RV Podcast #316 – Lithium vs AGM batteries for the RV: Which are the Best?

 RV Podcast #316 – Lithium vs AGM batteries for the RV: Which are the Best?

When it comes to RV power these days, it's a battle of Lithium vs AGM batteries. If you are trying to decide between the two, we can make it easy. A new study shows one is clearly the best for RV boondockers and those seeking reliable power.

It's lithium. By a long shot.

Lithium batteries have been all the rage among RVers for several years now. But the one criticism some in the industry had was that lithium didn’t like cold weather.

And while that is true – all batteries are stressed by cold temperatures – a new white paper study released today shows that when you compare lithium vs AGM batteries, lithium actually out-performs traditional AGM batteries even in extremely cold weather.

And in warm weather, they beat AGM lead-acid batteries even more.

In fact, in all environments and under temperature variations from hot to way below freezing, lithium batteries deliver more for longer periods of time than their lead-acid rivals.

That is major news and we’re delighted to break it in this episode of the RV Podcast.

The lithium vs AGM batteries study gives more credence to the “Lead is Dead” slogan started by Battleborn Batteries, the author of the white paper, and this week on the RV Podcast, we are joined by Battleborn’s top leadership team to discuss the findings and what it means to RVers.

Plus, Jennifer and I have lots of RV news to share, some helpful information about staying overnight in an RV in an interstate rest area and a great off the beaten path report from our friends the Burketts.

Jennifer joins me now on Episode 316 of the RV Podcast, being released on October 14, 2020.

You can listen to the podcast in the player below. The Interview on Lithium vs AGM batters can be heard about 18:00 in. And scroll down this page for shownotes and a transcript of the interview, plus links and resources about all the things we talk about.

Show Notes for Episode #316  of The RV Podcast:

WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK

We hope you have been getting out there and enjoying some fabulous fall camping. This is such a great time of the year.

After last week's visit to the Michigan Upper Peninsula, Jennifer and I are heading out this week for the Lake Michigan shoreline along the Southwestern Part of the state, hoping to see the fall foliage that way.

This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Camping World – America’s #1 RV Dealer

RV PODCAST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Hurricane Delta comes ashore in Louisiana, leaving flooding, strong winds across many southern states
Yet another hurricane hit the coast of Louisiana last weekend, leaving thousands without power, and people everywhere from Louisiana through Georgia and even the Carolinas bracing for potential flash floods and strong winds. Hurricane Delta is the tenth storm to make landfall this season, according and the fifth hurricane to make landfall. Many campgrounds and national park sites in the path of this storm closed, and it is not clear yet how severely damaged they may be. The 2020 camping season is surely one none of us will soon forget, with pandemic restrictions, ranging wildfires, dangerous winds that struck the midwest, and hurricanes. Lots of hurricanes. To help you monitor emergency radio bands and stay safe, we want to again urge you to visit this page to see a story we did not too long ago on apps that could help.

Toddler suffers second degree burns after running off trail and falling into Yellowstone National Park thermal area
A three-year-old was flown to a hospital with severe burns last weekend after slipping into a thermal area at Yellowstone National Park. The accident happened after the toddler took off running, went off trail, then slipped and fell into a small thermal area. The toddler had second degree burns on his lower body and back. He is the second person to be injured by going off trail and falling into a thermal area at Yellowstone this year.

Thieves are stealing guns from unlocked vehicles at North Carolina Outer Banks area campgrounds

If you carry a gun, and plan on camping anywhere near North Carolina's Outer Banks, authorities are warning a thief may be after your gun. In the last month 15 pistols, many loaded, were stolen from RVERS who brought their weapon camping. The thieves generally strike at night, when everyone is sleeping, and according to authorities they simply open an unlocked vehicle door and find the gun under the seat, in the glove box or the center console. According to one story, many of the thefts were from Camp Hatteras in Rodanthe. If you are packing as you camp, be sure to lock your vehicle. Last year we addressed a reader question about carrying firearms on a podcast. To read it, scroll to reader comments and click here.

Maine state park campgrounds set attendance record
Maine state park campgrounds set a record this camping season, despite opening two to four weeks later than normal. About 270,000 visitors camped in Maine's state parks so far this year, setting records. Also Yellowstone National Park set an attendance record for September, with numbers up 21 percent from 2019. Everywhere we look, more people are camping during the pandemic, and campgrounds are not only crowded, but sometimes near impossible to get in. If you decide to skip trying to get in a campground, don't give up on camping! Instead check out our boondocking guide on ways you can camp without a campground here.

Snowbirds flocking to Vancouver to find place to stay since U.S. border is closed
With the Canadian-American border closed to all but essential travel, many Canadian snowbirds who winter in their RV in southern U.S. states each year are finding themselves with winter quickly approaching and nowhere to go. Now reports are starting to surface that many are flocking to Vancouver. There campgrounds and RV parks are completely booked with many keeping waiting lists in case of a cancellation – something unheard of in normal winters. We've shared about the situation before, and how some groups are working with the hotel industry in Canada to find places for these folks to go when winter hits. To see the latest story, click here.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes, America's #1 e-bike brand, offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping  

RV PODCAST QUESTION OF THE WEEK – Overnight stays in Interstate Rest Areas

Kathy posted this question recently on our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group:

QUESTION: I just heard today that there is no overnight parking allowed in Rest Area’s? Is this true?

ANSWER: We see this question surface a lot and it’s a complicated issue that varies state-by-state. Let us say this, though: If you are exhausted, pull over at a rest area and sleep. That’s not camping. That’s resting. We have personally slept overnight in rest areas all over the country and have never once been told we had to move on.

The members of our RV Lifestyle Facebook community have lots to say on this issue, and a couple of resources to pass along… which we will link to in the shownotes for this episode on the blog at rvlifestyle.com/316.

Here’s an assortment of their answers:

Another Kathy said: I think camping is different than staying overnight for traveling, no one is going to tell a tired person to continue driving

Donna: Camping no- but stop in vehicle and rest or. In camper ok. but no slides out and no bbq- cooking!! No side tents. 8 hr maximum

Jeff: You are allowed to rest for some number of hours depending on the state. Usually somewhere between 8-16 hours. Usually online info is available

Derek: I have parked overnight in rest areas all over this country and never run into this issue. This is precisely what they are for.

Cheryl: Some rest areas have signs saying no overnight parking. A highway patrolman told me those signs just make it easier to run off people who stop to party (weird). He said by all means, stop, sleep. Do not drive tired. Just don’t put your slides out.

Nellie: The only time we ever had any trouble staying overnight at a state rest area was in Wyoming several years ago. It was outside of Gillette. Some guy there literally ran us out of there. We weren't planning on staying, just stopped to stretch, but he wasn't having anything to do with that! A vehicle was leaving as we pulled in and there were no other vehicles there. We figured something fishy was going on.

Rachelle: I’ve slept many times in many states. I always Google state name and sleeping and number of hours to find rules. I do NOT put levels down, slides out, etc. just park and snooze. I’ve even had Jehovas Witness come knocking early one morning in rest area!

Tim: I sleep in a semi all the time no worries. Just don’t set up camp etc and don’t take up multiple spots. If you have to put slide out to go to bed park along grass etc because they get packed at night.

Angela: I have seen no overnight parking, 2 hour limit, 24 hour on site security it just varies. I pull my camper with my work truck. I have to stop for 10 hours and sometimes 14 hours mandatory.

Bob: Resting is what they're for we don't want people all over the road at night falling asleep! But with that said some have limited hours in California most are 8 hrs on the long sections on interstates I've seen 10 for commercial truckers and long RVs and trailers have to park with the commercial truckers anyhow. On the other hand I've seen as little as four in very small rest stops along 101 in northern California.

Several Readers shared online resources about this:

Dean: It varies from state to state.

https://www.careersingear.com/…/states-ban-sleeping…

Tricia: https://www.interstaterestareas.com/

Bottom line, if you can’t go on and have nowhere else to overnight. Do so. Don’t make it look like a campsite and be on your way as soon as you’re refreshed.

Thanks to everyone who helped Kathy with an answer to her question.

And if you are not a member of our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group, it’s as simple as applying at https://rvlifestyle.com/facebook

Do you have a question you’d like us to answer or a comment on the things we’re discussing? If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990.  If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.

RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK – Lithium vs AGM batteries for the RV

Lithium batteries have been all the rage among RVers for several years now. But the one criticism some in the industry had was that lithium didn’t like cold weather.

And while that is true – all batteries are stressed by cold temperatures – a new white paper study released today shows that Lithium Batteries actually out-perform traditional AGM batteries even in extremely cold weather.

And in warm weather, they beat AGM lead-acid batteries even more.

In fact, in all environments and under temperature variations from hot to way below freezing, lithium batteries deliver more power for longer periods of time than their lead-acid rivals.

That is major news and we’re delighted to break it in this episode of the RV Podcast.

The results of the lithium vs AGM batteries White Paper study gives more credence to the “Lead is Dead” slogan started by Battleborn Batteries, the author of the white paper, and this week on the RV Podcast, we are joined by Battleborn’s top leadership team to discuss the findings and what it means to RVers.

Our guests are Denis Phares, the CEO, and Sean Nichols, the COO.

Here's a video version of the Lithium vs AGM batteries Interview:

Here's a transcript of the Lithium vs AGM batteries interview:

Mike Wendland:           Joining us now from their headquarters in Reno, Nevada is the top leadership team for Battleborn Batteries, Denis Phares, He's the CEO. And Sean Nichols, the COO, the Chief Operating Officer. Guys, thanks for being with us and it's great to see you, even though we still are wearing those masks because it's a strange year that we're in, isn't it?

Sean Nichols:                Yeah, it sure is.

Denis Phares:                Sure is.

Mike Wendland:           Hey, I should point out, first of all, that Battle Born has been a sponsor of the podcast here for a long time. But this interview we would be doing even if you guys weren't a sponsor because we're breaking some pretty major news here about lithium batteries. And I've talked a little bit about lead is dead, your slogan, as you have built this great company of yours, but this really proves that.

                                    Let's talk about this white paper and what it says, but more importantly, what it means to RVers. And Denis, let's start with you.

The results of the Lithium vs AGM batteries White Paper 

Denis Phares:                Well, it's funny, you say it's news, it's not news to us. It's something that we've known for a long time, the benefits of lithium extend down into colder temperatures as well. And we just wanted to prove it to our customer base and beyond.

                                    We just basically set up an experiment. We did a direct comparison, we did the direct measurements. We just basically publicized what we saw and you can draw your own conclusions from that. But it's pretty clear that the benefits of lithium go beyond what a lot of people think, even at cold temperatures.

Mike Wendland:           And that's what I was trying to get at and why it is news, is because in the RV industry, there are still those who are clinging to lead and putting AGM batteries in their RVs that are 2021 models, when lithium is widely available now. And particularly from Dragonfly, your parent company, and Battle Born.

                                    But this idea that the industry had that lithium didn't do well in cold weather. Sean, where did that come from? And what does your white paper say about that as compared to AGMs?

Sean Nichols:                Well, the white paper is about cold temperature charging and cold temperature performance, I should say, of lithium batteries, but it also compares lead acid. All along, one of the only defenses lead acid batteries have had against lithium is that you can't charge lithium at cold temperatures. Our battery has a protection built in. This particular study includes multiple temperature ranges, even including room temperature, which show the poor performance of lead acid batteries that they advertise you can use 50% of the power in that battery. We never found that under any circumstances in our testing in multiple loads.

                                    So it basically highlights, even outside of cold temperature, the performance difference of lithium versus lead acid. And it will really shine a light on some of the struggles that people have been having for so long with their batteries, and they'll understand now why so clearly that they think they have this much power and then all of a sudden they don't have that much power. And it explains this very clearly in scientific terms. And it's a fair study, everything is controlled. And it's basically a white paper that sheds the light on why lead is dead and why lithium is a better solution for any circumstances RVing.

Mike Wendland:           Now we'll put some videos that go into details and we'll also show the actual numbers you've got. But Denis, start for a moment if you wouldn't and talk to us, help us all understand this idea of how much power you can really take out of a battery. And Sean just mentioned the 50% figure that people were talking about.

                                    Even in warm weather, maybe we could start with warm weather. And what did your study … Because you did some of these tests I see at 67 to 72 degrees. Compare the two, AGM versus lithium, and what you've found?

How Lithium vs AGM batteries compare in different temperatures

Denis Phares:                Well, what we did was we discharged the batteries and we would cut the batteries off at the recommended voltage, the voltage recommended by the manufacturer. And we did a variety of discharge rates, and we just wanted to see how many amp hours we got out of the battery. And even at moderate discharge rates, we're talking five hour discharge rates, something like that, you don't actually get 50% of what the rate of capacity is.

A

Mike Wendland:           On an AGM, we're talking AGM batteries?

Denis Phares:                I'm sorry, yes. We're talking of an AGM. The Peukert Effect, which is what the white paper is trying to describe, is a phenomenon that is particularly prevalent in lead acid batteries and AGM batteries. The faster you discharge the battery, the less capacity you actually get. We measured it directly. So when you say you only get 50% capacity, well, you actually get less than 50% capacity.

Sean Nichols:                A lot less. A lot less, depending on the load size. The Peukert Effect determines that the size of a load, the bigger of a load, the less actual power you have deliverable in the battery. And lithium batteries are not affected by the Peukert Effect. That's why, like Denis was saying, to clarify, with lithium batteries, whether you pull the power out in an hour or five hours or 20 hours, you can still get the full amount of power. With lead acid, that changes significantly. And the results were quite shocking in my opinion.

Mike Wendland:           Now you guys have been talking about this for years because this is your business. Why do you think the industry has been so reluctant to 100% go into lithium? Because there are still big manufacturers that are putting old lead acid batteries in their RVs.

The RV Industry's foot-dragging regarding Lithium vs AGM batteries

Sean Nichols:                Well, that's a fact of the industry, the way it's set up. The majority of units that are built are [inaudible 00:06:09] units and the dealership's put the batteries in. So they're going to put the lowest cost option in for their customer to be able to get out and enjoy the RV.

                                    The one thing that I never understand is that these powerful brands allow that customer experience to be dealt with by the dealership. Which nothing against the dealership, they're putting in a battery, it works. What I'm saying is that the customer experience when you have a lithium battery on board, is much more exciting and positive because now the RV goes out and does what it's supposed to do.

                                    And so that's why it's been such a slow change, but there's reasons why, lithium costs more money. But once the customers start to realize the value add to it … I always say, I got $1,100 cell phone sitting here. You know what I mean? It doesn't come with a 10 year warranty and it won't help me camp next to a lake. As a matter of fact, when I go camping, I like to go places where my cell phone doesn't work, but you get the point. People are willing to pay for technology these days that make their life easier and more relaxing. And that's what lithium does for you in a RV.

How the Peurkert Effect plays into the Lithium vs AGM batteries debate

Mike Wendland:           Let's go back to this cold weather white paper, which is really the thing that breaks so much news here. Denis, you mentioned something called the Peukert Effect, and my eyes glassed over a little bit on that. But if I understand that right, the higher the battery capacity is, the more you take out, the less you really get. Is that kind of accurate?

Denis Phares:                Kind of.

Mike Wendland:           Yeah, kind of is my operative word.

Denis Phares:                The greater the load, the less capacity you get. Let's say you've got a 200 amp hour AGM battery. You discharge it at 50 amps, you'll get maybe 80, 90 amp hours out of it. Now you discharge it at 80 amps, you only get 60, 70 amp hours out of it. So basically the more the power, the less the amp hours.

Sean Nichols:                And so if you do charge it like a 10 amp hours, you might get closer to that 50% level, but nobody's really using 10 amp hours in their RV these days. I mean, we have a lot of demand for electronics in these new rigs, and the 20 hour discharge rate that lead acid batteries rate their batteries at, is just not useful these days. The industry's totally changed.

Denis Phares:                I think actually, Mike, I think this is one of the points you bring up, is why are people still stuck on AGM batteries? I think the whole industry and the way that customers use the RV is changing. People are becoming more power hungry. With lithium they're able to use things like their hairdryer and their coffee maker, even their air conditioner. And when you talk about these big power loads, now the Peukert Effect really becomes important, and that's where lithium really shines.

Mike Wendland:           The lithium batteries are not subject to this Peukert Effect, like an AGM battery, which limits it. So when we talk about cold weather, what did you find as you actually put the … And how did you test them? You put them in a freezer, it looks like in the video, and we'll link to all those videos and everything. But how did you test these?

Sean Nichols:                Well, we put the batteries in the same freezer at the same time and we discharged in a certain temperature ranges. And what we found was pretty alarming, that at not that far below freezing, that a lead acid battery can't even take a charge, our AGM battery came and took a charge.

                                    So regardless of the fact that it only delivers couple of amp hours, literally a couple of amp hours at that temperature range, you can't even recharge it. So you could put on a charger for a few hours, run your generator, and the battery is not going to hold any power. It's pretty much useless.

Mike Wendland:           And what did you find that in-

Sean Nichols:                [crosstalk 00:09:55] us, like the fact that it performed that poorly at that temperature range, honestly I was shocked.

Mike Wendland:           And then conversely, what did you find out with lithium?

Sean Nichols:                It performs a lot better. So, I always say you could get two to three times the amount of power out of our batteries. I'd say it's more three to four times, or even 20 times at certain temperatures, is all depends. Because once a lead acid battery can't deliver power and we're delivering power, our numbers go up exponentially.

                                    So you can dig in a little bit and see that, even if you were unable to charge. Let's say you couldn't charge your lithium because you didn't have a heat source or you didn't have our new battery with the built-in heat in it, you're still going to be better off having that on your rig. Being able to discharge it down to cold temperatures than you would have in lead acid on there.

Mike Wendland:           So the rumor, and I've actually heard RV salesmen say this, that lithium won't even discharge at cold temperatures. Denis, what did you find out when you actually clip this to the test?

Lithium batteries discharge better than AGM in cold temperatures

Denis Phares:                Well, that's the opposite of true. They discharge fine at cold temperatures. Yeah. I mean, with lithium batteries, you typically want to avoid charging when it's very cold. And in our battery, we actually prevent you from charging when it's below 25 degrees Fahrenheit. And it depends on the cells and it depends on a lot of things internally, but it's not something you have to worry about with our battery. But typically lithium batteries are not meant to be charged rapidly at cold temperatures because you could cause lithium plating on the end of it. That doesn't happen with Battle Born batteries.

Mike Wendland:           The first time I camped with lithium batteries in the wintertime, everybody said, “Well, you know you can't use your batteries.” And I was out and I said, “But I'm not even plugged in. And look, I'm using my batteries. I've got the microwave on.” “Oh, then you must not have lithium.” And people have been slow to embrace this. And I guess that's true of the RV industry, it is improving greatly each year. Sean-

Sean Nichols:                Well, [crosstalk 00:12:05] … Go ahead, sorry.

Mike Wendland:           Yeah, you mentioned heated batteries. I'm don't even have those on the Battle Borns I have, ours is a Leisure Travel Vans and they installed with the option for the heated batteries. How does that option with the heaters work? What does that do?

Sean Nichols:                Well, on simple terms, our battery now has a built-in heat source inside the battery. It can be enabled through a switch in the vehicle, that if you want to warm the battery up so you can charge it at cold temperatures, it allows you to do that. It's one of the things that we overcame to make sure the battery is usable in every scenario. Because there are a limited number of people out there who don't chase the sun and they want to go … Hunters and things like that, that want to go camping when it's really cold. And this allows them to be able to do that.

                                    So, the majority of the people will not need to heat their batteries. But obviously RV manufacturers, that's an attractive feature for them because they don't know what you're going to do with the RV when you buy it. So they want to have everything inside that RV to make it function in any environment. And we've got that solution and you're using it. And there's several other people that are using it now too. It's not really out to the public yet, but it will be launched on the Battle Born side. The end of this month, we'll be launching that heat battery, the 10012 with heat built in for the customers that really demand that cold temperature performance.

Mike Wendland:           Denis, as we wrap this up, and again, we're going to link to the white paper, we're going to go to all the specs for the engineers out there who want to check all the statistics. But boiling this down for just the average RVer, what does your white paper tell them in terms of lithium and the confidence that they can have when they go out in cold weather in their RV?

Denis Phares:                Well, I think the bottom line is you actually don't need the internally heated battery to be able to function in almost any circumstance. The internally heated battery is for really, really special circumstances. But even if you are in relatively cold, below freezing temperatures, your regular Battle Born batteries will work fine. And especially as compared to AGM batteries, which basically just take a dive in performance when it gets that cold, you're much better off with a Battle Born battery.

Mike Wendland:           Well, again, as we said at the top, and I want everybody to understand, we acknowledg that … These guys are friends of ours, they're sponsors, but it's a pretty significant report that they released with this white paper, and we will link to all of that stuff. And I just can't wait until things settle down a little bit to get out. And I still haven't toured your Reno factory yet, so [crosstalk 00:14:45]-

Sean Nichols:                We'd love to have you [crosstalk 00:14:47].

Mike Wendland:           I want to build one myself, show me how.

Sean Nichols:                That's fine. You come on down and we're happy to have you here in town. And we appreciate you taking the time to include us. And we always appreciate your fans, and you guys are great. Everyone that works with your podcast and supports you, those are our people, man. And we're always here for you guys, any questions you have.

Mike Wendland:           All right. Denis Phares, the CEO, Sean Nichols, the COO, Battle Born Batteries. Thank you guys for being our guest on the podcast. And I can't wait, let's go out and do some winter camping. That's our favorite kind anyway, so you make it easier. Thank you.

Sean Nichols:                Thanks, Mike. Take care.

Denis Phares:                Thanks, Mike.

Here's a link to the actual White Paper comparing Lithium vs AGM batteries – battlebornbatteries.com/lead-is-dead-white-paper-study/ 

Here are several company videos on the Lithium vs AGM batteries Test:

Cold Temperature Charging Study Breakdown: https://vimeo.com/465203316
    -Vignette: Can't Extract or Put in Current into AGM at Cold Temp: https://vimeo.com/465429076
     -Vignette: 26-30 Degree 80 Amp Discharge Results: https://vimeo.com/465204483
     -Vignette: Peukert Effect Explained: https://vimeo.com/465198538

The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new  motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

RV PODCAST OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT  – Lichgate on Main, Tallahassee, FL

Tom & Patti Burkett of the Rv Podcast
The RV Podcast off the beaten path reporters Tom & Patti Burkett

BY TOM & PATTI BURKETT

Tallahassee, smack in the crook of the Florida panhandle, is the home of Florida State University.  Like so many university towns, everybody there is crazy about Seminoles football.  And, like so many university towns, there’s a lot more here to know about than Saturday afternoons in the Fall.  

But, to give football its due, here’s a tidbit.  Just outside the end of Doak Campbell stadium you’ll find the sod graveyard.  When the Florida State Seminoles win a bowl game, or another big game in which they were predicted to lose, they dig up a patch of sod from the stadium in which the game was played and bury it here, with a commemorative marker.  before each home football game, loyal fans gather at the graveyard to hear a tale or two about these memorable games.

Football aside, there are many other attractions in the city and its environs.  We’ve reported on the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge and lighthouse, not far from town.  If you enjoy cycling, long distances or short, you can take a spin on the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, which runs sixteen miles from the city to St. Marks and the San Marcos de Apalache Historical site.   

The Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park offers beautifully landscaped gardens, especially beautiful in spring, and a lake perfect for swimming and kayaking, along with picnic areas, bike and hiking trails, and a historic mansion.

If you like your history even older, you can drop in at the Lake Jackson Mounds for a look at one of the largest ceremonial temple mound complexes in the Southeast, crisscrossed by trails that lead up and down ravines to waterfalls and secluded grottoes.  Bring your hiking boots; there are a lot of hills and stairs.  You’ll also see plantation ruins form the time when this was an agricultural operation.

Our favorite Tallahassee sight, by far, is right in the middle of town.  It’s a fairy tale house called Lichgate on Main, hidden in a grove of trees and surrounded by a parklike lawn.  When we visited in February, small groups of students were scattered at picnic tables, on blankets, and playing with dogs and frisbees.  There’s a parking lot surrounded by trees, and down a short trail the lawn emerges, flowing out between the cottage and a giant live oak tree that reminded us of the Angel Oak in South Carolina.

The cottage itself feels timeless, as if gnomes might emerge from the shrubbery or a knight in armor come charging into the clearing.  It was built by Laura Jepson, an FSU literature professor, in the 1950s, and now belongs to the Nature Conservancy and is maintained by a group of her friends, admirers, and former students.  Had we known, we would have taken advantage of the opportunity to tour the cottage itself, which can be arranged in advance through the organization’s website or Facebook page.

Another house worth visiting is the Knott House, built by a free Black builder before the Civil War, it’s best known as the home of William (a Florida public servant) and Luella (a social activist and artist).  It was known as “The House That Rhymes” because Luella’s poems adorned many of the furnishings.  Whimsical, wonderful, wholesome and wild, you can find some of almost everything in Florida’s capital city, just by poking around a bit off the beaten path.

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

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