Saturday, November 16, 2013

Leaving Hilton Head Island and getting blown away at Fernandina Beach

November 9-15, 2015
Summerfield, Florida
Southern Oaks RV Resort

Since my last post, we wrapped up our one-week stay at Hilton Head Island and headed south to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida.  We had quite the social time during our last three days at Hilton Head. The resort had a plethora of activities going on since it was a semi-annual event they call owner’s week. On Friday night, they had a free wine and beer tasting which we enjoyed. A local distributor brought in a several wines to taste and the beer tasting included about twelve beers which were full bottles loaded in coolers.  Vic was a little disappointed as he wanted to taste a few different beers, but did not want to drink three bottles.  I stuck with the wine and was quite happy as they had Washington and Oregon wines in the line-up.  The park provided cheese and fruit trays on each round table. We sat and visited with some folks we had met earlier in the week. Very pleasant.

After the wine tasting, I devised a plan to go to a restaurant a fellow blogger, Suzi of Beluga’s excellent adventure told us about: Charlie’s L’etoile Verte. We had ridden our bikes past the place and it reminded me of my mom’s restaurant in Upper Michigan.  I discovered they have a bar with a happy hour menu—one of our favorite tricks for enjoying food for less at a higher end restaurant. The place was packed but there was a two-top near the bar that had just vacated. Lucky us. They have an extensive wine list and all wines by the glass were half price. Score. We ordered she-crab soup, seafood quiche, and broiled scallops on mixed greens. The food was excellent and we loved the bar atmosphere which was like being in someone’s living room. The best part of the night, though, was meeting a delightful couple who sat near us at the bar. They were locals who lived here since the 1980s who also had a motorhome.  We learned even more about the area from them, and the surprise of the night was having them invite us to their favorite place on the island for Sunday brunch. How sweet. 

On Saturday morning, there was a craft fair around the pool and a seafood and produce stand in the parking lot. I bought some fresh grouper and shrimp from the seafood guy and admired the jewelry some ladies in the park had for sale. Our plans for the afternoon were to spend it on the beach. It was a little chilly but sunny with highs in the 60s.  It felt great just to relax, read, and people watch, of course.  I also saw my first horseshoe crab (shell). They sure are big.

We were surprised how few people were on the beach during a lovely Saturday afternoon.

coligny beach1

I looked for shells, one of my favorite pastimes, but never came up with any of these featured in the poster below. Some young kids I checked in with found sand dollars, surf clams, and cockles on this Atlantic Beach.

That evening we had tickets for another park event: dinner from a local Cajun restaurant, Kenny B's, followed by entertainment from a live band with dancing.  What a fun time. The food was good, but we enjoyed the three-piece band named Target even more. They played music from the 50-70s with audience participation and lots of corny senior citizen jokes. We danced a fair amount too. Vic liked the band so much he even bought a CD. Now we can dance to them in the motorhome. Ha.

Sunday was another full day. First we had our brunch date with our new friends, Grayson and Glenda, at Palmetto Bay Sunrise Café. We never would have discovered this fantastic café on our own, yet it happened to be only about two miles from the resort. When we arrived, there was a half-hour waiting list, but Glenda had connections and speeded it along.  Excellent food again. They are known for their variety of eggs benedict dishes and their shrimp hash—which I had (never can get enough seafood for this girl). It was quite a delight to get to know them a little better. It turns out we will be in the Keys at the same time, so we look forward to another get together then.

After our big breakfast, we were ready to go for an extended bike ride which included meeting up with Janie and John of Flamingo on a Stick at Coligny Beach, about a two-mile ride from the park, with plans to ride down the beach. I, however, had forgot to check the tide table as bike reading on the beach is not too accessible at high tide. Oops. It was about a half hour past high tide.

Plan B turned out to be driving with them to see the Harbour Town Lighthouse on Hilton Head Island. The lighthouse is located in a section of HH called the Sea Pines. This turned out to be our least favorite part of HH as it is a gated area where they charge you $5 to enter.  We were actually told we could not enter the area at all because of the kayaks on our car.  They rent them there and don’t allow you to bring your own—never mind that we were not planning to kayak there. Janie and John were told they could not enter with their bikes mounted on the truck for the same reason—they rent bikes. Oh, please. In spite of these restrictions, we decided to lock our bikes up at the beach and go in their truck to see the lighthouse. Much to our dismay, we were told by the gate guard that the price for a vehicle with more than one axle is $25 (they have a dually truck), but he gave us a break and only charged us the $5 admission. This situation did not sit well with us either, but we proceeded to the lighthouse.


The lighthouse turned out to be part of a shopping area and marina, with an exclusive golf course along the shore. Not exactly what we pictured, but we walked around and checked it off our sightseeing list.  We headed back to the beach for a beer together before seeing them off at dusk on their way back to Savannah. Too bad we didn’t get a chance to ride together, but we sure appreciated getting together again as we only just met them a couple weeks ago at Petersburg Campground.


On Veteran’s Day, we left Hilton Head Island (sniff-sniff) and drove about four hours south to Fort Clinch at Fernandina Beach. This time we did better research on-line for accessibility and were able to book a beach front site for five days. It was, however, a bit of a challenge driving in on their two-mile canopied drive.  We pretty much had to stay in the middle of the road to avoid tree branches.

We had never been to this area before.  I thought it would be interesting to check out as it is advertised as “the real Florida.”  Our first day here we rode our bikes just a couple miles within the park to the Fort itself. It is supposed to be one of the best preserved 19th century forts in the country. Hard for us to compare as we haven’t been to many, but it was the best we had seen, and definitely worth the $2.00 admission. 

fort clinch collage

Another highlight of our first day here was seeing a nuclear submarine be escorted past the beach near us to the Inland Waterway. They sure had a lot of boats surrounding it as part of the security. Impressive.

On our second day, we took a drive around Amelia Island to check it out and run some errands. The historic buildings and homes were impressive, but much of the retail areas looked pretty tired. We may not have checked out the right places. My intention was to do more research on the area and spend some time on the beach the next day, but that night the cold front moved into Florida with wind gusts of 50 mph at the beach. What a night! Fortunately, we did not have to worry about trees falling on us as we only had a few palm trees nearby, but the slide toppers were flapping so hard we thought they might be shredded.

At about 2 a.m., we finally decided to put the slides in—a first for us. The whole motorhome was being buffeted by the winds. The poor dogs were practically under the covers, shivering with fear as the noises in the back bedroom were so loud.

When morning came, the winds had died down to about 35 mph gusts. Vic suggested we leave as now we were experiencing a sandstorm and gale force wind warnings were through late that evening. I was surprised to learn that the Reserve America policy is to refund your total camp fees--after you stay for the first day of your reservation. We were both disappointed to be leaving as we had plans to kayak, fish, and walk the beaches; instead, we drove about 150 miles southwest to a park near The Villages three days earlier than planned.

We are now at Southern Oaks RV Resort in Summerfield, Florida. This is a pretty basic Passport America park that we have stayed at before as it is across the street from friends of my mom’s whom I have known since the late 60s. Also, my oldest brother lives about a half hour away in Dunnellon, so we will have a chance to visit him while we are here as well. It is a rainy day here in Central Florida and we are going to go listen to live music at a wine bar in The Villages tonight.  Somebody has to do it. . . . Roll on.


  1. You are sure staying busy. HH sounds like a stop we need to make next time we travel the east coast.
    Too bad the weather didn't cooperate for a longer stay at Fernandina Beach. Our pups don't like windy days and nights either.

  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful time in HH! Sorry hear about your short stay at Fernandina Beach. Wind in no fun in the MH. We pull our slides in often (more on the west coast than on the east) rather than worrying about the toppers tearing.

    That is too funny about how difficult it was to just see the lighthouse! Crazy!

    Enjoy your time in Summerfield, FL!! That is quite an escort for the submarine. Must be very important. Neat that you got to see it:) Hope it stays warm for you!

  3. Free wine and beer tasting...count us in!

    I am picturing you two dancing in the RV...very graceful indeed.

    We know Fernandina Beach very well. Paul's brother owns a home on Amelia Island. Wish you could have visited the downtown area. Lots of really neat stores and gorgeous boats. So sorry to read about the weather.

  4. We got those same rocking and rolling winds ar Ediso and also brought the slides in. Boy what a deal to see a shopping mall lighthouse. I love that you have friends at every stop.

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  6. You and Vic sure picked the right time to stay at the HH park, I think I am going to put those dates on my calendar for next year. I was invited to go out on the sub Jason served aboard out of Kings Bay for a couple of days and it was impressive. The weather should be getting much better now that you are inland and further south. Wish we were.

  7. Beautiful beach shots and I really like the picture taken through the windshield. Great photos. I don't think I want to be in my RV during a big storm. Just riding our some of the "normal" winds in Desert Hot Springs a couple of years ago was wind enough for me!


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