a Frenchman and his slaves who grew cotton but the most well known residents were the wealthy Northern businessmen who built a fancy club house and large cottages. From 1888 until 1942 the island was their exclusive winter retreat accessible by a private ferry or personal yachts. After WWII the entire island became a state park although management was turned over to a state agency, the Jekyll Island Authority, so it’s a little different than a normal state park. The park is self sustaining and doesn’t receive any money from the state. There’s a fee for parking - $10.00 for RVs and $6.00 for cars.

   Thirty three of the buildings from the Jekyll Island Club era are still standing. Most have been restored and are private residences or shops. The club house and several of the cottages are now the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Entry to two cottages is included in the tram tour which leaves from the museum. The museum has a short film and displays about the history of the island. A self guided walking tour passes by all of the club buildings. Informative signs are located in front of each building.

  The museum is accessible. The sidewalks along the walking tour are in very good condition. The tram (we didn’t take the tour) has a wheelchair accessible car. I think that the cottages have ramps.

  The parking lot at the museum is large enough for any RV. Go across Stable Road to begin the walking tour.  Museum
31.05829, -81.41786

Monday, December 23, 2013

Fort Frederica National Monument

  Fort Frederica was the largest and strongest fort built in Georgia to protect the city of Savannah and South Carolina from the Spanish in Florida. It was more than just a fort as the walls surrounded a tidy English style village of 500 people. In 1740, not willing to wait for a Spanish invasion, James Oglethorpe led a sea attack on St Augustine. The British did little harm to the Spanish fort but the attack did precipitate a counter attack. The soldiers from Fort Frederica easy defeated the Spanish, sending them back to Florida and ending the conflict over the territory of Georgia. The fort was abandoned in 1749 and caused an economical collapse of the town which was mostly empty by 1755.

  The visitor center has a short film and a few displays about the town and fort. A walking tour with informative signs starts at the visitor center, travels down the main street past foundations of the village houses and then to the ruins of the fort.

  The visitor center is accessible. The walking tour starts as boardwalk but very quickly becomes hard packed sand then very uneven ground. It’s very difficult to push down to the fort ruins even with help.

  There are three long bus/RV spaces at the visitor center lot. Fort
31.22306, -81.38914

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fort King George Historic Site

  In the early 1700s Fort King George was the southernmost outpost of the British Empire in North America. It was built to guard the Altamaha River from the Spanish in the south and the French in the west. It was abandoned in 1727 after only six years with two men left behind as patrols.

  The 1721 fort, with a blockhouse, barracks, outbuildings, moat and palisade fence, has been reconstructed on the original location. Also included on the park grounds are a short nature trail, informative signs about the sawmills that operated in the area for over 100 years, and a reconstruction of a Scottish settler’s cabin. The visitor center has a short movie. Artifacts uncovered from an archeological dig show evidence of Native Americans, a Spanish mission, and the fort occupying the same piece of ground at different times.
  The visitor center is accessible. The trail to the fort is gravel, slightly difficult to push along. The interior of the fort is hard packed with short grass. Most of the buildings have steps but it’s possible to peek inside. The blockhouse has a long staircase. The nature trail and the trail to the settler’s cabin are rough with exposed roots.

  RVs can be parked parallel to the street outside the park entrance. Do not enter the park as there may not be room to turn around.  Fort
31.36478, -81.41682 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wormsloe Historic Site

  Noble Jones was one of the 114 English colonists who came to Georgia with James Oglethorpe as part of an experiment in city planning. Savannah was to be new start for English debtors who would receive a town lot and a piece of land to farm. The city would also serve as a buffer between the English in South Carolina and the Spanish in Florida. Noble Jones was the only one of the original colonists who stayed in the area.

   Jones built a small fortified house along the main river channel to Savannah and commanded a group of marines who patrolled the river. He received a royal grant for the land where he raised cattle and grew fruits and vegetables. A large mansion, where descendants still live, was built in 1828 by his grandson. His  great-grandson planted the 400 live oaks that line the entrance road for 1 1/2 miles.

   Most of the property is managed by the state but the mansion is private property and not opened for tours. A short trail leads to the ruins ( very little is left ) of the original house. Other trails meander through the woods with occasional views of the marsh. The visitor center has a short film and historical displays. The oak lined road is very picturesque.

  The visitor center is accessible. The main trails are hard packed sand and fairly easy to roll along but watch for exposed roots. Lesser used trails are pretty rough with large roots.

  RVs will fit in the bus lot which is close to the visitor center. Follow the signs.  Park
 31.98039, -81.069

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lowcountry Visitor's Center & Museum

  In reality this is just a gift shop with brochures covering attractions found in a small section of South Carolina and a few displays about area museums.The 250 year old live oaks in the front and back yards are magnificent. The house was constructed in 1868 to replace one that Sherman’s troops burned.

  A ramp provides access to the porch. Another short ramp is at the entry door. There isn’t a landing so opening the door is awkward. The shop is very crowded with merchandise in the aisles. I had to move things to navigate around and my wheelchair is fairly small.

The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Gift Shop
32.63203, -80.87202
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sheldon Church Ruins

  The first church, built on this site in 1757, was burned by British soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Sheldon Church was built from the remains but met a similar fate during the Civil War. Sherman’s soldiers may have burned the church or area residents may have taken what they needed for their houses. Whatever happened it was just a shell by 1866. The site is always opened and visitors are free to wander the grounds.

 There’s a piece of wood to serve as a ramp going from the road to the church grounds then there’s a short step down after going up the ramp. The site is not really accessible but can be managed with help. The ground is uneven with roots. The church can be seen without exiting your vehicle by parking in the pullout for the historical sign.

   A large parking area is located on the opposite side of the road. There’s enough room for any RV combination to enter and easily turn around.  Ruins
32.61858, -80.78059
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Fort Sumter National Monument

  We’ve visited Charleston several times but we’ve never been to Fort Sumter because the only way over to the island is by a concession-operated ferry. Entry to the monument is free but the ferry ride is kind of expensive at $18.00 a person. However since we’ve been to almost every other civil war site it was definitely time to go see Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired after the Union army refused to surrender the fort to South Carolina troops.The Union finally surrendered on April 14, 1861 after two days of bombardment.The Confederates held the fort until February 15, 1865 when they evacuated ahead of Union troops who were marching on the city. By that time the fort was mostly rubble from years of artillery fire from Union ships.

  The entire tour takes 2 1/4 hours with an hour at the fort. A short history of the fort is given on the ferry ride. Rangers at the fort give another short presentation. Our guide from the ferry, who accompanied the passengers to the fort, was also very  knowledgeable. The brick walls of the original fort have been partly rebuilt. The center contains a large poured concrete blockhouse built in 1898 which now houses a gift shop and museum. Interpretive signs are located around the grounds.
The ferry is accessible but the ramp from the dock to the ferry doesn't fit exactly flush.The top deck is opened so dress for the weather. The bottom deck which is heated and enclosed is accessed by stairs only. There are two ferry departure locations – Liberty Square in Charleston and Patriots Point on the east side of the harbor. We left from Patriots Point because the parking lot is recommended for RVs. The ferry from Liberty Square appears to be more wheelchair accessible. The fort is partly accessible. A wheelchair lift accesses the gift shop and museum, however, it was broken when we visited and we got the impression that it’s often not working.

  If you are visiting with your RV take the ferry from Patriots Point. Follow the signs to the RV/bus parking lot.  Fort
32.75234, -79.87496
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fort Moultrie/Fort Sumter National Monument

  The first fort on Sullivan’s Island was built at the entrance to Charleston Harbor to guard the city from British ships during the Revolutionary War. From 1776 to 1947 the fort, with improvements and changes, was put to use in the Civil War, WWI, and WWII. On December 20, 1860, in an action that started the Civil War, South Carolina succeeded from the Union and the federal soldiers at Moultrie refused to turn the fort over to the Carolina soldiers. Six days later they moved to the stronger Fort Sumter located on a tiny island in the harbor. In April of 1861, after two days of bombardment the Union soldiers surrendered Fort Sumter to the Confederates which marked the beginning of four long years of war.

  Since the fort was used up to WWII there are many newer structures but parts of the fort have been restored to reflect all the periods complete with old armaments. The visitor center has a short film about the history of the fort and displays with artifacts and photographs.

  The visitor center is accessible except for the viewing deck on the roof. The fort is partly accessible.The walkway that leads to the center of the fort is paved and level. The walkways to the canons are very steep. Most wheelchair users will need to have help. Most of the other areas in the fort are accessed by stairs only. A paved walkway on the outside perimeter leads to interpretive signs and a good view of Fort Sumter.

  The parking lot has long RV/bus spaces.  Fort
  32.76159, -79.85702
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park

   Anna and Archer  Huntington, who created Brookgreen Gardens as a public garden, kept a section of the property for a private, secluded residence and studio. They built a Moorish style house where they spent the winters during the 1930s and 40s. The house, which resembles a fort from the exterior, is constructed of bricks with a courtyard in the center and rooms around three sides of the perimeter. The interior is very plain and completely empty. A small fee is charged for self guided tours.

  The house and property surrounding it is now a beautiful state park with a campground, nature center, white sand beach, and boardwalks that extend out over the marsh.
  The house is accessible but a little backtracking is necessary to see all of the rooms. The nature center is accessed by a long ADA compliant ramp. The boardwalks are accessible. The campground has four sites marked as accessible but we didn’t see any difference between them and the other sites but they are close to the restrooms. The parking pads are hard packed sand.The tables have short overhangs.
   The campground is nicely shaded by live oaks. The sites have good spacing between them but not much privacy. Some of the sites are long enough for almost any RV. Seven South Carolina state parks are participating in a snowbird program – 1/2 off the monthly camping rates for December, January and February. Normally the sites are about $20.00 – $25.00 a night which includes electricity and water. The daily entrance fee does not apply to campers.

  The entrance to the park is not very well marked. There’s a sign for wildlife viewing area at the only road into the park. US 17 is a busy highway and it’s hard to spot the sign in time to turn.  Park
33.50175, -79.06758
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Brookgreen Gardens

 Anna Hyatt Huntington is considered one of the finest American sculptors. Her bronze statues are on display in major cities and museums around the world. Shortly after she married Archer  Huntington, a wealthy heir to a railroad fortune, she developed tuberculosis. Because of Anna’s condition the couple bought 9,000 acres of old rice plantation land in South Carolina to use as a winter retreat and studio. Most of the property was developed as a public garden to showcase the work of Anna Huntington and other American sculptors.

 A small zoo is also located on the property but we visited during the "Nights of a Thousand Candles" festival when the zoo is closed to the public. The festival is fantastic with more than 5,500 real candles along the paths and floating in the ponds plus 500,000 little lights on the trees and plants. Visit before sunset to see all of the sculptures in the daylight and then stay for the festival lights.

 All of the paths are paved and smooth. The buildings are accessible. A dining tent is set up during the festival. The path to it is over uneven, grassy ground, slightly uphill.

 We arrived fairly early and were directed to a parking space along with other short RVs that was very close to the entrance. Large RVs may be parked farther away with the buses.  Garden
33.5179, -79.09601
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Elmwood Recreation Area


   This is a national forest hunt camp that is opened for primitive camping year round. It doesn’t have many amenities but it does have stone fire rings ,water faucets ,a pit toilet and large open camping areas ,either under the trees or in clearings. The ground is hard packed so rolling is fairly easy. Very quiet.  Camp

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site

  Brunswick Town was founded in 1726 as a shipping port for  products that were produced from the resin of longleaf pines, the predominate tree of the coastal forests.Tar, pitch, and turpentine were all necessary to keep the wooden ships of the British navy afloat. In return the town received manufactured goods from Europe. Brunswick Town started losing population to Wilmington, which was on higher ground and considered a healthier place to live, but it’s final demise came in 1776 during the revolutionary War when the British raided it and burnt most of the buildings. The walls of St. Philips Church, built in 1768, and foundation stones of many of the houses still can be seen at the site. During the Civil War a Confederate fort was built on the town site to guard the passageway to Wilmington, an important route for ships bringing supplies for the southern army and civilians. A  walking tour circles through the town site and around the earthworks of the fort.

  The visitor center has very good exhibits covering the history of the area from the Native Americans villages to the Civil War fort. Many artifacts which were uncovered during archeological excavations are on display.

  The visitor center is accessible. The walking tour trail is paved with one slight hill.

  The parking lot is large enough for RVs if parked across the spaces.  Town
  34.04017, -77.94674
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