The Freedom Rig
The Freedom Rig
Orlando is unquestionably a fairy tale vacation destination and one that quite rightly deserves its pet name of the City Beautiful. It's a city that sits in a central position on the Florida peninsula, has stunning inner-city features like the magnificent Lake Eola, and suburbs bordered by multiple natural areas including the Little Big Econ State Forest and the Wekiwa Springs State Park. The year-round sunshine climate just adds another dimension to its attractiveness, and along with the Walt Disney World Resort and the Universal Orlando Resort, that is something that draws more than seventy-five million tourists annually to the city.
It's often said that all that glitters is not gold. Orlando is pristinely clean, organized and in no way short of recreational entertainment with countless theme and water parks, a first-class aquarium, and enough cultural activities to keep you occupied for an entire lifetime. Live or stay there and you'll want for nothing so long as you have enough dollars to pay for it. After any length of time, though, the glitz and glamour can all start to feel as artificial as the famous faces on display in Madam Tussaud's.
Take a break from the city and its superficiality by making a weekend RV road trip from Orlando to Charlotte in North Carolina. As you head north along the I 4 stop off to hike through a verdant wilderness, explore an historic fort, pitch camp in a remote campground, then get muddy when you let loose in an off-roading adventure park. By the time your weekend road trip is over, you'll be well and truly back in touch with reality as well as cleaning the dirt off your clothes.
Once you've left the suburbs and heavy traffic of Orlando behind, pull in and take a short respite while you forget all about the city buzz. The Black Bear Wilderness Area sits on the edge of the Seminole State Forest to the north-west of Sanford. Leave the I4 just before you arrive in Lake Monroe and take the turn for North Oregon Street. It'll take you right to the Black Bear Wilderness trailhead where there is a parking lot to leave your vehicle.
The hike through the Black Bear Wilderness is a seven-mile-long loop that winds through dense cypress swamps. Once you step out on it, it'll be difficult to comprehend you've only just left the city limits. The trail is a combination of boardwalk and dirt path and in some places, you'll need to climb over fallen branches.
The wilderness is the habitat of black bears and alligators and so it's a good idea to remember this is not a zoo or refuge. The animals are roaming freely and you could meet either around the next bend in the trail. There are markers every mile so you can judge how much further you have to go. They carry the GPS coordinates of the marker's location and an emergency contact number to call if you should run in to or have problems with any overly curious, four-legged Florida natives.
Park up at the Fort King George State Historic Site to remind yourself that North America hasn't always been bright lights, theme parks, and skyscrapers. The fort lies a few miles over the Florida border in the state of Georgia between Broadfield and Dacien. It's a site that was originally occupied by the British in the early 1700s so the building is a reconstruction rather than the original, but it looks pretty authentic.
Wander around and you'll find the blockhouse, a strange two-story construction with a sloping triangular roof, the officer's quarters and a guardhouse all inside the moat and fortified walls. In the visitor center at the site, you can watch a film about the fort and its history before taking a walk along the site's nature trail. The site provides a fascinating insight into what the country was like before it became as developed as it is in our modern times.
When you're on a reality check, back to basics, weekend RV road trip from Orlando to Charlotte, you'll want to pitch up somewhere you can appreciate nature and enjoy its tranquility too. The campground at the Colleton State Park has all you're looking for even though it covers an area of no more than thirty-five square acres. You'll come across the park after a lengthy drive along the I95 through Georgia and into South Carolina. It's easy to access; just turn off the I95 onto the Augusta Highway, the US 61, northbound toward Canadys.
To get a campsite at the campground in the Colleton State Park, you will need to make a reservation, but you can do that any time up to one day before. Most of the campsites are fitted with standard electricity and water hook-ups and many can cater for rigs up to forty feet. The park occupies a stunning location along the banks of the Edisto River so it's ideal for spending time fishing or for taking a peaceful paddle in your kayak.
If you're towing a trailer with an ATV onboard, there's no way you'll want to miss visiting the Carolina Adventure World. The OHV playground is forty miles north of the city of Columbia which you'll pass through on your way to Charlotte. It is a short distance off the main route so you'll need to turn off at junction 46 onto the Camp Welfare Road to get there. What will you find?
Carolina Adventure World is nearly three-thousand acres of terrain where you can ride with whatever OHV you have. If you haven't got one and want to get out on the trails, they offer a complete rental service so there's no excuse for not joining in with the fun. In the park, there are over one-hundred miles of trails to let rip on that are complete with rock crawls and mud bogs. Don't expect to come out clean; you won't, but that's all part of the enjoyment. You will be able to wash down both you and your vehicle afterward though, as there are showers and ATV equipment wash centers on the site.
When you roll into Charlotte, North Carolina, in your rig there's no escaping the fact that you'll be back in a high rise city, but it'll be one more focused on the finance and motor racing industry rather than entertainment. Visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame to find out who all the famous drivers of the stock car racing circuit are and you may well decide to trade your ATV, or even your rig, for a souped-up Ford Mustang GT.