Spanish Springs – The Villages FL

RATING: ♦♦♦♦♦

We’ve mentioned before how much we like the village squares in The Villages, especially the live music every evening from 5-9. One of our favorite bands is Uncle Bob’s Rock Shop. We got some photos of them playing here at Spanish Springs a couple of weeks ago. 

We also had a recent visit from friends Judy and Jim. It was a cool, windy day, but nice enough to go out and explore Spanish Springs and Lake Sumter. Great fun! 

Farmers Market – Winter Garden FL


It was hard to rate this farmers market. It is very large and there were so many good vendors, but it was so crowded! I don’t think we’ll go again. One of David’s favorite sayings is, “It’s so crowded, nobody goes there anymore.” And that’s exactly how we feel about this place.

But downtown Winter Garden is really nice. We were here last year and enjoyed our visit. There are a lot of little shops and restaurants to check out.

Historic Downtown Charleston – Charleston SC

RATING: ♦♦♦♦

Even though our campground was an hour and a half from Charleston, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to visit this historic Southern city. So we left the motorhome at the campground and drove the car to Charleston for the night.

We stayed in the center of the historic district at the beautifully restored Mills House, which opened in 1853. The Mills House is within walking distance from the scenic waterfront parks, fine shopping, and historic homes and public buildings that make Charleston such an enjoyable city to visit. 

It was a chilly morning, so before we started exploring the city we stopped for lunch at the only waterfront restaurant in Charleston, Fleet Landing. The food was good, and we had stalled long enough for the sun to come out and warm up the day. The restaurant was close to pretty Waterfront Park with fountains and a half mile walk along the Cooper River, so we began our exploration here.

We continued to the the Battery which is a landmark defensive seawall and promenade at the lower end of the peninsula. The Ashley and Cooper rivers converge here to form Charleston Harbor where Fort Sumter is visible from the Cooper River side and from the point. It’s a beautiful walk from the Battery, across the street through White Point Garden, to the historic antebellum homes.

It is only a few blocks from the lower peninsula to the main hub of Charleston, the shopping mecca of King Street. Here we found art galleries, antique stores, unique and name brand clothing and jewelry stores. We did some window shopping, but were pretty worn out by this point so headed back toward our hotel for dinner in the courtyard serenaded by bluesman Shrimp City Slim.

Charleston is an interesting place to visit. We loved that wherever we looked, cars were sharing the roads with horse and buggy tours. We took a carriage ride ourselves, and enjoyed the beauty of the city and its architecture. As we explored, we tried not to think too much about the underlying economic and racial issues that have divided Charleston’s people since its founding.

Sadly, these issues are very real and very apparent. One prominent example is the Confederate Museum, which is owned and operated by Charleston’s Chapter #4 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It’s a temple-like structure located at a very busy intersection in the historic district. Our carriage driver urged us to visit the museum and not to miss the exhibit of General Robert E Lee’s lock of hair, which he assured us is highly regarded in the city. Weird, and offensive on many levels.

Compared to Jefferson’s Monticello and other southern cities, such as Montgomery, which face their slavery past honestly and with respect, Charleston is uncommonly proud of its antebellum past. This is reflected in its public monuments and statues, which tout the city’s leading role in the American Civil War. Our carriage driver, who is an ambassador of the city, even referred to the war as the “War of Northern Aggression” without a hint of irony.

The bottom line is that Charleston is a truly beautiful city, which has yet to constructively deal with the evil upon which it is built and the sickness that infects it one hundred and fifty years later.

Canal Walk – Richmond VA

RATING: ♦♦♦♦

It was the last nice day of our stay at Pocahontas State Park. The weather forecast was calling for cold and rainy days ahead. David had some things to do around “home”, so I drove into Richmond on my own. I had read about the downtown Canal Walk and thought it would be fun to take some pictures.

I parked at the west end of the Canal Walk, which was close to the Belle Isle Pedestrian Bridge. I had to check out this bridge which hangs under the Robert E. Lee Bridge which is part of U.S. Route 301. This pedestrian bridge crosses over a section of the James River to small Belle Isle in the middle of the river. The walk over the bridge was interesting and traffic was not as loud as you might imagine. The river below is only 5 feet deep, rocky, and beautiful.

After walking the Belle Isle Pedestrian Bridge, I continued along the Canal Walk, which runs along the James River. There were many small bridges spanning the canal, making it possible to cross over and walk along either side. I noticed many downtown employees having lunch or otherwise taking advantage of the pretty area. The Canal Walk has access points at nearly every block between 5th and 17th streets.

Not far from the Belle Isle Pedestrian Bridge is the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, which is another (newer) pedestrian bridge. This one spans the entire James River. I walked halfway across and then back, and headed home.

There were signs and quotes along the Canal Walk that illustrated the important roll Richmond played in the Civil War. It was worth a day of exploring.

Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg VA

RATING: ♦♦♦♦♦

We spent a couple of warm sunny days walking through Colonial Williamsburg, which is a 301-acre living history museum in the historic district in the modern city of Williamsburg VA. It includes some restored original buildings from the 18th century when the city was the capital of Colonial Virginia, along with reconstructions built mostly in the 1930s through the efforts of Rev Goodwin of Bruton Parish Church along with financial help from John D Rockefeller Jr and his wife Abby.

Colonial Williamsburg is one of the largest history projects in the nation and a major tourist attraction. It is part of the Historic Triangle of Virginia, which includes Jamestown and Yorktown. The three towns are linked by the Colonial Parkway, which is quite scenic, much of it running along the York River.

Colonial Williamsburg is unusual for having been constructed in a somewhat rundown section of a town during the Depression whose then current inhabitants and post-Colonial-era buildings were removed. In their place is a Colonial-era printing shop, a shoemaker’s shop, blacksmith, cabinetmaker, gunsmith, taverns, etc., as well as an impressive Episcopal church, the Capitol building, and the Governor’s Palace. Costumed employees work and dress as people did in that era. Horse-drawn buggies are everywhere.

Surviving colonial structures have been restored as close as possible to their 18th-century appearance. Many of the missing colonial structures were reconstructed on their original sites based on historical documents. The result is quite effective, and we did feel like we were visiting an important colonial city. The effect was heightened somewhat since we had recently visited the home of Thomas Jefferson. He was the last governor of the Colony of Virginia, and was instrumental in moving the capital from Williamsburg to Richmond at the start of the American Revolution.

Back when the restoration project was being planned, the city wisely insisted on maintaining control over the streets and sidewalks in the historic area. So unlike other living history museums, Colonial Williamsburg allows anyone to walk through the historic district free of charge, at any hour of the day.

However, you have to pay for entrance to the shops and museums. We chose to explore for free. Automobiles are restricted from the historic area, but there is free parking in the Visitors Center just a few blocks away with shuttles running back and forth.

The first day we went was on the Saturday before Halloween. The weekly Farmer’s Market was in full swing in the Market Square section. It was a great venue with a lot of vendors and live music. We returned a few days later to explore the rest of the historic area. All in all, it was a pleasant way to see the city and take in some history.