Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Grayton Beach State Park - Fall 2016

Some parks are "special" and they deserve being added to our list of favorites that we want to visit every year. Grayton Beach State Park qualifies as one of our A-List parks and we try to camp there in Rosie's, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, at least once every year.

Grayton Beach State Park

It is interesting to us because not everyone shares this love for Grayton Beach State Park. We frequently share our favorite campgrounds with fellow campers during the year and have discovered that most people have heard of Grayton Beach and they either love or hate it.

Hate it? We think it is beautiful. The loop we try to camp in is very rustic and a cloud of dust seems to follow every car as it passes by, but it reminds us both of the Florida we grew up in before the condo builders discovered the beach.

Rosie in the Bay camping loop

Looking out over the water

The beach in the distance

Looking at the Western Lake

The trees before The Trees

There are two camping loops at this park. The first has a paved road around it, several concrete pads for your rigs and water, electric and sewer connections. The second has a dirt road, dirt camping pads and water and electric service. The draw for this loop is that it is closer to the Bay and some sites have nice water views.

The famous trees outside Grayton Beach State Park

Suzy and Steve behind Rosie

The Western Lake

Becky works on her watercolor paintings inside Rosie

We haven't seen an alligator yet, only this sign

Dust was an issue this time. We were in the park after a long spell without rain and the roads and sites were dusty. Make that very dusty. We quickly discovered that we needed to hold Suzy, our Yorkie dog, as we walked along the dirt roads of the campground until we reached one of the paved roads.
Otherwise, she started looking like a coal miner.

Since the Bay loop does not have sewer connections, you need to bring your sewage tote. There is a dump station in the Bay loop, but it is in an awkward location. You can easily block the Bay loop road while using it and if you dump while leaving the park, you will end up having to take an encore lap around the loop. I don't qualify as an expert on locating dump stations, but I think that location was picked by a rookie in the park-design business.

Hiking trail at the park


A storm on the way

We probably need to make an apology at this point to the parks we recently visited and complained about their water pressure. Yes, I was once again starting to document the low water pressure at this park when I started thinking about the odds of every park we stayed at having pressure issues. So, I started a "science project" where I disconnected various gadgets (Y-connector, pressure regulator, water filter, etc.) from the connection. It appears that the Y-connector also included a pressure regulator that bumped the pressure down to around 22 pounds at this park. Once that was removed from the setup, we had a healthy 40 pounds of pressure.

Temperatures dipped into the "uncomfortable" range during the nights. Our trusty electric heater kept us warm and we didn't have to fire up Rosie's furnace.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • There are two camping loops in the park. The camping fees are different between the loops because of the differences in connections and paved roads.
  • Our site had 20 and 30 amp electrical service. I am not sure if any other sites provided 50 amp service.
  • Our site had water and electrical connections, but no sewer connection.
  • Our site was gravel and dirt and reasonably level. (Several sites in the other loop had concrete pads.)
  • AT&T placed a strong 4G signal over our site for both voice and data.
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and CW TV stations using Rosie's antenna. We also saw ME-TV, Grit, MY and Bounce digital stations.
  • We started noticing that the bathhouses in the Bay loop need some attention. They are outdated and we noticed some mold issues. The bathhouse in the paved loop is updated and in good condition.
  • This was a pet-friendly park.
This is a park that you want to bring your bikes to because there are some great paths to explore. They were building a new bike path across the bay, but it seemed to be on the wrong side of the road. We will see how that turned out on our next visit to Grayton Beach State Park.

Becky and Suzy

The beach

Rosie loaded up and ready to pull out in the morning

Monday, February 27, 2017

Big Lagoon State Park - Florida

It didn't take long after returning home from our Airstream Owners Association (WBCCI) caravan of Michigan's Upper Peninsula before we started talking about taking Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, out on another adventure. Once Rosie was replenished, our conversations started including how nice it would be to camp near the Gulf coast for a week or so.

A quick review of this blog will leave readers with the impression that we love the Gulf coast. The Florida State Parks near Port St. Joe and Grayton Beach are some of our favorite campgrounds along the Gulf. We also love camping in Fort Pickens, which is a federal park near Pensacola. We also have camped along the Gulf Coast in Alabama and Mississippi in the past. Yes, we love the Gulf coast!

While we have our favorites, we are always looking for new campgrounds to add to that growing list. One of the parks in the "Gulf Coast" vicinity is Big Lagoon State Park near Pensacola, Florida. This park is near Fort Pickens, a park we enjoy, and it is on the bay feeding into the Gulf. Plus, Big Lagoon was recommended to us by several fellow campers who shared their "favorites" with us. That all adds up to this being a park we needed to visit.

Big Lagoon State Park

Our first impression of the park was that is was too small and we would probably regret making our reservations for ten days. We quickly found out we were mistaken and that this is a great park to camp in.

Rosie in the campground

What changed our tune? We went for a kayak ride in the lagoon. As herons watched over us from the shore and trees, we enjoyed exploring the waterways with our kayak. We also enjoyed hiking, riding our bikes and the park's observation tower while camping in Big Lagoon State Park.

Along the shore

Wading in the lagoon

Walkway to the observation tower

While the campground is rustic, it had paved roads running through the sites. That made it easy to walk or bike around. It also helped keep the dust down, which would have been a problem because the area was in a drought while we were there.

Becky and Suzy in the kayak

Suzy enjoying her ride in the kayak

Suzy's new hairdo

One of the walkways

Taken from the observation tower

Blue Angels flying overhead

There were several boardwalks running through the park's marshlands. We enjoyed riding our bikes along these paths.

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • Our site had 50 and 20 amp electrical service. We had to use our 50-to-30 amp converter cable to connect Rosie to the power box.
  • Our site had a water connection. We used to think this was normal until we camped in Michigan where water connections don't exist.
  • There were three restrooms/showers in the camping areas. The one nearest us was clean and up-to-date.
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS TV stations using Rosie's antenna. We also received digital signals from GRIT, ME-TV and Comet.
This is a park we enjoyed and plan to camp in again.

Time for lunch!


Entering Pensacola Naval Air Station

The Blue Angels

The lighthouse on the grounds of Pensacola NAS

Becky at the top of the lighthouse

Monday, December 5, 2016

Grandma's RV Campground - Shepherdsville, KY

I don't remember ever meeting my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother died 20 years before I was born and my paternal grandmother died two months after my birth. That doesn't mean I haven't looked at their photos and tried to imagine what it would have been like to have had them in my life.

Rosie, our Airstream Trailer in Grandma'w RV Campground

Maybe my lack of experience with my grandparents was what drew us to Grandma's RV Campground.

Somehow, my mental picture of grandma was very different from what I encountered at this park. Grandma had rules. Grandma had lots of rules. Grandma had lots and lots of rules. We were given pages of rules while checking in and the number of signs in the park with new rules or rule reminders became a running joke while we were there. There were signs everywhere reminding you of Grandma's rules and introducing new site specific ones.

Some of Grandma's pet rules

The last rule on these signs usually stated that anyone caught violating any rule would be immediately evicted from the park without a refund. I guess Grandma is tired of people ignoring her infinite number of rules.

Rules, Rules and more rules

There are rules everywhere you look!

Once you get past the rules, this is a nice little park. There were many little artistic do-dads scattered around that added a nice touch to it. The park was also very clean. (There were plenty of rules about keeping the park tidy and not touching the decorations!)

We spent only one night in the park while traveling down I-65. We were tired and our choice was between Grandma's and a truck stop. It was too warm to boondock without power, so Grandma won.

Grandma's tired from enforcing all the rules!

We were surprised by the size of this park and the number of trailers there. We couldn't tell for sure, but it appeared that the park may have a large number of resident units staying there.
Here are some specifics about this park:
  • Our site had 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical service.
  • Our site had a water connection. It was in a hole about two feet underground. That made connecting our hose a challenge.
  • Our site had a sewer connection.
  • Our site was gravel and level.
  • AT&T placed a strong 4G signal over our site for both voice and data.
  • The park provided reasonable Wi-Fi service.
  • We were able to watch ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS using Rosie's TV antenna. We also saw Antenna, Bounce, ME-TV and THiS digital channels.
  • The park had clean and modern restrooms and showers.
  • This was almost a pet friendly park. (The rules made it clear that Grandma reluctantly allowed pets in the park.)
We arrived at sunset and left early the next morning. Grandma's was OK for an overnight stay, but I don't think it's a destination type park unless you are on a caravan looking for campgrounds with the most rules. In that case, you may find that Grandma is a winner.

Tucked in for the night

Seen across the street from Grandma's

Rosie in Grandma's RV Campground

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Lakeshore Park Campground - St Ignace, Michigan

We parked Rosie, our 25 foot Airstream trailer, about two weeks earlier at a park along Lake Huron that overlooked the Mackinaw Bridge from the south side. We noticed as we were parking Rosie in the Lakeshore Park Campground that we were once again looking at the Mackinac Bridge. This time our view was from the north side of the bridge and along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

Sign at the entrance of the park

It doesn't matter if you are looking at the Mackinaw bridge from the north or south sides, it is an impressive sight to see. It is also impressive at night when it is lit up with colored lights.

The bridge as seen from the campground

There is a road behind the campground separating it from Lake Michigan's shore. The road wasn't busy and didn't impair our view of the bridge or of Lake Michigan.

We searched for a geocache hidden near the park along the lake's shore. We knew that someone found it earlier that day, but we could not locate it and gave up our search.

The camping sites were closer together than we would have liked. Out site was deep enough that we could hitch up the night before we left and the truck was not protruding on the road.

Our caravan in the park

Rosie among the Airstream trailers

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • Our site had 20, 30 and 50 amp power.
  • Our site had both water and sewer connections.
  • Our site was a back-in with a view of Lake Michigan.
  • Our site was grass and close to level.
  • Our site had a picnic table, but it was in a difficult to use location and too heavy to move.
  • Restrooms and showers were in the center of the park. They were clean and functional.
  • The park provided reasonable Wi-Fi service.
  • AT&T placed two bars of 4G voice and data service over our site.
  • We were able to watch CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS TV stations using Rosie's antenna. We also saw the COMET digital TV signal.
  • This was a pet friendly park.
Visiting a museum in St Ignace

A lighthouse

The bridge in the background

The path from the campground to Lake Michigan

Our caravan as seen from Lake Michigan

A sunset picture over Lake Michigan

We visited a farm where they raised sheep  

Suzy on a hayride

Sunset on Lake Michigan