Milton, Florida

In the last post, I mentioned Milton, Florida so I thought I’d write about it this time.

Founded in the late 1800’s, Milton is one of Florida’s oldest cities Since it was built beside the Blackwater River a timber mill was constructed and Mill Town, as it was called at the time, thrived as a ship building town and a supplier to other ship building industries. Later, citing they preferred a one word name for the city instead of two, the Post Office changed the name from Mill Town to Milton.

According to Wikipedia, the town also went by several other names over the years. The most notable of these were “Hell Town” because it was a “muggy, inhospitable land covered with briars, mosquitos, thorns and snakes”; Jernigan’s Landing”, after one of the founders, “Scratch Ankle”, due to the briars that grew along the riverbank and “Hard Scrabble”. I’m not sure where that last one came from.

Milton is located in the center of the county and is the county seat of Santa Rosa County.

Pensacola across the bay from Milton, has one of the larger Navy bases, NAS Pensacola. Whiting Field is one of the two of the Navy’s primary pilot training bases and is located just north of Milton, FL.

Withing minutes of Milton, you could be fishing or boating on the Blackwater River or in the Gulf of Mexico. The Blackwater River was so named for the tinted color of the river that comes from the vegetation’s tanins that stain the water a transparent tea color. Along the river curves you can relax on the white, sandy beaches or sandbars.

The Blackwater river runs through Milton. Walking on the Riverwalk, along the river in Milton, you’ll find the Veteran’s Memorial, a concert pavillion and at the end of the riverwalk a grassy area where you can listen to the Bands on the Blackwater concerts or watch a movie on a large outdoor screen or even rent little mini boats. Numerous festivals throughout the year are held here, too.

The Blackwater State Forest is also within minutes from downtown Milton and is a great place for hiking, fishing, canoeing or camping. In the park, along the river, you can find canoe liveries where you can rent canoes, kayaks and tubes. They’ll take you up river where you can float back down to them. There’s also a place nearby where you can zipline.

About 30 minutes from Milton, you can be at the beautiful white sand, clear water beach called Navarre Beach. The lack of numerous restaurants and souvenier shops makes Navarre Beach one of Florida Panhandle’s least commercialized beaches.

West of Milton, on the other side of Escambia Bay is Pensacola. Pensacola is known as the City of Five Flags and has a great history of it’s own. The flags that flew over Pensacola were Spain, France, Britain, the Confederacy and the United States. The Navy’s Blue Angels are based at NAS Pensacola. The Cincinnati Reds affiliate team, the Blue Wahoo’s a minor league baseball team is located in Pensacola and they have a beautiful stadium in the Community Maritime Park. Pensacola is also home to the Ice Pilots ice hockey team.

Going south from Pensacola and Milton, you can get to beautiful water and white, sandy beaches of Pensacola Beach. There you can parasail, jet ski, swim, dine, shop, soak up some sun, or listen to some great live music.

At the west end of Pensacola Beach, is Ft. Pickens. Ft Pickens is a pentagon shaped military fort that has a very interesting history. It’s named after American Revolutionary war hero, Andrew Pickens.

It was one of three forts that guarded the entrance to Pensacola Bay and the communities on the mainland shore from European invaders. During the Civil War, it was the southern most point controlled by Union Soldiers. In 1886, Ft Pickens became one of Florida’s first tourist attractions. When Geronimo was captured and moved to Ft. Pickens for imprisonment, admission was charged to view him and his family.

With the proximity to Pensacola, Eglin Air Force Base, the two Navy bases and the beaches Milton is a great place to live and visit.

I hope you found this post both informative and interesting. If you like what you’re reading, there’s a place on the side where you can subscribe to future posts.

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Mr. and Mrs. Carl Sandburg

Flat Rock, North Carolina. That’s where we stayed during our recent visit to North Carolina. Specifically, we were at Lakewood RV Park in Flat Rock. It was the nicest, closest, affordable park, we could get close to Pisgah Forest where our oldest son, daughter-in-law and three granddaughters live.

Flat Rock has a national treasure in the former home of Carl and “Paula” Sandburg. This is one place we always visit when we come to visit the family. The Sandburg former home and farm is now part of the National Park Service.

I wanted to share a little about the Sandburg family since I find them very interesting.

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North Carolina Waterfalls

Recently, we had the opportunity to spend a month in the mountains of western North Carolina.

We had the opportunity to do many things which I may write about later. This post is about the beautiful waterfalls.

In the Transylvania County/Pisgah National Forest area near Brevard North Carolina, there are over 250 waterfalls.

I’m only going to write about a few of the most popular ones and ones that we visited.

RAINBOW FALLS is on Horsepasture River and is also called High Falls. It got the name Rainbow Falls because of the large amount of mist that rises from the falls and creates rainbows. Once you get to the observation deck, you’ll appreciate that mist! From the parking lot, it’s about 1-1/2 mile walk to the falls, but there are a lot of hills and stairs to climb. If you go, take lots of water. Take your time and if you have them use walking sticks, they help.

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Our visit to the Bold Rock hard cider company.

Last week we visited the Sierra Nevada craft beer brewery. This week it was the Bold Rock hard cider cidery also in Mills River, North Carolina. Although this is a much smaller operation than the Sierra Nevada brewery it is also a good benefit for the community. There’s an abundance of Apple orchards in the area and many of them were struggling financially until the cider companies, particularly the hard cider companies, came to the area.

There are at least 10 cideries in the Asheville area. Each one is a little different. The one we visited, and I think one of the largest, is the Bold Rock hard cider company.

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Craft Beer and Hard Cider

The beautiful mountains of North Carolina offer hiking, biking, trout fishing, and gorgeous views. Besides all this, the clear mountain streams and the numerous apple orchards, make this area very conducive for the making of craft beer and ciders.

There are somewhere around 40 craft breweries in the Asheville North Carolina area but the largest of the craft breweries is the Sierra Nevada brewery. With arrangements made by my daughter in law, Dave and I, our son and one of our granddaughters got to go on one of their tours.

As I remember from the tour and from the brochure I picked up, Sierra Nevada was started in Chico California in 1979 by Ken Grossman. I believe, from what the tour guide told us, Mr. Grossman finished high school and left before his graduation ceremony for the mountains of Northern California. He opened The Home Brew Shop in Chico California.  Years later with innovation and ingenuity, he fashioned equipment from items such as a hot water heater,  dairy equipment and a hand-built-10-barrel brewing system he later founded his own brewery. He named it after his favorite hiking grounds and called it the Sierra Nevada Brewery Company.

That was in 1979. By 1984 he’d outgrown his original location. He then purchased a property in Chico Calif to build a new brewery large enough to house a salvaged 100- barrel brewhouse he had shipped from Germany. A couple of years later they added online sales.

In 2012, demand outpaced supply, and the Chico location was at capacity. This time they looked east and in 2012 they opened the new brewery in Mills River North Carolina. Mills River is just a few miles from Asheville, North Carolina.

The Asheville area already had somewhere around 40 small craft breweries. I believe our tour guide said this was the reason Sierra Nevada almost decided not to locate here. They did not want to be the biggest brewery in the area and ruin the other businesses. He said the local craft beer association got together and invited Sierra Nevada to come. Sierra Nevada provides some support to the other breweries by allowing them some access to their lab. 

With a 200 barrel production brewhouse and a 20 barrel small batch pilot system, a tour program, tastings, a full-service taproom, and restaurant, the Mills River location opened in 2014.  The property is beautiful. As well as the inside amenities, there’s an outdoor activity area with picnic tables and a stage.

Very impressive is the care they took in construction and the amount of reclamation of resources they use. The timber that was cut on the property was used in the construction of the building. Concrete walkways and driveways allow rain to penetrate. The reclaimed water is used for irrigation. CO2 captured from the yeast fermentation is used for carbonation in the drinks.  They use solar panels and microturbines for as much energy as possible.  Any left-over vegetation from the hops they donate for feed to area farmers. 

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North Carolina

It’s a rainy day today in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Lakewood RV resort has some nice amenities. The pool, shuffleboard, and the planned activities don’t start until their busy season starts; the end of May. There are several park models owned by people who live here full time.   See the link below for a description and pictures of park models). They’ve managed to plan several activities on their own. They’ve scheduled Mexican Train one evening a week and something called nickel bingo that does not involve bingo cards. The lady in the camper next to us who spends her winters here and summers in Pennsylvania was telling us about this. We saw some things posted on the bulletin board but not sure if they were happening now or later in the year. We might check it out. There was also a sign-up sheet for Easter dinner that was already 2 pages long.

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Shorts and Flip Flops to Coats and Gloves

Shorts and Flip Flops to Coats and Gloves …. in one day!

We left Savannah yesterday morning. I was wearing shorts as we were “buttoning up” the motorhome. About 6 hours later we arrived in Flat Rock, North Carolina and I began thinking about where we put our heavy coats, sweats, and gloves.

“Buttoning Up the motorhome” means anything that is loose has to be secured along with bringing the slides in and disconnecting the water, sewer and electric. This all takes a little time. “Anything loose” includes pictures on the walls, toothbrushes on the bathroom counter, dishsoap and utensils on the kitchen counters. Look around your house. What do you see that could move around if you shook your house? All that has to be put away. We even have tension backets in our cupboards to keep items in there from shifting so that we don’t have an avalanche when we open the doors once we get parked.

We’re staying at Lakewood R V Resort in Flat Rock which is just a few miles from Hendersonville, North Carolina which is about 30 miles from Asheville, North Carolina. Our son and his family live in Pisgah Forest which is about 1/2 hour from here. This is the closest full-service campground we could find with a monthly rate. Most of the campgrounds nearer them are state or national campgrounds with limited facilities and a 14-day max stay. There are a few others but either they’re too expensive or not open yet.

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Savannah, A City Built on the Dead

When we first did the tour of the city, we had heard that Savannah was a city built on the dead. I thought that meant many people died to make the city what it is today. I was thinking of soldiers securing or protecting the land, people giving up their lively hood, fighting over land, whatever the case may be. But it turned out, I was wrong.

The city is literally built on it’s dead. Savannah was established as a buffer between the wealthy South Carolinians to the north and the Spanish Catholics in Florida to the south. There were battles to keep the land secure. The second bloodiest battle of Revolutionary war was fought in Savannah and Savannah lost many men who were buried here. Indians used parts of the area for their burial grounds. Many died from Yellow Fever. The French and British had a skirmish here. Add to this, natural deaths, occasional murders, and the Pirates coming into the city then you can see that there would be a great need for cemeteries. And, some families had their own burial plots next to their homes.

Over time, either from vandalism or just time-worn, many gravestones were destroyed or lost. From one of my previous posts, you may remember that the city of Savannah is laid out in squares. Homes surrounded these squares. As time went on and as the city grew with infrastructure being developed, roads were paved over areas that had been burial grounds. Some homes or municipal buildings have been built over areas that had been someone’s burial plot.

At first, when skeleton’s were found they had tried to move them. Later, as more and more bodies were found, some even in mass graves, the decision was made not to disturb them anymore, just leave them where they are and continue with the roads, or housing whatever the project in progress.

It seemed to be that the hauntings began when the bodies were disturbed. One such case was explained to us on the ghost tour we recently took. The Foley house was a boarding house established by a prominent widow living in Savannah. She and her children lived in this house and had frequent and sometimes long term boarders. At one time, two boarders came to stay with her. One was a bricklayer and the other one was an older wealthy exporter gentleman named Wally. Wally frequently wore a top hat. He and the bricklayer both had been staying there for quite a while. One night Wally ended up dead. One story is that he went into the widow’s bedroom. She awoke with him standing over her with his hands on her neck. He had tried to strangle her. She was able to stretch her arm out, grab the candle holder next to her bed and hit him over the head with it. When she did he fell dead beside her bed. Another story is that she murdered him for his money.

Remember, the bricklayer who was also staying at the boarding house? 100 years later, when some remodeling was being done on the home, the contractor renovating the house found a wall that didn’t seem to be in the right place. When opening the wall, they found the skeleton of the older man, top hat and all. No one had heard from or seen him prior to the brick wall being opened. Now, 100 years later, he is a frequent top hat wearing visitor in the former boarding house, now known as the Foley House Restaurant.

It seems that Savannah made a good decision to leave the dead where they lay as they continued their renovations and improvements to the city. Hauntings seemed to escalate when the bodies were disturbed.

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Working, Touring and Movies filmed in Savannah

We arrived at our work camping site near Savannah on January 2, so we’ve been here now a little over 6 weeks. We’ve got about 6 more weeks to go before we move on to our next location. But, while we’re here I want to see everything Savannah has to offer! We went to Savannah again last week for a part of the day with a traveling nurse we met that’s also staying here at the campground while she’s working here for a couple months. We enjoyed walking around the downtown squares again. I still have a few more things to tell you about Savannah but it will probably be in the next post.

One thing I have to remind myself about work camping is that it does mean you’re supposed to work, too. Even though we choose where we want to go and we get to tour and enjoy the area, we did commit to work X number of hours each week. I’ve been averaging about 23 hours a week. Dave’s been working about the same, maybe a little more. We work in exchange for our campsite as well as pay for hours over an agreed amount of work time.

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